1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Metaphysics/6 English Idealism

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

METAPHYSICS

6. — English Idealism


1. The Followers of Hume's Phenomenalism. — Compared with the great systems of the Germans, English idealism in the 19th century shows but little originality. It has been largely borrowed either from previous English or from later German idealism, and what originality it has possessed has been mainly shown in that spirit of eclectic compromise which is so dear to the English mind. The predominant influence, on the whole, has been the phenomenalism of Hume, with its slender store of sensations, ideas and associations, and its conclusion that all we know is sensations without any known thinkers or any other known things. This phenomenalism was developed by James Mill (1773-1836) and J. S. Mill (1806-1873), and has since been continued by A. Bain. It also became the basis of the philosophies of Huxley and of Spencer on their phenomenalistic side. It is true that Spencer's “transfigured realism” contains much that was not dreamt of by Hume. Spencer widens the empirical theory of the origin of knowledge by his brilliant hypothesis of inherited organized tendencies, which has influenced all later psychology and epistemology, and tends to a kind of compromise between Hume and Kant. He describes his belief in an unknowable absolute as “carrying a step farther the doctrine put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel.” He develops this belief in an absolute in connexion with his own theory of evolution into something different both from the idealism of Hume and the realism of Hamilton, and rather falling under the head of materialism. Nevertheless, as he believes all the time that everything knowable throughout the whole world of evolution is phenomena in the sense of subjective affections of consciousness, and as he applies Hume's distinction of impressions and ideas as a distinction of vivid and faint states of consciousness to the distinction of ego and non-ego, spirit and matter, inner and outer phenomena, his philosophy of the world as knowable remains within the limits of phenomenalism. Nothing could be more like Hume than his final statement that what we are conscious of is subjective affections produced by objective agencies unknown and unknowable. The “anti-realism,” which takes the lion's share in “transfigured realism,” is simply a development of the phenomenalism of Hume. Hume was also at the bottom of the philosophies of G. H. Lewes, who held that there is nothing but feelings, and of W. K. Clifford. Nor is Hume yet dethroned, as we see from the works of Karl Pearson and of William James, who, though an American, has exercised a considerable influence on English thought. The most flourishing time of phenomenalism, however, was during the lifetime of J. S. Mill. It was counteracted to some extent by the study at the universities of the deductive logic of Aristotle and the inductive logic of Bacon, by parts of Mill's own logic, and by the natural realism of Reid, Stewart, and Hamilton, which met Hume's scepticism by asserting a direct perception of the external world. But natural realism, as finally interpreted by Hamilton, was too dogmatic, too unsystematic, and too confused with elements derived from Kantian idealism to withstand the brilliant criticism of Mill's Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865), a work which for a time almost persuaded us that Nature as we know it from sensations is nothing but permanent possibilities of sensation, and oneself only a series of states of consciousness.

