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individual object. But if not only this conception of the
particular social object, but all those that have been
built up out of it, have been formed at the same time
with, and under the influence of, language, it seems to
follow that the belief in the existence of other men's
minds like our own, but not part of us, must be
inseparably associated with every process whereby
discrete impressions are built together into an object.
I do not, of course, mean that it presents itself in con-
sciousness as distinct ; but I mean that as an object is
formed in my mind, a fixed habit causes it to be formed as
a social object, and insensibly embodies in it a reference
to the minds of other men. And this sub-conscious
reference to supposed ejects is what constitutes the im-
pression of externality in the object, whereby it is de-
scribed as not-me. At any rate, the formation of the social
object supplies an account of this impression of outness,
without requiring me to assume any ejects or things out-
side my consciousness except the minds of other men.
Consequently, it cannot be argued from the impression
of outness that there is anything outside of my con-
sciousness except the minds of other men. I shall argue
presently that we have grounds for believing in non-
personal ejects, but these grounds are not in any way
dependent on the impression of outness, and they are
not included in the ordinary or common-sense view of



76 ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES.

things. It seems to me that the prevailing belief of un-
instructed people is merely a belief in the social object,
and not in a non-personal eject, somehow corresponding
to it ; and that the question whether the latter exists
or not is one which cannot be put to them so as to
convey any meaning without considerable preliminary
training. On this point I agree entirely with Berkeley,
and not with Mr. Spencer.

Difference between Mind and Body.

I do not pause to show how belief in the Eject un-
derlies the whole of natural ethic, whose first great
commandment, evolved in the light of day by healthy
processes wherever men have lived together, is, ' Put
yourself in his place.' It is more to my present pur-
pose to point out what is the true difference between
body and mind. Your body is an object in my con-
sciousness ; your mind is not, and never can be. Being
an object, your body follows the laws of physical science,
which deals with the objective order of my feelings.
That its chemistry is ordinary chemistry, its physics
ordinary physics, its mechanics ordinary mechanics, may
or may not be true ; the circumstances are exceptional,
and it is conceivable (to persons ignorant of the facts)
that allowance may have to be made for them, even in
the expression of the most general laws of nature. But
in any case, every question about your body is a
question about the physical laws of matter, and about
nothing else. To say : ' Up to this point science can
explain ; here the soul steps in,' is not to say what is
untrue, but to talk nonsense. If evidence were found
that the matter constituting the brain behaved other-






ON THE NATURE OF THIXGS-IN-THEMSELVES. 77



wise than ordinary matter, or if it were impossible to
describe vital actions as particular examples of general
physical rules, this would be a fact in physics, a fact
relating to the motion of matter ; and it must either be
explained by further elaboration of physical science or
else our conception of the objective order of our feelings
would have to be changed. The question, ' Is the mind
a force ? ' is condemned by similar considerations. A
certain variable quality of matter (the rate of change of
its motion) is found to be invariably connected with the
position relatively to it of other matter ; considered as
expressed in terms of this position, the quality is called
Force. Force is thus an abstraction relating to objective
facts ; it is a mode of grouping of my feelings, and
cannot possibly be the same thing as an eject, another
man's consciousness. But the question : ' Do the
changes in a man's consciousness run parallel with the
changes of motion, and therefore with the forces in his
brain ? ' is a real question, and not primd facie nonsense.
Objections of like character may be raised against the
language of some writers who speak of changes in con-
sciousness as caused by actions on the organism. The
word Cause, TroXXa^ws Xeyo/xe^oi/ and misleading as it is,
having no legitimate place in science or philosophy, may
yet be of some use in conversation or literature, if it is
kept to denote a relation between objective facts, to
describe certain parts of the phenomenal order. But
only confusion can arise if it is used to express the
relation between certain objective facts in my conscious-
ness and the ejective facts which are inferred as cor-
responding in some way to them and running parallel
with them. For all that we know at present, this relation



78 ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN- THEMSELVES.

does not in any way resemble that expressed by the word
Cause.

