Appearance and Reality/Chapter XXIII
With the subject of this chapter we seem to have arrived at a hopeless difficulty. The relation of body to soul presents a problem which experience seems to show is really not soluble. And I may say at once that I accept and endorse this result. It seems to me impossible to explain how precisely, in the end, these two forms of existence stand one to the other. But in this inability I find a confirmation of our general doctrine as to the nature of Reality. For body and soul are mere appearances, distinctions set up and held apart in the Whole. And fully to understand the relation between them would be, in the end, to grasp how they came together into one. And, since this is impossible for our knowledge, any view about their connection remains imperfect.
But this failure to comprehend gives no ground for an objection against our Absolute. It is no disproof of a theory (I must repeat this) that, before some questions as to “How,” it is forced to remain dumb. For you do not throw doubt on a view till you find inconsistency. If the general account is such that it is bound to solve this or that problem, then such a problem, left outside, is a serious objection. And things are still worse where there are aspects which positively collide with the main conclusion. But neither of these grounds of objection holds good against ourselves. Upon the view which we have found to be true of the Absolute, we can see how and why some questions cannot possibly be answered. And in particular this relation of body and soul offers nothing inconsistent with our general doctrine. My principal object here will be to make this last point good. And we shall find that neither body nor soul, nor the connection between them, can furnish any ground of objection against our Absolute.
The difficulties, which have arisen, are due mainly to one cause. Body and soul have been set up as independent realities. They have been taken to be things, whose kinds are different, and which have existence each by itself, and each in its own right. And then, of course, their connection becomes incomprehensible, and we strive in vain to see how one can influence the other. And at last, disgusted by our failure, we perhaps resolve to deny wholly the existence of this influence. We may take refuge in two series of indifferent events, which seem to affect one another while, in fact, merely running side by side. And, because their conjunction can scarcely be bare coincidence, we are driven, after all, to admit some kind of connection. The connection is now viewed as indirect, and as dependent on something else to which both series belong. But, while each side retains its reality and self-subsistence, they, of course, cannot come together; and, on the other hand, if they come together, it is because they have been transformed, and are not things, but appearances. Still this last is a conclusion for which many of us are not prepared. If soul and body are not two “things,” the mistake, we fancy, has lain wholly on the side of the soul. For the body at all events seems a thing, while the soul is unsubstantial. And so, dropping influence altogether, we make the soul a kind of adjective supported by the body. Or, since, after all, adjectives must qualify their substantives, we turn the soul into a kind of immaterial secretion, ejected and, because “out,” making no difference to the organ. Nor do we always desert this view when “matter” has itself been discovered to be merely phenomenal. It is common first to admit that body is mere sensation and idea, and still to treat it as wholly independent of the soul, while the soul remains its non-physical and irrelevant secretion.
But I shall make no attempt to state the various theories as to the nature and relations of body and soul, and I shall not criticise in detail views, from most of which we could learn nothing. It will be clear at once, from the results of preceding chapters, that neither body nor soul can be more than appearance. And I will attempt forthwith to point out the peculiar nature of each, and the manner in which they are connected with, and influence, each other. It would be useless to touch the second question, until we have endeavoured to get our minds clear on the first.
What is a body? In our last chapter we have anticipated the answer. A body is a part of the physical world, and we have seen that Nature by itself is wholly unreal. It was an aspect of the Whole, set apart by abstraction, and, for some purposes, taken as independent reality. So that, in saying that a body is one piece of Nature, we have at once pointed out that it is no more than appearance. It is an intellectual construction out of material which is not self-subsistent. This is its general character as physical; but, as to the special position given to the organic by natural science, I prefer to say nothing. It is, for us, an (undefined) arrangement possessing temporal continuity, and a certain amount of identity in quality, the degree and nature of which last I cannot attempt to fix. And I think, for metaphysics, it is better also to make relation to a soul essential for a body (Chapter xxii.). But what concerns us at this moment is, rather, to insist on its phenomenal character. The materials, of which it is made, are inseparably implicated with sensation and feeling. They are divorced from this given whole by a process, which is necessary, but yet is full of contradictions. The physical world, taken as separate, involves the relation of unknown to unknown, and of these makeshift materials the particular body is built. It is a construction riddled by inconsistencies, a working point of view, which is of course quite indispensable, but which cannot justify a claim to be more than appearance.
And the soul is clearly no more self-subsistent than the body. It is, on its side also, a purely phenomenal existence, an appearance incomplete and inconsistent, and with no power to maintain itself as an independent “thing.” The criticism of our First Book has destroyed every claim of the self to be, or to correspond to, true reality. And the only task here before us is, accepting this result, to attempt to fix clearly the meaning of a soul. I will first make a brief statement, and then endeavour to explain it and to defend it against objections. The soul is a finite centre of immediate experience, possessed of a certain temporal continuity of existence, and again of a certain identity in character. And the word “immediate” is emphatic. The soul is a particular group of psychical events, so far as these events are taken merely as happening in time. It excludes consideration of their content, so far as this content (whether in thought or volition or feeling) qualifies something beyond the serial existence of these events. Take the whole experience of any moment, one entire “this-now,” as it comes, regard that experience as changed and as continued in time, consider its character solely as happening, and, again, as further influencing the course of its own changes—this is perhaps the readiest way of defining a soul. But I must endeavour to draw this out, and briefly to explain it.
It is not enough to be clear that the soul is phenomenal, in the sense of being something which, as such, fails to reach true reality. For, unless we perceive to some extent how it stands towards other sides of the Universe, we are likely to end in complete bewilderment. And a frequent error is to define what is “psychical” so widely as to exclude any chance of a rational result. For all objects and aims, which come before me, are in one sense the states of my soul. Hence, if this sense is not excluded, my body and the whole world become “psychical” phenomena; and amid this confusion my soul itself seeks an unintelligible place as one state of itself. What is most important is to distinguish the soul’s existence from what fills it, and yet there are few points, perhaps, on which neglect is more common. And we may bring the question home thus. If we were to assume (Chapter xxvii.) that in the Universe there is nothing beyond souls, still within these souls the same problem would call for solution. We should still have to find a place for the existence of soul, as distinct both from body and from other aspects of the world.
It may assist us in perceiving both what the soul is, and again what it is not, if we view the question from two sides. Let us look at it, first, from the experience of an individual person, and then, afterwards, let us consider the same thing from outside, and from the ground of an admitted plurality of souls.
If then, beginning from within, I take my whole given experience at any one moment, and if I regard a single “this-now,” as it comes in feeling and is “mine,”—may I suppose that in this I have found my true soul? Clearly not so, for (to go no farther) such existence is too fleeting. My soul (I should reply) is not merely the something of one moment, but it must endure for a time and must preserve its self-sameness. I do not mean that it must itself be self-conscious of identity, for that assertion would carry us too far on the other side. And as to the amount of continuity and of self-same character which is wanted, I am saying nothing here. I shall touch later on both these questions, so far as is necessary, and for the present will confine myself to the general result. The existence of a soul must endure through more than one presentation; and hence experience, if immediate and given and not transcending the moment, is less than my soul.
But if, still keeping to “experience,” we take it in another sense, we none the less are thwarted. For experience now is as much too wide as before it was too narrow. The whole contents of my experience—it makes no difference here whether I myself or another person considers them—cannot possibly be my soul, unless my soul is to be as large as the total Universe. For other bodies and souls, and God himself, are (so far as I know them) all states of my mind, and in this sense make part of my particular being. And we are led at once to the distinction, which we noticed before (Chapter xxi.), between the diverse aspects of content and of psychical existence. Our experience in short is, essentially and very largely, ideal. It shows an ideal process which, beginning from the unity of feeling, produces the differences of self and not-self, and separates the divisions of the world from themselves and from me. All this wealth, that is, subsists through a divorce between the sides of existence and character. What is meant by any one of the portions of my world is emphatically not a mere fact of experience. If you take it there, as it exists there, it always is something, but this something can never be the object in question. We may use as an example (if you please) my horse or my own body. Both of these must, for me at least, be nothing but “experience”; for, what I do not “experience,” to me must be nothing. And, if you push home the question as to their given existence, you can find it nowhere except in a state of my soul. When I perceive them, or think of them, there is, so far, no discoverable “fact” outside of my psychical condition. But such a “fact” is for me not the “fact” of my horse or, again, of my body. Their true existence is not that which is present in my mind, but rather, as perhaps we should say, present to it. Their existence is a content which works apart from, and is irreconcilable with, its own psychical being; it is a “what” discrepant with, and transcending its “that.” We may put it shortly by saying that the true fact is fact, only so far as it is ideal. Hence the Universe and its objects must not be called states of my soul. Indeed it would be better to affirm that these objects exist, so far as the psychical states do not exist. For such experience of objects is possible, only so far as the meaning breaks loose from the given existence, and has, so regarded, broken this existence in pieces. And we may state the conclusion thus. If my psychical state does not exist, then the object is destroyed; but, again, unless my state could, as such, perish, no object would exist. The two sides of fact, and of content working loose from that fact, are essential to each other. But the essence of the second is disruption of a “what” from a “that,” while in the union of these aspects the former has its life.
The soul is not the contents which appear in its states, but, on the other hand, without them it would not be itself. For it is qualified essentially by the presence of these contents. Thus a man, we may say, is not what he thinks of; and yet he is the man he is, because of what he thinks of. And the ideal processes of the content have necessarily an aspect of psychical change. Those connections, which have nothing which is personal to myself, cause a sequence of my states when they happen within me. Thus a principle, of logic or morality, works in my mind. This principle is most certainly not a part of my soul, and yet it makes a great difference to the sequence of my states. I shall hereafter return to this point, but it would belong to psychology to develope the subject in detail. We should have there to point out, and to classify, the causes which affect the succession of psychical phenomena. It is enough here to have laid stress on an essential distinction. Ideal contents appear in, and affect, my existence, but still, for all that, we cannot call them my soul.
We have now been led to two results. The soul is certainly not all that which is present in experience, nor, on the other hand, can it consist in mere experience itself, It cannot be actual feeling, or that immediate unity of quality and being which comes in the “this” (Chapter xix.). The soul is not these things, and we must now try to say what it is. It is one of these same personal centres, not taken at an instant, but regarded as a “thing.” It is a feeling whole which is considered to continue in time, and to maintain a certain sameness. And the soul is, therefore, not presented fact, but is an ideal construction which transcends what is given. It is emphatically the result of an ideal process; but this process, on the other hand, has been arbitrarily arrested at a very low point. Take a fleeting moment of your “given,” and then, from the basis of a personal identity of feeling, enlarge this moment by other moments and build up a “thing.” Idealize “experience,” so as to make its past one reality with its present, and so as to give its history a place in the fixed temporal order. Resolve its contingency enough to view it as a series of events, which have causal connections both without and within. But, having gone so far, pause, and call a halt to your process, or, having got to a soul, you will be hurried beyond it. And, to keep your soul, you must remain fixed in a posture of inconsistency. For, like every other “thing” in time, the soul is essentially ideal. It has transcended the given moment, and has spread out its existence beyond that which is “actual” or could ever be experienced. And by its relations and connections of co-existence and sequence, and by its subjection to “laws,” it has raised itself into the world of eternal verity. But to persist in this process of life would be suicide. Its advance would force you to lose hold altogether on “existence,” and, with that loss, to forfeit individual selfness. And hence, on the other side, the soul clings to its being in time, and still reaches after the unbroken unity of content with reality. Its contents, therefore, are allowed only to qualify the series of temporal events. And this result is a mere compromise. Hence the soul persists through a contrivance, and through the application of matter to a particular purpose. And, because this application is founded on and limited by no principle, the soul in the end must be judged to be rooted in artifice. It is a series, which depends on ideal transcendence, and yet desires to be taken as sensible fact. And its inconsistency is now made manifest in its use of its contents. These (we have seen) are as wide as the Universe itself, and, on this account, they are unable to qualify the soul. And yet, on the other hand, they must do so, if the soul is to have the quality which makes it itself. Hence these contents must be taken from one side of their being, and the other side, for a particular end, is struck out. In order for the soul to exist, “experience” must be mutilated. It must be regarded so far as it makes a difference to that series of events which is taken as a soul; it must be considered just to that extent to which it serves as the adjective of a temporal series—serves to make the “thisness” of the series of a certain kind, and to modify its past and its future “thisness.” But, beyond this, experience is taken merely to be present to the soul and operative within it. And the soul exists precisely so far as the abstraction is maintained. Its life endures only so long as a particular purpose holds. And thus it consists in a convenient but one-sided representation of facts, and has no claim to be more than a useful appearance.