2. The Influence of Kant and Hegel. — Nevertheless, there have never been wanting more soaring spirits who, shocked at the narrowness of the popular phenomenalism of Hume, have tried to find a wider idealism. They have, as a rule, sought it in Germany. Before the beginning of the 19th century, Kant had made his way to England in a translation of some of his works, and in an account of the Elements of the Critical Philosophy by A. F. M. Willich, both published in 1798. After a period of struggle, the influence of Kant gradually extended, and, as we see in the writings of Coleridge and Carlyle, of Hamilton and Mansel, of Green and Caird, of Laurie, Martineau and others, has secured an authority over English thought almost equal to that of Hume (see Idealism). Both philosophers appeal to the English love of experience, and Kant had these advantages over Hume: that within the narrow circle of sensible phenomena his theory of understanding gave to experience a fuller content, and that beyond phenomena, however inconsistently, his theory of reason postulated the reality of God, freedom and immortality. Other and wider German philosophies gradually followed that of Kant to England. Coleridge (1772-1834) not only called attention to Kant's distinction between understanding and reason, but also introduced his countrymen to the noumenal idealism of Schelling. In the Biographia Literaria (1817) he says that in Schelling's Naturphilosophie and System des transcendentalen Idealismus he first found a general coincidence with much that he had toiled out for himself, and he repeated some of the main tenets of Schelling. Carlyle (1795-1881) laid more emphasis on Fichte. At the height of his career, when between 1840 and 1850 many of Fichte's works were being translated in the Catholic Series, he called attention to Fichte's later view that all earthly things are but as a vesture, or appearance under which the Divine idea of the world is the reality. Extravagant as this noumenalism is, it was a healthy antidote to the phenomenalism of the day. Among other followers of German idealism were J. F. Ferrier (q.v.), who adopted the hypothesis of Schelling and Hegel that there is one absolute intelligence (see his Lectures and Philosophical Remains, 1866, i. 1-33; ii. 545-568), and J. Hutchison Stirling (q.v.). About the same time Benjamin Jowett (q.v.) had been studying the philosophy of Hegel; but, being a man endowed with much love of truth but with little belief in first principles, he was too wise to take for a principle Hegel's assumption that different things are the same. He had, however, sown seeds in the minds of two distinguished pupils, T. H. Green and E. Caird (q.v.). Both proceeded to take Hegelianism seriously, and between them spread a kind of Hegelian orthodoxy in metaphysics and in theology throughout Great T. H. Green. Britain. Green (Prolegomena to Ethics, 1883) tried to effect a harmony of Kant and Hegel by proceeding from the epistemology of the former to the metaphysics of the latter. Taken for granted the Kantian hypothesis of a sense of sensations requiring synthesis by understanding, and the Kantian conclusion that Nature as known consists of phenomena united by categories as objects of experience, Green argued, in accordance with Kant's first position, that knowledge, in order to unite the manifold of sensations by relations into related phenomena, requires unifying intelligence, or what Kant called synthetic unity of apperception, which cannot itself be sensation, because it arranges sensations; and he argued, in accordance with Kant's second position, that therefore Nature itself as known requires unifying intelligence to constitute the relations of its phenomena, and to make it a connected world of experience. When Green said that “Nature is the system of related appearances, and related appearances are impossible apart from the action of an intelligence,” he was speaking as a pure Kantian, who could be answered only by the Aristotelian position that Nature consists of related bodies beyond appearances, and by the realistic supposition that there is a tactical sense of related bodies, of the inter-resisting members of the organism, from which reason infers similar related bodies beyond sense. But now, whatever opinion we may have about Nature, at all events, as Green saw, it does not come into existence in the process by which this person or that begins to think. Nature is not my nature, nor your nature, but one. From this fact of unity of Nature and of everything in Nature, combined with the two previous positions accepted, not from Nature, but from Kant, Green proceeded to argue, altogether beyond Kant, that Nature, being one, and also requiring unifying intelligence, requires one intelligence, an eternal intelligence, a single spiritual principle, prior to, and the condition of, our individual knowledge. According to him, therefore, Nature is one system of phenomena united by relations as objects of experience, one system of related appearances, one system of one eternal intelligence which reproduces itself in us. The “true account” of the world in his own words is “that the concrete whole, which may be described indifferently as an eternal intelligence realized in the related facts of the world, or as a system of related facts rendered possible by such an intelligence, partially and gradually reproduces itself in us, communicating piecemeal, but in inseparable correlation, understanding and the facts understood, experience and the experienced world.” Nobody can mistake the Schellingian and Hegelian nature of this conclusion. It is the Hegelian view that the world is a system of absolute reason. But it is not a Kantian view; and it is necessary to correct two confusions of Kant and Hegel, which have been imported with Hegelianism by Green and Caird. Ferrier was aware that in Kant's system “there is no common nature in all intelligence” (Lectures, ii. 568). Green, on the other hand, in deducing his own conclusion that the world is, or is a system of, one eternal intelligence, incautiously put it forward as “what may be called broadly the Kantian view” (Prolegomena, § 36), and added that he follows Kant “in maintaining that a single active conscious principle, by whatever name it be called, is necessary to constitute such a world, as the condition under which alone phenomena, i.e. appearances to consciousness, can be related to each other in a single universe” (§ 38). He admitted, however, that Kant also asserted, beyond this single universe of a single principle, a world of unknowable things in themselves, which is a Kantian not a Hegelian world. But Caird endeavoured to break down even E. Caird. this second barrier between Kant and Hegel. According to Caird, Kant “reduces the inaccessible thing in itself (which he at first speaks of as affecting our sensibility) to a noumenon which is projected by reason itself” (Essays, ii. 405); and in the Transcendental Dialectic, which forms the last part of Kant's Kritik, the noumenon becomes the object of an intuitive understanding “whose thought,” says Caird, “is one with the existence of the objects it knows” (ibid. 412, 413). Kant, then, as interpreted by English Hegelians, already believed, before Hegel, that there is one intelligence common to all individuals, and that a noumenon is a thought of this common intelligence, “an ideal of reason”; so that Kant was trying to be a Hegelian, holding that the world has no being beyond the thoughts of one intelligence. But history repeats itself; and these same two interpretations of Kant had already been made in the lifetime of Kant by Fichte, in the two Introductions to the “Wissenschaftslehre,” which he published in his Philosophical Journal in 1797. Now, the curious fact is, that Kant himself wrote a most indignant letter, dated 7th August 1799 (Kant's Werke, ed. Hartenstein, viii. 600-601), on purpose to repudiate all connexion with Fichte. Fichte's “Wissenschaftslehre,” he said, is a completely untenable system, and a metaphysics of fruitless apices, in which he disclaimed any participation; his own Kritik he refused to regard as a propaedeutic to be construed by the Fichtian or any other standpoint, declaring that it is to be understood according to the letter; and he went so far as to assert that his own critical philosophy is so satisfactory to the reason, theoretical and practical, as to be incapable of improvement, and for all future ages indispensable for the highest ends of humanity. After this letter it cannot be doubted that Kant not only differed wholly from Fichte, both about the synthetic unity of apperception and about the thing in itself, but also is to be construed literally throughout. When he said that the act of consciousness “I think,” is in allem Bewusstsein ein und dasselbe, he meant, as the whole context shows, not that it is one in all thinkers, but only that it accompanies all my other ideas and is one and the same in all my consciousness, while it is different in different thinkers. Though again in the Transcendental Dialect he spoke of pure reason conceiving “ideals” of noumena, he did not mean that a noumenon is nothing but a thought arising only through thinking, or projected by reason, but meant that pure reason can only conceive the “ideal” while, over and above the “ideal” of pure reason, a noumenon is a real thing, a thing in itself, which is not indeed known, but whose existence is postulated by practical reason in the three instances of God, freedom, and immortality. Consequently, Kant's explanation of the unity of a thing is that there is always one thing in itself causing in us many phenomena, which as understood by us are objectively valid for all our consciousnesses. What Kant never said and what his whole philosophy prevented his saying, was that a single thing is a single thought of a single consciousness; either of men, as in Fichte's philosophy, or of God and man, as in Hegel's. The passage from Kant to Hegel attempted by Green, and the harmony of Kant and Hegel attempted by Green and Caird, are unhistorical, and have caused much confusion of thought. The success, therefore, of the works of Green and Caird must stand or fall by their Hegelianism, which has indeed secured many adherents, partly metaphysical and partly theological. Among the former we may mention W. Wallace, the translator of most of Hegel's Encyklopädie, who had previously learnt Hegelianism from Ferrier; W. H. Fairbrother, who has written a faithful account of The Philosophy of Thomas Hill Green (1896); R. L. Nettleship, D. G. Ritchie, J. H. Muirhead, J. S. Mackenzie, and J. M. E. M‘Taggart, who closes his acute Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (1901) with “the possibility of finding, above all knowledge and volition, one all-embracing unity, which is only not true, only not good, because all truth and all goodness are but distorted shadows of its absolute perfection — 'das Unbegreifliche, weil es der Begriff selbst ist.'”