To sum up, the distinction between eject and object,
properly grasped, forbids us to regard the eject, another
man's mind, as coming into the world of objects in any
way, or as standing in the relation of cause or effect to
any changes in that world. I need hardly add that
the facts do very strongly lead us to regard our bodies
as merely complicated examples of practically universal
physical rules, and their motions as determined in the
same way as those of the sun and the sea. There is no
evidence which amounts to a primd facie case against
the dynamical uniformity of Nature ; and I make no
exception in favour of that slykick force which fills
existing lunatic asylums and makes private houses into
new ones.

Correspondence of Elements of Mind and Brain-Action.

I have already spoken of certain ejective facts the
changes in your consciousness as running parallel with
the changes in your brain, which are objective facts.
The parallelism here meant is a parallelism of com-
plexity, an analogy of structure. A spoken sentence and
the same sentence written are two utterly unlike things,
but each of them consists of elements ; the spoken
sentence of the elementary sounds of the language, the
written sentence of its alphabet. Now the relation
between the spoken sentence and its elements is very
nearly the same as the relation between the written
sentence and its elements. There is a correspondence
of element to element ; although an elementary sound
is quite a different thing from a letter of the alphabet,



OX THE NATURE OF THIXGS-IX-THEMSELVES. 79

yet each elementary sound belongs to a certain letter or
letters. And the sounds being built up together to
form a spoken sentence, the letters are built up together,
in nearly the same way, to form the written sentence.
The two complex products are as wholly unlike as the
elements are, but the manner of their complication is
the same. Or, as we should say in the mathematics, a
sentence spoken is the same function of the elementary
sounds as the same sentence written is of the cor-
responding letters.

Of such a nature is the correspondence or parallelism
between mind and body. The fundamental ' deliver-
ance ' of consciousness affirms its own complexity. It
seems to me impossible, as I am at present constituted,
to have only one absolutely simple feeling at a time.
Not only are my objective perceptions, as of a man's
head or a candlestick, formed of a great number of parts
ordered in a definite manner, but they are invariably
accompanied by an endless string of memories, all
equally complex. And those massive organic feelings
with which, from their apparent want of connexion
with the objective order, the notion of consciousness
has been chiefly associated, those also turn out, when
attention is directed to them, to be complex things. In
reading over a former page of my manuscript, for in-
stance, I found suddenly, on reflection, that although
I had been conscious of what I was reading I paid
no .attention to it ; but had been mainly occupied in
debating whether faint red lines would not be better
than blue ones to write upon, in picturing the scene in
the shop when I should ask for such lines to be ruled,
and in reflecting on the lamentable helplessness of nine






80 ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES.

men out of ten when you ask them to do anything
slightly different from what they have been accustomed
to do. This debate had been started by the observation
that my handwriting varied in size according to the
nature of the argument, being larger when that was
diffuse and explanatory, occupied with a supposed
audience ; and smaller when it was close, occupied only
with the sequence of propositions. Along with these
trains of thought went the sensation of noises made by
poultry, dogs, children, and organ-grinders ; and that
vague diffused feeling in the side of the face and head
which means a probable toothache in an hour or two.
Under these circumstances, it seems to me that con-
sciousness must be described as a succession of groups
of changes, as analogous to a rope made of a great
number of occasionally interlacing strands.

This being so, it will be said that there is a unity in
all this complexity, that in all these varied feelings it is
I who am conscious, and that this sense of personality,
the self-perception of the Ego, is one and indivisible.
It seems to me (here agreeing with Hume) that the
c unity of apperception ' does not exist in the instanta-
neous consciousness which it unites, but only in sub-
sequent reflection upon it ; and that it consists in the
power of establishing a certain connexion between the
memories of any two feelings which we had at the same
instant. A feeling, at the instant when it exists, exists
an undfur sich, and not as my feeling ; but when on. re-
flection I remember it as my feeling, there comes up not
merely a faint repetition of the feeling, but inextricably
connected with it a whole set of connexions with the
general stream of my consciousness. This memory,



ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES. 81

again, qua memory, is relative to the past feeling which
it partially recalls ; but in so far as it is itself a feeling,
it is absolute, Ding-an-sich. The feeling of personality,
then, is a certain feeling of connexion between faint
images of past feelings ; and personality itself is the
fact that such connexions are set up, the property of
the stream of feelings that part of it consists of links
binding together faint reproductions of previous parts.
It is thus a relative thing, a mode of complication
of certain elements, and a property of the complex so
produced. This complex is consciousness. When a
stream of feelings is so compact together that at each
instant it consists of (1) new feelings, (2) fainter repeti-
tions of previous ones, and (3) links connecting these
repetitions, the stream is called a consciousness. A far
more complicated grouping than is necessarily implied
here is established when discrete impressions are run
together into the perception of an object. The concep-
tion of a particular object, as object, is a group of
feelings symbolic of many different perceptions, and of
links between them and other feelings. The distinction
between Subject and Object is twofold ; first, the dis-
tinction with which we started between the subjective
and objective orders which simultaneously exist in my
feelings ; and secondly, the distinction between me and
the social object, which involves the distinction between
me and you. Either of these distinctions is exceedingly
complex and abstract, involving a highly organized ex-
perience. It is not, I think, possible to separate one
from the other ; for it is just the objective order which
I do suppose to be common to me and to other minds.
I need not set down here the evidence which shows

VOL. II. Gr



82 ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES.

that the complexity of consciousness is paralleled by
complexity of action in the brain. It is only necessary
to point out what appears to me to. be a consequence of
the discoveries of Mliller and Helmholtz in regard to
sensation : that at least those distinct feelings which can
be remembered and examined by reflection are paralleled
by changes in a portion of the brain only. In the case
of sight, for example, there is a message taken from
things outside to the retina, and therefrom sent in some-
whither by the optic nerve ; now we can tap this tele-
graph at any point and produce the sensation of sight,
without any impression on the retina. It seems to follow
that what is known directly is what takes place at the
inner end of this nerve, or that the consciousness of sight
is simultaneous and parallel in complexity with the
changes in the grey matter at the internal extremity,
and not with the changes in the nerve itself, or in the
retina. So also a pain in a particular part of the body
may be mimicked by neuralgia due to lesion of another
part.

We come then, finally, to say that as your conscious-
ness is made up of elementary feelings grouped together
in various ways (ejective facts), so a part of the action
in your brain is made up of more elementary actions in
parts of it, grouped together in the same ways (objective
facts). The knowledge of this correspondence is a help
to the analysis of both sets of facts ; but it teaches us
in particular that any feeling, however apparently simple,
which can be retained and examined by reflection, is
already itself a most complex structure. We may,
however, conclude that this correspondence extends
to the elements, and that each simple feeling corres-



ON THE NATURE OF THINGS -1N-THEMSELVES. 83

ponds to a special comparatively simple change of nerve-
matter.

The Elementary Feeling is a Thing -in-itself.

The conclusion that elementary feeling co-exists with
elementary brain-motion in the same way as conscious-
ness co-exists with complex brain-motion involves more
important consequences than might at first sight appear.
We have regarded consciousness as a complex of feel-
ings, and explained the fact that the complex is con-
scious as depending on the mode of complication. But
does not the elementary feeling itself imply a conscious-
ness in which alone it can exist, and of which it is a
modification? Can a feeling exist by itself, without
forming part of a consciousness ? I shall say no to the
first question, and yes to the second, and it seems to me
that these answers are required by the doctrine of evo-
lution. For if that doctrine be true, we shall have
along the line of the human pedigree a series of imper-
ceptible steps connecting inorganic matter with our-
selves. To the later members of that series we must
undoubtedly ascribe consciousness, although it must, of
course, have been simpler than our own. But where
are we to stop ? In the case of organisms of a certain
complexity consciousness is inferred. As we go back
along the line, the complexity of the organism and of
its nerve-action insensibly diminishes ; and for the first
part of our course we see reason to think that the com-
plexity of consciousness insensibly diminishes also. But
if we make a jump, say to the tunicate molluscs, we see
no reason there to infer the existence of consciousness
at all. Yet not only is it impossible to point out a place

