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standing from the first." Things in themselves have not
unity, plurality, substantiality, causality, and the rest. These
categories are true not of the noumenon, but only of the
phenomenal object — that which appears in consciousness.
We are subjectively necessitated to think of change as under
the law of causation, of accident as inhering in substance,
and so on ; but we have no ground for supposing such to be
the case with the Ding-an-sich. With respect to General
Notions, Kant's doctrine involves a form of Conceptualisni
maintaining in opposition to Nominalism, the truly universal
character of concepts ; whilst on the other hand it denies the
extra-mental validity ascribed to them by Moderate Realism.

Finally, the activity of the Reason which still further
unifies the data offered by Sense and Understanding is also
conditioned by three purely subjective Ideas. They are the
psychological idea of the Soul, as the thinking substance ; the
cosmological idea of the universe as a totality ; and the idea of
God. These a priori conceptions apply to corresponding real
objects no more than the other forms and categories. They
are the source of inevitable illusions occasioning "paralo-
gisms " and " antinomies," or contradictions of the pure
reason itself. In particular the empty idea of the Ego is the
basis of the deceptive pseudo-science of Rational Psychology,
The conclusions of this science are all based on the ille-
gitimate application of the purely formal or subjective notion
of substance to the Ego as a noumenon. In deducing the attri-
butes of simplicity, identity, individuality, we invariably fall
into a paralogism confounding the Ego as logical subject of a
proposition with a real substance. We mistake the merely
formal, subjective unity of Self for that of a real indivisible
being. The aspiration to reach a knowledge of things-in-
themselves is doomed to failure : we can only know phenomena

^'^ The a priori form of space generates the necessity and
universality of all geometrical judgments, the form of time does
the same for arithmetical propositions — such at least is Kant's
view as interpreted by Hamilton, Mansel, Kuno Fischer, and others.
Mr. Mahaffy, Critical Philosophy, p. 64, contends that both sciences
were in Kant's opinion based on the intuition of space.-



268 RATIONAL LIFE.



■ — things when shaper! and coloured by mental forms. The
outcome of the criticism of the Pure Reason then is the
repudiation of knowledge regarding whatever transcends
experience.

The Critique of the Practical Reason contains Kant's moral
system — stoicism of a rigorous type. He there seeks to
restore in the form of belief what he has previously demolished
as rational cognition. Though the existence of the Deity, the
immortality of the soul, and the freedom of the will are
incapable of proof, if not also replete with contradictions, yet
their admission is exacted by the needs of our moral nature.

Criticism. — (i) It has been forcibly urged against Kant's
system as a whole that the central problem of the Critique —
the question whether our faculties can attain real truth — is
based on an erroneous view of the proper aim and method
of Philosophy. The dogmatical standpoint is the only one
which can be consistently maintained. We must from
the beginning, under penalty of absolute scepticism and
intellectual suicide, assume the capacity of the mind to attain
real truth. Every attempt to demonstrate the veracity or
the mendacity of our faculties must involve either a vicious
circle or a contradiction. Thought, as Hegel argued, can
only be scrutinized by thought, and to require a criticism of
thought antecedently to the acceptance of its validity is
like refusing to enter the water till we are able to swim.^-

(2) The proof of the subjectivity of the categories and ideas
rests largely on the analogy which holds between them and
the forms of sensibility, Space and Time, the subjective nature
of which is supposed to be already established. For a refuta-
tion of this latter point we refer the reader back to pp. 118
— 121. Kant's various illustrations of synthetic a priori judg-
ments are reducible either to contingent a posteriori generali-
zations or analytical truths. For a brief treatment of this
question we refer the reader to the volume of this series on
Logic, pp. 61 — 67. An elaborate justification of our assertion
will be found in Balmez, Bk. I. c. xxix., and Harper's Meta-
physics of tlic School, Bk. IV. c. v.

(3) Kant's argument against Rational Psychology is based
on his peculiar theory of knowledge and the assumption of
his complex scheme of forms, categories, and ideas interven-
ing between the mind and its cognition of itself. Accordingly
it shares the fate of that theory. But even if the mind
enjoyed only a mediate or representative perception of

^- Cf. Lotze, Mctaphysic, §§ 8, 9. For a general justification of
the doctrine of Philosophical Method asserted here, see Rickaby,
First Principles of Knowledge, cc. vi. vii.



