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any way affected by inquiries into its origin ; that the three questions of existence, origin, and validity of moral intuition are separate, should be discussed independently, and the answers to them sought by different methods. seems to be frequently assumed,” he says, " that if it can be shown how certain mental phenomena, thoughts, or feelings, have grown up, if we can point to the antecedent phenomena, of which they are the natural consequences, then suddenly the phenomena which we began by investigating have vanished; they are no longer there, but something else which we have mistaken for them: the elements' of which they are said to be composed.'” That is to say, the moral intuitions have not vanished, because you imagine you have shown how they have originated. The question of existence is entirely independent of the question of origin.
The criticism would be just if it were really ever supposed that the phenomena were disposed of as realities when their origin was explained. But we doubt whether so extravagant a supposition is entertained by anybody. The argument is not that, but this: that the question of origin goes to the essence of the two other questions of existence and validityis an essential part of the question of their existence as intuitions, and of the question of their validity as such. No one supposes that they are not there, because it has been shown how they have grown up; but many persons think that our knowledge of what they are, if there, must depend very much upon what is discovered concerning their origin and evolution.
Putting aside this difference of opinion with regard to the extent of bearing of the question of origin, Mr. Sidgwick might still say that he is not greatly concerned with the fact whether the simple assumption with which he starts is true or not. It is sufficient for him that it has always been made, and that, the methods of ethics having postulated it, his purely scientific exposition and criticism is nowise affected by its truth or falseness. But we cannot think so humble a claim, which puts his dissertations on a level with dissertations concerning phlogiston before oxygen was discovered, would be just to his work; it might have been so had he contented himself with a simple exposition of methods, and written it as an introductory chapter instead of an elaborate book; but the wealth of acute criticism and subtile analysis would be wasted except for his evident conviction that moral intuitions, apprehensions, or sentiments exist in the human mind, have a fixed character, and are valid. Having that conviction, is he justified in passing over altogether a question which bears essentially upon the questions of existence and validity-the question of origin ?
Our intention to have done with criticism has led us into further criticism. We began by finding fault with the exposition because it deviated into so many byepaths ; we have now been finding fault with the criticism because it makes implications for which it does not furnish proper warrant. All the while it is possible that our objections have been anticipated and answered in one part or other of the work. Readers should do what we did not-study the table of contents at the beginning of the book before reading the chapters. They will thereby get a clearer idea of the author's argument. It would have been well perhaps if the summary of the contents of each chapter had been placed at the beginning of it. Whatever else may be said of Mr. Sidgwick's book, it will not be denied that it contains much subtile thought, and is deserving of earnest study.
Lux e Tenebris ; or, The Testimony of Consciousness. A
Theoretic Essay. Trübner & Co. 1874. A book which proclaims itself by its title to be a “ light out of darkness” makes a pretension which is not suited to disarm criticism. The title is, however, the most pretentious part of a book which is not written in a spirit of pretension. The author has had in his mind for thirty years the project of enunciating the reflections which he has now set forth, and, whatever may be the fate of his book, “will never regret the time and labour he has spent on its production.
It has beguiled many a dull hour, soothed many an anxious one; and he parts with it now as he would from an old friend with whom he had passed many years of his life.” He has the modest hope, however, that it may be of assistance to some, in directing and helping them on the way they should go, though he cannot expect that among these will be included the cultivated class of cynics and sceptics.
There are also the more cultivated class of cynics and sceptics, who ask, with the polite Roman governor, “ What is truth ?”—who believe that right and wrong are accidents; reason and wisdom, names ; goodness and virtue, dreams: they see the darkness, but do not believe in the existence of light. With these the author has no quarrel ; their eyes are at any rate open, and if he fails in making them see, the fault will not be theirs. To convince them he can scarcely expect ; all he asks of them is to pardon his weakness in believing that “there may be words which are things—hopes which will not deceive ;"—that “Goodness is no name, and Happiness no dream."
We doubt not that the cynics and sceptics will pardon him, if they do not envy him, this amiable belief.