In brief, because the existence of the soul is not experienced and not given, because it is made by, and consists in, transcendence of the “present,” and because its content is obviously never one with its being, its “what” always in flagrant discrepancy with its “that”—therefore its whole position is throughout inconsistent and untenable. It is an arrangement natural and necessary, but for all that phenomenal and illusive, a makeshift, valuable but still not genuine reality. And, looked at by itself, the soul is an abstraction and mutilation. It is the arbitrary use of material for a particular purpose. And it persists only by refusing to see more in itself than subserves its own existence.
It may be instructive, before we go on, to regard the same question from the side of the Absolute. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that in the Whole there is no material which is not a state of some soul (Chapter xxvii). From this we might be tempted to conclude that these souls are the Reality, or at least must be real. But that conclusion would be false, for the souls would fall within the realm of appearance and error. They would be, but, as such, they would not have reality. They would require a resolution and a re-composition, in which their individualities would be transmuted and absorbed (Chapter xvi.). For we have seen that the Absolute is the union of content and existence. It stands at a level above, and comprehending, those distinctions and relations in which the imperfect unity of feeling is dissipated. Let us then take the indefinite plurality of the “this-nows,” or immediate experiences, as the basis and starting-point, and, on the other side, let us take the Absolute as the end, and let us view the region between as a process from the first to the second. It will be a field of struggle in which content is divorced from, and strives once more towards, unity with being. Our assumption in part will be false, since (as we have seen) the immediately given is already inconsistent. But, in order to instruct ourselves, let us suppose here that the “fact” of experience is real, and that, above it once more, the Absolute gains higher reality—still where is the soul? The soul is not immediate experience, for that comes given at one moment; and the soul still less can be the perfected union of all being and content. This is obvious, and, if so, the soul must fall in the middle-space of error and appearance. It is the ideal manufacture of one extreme with a view to reach the other, a manufacture suspended at a very low stage, and suspended on no defensible ground. The plurality of souls in the Absolute is, therefore, appearance, and their existence is not genuine. But because the upward struggle of the content to ideal perfection, having made these souls, still rises both in them and above them, they, in themselves, are nearer the level of the lower reality. The first and transitory union of existence and content is, with souls, less profoundly broken up and destroyed. And hence souls, taken as things with a place in the time-series, are said to be facts and actually to exist. Nay on their existence, in a sense, all reality depends. For the higher process is carried on in a special relation with these lower results; and thus, while moving in its way, it affects the souls in their way; and thus everything happens in souls, and everything is their states. And this arrangement seems necessary; but on the other hand, if we view it from the side of the Absolute, it is plainly self-inconsistent. To gain consistency and truth it must be merged, and recomposed in a result in which its specialty must vanish. Souls, like their bodies, are, as such, nothing more than appearance.
And, that we may realize this more clearly, we find ourselves turning in a circular maze. Just as the body was for Nature, and upon the other hand Nature merely through relation to a body, so in a different fashion it is with the soul. For thought is a state of souls, and therefore is made by them, while, upon its side, the soul is a product of thought. The “thing,” existing in time and possessor of “states,” is made what it is by ideal construction. But this construction itself appears to depend on a psychical centre, and to exist merely as its “state.” And such a circle seems vicious. Again, the body is dependent on the soul, for the whole of its material comes by way of sensation, and its identity is built up by ideal construction. And yet this manufacture takes place as an event in a soul, a soul which, further, exists only in relation to a body. But, where we move in circles like these, and where, pushing home our enquiries, we can find nothing but the relation of unknown to unknown—the conclusion is certain. We are in the realm of appearance, of phenomena made by disruption of content from being, arrangements which may represent, but which are not, reality. Such ways of understanding are forced on us by the nature of the Universe, and assuredly they possess their own worth for the Absolute (Chapter xxiv.). But, as themselves and as they come to us, they are no less certainly appearance. So far as we know them, they are but inconsistent constructions; and, beyond our knowledge, they are forthwith beyond themselves. The underlying and superior reality in each case we have no right to call either a body or a soul. For, in becoming more, each loses its title to that name. The body and soul are, in brief, phenomenal arrangements, which take their proper place in the constructed series of events; and, in that character, they are both alike defensible and necessary. But neither is real in the end, each is merely phenomenal, and one has no title to fact which is not owned by the other.
We have seen, so far, that soul and body are, each alike, phenomenal constructions, and we must next go on to point out the connection between them. But, in order to clear the ground, I will first attempt to dispose of several objections, (1) It will be urged against the phenomenal view of the soul that, upon this, the soul loses independent existence. If it is no more than a series of psychical events, it becomes an appendage to the permanent body. For a psychical series, we shall be told, has no inherent bond of continuity; nor is it, even as a matter of fact, continuous; nor, again, does it offer anything of which we can predicate “dispositions.” Hence, if phenomenal, the soul sinks to be an adjective of the body. (2) And, from another side, we shall hear it argued that the psychical series demands, as its condition, a transcendent soul or Ego, and indeed without this is unintelligible. (3) And, in the third place, we may be assured that some psychical fact is given which contains more than phenomena, and that hence the soul has by us been defined erroneously. I must endeavour to say something on these objections in their order.
1. I shall have to show lower down that it is impossible to treat soul as the bare adjective of body, and I shall therefore say nothing on that point at present. “But why,” I may be asked, “not at least assist yourself with the body? Why strain yourself to define the soul in mere psychical terms? Would it not be better to call a soul those psychical facts from time to time experienced within one organism?” I am forced to reply in the negative. Such a definition would, in psychology, perhaps not take us wrong, but, for all that, it remains incorrect and indefensible. For, with lower organisms especially, it is not so easy to fix the limits of a single organism. And, again further, we might perhaps wish to define the organism by its relation to a single soul; and, if so, we should have fallen into a vicious circle. Nor is it, once more, even certain that the identities of soul and of body coincide. We, I presume, are not sure that one soul might not have a succession of bodies. And, in any case, we certainly do not know that one organism can be organic to no more than one soul. There might be more than one psychical centre at one time within the same body, and several bodies might be organs to a higher unknown soul. And, even if we disregard these possibilities as merely theoretical, we have still to deal with the facts of mental disease. It seems at best doubtful if in some cases the soul can be said to have continuous unity, or if it ought strictly to be called single. And then, finally, there remains the question, to which we shall return, whether an organism is necessary in all cases for the existence of a soul. We have perhaps with this justified our refusal to introduce body into our definition of soul.
But without this introduction what becomes of the soul? “What,” we shall be asked, “at any time can you say that the soul is, more especially at those times when nothing psychical exists? And where will you place the dispositions and acquired tendencies of the soul? For, in the first place, the psychical series is not unbroken, and, in the second place, dispositions are not psychical events. Are you then not forced back to the body as the one continuous substrate?” This is a serious objection, and, though our answer to it may prove sufficient, I think no answer can quite satisfy.
I must begin by denying a principle, or, as it seems to me, a prejudice with regard to continuity. Real existence (we must allow) either is or is not; and hence I agree also that, if in time, it cannot cease and reappear, and that it must, therefore, be continuous. But, on the other hand, we have proved that reality does not exist in time, but only appears there. What we find in time is mere appearance; and with regard to appearance I know no reason why it should not cease and reappear without forfeiting identity. A phenomenon A is produced by certain conditions, which then are modified. Upon this, A, wholly or partially, retires from existence, but, on another change, shows itself partly or in full. A disappears into conditions which, even as such, need not persist; but, when the proper circumstances are re-created, A exists once again. Shall we assert that, if so, A’s identity is gone? I do not know on what principle. Or shall we insist that, at least in the meantime, A cannot be said to be? But it seems not clear on what ground. If we take such common examples as a rainbow, or a waterfall, or the change of water into ice, we seek in vain for any principle but that of working convenience. We feel sure that material atoms and their motion continue unaltered, and that their existence, if broken, would be utterly destroyed. But, unless we falsely take these atoms and their motion for ultimate reality, we are resting here on no basis beyond practical utility. And even here some of us are too inclined to lapse into an easy-going belief in the “potential.” But, as soon as these atoms are left behind, can we even pretend to have any principle? We call an organism identical, though we do not suppose that its atoms have persisted. It is identical because its quality is (more or less) the same, and because that quality has been (more or less) all the time there. But why an interval must be fatal, is surely far from evident. And, in fact, we are driven to the conclusion that we are arguing without any rational ground. As soon as an existence in time is perceived to be appearance, we can find no reason why it should not lapse, and again be created. And with an organism, where even the matter is not supposed to persist, we seem to have deserted every show of principle.
There is a further point which, before proceeding, we may do well to notice. We saw in the last chapter that part of Nature could hardly be said to have actual existence (p. 277). Some of it seemed (at least at some times) to be only hypothetical or barely potential; and I would urge this consideration here with regard to the organism. My body is to be real because it exists continuously; but, if, on the other hand, that existence must be actual, can we call it continuous? The essential qualities of my body (whatever these are) are certainly not, so far as we know, perceived always. But, if so, and if they exist sometimes not for perception but for thought, then most assuredly sometimes they do not exist as such, and hence their continuity is broken. Thus we have been forced to another very serious admission. We not only are ignorant why continuity in time should be essential, but, so far as the organism goes, we do not know that it possesses such continuity. It seems rather to exist at times potentially and merely in its conditions. This is a sort of existence which we shall discuss in the following chapter, but it is at all events not existence actual and proper.
After these more general remarks we may proceed to the difficulties urged against our view of the soul. We have defined the soul as a series of psychical events, and it has been objected that, if so, we cannot say what the soul is at any one time. But at any one time, I reply, the soul is the present datum of psychical fact, plus its actual past and its conditional future. Or, until the last phrase has been explained, we may content ourselves with saying that the soul is those psychical events, which it both is now and has been. And this account, I admit, qualifies something by adjectives which are not, and to offer it as an expression of ultimate truth would be wholly indefensible. But then the soul, I must repeat, is itself not ultimate fact. It is appearance, and any description of it must contain inconsistency. And, if any one objects, he may be invited to define, for example, a body moving at a certain rate, and to define it without predicating of the present what is either past or future. And, if he will attempt this, he will, I think, perhaps tend to lose confidence.