THEORIES OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. 269

external reaJity its knowledge of its own states and of itself as
existing in these states is immediate. We do not deduce the
substantiality of the soul from an a priori conception of
substance ; nor is our conviction of its simplicity, abiding
identity and individual reality based on a paralogism. We
have an immediate intellectual apprehension of the mind in
its oivn operations. Self-consciousness combined with memory
reveals the mind to us as an indivisible reality which remains
the same amid a succession of varying feelings, which is the
connecting-point of all thoughts, the subject of real activities
and modifications, and knowing itself distinguishes itself from
all other beings. The unity of the mind is not merely formal.
This mind, self, or ego cannot be an empty illusory idea, or a
pure nothing. The nature of self-consciousness will be care-
fully-investigated in a future chapter.

(4) Kant's assumption of the existence of an external
noumenon in any shape, is inconsistent with the reduction of
the principle of causality to an a priori form. We are justified
in believing in an external reality as the cause of our sensa-
tions only if the principle of causality is really valid, applicable
to noumena, and not a purely subjective illusion.

(5) Finally, as a barrier against the scepticism of Hume,
and as a solid basis for science, the Critical Philosophy is a
complete failure. Hume analyzes all knowledge into transitory
mental states ; and necessary truths into irresistible subjective
beliefs generated by customary associations. The substitu-
tion by the German philosopher of 7iecessary hut stiW purely
subjective laws or forms of thought for such beliefs, does not
really touch the sceptic. Inasmuch as these laws inhere in
all human minds and condition all experience, Kant calls
them at times objective and universal as opposed to individual
variability, but still they are merely mental. They might, it
is true, explain the harmony of the activity of human minds,
were these isolated from the physical universe and occupied
solely in deducing mathematical theorems from abstract
axioms. But Astronomy, Geology, Physics, Chemistry,
Physiology, assume and verify the reality of laws other than
the creations of the mind. They assert unmistakably that
there are real powers acting upon us and upon each other in
space and time, according to laws which we know : they show
us that different minds agree in their representations of such
modes of action : and they demonstrate that these regular
modes of action continue unchanged in the absence of all
human minds. Science, in fact, assumes, and the verification
of its predictions justifies the assumption, that the laws of
cognition mirror the laws of real existence. Kant denies this,
and his substitution of innate and necessary but still purely



270 RATIONAL LIFE.



subjective forms of knowledge for the subjective beliefs of
Hume, does not afford a whit more solid ground for
science. ^■^

Later German Idealism. — That the intermediate position
between dogmatism and scepticism assumed by the Critical
Philosophy is untenable was speedily demonstrated by the
logic of histor}'. Like every system of partial scepticism it
inevitably leads to universal doubt and only awaited the
thinker sui^ciently consistent and audacious to draw the
final conclusion. If such irresistible convictions as those of
the reality of space, time, causality, unity, personal identity,
and the rest are to be deemed illusions, then not only the
instinctive beliefs and yearnings on which Kant would rest
the existence of God and a future life, are worthless, but also
our persuasion of the extra-mental existence of things-in-
themselves is unjustifiable. J. G. Fichte (1762 — 1814) boldly
took this last step, and even in Kant's lifetime logically
deduced from his master's principles consequences from
which the author of the Critical Philosophy shrank as false
and pernicious.

If the formal element of cognition, space, causality, and
the rest be a purely subjective creation, argued this uncom-
promising thinker, why may not the matter of knowledge, and
consequently the noumenon itself be also a mental fiction ?
Accordingly he concluded as the simplest explanation that
both matter and form of knowledge are the product of the
activity of the Ego. The manifold contents of experience,
just as well as the a priori intuitions and categories of cognition
are furnished by a creative faculty within us. Only the Ego
is ; what seems the non-ego is only its own self-limitation.
Each human mind, or finite ego is, however, merely a mode
of the Absolute Ego which is ever opposing itself to itself.

