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always accompanied by cerebral changes, the ontologi-
cal argument, without still further help from teleology,
would be unable to prove that the soul will be capable
of eliciting conscious acts when separate from the body.

I. The answer to sundry difficulties will now be
comparatively easy. Thus, for example, Professor
James writes : " The substance (of the soul) must give
rise to a stream of consciousness continuous with the
present stream, in order to arouse our hope, but of this
the mere persistence of the substance pev se offers no
guarantee. Moreover, in the general advance of our
moral ideas, there has come to be something ridiculous
in the way our forefathers had of grounding their hopes
of immortality on the simplicity of their substance.
The demand for immortality is nowadays essentially
ideological. We believe ourselves immortal because we
believe ourselves _^2^ for immortality." (Op. cit. p. 348.)

It may be replied that the demand for immortality
was teleological eight centuries ago in the time of
Aquinas, and long before in that of Plato. The
philosophers of the middle ages insisted much upon the
contmgent character of all created things. Not one ot
them would have put forward the simplicit}^ of the soul
as an argument for continuity of existence except on
teleological gronnds — as indicative of the intention of a
wise and good God. It is an essential tenet of the
scholastic philosophy (i) that the continuous existence
of every creature depends on its free conservation by Gotl
and (2) that all its operations require the free efficient


concurrence of the Divine Being. But all inferences as to
the future free actions of God must necessarily be based on the
doctrine of finality. For the persistence, then, both of
" the stream of consciousness " and of the substance of
the soul, the schoolmen had to argue from the " provi-
dentia divina " or the "consilium Dei," which is
merely the Latin for theistic teleology. But in proving
the soul to be a simple immaterial being, and thus
exempt from corrupting agencies, they believed they
showed its conservation to be natural or in harmony
with reason ; whilst to them it would be evidently
incompatible with Divine Wisdom to preserve in exist-
ence an inert soul devoid of action and consciousness.^^

2. The same answer destroys the force of Kant's famous
objection based on what he calls " the intensive quality " of the
soul, which he thus stated : " The supposed substance (of the
soul) if not by decomposition may be changed into nothing
by gradual loss {remissio) of its powers, consequently by
elanguescence. For consciousness itself has always a degree
which may be lessened, consequently the faculty of being
conscious may be diminished, and so with all the other
faculties." 11

1" As an "encyclopaedic ignorance" of scholastic philosophy
widely prevails in English psychological literature of the present
day, a few citations may be useful to show that the teleological
argument was appreciated by St. Thomas. That all creatures are
contingent he proves thus : " Hoc, igitur, quod Deus creaturae esse
communicat, ex Dei voluntate dependet ; nee aliter res in esse
ccnservat, nisi inquantum eis continue influit (infundit) esse, ut dictum
est ; sicut ergo antequam res essent, potuit eis non communicare
esse, et sic eas non facere; ita postquam jam factae sunt, potest eis
non influere esse ; et sic esse desinerent, quod est, eas in nihilum
redigere." {Sum. i. q. 104. a. 3.) But the soul is designed to exist
for ever : " Unumquodque naturaliter suo modo esse desiderat ;
desideriura autem in rebus cognoscentibus sequitur cognitionem ;
sensus autem non cognoscit esse, nisi sub hie et nunc : sed intel-
lectus apprehendit esse absolute, et secundum omne tempus ; unde
omne habens intellectum naturaliter desiderat esse semper ; naturale
autem desiderium non potest esse inane; omnis igitur intellectualis
substantia est incorruptibilis." {lb. q. 75. a. 6.) Again : " Impossibile
est naturale desiderium esse inane ; natura nihil facit frustra. Sed
quodhbet intelligens naturaliter desiderat esse perpetuum, non
solum ut perpetuetur secundum speciem, sed etiam individuum."
{Cont, Gent. Lib. II. c. 55. Cf. Ibid. c. 79. ad 4.)

^1 Critique of Pure Reason (Meiklejohn's Translation), p. 246.