But we have, so far, not said what we mean by “dispositions.” A soul after all, we shall be reminded, possesses a character, if not original, at least acquired. And we certainly say that it is, because of that which we expect of it. The soul’s habits and tendencies are essential to its nature, and, on the other hand, they cannot be psychical events. Hence (the objection goes on to urge) they are not psychical at all, but merely physical facts. Now to this I reply first that a disposition may be “physical,” and may, for all that, be still not an actual fact. Until I see it defined so as to exclude reference to any past or future, and freed from every sort of implication with the conditional and potential, I shall not allow that it has been translated into physical fact. But, even in that case, I should not accept the translation, for I consider that we have a right everywhere for the sake of convenience to use the “conditional.” Into the proper meaning of this term I shall enquire in the next chapter, but I will try to state briefly here how we apply it to the soul. In saying that the soul has a disposition of a certain kind, we take the present and past psychical facts as the subject, and we predicate of this subject other psychical facts, which we think it may become. The soul at present is such that it is part of those conditions which, given the rest, would produce certain psychical events. And hence the soul is the real possibility of these events, just as objects in the dark are the possibility of colour. Now this way of speaking is, of course, in the end incorrect, and is defensible only on the ground of convenience. It is convenient, when facts are and have been such and such, to have a short way of saying what we infer that in the future they may be. But we have no right to speak of dispositions at all, if we turn them into actual qualities of the soul. The attempt to do this would force us to go on enlarging the subject by taking in more conditions, and in the end we should be asserting of the Universe at large. I admit that it is arbitrary and inconsistent to predicate what you cannot say the soul is, but what you only judge about it. But everywhere, in dealing with phenomena, we can find no escape from inconsistency and arbitrariness. We should not lessen these evils, but should greatly increase them, if we took a disposition as meaning more than the probable course of psychical events.
But the soul, I shall be reminded, is not continuous in time, since there are intervals and breaks in the psychical series. I shall not attempt to deny this. We might certainly fall back upon unconscious sensations, and insist that these, in any case and always, are to some extent there. And such an assumption could hardly be shown to be untrue. But I do not see that we could justify it on any sufficient ground, and I will admit that the psychical series either is, or at all events may be broken.
But, on the other side, this admitted breach seems quite unimportant. I can find no reason why a soul’s existence, if interrupted and resumed, should not be identical. Even apart from memory, if these divided existences showed the same quality, we should call them the same, or, if we declined, we should find no reason that would justify our refusal. We might insist that, at any rate, in the interval the soul has lived elsewhere, or that this interval must, at all events, not be too long; but, so far as I see, in both cases we should be asserting without a ground. On the other hand, the amount of qualitative sameness, wanted for psychical identity, seems fixed on no principle (Chapter ix.). And the sole conclusion we can draw is this, that breaks in the temporal series are no argument against our regarding it as a single soul.
“What then in the interim,” I may be asked, “do you say that the soul is?” For myself, I reply, I should not say it is at all, when it does not appear. All that in strictness I could assert would be that actually the soul is not, though it has been, and again may be. And I have urged above, that we can find no valid objection to intervals of non-existence. But speaking not strictly, but with a view to practical convenience, we might affirm that in these intervals the soul still persists. We might say it is the conditions, into which it has disappeared, and which probably will reproduce it. And, since the body is a principal part of these conditions, we may find it convenient to identify the “potential” soul with the body. This may be convenient, but we must remember that really it is incorrect. For, firstly, conditions are one thing, and actual fact another thing. And, in the second place, the body (upon any hypothesis) is not all the conditions required for the soul. It is impossible wholly to exclude the action of the environment. And there is again, thirdly, a consideration on which I must lay emphasis. If the soul is resolved and disappears into that which may restore it, does not the same thing hold precisely with regard to the body? Is it not conceivable that, in that interval when the soul is “conditional,” the body also should itself be dissolved into conditions which afterwards re-create it? But, if so, these ulterior conditions which now, I presume we are to say, the soul is, are assuredly in strictness not the body at all. As a matter of fact, doubtless, this event does not happen within our knowledge. We do not find that bodies disappear and once more are re-made; but, merely on that ground, we are not entitled to deny that it is possible. And, if it is possible, then I would urge at once the following conclusions. You cannot, except as a matter of convenience, identify the conditions of the soul with the body. And you cannot assert that the continuous existence of the body is essentially necessary for the sameness and unity of the soul.
We have now dealt with the subject of the soul’s continuity, and have also said something on its “dispositions.” And, before passing on to objections of another kind, I will here try to obviate a misunderstanding. The soul is an ideal construction, but a construction by whom? Could we maintain that the soul exists only for itself? This would be certainly an error, for we can say that a soul is before memory exists, or when it does not remember. The soul exists always for a soul, but not always for itself. And it is an ideal construction, not because it is psychical, but because (like my body) it is a series appearing in time. The same difficulty attaches to all phenomenal existence. Past and future, and the Nature which no one perceives (Chapter xxii.) exist, as such, only for some subject which thinks them. But this neither means that their ultimate reality consists in being thought, nor does it mean that they exist outside of finite souls. And it does not mean that the Real is made by merely adding thought to our actual presentations. Immediate experience in time, and thought, are each alike but false appearance, and, in coming together, each must forego its own distinctive character. In the Absolute there is neither mere existence at one moment nor any ideal construction. Each is merged in a higher and all-containing Reality (Chapter xxiv.).
2. We have seen, so far, that our phenomenal view of the soul does not degrade it to an adjective depending on the body. Can we reply to objections based on other grounds? The psychical series, we may be told, demands as its condition a something transcendent, a soul or Ego which stands above, and gives unity to, the series. But such a soul, I reply, merely adds further difficulties to those we had before. No doubt the series, being phenomenal, is the appearance of Reality, but it hardly follows from this that its reality is an Ego or soul. We have seen (Chapter x.) that such a being, because finite, is infected with its own relations to other finites. And it is so far from giving unity to the series of events, that their plurality refuses to come together with its singleness. Hence the oneness remains standing outside the many, as a further finite unit. You cannot show how the series becomes a system in the soul; and, if you could, you cannot free that soul from its perplexed position as one finite related to other finites. In short, metaphysically your soul or Ego is a mass of confusion, and we have now long ago disposed of it. And if it is offered us merely as a working conception, which does not claim truth, then this conception, as we have seen, will not work in metaphysics. Its alleged function must be confined to psychology, an empirical science, and the further consideration of it here would be, therefore, irrelevant.
3. But our account of the soul, as a series of events, may be attacked perhaps from the ground of psychology itself. There are psychical facts, it may be urged, which are more than events, and these facts, it may be argued, refute our definition. I must briefly deal with this objection, and my reply may be summed up thus. There are psychical facts, which are more than events; but, if they are not also events, they are not facts at all. I will take these two propositions in their order.
(a) We have seen that my psychical states, and my private experience, can be at the same time what they are, and yet something much more. Every distinction that is made in the fact of presentation, every content, or “what,” that is loosened from its “that,” is at once more than a mere event. Nay an event itself, as one member in a temporal series, is only itself by transcending its own present existence. And this transcendence becomes more obvious, when an identical quality persists unaltered through a succession of changes. There is, to my mind, no question as to our being concerned here with more than mere events. And, far from contesting this, I have endeavoured to insist on the conclusion that everything in time has a quality which passes beyond itself.
(b) But then, if so, have we allowed the force of the objection? Have we admitted that there are facts which are not events in time? This would be a grave misunderstanding, and against it we must urge our second proposition. A fact, or event, is always more than itself; but, if less than itself, it is no longer properly a fact. It has now been taken as a content working loose from the “this,” and has, so far, become a mere aspect and abstraction. And yet this abstraction, on the other hand, must have its existence. It must appear, somehow, as, or in a particular event, with a given place and duration in the temporal series. There are, in brief, aspects which, taken apart, are not events; and yet these aspects must appear in psychical existence.
The objection has failed to perceive this double nature of things, and it has hence fallen blindly into a vicious dilemma. Because in our life there is more than events, it has rashly argued that this “more” must be psychical fact. But, if it is psychical fact, and not able to be experienced, I do not know what it could mean, or in what wonderful way we could be supposed to get at it. And, on the other side, to be experienced without happening in the psychical series, or to occur there without taking place as an event among events, seem phrases without meaning. What we experience is a content, which is one with, and which occurs as, a particular mental state. The same content, again, as ideal, is used away from its state, and only appears there. By itself it is not a fact; and, if it were one, it would, so far, cease to be ideal, and would therefore become a mere event among events.
If you take the identity of a series, whether physical or psychical, this identity, considered as such, is not an event which happens. But, on the other hand, can we call it a fact of experience? To speak strictly, we cannot, since all identity is ideal. It, as such, is not directly experienced, even as occurring in the facts, and, still less, as something which happens alongside of or between them. It is an adjective which, as separate, could not exist, and its essence, we may say, consists in distinction. But, on the other side, this distinction, and, again the construction of a series, is an event. And it must happen in a soul; for where else could it exist? As a mental state, more than its mere content, it also must have a place, and duration, in the psychical series. And, otherwise, it could not be a part of experience. But the identity itself is but an aspect of the events, or event, and is certainly ideal.
“No,” I shall be told, “the identity and continuity of the soul must be more than this. It cannot fall in what is given, for all the given is discrete. And it cannot consist in ideal content, for, in that case, it would not be real. It must therefore come somehow along with phenomena, in such a way that it does not happen as an event within the psychical series.” But, as soon as we consider this claim, its inconsistency is obvious. If anything is experienced, now or always, along with what is given, then this (whatever it is) is surely a psychical event, with a place, or places, in the series. But, if, on the other hand, it has not, in any sense, position or duration in my history, you will hardly persuade me that it makes part of my experience at all. I do not see, in short, how anything can come there, unless it is prepared, from some side, to enter and to take its place there. And, if it is not to be an element in experience, it will be nothing. And I doubt if any one would urge a claim so suicidal and so absurd, unless for the sake of, and in order to defend, a preconceived doctrine. Because phenomena in time are not real, there must be something more than temporal. But because we wrongly assume that nothing is real, unless it exists as a thing, therefore the element, which transcends time, must be somehow and somewhere beside it. This element is a world, or a soul, or an Ego, which never descends into our series. It never comes down there itself, though we are forced, I presume, to say that it works, and that it makes itself felt. But this irrational influence and position results merely from our false assumption. We are attempting to pass beyond the series, while we, in effect, deny that anything is real, unless it is a member there. For our other world, and our soul, and our Ego, which exist beside temporal events, have been taken themselves as but finite things. They merely reduplicate phenomena, they do but double the world of appearance. They leave on our hands unsolved the problem that vexed us before, and they load us beside with an additional puzzle. We have now, not only another existence no better than the first, but we have to explain also how one of these stands to, or works on, the other. And the result is open self-contradiction or thoughtless obscurity. But the remedy is to purge ourselves of our groundless prejudice, and to seek reality elsewhere than in the existence of things. Continuity and identity, the other world and the Ego, do not, as such, exist. They are ideal, and, as such, they are not facts. But none the less they have reality, at least not inferior to that of temporal events. We must admit that, in the full sense, neither ideality nor existence is real. But you cannot pass, from the one-sided denial of one, to the one-sided assertion of the other. The attempt is based on a false alternative, and, in either case, must result in self-contradiction.
