Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/229

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


does, not mind or will or reason can possibly intervene to fill the chasm—for these are parcels and expressions of the natural order—but only nothingness and pure chance.

Thought is thus an expression of natural relations, as will is of natural affinities; yet consciousness of an object’s value, while it declares the blind disposition to pursue that object, constitutes its entire worth. Apart from the pains and satisfactions involved, an impulse and its execution would be alike destitute of importance. It would matter nothing how chaotic or how orderly the world became, or what animal bodies arose or perished there; any tendencies afoot in nature, whatever they might construct or dissolve, would involve no progress or disaster, since no preferences would exist to pronounce one eventual state of things better than another. These preferences are in themselves, if the dynamic order alone be considered, works of supererogation, expressing force but not producing it, like a statue of Hercules; but the principle of such preferences, the force they express and depend upon, is some mechanical impulse itself involved in the causal process. Expression gives value to power, and the strength of Hercules would have no virtue in it had it contributed nothing to art and civilisation. That conceived basis of all life which we call matter would be a mere potentiality, an inferred instrument deprived of its function, if it did not actually issue in life and con-