Empiricism. — In complete opposition to Kant and the
defenders of innate ideas stands the Empiricist school.
Previous to Kant and Hume, in his Essay on the Human
Understanding (i6go), John Locke sought " to inquire into the
origin, certainty, and extent of knowledge, and the grounds
of belief, opinion, and assent." This work is the fountain-
head of modern sensism, empiricism, materialism, and

13 Readings on Kant, Kleutgen, op. cit. §§ 337 — 368; Balmez,
op. cit. Bk. I. c. 29, Bk. III. cc. 16, 17, Bk. VII. cc. 12 — 14;
Martineau, A Study of Religion, Vol. I. pp. 70 — So; T. Pesch, S.J.,
Kant et la science moderne; Peillaube, op. cit. Pt. II. c. 2; Piat,
op. cit. pp. 140 — 180; Ueberweg, Logic, §§ 36 — 44; History of
Phil. Vol. II. pp. 159, seq., especially the notes; Dr. Stockl,
Geschichte, Vol. II. ; and Dr. Gutberlet, Logik und Erkenntnisstheoric,
pp. 185—204.



THEORIES OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. 271

phenomenal idealism.'* Locke starts with the rejection of
innate ideas or innate principles in any form. The mind is
originally a tabula rasa, a clean slate on which nothing is
written. The sources of all our knowledge are external
sense-perception and reflexion or internal perception. Nil
est in intellectu quod non fiicrit prius in sensu. Knowledge
consists in the perception of agreement or difference hetween
our ideas. The ultimate elements of knowledge are ideas
received through the senses. These aggregated in various
ways form compound or complex ideas, which are divided into
three classes, modes, substances, and relations. Ideas of
primary qualities of bodies — extension, solidity, figure, &c.,
are like their objective correlates, but ideas of secondary
qualities, taste, colour, &c., are not. By reflexion or internal
sensibility we know our volitions and feelings. By internal
and external sense combined, we form ideas of power, unity,
and the like. Substance, the self-subsisting substratum which
we imagine to be the support of the qualities of bodies, is a
mental fiction. It cannot be apprehended by internal or
external sense ; but, as we are unable to imagine that the
ideas we perceive by our senses inhere in nothing, we suppose
the existence of a substratum which binds them together.

Influence. — Locke's influence in Philosophy has been great
mainly in two directions. On the one hand he gave a powerful
impulse to Empirical Psychology, and on the other his
defective analysis of our mental endowments resulted in a
sensationalism which rapidly developed into materialism and
scepticism. The stimulus given to the study of mental
phenomena should within its own sphere have been a real
gain to Philosophy, but occurring unfortunately at an epoch
when Metaphysics had fallen into discredit, the use and value
of this method in the treatment of metaphysical questions
proper became absurdly over-estimated. Accordingly, most
modern thinkers from Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, to Mill
and Mr. Spencer, have been led to devote a prodigious
amount of labour to the obscure question of the origin of
knowledge, and then, on the strength of some very dubious

" The student is sometimes confused by the assertion that a
particular tenet leads both to idealism and to materialism. The
explanation is that the one is a deduction of Epistemology, the other
of Rational Psychology. The former refers to the nature and validity
of knowledge, the latter to the constitution of the soul. Thus, as we
show elsewhere, the sensist philosopher in expounding his theory of
cognition must dissolve the material world into a series of conscious
ideas, whilst in dealing with Rational Psychology, he must reduce
the mind, that is, this series of conscious states, to an aspect
or function of nerve matter.



272



RATIONAL LIFE.



solutions therein adopted, to determine authoritatively the
validity or invalidity of all our cognitions and beliefs.