It is perhaps necessary, though wearisome, to add some remarks on the Ego. The failure to see that continuity and identity are ideal, has produced efforts to find the Ego existing, as such, as an actual fact. This Ego is, on the one hand, to be somehow experienced as a fact, and, on the other hand, it must not exist either as one or as a number of events. And the attempt naturally is futile. For most assuredly, as we find it, the self is determinate. It is always qualified by a content. The Ego and Non-ego are at any time experienced, not in general, but with a particular character. But such an appearance is obviously a psychical event, with a given place in the series. And upon this I urge the following dilemma. If your Ego has no content, it is nothing, and it therefore is not experienced; but, if on the other hand it is anything, it is a phenomenon in time. But “not at all,” may be the answer, “since the Ego is outside the series, and is merely related to it, and perhaps acting on it.” I do not see that this helps us. If, I repeat, your Ego has no content, then anywhere it is nothing; and the relation of something to this nothing, and again its action upon anything, are utterly unmeaning. But, if upon the other hand this Ego has a content, then, for the sake of argument, you may say, if you please, that it exists. But, in any case, it stands outside, and it does not come into, experience at all. “No, it does not come there itself; it never, so to speak, appears in person; but its relation to phenomena, or its action on them, is certainly somehow experienced, or at least known.” In this answer the position seems changed, but it is really the same, and it does but lead back to our old dilemma. You cannot, in any sense, know, or perceive, or experience, a term as in relation, unless you have also the other term to which it is related. And, if we will but ponder this, surely it becomes self-evident. Well then, either you have not got any relation of phenomena to anything at all; or else the other term, your thing the Ego, takes its place among the rest. It becomes another event among psychical events.
It would be useless to pursue into its ramifications a view false at the root, and based (as we have seen) on a vicious alternative. That which is more than an event must also, from another side, exist, and must thus appear in, or as, one member of the temporal series. But, so far as it transcends time, it is ideal, and, as such, is not fact. The attempt to take it as existing somehow and somewhere alongside, thrusts it back into the sphere of finite particulars. In this way, with all our struggles, we never rise beyond some world of mere events, and we revolve vainly in a circle which brings us round to our starting-place. If it were possible for us to apprehend the whole series at once, and to take in its detail as one undivided totality, certainly then the timeless would have been experienced as a fact. But in that case ideality on the one side, and events on the other, would have each come to an end in a higher mode of being.
The objections, which we have discussed, have all shown themselves ill-founded. There is certainly nothing experienced which is not an event, though we have seen that in events there is that which transcends them. All continuity is ideal, and the arguments brought against the oneness of a psychical series, we saw, were not valid. Nor could we find that our phenomenal view of the soul brought it down to be an adjective depending on the organism. For the organism itself is also phenomenal. Soul and body are alike in being only appearance, and their connection is merely the relation of phenomena. It is the special nature of this relation that we have next to discuss.
I will begin by pointing out a view from which we must dissent. The soul and body may be regarded as two sides of one reality, or as the same thing taken twice and from two aspects of its being. I intend to say nothing here on the reasons which may lead to this conclusion, nor to discuss the various objections which might be brought against them. I will briefly state the ground on which I am forced to reject the proposed identity. In the first place, even if we confine our attention to phenomena, I do not see that we are justified in thus separating each soul with its body from the rest of the world (p. 358). And there is a fatal objection to this doctrine, if carried further. If in the end soul and body are to be one thing, then, with whatever justification, you have concluded to a plurality of finite reals within the Absolute. But we have seen that such a conclusion is wholly indefensible. When soul and body come together in Reality, I utterly fail to perceive any reason why the special nature of each is, as such, to be preserved. It is one thing to be convinced that no element, or aspect of phenomena, can be lost in the Absolute. But it is quite another thing to maintain that every appearance, when there, continues to keep its distinctive character. To be resolved rather and to be merged, each as a factor in what is higher, is the nature of such things as the body and the soul.
And with this we are brought to a well-known and much-debated question. Is there a causal connection between the physical and the psychical, and are we to say that one series influences the other? I will begin by stating the view which prima facie suggests itself, I will then briefly discuss some erroneous doctrines, and will end by trying to set out a defensible conclusion. And, first, the belief which occurs to the unbiassed observer is that soul acts upon body and body on soul. I do not mean by this that bare soul seems to work on bare body, for such a distinction is made only by a further reflection. I mean that, if without any theory you look at the facts, you will find that changes in one series (whichever it is) are often concerned in bringing on changes in the other. Psychical and physical, each alike, make a difference to one another. It is obvious that alterations of the soul come from movements in the organism, and it is no less obvious that the latter may be consequent on the former. We may be sure that no one, except to save a theory, would deny that in volition mind influences matter. And with pain and pleasure such a denial would be even less natural. To hold that now in the individual pleasure and pain do not move, but are mere idle accompaniments, to maintain that never in past development have they ever made a difference to anything—surely this strikes the common observer as a wilful paradox. And, for myself, I doubt if most of those, who have accepted the doctrine in general, have fully realized its meaning.
This natural view, that body and soul have influence on each other, we shall find in the end to be proof against attack. But we must pass on now to consider some opposing conclusions. The man who denies the inter-action in any sense of body and soul, must choose from amongst the possibilities which remain. He may take the two series as going on independently and side by side, or may make one the subordinate and adjective of the other. And I will begin by making some remarks on the parallel series. But I must ignore the historical development of this view, and must treat it barely as if it were an idea which is offered us to-day.
I would observe, first, that an assertion or a denial of causation can hardly be proved if you insist on demonstration. You may show that every detail we know points towards one result, and that we can find no special reason for taking this result as false. And, having done so much, you certainly have proved your conclusion. But, even after this, a doubt remains with regard to what is possible. And, unless all other possibilities can be disposed of, you have failed to demonstrate. In the particular doctrine before us we have, I think, a case in point. The mere coincidence of soul and body cannot be shown to be impossible; but this bare possibility is, on the other hand, no good reason for supposing the coincidence to be fact.
Appearance points to a causal connection between the physical and psychical series. And yet this appearance might possibly be a show, produced in the following way. There might on each side be other conditions, escaping our view, which would be enough to account for the changes in each series. And we may even carry our supposition a step further on. There might on both sides be, within each series, no causal connection between its events. A play of unknown conditions might, on either side, present the appearance of a series. The successive facts would in that case show a regular sequence, but they would not actually be members and links of any one connected series. I do not see how such a suggestion can be proved to be impossible; but that is surely no reason for regarding it as fact. And to this same result we are led, when we return to consider the idea of two coinciding series. The idea seems baseless, and I do not think it necessary to dwell further on this point.
We seem, therefore, driven to regard soul and body as causally connected, and the question will be as to the nature of their connection. Can this be all, so to speak, on one side? Is the soul merely an adjective depending on the body, and never more than an effect? Or is, again, the body a mere accompaniment resulting from the soul? Both these questions must be met by an emphatic negative. The suggested relation is, in each case, inconsistent and impossible. And, since there is no plausibility in the idea of physical changes always coming from, and never reacting on, the soul, I will not stop to consider it. I will pass to the opposite one-sidedness, a doctrine equally absurd, though, at first sight, seeming more plausible.
Psychical changes, upon this view, are never causes at all, but are solely effects. They are adjectives depending upon the body, but which at the same time make absolutely no difference to it. They do not quite fall outside causation, for they are events which certainly are produced by physical changes. But they enter the causal series in one character only. They are themselves produced, but on the other hand nothing ever results from them. And this does not merely mean that, for certain purposes, you may take primary qualities as unaffected by secondary, and may consider secondary qualities as idle adjectives which issue from primary. It means that all psychical changes are effects, brought about by what is physical, while themselves absolutely without any influence on the succession of phenomena. I have been forced to state this view in my own terms as, though widely held, I do not find it anywhere precisely expressed. Its adherents satisfy themselves with metaphors, and rest on half worked out comparisons. And all that their exposition, to me, makes clear, is the confusion which it springs from.
The falseness of this doctrine can be exhibited from two points of view. It involves the contradiction of an adjective which makes no difference to its substantive, and the contradiction of an event in time, which is an effect but not a cause. For the sake of brevity I shall here confine myself to the second line of criticism. I must first endeavour, in my own way, to give to the materialistic doctrine a reasonable form; and I will then point out that its inconsistency is inherent and not removable.
If we agree to bring psychical events under the head of what is “secondary,” we may state the proposed way of connection as follows:
A, B, C is the succession of primary qualities, and it is taken to be a true causal series. Between the secondary products, α, β, γ, is no causal connection, nor do they make any difference to the sequence of C from B and of B from A. They are, each of them, adjectives which happen, but which produce no consequence. But, though their succession is not really causal, it must none the less appear so, because it is regular. And it must be regular, since it depends on a series which is unalterably fixed by causation. And in this way (it may be urged) the alleged inconsistency is avoided, and all is made harmonious. We are not forced into the conclusion that the self-same cause can produce two different effects. A is not first followed by mere B, and then again by B—β, since α is, in fact, irremovable from A. Nor is it necessary to suppose that the sequence A—B must ever occur by itself. For a will, in fact, accompany A, and β will always occur with B. Still this inseparability will in no way affect our result, which is the outcome and expression of a general principle. A—B—C is the actual and sole thread of causation, while α, β, γ are the adjectives which idly adorn it. And hence these latter must seem to be that which really they are not. They are in fact decorative, but either always or usually so as to appear constructional.
This is the best statement that I can make in defence of my unwilling clients, and I have now to show that this statement will not bear criticism. But there is one point on which I, probably, have exceeded my instructions. To admit that the sequence A—B—C does not exist by itself, would seem contrary to that view which is more generally held. Yet, without this admission, the inconsistency can be exhibited more easily.
The Law of Causation is the principle of Identity, applied to the successive. Make a statement involving succession, and you have necessarily made a statement which, if true, is true always. Now, if it is true universally that B follows A, then that sequence is what we mean by a causal law. If, on the other hand, the sequence is not universally true, then it is not true at all. For B, in that case, must have followed something more or less than A; and hence the judgment A—B was certainly false. Thus a stated fact of succession is untrue, till it has been taken as a fact of causation. And a fact of causation is truth which is, and must be, universal. It is an abstracted relation, which is either false always, or always true. And hence, if we are able to say ever that B follows mere A, then this proposition A—B is eternal verity. But, further, a truth cannot be itself and at the same time something different. And therefore once affirm A—B, and you can not affirm also and as well A—Bβ, if (that is to say) in both cases you are keeping to the same A. For if the event β follows, while arising from no difference, you must assert of mere A both “—B” and “—Bβ.” But these two assertions are incompatible. In the same way, if Aα has, as a consequence, mere B, it is impossible that bare A should possess the same consequence. If it seems otherwise, then certainly A was not bare, or else α was not relevant. And any other conclusion would imply two incompatible assertions with regard to B.
Hence we may come to a first conclusion about the view which makes an idle adjective of the soul. If it asserts that these adjectives both happen, and do not happen, for no reason at all, if it will say that the physical sequence is precisely the same, both without them and with them, then such a view flatly contradicts itself. For it not only supposes differences, which do not make any difference—a supposition which is absurd; but it also believes in a decoration, which at one time goes with, and at another time stays away from its construction, and which is an event which, equally in either case, is without any reason. And, with this, perhaps we may pass on.