* 2



84 ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES.

where any sudden break takes place, but it is contrary
to all the natural training of our minds to suppose a
breach of continuity so great. All this imagined line
of organisms is a series of objects in my consciousness ;
they form an insensible gradation, and yet there is a
certain unknown point at which I am at liberty to infer
facts out of my consciousness corresponding to them !
There is only one way out of the difficulty, and to that
we are driven. Consciousness is a complex of ejective
facts, of elementary feelings, or rather of those remoter
elements which cannot even be felt, but of which the
simplest feeling is built up. Such elementary ejective
facts go along with the action of every organism, how-
ever simple ; but it is only when the material organism
has reached a certain complexity of nervous structure
(not now to be specified) that the complex of ejective
facts reaches that mode of complication which is called
Consciousness. But as the line of ascent is unbroken,
and must end at last in inorganic matter, we have no
choice but to admit that every motion of matter is
simultaneous with some ejective fact or event which
might be part of a consciousness. From this follow
two important corollaries.

1. A feeling can exist by itself, without forming part
of a consciousness. It does not depend for its existence
on the consciousness of which it may form a part.
Hence a feeling (or an eject-element) is Ding-an-sich, an
absolute, whose existence is not relative to anything else.
Sentitur is all that can be said.

2. These eject-elements, which correspond to motions
of matter, are connected together in their sequence and
co-existence by counterparts of the physical laws of






ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES. 85



matter. For otherwise the correspondence could not
be kept up.

Mind-stuff is the reality which we perceive as Matter.

That element of which, as we have seen, even the
simplest feeling is a complex, I shall call Mind-stuff. A
moving molecule of inorganic matter does not possess
mind or consciousness ; but it possesses a small piece of
mind-stuff. When molecules are so combined together
as to form the film on the under side of a jelly-fish, the
elements of mind-stuff which go along with them are so
combined as to form the faint beginnings of Sentience.
When the molecules are so combined as to form the
brain and nervous system of a vertebrate, the corres-
ponding elements of mind-stuff are so combined as to
form some kind of consciousness ; that is to say, changes
in the complex which take place at the same time get
so linked together that the repetition of one implies the
repetition of the other. When matter takes the complex
form of a living human brain, the corresponding mind-
stuff takes the form of a human consciousness, having
intelligence and volition.

Suppose that I see a man looking at a candlestick.
Both of these are objects, or phenomena, in my mind.
An image of the candlestick, in the optical sense, is
formed upon his retina, and nerve messages go from all
parts of this to form what we may call a cerebral image
somewhere in the neighbourhood of the optic thalami
in the inside of his brain. This cerebral image is a
certain complex of disturbances in the matter of these
organs ; it is a material or physical fact, therefore a
group of my possible sensations, just as the candlestick



86 ON THE NATURE OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES.

is. The cerebral image is an imperfect representation
of the candlestick, corresponding to it point for point
in a certain way. Both the candlestick and the cerebral
image are matter ; but one material complex represents
the other material complex in an imperfect way.

Now the candlestick is not the external reality
whose existence is represented in the man's mind ; for
the candlestick is a mere perception in my mind. Nor
is the cerebral image the man's perception of the candle-
stick ; for the cerebral image is merely an idea of a
possible perception in my mind. But there is a percep-
tion in the man's mind, which we may call the mental
image ; and this corresponds to some external reality.
The external reality bears the same relation to the mental
image that the (phenomenal) candlestick bears to the
cerebral image. Now the candlestick and the cerebral
image are both matter ; they are made of the same stuff.
Therefore the external reality is made of the same stuff
as the man's perception or mental image, that is, it is
made of mind-stuff. And as the cerebral image repre-
sents imperfectly the candlestick, in the same way and
to the same extent the mental image represents the
reality external to his consciousness. Thus in order to
find the thing-in-itself which is represented by any
object in my consciousness such as a candlestick, I have
to solve this question in proportion, or rule of three : -

As the physical configuration of my cerebral
image of the object

is to the physical configuration of the object,

so is my perception of the object (the object
regarded as complex of my feelings)

to the thing-in-itself.



pv



ON THE NATURE OF THINGS -TN-THEMSELVES. 87

Hence we are obliged to identify the thing-in-itself
with that complex of elementary mind-stuff which on
other grounds we have seen reason to think of as going
along with the material object. Or, to say the same
thing in other words, the reality external to our minds
which is represented in our minds as matter is in itself
mind-stuff.