There are still to be mentioned two English Hegelians, who have not confused Kant and Hegel as Green did: namely, Simon Somerville Laurie (1829-1909) and F. H. Bradley (b. 1846), fellow of Merton College, Oxford.

Laurie wrote Metaphysica, nova et vetusta, a Return to Dualism, by Scotus Novanticus (1884; 2nd ed., enlarged, 1889). His attitude Laurie. to Green is expressed towards the end of his book, where he says: “The more recent argument for God which resolves itself into the necessity of a self-distinguishing one basis to which nature as a mere system of relations must be referred, is simply the old argument of the necessity for a First Cause dressed up in new clothes. Not by any means an argument to be despised, but stopping short of the truth through an inadequate analytic of knowledge.” His aim is to remedy this defect by psychology, under the conviction that a true metaphysics is at bottom psychology, and a true psychology fundamentally metaphysics. His psychology is founded on a proposed distinction between “attuition” and reason. His theory of “attuition,” by which he supposes that we become conscious of objects outside ourselves, is his “return to dualism,” and is indeed so like natural realism as to suggest that, like Ferrier, he starts from Hamilton to end in Hegel. As, however, he does not suppose that we have a direct perception of something resisting the organism, such as Hamilton maintained, it becomes necessary to state exactly what he means by “attuition.” It is, according to him, something more than sensation, but less than perception; it is common to us with lower animals such as dogs; its operation consists in co-ordinating sensations into an aggregate which the subject throws back into space, and thereby has a consciousness of a total object outside itself, e.g. a stone or a stick, a man or a moon. He carries its operation before reason still farther, supposing that “attuition” makes particular inferences about outside objects, and that a man, or a dog, through association “attuites” sequence and invariableness of succession, and, in fact, gets as far in the direction of causation as Hume thought it possible to go at all. Laurie's view is that a dog who has no higher faculty than “attuition,” can go no farther; but that a man goes farther by reason. He thinks that “attuition” gives us consciousness of an object, but without knowledge, and that knowledge begins with reason. His theory of reason brings him into contact with the German idealists: he accepts from Kant the hypothesis of synthesis and a priori categories, from Fichte the hypothesis that will is necessary to reason, from Schelling and Hegel the hypothesis of universal reason, and of an identity between the cosmic reason and the reason of man, in which he agrees also with Green and Caird. But he has a peculiar view of the powers of reason; that (1) under the law of excluded middle it states alternatives, A or B or C or D; (2) under the law of contradiction it negates B, C, D; (3) under the law of sufficient reason it says “therefore”; and (4) under the law of identity it concludes, A is A. In working out this process he supposes that reason throws into consciousness a priori categories, synthetic predicates a priori, or, as he also calls them, “dialectic percepts.” Of these the most important is cause, of which his theory, in short, is that by this a priori category and the process of reason we go on from sequence to consequence; first stating that an effect may be caused by several alternatives, then negating all but one, next concluding that this one as sufficient reason is cause, and finally attaining the necessity of the causal nexus by converting causality into identity, e.g. instead of “Fire burns wood,” putting “Fire is comburent, wood is combustible.” Lastly, while he agrees with Kant about a priori categories, he differs about the knowledge to be got out of them. Kant, applying them only to sensations, concluded that we can know nothing beyond by their means. But Laurie, applying them to “attuitions” of objects outside, considers that, though they are “reason-born,” yet they make us know the objects outside to which they are applied. This is the farthest point of his dualism, which suggests a realistic theory of knowledge, different in process from Hamilton's, but with the same result. Not so: Laurie is a Hegelian, using Kant's categories, as Hegel did, to argue that they are true not only of thoughts but of things; and for the same reason, that things and thoughts are the same. At first in his psychology he speaks of the “attuition” and the rational perception of an outside object. But in his metaphysics founded thereon he interprets the outside object to mean an object outside you and me, but not self-subsistent; not outside universal reason, but only “Beënt reason.” He quotes with approval Schelling's phrase, “Nature is visible Intelligence and Intelligence visible Nature.” He agrees with Hegel that there are two fundamental identities, the identity of all reason, and the identity of all reason and all being. Hence he explains, what is a duality for us is only a “quasi-duality” from a universal standpoint. In fact, his dualism is not realism, but merely the distinction of subject and object within idealism. Laurie's metaphysics is an attempt to supply a psychological propaedeutic to Hegelian metaphysics.

