Michael Maher.

Psychology: empirical and rational online

. (page 57 of 63)
Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 57 of 63)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ing in itself apart from the body, is styled an incomplete
substance, since it possesses a natural aptitude to form with the
body a single complete substance. An integral part of one
complete being, e.g., a man's hand, is also spoken of as an in-
complete substance. The terms constituent principle, or substantial
principle, seem less likely to mislead now-a-days than the
word substance if employed to designate the essential co-
efficients of composite substances.

Soul and Body combined into one Nature. —

Moreover, the union of soul and body results in
a single nature. The nature of a being is simply its
essence viewed as the source of its actions. But in the
living animal the various processes of growth, sleep,
motion, and sensation, are not operations of the soul or
body alone, but of the being as a whole. They are
activities of one nature. An individual nature conceived
as a complete being subsisting in itself, and not com-
municated to or coalescing with another, is called by the
Schoolmen a suppositum or hypostasis. The stippositum is,
therefore, the entire and ultimate source of all opera-
tions. Hence the axiom: Actiones sunt suppositonim.
When the suppositium is endowed with intelligence it is
termed a person.

Soul and Body one Person. — Since introspection
and external observation establish that our vegetative,
sensitive, and rational activities have their source in
and belong to one and the same Self, they prove that
body and soul are combined in a personal union. A
Person is defined in scholastic language as a suppositum
of a rational nature, or an individual and incommunicable
substance of a rational nature. Some modern writers
frequently speak as if the Mind or Soul were the
human person ; others as if self-consciousness, or
memory, or continuity of consciousness and character


(p. 488) constituted personality. It is, indeed, not
practicable in ordinary language to distinguish con-
stantly between the mind's consciousness of itself and the
person s consciousness of self — nor is it desirable, since
it is by the rational mind that the living composite person is
capable of self-consciousness. But the theories which
identify the soul and the person, or worse, conscious
activity and the person, are seriously erroneous. Locke's
definition of a Person a.s a self-conscious substance is also in-
accurate. Strictly interpreted this would render a sleep-
ing man or an infant not a person, and an interruption
of consciousness would break up the personality of the
individual. J. F. Ferrier's language is similarly ex-
aggerated when he asserts that "a being 7nakes itself I
by thinking itself I," and that " self-consciousness
creates the Ego ; " and Professor Ladd seems to us to
fall into the same error when affirming, as he frequently
does, that the mind is its own conscious activity; that
" where there are no mental states there we cannot
speak of the real existence of mind." (op. cit. p. 145.)
Memory and self-consciousness reveal but do not con-
stitute personal identity ; and the true human person is
neither consciousness, nor soul, nor body, but the
complete Ego — the living rational being arising out of
the substantial union of both principles.^

The reasoning in the present question may have been
grasped with some difficulty by the reader unacquainted with
the Scholastic system. Fortunately, however, the problem of
the exact nature of the relations between Soul and Body is of

^ For a complete treatment of the notions, persona, suppositmn,
etc., see Rickaby, Metaphysics, Bk. II. c. 2. The terms substance,
essence, nature, severally denote the same object, but connote more
especially different features. Substance points to the general fact
of existence per se ; essence points to the reality of which the being ts con-
stituted ; nature signifies the essence as principle of activity. Supposition
implies that the substance, essence, or nature subsists in itself in
possession of such complete individuality as to be incommunicable or
incapable of being assumed into another being. The invention of
the term is due to the dogma of the Incarnation. In Christ, the
Church teaches, there is one Person, one rational " suppositmn,''' but two
natures. The Human Nature of our Lord does not of itself con-
stitute a Person, or subsist in se, but by the subsistence of the Divine


ver}^ secondary importance from a philosophical point of view,
as compared with the vital questions : Is there an Immaterial
Soul at all ? and, Is there reason for supposing that such a
Soul will have a future life ?