Let us return to that statement of the case which appeared to us more plausible. There is a succession
and in this the secondary qualities are inseparable from the primary. A—B—C is, in fact, never found by itself, but it is, for all that, the true and the only causal sequence. We shall, however, find that this way of statement does but hide the same mistake which before was apparent. In the succession above, unless there really is more than we are supposed to take in, and unless α, β, γ are connected with something outside, we have still the old inconsistency. If A—B—C is the truth, then the succession, which we had, is in fact impossible; and, if the sequence is modified, then A—B—C can not possibly be true. I will not urge that, if it were true, it would at least be undiscoverable, since, by the hypothesis, α is inseparable from A. I admit that we may postulate sometimes where we cannot prove or observe; and I prefer to show that such a postulate is here self-contradictory. It is assumed that α is an adjective indivisible from A, but is an adjective which at the same time makes no difference to its being. Or α, at any rate, makes no difference to the action of A, but is perfectly inert. But, if so, then, as before, A possesses two predicates incompatible with each other. We cannot indeed say, as before, that in fact it is followed first by mere B, and then again by Bβ. But we, none the less, are committed to assertions which clash. We hold that A produces B, and that A produces Bβ; and one of these judgments must be false. For, if A produces mere B, then it does not produce Bβ. Hence β is either an event which is a gratuitous accident, or else α must have somehow (indirectly or directly) made this difference in B. But, if so, α is not inert, but is a part-cause of B; and therefore the sequence of B from mere A is false. The plausibility of our statement has proved illusory.
I am loath to perplex the question by subtleties, which would really carry us no further; but I will notice a possible evasion of the issue. The secondary qualities, I may be told, do not depend each on one primary, but are rather the adjectives of relations between these. They attend on certain relations, yet make no difference to what follows. But here the old and unresolved contradiction remains. It cannot be true that any relation (say of A to E), which produces another relation (say of B to F), should both produce this latter naked, and also attended by an adjective, β. One of these assertions must be false, and, with it, your conclusion. It is in short impossible to have differences which come without a difference, or which make no difference to what follows them. The attempt involves a contradiction, explicit or veiled, but in either case ruinous to the theory which adopts it.
We have now finished our discussion of erroneous views. We have seen that to deny the active connection of body and soul is either dangerous or impossible. It is impossible, unless we are prepared to contradict ourselves, to treat the soul as a mere adjective not influencing the body. And to accept, on the other hand, two coinciding and parallel series is to adopt a conclusion opposed to the main bulk of appearance. Nor for such a desertion of probability can I find any warrant. The common view, that soul and body make a difference to one another, is in the end proof against objection. And I will endeavour now to set it out in a defensible form.
Let me say at once that, by a causal connection of mind with matter, I do not mean that one influences the other when bare. I do not mean that soul by itself ever acts upon body, or that mere bodily states have an action on bare soul. Whether anything of the kind is possible, I shall enquire lower down; but I certainly see no reason to regard it as actual. I understand that, normally, we have an event with two sides, and that these two sides, taken together, are the inseparable cause of the event which succeeds. What is the effect? It is a state of soul going along with a state of body, or rather with a state of those parts of our organism which are considered to be in immediate relation with mind. And what are we to say is the cause? It is a double event of the same kind, and the two sides of it, both in union, produce the effect. The alteration of mind, which results, is not the effect of mind or body, acting singly or alone, but of both working at once. And the state of body, which accompanies it, is again the product of two influences. It is brought about neither by bare body, nor yet again by bare soul. Hence a difference, made in one side, must make a difference to the other side, and it makes a difference also to both sides of what follows. And, though this statement will receive later some qualification (p. 337), the causal connection of the soul’s events, in general, is inseparably double.
In physiology and in psychology we, in practice, disregard this complication. We for convenience sake regard as the cause, or as the effect, what is in reality but a prominent condition or consequence. And such a mutilation of phenomena is essential to progress. We speak of an intellectual sequence, in which the conclusion, as a psychical event, is the effect of the premises. We talk as if the antecedent mental state were truly the cause, and were not merely one part of it. Where, in short, we find that on either side the succession is regular, we regard it as independent. And it is only where irregularity is forced on our attention, that we perceive body and mind to interfere with one another. But, at this point, practical convenience has unawares led us into difficulty. We are puzzled now to comprehend how that which was independent has been induced to leave its path. We begin to seek the cause which forces it to exert and to suffer influence; and, with this, we are well on the road to false theory and ruinous error.
But the truth is that no mere psychical sequence is a fact, or in any way exists. With each of its members is conjoined always a physical event, and these physical events enter into every link of causation. The state of mind, or body, is here never more than part-cause, or again more than part-effect. We may attend to either of the sides, which for our purpose is prominent; we may ignore the action of the other side, where it is constant and regular; but we cannot deny that both really contribute to the effect. Thus we speak of feelings and of ideas as influencing the body. And so they do, since they make a difference to the physical result, and since this result is not the consequence from a mere physical cause. But feelings and ideas, on the other hand, neither act nor exist independent of body. The altered physical state is the effect of conditions, which are, at once, both psychical and physical. We find the same duplicity when we consider alterations of the soul. An incoming sensation may be regarded as caused by the body; but this view is, taken generally, onesided and incorrect. The prominent condition has been singled out, and the residue ignored. And, if we deny the influence of the antecedent psychical state, we have pushed allowable licence once more into mistake.
The soul and its organism are each a phenomenal series. Each, to speak in general, is implicated in the changes of the other. Their supposed independence is therefore imaginary, and to overcome it by invoking a faculty such as Will—is the effort to heal a delusion by means of a fiction. In every psychical state we have to do with two sides, though we disregard one. Thus in the “Association of Ideas” we have no right to forget that there is a physical sequence essentially concerned. And the law of Association must itself be extended, to take in connections formed between physical and psychical elements. The one of these phenomena, on its re-occurrence, may bring back the other. In this way a psychical state, once conjoined with a physical, may normally restore it; and hence this psychical state can be treated as the cause. It is not properly the cause, since it is not the whole cause; but it is most certainly an effective and differential condition. The physical event is not the result from a mere physical state. And if the idea or feeling had been absent, or if again it had not acted, this physical event would not have happened.
I am aware that such a statement is not an explanation, but I insist that in the end no explanation is possible. There are many enquiries which are legitimate. To ask about the “seat” of the soul, and about the ultimate modes of sequence and co-existence, both physical and psychical, is proper and necessary. We may remain incapable, in part, of resolving these problems; but at all events the questions they put are essentially answerable, however little we are called upon to deal with them here. But the connection of body and soul is in its essence inexplicable, and the further enquiry as to the “how” is irrational and hopeless. For soul and body are not realities. Each is a series, artificially abstracted from the whole, and each, as we have seen, is self-contradictory. We cannot in the end understand how either comes to exist, and we know that both, if understood, would, as such, have been transmuted. To comprehend them, while each is fixed in its own untrue character, is utterly impossible. But, if so, their way of connection must remain unintelligible.
And the same conclusion may be reached by considering the causal series. In this normally the two sides are inseparable from each other, and it was by a licence only that we were permitted ever to disregard one side. But, with this result, still we have not reached the true causal connection. It is only by a licence that in the end both sides taken together can be abstracted from the universe. The cause is not the true cause unless it is the whole cause; and it is not the whole cause unless in it you include the environment, the entire mass of unspecified conditions in the background. Apart from this you have regularities, but you have not attained to intelligible necessity. But the entire mass of conditions is not merely inexhaustible, but also it is infinite; and thus a complete knowledge of causation is theoretically impossible. Our known causes and effects are held always by a licence and partly on sufferance. To observe regularities, to bring one under the other as far as possible, to remove everywhere what can be taken as in practice irrelevant, and thus to reduce the number of general facts—we cannot hope for more than this in explaining concrete phenomena. And to seek for more in the connection of body and soul is to pursue a chimera.
But, before we proceed, there are points which require consideration. A state of soul seems not always to follow, even in part, from a preceding state. And an arrangement of mere physical conditions seems to supply the whole origin of a psychical life. And again, when the soul is suspended and once more reappears, the sole cause of the reappearance seems to lie in the body. I will begin by dealing with the question about the soul’s origin. We must remember, in the first place, that mere body is an artificial abstraction, and that its separation from mind disappears in the Whole. And, when the abstraction is admitted and when we are standing on this basis, it is not certain, even then, that any matter exists unconnected with soul (Chapter xxii.). Now, if we bear in mind these considerations, we need not seek to deny that physical conditions can be the origin of a psychical life. We might have at one moment a material arrangement and at the next moment we might find that this arrangement was modified, and was accompanied by a certain degree of soul. Even if this as a fact does not happen, I can find absolutely no reason to doubt that it is possible, nor does it seem to me to clash with our preceding view. But we must beware of misunderstandings. We can hardly believe, in the first place, that a soul, highly developed, arises thus all at once. And we must remember, in the second place, that a soul which is the result of mere matter, on the other hand at once qualifies and reacts on that matter. Mere body will, even here, never act upon bare mind. The event is single at one moment, and is double at the next; but in this twofold result the sides will imply, and will make a difference to one another. They are a joint-effect, and in what follows, whether as passive or active, each is nothing by itself. The soul is never mere soul, and the body, as soon as ever the soul has emerged, is no longer bare body. And, when this is understood, we may assent to the physical origin of mind. But we must remember that the material cause of the soul will be never the whole cause. Matter is a phenomenal isolation of one aspect of reality. And the event which results from any material arrangement, really pre-supposes and depends on the entire background of conditions. It is only through a selection, and by a licence, that a mere physical cause can anywhere be supposed to exist.
And the same conclusion holds when we consider the suspension of a soul. The psychical life of an organism seems more or less to disappear, and again to be restored, and we have to ask whether this restoration is effected by mere matter. We may distinguish here two questions, one of which concerns fact, and the other possibility. It is first, I think, impossible to be sure that anywhere psychical functions have ceased wholly. You certainly cannot conclude from the absence of familiar phenomena to the absence of everything, however different in degree or in kind. And whether, as a fact, anywhere in an organism its soul is quite suspended, I do not pretend to know. But assume for argument’s sake that this is so, it does not lead to a new difficulty. We have a case once more here, where physical conditions are the origin of a psychical result, and there seems no need to add anything to our discussion of this point. And what we are to say the soul is in the interval, during which it has ceased to exist, we have already enquired.
And under this head of suspension may fall all those cases, where a psychical association seems to have become merely physical. In psychology we have connections, which once certainly or possibly were conscious, but now, in part or altogether, and either always or at times, appear to happen without any psychical links. But, however interesting for psychology, these cases have little metaphysical importance. And I will content myself here with repeating our former warnings. It is, in the first place, not easy to be sure of our ground, when we wholly exclude an unconscious process in the soul. But, even when this has been excluded, and we are left with bare body, the body will be no more than relatively bare. We shall have reached something where the soul in question is absent, but where we cannot say that soul is absent altogether. For there is no part of Nature, which we can say (Chapter xxii.) is not directly organic to a soul or souls. And the merely physical, we saw, is in any case a mere abstraction. It is set apart from, and still depends on, the whole of experience.
I will briefly notice another point. It may be objected that our view implies interference with, or suspension of, the laws of matter or of mind. And it will be urged that such interference is wholly untenable. This objection would rest on a misunderstanding. Every law which is true is true always and for ever; but, upon the other hand, every law is emphatically an abstraction. And hence obviously all laws are true only in the abstract. Modify the conditions, add some elements to make the connection more concrete, and the law is transcended. It is not interfered with, and it holds, but it does not hold of this case. It remains perfectly true, but is inapplicable where the conditions which it supposes are absent.
