Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/494

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494
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

MATERIALISM AND MORALITY.
By W. S. LILLY.

"WORDS are grown so false that I am loath to prove reason with them," says Viola in "Twelfth Night." The saying constantly comes to my mind in dealing with the philosophical controversies of the present day. Rigorous definition, careful analysis, precise classification, are no longer in favor. It is an age of loose thinking, and of looser writing; of "idle words, servants to shallow fools." Never, perhaps, was there an age in which the trade of the sophist, whose business it is "to make the worse reason appear the better," was carried on so successfully. Never was there an age in which a writer who feels that he is "a teacher, or nothing," had greater need of well-considered and accurate language. Hence it is that in the papers which I have from time to time contributed to this "Review" I have sought, before entering upon my argument, to state clearly the sense in which I employ my principal terms. Most necessary is it that I should do this in respect of such a word as materialism. There are those who would restrict it to a doctrine which is now discredited for higher minds. What we know of living forces, of the real properties of bodies, has made an end of the old notion of matter reduced merely to solidity and extension. Our better acquaintance with the physiology of the sense-organs has been fatal to the sensism which Professor Clifford contemptuously calls "the crass materialism of the savage." It lingers, indeed, in the lower intellectual regions. Nay, more, it is still widely held there. "II y a des morts qu'il faut tuer encore." And this is one of them. My present point, however, is that this coarse and vulgar theory is by no means the only form of materialism. Nor is it the form under which materialism is most potently working in the world just now. The more subtile doctrines which have arisen upon the ruins of the old materialistic hypothesis are, in all essentials, identical with it. Positivism, determinism, and much that passes current as agnosticism, are mere varieties of materialism; sublimated expressions of it, perhaps, but true expressions, having in them the root of the matter. Now here I am conscious of a difficulty. Is it fair, one may be asked, to impose the name of materialist upon those who, more or less energetically, repudiate it? I think it is fair, and, more, that it is a duty, if the name truly describes them. Take, for example, the late Mr. Clifford. As we have just seen, he rejects emphatically "the crude materialism of the savage," but only to substitute a materialism which is, indeed, more refined, but which is also, as it seems to me, more irrational. His biographer, Mr. Frederick Pollock, claims that his view is, in truth, "idealistic monism, a very subtile form of idealism," and points out that his con-