Change in meaning of terms. — The terms Matter and Form,
with their derivatives, have had as varied and extensive an
application as any words in the language. The importance
of what is signified by each has been so changed that the
original usage is almost completely inverted. The Scholastic
followers of Aristotle used these words as equivalent to
Potentia and Actus. Potentia signified possibility — the potential,
the unrealized, the incomplete or indeterminate. Forma and
Actus, on the contrary, connoted full actuality — the last com-
plement of reality, the final determination, or complete realization
of being. Now-a-days we speak of meveXy formal observance,
unreal/orms, and irWial formal itics ; whilst material is equivalent
to important. The transition has been going on for a long
time ; but in strictly philosophical literature, Kant has done
most to bring about the change. Whereas with Aristotle,
Matter and Form are ontological or extra-mental principles
of real things, with Kant they are constituents of subjective
knowledge. The German philosopher, as we have already
pointed out, uses the term " form " to denote a purely mental
mould or character, which the mind imposes on the " matter "
of knowledge. The latter, though of course a mental
activity, is supposed to be excited or contributed from
without. Formal is thus equivalent to unreal, or objectively
non-existent. Material truth is real truth, or agreement with
extra-mental reality as far as that is possible ; formal truth is
mere subjective consistency. Kant, however, retains some-
thing of the ancient application of the term in as far as he
conceives the " material " element in cognition to be in itself
of a chaotic indeterminate nature, requiring to be perfected
and wrought into rational intelligibility by the imposition of
the subjective determining factor. In addition to Kant's
influence, popular experience of the unimportant character
of accidental forms, e.g., the shape as contrasted with the
contents of a pudding, has also contributed to the change in
the meaning of the word.

Aristotle's definition of the Soul. — We ought now to have
rendered intelligible and justified Aristotle's celebrated
definition : rj "^vx^j ccttlv evreXex^ta rj Trpcorrj aroofiaTos (pvcriKoii ^coi]v
i'xovTOS dvudfiet, or ly Trpcorj; eWfXe;^6ta acofxaTos (fwaiKoij opyaviKOv
— " the soul is the first entelechy of a natural organized
body potentially having life," or " the first entelechy of a
natural body capable of life." By entelechy is meant in the
Peripatetic philosophy an actualizing or determining principle,


as opposed to a recipient or determinable subject — form as
contrasted with matter. The epithet, first, impHes that the
soul is the primary form by which the nature or specific
substance of the creature receives its determination in the
order of being. It is contrasted with secondary or accidental
forms, e.g., heat, colour, motion, which may supervene when
the prim um esse, the first complete substantial being of the
object, is constituted. A natural or physical body, signifies
that the subject of the soul is not a mere artificial aggregate.
The adjective, organized, expresses the fact that the body is
composed of heterogeneous or dissimilar parts adapted for
separate functions. The last words of the definition mean
that the soul is united not with an actually living being, but
with an organism capable of exercising vital activities when
informed by the soul.

Readings. — St. Thomas, Sum. i. q. 76; Father Harper, Meta-
physics of the School, Bk. V. cc. ii. iii. ; Regnon, op. cit. Livre IV. ;
Coconnier, op. cit. cc. iv. v. ; Farges, Matiere et Forme ; Kleutgen,
op. cit. §§ 80S— 842 ; Mercier, La Psychologic, Pt. III. art. 3.



SOUL AND BODY {continued.) other problems.

Locus of the Soul. — There has been much dis-
cussion among philosophers, Ancient and Modern,
regarding the precise part of the body to be assigned as
the " seat " of the souL Some have located it in the
heart, others in the head, others in the blood, others in
various portions of the brain. The natural inference
from such a diversity of opinions is that no special area
of the organism is the exclusive dwelling-place of the
vital principle. The hopelessly conflicting state of
opinion on the question would seem to be due to the
erroneous but widely prevalent view, that the simplicity
of essence or substance possessed by the soul is a
spatial simplicity akin to that of a mathematical point.
As a consequence, fruitless efforts have continually been
made to discover some general nerve-centre, some focus
from which lines of communication radiate to all dis-
tricts of the body. The indivisibility, however, of the
soul, just as that of intelligence and volition, does not
consist in the minuteness of a point. The soul is an
immaterial energy which, though not constituted of
separate principles or parts alongside of parts, is yet
capable of exercising its virtue throughout an extended
subject. Such a reality does not, like a material entity,
occupy different parts of space b}^ different parts of its
own mass. In scholastic phraseology it was described
as present throughout the body, which it enlivens, not
circninscripiive, but dejinitive ; not per contactum qiiantiiatis,
but per contactum virtntis. Its presence is not that of an
extended object the different parts of which fill and are


circumscribed by corresponding areas of space, but of an
immaterial energy exerting its proper activities ubiqui-
tously throughout the living body. As it does not
possess extension, it is not susceptible of contact after a
quantitative manner, yet it puts forth its peculiar
virtue, and acts with the same efficiency as if it
possessed a surface capable of juxtaposition with that
of a material body.