Bradley's Appearance and Reality (1893) is a more original performance. It proceeds on the opposite method of making Bradley. metaphysics independent of psychology. “Metaphysics,” says he, “has no direct interest in the origin of ideas” (254), and “we have nothing to do here with the psychological origin of the perception” (35). This metaphysical method, which we have already seen attempted by Lotze, is the true method, for we know more about things than about the beginnings of our knowledge. Bradley is right to go straight to reality, and right also to inquire for the absolute, in order to take care that his metaphysical view is comprehensive enough to be true of the world as a whole. He is unconsciously returning to the metaphysics of Aristotle in spirit; yet he differs from it toto coelo in the letter. His starting-point is the view that things as ordinarily understood, and (we may add) as Aristotle understood them (though with important qualifications) are self-contradictory, and are therefore not reality but appearances. If they were really contradictory they would be non-existent. However, he illustrates their supposed contradictoriness by examples, such as one substance with many attributes, and motion from place to place in one time. But he fails to show that a substance is one and many in the same respect, and that motion requires a body to be in two places at the same moment of one time. There is no contradiction (as Aristotle said) between a man being determined by many attributes, as rational, six-foot-high, white, and a father, and yet being one whole substance distinct from any other, including his own son; nor is there any contradiction between his body being in bed at 8.15 and at breakfast at 8.45 within the same hour. Bradley's supposed contradictions are really mere differences. So far he reminds one of Herbart, who founded his “realistic” metaphysics on similar misunderstandings; except that, while Herbart concluded that the world consists of a number of simple “reals,” each with a simple quality but unknown, Bradley concludes that reality is one absolute experience which harmonizes the supposed contradictions in an unknown manner. If his starting-point recalls Herbart his method of arriving at the absolute recalls Spinoza. In his Table of Contents, ch. xiii., on the General Nature of Reality, he says, in true Spinozistic vein, “The Real is one substantially. Plurality of Reals is not possible.” In the text he explains that, if there were a plurality of reals, they would have to be beings independent of each other, and yet, as a plurality related to each other — and this again seems to him to be a contradiction. Throughout the rest of the work he often repeats that a thing which is related cannot be an independent thing. Now, if “independent” means “existing alone” and unrelated the same thing could not be at once related and independent; and, taking substance as independent in that sense, Spinoza concluded that there could only be one substance. But this is not the sense in which a plurality of things would have to be independent in order to exist, or to be substances in the Aristotelian sense. “Independent” (χωριστόν), or “self-subsistent” (καθ′ αὑτό) means “existing apart,” i.e. existing differently: it does not mean “existing alone,” solitary, unrelated. This existing apart is the only sense in which a plurality of things need be independent in order to be real, or in order to be substances; and it is a sense in which they can all be related to each other, as I am not you, but I am addressing you. There is no contradiction, then, though Bradley supposes one, between a thing being an individual, independent, self-subsistent substance, existing apart as a distinct thing, and being also related to other things. Accordingly, the many things of this world are not self-discrepant, as Bradley says, but are distinct and relative substances, as Aristotle said. The argument, therefore, for one substance in Spinoza's Ethics, and for one absolute, the Real, which is one substantially, in Bradley's Appearance and Reality, breaks down, so far as it is designed to prove that there is only one substance, or only one Real. Bradley, however, having satisfied himself, like Spinoza, by an abuse of the word “independent,” that “the finite is self-discrepant,” goes on to ask what the one Real, the absolute, is; and, as he passed from Herbart to Spinoza, so now he passes from Spinoza to Kant. Spinoza answered realistically that the one substance is both extended and thinking. Bradley answers idealistically that the one Real is one absolute experience, because all we know is experience. “This absolute,” says he, “is experience, because that is really what we mean when we predicate or speak of anything.” But in order to identify the absolute with experience he is obliged, as he before abused the words “contradictory” and “independent,” so now to abuse the word “experience.” “Experience,” says he, “may mean experience only direct, or indirect also. Direct experience I understand to be confined to the given simply, to the merely felt or presented. But indirect experience includes all fact that is constructed from the basis of the 'this' and the 'mine.' It is all that is taken to exist beyond the bare moment” (248). This is to substitute “indirect experience” for all inference, and to maintain that when, starting from any “direct experience,” I infer the back of the moon, which is always turned away from me, I nevertheless have experience of it; nay, that it is experience. Having thus confused contradiction and difference, independence and solitariness, experience and inference, Bradley is able to deduce finally that reality is not different substances, experienced and inferred, as Aristotle thought it, but is one absolute super-personal experience, to which the so-called plurality of things, including all bodies, all souls, and even a personal God, is appearance — an appearance, as ordinarily understood, self-contradictory, but, as appearing to one spiritual reality, somehow reconciled. But how?

