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Prof. Haldane, "Vitalism," Nineteenth Century (Sept. 1S98).

=*- Here is a truly naive petitio principii. After copiously proving
universally admitted facts, the writer slurs over the crucial question,
and devotes just tivo lines, plus an abusive epithet, to establish


between mental and neural processes, whilst the hi2i.' of the
conservation of energy precludes real interaction between them,
the only satisfactory scientific conception of their relations is
that " Mind and body, consciousness and brain are evolved
as different forms of expression of one and the same being."
(54.) " Both the parallelism and the proportionality between
the activity of consciousness and cerebral activity point to an
identity at bottom. . . . We have no right to take mind and
body for two beings or substances in reciprocal interaction."
(64.)^^ In fine, " the Identity-hypothesis regards the mental and
material worlds as two manifestations of one and the same
being both given in experience." (66.) Still, lest the reader
might begin to suspect that the scientiiic psychologist has
after all lapsed into Metaphysics, he is reassured and com-
forted by the statement : " Concerning the inner relation

the fundamental thesis on which his attack upon dualism rests !
The two lines are either a puerile and irrelevant truism, or a formal
begging of the whole question in dispute. The assumption that a
physical movement is modified only by a physical force is a truism for the
astronomer, chemist, physicist, &c., who abstract from all but physical
forces ; but it is the precise point to be proved in regard to the vioral
sciences, ethics, economics, aesthetics, psychology, which all assume,
and find the same sort of verification for the assumption, that 7ion-physical
forces — motives and volitions — direct physical movements. What
the Mofiist has to prove is, e.g., that the ideas of " Independence" or
" British supremacy " have had no real influence in originating or
in directing that special commotion of material particles and trans-
mutation of physical energy called "the Boer war." For this, neither
a question-begging epithet, nor an irrelevant truism will suffice.
Assuredly the fact that the physical scientist may justly assume this
law of inertia with only approximate proof in regard to lifeless matter
does not compel the moral scientist to admit it without any proof,
rigid or approximate, regarding living conscious beings.

'^'■^ Surely the parallelism of two activities would point not to one
but to two distinct substrata. Again : are they parallel in space, or in
time ? Or how ? Are both continuous ? Experience affirms mental
states accompany only a fraction of neural processes ; and present
science professes profound ignorance of the character of the cerebral
correlate of the higher rational activities. What, then, is the
precise signification of this "parallelism" of the activities, except
their incapacity to meet — which is scarcely a reason for their identifica-
tion ? Does the "proportionality" — e.g., of a reasoning process to
its concomitant nerve-commotion — refer to variation in intensity,
or spatial area, or rapidity, or duration ? Or has this half-conceived
metaphor — on which the whole weight of the monistic inference here
rests — any consistent intelligible meaning whatsoever ? This is a
specimen of the clearness and accuracy of thought of that
" scientific " psychology which contemns the "metaphysician."


between mind and matter, we teach nothing ; we suppose only
that one being works in both. But what kind of being is this ?
Why has it a double form of manifestation, why does not one
suffice ? These are questions which lie beyond the region of
our knowledge." (Op. cit. p. 67.)

Criticism: Metaphysics inevitable.— It niay be
justly urged that any positivistic attempt to disprove
the interaction or the real duality of mind and body
based on the Conservation of Energy, viewed as a generali-
zation of physical science and prescinding from all
metaphysics, is necessarily illegitimate and worthless.
Every interpretation of this Law involves some meta-
physical theory. The doctrine can certainly not be
invoked as an established truth of positive science
incompatible with real interaction between mind and
body, whilst its own philosophical significance is
altogether ignored. The notions of causality, action,
energy, and the like, are derived, in the first instance,
from the mind's own real activity and its immediate
experience of exerting real influence over thoughts and
bodily movements, (pp. 368, seq.) All our conceptions of
energy, causality, interaction between material agents pre-
suppose the experience of personal causality — of the
real influence of mind on body. If it be an illusion to
think that the mind really influences the body, it must be
equally erroneous to suppose that any one body really
influences another. What then, is the precise meaning
of the " first principle of exact science " that " the state
of a material point can be altered only through the
influence oi another material point?" It will not avail
the positivist to turn round now, and say that by
" causal action" or "influence" of material agents on
each other, he only means constant succession or concomitance.
For such constant succession or concomitance cannot
be denied to obtain with respect to the mental and
bodily processes. The truth is, the positivist Psycho-
logist, by professing to abjure all metaphysics, evades
the obligation of defining those metaphysical concep-
tions with which all real science is saturated, and then
employs them alternately in the sense ascribed to them


