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reputation as a psychologist is at once ruined, and he is
stigmatized as a " metaphysician"! The unsatisfactori-
ness of such a course ought now to be plain to our
readers. The first part of this work, whatever be its
positive value, ought to have at least proved that it is
impossible to separate the investigation of our mental
activities from Philosophy — that an unphilosophical psy-
chology is necessarily an inconsistent, and therefore an
unscientific psychology. Our views concerning the exist-
ence of an external world, the nature of the higher
faculties of the soul, human responsibility, causalit}',
and the final question of materialism or spiritualism,
must inevitably be determined by the view of the
character of mental life adopted in the empirical portion
of Psychology. Once more we are forced to choose,
not between a metaphysical psychology and psychology
without any metaphysics ; but between a psycholog}^
annexed to an inconsistent, half-concealed, clandestine
metaphysics, and one that forms part of a philosophical
system which, whatever be its difficulties, is at any rate
openly professed and frankly declared.

Method. — Our method of procedure here will be
both inductive and deductive, both analytic and


synthetic. We start from truths and facts already
possessed to reach others not yet known. We argue
from the effect to the cause. From the character of
those mental activities, which we have analyzed with
so much care, we shall now be able to perfect our con-
ception of the subject to which they belong. We
believe that no doctrine concerning the nature of the
soul can be satisfactorily established in the face of
modern criticism, based, as it now is, on most acute
and elaborate analyses of our conscious states, unless
that doctrine rest upon an analysis of these states not
less thorough and painstaking. And it is for this reason,
we have begun this work by so laborious and detailed
an investigation into the character of our mental
activities, especially those of thought and volition.
From what the mind does, we shall now seek to learn
what it is. From the spiritual nature of our rational
and voluntary operations, we shall show that the soul
is endowed with the attributes of simplicity and
spirituality ; or rather, that in its nature it is a simple
spiritual substantial being. When this all-important
truth has been firmly established, we shall deduce
certain other conclusions regarding the soul's origin
and destiny. It will, however, be most convenient
to begin by proving the soul to be a substantial prin-
ciple. We shall then establish its persisting indivisible
identity through life ; next its simple nature ; and after-
wards its spirituality. Each of these propositions, taken
by itself, may afford but little positive information ; and
even when they have been all combined, the synthetic
concept of the nature of the soul thus reached will still
necessarily be very imperfect and inadequate ; never-
theless, it will constitute knowledge real and valid, so
far as it goes.

Substantiality of the Human Mind or Soul. —
By the word Mind or Soid, we here understand the
siibject of our mental life, the ultimate principle by which we
feel, think, and will. A principle is that from which some-
thing proceeds, and by ultimate principle is here meant
the last ground or source of the mental activit}^ within
us. Our immediate task, therefore, is to prove that


this ultimate principle of our individual conscious life
is of a substantial nature. The notion of Substance has
been so violently attacked in modern philosophy that it
is desirable in entering upon the present question to
add some further remarks to the account already given
of this idea when deaUng with its genesis. (See p. 368.)
But for a detailed discussion of the subject we must
refer to the volume of this series on Metaphysics,

Validity of Notion of Substance. — AH being is
divided into substance and accidents. Substance is that
which exists per se — that which subsists in itself ; as
contrasted with accident, that which of its nature
inheres in another as in a subject of inhesion. The
primary element therefore in the concept of Substance
is not permanence amid change, although in the develop-
ment of the notion this feature plays an important part.
Still less is the essential note of substance the idea of
a secret substratum, concealed like ''the core of an onion "
beneath a rind of changing accidents really distinct
from itself. The Divine Being, though devoid of all
accidents and immutable from all eternity, is a perfect
Substance ; and on the other hand, an atom or an
angel created to be destroyed the next instant, would
have been a genuine substance, even if it underwent
no change during its brief existence. The assault of
modern philosophy upon the conception of substance
has been almost entirely directed against this secret
substratum or noumenon which is supposed never to reveal
itself to cognition. Accordingly, when we recall and
insist upon the old definition — id quod per se stat, — the
most plausible objections which have been raised against
this notion lose their force. ^