3. Other German Influences. — Brief reference only can be made to four other English idealists who have quarried in the rich mines of German idealism: G. H. Lewes, W. K. Clifford, G. J. Romanes and Karl Pearson. Lewes (q.v.), starting from the phenomenalism of Hume, fell under the spell of Kant and G. H. Lewes. his successors, and produced a compromise between Hume and Kant which recalls some of the later German phenomenalisms which have been described (see his Problems of Life and Mind). Rejecting everything in the Kritik which savoured of the “metempirical,” he yet sympathized so far with Hegel's noumenalism as to accept the identification of cause and effect, though he interpreted the hypothesis phenomenalistically by saying that cause and effect are two aspects of the same phenomenon. But his main sympathy was with Fechner, the gist of whose “inner psychophysics” he adopted, without, however, the hypothesis that what is conscious in us is conscious in the all-embracing spirit of God. His phenomenalism also compelled him to give a more modified adhesion to Fechner's “outer psychophysics.” It will be remembered that Fechner regarded every composite body as the appearance of a spirit; so that when, for example, molecular motion of air is said to cause a sensation of sound in me, it is really a spirit appearing as air which causes the sensation in my spirit. This noumenalism would not do for Lewes, who says that air is a group of qualities, and qualities are feelings, and motion is a mode of feeling. What, then, could he make of the external stimulus? He was obliged by his phenomenalism to say that it is only one feeling causing another in me. He ingeniously suggested that the external agent is one feeling regarded objectively, and the internal effect another feeling regarded subjectively; “and therefore,” to quote his own words, “to say that it is a molecular movement which produces a sensation of sound, is equivalent to saying that a sensation of sight produces a sensation of hearing.” Accordingly, his final conclusion is that “existence — the absolute — is known to us in feeling,” and “the external changes are symbolized as motion, because that is the mode of feeling into which all others are translated when objectively considered: objective consideration being the attitude of looking at the phenomena, whereas subjective consideration is the attitude of any other sensible response.” He does not say what happens when we use vision alone and still infer that an external stimulus causes the internal sensation. But his metaphysics is an interesting example of a phenomenalist, sympathizing with noumenalists so different as Hegel and Fechner, and yet maintaining his phenomenalism. In this feature the phenomenalism of Lewes is the English parallel to the German phenomenalism of Wundt. At the same time, and under the derivative influence of Wundt, rather than the more original inspiration of Fechner, W. K. Clifford (q.v.) was working out the hypothesis of psychophysical parallelism to a conclusion different from that of Lewes, and more allied to that of Leibnitz, the prime originator of all these hypotheses. Clifford W. K. Clifford. advanced the hypothesis that the supposed unconscious units of feeling, or psychical atoms, are the “mind-stuff” out of which everything physical and psychical is composed, and are also things in themselves, such as Kant supposed when he threw out the hint that after all “the Ding-an-sich might be of the nature of mind” (see Mind, 1878, p. 67). As a matter of fact, this “mind-stuff” of Clifford is far more like the “petites perceptions” of Leibnitz, from which it is indirectly derived. This hypothesis Clifford connected with the hypothesis of psychophysical parallelism. He maintained that the physical and the psychical are two orders which are parallel without interference; that the physical or objective order is merely phenomena, or groups of feelings, or “objects,” while the psychical or subjective order is both a stream of feelings of which we are conscious in ourselves, and similar streams which we infer beyond ourselves, or, as he came to call them, “ejects”; that, if we accept the doctrine of evolution at all, we must carry these ejective streams of feelings through the whole organic world and beyond it to the inorganic world, as a “quasimental fact”; that at bottom both orders, the physical phenomena and the psychical streams, are reducible to feelings; and that therefore there is no reason against supposing that they are made out of the same “mind-stuff,” which is the thing-in-itself. The resemblance of this noumenal idealism to that of Fechner is unmistakable. The difference is that Clifford considers “mind-stuff” to be unconscious, and denies that there is any evidence of consciousness apart from a nervous system. He agrees with du Bois-Reymond in refusing to regard the universe as a vast brain animated by conscious mind. He disagrees with Fechner's hypothesis of a world-soul, the highest spirit, God, who embraces all psychophysical processes. Curiously enough, his follower G. J. Romanes (q.v.) took the one step needed to bring Cliffordism completely back to Fechnerism. In his Rede Lecture on Mind and Motion (1885), he said that Clifford's deduction, that the G. J. Romanes. universe, although entirely composed of “mind-stuff,” is itself mindless, did not follow from his premisses. Afterwards, when the lecture was published in Mind and Motion and Monism (1895), this work also contained a chapter on “The World as an Eject,” in which Romanes again contended against Clifford that the world does admit of being regarded as an eject, that is, as a mind beyond one's own. At the same time, he refused to regard this “world-eject” as personal, because personality implies limitation. He concludes that the integrating principle of the whole — the Spirit, as it were, of the Universe — must be something akin to, but immeasurably superior to, the “psychism” of man. Nothing can be more curious than the way in which a school of English philosophers, which originally started from Hume, the most sceptical of phenomenalists, thus gradually passed over to Leibnitz and Fechner, the originators of panpsychistic noumenalism. The Spirit of the Universe contemplated by Romanes is identical with the World-soul ntemplated by Fechner.

