Page images

that is revealed by analysis; between the apparent simplicity of an unanalyzed complex, and the real simplicity 'Pseudo-sim- of the ultimate terms of analysis; or between the simplicity that is owing to the little that one knows, and that which is owing to the much that one knows.

plicity' and

Thought begins with an undifferentiated that, roughly denoted by a word or gesture. The object is as yet barely distinguished. It is an undivided unity because some single character, such, for example, as its position in space or time, or a relation to some more familiar thing, has served to identify it for the purpose of discourse and investigation. But when the investigation is made, a variety of characters is discovered; and if the investigation is carried far enough, certain ultimate characters are arrived at, which will no longer yield to analysis. The object is then exhibited as a complex of simple properties, having a certain arrangement or relational unity. Meanwhile the original unity, of name, gesture, or denotative reference, hovers reminiscently in the background of the mind, and unless it is understood and discounted, it serves to discredit analysis. It endows the object with an undivided unity which contradicts the results of analysis. It construes the object as simply "that," whereas analysis construes it as many terms in relation. It is eventually converted into the well-known notion of 'substance' or 'essence,' and as such plays the rôle of a superior reality which analysis can never reach.

The fallacy is evident when once it is noted that this undifferentiated unity is subjective and not objective. It is the knowledge of the thing, which is simple, and not the thing itself. It is not the thing, but the mind of the knower, that is empty of diversity. And if it is not possible to reach this simplicity by carrying analysis on, it is always possible to reach it by reversing the process and returning to the initial state of innocence.

Intimately connected with this error is a third, which may be named 'the error of indefinite potentiality.' A

substance or essence, construed as above, is supposed to have some necessary relation to the characters which analysis yields, and which are called its attributes. But the substance or essence as contrasted with its attributes is no more than a name, a gesture, or some one of its attributes, arbitrarily singled out for the purpose of identification. And between the essence or substance, and the cluster of its attributes, no direct relation of necessary connection is to be found. Thus one does not have a concept of an indivisible essence 'gold,' and then see that it implies 'yellowness,' 'malleability,' a certain specific gravity, etc. The relation remains arbitrary. Gold is regarded as the potentiality of these things; but there is no evidence that it is the potentiality of just these things, or of these things exclusively. It is an indefinite and indeterminate potentiality, a 'that which,' with the sequel unaccounted for.

How gold, simply, should reveal itself successively as yellow,' 'malleable,' etc., really becomes clear only when psychological terms are introduced. An organism experiencing the real complex may begin with the name, or the position, or with some associate, and pass on to the rest, finally overlapping the full detail. In this case the detail is not generated by the original simplicity itself; but, preexisting in the thing from the start, is gradually uncovered, or brought into consciousness. And this is a very different matter. For now while there is a transition in consciousness from simplicity to complexity, the thing itself has been complex all the while. Indeed the subjective simplicity owes its potentialities to the objective complexity.

These three errors have perpetually played into one another, and have begotten certain well-nigh inveterate habits in philosophical thought. The 'Absolute' or 'Ultimate,' or 'Infinite' has become a commonplace. It is already plausible and men are at once ready to entertain 'the idea, because of the common supposition that every individual thing has an inward indivisible essence which

is its 'real' nature, as opposed to its diversity as revealed by analysis. It is an easy step from such particular essences to a universal essence. And the notion of an allgeneral, all-sufficient entity, that shall be all properties to all things, is readily entertained by a mind that is accustomed to the notion of indeterminate and unlimited potentialities. Such are the modes of thought characteristic of a 'metaphysics' that is unfaithful to the method of analysis.