by Hume or by Reid, by phenomenism or by common
sense, as he finds convenient for his argument.^^

2. Constancy of Energy not a Necessary Truth.-— The law is
not a necessary a priori axiom, but a generalization from
experience. Now many writers urge that the law is not
demonstrated to hold accurately for any living organism;
and that there is no possibility of its ever being rigidly proved
respecting the universe as a whole. The experiments establish-
ing the exactness of the law, from the nature of the case, have
been fully satisfactory only in reference to portions of
inanimate matter; whilst the very point in dispute is its
applicability to living sentient beings. The animal structure is
an extremely delicate machine, in which the action of a
relatively small force may liberate or transform a very large
quantity of latent energy, pretty much as the faintest pressure
of a hair-trigger pistol may explode a powder-magazine.^-^
In such a case the pouvoir decrochant — the force which frees the
stored-up energy — is so infinitesimally small as to be quite
inappreciable when incorporated in the total result. In this
view the law is admitted to possess approximate but not
absolute accuracy in regard to sentient or rational beings.^^
Consequently there always remains room for the interaction
of mind and body, though the total quantity of energy in the
universe should thereby undergo infinitesimal variations.

3. Mathematical Solutions. — Distinguished mathemati-
cians, however, have professed to reconcile the modification
of bodily movement by the mind with the most rigid fulfil-
ment of the law. One of the simplest solutions advanced is
thus stated : " It is a principle of mechanics that a force
acting at right angles to the direction in which a body is
moving does no work, although it may continually alter the
direction in which the body moves. No power, no energy, is
required to deflect a bullet from its path, provided the deflect-
ing force acts always at right angles to that path. ... If
Mind or Will simply deflect matter as it moves, it may produce
all the consequences claimed by the Wilful School, and yet it
will neither add energy nor matter to the universe."^^

3-» Cf. Ladd, Philosophy of Mind, pp. 209—219.

3* "As far as we can j udge, life is always associated with machinery
of a certain kind, in virtue of which an extremely delicate directive
touch is magnified ultimately into a very considerable transmutation
of energy." (Balfour Stewart, On the Conservation of Energy, p. 163.)

36 G. Fonsegrive, Le Libre Arbitre (1896), pp. 315 — 326.

37 Cited by Tait and Stewart, The Unseen Universe, p. 180. These
eminent physicists, however, prefer a different solution. [Ibid. §§
III, 112.) M.M. Cournot, de Saint-Venant, Boussinesque, and


4. True Solution. — The notion underlying most of the
answers suggested — that the Mind or Will merely directs,
applies, or disposes of the energy stored in the organism-
contains, at least, part of the explanation ; but their advocates
seem to us frequently to err in representing the Mind as in a
condition of excessive isolation from or independence of the
body. Indeed, much of the strength of this difficulty is due
to the erroneous conception of the mutual relations of soul
and body prevalent among spiritualist writers since Descartes.
In his theory (see above, p. 257), if the soul initiated or modified
a series of bodily movements, it would do so after the manner
of Si foreign agent, and would therefore seem inevitably to alter
the quantum of energy possessed by the alien material system
with which it is supposed to interfere. But if, rejecting this
ultra-dualism, we return to the Aristotelian conception
according to which soul and body constitute one complete
substantial living being of which the soul is the animating,
actuating, or determining principle— the formal cause, whilst
the body is the determinable, material, quantitative principle,
the difficulty at once loses more than half its force. The
question is now no longer whether a spiritual agent can excite
or modify the movements of a foreign material system without
augmenting or diminishing the energy of that system, but
whether the conscious states of a sentient being can determine
the actualization and direction of the latent physical energy
of that being without changing its amount. For, in this view,
the material energy manifested in movement was previously
stored in the living organic tissues; feelings and volitions
merely determine the form it shall assume. Mental acts thus
modify not the quantity, but the quality of the energy contained
in the system. The distinction between quality and quantity
in all forms of energy is the key to the solution of the difficulty.