^ "The chief attack on substance is made precisely on the
misconception, that the inmost essence of the notion is a substratum,
hidden away under quaHties really distinct from itself, a fixed
unchangeable thing clothed in attributes, some variable, some
constant, but all, as was just said, really distinct. Such is the
interpretation of the scholastic theory by most opponents ; while
the schoolmen themselves have held up existence per sc as the
fundamental notion of substance. For, first it is clear that they
could apply no other definition to God. Moreover, even with
regard to created substance, they were aware of the enormous


The Mind is a Substantial Principle. — Every
form of reality must in the last resort either subsist in
itself, that is, exist per se, or inhere in another being.
Sphericity, colour, pain, for instance, cannot subsist in
themselves ; neither can there be an infinite series of
such accidents, each being only a mode or attribute
of another; there must ultimately be something which
exists per se. Furthermore, substances really act, and
by their action make themselves known to us. Now
the last ground of our mental life, the ultimate basis
of our psychical activities must be a substantial principle.
States of consciousness, mental modifications, necessarily
presuppose a subject to which they belong. Even
assuming that they ma}' turn out to be functions of
the nervous system, or phases or aspects of cerebral
processes, they must still have their origin in a substantial
principle. Motion is unthinkable without something
that is moved. A feeling necessarily implies a being
which feels. Cognitions and passions cannot inhere in
nothing. Desires cannot proceed from nothing ; they
must have a source or a subject from which they flow.
So far even the materialist must agree with us.

Internal Experience. — Or we may appeal directly to the
testimony of internal consciousness. That I am a real being,
subsisting in myself; that I am immediately aware of myself
as the subject of sensations, feelings, and thoughts, but not
any one of them, or all of them ; that I am the cause of my
own volitions ; that I am distinct from other beings ; that
there is in me a Self — that I am an Ego which is the centre
and source of my acts and states, the ultimate ground and
subject of my thoughts and affections, is forced upon me by
constant, intimate, immediate self-experience, with the most
irresistible evidence. If it be an illusion, there is no beUef,
no cognition, however clear and certain, that can claim assent.

philosophic difficulty in the proof of what are sometimes called
'absolute accidents that are more than merely modal,' for the
demonstration of which they relied not on arguments from reason,
but upon consequences which they thought to be involved in the
Church's doctrine about the Holy Eucharist." (John Rickaby,
Metaphysics, p. 254.) "Permanence is not of the essence of substance,
any more than non-permanence or succession of accidents is of
their essence ; Kant, therefore, and Green are wrong in the leading
position which they assign to permanence." [Ihid. p. 259.)


Notwithstanding his own erroneous view as to the nature
of Substance, Lotze rightly insists that the cognition of a
substantial self, is a fact of immediate experience : " It has
been required of any theory which starts without presupposi-
tions and from the basis of experience, that in the beginning
it should speak only of sensations and ideas, without mention-
ing the soul to which, it is said, we hasten without justi-
fication to ascribe them. I should maintain, on the contrary,
that such a mode of setting out involves a wilful departure
from that ivhich is actually given in experience. A mere sensation
without a subject is nowhere to be met with as a fact. It
is impossible to speak of a bare movement without thinking
of the mass whose movement it is ; and it is just as impossible
to conceive a sensation existing without the accompanying
of that which has it, — or rather, of that which feels it, for
this also is included in the given fact of experience that the
relation of the feeling subject to its feeling, whatever its other
characteristics may be, is in any case something different
from the relation of the moved element to its movement.
It is thus and thus only, that the sensation is a given fact ;
and we have no right to abstract from its relations to its
subject because this relation is puzzling, and because we
wish to obtain a starting-point which looks more convenient,
but is utterly unwarranted by experience." (Metaphysic, § 241.)

