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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.
§ 4. Naïve naturalism regards ‘matter,' 'force,' or 'energy' as the universal substance. Such a view is
naturalistic, in that it attributes finality and Naive Naturalism. Büchner's universality to these concepts of physical
science; and naïve, in that it puts a sub
stantial rather than an analytical interpretation 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
1 1824-1899. The first edition of the Kraft und Sloff 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.
? Op. cit. pp. 43, 45, 46.
sal Being. Common sense has a comparatively clear image connected with the term. It invariably suggests Spencer's
spacial discreteness and juxtaposition, a triMonism of dimensional aggregate of units of volume Force
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 substi. tution 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?
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 the relation in which it stands to the truths of science in general, shows that this truth transcending demonstration is the Persistence of Force. . . . But when we ask what this energy is, there is no answer save that it is the noumenal cause implied by the phenomenal effect. Hence the force of which we assert persistence is that Absolute Force we are obliged to postulate as the necessary correlate of the force we are conscious of. By the Persistence of Force, we really mean the persistence of some Cause which transcends our knowledge and conception. In asserting it we assert an Unconditioned Reality without beginning or end.” 1
The use of capitals in this paragraph is an expedient for ridding terms of that precision of meaning which is so fatal to the speculative interest. By 'force' one can only mean the p or of the formulas of mechanics; but by 'Force' one can mean this together with anything else that it may prove convenient to mean. The former is one thing among others; the latter may be equal to anything and everything. We are “obliged to postulate” it, to satisfy the speculative dogma; and we are enabled to satisfy that dogma, only by reducing a determinate concept to a name, and then construing its very emptiness as signifying unlimited potentiality.
The monism of force, as has been said, derives a certain plausibility from the experience of activity or effort. It is significant that it is the vagueness of this experience that renders it useful in this connection. Were it a specific experience, like, e.g., that of the color blue, it would not so readily lend itself to unlimited generalization. As a matter of fact, the experience of activity may be construed in one of two ways: it may be taken in its initial or passing character as a fused experience, or it may be analyzed. In the first case, it possesses simplicity just in proportion as it is not an experience of anything; it signifies, not the sim
1 Spencer (1820–1903): First Principles (1862), sixth edition, pp. 175-176.
• Cf. below pp. 261-264, 279-283.