Undoubtedly if God ceased to conserve the soul it would
at once cease to exist; and whether this happened suddenly
or after a gradual waning of its activity, matters not a whit.
But it would be in conflict with the wisdom of God to suppose
that He could conserve the soul in an inert, unconscious
condition, devoid of all activity. Further, the argument from
Ethics, and the desire of happiness, in so far as they establish
anything, prove that the future existence must be conscious.
Kant seems to suppose that continuous conscious existence
is deduced by the ontological argument as a necessary result
of the simplicity of the soul, apart from and independently of the
divine conservation and concurrence. The argument may have
been employed in this illegitimate way by deists — certainly
not by the schoolmen. For them the aspirations of the intel-
lect, the desire of happiness and the simple immaterial
constitution of the soul, which secures its immunity from
corruptive agencies, were all so much teleological evidence of
God's design to continue the soul's existence and to supply His
efficacious concurrence requisite for its conscious activity in
the future.

3. A disembodied spirit, it is affirmed, cannot be pictured
by the imagination. " A spirit without a body," Biichner
assures us, " is as unimaginable as electricity or magnetism
without metallic or other substances." Science also refutes
our doctrine. " Physiology," says Vogt, " decides definitely
and categorically against individual immortality, as against
any special existence of the soul." Again Biichner : " Experi-
ence and daily observation teach us that the spirit perishes
with its material substratum." To observations of this sort
we may reply that {a) as far as imagination goes we cannot
picture the soul with the body. Neither can we imagine God,
nor the ultimate atoms of matter, {h) The comparison of the
soul to bodiless electricity is a complete misrepresentation of
our knowledge of mind. Electricity and magnetism, as we
have already pointed out, are presented to us only through
sensible movements, whilst v/e have an immediate conscious-
ness of the simple nature of mental energy, (c) Vogt's
assertion is simply as false as his other dictum, borrowed
from Cabanis, that " thought is a secretion of the brain."
Physiology can say nothing more than that the action of the
soul during this life is affected by the condition of the brain.
{d) The final statement cited from Biichner is equally untrue.
We most certainly cannot observe or experience the death
of the soul ; and we trust our arguments have shown that
we may infer the contrary.

4. " The soul is born with the body, it grows and
decays with the body, therefore it perishes with the


body."^^ Modern science has added very little to the argument
stated with so much power by the Latin poet. Now, we have
repeatedly pointed out that in the Scholastic system the
human soul is extrinsically dependent on the body which it
informs. Such a condition would completely account for all
the correspondence observed, whilst intrinsic or essential
independence remains. Such intrinsic independence com-
bined with extrinsic dependence is thus advocated by Ladd :
"That the subject of the states of consciousness is a real
being, standing in certain relations to the material beings
which compose the substance of the brain, is a conclusion
warranted by all the facts. That the modes of its activity
are correlated under law with the activities of the brain-
substance is a statement which Physiological Psychology
confirms : one upon which, indeed, it is largely based. . . .
Ail physical science., however^ is based upon the assumption that
real beings may have an existence such as is sometimes called
* independent,' and yet be correlated to each other under known or
discoverable laws. If this assumption could not be made and
verified, all the modern atomic theory would stand for
nothing but a vain show of abstractions. Upon what grounds
of reason or courtesy — we may inquire at this point — does
MateriaUsm decline to admit the validity of similar assump-
tions as demanded by mental phenomena ? " {Physiological
Psychology, p. 607.)

The soul, moreover, as will be proved in a later chapter,
is created, not derived, like the body, from the parents. It
does not grow in the sense of being quantitatively increased ;
but, conditioned by the efficiency of the brain and sensory
organs, it gradually unfolds its capabilities. It does not
really decay with bodily disease, although since its sensuous
operations are immediately dependent on the instrumentality
of the organism, it must naturally be affected by the health
of the latter. The argument can also be inverted. In many
instances the mind is most powerful and active in the
decrepit frame of the old ; and at times, in spite of dreadful
havoc from bodily disease, intelligence may survive in
brilliant force to the last.