Abiding Identity of the Mind. — Having insisted
on the truth that the primary note in the concept of
substance is not the idea of a permanent secret immu-
table substratum; we now proceed to prove that, as a
matter of fact, the substantial being of the human mind
does endure throughout our mental life — that the soul is a
real unitary being ivhich abides the same during all the varying
modes of consciousness. And, although permanence amid
changing accidents is not necessarily implied in the
notion of substance, the establishment of the present
proposition will undoubtedly tend to render still more
evident the substantial nature of the Mind. The proof
rests on the evidence of internal consciousness, under-
standing this term in a broad sense, so as to include
reflective-cognition and self-conscious memory.

Reflexion and Memory. — Any process of reflec-
tive observation of our experiences brings into the most
vivid contrast the distinction between the mind as an
abiding subject and its transitory modifications, whilst it
forces upon us the real sameness of that subject with an


evidence that is irresistible. The simplest act of jiidg-
nient, the briefest process of conscious reasoning is
possible only to a being that persists unchanged during
the interval required to pass from subject to predicate,
from premisses to conclusions. But the necessary con-
tinuity of the agent becomes more obvious in the
exercise of deliberate recollection. Memory, in a certain
sense, is involved in every retrospective operation ;
indeed, it is an essential condition of every act of
knowledge which extends beyond the mere present
sensation ; but the assurance it affords concerning some
past experiences is not less than that which we possess
in regard to present events. I am indubitably certain
that I rose from bed this morning, that I breakfasted,
that I have written the first words of the sentence
which I am now continuing, that I was in Liverpool
last winter, and the like. When I now turn to analyze
introspectively these remembrances, I perceive that
they all imph'citly involve the identification of my
present self with the self of these past experiences.
But this would be impossible were the mind merely
a succession of states, or were the material organism
the substantial principle in which these states inhere.
The constituent elements of the latter, it is a well-
established physiological fact, are completely changed
in a comparatively short time ; and fleeting mental acts
which did not inhere in a permanent subject, could as
little result in this self-conscious recollection, as could
the disconnected cognitions of successive generations of
men. The unity of consciousness establishes an essential unity
of being. It is only a real unitary being, persisting the
same amid transitory states, that can afford an adequate
basis for the fact of remembrance. Margerie, therefore,
rightly maintains : " The condition necessar}^ for the
act of recollection, is the identity of the being who
remembers, with that being whose former states are
recalled by memory. To remember experiences of
another would be to remember having been somebody else :
in other words, to simultaneously affirm and deny one's
own identity, a pure and absurd contradiction."^

'^ Philosophie Contemporaine, p. 140.


Apart, however, from memory, self-consciousness, strictly
understood, discloses to me only the present existence of the
Ego in my various operations. It does not reveal my past
history, nor assure me of the identity of the man sitting here
with the boy who was at a certain school many years ago.
Mistake is therefore possible with respect to some past events
owing to accidental aberrations of memory. But this in no
way invalidates our argument. A single certain recollection
would be siijficient to prove the persisting identity of the mind as a
real being. Lotze has written well : " We come to understand
the connexion of our inner life only by referrmg all its events
to the one Ego lying unchanged alike beneath its simultaneous
variety and its temporal succession. Every retrospect of the
past brings with it this image of the Ego as the combining
centre ; our ideas, our feelings, our efforts are comprehensible
to us only as its states or energies, not as events floating
unattached in a void. And yet we are not incessantly making
this reference of the internal manifold to the unity of the
Ego. It becomes distinct only in the backward look which we
cast over our life with a certain concentration of collective
attention. ... It is not necessary and imperative that at
every moment and in respect to all its states a Being should
exercise the unifying efficiency put within its power by the
unity of its nature. ... If the soul, even if but rarely, but
to a limited extent, nay, but once be capable of bringing
together variety into the unity of consciousness, this slender
fact is sufficient to render imperative an inference to the
indivisibility of the Being by which it can be performed." **

Simplicity of the Soul. — In establishing the per-
manent identity of the mind we have proved that it is
not composed of a series of successive events or states.
By affirming its simplicity we mean to affirm that it is
not composed of separate parts or diverse principles of
any kind ; consequently that it is not extended.* The

3 Microcosnms, Bk. II. c. i. § 4. The student must be careful not
to conceive the tuiity of consciousness in this sense as opposed to the
doctrine of the ultimate duality of consciousness in External Percep-
tion. (Cf. p. 106.)