Naïve Natural

§4. Naïve naturalism regards 'matter,' 'force,' or 'energy' as the universal substance. Such a view is naturalistic, in that it attributes finality and ism. Büchner's universality to these concepts of physical science; and naïve, in that it puts a substantial rather than an analytical interpre

Monism of


tation on them.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century the most influential materialist was Louis Büchner,' whose Kraft und Stoff has passed through twenty German and eight French editions. This book expressed a reaction against idealistic metaphysics caused by the rapid advance of the natural sciences. The author attributes the false philosophy of the past to the abstract separation of matter and force. The former abstracted from the latter-a matter with no internal attraction and repulsion, "a being without properties," is nothing at all ("ein Unding"). The form and movement of matter constitute "its necessary attributes, and sine qua non." On the other hand, force means nothing "without the modifications and movements that we perceive in matter." The absurd notion of a disembodied force is chiefly responsible for the spiritistic and creationist theories which have distinguished loose speculation from true science. "Keine Kraft ohne Stoff, kein Stoff ohne Kraft!" The balance of the chemist proves that matter is "immortal," as the determination of the mechanical equivalent of

11824-1899. The first edition of the Kraft und Stoff appeared in 1855. • Cf. op. cit., Conclusion.

heat by Mayer and Joule establishes the "immortality" of force.1

In other words, matter manifests itself in force, and force in turn manifests itself in various determinate and measurable changes such as motion and heat. Matter itself is that which thus manifests itself. "This 'something' is what we call matter, the phenomena in question are its activities, and the cause of these activities is the force contained in the substance." What matter is in itself we cannot know. Hence we must not judge matter merely by what is known of it. Indeed since its essence escapes us, there is nothing of which it can be judged incapable. Science is constantly finding it to possess unexpected properties. As a potentiality without assignable limits, it may be as reasonably endowed with "intellectual" force as with "physical" force; and no man can foresee what further powers it may in the future reveal."

Now it is evident that such a 'monism of matter' necessarily employs the notion of substance - the notion of an essence distinguished from its properties, and not defined by them. Since matter is not identified with specific properties, it is an indefinite potentiality; and were it not so, its universality or metaphysical reality could not be asserted. In short everything can be claimed for matter, just in proportion as matter is not identified with anything in particular. It is the pressure of the speculative dogma, the assumption that there must be some conception having unlimited generality and sufficiency, that leads the party of matter to present their favorite conception in this rôle; and to assume this rôle, matter must be divested of the specific and determinate character which is assigned to it in the limited operations of science.

§ 5. Now it happens that 'matter' is too well-known in its private capacity to play becomingly the part of Univer

Op. cit., from the French translation, by Victor Dave, of the seventeenth edition, pp. 3, 46; cf. Ch. II, III, passim.

2 Op. cit. pp. 43, 45, 46.

sal Being. Common sense has a comparatively clear image connected with the term. It invariably suggests spacial discreteness and juxtaposition, a tridimensional aggregate of units of volume bounded by hard surfaces. And if this be matter, then evidently matter is not everything. So characteristic an arrangement suggests contrasts as well as analogies; if it provides for some things, like the planetary system or the molecular structure of gases, it leaves out other things, such as color, thought, or the ether. Hence the superiority of concepts like 'force' and 'energy.' For these have not only the specific meaning which they obtain from the formulas of mechanics; they have also the vague meaning which they have when construed in terms of the inner experience of activity or effort. Common sense recoils from the notion of a matter that shall not be hard, discrete, and extended; but it is prepared to hear anything of force or energy.

And there is a second motive which tends to the substitution of these conceptions for matter. The indestructibility of matter is proved by the fact that matter changes its form without loss of weight. Empirically, in other words, it is the property of weight that remains constant. But weight is a manifestation of force; and matter may therefore be regarded as one of these manifestations. Or one may argue, as the philosophers Leibniz and Berkeley have argued long since, that matter is known only by its properties, by its "forms and motions"; and if these are varieties of force, why multiply substrata or essences needlessly? Instead of conceiving a matter that manifests itself in forms and motions, why not stop at force, and invest it with finality and universality?


Monism of


So the 'monism of force' replaces 'the monism of matter.' "As shown before," says Spencer, "we can not go on merging derivative truths in those wider truths from which they are derived, without reaching at least a widest truth which can be merged in no other, or derived from no other. And

« PreviousContinue »