I have dwelt at length on the connection of body and soul, but it presents a series of questions which we have, even yet, not discussed. I must endeavour to dispose of these briefly. Can we say that bare soul ever acts upon body, and can soul exist at all without matter, and if so, in what sense? In our experience assuredly bare soul is not found. Its existence there, and its action, are inseparable from matter; but a question obviously can be asked with regard to what is possible. As to this, I would begin by observing that, if bare soul exists, I hardly see how we could prove its existence. We have seen (Chapter xxii.) that we can set no bounds to the variety of bodies. An extended organism might, none the less, be widely scattered and discontinuous; and again organisms might be shared wholly or partially between souls. Further, of whatever extended material a body is composed, there remains the question of its possible functions and properties. I cannot see how, on the one hand, we can fix the limits of these. But upon the other hand, if we fail to do so, I do not understand by what process we even begin to infer the existence of bare soul. And our result so far must be this. We may agree that soul, acting or existing in separation from body, is a thing which is possible; but we are still without the smallest reason, further, for regarding it as real.
But is such a soul indeed possible? Or let us rather ask, first, what such a soul would mean. For, if disconnected from all extension, it might even then not be naked. One can imagine an arrangement of secondary qualities, not extended but constant; and this might accompany psychical life and serve as a body (p. 268). We have no reason for seriously entertaining this idea, but, on the other hand, is there any argument which would prove it impossible? And we may come to the same conclusion with regard to bare soul. This would mean a psychical series devoid of every quality that could serve as an organism. Of course if it were a “spirit,” immaterial and at the same time localized and extended, it would be inconsistent with itself. But there is no necessity for our falling into such self-contradiction. A psychical series without extension or locality in space, I presume, is conceivable. And this bare series might, for all we know, normally, or on occasion, even influence body. Nay, for all that I can perceive, such a naked soul might do more. Just as we saw that soul can follow from material conditions, so, in the course of events, some matter might itself result from soul. All these things are “possible” in this sense, that, within our knowledge, they cannot any of them be proved to be unreal. But they are mere idle possibilities. We can find no further ground for entertaining them, and in an estimate of probability we could not give them an appreciable value. But surely that which we have no more reason for taking as true, is nothing which we need trouble ourselves to consider. We have in fact no choice but to treat it as wholly non-existent.
We have now discussed the general connection of soul with body. We have seen that neither is reality. Each is a phenomenal series, and their members, as events in time, are causally related. The changes on one side in their sequence are inseparable from, and affected by, the changes on the other side. This, so far as body and soul are connected at all, is the normal course of things. But when we went on to investigate, we found a difference. The existence and action of bare soul is a mere possibility. We have no further reason to believe in it; nor, if it were fact, do I see how we should be able to discover it. But the existence of mere body, and the appearance of soul as its consequence, and again the partial absence or abeyance of psychical links, we found much more than possible. When properly interpreted, though we cannot prove that these are facts, they have very great probability. Still there is not, after all, the smallest ground to suppose that mere matter directly acts upon psychical states. To gain an accurate view of this connection in all its features is exceedingly difficult. But what is important for metaphysics, is to realize clearly that the interest of such details is secondary. Since the phenomenal series, in any case, come together in the Absolute, since their special characters must be lost there and be dissolved in what transcends them—the existence by itself of either body or soul is illusory. Their separation may be used for particular purposes, but it is, in the end, an untrue or a provisional abstraction.
It is necessary, before ending this chapter, to say something on the relation of soul to soul. The way of communication between souls, and again their sameness and difference, are points on which we must be careful to guard against error. It is certain, in the first place, that experiences are all separate from each other. However much their contents are identical, they are on the other hand made different by appearing as elements in distinct centres of feeling. The immediate experiences of finite beings cannot, as such, come together; and to be possessed directly of what is personal to the mind of another, would in the end be unmeaning. Thus souls, in a sense at least, are separate; but, upon the other hand, they are able to act on one other. And I will begin by enquiring how, in fact, they exercise this influence.
The direct action of soul on soul is, for all we know, possible; but we have, at the same time, no reason for regarding it as more. That which influences, and that which acts, is, so far as we know, always the outside of our bodies. Nor, even if we admit abnormal perception and influence at a distance, need we modify this result. For here the natural inference would be to a medium extended in space, and of course, like “ether,” quite material. And in this way the abnormal connection, if it exists, does not differ in kind from what is familiar. Again the inside of one organism might, I presume, act directly on the inside of another. But, if this is possible, we need not therefore consider it as actual. Nor do such enquiries possess genuine metaphysical interest. For the influence of the internal, whether body or soul, is not less effective because it operates through, and with, the outside; nor would it gain in reality by becoming direct. And with this we may dismiss an idea, misemployed by superstition, but from which no conclusion of the smallest importance could follow. A direct connection between souls we cannot say is impossible, but, on the other hand, we find no good reason for supposing it to exist. The possibility seems, in addition, to be devoid of all interest.
We may assume then that souls do not influence each other, except through their bodies. And hence it is only by this way that they are able to communicate. Alterations of the phenomenal group which I call my body, produce further changes in the physical environment. And thus, indirectly or directly, other organisms are altered, with consequent effects on the course of their accompanying souls. This account, which is true of my soul, holds good also with others. The world is such that we can make the same intellectual construction. We can, more or less, set up a scheme, in which every one has a place, a system constant and orderly, and in which the relations apprehended by each percipient coincide. Why and how this comes about we in the end cannot understand; but it is such a Uniformity of Nature which makes communication possible.
But this may suggest to us a doubt. If such alterations of bodies are the sole means which we possess for conveying what is in us, can we be sure in the end that we really have conveyed it? For suppose that the contents of our various souls differed radically, might we not still, on the same ground, be assured of their sameness? The objection is serious, and must be admitted in part to hold good. I do not think we can be sure that the sensible qualities we perceive are for every one the same. We infer from the apparent identity of our structure that this is so; and our conclusion, though not proved, possesses high probability. And, again, it may be impossible in fact that, while the relations are constant, the qualities should vary; but to assert this would be to pass beyond the limits of our knowledge. What, however, we are convinced of, is briefly this, that we understand and, again, are ourselves understood. There is, indeed, a theoretical possibility that these other bodies are without any souls, or that, while behaving as if they understood us, their souls really remain apart in worlds shut up from ours. But, when this bare possibility is excluded, the question stands thus. A common understanding being admitted, how much does that imply? What is the minimum of sameness that we need suppose to be involved in it?
It might be interesting elsewhere to pursue this question at length, but I must content myself here with an attempt briefly to indicate the answer. The fact is that, in the main, we behave as if our internal worlds were the same. But this fact means that, for each one, the inner systems coincide. Through all their detail these several orders must lead to the same result. But, if so, we may go further, and may conclude that each comes to the same thing. What is the amount of variety then which such coinciding orders will admit? We must, I presume, answer that, for all we know, the details may be different, but that the principles cannot vary. There seems to be a point beyond which, if laws and systems come to the same thing, they must be actually the same. And the higher we mount from facts of sense, and the wider our principles have become, the more nearly we have approached to this point of identity. Thus sensible qualities, we may suppose, at one end are largely divergent; while, if we rise high enough at the other end, we must postulate sameness. And, between these two extremes, as we advance, the probability increases that coincidence results from identical character. It is, for example, more likely that we share our general morality with another man, than that we both have the same tastes or odours in common. And with this I will pass from a subject which seems both difficult and interesting, but which for metaphysics possesses but secondary importance. Whatever variety there may be, cannot extend to first principles; and all variety comes together, and is transformed, in the Absolute.
But there is a natural mistake which, perhaps, I should briefly notice. Our inner worlds, I may be told, are divided from each other, but the outer world of experience is common to all; and it is by standing on this basis that we are able to communicate. Such a statement would be incorrect. My external sensations are no less private to myself than are my thoughts or my feelings. In either case my experience falls within my own circle, a circle closed on the outside; and, with all its elements alike, every sphere is opaque to the others which surround it. With regard to communicability, there is in fact not any difference of kind, but only of degree. In every case the communication must be made indirectly, and through the medium of our outsides. What is true is that, with certain elements, the ways of expression may be shorter and less mistakeable; and again the conditions, which secure a community of perception, are, with certain elements, more constant and more subject to our control. So much seems clear, but it is not true that our physical experiences have unity, in any sense which is inapplicable to the worlds we call internal. Nor again, even in practice, is it always more easy to communicate an outer than an inner experience. In brief, regarded as an existence which appears in a soul, the whole world for each is peculiar and private to that soul. But, if on the other hand, you are considering identity of content, and, on that basis, are transcending such particular existences, then there is at once, in principle, no difference between the inner and the outer. No experience can lie open to inspection from outside; no direct guarantee of identity is possible. Both our knowledge of sameness, and our way of communication, are indirect and inferential. They must make the circuit, and must use the symbol, of bodily change. If a common ruler of souls could give to any one a message from the inside, such a message could never be handed on but by alterations of bodies. That real identity of ideal content, by which all souls live and move, cannot work in common save by the path of external appearance.
And, with this, we are led to the question of the identity between souls. We have just seen that immediate experiences are separate, and there is probably no one who would desire to advocate a contrary opinion. But there are those, I presume, who will deny the possibility of two souls being, in any respect, really the same. And we must endeavour very briefly to clear our ideas on this matter.
It would be, of course, absurd to argue that two persons are not two but only one, or that, in general, differences are not different, but simply the same; and any such contention would be, doubtless, a wilful paradox. But the principle of what we may call the Identity of Indiscernibles, has quite another meaning. It implies that sameness can exist together with difference, or that what is the same is still the same, however much in other ways it differs. I shall soon attempt to define this principle more clearly, but what I would insist on, first, is that to deny it is to affront common sense. It is, in fact, to use words which could have no meaning. For every process of psychical Association is based on this ground; and, to come to what is plainer, every movement of our intellect rests wholly upon it. If you will not assume that identity holds throughout different contexts, you cannot advance one single step in apprehending the world. There will be neither change nor endurance, and still less, motion through space of an identical body; there will neither be selves nor things, nor, in brief, any intelligible fact, unless on the assumption that sameness in differents is real. Apart from this main principle of construction, we should be confined to the feeling of a single moment.
And to appeal to Similarity or Resemblance would be a futile attempt to escape in the darkness. For Similarity itself, when we view it in the daylight, is nothing in the world but more or less unspecified sameness. I will not dwell here on a point which elsewhere I have possibly pursued ad nauseam. No one, perhaps, would ever have betaken himself to mere Resemblance, unless he had sought in it a refuge from the dangers of Identity. And these dangers are the product of misunderstanding.
There is a notion that sameness implies the denial of difference, while difference is, of course, a palpable fact. But really sameness, while in one respect exclusive of difference, in another respect most essentially implies it. And these two “respects” are indivisible, even in idea. There would be no meaning in sameness, unless it were the identity of differences, the unity of elements which it holds together, but must not confound. And in the same way difference, while it denies, presupposes identity. For difference must depend on a relation, and a relation is possible only on a basis of sameness. It is not common sense that has any desire to reject such truths, and blindly to stand upon difference to the exclusion of identity. In ordinary science no one would question the reality of motion, because it makes one thing the same throughout diverse times and spaces. That things to be the same must always be different, and to be different must be, therefore, the same—this is not a paradox, until it is paradoxically stated. It does not seem absurd, unless, wrongly, it is taken to imply that difference and sameness themselves are actually not different. And, apart from such misunderstanding, the ground and reason of the antagonism to identity is furnished merely by onesided and uncritical metaphysics.