^ The schoolmen expressed this attribute — absence of extension
or composition of integrant parts — by the term quantitative simplicity.
The fact that the soul is not the result of a plurality of principles
coalescing to form a single nature (as e.g., in their view the formal
and material principles of all corporeal objects) they signified by
asserting that it is essentially simple — simplex quoad essentiam. Our
proof equally excludes all forms of composition, that of extended


method of proof is the same — from the indivisible unity
of consciousness ; and the present proposition is really
demonstrated by the last argument. But the impossi-
bility of the ultimate source of our conscious life being
a composite substance will become clearer if we con-
sider the character of some particular mental acts, and
try to realize what is involved in the supposition that
they proceed from such a substance.

(i) The Simplicity of Intellectual Ideas. — Our experience
teaches us that we can form various abstract ideas,
such as those of Being, Unity, Truth, Virtue, and the
like, which are of their nature simple indivisible acts.
Now, acts of this sort cannot proceed from an extended
or composite substance, such as, for instance, the hvain.
This will be seen by a little reflexion. In order that
the indivisible idea of, say, Truth, be the result of the
activity of this extended substance, either different
parts of the idea must belong to different parts of the
brain, or each part of the brain must be subject of an
entire idea, or the whole idea must pertain to a single
part of the brain. The first alternative is clearly
absurd. The act by which the intellect apprehends
virtue, being, and the like, is an indivisible thought. It
is directly incompatible with its nature to be allotted
or distributed over an aggregate of separate atoms.
But the second alternative is equally impossible. If
different parts of the composite substance were each
the basis of a complete idea, we should have at the
same time not one, but several ideas of the object.
Our consciousness, however, tells us this is not the case.
Lastly, if the whole idea were located in one part or
element of the composite substance, this part should
itself be composite or simple. If the latter, then our
thesis — that the ultimate subject of thought is indi-
visible — is estabhshed at once. If the former, then the
old series of impossible alternatives will recur again
until we are finally forced to the same conclusion.

parts as well as that of separate unextended principles, whether
homogeneous or heterogeneous. The unity of consciousness is in-
compatible with a multiplicity of. component elements, of whatever


(2) The Simplicity of the Intellectual Acts of Judgment ami
Inference. — A similar line of reasoning applies here. The
simplest judgment supposes the comparison of two distinct
ideas, which must be simultaneously apprehended by one
indivisible agent. Suppose the judgment, " Science is useful,"
to be elicited. If the Subject which apprehends the two
concepts " science " and " useful " is not indivisible, then we
must assume that one of these terms is apprehended by one
part and the other by a second ; or else that separate
elements of the divisible Subject are each the seat of both
ideas. In the former case, however, we cannot have any
judgment at all. The part a apprehends " science, "_ the
different part h conceives the notion " useful," but the indi-
visible act of comparison requiring a single agent who
combines the two ideas is wanting, and we can no more have
the affirmative predication than if one man thinks " science,"
and another forms the concept " useful." In the second
alternative, if a and h each simultaneously apprehended both
"science" and " useful," then we should have not one but
a multiplicity of judgments. The simplicity of the inferential
act by which we seize the logical sequence of a conclusion,
is still more irreconcilable with the hypothesis of a composite
Subject. The three judgments — Every y isz ; every x is y ;
therefore, every x is z — could no more constitute a syllogism
if they proceeded from a composite substance than if each
proposition was apprehended alone by a separate man.

