Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/326

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this simply going back to that old anthropomorphism of primitive philosophy, according to which imagination was childishly led to conceive, behind any phenomenon inexplicable by ignorance, a will, a force, like that we are conscious of within ourselves? This illusion has gradually lost ground, for two reasons: first, because the sphere of the unknown has gone on diminishing, as the conquests of science have continually revealed new natural explanations of phenomena; and, next, because we are brought more and more nearly to the conviction that the human intellect, the will, instead of being principles of a transcendent order, are themselves only results of material conditions. We can maintain such a doctrine, and yet repel the charge of materialism; for matter, in our view, is far from being a principle; we regard it only as a fact which is capable of being analyzed in its turn, and of being reduced to yet simpler elements, to forces, which are not in themselves substances, but merely phenomena.

One of the most characteristic traits of the spiritualist temperament is this—that in the explanation of facts it always prefers metaphysical hypotheses to purely physical ones; that it clings to the former as long as it is possible to do so without too violent a contradiction of irresistible truths; that it never yields to such truths, except in the last extremity, nor ever until they have been established by proofs beyond refutation. This is the mental bent of which we find the signs in Hartmann's theories. There are, in fact, a certain number of phenomena, of which the physical and physiological sciences have succeeded in giving probable explanations, without going beyond their own domain; but these explanations are as yet in the state of conjectures, or at least have not been verified by experiences so decisive as to compel the most hardened metaphysicians to accept them. Instead of these solutions, Hartmann, in conformity so far with spiritualistic traditions, prefers to hold to the hypothesis of an intelligent principle, yet an unconscious one. Let us examine the principal facts of this kind in order.

Hartmann contends that any voluntary movement must be impossible, without an idea of the extremity of the nerve that serves to produce it; and, as this idea does not exist in consciousness, it must exist, as he holds, in an unconscious intelligence, of which my conscious intelligence is doubtless only a mode, a manifestation. I will to move my arm, and it moves. How can that effect be produced, Hartmann asks, without the knowledge of the intermediate organs, which must be set at work to effect the intended act? How otherwise can we explain the action of the will on some one particular muscle, rather than on some other one? We may well be astonished to find such a theory held by a philosopher who admits that acts of the conscious will are phenomena of the brain. Is it not a more natural and probable sequence to suppose an organic adaptation between the cerebral phenomenon and the modification of the motor nerve? But, it