This mistaken opposition is based upon a truth, a truth that has been misapprehended and perverted into error. What has been perceived, or dimly felt, is in fact a principle that, throughout this work, has so often come before us. The Real in the end is self-subsistent, and contained wholly in itself; and its being is therefore not relative, nor does it admit a division of content from existence. In short relativity and self-transcendence, or, as we may call it, ideality, cannot as such be the character of ultimate Reality. And, so far as this goes, we are at one with the objectors to identity. But the question really is about the conclusion which follows from this premise. Our conclusion is that finite existence must, in the end, not be real; it is an appearance which, as such, is transformed in the Absolute. But such a result obviously does not imply that, within the world of phenomena, identity is unreal. And hence the conclusion, which more or less explicitly is drawn by our opponents, differs widely from ours. From the self-subsistent nature of the Real they have inferred the reality of diverse existences, beings in any case several and finite, and without community of essence. But this conclusion, as we have seen, is wholly untenable. For plurality and separateness themselves exist only by means of relations (Chapter iii.). To be different from another is to have already transcended one’s own being; and all finite existence is thus incurably relative and ideal. Its quality falls, more or less, outside its particular “thatness”; and, whether as the same or again as diverse, it is equally made what it is by community with others. Finite elements are joined by what divides, and are divided by what joins them, and their division and their junction alike are ideal. But, if so, and unless some answer is found to this contention, it is impossible to deny that identity is a fact. It is not real ultimately, we are agreed, but then facts themselves are not ultimate, and the question is confined to the realm of phenomenal existence. For difference itself is but phenomenal, and is itself assuredly not ultimate. And we may end, I think, with this reply. Show us (we may urge) a region of facts which are neither different nor yet the same; show us how quality without relation, or how mere being, can differentiate; point out how difference is to keep any meaning, as soon as sameness is wholly banished; tell us the way in which sameness and difference can exist, if they may not be ideal; explain how, if identity is not real, the world of experience in any part holds together—at least attempt this, or else admit that identity is ideal and is, at the same time, a fact, and that your objection, in short, had no basis but confusion and traditional prejudice.
But the principle that sameness is real and is not destroyed by differences, demands, as we have seen, some explanation. It would be absurd, for instance, to suppose that two souls really are but one soul, since identity always implies and depends upon difference; and we may now treat this point as sufficiently discussed. Sameness is real amid differences; but we must neither deny that these differences, in one sense, affect it, nor may we assert that sameness is always a working connection. I will take these points in their order.
We may say that what is once true remains true always, or that what is the same in any one context, is still the same in any other context. But, in affirming this, we must be on our guard against a serious mistake. For a difference of conditions, it is obvious, will make a difference to sameness, and it is certain that contexts can modify their identical element. If, that is, rushing to the opposite extreme, you go on to immerse wholly your truths in their conditions, if you refuse in any respect to abstract from this total diversity, then the principle of identity becomes inapplicable. You then would not have the same thing under different circumstances, because you would have declined to see anything whatever but difference. But, if we avoid these errors on each side, the principle soon becomes clear. Identity obviously by its essence must be more or less abstract; and, when we predicate it, we are disregarding other sides of the whole. We are asserting that, notwithstanding other aspects, this one aspect of sameness persists and is real. We do not say how far it extends, or what proportion it bears to the accompanying diversity; but sameness, so far as it goes, is actually and genuinely the same. Given a fresh instance of a law, and the law still holds good, though in the whole result this one factor may seem overborne. The other conditions here have joined to modify the general consequence, but the law itself has worked fully, and has maintained its selfsame character. And, given two individuals with any part of their content indiscernible, then, while that is so, we are bound, so far, to consider them the same. However much their diversity may preponderate, however different may be the whole effect of each separate compound, yet, for all that, what is the same in them is one and identical. And our principle, thus understood, is surely irrefragable, and wears the air, perhaps, more of triviality than of paradox. Its results indeed often would be trivial, most empty and frivolous. Its significance varies with varying conditions. To know that two souls have an element of their contents in common, may thus be quite unimportant. Such knowledge may, again, assure us of the very gravest and most fundamental truths. But of all this the principle itself, being abstract, tells us nothing.
And as to any working connection our principle is silent. Whether an identical point in two things affects them otherwise, so as to cause other changes to happen, we are unable to learn from it. For how a thing works must depend on its special relations, while the principle, as we have seen, remains perfectly general. Two souls, for example, which live together, may by their identity be drawn into active community. If the same were sundered in time, this, for our knowledge, would be impossible. But, in the latter case, the identity exists actually as much as it exists in the former. The amount of sameness, and the kind of sameness, and what the sameness will bring forth—these points all fall outside of our abstract principle. But if any one bases an objection on this ground, he would seem to be arguing in effect that, because, in fact, diverse identities exist, therefore identity, as a fact, has no actual existence. And such a position seems irrational.
Our result, so far, is that the sameness between souls is a fact. The identity of their content is just as real as is their separate existence. But this identity, on the other hand, need not imply a further relation between them. It need not, so far as we can see, act in any way; and its action, where it acts, appears to be always indirect. Souls seem to influence one another only by means of their bodies.
But this limited view of identity, as a working force, must be modified when we consider the individual soul. In the course of its internal history we must admit that the sameness of its states is an actual mover. In other words the mechanical interpretation, if throughout applicable to Nature, must in dealing with souls be in part given up. And I will end the chapter by pointing out this important distinction.
I mean by Nature here the physical world, considered merely as physical and in abstraction from soul (Chapter xxii.). And in Nature sameness and difference may be said everywhere to exist, but never anywhere to work. This would, at least, appear to be the ideal of natural science, however incompletely that ideal has been carried into practice. No element, according to this principle, can be anything to any other, merely because it is the same, or because it is different. For these are but internal characters, while that which works is in every case an outward relation. But then, if so, sameness and difference may appear at first sight to have no meaning at all. They may look like idle ornaments of which science, if consistent, should strip itself. Such a conclusion, however, would be premature, since, if these two characters are removed, science bodily disappears. It would be impossible without them ever to ask Why, or any longer to say Because. And the function of sameness and difference, if we consider it, is obvious. For the external relations, which work, are summed up in the laws; and, on the other hand, the internal characters of the separate elements serve to connect them with these universal strings or hinges. And thus, while inoperative, sameness and difference are still effective indirectly, and in fact are indispensable. This would appear to be the essence of the mechanical view. But I am unable to state how far at present, through the higher regions of Nature, it has been in practice applied; and again I do not know how properly to interpret, for example, the (apparent) effect of identity in the case of continued motion through space. To speak generally, the mechanical view is in principle nonsense, because the position of the laws is quite inconsistent and unintelligible. This is indeed a defect which belongs necessarily to every special science (Chapter xi.), but in the sphere of Nature it reaches its lowest extreme. The identity of physical elements may thus be said to fall outside their own being, their universality seems driven into banishment and forced to reside solely in laws. And, since these laws on the one hand are not physical, and since on the other hand they seem essential to Nature, the essence of Nature seems, therefore, made alien to itself, and to be on either side unnaturally sundered. However, compulsion from outside is the one working principle which is taken to hold in the physical world. And, at least if we are true to our ideal, neither identity nor difference can act in Nature.
When we come to psychology this is altered. I do not mean that there the mechanical view ceases wholly, nor do I mean that, where it is superseded, as in the working of pleasure and pain, that which operates must be ideal. But, to a greater or less extent, all psychology, in its practice, is compelled to admit the working power of Identity. A psychologist may employ this force unwillingly, or may deny that he employs it; but without it he would be quite unable to make his way through the subject. I do not propose here to touch upon Coalescence or Blending, a principle much neglected by English psychologists. I will come at once to Redintegration, or what is more familiar to us as Association by Contiguity. Here we are forced to affirm that what happens now in the soul happens because of something else which took place there before. And it happens, further, because of a point of identity connecting the present with the past. That is to say, the past conjunction in the soul has become a law of its being. It actually exists there again because it happened there once, and because, in the present and in the past, an element of content is identical. And thus in the soul we can have habits, while habits that are but physical exist, perhaps, only through a doubtful metaphor. Where present and past functions have not an inner basis of identity, the word habit, if used, has no longer its meaning. Hence we may say that to a large extent the soul is itself its own laws, consists, itself, in the identity between its present and its past, and (unlike Nature) has its own ideal essence not quite external to itself. This seems, at all events, the view which, however erroneous, must be employed by every working psychologist.
But I must hasten to add that this view remains gravely imperfect. It is in the end impossible to maintain that anything is because it has been. And with regard to the soul, such an objection can be pressed from two sides. Suppose, in the first place, that another body like my own were manufactured, can I deny that with this body would go everything that I call my self? So long as the soul is not placed in the position of an idle appendage, I have already, in principle, accepted this result. I think that in such a case there would be the same associations and of course the same memory. But we could no longer repeat here that the soul is, because it has been. We should be compelled rather to assert that (in a sense) the soul has been, because it now is. This imaginary case has led us back, in fact, to that problem of “dispositions,” which we found before was insoluble. Its solution (so far as we could perceive) would dissolve each of the constructions called body and soul.
And, in the second place, regarded from the inside, the psychological view of identity is no less a compromise. We may perhaps apprehend this by considering the double aspect of Memory. We remember, on the one hand, because of prior events in our existence. But, on the other hand, memory is most obviously a construction from the present, and it depends absolutely upon that which at the moment we are. And this latter movement, when developed, carries us wholly outside the psychological view, and altogether beyond memory. For the main object of thought may be called the attempt to get rid of mere conjunctions in the soul. A true connection, in the end, we see cannot be true because once upon a time its elements happened together. Mere associations, themselves always universal from the first, are hence by thought deliberately purified. Starting from mere “facts”—from those relations which are perceived in confused union with an irrelevant context—thought endeavours to transform them. Its advance would end in an ideal world where nothing stands by itself, where, in other words, nothing is forced to stand in relation with what is foreign, but where, on the contrary, truth consists in an absolute relativity. Every element here would be because of something other which supports it, in which other, and in the whole, it finds its own identity. I certainly admit that this ideal can not be fully realized (Chapter xv.); but it furnishes the test by which we must judge whatever offers itself as truth. And, measured by this test, the psychological view is condemned.
The entire phenomenal world, as a connected series, and, in this world, the two constructions known as body and soul, are, all alike, imperfect ways of regarding Reality. And these ways at every point have proved unstable. They are arbitrary fixtures which tend throughout to transcend their limits, the limits which, for the sake of practice, we are forced to impose. And the result is everywhere inconsistency. We found that body, attempting to work without identity, became unintelligible. And we saw that the soul, admitting identity as a function in its life, ended also in mere compromise. These things are both appearances, and both are untrue; but still untruth has got degrees. And, compared with the physical world, the soul is, by far, less unreal. It shows to a larger extent that self-dependence in which Reality consists.
