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weapons and to entrap them in their own web.
Taking Professor Bain's saying, that " the ego is
a pure fiction, coined from nonentity," as his
starting-point, he proceeds, not sparing his
powers of mockery, to defend the ego as to its
existence, its self-knowledge, and its freedom,
concluding with a chapter on the Infinite Ego.
He says, " The fact that every feeling involves
some one to feel it has never been, in so many
words, denied. The most zealous opponents of

1 Page 79. ^ Edinburgh : William Blackwood & Sons, 1886


an ego avail themselves of ambiguities by which
the existence of an ego can, at pleasure, be
tacitly assumed. It is sometimes ludicrous to
observe how, after denying a possible ego,
writers are obliged to resort to an impossible
one. Mr. Lewes, in his first volume of ' Prob-
lems,' seems inclined to make the ego consist
of a mass of ^ systematic' sensations, namely, of
nutrition, respiration, generation, and the mus-
cles. These, he says, constitute a stream of sen-
tience, upon which each external stimulus forms
a ripple, and consciousness is caused by the con-
sequent breach of equilibrium. But it is manifest
that this illustration goes for nothing without
the presupposition of a sentient observer. A
mass of feeling, however large, cannot appre-
hend a feeling. . . . Since, then, the necessity
for an ego is never denied without being tacitly
assumed, it may be taken to be really a self-
evident truth, the contradictory of which is in-
conceivable, that, along with every sensation or
feeling of any description whatever, there must
exist a sentient principle capable of feeling it." ^
Dr. Momerie then goes on to consider the aid

1 Page 29.


given by the memory, since the Positivist may
grant that there is a sentient for every sensation,
but may deny the permanent identity of such
subject. The argument is presented by means
of an illustration : " I remember that ten years
ago many of my opinions were changed by the
reading of a certain book. JS'ow this implies (1)
the object remembered, namely, the change of
opinions ; (2) my soul or mind which remembers
the fact; and (3) a consciousness of personal
identity, — that is to say, a conviction that the
mind or soul, which is now experiencing the re-
membrance of the fact, is the self-same mind or
soul which formerly experienced the fact itself,
that it is, in other words, my mind. The identity
of which I am conscious is certainly not an iden-
tity of body, for during the ten years which have
elapsed my body has lost its identity. 'Nov is
the identity an identity of phenomena, for the
remembrance of the fact is something essentially
different from the fact itself. The identity of
which I am conscious is an identity of soul. . . .
In every act of remembrance I know that I
have existed in at least two different states, and
that therefore I have persisted between them." ^

1 Pages 41-43.


This is not the place to make use of this
writer's argument for the freedom of the ego,
and in what he says of its self-knowledge he is
not as original as elsewhere, but we must quote
a summary paragraph for which we are indebted
to him : " The ego is a real existence. Without
a permanent subject there could never have
existed a single remembrance or cognition, nor
even a sensation. So far negatively. But further
positively : we are sometimes conscious of our-
selves, apprehending ourselves along with our
states in the same indivisible moment of time ;
and, after reflection upon these past experiences,
we are able to form a conception of self not less
distinct, at any rate, than are our conceptions of
material objects or of natural forces." ^

Chronologically last, but in the breadth of its
scope scarcely rivalled, is the treatment of our
subject in Professor James's "l!^ew Psychol-
ogy."^ These general points are first treated
and are called the ^\& characters of thought : (1)
it tends to personal form; (2) it is in constant

1 Page 62.

2 New York, 1890, chapter ix., " The Stream of Thought;"
chapter x., " The Consciousness of Self."


change ; (3) in eacli consciousness thought is sen-
sibly continuous; (4) it is cognitive of objects
which appear to be independent ; (5) it chooses
among its objects while it thinks of them. In
unfolding these parts of the subject Professor
James seems to overstate in one remark when
he declares that there is a " consciousness of a
teeming multiplicity of objects from our natal
day," ^ but he proceeds very clearly to point out
that " the elementary psychic fact is not this
thought or that thought, but my thought, every
thought being owned." ^ The conscious fact is
not " feelings and thoughts exist," but " I think"
and " I feel" ; and he firmly declares : " l^o psy-
chology, at any rate, can question the existence
of personal selves. The worst a psychology can
do is so to interpret the nature of these selves as
to rob them of their worth. . . . There are no
marks of personalty to be gathered aliunde, and
then found lacking in the train of thought. It
has them all already."^ He then shows that no
two states are ever just alike, and argues that
the continuous stream of thought bears with it
the sense of personal identity, so that " the