As regards particular tenets of Locke we have only space
to remark: (i) that his conception of the mind as a passive
recipient tablet, and his non-recognition of its supra-sensuous
activity, are fatal blemishes to his psychology ; (2) that as a
consequence he can give no adequate account of all our most
important notions, such as those of God, self, substance, and
the various intellectual operations insisted on in a previous
chapter; (3) that his view of knowledge as the perception
of agreement or disagreement between ideas and not things,
and his doctrine of mediate perception leads inevitably to
subjective ideaUsm. If we can only know our mental states,
then we have no knowledge of the existence of a material
world beyond these states. (4) His use of the important
word idea is fatally ambiguous throughout his whole work,
and he similarly confounds mental with merely intra-organic
phenomena. The vital deficiencies in his doctrine of sense-
perception and in his conception of intellect were evinced in
the next generation by the Idealistic and Sceptical deductions
of Berkeley and Hume on the one hand, and by the Sen-
sualism of Condillac, Helvetius, and the French MateriaHsts
on the other.15 Both Berkeley and Hume ignore the essential
difference between sense and intellect, but as we have already
sketched their systems (pp. 108— no), we must omit them
here. The most thoroughgoing disciple of Locke in this
direction was the French philosopher Condillac. He omits
Locke's second source of experience, reflexion, altogether, and
endeavours to build up the edifice of knowledge by external
sense alone. Hartley, in this country, similarly conceived
the mind as a passive recipient something, in which by
association our sensations and phantasms combine, coalesce,
and become refined into spiritual cognitions. It will, how-
ever, be most useful to pass on to the latest representatives
of the Sensist school, and we shall take Bain and Sully as its
leading present advocates.

Recent Nominalism. — The following account of Conception
and Judgment is given by Dr. Bain : " We feel identity among
stars in spite of their variety, the things thus identified make
a class, and the operation is called classifying." " We are
able to attend'^^ to the points of agreement of resembling things

15 The best examination in English of Locke's system is,
perhaps, that from the Neo-Hegelian standpoint, contained in
Green's' Introduction to Hume's Treatise on Human Nature. Cf.
also Stockl's Geschichte. §§ 32—45-

1'' True, we are capable of attention, but this implies more than
sensibility.' Again, what are " points of agreement " ? Clearly not



THEORIES OE GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. 273



and to neglect the points of difference, as when we think of
the roundness of round bodies . . . this is named the power
of abstraction." Nevertheless " abstraction does not consist
in the mental separation of one property of a thing from the
other properties, as in thinking of the roundness of the moon
apart from its luminosity, . . . such a separation is imprac-
ticable:' We merely " imagine a thing in company with
others having the attribute in question, and affirm nothing of
the one concrete thing which is not true of all the others."
We sometimes seem to approach to an abstract idea, but it
is really impossible. Even in geometry the concrete lines and
figures are a necessity. " Length is the name /or one or more
things agreeing in the property so called, and the property is
nothing but this agreement." " The only generality possessing
separate existence is the Name. General ideas separated from
particulars have no counterpart in Reality (as implied in
Realism), and no Mental existence (as affirmed in Con^
ceptualism). . . . Neither can we have a mental Conception
of any property abstracted from all others; we cannot
conceive a circle except as of some colour and some size ; we
cannot conceive justice except by thinking of just actions."
Logically enough, then, following out the principles of
sensism, he holds also that " the existence of a supposed
external and independent material world is the crowning
instance of the abstraction converted into the separate
entity."!^

Criticism. — Such is Bain's psychology of universal con-
cepts, and we shall now comment on it. The expressions,
" feeling " or " sense of difference or identity," are inaccurate
if used of the comparative act in the same meaning as when
applied to the consciousness of the original sensations. The
perception of agreement or difference is an intellectual cogni-
tion. If " we are able to attend to the points of agreement ol
resembling things, and to neglect the points of difference,"
then it is not true that " we cannot make a mental separation
of one property of a thing from other properties." Attention
to one particular aspect of objects and neglect of the rest
constitutes precisely the mental separation of the former

a concrete quality, like a taste or smell, capable of stimulating a
sensuous faculty. " Agreement " is a relation between perceived things
and, consequently, its apprehension requires the exercise of an
additional activity superior to that engaged in the two or more
existing impressions. This activity must hold the two separate
impressions together and discern the relation of likeness or
unlikeness between them.

1'^ Mental Science, Bk. II. c. v.