But the discussion of degrees in Reality will engage us hereafter. We may now briefly recall the main results of this chapter. We have seen that body and soul are phenomenal constructions. They are each inconsistent abstractions, held apart for the sake of theoretical convenience. And the superior reality of the body we found was a superstition. Passing thence to the relation which seems to couple these two makeshifts, we endeavoured to define it. We rejected both the idea of mere concomitance, and of the one-sided dependence of the soul; and we urged that an adjective which makes no difference to anything, is nonsense. We then discussed briefly the possibilities of bare soul and bare body, and we went from this to the relations which actually exist between souls. We concluded that souls affect each other, in fact, only through their bodies, but we insisted that, none the less, ideal identity between souls is a genuine fact. We found, last of all, that, in the psychical life of the individual, we had to recognise the active working of sameness. And we ended this chapter with the reflection which throughout has been near us. We have here been handling problems, the complete solution of which would involve the destruction of both body and soul. We have found ourselves naturally carried forward to the consideration of that which is beyond them.
- I shall have to say something more on this point lower down. The bodies which we know have also continuity in space. Whether this is essential will be discussed hereafter.
- Cp. Mind, XII. 355 (No. 47).
- I have for the moment excluded relation to a body. It is better not to define the soul as “the facts immediately experienced within one organism” for several reasons. I shall return to this point.
- I have tried to sketch the main development in Mind, as referred to above.
- I have said something on this in Mind, XII. 362-3.
- Compare Chapters xv., xix., xxi.
- I am not denying here the possibility of soul without body. See below, p. 340.
- I may be allowed to say here why I think such phrases as “individual,” or “individualistic point of view,” cannot serve to fix the definition of “soul.” To regard a centre of experience from an individualistic point of view may mean to view it as a series of psychical events. But if so, the meaning is only meant, and is certainly not stated. And the term “individual” sins by excess as well as by defect. For it may stand for “Monad” or “Ego”; and in this case the soul is at once more than phenomenal, and we have on our hands the relation of its plurality to the one Monad—a difficulty which, as we have seen, is insuperable. On the other hand “individualistic” might imply that the soul’s contents do not, in any sense, transcend its private existence. The term, in short, requires definition, quite as much as does the object which it is used to define.
- On the subject of Identity see more below. And compare Chapter ix.
- I shall endeavour to explain this in the following chapter.
- Unconscious states could also be used to explain “dispositions,” in my opinion quite indefensibly. I may add that, within proper limits, I think psychology must make use of unconscious psychical facts.
- How far the soul can be said to result from merely physical conditions I shall enquire lower down.
- In another place I should be ready to enter on this question. It would, I think, not be difficult to show in psychology that the idea of a soul, or an Ego, or a Will, or an activity beyond events explains nothing at all. It serves only to produce false appearances of explanation, and to throw a mist over what is really left quite unexplained.
- There are some distinctions which we must keep in mind. By existence (taken strictly) I mean a temporal series of events or facts. And this series is not throughout directly experienced. It is an ideal construction from the basis of what is presented. But, though partly ideal, such a series is not wholly so. For it leaves its contents in the form of particulars, and the immediate conjunction of being and quality is not throughout broken up. Thisness, or the irrelevant context, is retained, in short, except so far as is required to make a series of events. And, though the events of the whole series are not actually perceived, they must be taken as what is in its character perceptible. Any part of a temporal series, no matter how long, can be called an event or fact. For it is taken as a piece, or quantity, made up of perceptible duration. By fact I mean either an event, or else what is directly experienced. Any aspect of direct experience, or again of an event, can itself be loosely styled a fact or event, so far as you consider it as a qualifying adjective of one. I may notice, last, that an immediate experience, e.g. of succession, can contain that which, when distinguished, is more than one event, and it can contain also an aspect which, as distinguished, is beyond events. But I should add that I have not tried to use any of the above words everywhere strictly.
- See above, p. 300, and compare Chapters xix. and xxi. And for the relation of existence to thought see, further, Chapter xxiv.
- The whole series itself will, in a sense, be one event since it has a place and duration. But it will not be throughout an experienced fact.
- That the identity of a soul should be only so far as it exists for some soul, is one of the circles we have pointed out already.
- I should add that I am convinced that the Ego is a derivative product (Mind, No. 47). But the argument above is quite independent of this conclusion.
- If action is attributed to the Ego things are made even worse, for activity has been shown to imply a sequence in time (Chapter vii.). I may perhaps remind the reader here that to speak of a relation between phenomena and the Reality is quite incorrect. There are no relations, properly, except between things finite. If we speak otherwise, it should be by a licence.
- Of course, even on these hypotheses, one link of a series will be a cause of what follows, if you take that link in connection with the rest of the universe. Hence with regard to “occasionalism” we may say that, since every cause must be limited more or less artificially, every cause therefore is able to be called an “occasion.” You may take in further and further conditions, until your partial cause seems an item unimportant, and even therefore ineffective. And here we are on the confines of absolute error. If the “occasion” is divided from the whole entire cause, and so held to be without an influence on the effect, that is at once quite indefensible.
- The same false principle, which is employed in the materialistic view of the soul, appears in the equally materialistic doctrine of the Real Presence.
- The addition of “unconditional” would be surplusage. Cp. Principles of Logic, p. 485.
- The judgments, “B follows from A” and “B follows from Aα,” are, if pure, not reconcilable. The same effect cannot have two causes, unless “cause” is taken loosely. See Mr. Bosanquet’s Logic, Book I, Chapter vi. I have remarked further on this subject below in Chapter xxiv.
- If there were a reason, then mere A would no longer be the cause of both B and Bβ. I shall return to this lower down.
- The reader will remember that β (by the hypothesis) cannot follow directly from α. It is taken as dependent solely on B.
- I may perhaps, in this connection, be expected to say something on the Conservation of Energy. I am most unwilling to do this. One who, like myself, stands outside the sciences which use this idea, can hardly hope to succeed in apprehending it rightly. He constantly fails to distinguish between a mere working conception and a statement of fact. Thus, for example, “energy of position” and “potential energy” are phrases which in their actual employment, doubtless, are useful and accurate. But, to speak strictly, they are nonsense. If a thing disappears into conditions, which will hereafter produce it, then most assuredly in the interim it does not exist; and it is surely only by a licence that you can call the non-existent “in a state of conservation.” And hence, passing on, I will next take the Conservation of Energy to mean that at any moment actual matter and actual motion are an unaltered quantity. And this constancy may hold good either in each of several physical systems, or again in Nature as a whole (Chapter xxii). Now, if the idea is put forward as a hypothesis for working use only, I offer no criticism of that which is altogether beyond me. But, if it is presented, on the other hand, as a statement of fact, I will say at once that I see no reason to accept it as true; and I am quite sure that it is not provable. If, for the sake of argument however, we accept the quantitative constancy of matter and motion, I do not find that this tells us anything as to the position of the soul. For, although mind influences body and body alters mind, the quantity may throughout remain precisely the same. The loss and gain, on the psychical and physical side, may each, upon the whole, exactly balance the other; and thus the physical energy of the system may be thoroughly preserved. If, however, any one insists that motion always must be taken as resulting from motion, even then he may avoid the conclusion that psychical events are not causes. He may fall back on some form of the two parallel series which only seem to be connected. Or he may betake himself to a hypothesis which still maintains their causal connection. An arrangement is possible, by which soul and body make a difference to each other, while the succession on each side appears, and may be treated, as independent. The losses and gains upon each side amongst the different threads of causal sequence might counterbalance one another. They might hinder and help each other, so that in the end all would look as if they really did nothing, and as if each series was left alone to pursue its own private course. Such an arrangement seems undeniably possible, but I am far from suggesting that it is fact. For I reject the principle which would force us, without any reason, to entertain such subtleties. I may be allowed to remark in conclusion that those who hold to the doctrine of “Conservation,” and who use this in any way as bearing on our views about the soul, may fairly be expected to make some effort. It seems incumbent on them to try to reconcile the succession of psychical events with the law of Causation. No one is bound to be intelligible outside his own science, I am quite convinced as to that. But such a plea is good only in the mouths of those who are willing to remain inside. And I must venture, respectfully but firmly, to insist on this point.
- Cf. Chapter vi.
- Whether mere soul can act on or produce matter, I shall enquire lower down.
- Psychology, I should say, has a right to take the soul as suspended, or generally as absent so far as is convenient. I doubt if there is any other limit.
- See further The Evidences of Spiritualism, Fortnightly Review, No. ccxxviii.
- These worthless fancies really possess no kind of interest at all. The continuance of the soul after death will be touched on hereafter. On the general nature of the Possible, see, further, Chapters xxiv. and xxvii.
- Cf. Chapter xxii. There may, so far as I see, be many systems of souls, each system without a way of communication with the others. On this point we seem to be without any means of judging.
- I do not mean that it is possible that my soul should contain all the experience which exists.
- It is of course true that outer experience to be properly outer, must already have passed beyond the stage of mere feeling, and that what is called inner experience, need not have done so. But this is, only in part, relevant to the issue.
- Principles of Logic, pp. 261-2. Cp. Ethical Studies, p. 151. I do not understand that there is any material difference on this head between myself and Mr. Bosanquet, Knowledge and Reality, pp. 97-108. I would add that in psychology the alternative, between Association by general resemblance and by (explicit) partial identity, is a false one. The feeling that two things are similar need not imply the perception of the identical point, but none the less this feeling is based always on partial sameness. For a confusion on this head see Stumpf, Tonpsychologie, I., 112-114. And now (while revising these words for the press) I regret to have to add to Stumpf’s name that of Professor James. I have examined the above confusion, more in detail, in Mind, No. 5, N.S. For Professor James’ reply, see No. 6.
- So long as we avoid this mistake, we may, and even must, affirm that things are different, so far as they are the same, and the same, so far as they are different. To get difference, or sameness, bare would be to destroy its character.
- The English writers who have objected to identity have left their principle of atomism and their principle of relativity simply standing side by side. Not one has (so far as I know) made the smallest attempt seriously to explain the position given to relations. Cp. Principles of Logic, p. 96.
- Fact in the sense of unseparated adjective of fact. See above, p. 317.
- I have not thought it necessary in the text to say anything on the view which finds a solution of all puzzles in impact. For why, in the first place, the working of impact should be self-evident, seems, except by the influence of mere habit, not easy to perceive. And, in the second place, it is sheer thoughtlessness if we imagine that by impact we get rid of the universal. Complete relativity, and an ideal unity which transcends the particulars, are just as essential to impact as to everything else.
- On this point, and on what follows, compare Mind, xii., pp. 360 and foll.
- I have shown, in my Principles of Logic, that Contiguity cannot be explained by mere Similarity. See the chapter there on the Association of Ideas.
- The question seems to turn on the amount of inward identity which we are prepared to attribute to a physical thing.
- I have endeavoured to prove this point in Principles of Logic, pp. 36 and foll.; 284 and foll.; cp. 460-1. I venture to think that psychology is suffering seriously from want of clearness on this head.
- I would append a few words to explain further my attitude towards the view which takes the soul as the ideality of its body. If that view made soul and body together an ultimate reality, I should reject it on this ground. Otherwise certainly I hold that individuality is ideal, and that soul in general realizes individuality at a stage beyond body. But I hesitate to assert that the particular soul and body correspond, so that the first is throughout the fulfilment and inner reality of the second. And I doubt our right generally to take soul and body together as always making or belonging to but one finite individual. Further I cannot admit that the connection of soul and body is really either intelligible or explicable. My attitude towards this whole doctrine is thus in the main sympathetically neutral.