The Soul is not confined to any particular spot within the
organism. — The argument may be formulated thus: The site
or locus assigned must be conceived either as extended or
unextended. If the latter, then : (i) all hope of any physio-
logical justification of the selected spot must be abandoned,
since the smallest cell, and a fortiori every general nervous
ganglion, must occupy an extended space ; and (2) no parti-
cular unextended point has better claims than any other ;
therefore on this hypothesis the soul might with equal reason
be located in almost any part of the body. If the site allotted
be extended, then the chief merit claimed for this view is
abandoned. If the simple soul is allowed to be capable of
inhabiting a really extended locality, the exact area of the
district is of little philosophical importance : the soul's indi-
visibility is equally unaffected whether the space be a cubic
inch or a cubic foot.

The Soul is present, though in a non-quantitative manner,
throughout the whole body. — It is, moreover, so present every-
where in tlie entirety of its essence, although it may not be capable
of ubiquitously therein exercising all its faculties. The proof of the
previous proposition implicitly establishes our present doctrine;
but reflexion on the thesis defining the union of soul and
body recently proved, completes the argument. The soul,
since it is the substantial form of the body, vivifying and
actuating all parts of its material subject so as to constitute
one complete living being, must by its very nature be
ubiquitously present in the body. For it is only by the
immediate communication of itself that it can so actuate and
vitalize its co-efficient as to constitute a single substance.
Again : since the soul is an indivisible essence or being,
whenever it is present it must be there in the entirety of that
essence or being; consequently, the entire soul is present in
the whole body and in each part — tola in toto corpore ct tota in
qualibet parte.

Difficulties. — Tlie chief objections urged against the present
thesis seem to be the following : (i) The soul is the subject
of sensations, but these, it is asserted, are originally felt only


in the brain, and by experience thence transferred to the
peripheral extremity of the irritated nerve ; consequently the
soul exists only in the brain. (2) It is impossible to imagine
how a simple or indivisible Being can be simultaneously
present in several parts of an extended space. (3) If the soul
is thus diffused throughout the body, it must be capable
of increase and diminution with growth ; and also of
occasional amputation of portions of its substance.

We may observe in reply: (i) Even if the brain alone be
the centre of sentiency, yet the entire organism is the subject
of vegetative life, and must be throughout animated by the
energy which dominates the continuous processes of waste
and repair. (2) Imagination is no test of possibility; we
have experience only of the modes of action of things condi-
tioned by space of three dimensions, and so cannot picture
the being or action of an agent free from such limitations.
We are similarly unable to imagine how unextended volitions
can move extended limbs, or how spatial pressure can excite
any mental slate, but we have shown the absurd consequences
which follow from the denial of the universal conviction of
mankind on these last points. (3) The soul is not diffused
throughout the body like water in a sponge. It must be
conceived as an indivisible essence, without mass or quantity,
exerting energy and putting forth its virtue throughout the
animated organism. Those activities, however, which require
a special organ are limited to the district occupied by the
bodily instrument. In so far as the material subject by the
lim.its of which vital activity in general is defined and condi-
tioned, increases or diminishes, the soul may be said in
figurative language to experience virtual increase or diminu-
tion — an expansion or contraction in the sphere and range of
its forces; but there is no real quantitative increase in the
substance of the soul itself.