This is admirablyinsisted upon by P. Couailhac in his recent
able monograph on the problem.^^ Quantity and movement
are the special object of the exact sciences ; but they do not
exhaust the content of the universe. In every transition from
potential to actual energy, the qualitative element, he rightly
urges, is as real and influential as the quantity. Direction, which
is the qualitative element of movement, is as real and important

others, have also invented various ingenious solutions based on
more or less abstruse mathematics. To our mind, however, the
chief value of these attempts is that they make prominent the com-
plexity, obscurity, and uncertainty of the assumptions involved in
applying the doctrine of Conservation to the living organism, and
prove the groundlessness of the dogmatism of Monism.

»8 La LibertJ ct la Conservation dc VEncrgie (Paris, 1897), Livre IV.


as velocity and duration. In order that a material particle may
move, it must take a definite path in space. But the quantity
of energy— the velocity and the mass— being given, an in-
definite variety of such paths conceivably lie open to it. It
does not dispose of quality to say that the direction of the moving
body is due to the intensity of "the forces playing on it. This
merely pushes the question back. The effect of these forces
is due as much to their quality as to their quantity, and so the
qualitative element must ultimately be traced back to a directive
principle distinct from quantity. Passing to the more complex
movements of Uving organisms which start from a germ cell
and develop into an animal of a particular species, the
qualitative efficiency of the energy which determines the lines
along which the embryo is to evolve becomes still more promi-
nent. Whilst the quantity of the energy of the Uving organism
at any time is the resultant of the material elements borrowed
from external nature, the form of this energy is determined by
the organizing force of the germinal principle; though the
action of the latter is again conditioned by the nutriment
absorbed. Finally, in the living conscious being this qualitative
determining factor takes a still higher form, its range of activity
is wider, its power of applying, directing, and disposing of the
energy stored in the organism is more varied and more flexible,
but it cannot alter the quantity of the capital funded in the
self-moving machine. If, then, it be the quality of the forces
distributed in the nervous system which the directive power of
the soul inmiediately determines, the liberation and control of
a man's physical activity by his thoughts and volitions need
not necessarily conflict with even the most rigid fulfilment of
the Law of the constancy of the quantity of energy.^'-^

The Law of Inertia, however, cannot be admitted
to apply to conscious movements. Amongst the reasons
for denying its validity, are these: (i) It is admittedly
not self-evident. (2) It cannot be proved. (3) It at

39 "La volonte pent eveiller et tirer de leur torpeur les forces
disponibles de rorganisme, auquel elle est unie. Ella ne peut les
accroitre. Ces forces ont une limite, quand elle est atteinte, elles
s'arretent ou flechissent. Et il n'y a pas de tension de la volonte
qui puisse les porter en avant ou les soutenir. ... La fonction de
la vie est de placer les forces physico-chimiques dans les conditions
ou peuvent se produire les combinaisons d'ou resulte le tourbillon
vital, La vie est directrice. Majs elle ne peut ni alterer ni per-
fectionner les elements qui sont mis a sa disposition par la nature."
(Couailhac, op. cit. p. 226.)


least seems to be directly contradicted by the internal
experience of all men. (4) It would involve the in-
credible absurdities already dwelt upon, (pp.513 — 516.)
It is the unwarrantable application of this principle — not
that of the constancy of energy — which is incompatible
with dualism and the efficacy of mental action.