Karl Pearson (The Grammar of Science, 1892, 2nd enlarged ed., 1900), starting from Hume's phenomenal idealism, has developed views closely allied to Mach's universal physical phenomenology. What Hume called repeated sequence Pearson calls “routine” of perceptions, and, like his master, holds that cause is an antecedent stage in a routine of perceptions; while he also acknowledges that his account of matter leads him very near to John Stuart Mill's definition of matter as “a permanent possibility of sensations.” His views, in his chapter on the Laws of Motion, that the physicist forms a conceptional model of the universe by aid of corpuscles, that these corpuscles are only symbols for the component parts of perceptual bodies, and that force is a measure of motion, and not its cause, are the views of Mach. At the end of this chapter he says that the only published work from the perusal of which he received any help in working out his views in 1882 and 1884, was Mach's Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung (1883). Mach had begun to put them forward in 1872, and Kirchhoff in 1874. But they may very well have been developed independently in Germany and in England from their common source in Hume. Their point is to stretch Hume's phenomenalism so as to embrace all science, by contending that mechanism is not at the bottom of phenomena, but is only the conceptual shorthand by aid of which men of science can briefly describe phenomena, and that all science is description and not explanation. These are the views of Mach and of Pearson, as we read them in the latter's Preface. Nor can we find any difference, except the minute shade that Pearson takes up a position of agnosticism between Clifford's assertion of “mind-stuff” and Mach's denial of things in themselves.

James Ward (q.v.), in Naturalism and Agnosticism (1899), starts from the same phenomenalistic views of Mach and Kirchhoff James Ward. about mechanics; he proceeds to the hypothesis of duality within experience, which we have traced in the phenomenalisms of Schuppe, Avenarius and Wundt, and to the hypothesis of one consciousness, which appears variously in the German idealisms, not of Kant, as Ward thinks, but of Fichte, Hegel and Schuppe; and somehow he manages to end with the noumenalistic conclusion that Nature is God's Spirit. Though this work evinces a thoroughly English love of compromise, yet it is not merely eclectic, but is animated throughout by the inspiration of his “old teacher, Lotze.” Lotze, as we saw, rejected bodily mechanism, reduced known bodies to phenomena, and concluded that reality is the life of God. Ward on the whole follows this triple scheme, but modifies it by new arguments founded on later German phenomenalism.