5. The argument from universal belief has been attacked
on the ground that some peoples, and many individuals, both
philosophers and non-philosophers, do not judge there is any
future life. It may be observed in answer, that whenever
the proof from universal consent is invoked, it only pre-
supposes a moral universality. As regards the nations or
tribes who have been asserted to believe in no future life,

1^ Lucretius, De Rerum Natnra, Lib. III. vv. 446, seq.


advancing knowledge does not confirm such a statement.
The greatest care is required in interrogating savages regard-
ing their rehgious opinions. Inaccuracy in this respect has
often caused the ascription of atheism to tribes later on
proved to possess elaborate systems of religion and hier-
archies of gods. Future annihilation, asserted to be a cardinal
doctrine of Buddhism, is by the vast majority of the disciples
of that sect understood to be not a return to absolute nothing,
but an ecstatic state of peaceful contemplation.^^

Final Objection. — There remains one sweeping
objection which strikes at all the proofs alike. The
insatiate desire for happiness, the intellectual demand
for final equity, the seeming aptitude of an immaterial
soul to survive, it is roundly asserted, afford no guarantee
that they will be realized. The mind's inferences to the
ultimate perfecting and setting right of things need
not be valid ; our intellectual craving for completeness,
harmony, or symmetry in the universe does not prove
their objective reality.

The answer is that the postulate here is not merely
the satisfaction of some particular impulse. If those
exigencies of our reason which demand a future life
are doomed to disappointment, then there is an utter and
enormous failure which involves radical perversity in
the constitution of things. Science and Natural Theology
alike assume as first principle and starting-point the
nationality of the universe. But if there be no future
life, then the fundamental principles of morality are in
irredeemable conflict with the just claims of reason :
the fount of seeming law, order, and finality is hopeless
discord and senseless strife : the most imperious
affirmation of our rational moral nature is one prolonged
fraud: the ethical life of man, all that is highest and
greatest in this world — that which alone is truly good —
is a meaningless chaos. Intrinsic contradiction, absolute
irrationality is the last answer both of science and
philosophy !

It is true that some naturalistic writers adopt a lofty
tone on this subject. The old-fashioned view of life and
morality, they assure us, was base and ignoble. Virtue,

13 On this argument, see Knabenbauer, op. cit.


we are told, is its own sufficient reward. Profound
contempt is expressed for " the pains and penalties
argument" of Christian philosophy. The doctrine of
rewards and punishments is an ''immoral bribe."
Right conduct, we are informed with an unctuous
austerity, ceases to be worthy of approval if the
prospect of thereby attaining everlasting happiness is
allowed to enter as a motive.

The academic philosopher from the university
professorial chair — enjoying a comfortable income and
agreeable occupation — may sneer at the moral convic-
tions of human nature : but to the thoughtful man who
gravely looks the stern realities of actual life in the
face and contemplates the suffering of multitudes of
mankind, such language must seem the most flippant
and unworthy trifling. If this life be but a passing
period of probation, and if there be a future state and
an infinitely good and just God who will there apportion
to all their just award, then difficult and obscure though
the problem of existence be, a rational solution is possible.
But if instead the universe be naught but an iron
mechanism — whether idealistic or materialistic matters
little — aimlessly and remorselessly grinding out tears,
and pain, and sorrow ; and if, when once this frail
thread of conscious life is cut, all is over ; then, for
vast numbers of human beings hopeless pessimism is
the only creed — and often and often suicide the most
rational practical conclusion !

Here is a picture : " I think," says the poor dying
factory girl, " if this should be the end of all, and
if all I have been born for is just to work my heart and
life away, and to sicken in this dree place, with those
mill-stones always in my ears, until I could scream out
for them to stop and let me have a little piece of quiet,
and with the fluff filling my lungs, until I thirst to death
for one long deep breath of the clear air, and my mother
gone, and I never able to tell her again how I loved her,
and of all my troubles, — I think, if this life is the end,
and that there is no God to wipe away all tears from all
eyes, I could go mad."^*

" Cited in the Grammar of Assent, p. 312.



Individuality of the Human Soul. — There still
remain sundry problems concerning the relations
of soul and body, but the limits of our space compel
us to compress our treatment of them into the
smallest possible compass. On the individuality of
the soul there is little to be added to what has been
already urged in establishing its persisting identity
(pp. 464, 465), and in criticizing James's view
(pp. 485, 486). The conviction that I have an
individual mind, insulated and complete in itself,
distinct and separate from all other minds, rests on
the testimony of self-consciousness, corroborated by
the witness of other men concerning their own
similar experiences. To those who reject this argu-
ment we can only put the question : By what other
conceivable kind of evidence could the fact be
better demonstrated ?

