Page images

animal which is the immanent principle which dominates in its development, nourishment, growth, reproduction, and sensitivity. The great German man of science, Wundt, to whom I shall have again to refer, has said : "The psychical life is not the product of the bodily organism, but the bodily organism is rather a psychical creation.' Thus if, when contemplating a living animal—e.g. a dog—we were to regard its material body as composing it exclusively, or predominatingly, we should fall into the greatest of mistakes. We cannot say with truth either that a living dog's body or its principle of individuation (or psyche) constitutes the dog ;' for neither the one nor the other has an absolute existence, but only the living unity to which their coalescence has given rise. Nevertheless, if we are forced to use an inadequate expression, it would be much less incorrect and misleading to say the psychical force has made, maintains, and is the dog, than to attribute such virtue to its mere body.

It is not my purpose to go at any length into this matter here, having, I think, sufficiently advocated the validity of this Aristotelian conception in earlier writings. But that living organisms thus exist seems to us difficult to deny when we observe the activities which pervade even various species of the mineral kingdom of the inorganic world—which so enormously surpasses the organic world both in mass and in duration.

Surely, as that eminent expert in crystallography, Professor H. A. Miers, has said, 2 Nowhere is the evidence of the paramount order that prevails in Nature written in more lustrous and indelible characters than in the mineral kingdom.' Each crystalline species has its own absolute internal constitution and fixed laws, by which it endures from


that which it is and no other--the visible expression of a definitely constituted nature, through which ceaseless order reigns. It is also from the mineral kingdom that a novel striking argument may be brought against the doctrine that the varied, often beautiful, often curious characters which serve to define any species of animal or plant must be due to utility. Yet what is more wonderful than the beauty of marble and serpentine, of malachite and lapis lazuli, of the sapphire, the emerald, and the opal ? But these wonderful spars and gems, with their endless varieties of form and colour, have their innate laws of form and other properties, and their definite anatomy and physiology. They most certainly have not been due to any mere triumph of 'utility.' An as yet unknown energy, an X force, shows itself even here, as it does more eminently in the dominion of life.

And now let us ascend from the consideration of these phenomena presented by the inorganic world to those presented by the highest energy known to us in the organic world—that which enables us to

? In his inaugural lecture as Waynflete Professor.

acquire a knowledge of science. "Science' is the highest and most certain knowledge attainable, and this knowledge is divisible into three categories : (1) a knowledge of concrete facts ; first of all, that of our own personal existence-memory enabling us to be as certain with respect to some events of our past as we are of much of our present experience; (2) a knowledge of abstract truths seen to be universally and necessarily true, such as 'Nothing can, at the same time, both be and not be;' Nothing can come into existence without a cause,' &c.; (3) lastly, a knowledge of the validity of whatever may be seen necessarily to follow from premisses the truth of which is certain. Unless we can have certain knowledge of these three kinds, all science is impossible.

Now when we examine the various mental powers we habitually exercise, we recognise that our mind is an energy, or principle, which is conscious of successive objects and events, and is capable of holding them, or various groups of them, in one conception before consciousness, as before a fixed point, and recognising them as members of a series, every part of which the mind transcends. Such a principle, aware of the various kinds and directions of its own intellectual activity, consciously present to them all, and capable of reviewing its own states and external objects and events in various orders, must be a unity of the simplest possible kind. Moreover, this energy, as one which apprehends not only truth of fact, but also hypothetical truths and truth as to possibility or impossibility in various instances, must be something altogether different from what we know as 'matter in motion'

-as merely physical force. If then we know (as we certainly do know) material bodies and physical forces at all, it is absolutely certain that this intellectual, enduring principle must be neither the one nor the other, but stands out in the strongest contrast with both. Therefore, if we know-as of course we do—that we have a material. body, we may be certain that our being is not material only but that we are a bifold unity-two natures in one person.

We are each of us a unity, for we recognise that it is as much the 'I' which feels, moves, grows or decays, as it is the 'I' who thinks. We are certain, indeed, as to the existence of our body, but it is absolutely impossible for us to really doubt the existence of our self-conscious, thinking principle. We consist of one body and one immaterial energy, together constituting an absolute unity possessing two sets of faculties. We are thus, each of us, material and physical in one aspect, immaterial and intelligent in the other aspect. No certainty which we can attain to about any external object can be nearly so certain as this certainty we have concerning our own being—first as to the immaterial, dynamic aspect of that being, and, secondly, as to its material and physical aspect. This is at once the primary and highest truth of physical science.


Though we have no valid ground for attributing to animals a psychical principle which is thus truly and absolutely intellectual, reasonable person can deny that the higher animals—dogs, apes, elephants, &c.—not only have sensations and emotions like our own, but also a sensuous kind of memory, power of perception and of drawing practical inferences. They must each of them therefore possess a psychical side to their being, more or less like our owngenerically similar, if specifically very different.