Under the first head he attacks mechanics precisely as Mach had done (see above); if this attack had been consistently carried out it would have carried him no further than Mach. Under the second head, according to Ward, as according to Wundt, knowledge is experience; we must start with the duality of subject and object, or perpetual reality, phenomenon, in the unity of experience, and not believe, as realists do, that either subject or object is distinct from this unity; moreover, experience requires “conation,” because it is to interesting objects that the subject attends; conation is required for all synthesis, associative and intellective; thinking is doing; presentation, feeling, conation are one inseparable whole; and the unity of the subject is due to activity and not to a substratum. But, in opposition to Wundt and in common with Schuppe, he believes that experience is (1) experience of the individual, and (2) experience of the race, which is but an extension of individual experience, and is variously called, in the course of the discussion, universal, collective, conceptual, rational experience, consciousness in general, absolute consciousness, intelligence, and even, after Caird, “a perfect intelligence.” He regards this universal experience as the result entirely of intersubjective intercourse, and concludes that its subject is not numerically distinct from the subject of individual experience, but is one and continuous with it, and that its conceptions depend on the perceptions of individual experience. He infers the corollary that universal experience contains the same duality of subjective and objective factors without dualism. He thinks that it is the origin of the categories of causality, which he refers to “conation,” and substance, which he attributes to the interaction of active subjects with their environment and to their intercourse with each other. He applies universal experience, as Schuppe does, to explain the unity of the object, and its independence of individual but not of universal experience, holding that the one sun, and the whole world of intersubjective intercourse, or the “trans-subjective” world, though “independent of the individual percipient as such,” is “not independent of the universal experience, but the object of that experience” (ii. 196-197). He applies universal experience to explain how we come, falsely in his opinion, to believe that the object of experience is an independent thine; and he uses three arguments, which are respectively those of Schuppe, Avenarius and Wundt. He supposes first, that we falsely conclude from the sun being independent of each to being independent of all; secondly, that by “introjection” we falsely conclude that another's experience is in him and therefore one's own in oneself, while the sun remains outside; and thirdly, that by “reification” of abstractions, natural science having abstracted the object and psychology the subject, each falsely believes that its own abstract, the sun or the subject, is an independent thing. What, then, could we know from this “duality in experience”? He hardly has a formal theory of inference, but implies throughout that it only transcends perceptions, and perceptual realities or phenomena, in order to conclude with ideas, not facts. When we combine his view of Nature under the first head that whatever is inferred in the natural sciences is ideas, with his view of knowledge under the second head that knowledge is experience, and experience, individual or universal, is of duality of subject and object in the unity of experience, it follows that all we could know from the data would be one experience of the race, one subject consisting of individual subjects, and in Nature single objects in the unity of this universal experience; and beyond we should be able to form conceptions dependent on the perceptions of individual experience in the unity of universal experience: that is all. There can be no doubt that Mach, Schuppe and Wundt drew the right phenomenalistic conclusions from such phenomenalistic data. Not so Ward, who proceeds to a Natural Theology, on the ground that “from a world of spirits to a Supreme Spirit is a possible step.” He had definitely confined universal experience to the one experience of the race. But perhaps Caird's phrase “a perfect intelligence” has beguiled him into thinking that the one subject of universal experience is not mere mankind, but God Himself. Under the third head, however, his guide is Lotze. The argument may be shortly put as follows: As the Nature which is the object of mechanics and all natural sciences is not natural substances, but phenomena and ideas; as mass is not substance, and force is not cause; as activity is not in the physical but in the psychical world; as the laws of Nature are not facts but teleological conceptions, and Nature is teleological, as well as not mechanical but kinematical; as the category of causality is to be referred to “conation”; as, in short, “mind is active and matter inert,” what then? One subject of universal experience, one with the subjects of individual experience, you would suppose, and that Nature as a whole is its one object. Not so, according to Ward; but “God as the living unity of all,” and “no longer things, but the connecting conserving acts of the one Supreme.” What, then, is the relation of God to the one universal experience, the experience of the race, which was under the second head the unity in duality of all knowledge? He does not say. But instead of any longer identifying the experience of the race and universal experience, he concludes his book by saying “our reason is confronted and determined by universal reason.” This is his way of destroying Naturalism and Agnosticism.

4. Personal Idealism. — The various forms of idealism which have been described naturally led in England, even among idealists themselves, to a reaction against all systems which involve the denial of personality. English moral philosophy cannot long tolerate a metaphysics which by merging all minds in one would destroy personality, personal causation and moral responsibility, as James Martineau well said. A new school, therefore, arose of which the protagonist was Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison (b. 1856; professor of logic and metaphysics at Edinburgh University from 1880) in his Scottish Philosophy (1885), and Hegelianism and Personality (1887).