What then is his story? It is the old one: consciousness the light of the world. This is the light which, notwithstanding its failures in the past, is to lighten our darkness, and defend us from all the perils and dangers of thinking. He begins his first chapter with enunciating a series of ten propositions with regard to consciousness, scarce one of which we should accept entirely in the sense in which it is propounded. It is laid down, first, that all existing things are divisible into two classes-those that do, and those that do not, manifest consciousness ; secondly, that consciousness is the one essential attribute of mind, it being impossible to conceive consciousness without a mind to which it belongs, or mind without the property of consciousness; and, thirdly, that consciousness and knowledge are convertible terms, for there can be no consciousness without knowledge of such consciousness, nor can there be any knowledge without consciousness of such knowledge. It is consciousness which tells us we know, and knowledge which tells us we are conscious ; and they are not two things, but one thing. Is this so? Can any one at any given moment call to mind, that is, to consciousness, one thousandth part of what he knows? It will be replied that this latent knowledge, or whatever else it may be called, is not real but potential knowledge, a possibility of knowledge, that is, something which can be knowledge when it becomes consciousness. Well, but what is it actually when it is not conscious ? Potential knowledge is merely a verbal expression describing what may be; we want to know what that is which we can know at any moment when it becomes conscious, which is not known until then, and where and how it exists meanwhile ? The author's answer is that it exists in memory, but he does not tell us as what, only says as knowledge that may be. Where, then, does memory exist, we ask? In the mind, it may be presumed the answer will be, seeing that we cannot well have mind without memory. So, then, we have potential kuowledge laid up unconscious in the mind. But by the second proposition it appeared that there was no consciousness without mind, and no mind without conscious
ness. Ergo, the potential knowledge cannot be in the mind, for it would then be conscious, that is, actual; nor can it be in memory, for memory is a function of mind, which cannot be unconscious either in its essence or function. Here, then, we are brought into a quandary: our potential knowledge is logically nowhere and nothing, though we still cannot but think that in nature it is somewhere and something. This comes of disquisitions in which vague words do duty for facts, and of a so-called philosophy in which it is not insisted that thoughts shall be in definite accordance with facts, and that words shall exactly define thoughts.
The vagueness and unreality of the three propositions which we have quoted as a sample of the rest, might be exposed over and over again by bringing them to the test of facts. We will give one more illustration. All existing things are or are not conscious; consciousness and knowledge are identical; therefore all existing things that have consciousness have knowledge. Is that true? Apparently not: the author himself admits that there are beings low down in the animal scale which possess sensation, and, therefore, he says consciousness, but which have neither knowledge nor memory. And yet he leaves his fundamental propositions unaltered, and goes on his way rejoicing, to elaborate a system of philosophy founded upon them ! Were he to supplement his interrogation of consciousness by a sincere and competent interrogation of nature, we doubt not that he would discover the necessity of making other qualifications of his propositions.
The argument which he uses to prove that the seat of perception is not in the brain, but in the “unknown essence, mind,” may be quoted to show how far he is from sounding the depths of his subject. It is this : “ Neither is it situated within the body; for this is contradicted by the direct testimony of consciousness, which represents it as differently placed with regard to the body It follows that both it and the body, as perceived in consciousness, are situated in the mind.” Certainly it is a new discovery that consciousness informs us, by its direct testimony, how its states are placed with regard to the body, or how the brain is placed with regard to the body. Does it in fact give any information at all concerning the whereabouts of mind and brain in relation to body? So far as we understand the author's vague and somewhat obscure statement, it is that consciousness tells us that the perception is differently placed (differently from what ?—the brain, we presume) with regard to the body, and
that it follows that it is in the mind. But it is an indisputable fact that consciousness tells us nothing about the brain ; and that, were we dependent upon its testimony alone, we should not know that we have brains. What possible warrant is there then for declaring that consciousness tells us what is or is not in the brain ? Perception may or may not be in the brain, but whether it be or be not, it is certain that so long as consciousness knows nothing of the existence of a brain and of the changes that take place in it during mental function, we cannot appeal to its authority to decide what the functions of the brain are, and what is their limit. Assuredly it would be absurd to assert that what consciousness does not make known to us cannot have any existence. This, however, is what is virtually done; an entirely unwarrantable conclusion as to the impossibility of perception by the brain is founded on the incompetence of consciousness; and thereupon an extraordinary sequitur is made which is no sequitur at all-namely, that it must be “differently placed with regard to the body," and be situated in the mind.
Whether perception be situated in the mind or brain is a question concerning which, it has always seemed to us, disputation will cease so soon as men have come to a clear and definite understanding of what they mean by the words they use. Mind, including consciousness, is a function of brain, say the so-called materialists; whether perception is in the brain or mind is a quarrel over words rather than over things, being really a part of the question whether it is ever right to say that the function is in the organ. The function is unquestionably potential in the organ, but when it becomes actual in consequence of material changes in the latter, can we any longer describe it correctly as being in the organ? If we can, then perception is in the brain; but if not—if the function is an energy which has gone forth from the organ and is not any longer part of it—then perception is properly part of the function, mind, and may be said to be in the mind; mind being the abstract term in which we include all the mental functions of the brain. We know nothing of the organ and its changes by consciousness; the knowledge which we do get through its revelations is confined to function; wherefore it is so far true that we only know mental states in consciousness. But it is a long and gratuitous leap thence to the unnecessary hypothesis of an “unknown essence, mind," which is something distinct both from function and organ.
It is a larger leap still which the author makes, when he