1 Page 226. 2 page 226. s pageg 226, 227.


consciousness remains sensibly continuous and

one." ^

After dwelling upon the feelings of relation
and tendency in thought, the " fringe" of an ob-
ject which affects us when it is not definitely in
view, the feeling of rational sequence, and the re-
lation of thought to language, our author takes
up his fourth point, that thought appears to deal
with independent objects, and remarks that
" many philosophers hold that the reflective con-
sciousness of the self is essential to the cognitive
function of thought : . . . but this is a perfectly
wanton assumption." ^ By this refusal to accept
the ground of Ferrier, Hamilton, and others
whom he cites, he seems simply to draw the dis-
tinction, made by Hegel, between consciousness
and self-consciousness. In mere consciousness
we know that the thought is ours, but we do not
stop to objectify the owner. The fifth fact, that
the thought always exercises preference, either
in careful discrimination or in mere " accentua-
tion," is treated in the author's vivid way.

In the chapter on " The Consciousness of
Self," Professor James deals with the empirical

1 Page 238. « Page 274.


ego, expanding this to its greatest extent by say-
ing that, " in its widest possible sense, a man's
self is the sum total of all that he can call his." ^
His powers of mind and body, his property, his
family, his ancestry, his acquaintance, his fame,
his works, and his pleasures are enumerated.
Thus the constituents of the self may be divided
into (1) the material, (2) the social, (3) the spir-
itual, and (4) what the Germans would call the
pure self. The social self he rightly divides into
neighborly, official, political, and so on. ^ The spir-
itual self is " a man's inner being," " a certain
portion of the stream abstracted from the rest,"
" that which welcomes or rejects," " which presides
over the perception of sensations," " that around
which the other elements accrete," " the central,
active self," " the self of selves." * But this self
manifests itself to him also in bodily sensations,
and he is inclined to hold that the consciousness
of it is mainly corporeal. He does not definitely
adopt this suggestion, but takes great interest in
the idea as a physiological psychologist, and thus
approaches Herbert Spencer's " faint aggregate"
of mind and " vivid aggregate" of body.

1 Page 291. * Page 295. « Pages 296-301.


The conflicts between the selves of a man are
then acutely described, and favor is given to the
" hierarchy with the bodily self at the bottom,
the spiritual self at top, and the extracorporeal
material selves and the various social selves
between." ^ Each self has its form of self-love,
which may take the form of either self-seeking
or self-estimation.^

In considering the pure ego, he discusses the
postulate : " I am the same self that I was yes-
terday," and defends it on the ground of our
warmth of interest in all that has concerned us,
holding " the ordinary doctrine professed by the
empirical school." ^ But he goes further and
uses the illustration of an owner's brand upon
his cattle to explain the active possession by the
self of all its objects. " Common sense would,
in fact, drive us to admit an Arch-Ego, domi-
nating the entire stream of thought and all the
selves that may be represented in it." * Of
course, he recognizes that this is Kant's transcen-
dental ego. Here again he finds a material
basis for the sense of personal identity in the

1 Page 313. ^ page 329.

8 Page 336. * Page 338.


" sense of bodily existence ;" but this suggestion
is placed in a foot-note.^

Passing then to a discussion as to what the
ego is, he finds three theories : (1) the Spiritualist,
(2) the Associationist, and (3) the Transcendental.
He does not regard the spiritualistic or soul view,
commonly held from Plato down, as necessary
to explain "the phenomena of consciousness as
they appear." ^ The stream of thought is suf-
ficient for him. He does not go behind the
passing thoughts. The hypothesis of a " sub-
stantial soul explains nothing and guarantees
nothing." Still, his " reasonings have not estab-
lished the non-existence of the soul." ^ He
rejects outright the associationist theory as futile
in view of the sense of ownership of the sensa-
tions. He ridicules Kant's transcendental theory
as cumbrous and obscure and mythological : " by
Kant's confession, the transcendental ego has
no properties, and from it nothing can be de-
duced." * The words me and I shall, there-
fore, mean to him " the empirical person and the
judging thought." ® We do not need to refer to

» Page 341. « Page 344. . » Page 350.