“Each of us is a self,” he says, and in another passage, “The real self is one and indivisible, and is unique in each individual. This is the unequivocal testimony of consciousness.” What makes his vindication of conscious personality all the more interesting is that he has so much in common with the Hegelians; agreeing as he does with Hegel that self-consciousness is the highest fact, the ultimate category of thought through which alone the universe is intelligible, and an adequate account of the great fact of existence. He agrees also that there is no object without subject. It is difficult to see exactly where he begins to differ from Hegel; but at any rate he believes in different self-conscious persons; he does not accept the dialectical method, but believes in beginning from the personal experience of one's own self-consciousness; and, though he is not very clear on the subject, he would have to admit that a thing, such as the sun, is a different object in each person's consciousness. He is not a systematic thinker, but is too much affected by the eclectic notion of reconciling all philosophies. F. C. S Schiller (b. 1864, fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford), in Riddles of the Sphinx (1891), is a more systematic thinker. He rejects the difference between matter and spirit. He agrees with Leibnitz in the analysis of the material into the immaterial, but with Lotze in holding that the many immaterial elements coexist and interact. At the same time he differs from Lotze's conclusion that their union requires one absolute substance. Again, he thinks that substance is activity; differing from both Leibnitz and Lotze herein, and still more in not allowing the existence of the many beyond experience. Hence his personal or pluralistic idealism is the view that the world is a plurality of many coexisting and interacting centres of experience, while will is the most fundamental form of experience.[1] In connexion with these views reference should be made to a work entitled Personal Idealism, Philosophical Essays by Eight Members of the University of Oxford (1902), edited by H. Sturt, and numbering Schiller, as well as G. F. Stout, H. Rashdall and others among its contributors (cf. also H. Sturt, Idola theatri, 1908). They do not all agree with one another, or perhaps even with the title. Nevertheless, there is a common tendency in them, and in the university of Oxford, towards the belief that, to use the words of the editor, “We are free moral agents in a sense which cannot apply to what is merely natural.” There is indeed much more activity of thought at Oxford than the world suspects. Mansel and Jowett, Green and Caird, Bradley and Bosanquet arose in quick succession, the predecessors of a generation which aims at a new metaphysics. The same sort of antithesis between the one and the many has appeared in the United States. Josiah Royce (b. 1855, professor of philosophy, Harvard) believes in the absolute like Green and Bradley, in “the unity of a single self-consciousness, which includes both our own and all finite conscious meanings in one final eternally present insight,” as he says in The World and the Individual (1900; see also later works). G. T. Ladd (q.v.) also believes in “a larger all-inclusive self,” and goes so far as the paradox that perfect personality is only reconcilable with one infinite being. While Royce is Hegelian, Ladd prefers Lotze, but both believe in one mind. William James (q.v.), on the other hand, in his psychological works shows that the tendency of recent psychology is to personality, interpreted idealistically; though without a very clear appreciation of what a person is, and personality means. By a curious coincidence, almost at the time of the appearance of the Essays on Personal Idealism, an American writer, G. H. Howison, published The Limits of Evolution, and other Essays illustrating the Metaphysical Theory of Personal Idealism (1901). In fact there has been an increase of philosophical intercourse between English and American universities, which is a hopeful sign of progress.

The advent of personal idealism is a welcome protest against the confusion of God and man in one mind, and against the confusion of one man's mind with another's. The school undoubtedly tends towards realism. I am conscious only of myself as a person, and of my bodily signs. I know the existence of other human persons and minds only through their giving similar bodily signs. If the personal idealist consistently denies other bodies, then the bodily signs become, according to him, only part of his experience, which can prove only the existence of himself. To infer another mind he must infer another body, and the bodily environment including his and other bodies. Again, in being conscious of myself, I am not conscious of my mind in the abstract without my body. I cannot separate touching from my tactile organs, seeing from my eyes, or hearing from my ears. I cannot think my body away. Moreover, I am not conscious of my whole personal life at all. How do I know that I was born, though I cannot remember it, and that I shall die, though I am not now conscious of death? How do I know that I am the same person from birth to death? Not by my consciousness, but by knowing the bodies of others — of babies on the one hand, and of old men on the other hand. It is usual to say that the body has not enough unity to be part of the person: the objection is much more true of conscious mind. The truth is that not the unity of consciousness but the fact of its existence is the important point. The existence of my consciousness is my evidence for my soul. But it does not prove that I am nothing but soul. As a human person, I am body and soul; and the idealistic identification of the Ego with soul or mind, involving the corollary that my body belongs to the non-Ego and is no part of myself, is the reductio ad absurdum of idealism. Lastly, though the personal idealists are right in rejecting the hypothesis of one mind, they are too hasty in supposing that the hypothesis is useless for idealistic purposes. No idealism can explain how we all know one sun, except by supposing that we all have one mind. The difficulty of personal idealism, on the other hand, is to reconcile the unity of the thing with the plurality of thinkers. The unity of the sun can only be explained either idealistically by supposing it to be one object of one mind, or realistically by supposing it to be one thing distinct from the many minds which think about it. The former alternative is false, the latter true. Personal idealism, therefore, must end in personal realism.


  1. For Dr Schiller's views, see further Pragmatism.