I believe that it is the above-stated truth about our own nature which can alone explain those remarkable emotional feelings of personal attraction or repulsion which many of us from time to time experience. If, as I have urged and as Wundt has taught 3 even as regards animals, the material organism is a psychical creation, how much more must the nobler human psychical energy affect and dominate our material framework? If the dog we love is the visible expression of an invisible, intangible energy which is the dominant side of the living animal-unity, the organisation, actions, and emotions of which are that energy's expression and manifestation; à fortiori the same may be said of the psychical energy, or ‘soul,' of every man and woman. It is, I believe, the special nature of that psychical energy, permeating, informing, and dominating the body of each individual—invisible and intangible though it be-which is the cause and foundation of those deep and mysterious feelings, just referred to, which every now and then affect us so vividly. That the 'soul? of our fellow-creatures, of the men and women we like or dislike, should be imperceptible to us in and by itself is not wonderful, since, during life at least, it has no existence in and by itself. Nevertheless, being the dominating energy of that compound unity of which we each of us consist, it manifests itself to us through the animated body it informs. It thus manifests itself in the glance of the eye (whether that glance denote love or hatred), in the smile of affection, the sneer of contempt, or the scowl of abhorrence; in the beckoning or repelling gesture of the hand and in the carriage of the head, whether it be held proudly aloof or brought near caressingly. In each case it is the immaterial energy, or soul, which thus shows itself, revealing, to a greater or less extent, the essential nature of the individual man or woman whose personality may so powerfully yet so mysteriously affect us.

We may have no suspicion of the real cause of our emotion and only note what is visible and tangible, though that emotion may all the time be really due to an unsuspected similarity of psychical nature; and thus the attraction which may spring up quite suddenly between people becomes less difficult to understand.

And when this psychical energy which has dominated us during

See ante, p. 265.

life has disappeared, and death has reduced our active being to a mass of mere inanimate matter, what becomes of the 'soul ;' what is the fate of this energy?

Does reason give us good ground for believing, or even hoping, that it will survive the destruction of the body? No one, I think, can venture to affirm that nature affords us any certain evidence that a future life awaits us. On the other hand, the last refinements of science, including the new psychology, do not afford us one new argument against its possibility. Men knew, centuries ago, that when the brain was out the man was dead, and there an end ;' and we know essentially no more now, and we probably shall know no more in spite of any increase of physiological knowledge.

It certainly seems congruous that an energy such as I have just described, capable of knowing intimately so many truths and its own existence and mental processes, should be a substantial and persisting energy. Justice also, which every now and then makes itself manifest as existing in the very heart of things, seems to demand a more persistent stage to work out rewards and retributions than our present life affords; and, for men convinced of the truth of Theism, confidence in a future life may well seem a necessary consequence of the conditions which have been made to surround us here.

There are persons who foolishly imagine that they know a great deal about the condition of the soul after death. But, in truth, we cannot in the least picture to ourselves what the separated soul may be like, or what the means and methods of its activity. The only 'soul' of which we have any experience is unable to think without mental images-sensuous imaginations—and it cannot possess these without a brain well supplied with blood, and it could never have acquired them save by a persistent use of the various organs of sense —the eye, the ear, &c. How, therefore, the soul can act intelligently without a brain, we can have no conception of, nor how it can know any material things. But our inability to understand what is beyond our experience in this respect will be seen to be of less weight in considering the question when we recall to mind how unable we are to understand analogous matters which are within our daily and hourly experience.

It is most true we cannot understand how' the soul can reason, imagine, or perceive without a brain and without organs of sense, but it is no less true that we cannot understand how the soul can reason, imagine, or perceive with these organs. “How' knowledge is possible, here and now; ‘how' the joint action of our eyes and brain produces a field of vision with varied objects within it, who can even pretend to know? The simplest sensation is profoundly mysterious. We have therefore no right to dogmatise as to possibilities of action, the conditions of which are quite unknown to us; and, for myself, I must confess I see no impossibility in the soul (assuming that it can and does persist after death) being able to apprehend and appreciate other beings like itself and existing under conditions similar to its own. If any such a faculty really exists, a very important and consolatory reflection follows from it.

It has been often objected that even were a future life a certainty, such an existence could never supply us with the happiness which affectionate natures specially crave : it could not confer on us the happiness of again beholding beloved ones whom we have most cherished and have lost; to meet whom, once more, has perhaps been for us the most powerful aspiration of all those concerning a future existence.

Some such objections as the following have been urged. Let us picture to ourselves a young mother in an agony of grief at the loss of her little girl. All her infantile winning ways, her smiles and tears, her childish prattle, her little form clad in the raiment made for her with so much thought and pains, all the circumstances of her brief career, rise vividly in the mother's memory, and she tenderly dwells on the thought that in another and better world her beloved little one will be restored to her. But it is her • little one,' as she knew her, on which her fancy dwells so fondly, it is with her she desires to be again united. To tell her that in her place she will hereafter be greeted by some invisible, intangible spiritual being, or by some full-grown woman, would be felt by her as little more than a mockery of her hopes. If her hopes can only be responded to in one of these two ways, then she must feel that the happiness her heart desires is for ever denied her.

Again, let us imagine a dutiful, affectionate son by the deathbed of his aged mother. During the twenty years or more he can remember her, she has always seemed old to him. As he has seen her gradual decay, as senility has more and more crept upon her, so his affection for her has augmented. He loves her white hair and wrinkled face, her thin, shrivelled hands, and the tones of a voice which show that many years have crowned her honoured age. As he mourns for her when the end has come, a pious hope that he may meet his mother once more springs up within him. But as he indulges this hope, an image arises in his mind of his lost mother as he knew and loved her. His desire is to see her and not another—not a relatively youthful form, such as he had never known. If on reflection he cannot hope for the fulfilment of that desire, he will experience distress and discouragement, and the possible future will have relatively little value in his eyes.

Lastly, we may picture to ourselves a lover whose passionate hopes of happiness have been destroyed by the sudden and unexpected death of his betrothed. It is possible that he may ex

VOL, XLV--No, 264


« PreviousContinue »