* Page 364. ^ Page 371.


the carefully-selected cases cited from the records
of spiritism, hypnotism, and insanity to throw
light upon the self, but pass directly to the au-
thor's own summary :

" The consciousness of self involves a stream
of thought, each part of which as * I' can (1) re-
member those which went before, and know the
things they knew; and (2) emphasize and care
paramountly for certain ones among them as
*me' and appropriate to these the rest. The
nucleus of the 'me' is always the bodily exist-
ence felt to be present at the time. . . * This me
is an empirical aggregate of things objectively
known. The I which knows them cannot itself
be an aggregate, neither for metaphysical pur-
poses need it be considered to be an unchanging
metaphysical entity like the soul, or a principle
like the pure ego, viewed as ' out of time.' It
is a thought, at each moment different from the
last moment, but appropriative of the latter,
together with all that the latter called its own.
All the experiential facts find their place in this
description."^ Even now Professor James ad-
mits that a hard question as to the phases of the

1 Page 400.

BO 9


thought may be asked, but he ends with saying
that the passing thought is the proper ground of
psychology, and that to go behind this is to enter
the field of metaphysical problems.

This is not a thoroughly satisfactory ending
of 80 rich a discussion, which has been largely
metaphysical ; but one is free to take out of the
impartially presented materials what he will and
to build as he will. The view of Professor
James is, it would seem, just that which psy-
chology would give when describing phenomena
and declining to draw inferences from them. It
would then candidly say, " There may be a self
of all these selves, a judge of these judgments,
but he is not as visible as his acts are, and the
acts we mainly care for." Indeed, Professor
James transcended this " naturalistic point of
view" when he said, " The basis of our person-
ality, as M. Ribot says, is that feeling of our
vitality which, because it is so perpetually pres-
ent, remains in the background of our conscious-
ness." ^ Here, what he means by the personality,
or at least by its basis, is apparently what Kant's
term, " the original transcendental synthetic unity

1 Page 376.


of apperception," means, and what is meant by
such expressions as " a man and his moods," or
Goethe's saying, *'I will be lord over myself."
In this attempted summary of the views of
philosophers remarks have been introduced
which indicate the ground to be taken here as a
basis foiMvhat is to follow, namely, the reality of
the ego, its indivisibility, its distinctly human or
rational quality, its gradual emergence into self-
consciousness in the history of the individual
and of the race, its dependence upon the mem-
ory for full recognition, its endurance in spite of
physical changes, its insistence upon acknowl-
edgment under some mode or other and in a
greater or less degree by all philosophers how-
ever sceptical, its enthronement where all men-
tal operations go on, and, consequently and
necessarily, its supreme demand to be studied
and understood so far as light is given.




This indivisible personality which each human
being has is either a created or an uncreated
thing, — ^that is, it looks to some source of life
outside of itself, or it does not do so and looks
solely to itself. Is the self self-formed? Is
there a self-made man ?

To answer " yes" to these questions is inevi-
tably to adopt some theory of metempsychosis or
reincarnation. Every one's age can be told by
somebody, and the only way in which one can
make himself out to be uncreated is to assert
that he lived previously in some other form.
That is by no means tantamount to saying that
he had no date of original creation or birth,
since he may have been reincarnated a thousand
times and still from some superior being may
have received his first form ; but those who have
believed in metempsychosis have assumed that
souls were " from the beginning." Saith the
Bhagavad Gita : " You cannot say of the soul, it