Agnosticism. — The final outcome of Monism is
Agnosticism. As in establishing our own doctrine, we
have indirectly refuted this creed — for since it profes-
sedly reposes not on reason but on faith, creed it is — we
cannot dwell on the subject further here. Indeed, since
the Unknowable declines to recognize the laws of logic,
rational criticism would be obviously futile. In its dark
continent the identification of thought and matter may
be peacefully accomplished without the disturbing
interference of either the profane scientist or the imper-
tinent philosopher. Screened off from the inconveniences
of public discussion, rebellious facts, and repugnant
principles can there be silently suppressed. The
freedom, responsibility, abiding identity and indi-
viduality to which conscious experience testifies can
be rejected as irrelevant evidence — because, of course,
no evidence is accepted within the jurisdiction of the
Unknowable. The difficulties of the theory which main-
tains that human thought has never influenced human
civilization, are easily overcome — the resources of the
Unknowable being equal to all emergencies. Enjoying
the hospitality of its ample territory, the most violent
contradictions and implacable inconsistencies can rest
in tranquil repose. Its frontiers once crossed, the
Monist has reached a hallowed asylum, into which
even the most relentless persecution of logic or common
sense cannot follow him. There, at last, all objections
are answered, all difficulties are solved, all doubts are
assuaged by the one great axiom so well — if not wisely —
expressed by Dr. Hodgson: " Whatever you are totally
ignorant of, assert to be the explanation of everything else."

Additional Readings. — Coconnier, ib. c. ii.; Farges, ib. pp. 136 — 106;
Ladd, ib. cc. 9, 10.



Immortality and Psychology. — We have now
proved that the soul is a simple, spiritual, sub-
stantial principle ; and we have criticized at some-
length the chief counter theories. The truths thus
far established, though interesting in themselves,
derive their main importance from their bearing on
the question of a future life. This topic, however,
cannot be isolated and kept strictly within the
boundaries of psychology proper, for it is inseparably
bound up with problems of other branches of
philosophy. Immortality of the human soul pre-
supposes the existence of God ; and the most con-
vincing arguments of a future life are deduced from
ethics. But this fact merely evinces the solidarity
of the great metaphysical questions, whilst the
philosophical science of the human mind seems
clearly to be the place where the discussion of its
destiny ought to be undertaken.

Immortality and Theism.— Moreover, although
rigid demonstration of a future life presupposes the
existence of a Divine Ruler, — for were there no God,
the present question would be idle and meaningless, —
still it is worthy of note that some of the proofs of
Immortality are amongst the most forcible arguments


for the existence of the Deity. Anyhow, the considera-
tions to be advanced here are of a purely rational
•character, and prescind altogether from the assured
certaint}^ of an everlasting life which we have guaranteed
by Revealed Religion.

Teleological Argument. — Our first proof will be
that deduced from the nature of the faculties, aspira-
tions, and yearnings of the human mind, and the
manner in which they point to another sphere of exist-
ence in which they are designed to enjoy their appro-
priate objects. Notwithstanding the seeming success
which temporarily marked the first assault of the theory
of natural selection on the doctrine of final causes, it is
now becoming more and more evident every day that
the attempt to explain the universe and all it contains
in a purely mechanical fashion, as the fortuitous out-
come of the collision of blind forces, has completely
failed ; and that the theory of Evolution is hopelessly
incompetent to solve even the simplest biological
problems without ultimately falling back on a teleo-
logical conception of the world. At all events, evolu-
tionists themselves are fully as insistent as pre-Darwin
ph3'siologists on the axiom that there is no organ ivithout
its function, that no activity or faculty is to be found in
the kingdom of organic life which has not its fitting
object, its appropriate end to serve. The e^'c would
never have been developed unless there were in exist-
ence light and material objects to be seen. The
mechanism of the ear would never have been evolved
save to operate in a universe of sound. The senses of
smell and taste exist only because there are real stimuli
to exercise them. And each instinct discovered in the
animal kingdom points infallibly to some real object by
which it is to be gratified. " Everywhere in nature
there is evident the law of correlation, of finality of
harmonious reciprocity, of appeasement of real needs,
and satisfaction of natural tendencies." ^ Even the
rudimentary organ is held to establish conclusively the
reality of the past or future occupation for which the