Phrenology. — In the early part of this century, the
physicians Gall and Spurzheim elaborated a " Physiog-
nomical system," which pretended to determine precise
localities on the surface of the brain where various
mental powers are situated. Gall marked out the skull
into twenty-six, and Spurzheim into thirty-five divisions,
each of which was supposed to cover a definite field of
the brain constituting the ** organ " of some particular
mental aptitude. The theory thus assumed above two
dozen primary faculties or propensities, such as those
of homicide, property, theft, wit, number, secretiveness,


etc., lodged in separate compartments in the surface of
the brain. Consequently, by measurement of human
skulls, the relative vigour of the several propensities
could be easily discovered, since special "bumps" or
protuberances indicated, it was supposed, greater or
less endowment in the corresponding faculty.

Phrenology, Craniology, or Cranioscopy, as this
pseudo-science was called, has long since fallen into
complete discredit, under the destructive criticism of
both Psychology and Physiology. The scheme of
" primary " faculties was arbitrary and artificial in the
highest degree. The powers and aptitudes enumerated
are not isolated or independent in the manner implied.
Many of them are complex capabilities involving varied
forms of mental activity. Moreover, intellectual facul-
ties cannot be conceived as located in organs in the
way represented. The progress of physical science, on
the other hand, has proved the erroneous character of
the views of the phrenologists concerning the physiology
of the brain.

Localization of Cerebral Functions.— Neverthe-
less, though Phrenology in its originally ambitious
character is now generally acknowledged to have been
exploded, Cerebral Physiology has for some twenty years
past been working diligently at the kindred question of
the localization of brain functions. The leading scientific
authorities in the second quarter of this century unani-
mously declared themselves against the hypothesis of
localization in any form. Flourens, Magendie, Longet,
and other distinguished writers pronounced, on the
strength of numerous experiments and observations,
that scarcely any particular portion of the cerebral
substance is essential to the performance of any parti-
cular psychical operation. 1 Consequently, the classical

1 "On peut retrancher, soit par devant, soit par derriere,
soit par en haut, soit par cote, une portion assez etendue des lobes
cerebraux, sans que leurs fonctions soient perdues. Uue poytion
assez restreinte de ces lobes suffit done a I'exercisc de leurs fonctions. A
mesure que ce retranchement s'opere, toutes les fonctions s'affai-
blissent et s'eteignent graduellement. . . . Enfin, des qu'une per-
ception est perdue, toutes le sont ; des qu'une faculte disparait,
toutes disparaissent." (Flourens.) Cf. Bastian, Brain as an Organ
of Mind, p. 520.


Ph3^siology from 1820 to 1870 proclaimed that the brain
as a whole was the single organ of the mind, that the
quantity^ not the locality of the brain which is destroyed
affects mental activities, and that the degree of imbeci-
lity induced is, roughly speaking, in proportion to the
amount of cerebral matter removed. ^

Some experiments, however, of the German physio-
logists Fritsch and Hitzig, in 1870, threw serious doubts
on the then prevalent doctrine, and a new movement of
research, which still continues, was initiated, with the
result of completely overthrowing the old teaching.
By a series of elaborate experiments on the brains of
dogs, monkeys, and other animals, Ferrier, Hitzig,
Munk, Luciani, and more recently Flechsig and Von
Bechterew, have established a fairly definite theory of
localization of " motor-centres " — that is, of areas in
the cortex of the brain the irritation of which produces
movements in particular limbs. The cerebral areas
corresponding to some of the senses have also been
made out with tolerable accuracy, others with less
definiteness. Of the physiological concomitants of
particular intellectual activities nothing is at present
known, though some progress — how much is as yet
uncertain — has been made towards the determination of
" association-centres.''

Method of research. — In the study of cerebral functions
three chief lines of investigation present themselves : {a) Ex-
periment by stimulation and extirpation of particular portions
of the brains of the lower animals ; (b) Cerebral Pathology,
or the science which deals with brain diseases in human
beings; and (c) Comparative Anatomy and Histology, which
examine the structural connexions of different parts of the
brain and nervous system throughout the animal kingdom.
Thus, the stimulation by electricity of certain areas in the

- " Sur des chiens, des chats et des lapins, chez un grand
nombre d'oiseaux, j'ai eu occasion d'irriter mecaniquement la
substance blanche des hemispheres cerebraux ; de la cauteriser avec
la potasse, I'acide azotique, le fer rouge, etc. ; d'y faire passer des
courants electriques en diver sens,, sans parvenir jamais a mcttre en
jcu la contractilitc musculaire : meme resultat negatif en dirigeant les
mcmes agents sur la substance grise des lobes cerebraux." (Longet.)
Cf. Surbled, Le Ccrvcau, p. 149.