This good old argument has also been adopted by Lotze :
" Any comparison of two ideas, which ends by our finding
their" contents like or unlike, presupposes the absolutely
indivisible unity of that which compares them ; it must be
one and the same thing which first forms the idea of «, and
then that of h, and which at the same time is conscious of the
nature and extent of the difference between them. Then
again the various acts of comparing ideas and referring them
to one another are themselves in turn reciprocally related ;
and this relation brings a new activity of comparison to
consciousness. And so our whole inner world of thoughts
is built up, not as a mere collection of manifold ideas existing
with or after one another, but as a work in which these
individual members are held together and arranged by the
relating activity of this single pervading principle. This is
what we mean by the Unity of Consciousness. It is this we
regard as sufficient ground for assuming an indivisible soul."^
' (3) TJie Indivisibility of Volition. — The same line of argument

5 Metaphysics, § 241. Cf. Balmez. op. cit. Bk, XI. c. ii. ; also our
:itation, pp. 245—247.


as in the case of judgment establishes the simplicity of the
soul from the unity of consciousness presented in acts of
will. An indivisible act of choice cannot be elicited by an
assemblage of distinct parts or principles.^ But we may
leave the development of the proof to the reader.

We have thus shown that the soul cannot be formally
extended, tliat it cannot have parts outside of parts after the
manner of a material substance. But this does not exclude
the possibility of what is sometimes termed virtual extension —
that attribute in virtue of which an energy indivisible in itself
may yet exert its influence throughout an extended sphere.

The Spirituality of the Soul. — We now pass on
to demonstrate that the soul is spiritual or immaterial.
The attribute of spirituality is sometimes confounded
with that of simplicity, but they ought to be carefully
distinguished. By saying that a substance is simple we
mean that it is not a resultant or product of separate
factors or parts. By affirming that it is spiritual or
immaterial^ we signify that in its existence, and to some
extent in regard to its operations, it is independent of
matter. The principle of life in the lower animals was
held by the schoolmen to be in this sense an example of
a simple principle which is nevertheless not spiritual,
since it is altogether dependent upon the organism, or,
as they saXd, completely immersed in the body. St. Thomas,
accordingly, speaks of the corporeal souls of brutes.

The Human Soul is a Spiritual Substance. —
The proof may be stated briefly thus : The human soul
is the subject or source of various spiritual activities ;
but the subject or source of spiritual activities must
be itself a spiritual being ; therefore the soul must be
a spiritual being. The minor premiss is merely a
particular application of the axiom, that the operation
of an agent follows its nature — actio sequituv esse. As the
being is, so must it act. The establishment of the
general truth of this principle is a problem for Meta-
physics ; but all that is necessary for our purpose
becomes evident on a little careful consideration of the
axiom. An effect cannot transcend its cause : no action
can contain more perfection or a higher order of reality

*> Cf. Margerie, pp. 15, seq. ; and Balmez, op. cit. Bk. IX. § 76.


than is possessed by the being which is the entire
source of that action. If. then, a mental activity can
be shown not to be exerted by a material organ, or to
be in any degree independent of a material organ, the
principle from which that activity proceeds must be
similarly independent. It is positively unthinkable that
whilst the soul depended as regards its whole being on
the organism, it should still in some of its exercises be
in any way independent of the organism. If, accord-
ingly, any activities of the soul are spiritual, then the
soul itself is spiritual." For the proof of the propo-
sition that we are endowed with activities of a spiritual
or immaterial kind we have only to refer to the results
established in chapters xii. and xix. where we showed
both Intellect and Will to be intrinsically independent
of the body. We shall, however, here recall some of
the facts which manifest the truth of our thesis :

I. The Spirituality of TJionght. — We are capable of
apprehending and representing to ourselves abstract
and universal ideas, such as justice, unity, man,
triangle ; we can form notions of spiritual being, e.g.,

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 47 of 63)