^ Cf. J. Knabenbauer, S.J., Das Zcugniss des Menschengeschlechtes
juY die Unsterblickkcit der Seek, p. 5.


member was made. In fact, all the evidence gathered
in behalf of Evolution, when impartially viewed from
a larger and higher standpoint, merely confirms the
main thesis of Natural Theology that the Author of
the world is a Being of infinite wisdom who governs it
in harmony with reason and according to law. If we
now turn to Psychology for an accurate account of our
mental aptitudes and tendencies, we shall learn that
the Mind is the subject of activities and powers rising
altogether above the needs of the present life ; and that
it exhibits talents and aspirations which find not their
proper satisfaction here, but stretch out beyond the
present existence, demanding a future state in which
they may attain adequate realization.

Aspirations of the Intellect. — Man alone, of all creatures
upon earth, has the power of looking back into the past and
forward into the future. His mind, by the indwelling energy
of its peculiar nature, strains and gazes out across distant
epochs of time. Unlike that of the mere animal, its interest
is not confined to the present Now. It naturally rises to the
concept oi endless duration. The mystery which surrounds this
notion has ever been a stimulus to thought and speculation.
It lies at the source of man's most universal and deep-seated
intellectual cravings ; whilst the most ardent admirers of the
sagacity of the lower animals do not venture to suggest that
the idea of a never-ending future exercises their intelligence
or troubles their peace of mind. There is a similar attraction
for the intellect in the notion of space. Thought is conscious
of the power and the impulse to transcend the physical
boundaries and impediments which fetter the bodily frame.
It feels that, unlike material energies, it can in an instant
reach out and soar beyond the utmost frontiers of the created
universe. The conception of the possible, the necessary, the
universal, as the schoolmen insisted, is the special fruit of man's
intellect. The more the human mind is developed and per-
fected, the more it feels its affinity with realities which lie'
behind and beyond sensible experience. (See pp. 471, 472.)'

2 Cf. Piat : " Notre pensee n'est pas close, comme celle des
betes, dans una portion determinee du temps et de I'espace ; son
elan natif remporte plus loin : de quelque maniere qu'elle s'exercc,
de quelque cote qu'elle se tourne, c'est toujours de I'Eternel qu'elle
a en perspective. Or il y a quelque chose de significatif dans cette
excellence de notre esprit. En face de I'eternite le temps ne compte
pour rien. Si longtemps que nous ayons vecu, tout nous a encore


Higher rational activity, in fact, proclaims that the true and
sufficient object of the yearnings of the soul must lie beyond
the confines of this life circumscribed by corporeal conditions.
If every organ has its fitting function, and every instinct its
appropriate object, it is incredible that the highest aspirations
of reason should be aimless, and the noblest energies of man
should be ever emptying themselves into a void.

This same line of reasoning is accepted by as thorough-
going an evolutionist as A. R. Wallace. He has written thus:
"Those faculties which enable us to transcend time and space,
and to realize the wonderful conceptions of mathematics and
philosophy, or which give us an intense yearning for abstract
truth (all of which were occasionally manifested at such an
early period of human history as to be far in advance of any
of the few practical applications which have since grown
out of them), are evidently essential to the perfect develop-
ment of man as a spiritual being, but are utterly inconceivable
as having been produced through the action of that law (of
Natural Selection) which looks only, and can look only, to the
immediate material welfare of the individual or the race.
The inference I would draw from this class of phenomena, is
that a superior intelligence has guided the development of
man in a definite direction and for a special purpose." {On
Natural Selection, p. 359.)

Yearning of the Will : Insatiate desire of Happiness. — But
the intellect is not the only faculty which speaks to us of
another life ; the conative side of man's being insists not less
urgently on the same truth. In each living creature the
collective tendencies which issue from its internal constitution
form the complete expression of its nature or essence, and
manifest the end which it is designed to realize. The specific
tendency of the human being is rational appetency. This is
the characteristic outpouring of man's being ; through it, his
true self-reaHzation is to be accomplished. But since rational
appetency follows upon intellectual cognition, and since this

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 53 of 63)