The universe, then, consists entirely of mind-stuff.
Some of this is woven into the complex form of human
minds containing imperfect representations of the mind-
stuff outside them, and of themselves also, as a mirror
reflects its own image in another mirror, ad infinitum.
Such an imperfect representation is called a material
universe. It is a picture in a man's mind of the real
universe of mind-stuff.

The two chief points of this doctrine may be thus
summed up :

Matter is a mental picture in which mind-stuff is
the thing represented.

Eeason, intelligence, and volition are properties of a
complex which is made up of elements themselves not
rational, not intelligent, not conscious.

Note. The doctrine here expounded appears to have
been arrived at independently by many persons ; as
was natural, seeing that it is (or seems to me) a necessary
consequence of recent advances in the theory of percep-
tion. Kant l threw out a suggestion that the Ding an
sich might be of the nature of mind ; but the first state-
ment of the doctrine in its true connexion that I know

1 [' Kritik der reinen Vernunft/ pp. 287-8, ed. Rosenkranz. Wundt's
statement is in the concluding paragraphs of ' Grundzlige der physiologischen
Psychologie.' Compare too Hackel, 'Zellseelen and Seelenzellen/ in
' Deutsche Rundschau,' July, 1878, vol. xvi. p. 40.]



88 ON THE NATURE OF TH1NGS-IN-THEMSELVES.

of is by Wundt. Since it dawned on me, some time
ago, I have supposed myself to find it more or less
plainly hinted in many writings ; but the question is
one in which it is peculiarly difficult to make out
precisely what another man means, and even what one
means one's self.

Some writers (e.g. Dr. Tyndall) have used the word
matter to mean the phenomenon plus the reality repre-
sented ; and there are many reasons in favour of such
usage in general. But for the purposes of the present
discussion I have thought it clearer to use the word for
the phenomenon as distinguished from the thing-in-itself.



89



ON THE TYPES OF COMPOUND STATEMENT
INVOLVING FOUR CLASSES.

PROFESSOR STANLEY JEYONS has enumerated 1 the types of
compound statement involving three classes, among
which the premises of a syllogism appear as a type of
fourfold statement. He propounded at the same time
the corresponding problem of enumeration for four
classes, which is solved in the present communication.
The reader is referred to the paper or the book just
mentioned for further explanation of the nature and
purpose of the problem than is to be found in art. 1.
It may, however, be premised that the letters A, B, C,
D denote four classes or terms (for example, hard, wet,
black, nice), and that, according to a convenient notation
of De Morgan's, the small letters #, b, c, d denote the
complementary classes or contrary terms (not hard, not
wet, not black, not nice). A simple statement is of the
form ABCp = (no hard, wet, black, nice things exist or

1 'Proceedings of the Manchester Philosophical Society,' vol. vi. pp.
66-68, and ' Memoirs/ Third series, vol. v. pp. 119-130. 'The Principles
of Science,' vol. i. pp. 154-164. [1st ed. Prof. Jevons there said, p. 163:
' Some years of continuous labour would be required to ascertain the precise
number of types of laws which may govern the combinations of only four
things.' In the second edition, p. 143, he says : ' Though I still believe
that some years' labour would be required to work out the types themselves,
it is clearly a mistake to suppose that the numbers of such types cannot be
calculated with a reasonable amount of labour, Professor W. K. Clifford
having actually accomplished the task.' A short statement of the results of


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Online LibraryWilliam Kingdon CliffordLectures and essays by William Kingdon Clifford (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 22)