274 RATIONAL LIFE.



property ; and in this the essence of abstraction consists. It
is, moreover, on the exercise of this intellectual faculty that
the science of geometry, and, in fact, all general knowledge
depends. We attend to those features of our figure which
are common to all the class, and we omit the rest. Our
demonstration proceeds solely from the attribute or group of
attributes which are contained in the concept of the species
of figure with which we deal ; and if we allow any accidental
qualities to intrude, our proof may become at once vitiated.
It is, of course, indisputable that we cannot picture by the
imaf^ination length separated from the line, or surface from
the plane; but this does not prevent us from thinking the
length whilst we ignore the other qualities. When I prove a
thesis in geometry regarding the length of some line, I fix my
attention solely on the length of the imperfect line before me,
although of course my senses must apprehend it as possessing
breadth. Now, this act of attention is a thought, a cognition
presenting to me that something which forms the subject of
my elaborate demonstration — a universal idea : and the
denial either of its abstract character or of its real objec-
tive foundation annihilates the science of Geometry. (See
p. 250.)

Dr. Bain's definition of length as " the name of one or
more things agreeing in this property," illustrates well the
violence that must be done to common language and common
thought in order to adapt them to the needs of the Sensist
Psychology. Length is not the name of things — the fishing-
rod, the piece of string, and the River Thames — any more
than motion is the name of the steam-engine, the swallow,
and the perambulator. It is simply the name of a common
property which the mind can consider and reason about
"irrespective of any other relations." It is quite true that
we cannot form a sensuous image or phantasm of a circle
except of some particular colour, size, &c., and it is also true
that the intellect cannot elicit a universal idea without the
presence of a concrete image ; but given this latter, we can
contemplate in thought the specific or universal features
abstracting from those which are individual.

The comparative or judicial activity of the mind Dr. Bain
resolves into the Law of Relativity. (See p. 91.) He holds that
" the really fundamental separation of the Intellect is into
three facts called (i) Discrimination, the sense, feeling, or
consciousness of difference. (2) Similarity, the feeling or
consciousness of agreement, and (3) Retentiveness, or the
power of memory or acquisition. These three functions,
however, much as they are mingled in our mental operations,
are yet totally distinct properties, and each the groundwork



THEORIES OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. 275



of a distinct structure. . . . They are the Intellect, the whole
Intellect, and nothing but the Intellect."

The attempted reduction of Intellect to a mere phase of
the Law of Relativity lies open to the fatal objection that it
confounds in the crudest manner two essentially distinct
things — capacity for discriminable feelings, and the power of
discriminating between them. Bain's language concerning the
so-called "facts" of discrimination ignores the radical diver-
sfty between the mere occurrence of unlike feelings and the
comparative act of the higher faculty by which that unlike-
ness is cognized. Transition from one feeling to the other,
change from one state of consciousness to another, is very
different from the intellectual act of attention by which we
may and do at times recognize that transition, and compare
those states. Among low stages of animal life we frequently
find the keenest susceptibility to different sensations. But the
intellectual perception of them as different is wanting. The
same objection appHes to his treatment of the " fact " of
agreement.

With regard to the third " fact " or "function " he is even
less happy. " Retentiveness " strictly understood means
simply the' persistence in the mind or body of a disposition
towards the re-excitation of a state which has once occurred.
Now this capability of conservation or resuscitation is not a
specially intellectual or cognitive property at all. If, however,
it is to be interpreted more largely as involving recognition
and equivalent to " memory," then it is clearly not simple or
ultimate in Dr. Bain's sense, but is in part made up of the
other " fact " or cognition of agreement.

Dr. Sully, who is at present probably the most popular
representative of the Sensist school, seems to have felt the
inadequacy of the account of our knowledge given by his
predecessors. In chapters ix. x. of his Outlines of Psychology,
he analyzes and describes the process of thinking. Some of
his remarks there appear to us accurate enough ; but usually
when this is the case they seem to be inconsistent with
his Sensationalist assumption that " all mental activity is of
one and the same kind throughout its manifold phases.'' (p. 26.)^'^

^8 The phrase "manifold phases" is happily vague; but in
substance Mr. Sully adopts the sensist principle that at bottom all
mental life is essentially of one kind — sensuous consciousness. How
the admission of a power of " active self-direction " (p. 73) and of
those various activities involved in comparison of impressions,
cognition of relations, and reflexion on states of self (cc. ix. x.) is
to be reconciled with this view, he does not attempt to explain.
For our own part, we cannot easily imagine a more fundamental



Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 27 of 63)