cortex of the brain of dogs, monkeys, and other animals, is.
found to excite movements in the neck, arms, fingers, legs,
tongue, etc. Conversel}', the extirpation or destruction of
these same portions of the brain temporarily suspends the
power of movement in the corresponding limb. Again, post-
mortem examinations often show that atrophy and disease of
the cerebral substance of these areas have been concomitant
with paralysis of the appropriate limb. Moreover, several
cures of such local paralysis have also been effected by the
venturesome remedy of trepanning the skull and removing
tumours found to exist where anticipated.'^ Finally, com-
parative study of the structure of the brain in different species
of animals tends to establish the identity of the "areas"
constituting the "motor-centres" of the several limbs; and it
also shows that the number and definiteness of such " areas"
increase in proportion as we rise in the animal kingdom and
examine more highly specialized brains. And quite recently
the study of embryonic anatomy has enabled Flechsig to
reach valuable results by determining the date at which
certain neural connexions are completed, and nerve-fibres
attain maturity and are capable of functioning.

Results. — By these various methods of research Ferrier
succeeded in mapping out on the surface of the brain above a
dozen " motor-centres." Successive explorers have subdivided
and largely increased the number of these areas. They are
mostly situated in the vicinity of the summit of the cerebrum,
about midway between the top of the forehead and the back
of the head — technically in the neighbourhood oi the fissure-
of Rolando and the calloso-marginal fissure. (See, at the
beginning of the book, Fig. vi. and Fig. vii., i, 2, 3, 5, 6, and
a, b, c, d.) The cortical areas on which visual impressions
are " projected," that is, the spaces in the surface of the
brain with which the images of sight are believed to be
directly connected, are located mainly in the occipital lobes,
in the hind portion of the cerebral hemispheres. (Fig. vii.
13, 13'.) Injuries here cause, it is alleged, not merely blind-
ness, as in the case of retinal disease, but actual derangement
of the faculty of visual imagination. {Scelenblindheit.) The
auditory area is allotted to the upper convolution of the temporal
tobc (Fig. vii. 14) ; and "word-deafness," " auditory asphasia,"'
or inability to image, and consequently to understand articu-
late sounds, even whilst general hearing remains, was shown
by Wernicke to be occasioned by lesions in this district.
Previous to Wernicke, in 1861 Broca had found that motor-
asphasia, or the disorganization of the faculty of intelligent

* Cf. Surbled, Le Cervcau, pp. 239, seq.


articulate speech, was caused by injuries in the third frontal
convolution, which hes a httle to the front of the subsequently-
discovered hearing-area. (Fig. vii. 9.) The difficulty of ascer-
taining the nature of the sensations of taste and smell of
animals when subjected to experiments has made the localiza-
tion of the cerebral correlates of these latter senses much
more dubious. Indeed, we are warned by some of our best
physiologists to receive with considerable caution even the
most confident assurances of enthusiastic observers, especially
when once they pass beyond the comparatively simple
problem of determining motor-areas.'*

Notwithstanding the considerable progress made in ex-
ploration, much of the brain, especially in the frontal region,
being " silent," or not responsive to stimulation, its precise
functions have remained unknown. For this reason there
has been a constant tendency among physiologists to assume
that this unoccupied cerebral territory is " the seat of general
intelligence," without, however, venturing to explain clearly
what they mean by this \ague phrase. We have already
shown the absurdity of attempting to conceive the higher
rational activities as spatially situated in or exerted by bodily
organs ; but as we suggested in the first edition of the present
work, these unclaimed districts may supply the material basis
for memory, imagination, and those internal sensuous facul-
ties upon which intellect is more immediately dependent.
We now find that the progress of cerebral physiology during
the last few years tends to confirm this conjecture — which is
indeed as old as St. Thomas.^'

^ Thus Professor Foster, in the latest edition of his able Tcxt-
.hook of Pliysiologv, reminds us that the cessation of particular sensa-

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 57 of 63)