shall be, or is about to be, or is to be hereafter.
It is a thing without birth." A careful writer,
who has given much time to a restatement of
all that can be said in favor of this theory,
declares at once that this is the truth about
it. I^ote some of his utterances at the out-
set of his book, " Reincarnation : A Study of
Forgotten Truth :"^ "The soul enters this life
not as a fresh creation, but after a long course of
previous existences on this earth and elsewhere.
. . . Infancy brings to earth, not a blank scroll,
but one inscribed with ancestral histories
stretching back into the remotest past. . . . The
habits, impulses, tendencies, pursuits, and friend-
ships of the present descend from far-reaching
previous activities. . . . The soul is therefore an
eternal water globule, which sprang in the begin-
ningless past from mother ocean, and is destined,
after an unreckonable course of meandering, to at
last return with the garnered experience of all
lonely existences into the central heart of all." ^
In this statement, much condensed, but not
deprived of any part of its argument, note the

1 By E. D. Walker. Boston : Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,
1888. 2 Pages 11-13.



use of the word " therefore" to render " long,"
" remotest," and " far-reaching," equivalent to
" eternal" and " beginningless." This begging
of the question seems to be as old as the theory,
for the self has, at the most, only signs of
antiquity, — to grant this for the moment, — but
no signs whatever of eternal duration, and not
the slightest mark of infinity. Stripped of this
assumption of eternal being, the theory of
metempsychosis does not in itself assert that the
soul is uncreated, but it has made the assumption
and is to be judged by it. Still, Mr. Walker
Bpeaks of the *^ heart of all," and leaves the
impression that his book is really an argument
for immortality, — Christian immortality, too, of
course of a Gnostic type.

Professor William Knight deals very gently
with this theory, admitting its ethical value and
saying, " The ethical leverage of the doctrine
is immense. Its motive power is great. With
peculiar emphasis it proclaims the survival of
moral individuality and personal identity, along
with the final adjustment of external conditions
to the internal state of the agent." ^ But he also

* Philosophy and Literature, page 189.


makes the same mistake as to tlie unbegotten
quality of the soul, for he says, in closing, that
the only alternative which can be held, if
metempsychosis be rejected, is " a perpetual
miracle, the incessant and rapid increase in the
amount of spiritual existence in the universe." ^

This is the same as to say that the doctrine of
pre-existence or reincarnation holds that there is
no increase of spiritual existence in the universe;
that there is, and has been, no sort of creation in
case of the souls already existing ; and that these
souls always have existed. If otherwise, then at
some time there was a miracle, an increase of
spirit. Rejecting such increase, one may seem
to be forced to conclude that the souls now in
existence have always been in existence, and
were never created; that, indeed, there are as
many gods, as many infinite people, as there are
souls, or, at least, as many " eternal globules,"
differing from the ocean in size, but not in

All the way down the theory is traced, through
India, Egypt, Persia, Glreece (especially with
Pythagoras), and western Europe. Schopen-

^ Philosophy and Literature, page 153.


hauer liked it as a remedy for the fear of death,
and said all he could in its favor. Hume made this
argument for it : " The soul, if immortal, existed
before our birth. What is incorruptible must be
ungenerable. Metempsychosis is the only system
of immortality which philosophy can hearken to."
The assumption here is in the premises. It
is not necessary that the soul, to be immortal,
should have had pre-existent personality ; and it
is not necessary that the incorruptible should be
ungenerable or uncreated. Lessing, Fichte,
Herder, Thomas Brown, Shelley, Southey, and
many others, are quoted by Walker in defence
of reincarnation. Emerson said in his " Method
of l^ature:" "We cannot describe the natural
history of the soul, but we know that it is divine.
This one thing I know, that these qualities did
not now begin to exist, cannot be sick with my
sickness nor buried in my grave ; but that they
circulate through the universe ; before the world
was, they were. JSTothing can bar them out, or
shut them in, but they penetrate the ocean and
land, space and time, form and essence, and hold
the key to universal nature." ^

1 Walker, p. 98.


This is so vague as to mean almost anything,
but a cooler writer on metempsychosis follows
the same line of thought : " Of all the theories,"
says Dr. Hedge, " respecting the nature of the
soul it seems to me the most plausible, and
therefore the one most likely to throw light on
the question of a life to come." ^ The poets are
fall of what reincarnationists call their doctrine.
" Nearly all the poets profess it," says Walker.