Pantheism of mediaeval Arabs.— Aristotle's obscure language
concerning the nature of the vovs ttoitjtlkos or httelledus agens,
afforded occasion to a philosophical heresy already alluded
to (p. 309), which prevailed widely amongst Arabian philoso-
phers of the middle ages. Aristotle speaks of this faculty as
being "separate" from the body. The explanation of the
paragraph offered by St. Thomas is, that the Intellectus
separatiis is held by Aristotle to pertain only to the spiritual


soul, and so, unlike the sensuous powers, is understood to be
intrinsically independent of the organism. The Arab philo-
sophers interpreted the epithet " separate " literally, and
assumed the existence of one common or universal Intellect
superior to all men, which in some mysterious way operates
in the mind of each, and illuminates or excites it to intelli-
gence. Only the Intellectus agens is made separate by
Avicenna, but both Intellectus agens and patiens seem to be
viewed as extrinsic by Averrhoes. Strange and fantastic as
this doctrine appears, it has affinity to modern forms of
Pantheism. Thus Spinoza taught that our minds are only
modes of one infinite mind, which is itself but one of an
infinite number of attributes that go to constitute the one,
infinite, all-embracing Substance. Hegel held that all human
consciousnesses are but transient moments or stages of the
Absolute Spirit. According to Cousin, we know all things in
the Universal Reason. Even the Vision en Dieu of Pere
Malebranche, and the Hyperphysical Idealism of Bishop
Berkeley, bear some relationship to the Arabian conception.
In this last view, what seem to be our intellectual operations
are really the result of the working of the one common
eternal Active Intellect. In the theory of the French Abbe,
our mental acts are really our own, though their immediate
objects are ideas in the one, all-embracing Divine Mind.
Berkeley stands opposed to both in denying the extra-mental
existence of material objects ; he also looks on God as the
cause, and apparently the external cause of all our cognitive
states, sensations, as well as intellectual ideas. A common
objection to all monistic theories is that they reject or distort
the clear, distinct, and immediate testimony of experience
for the sake of some dubious and obscure postulate of unity,
or of some even more dubious a priori assumption that it is
impossible for mind and matter to interact.

Unicity of the Soul in Man.— Plato allotted to
the human body three really distinct souls, — the vor?, in
the head, the Ovfxos, within the breast, and the kTnOv/xta^
in the abdomen. Some modern authors teach that
there is in man distinct from the rational sentient soul
a vital principle, the source of vegetative life. This
theory used to be styled Vitalism, though that term
now includes Animism and all doctrines which maintain
the reality of a vital principle superior to the chemical
and physical properties of matter. Others make the
rational soul numerically different from the common



subject of sentient and vej^etative activities. In oppo-
sition to these various hypotheses the Peripatetic
doctrine, sometimes called Animism, holds that in man
there is hut one actuating principle, the rational soul, which is,
however, capable of exerting the inferior modes of
energy exhibited in sensuous and vegetative life. In
this view the plant possesses merely a "vegetative
soul," the brute a *' sentient soul," containing virtually,
however, the faculties of the vegetative principle. It
is hardly necessary to remind the reader here that the
proof of a spiritual principle in man is independent of
all theories regarding the nature of vegetative " souls."

In Man the rational and the sentient soul are
one. — This is proved by various considerations, (i) We
have the testimony of consciousness to the most perfect
identity between the mind which thinks and the mind
which feels. Introspection assures us that it is the
same being who understands or reasons, and is
subject of sensations. (2) I can compare intellectual
operations with sensitive states, and affirm the former
to be more painful, more pleasant, more exhilarating,
more depressing, more enduring, or more transitory
than the latter. But this can only be effected by the
two compared states being apprehended as modifica-
tions by one and the same indivisible subject. (3) The
intimate interdependence of thought and sensation is
inexplicable if they are activities of diverse subjects.
In particular, no reason can be assigned why it is of
objects apprehended through sense that the first intel-
lectual concepts are elaborated by the understanding.

The principle of vegetative life in man is
identical with this rational sentient soul.— This
doctrine involves two theses : (a) That there is in man
an active principle, which is the root of the vegetative
functions ; (b) That this active principle is not really
different from the rational soul. We will begin with
the former :

(a) The vegetative principle in man, and in fact in all
living organisms, is a special force or energy superior to the
chemical and mechanical properties of matter. This pro-
position is established by examination of the character-


istic differences which separate the animate from the
inanimate world. These are amongst the cliicf :

Origin and Reproduction. — '' Omm vivum a vivo:'''
The whole weight of scientific authority in recent times
confirms Harvey's dictum that life proceeds only from
life. Formerly, owing to the imperfect means of
experiment, it was generally supposed that spontaneous
or equivocal generation was a matter of every-day
occurrence. Improvements, however, in the microscope,
and advance in the science of Chemistry have com-
pletely discredited such a view. We now find scientists,
like Tyndall and Huxley, affirming that living beings are
produced only by living bein;s. The property of life
comes only from a living a ;ent, and such agents con-
tinue their race by the generation of other beings
specifically like unto themselves. In lifeless matter
nothing of this sort tak^s place, but new bodies may be
formed by the accidental or artificial combination of
almost any kind of stuff.^

2. Nutrition, Growth, Conservation, and Decay. — The living
heing from conception to death passes through a fixed cycle
of clianges constituting its life-nistory, and generically distin-
guishing it from all forms of inanimate matter. Starting
from a single germ-cell the animate organism builds itself
up after a regular process which is practically the same
throughout the animal kingdom. By its peculiar inherent
•energy the iertilized ovum appropriates and adapts to its
own use the surrounding nutritive matter. Assimilating this

1 " I affirm that no shred of trustworthy experimental testimony
exists to prove that hfe in our day has ever appeared independently
of antecedent Hfe." (Professor Tyndall, Niuctecnth Century, 1S78,
p. 507.) Huxley declares that the doctrine of biogenesis, or life
only from life, is " victorious along the whole line at the present
day." [Critiques and Addresses, p. 239.) Elsewhere he asserts that
" the present state of knowledge furnishes us with no line between
the living and the non-living." (Art. " Biology," iTwo'^"^- ■^''''^- O^h
Edit.) Virchow describes the doctrine of abiogenesis as " utterly
•discredited." (The Freedom of Science in the Modern State.) Balfour
Stewart and Tait state that "all really scientific experience tells us
that life can be produced from a living being only." (The Unseen
Universe, p. 229.) Tyndall, Floating Matter in the Air, p. 84. shows
clearly the fallacy involved in every argument for abiogenesis
hitherto advanced. Huxley gives a brief history of the question
in his Critiques and Addresses.


substance it grows, and then divides into two distinct though
connected cells. Each of these subdivide and by repetition.
of the process the number of cells soon becomes enormous.
But this multiplication of cells speedily begins to reveal that
the energy of the primitive germ is throughout all the
operations working after a systematic plan. The embryo
commences to take a definite shape. The new masses ot
cells, so rapidly being manufactured, are gradually formed
into spinal chord, viscera, heart, sense-organs, etc. ; and
as time goes on the specific type becomes more and more
distinct until we can recognize the well-marked form of the
particular animal — the fish, the bird, the elephant, or the
man. It used to be maintained by the older advocates ot
Organicism against Vitalists that life is merely the result of
the organization of the living being; and it was believed that
the future organization was contained in some way, " en-
cased " or " pre-formed " in the primitive germ, and required
merely to be evolved. But the progress of science and the
establishment of the fact that the living body is built up by
the accretion of a vast number of cells has rendered such a
\iew untenable. Indeed every advance in science makes it
more and more certain that organization is the effect not the
cause of the vital energy. The fertilized ovum is not a ready-
made miniature organism with differentiated members merely
needing to be unfolded and magnified. On the contrary, it is
a microscopic ball of protoplasm containing no rudiment oi
any organ. But this tiny spherical mass of living matter

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 55 of 63)