It is, however, very noticeable in all writers
on this subject that the exceeding weakness of
their arguments from perceptions of new places
as familiar, from seeming recollections of persons,
and from immortal instincts, has compelled them
to grasp at every possible support, so that, for ex-
ample, they cite as an authority Spenser with his
lines, —

" For of the soul the body form doth take,
For soul is form and doth the hody make,"

and even find metempsychosis in the words of
Scripture, which prophesied that Elijah should
go before the Messiah (Mai. iv. 5), and which
later reported the Messiah saying of John the

^ Ways of the Spirit, chap, xii., on " The Human Soul."



Baptist, " This is Elias, whicli was to come
(Matt. xi. 14).

Were the array of authorities, legitimately or
illegitimately cited to support some form of this
theory, a thousand times larger, the fact would
remain that to declare souls uncreated is to de-
clare of every feeble infant, of every dunce, that
he is a god.

But even this theory admits that men are
passing through states of preparation for higher
achievements, and, shorn of its preposterous
polytheism, it presents the living man in much
the common way, as an infant, a child, a youth,
an adult, always receiving impressions, always
developing for good or evil by means of instruc-
tion received directly and consciously through
parents and teaches, or indirectly and uncon-
sciously through associations and sympathies
and ambitions.

Even in this view, then, man is a recipient
form. Every organism has its cells which secrete
that which it needs for nutriment and develop-
ment. The brain, the heart, the lungs, the bones,
the muscles, the nerves are made of cellular
tissue, and this unmistakably indicates a recep-
tive life in the body, a body formed to receive


from without, to assimilate what it needs, and
thereby to live. It is but a step from this to the
thought that the whole, being but a complex of
cells, is fitted to receive a soul, an animating
presence, or whatever the inner man may be
called; and it is but a step beyond that to the
thought^hat this inner man is a recipient, but,
of course, this cannot be anatomically demon-

In respect to the indivisible selfhood, the idea
of infinite pre-existence must give place to some
view more consonant with reason and experience.
The only alternative is that the mind is a created
existence, in this respect the perfect analogue of
the body. Here, again, two ways appear : for
we may think of the mind as created and com-
pleted, once for all, at some past time ; or we
may think of it as created in the sense that it is
so made as to require to be continually recipient
of that which it needs for sustenance and

The former view, that the mind was created at
one stroke and sent forth, supplied once for all
with inexhaustible energy, is that which is held
by those more cautious reincarnationists who
avoid giving man self-creative or infinite power,


and the same view seems to be lield by all those
who regard ^ every one as from his beginning
elected or reprobated by his Creator, especially
when held in the extreme form that all subse-
quent men were on trial for their lives in the
first man. ^ But with the daily-increasing
evidences gathered by science that the cosmic
creation goes on and always will go on, the
general mind is accepting the idea that the
individual man, himself a creation, and a mi-
crocosmic type of the creation, is in process of
development. This only revives the old saying,
"Preservation is perpetual creation." As the
body, confessed by all to be created, must be fed,
so the soul, or immaterial man, being less than
the Divine, is a recipient of life, of immaterial
" daily bread."

Every one who has observed the development
of an individual from infancy to maturity has
noted the gradual reception and appropriation of
motives and manners, whether gained by means
of lessons learned, or acquired by that observa-
tion and imitation of others which is, in a large
degree, indiscriminating, and which gives so

* The Assembly's Catechism, Question 16.


mucli of good or evil to the child. As Emerson
said, in his essay on " Spiritual Laws :" " There
is no teaching till the pupil is brought into the
same state or principle in which you are; a
transfusion takes place ; he is you and you are
he ; there is a teaching."

Granting the immeasurable influence of
teachers upon young minds, the question may be
asked, " Do not the influences of heredity need
to be reckoned of great importance ?" Certainly,
but this is not an objection to the doctrine of the
receptive quality of the self. What we inherit we
certainly receive, — by another way, indeed, than

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