« AnteriorContinuar »
the fact and notion denoted by the sciousness is. We are called upon to word “ 1," comes into manifestation believe that the same cause at the at the bidding, and under the influence, same moment both produces and deof the objects which induce the sensa- stroys a particular effect-a creed too tions accompanying it."
contradictory and unintelligible to be One fact admitted on all hands is, easily embraced when thus plainly exthat our sensations are caused by cer- posed. If a particular object induce tain objects presented to our senses ; a particular sensation, surely the susanother fact assumed on all hands is, pension of that sensation, or, in other that our consciousness of sensations words, the consciousness which imfalls under the same law, and is like. pairs it, and prevents it from being wise induced by the presence of these all-absorbing, cannot be induced by objects. But consciousness and sensa- the same cause. And, besides, if our tion are each other's opposites, and consciousness depended on our sensaexist as thesis and antithesis-there- tions, passions, or any other of our fore, according to this doctrine, we “ states of mind," would not its light find two contradictory effects attribu- kindle, and its energy wax in propor. ted at the same moment to the same tion as these were brightened and incause, and referred to the same origin creased? We have seen, however, that - just as if we were to affirm that the the reverse of this is the case, and same object is at the same moment that consciousness never burns more and in the same place the cause at faintly than during man's most vivid once of light and of the absence of paroxysms of sensation and of passion. light, or that the sun at one and the This argument, which is, however, same instant both ripens fruit and rather a fact presented to us by expeprevents it from ripening. To illus. rience than an inference, entirely distrate this by our former example (for proves the dependency of man's cona variety of illustrations adds nothing sciousness upon the external objects to the clearness of an exposition), let which give birth to his sensations. It us suppose a sentient being to expe- thus radically uproots that false fact rience the smell of a rose. So long by which man is made the creature as this being's state is simply sentient, and thrall of causality in his interits sensation is absorbing, effective, course with the outward world, and the and complete ; but as soon as con- passive recipient of its impressions. sciousness, or the realization of self At the same time the displacement of blends with this feeling, it from that this false fact opens up to us a glimpse moment becomes weaker and less per- of that great truth, the view and reafect. It is no longer pure and unal. lization of which it has hitherto obloyed, and consequently its integrity structed—the liberty of man. In order is violated, and its strength in some de- to get a nearer and clearer prospect of gree impaired :-yet, according to our this grand reality, let us extirpate still ordinary psychologists, the same ob- more radically the spurious fact we ject, namely, the rose, which induces have been dealing with, until not a the strength of the sensation, also fibre of it remains to shoot forth anew brings along with it that suspension or into sprouts of error. weakening of the sensation which con
The earliest speculators among man- of causality could be conceived without kind were, as we have before remark- the existence of a thing operated on, ed, mere naturalists or physici. They as well as of a thing operating, they looked at every thing and conceived were forced to postulate something every thing under the law of cause in man (either physical or hyperphysi. and effect. After a time, when specu- cal) for the objects of external nature lation began to be directed upon man, to act upon. Thus, in order to allow or became what is now termed “ meta the law of causality an intelligible physical,” this law still continued to sphere of operation, and at the same be regarded as supreme, and the spirit time to lift man out of the mire of a of the old method was carried on into gross materialism, they devised or the new research. But as no instance assumed a certain spiritualized or at.
vol. XLIV. NO. CCLxxiv.
tenuated substance called “ mind," lier years of that particular Being endowed with certain passive suscep- which afterwards becomes “I"—thero tibilities as well as with various active being at that time no “me" at all in powers; and this hypothetical sub- the case—no "me" for things to take stance, together with all the false facts effect upon,—as was proved in the preand foolish problems it brings along ceding problem, where it was shown with it, has been permitted to maintain that no man is born conscious, or, in its place, almost without challenge, in other words, that no man is born “1.". all our schools of philosophy down to It is true that things take effect, from the present hour; so completely has the very first, upon that particular Bepsychological science in general taken ing which, after a time and afier a the colour, and imbibed the spirit of certain process, becomes " I." But physical research.
this particular Being was not “ I" at “ Ut multis nota est naturæ causa laten
its birth, or until a considerable time tis !
after it had elapsed, and, therefore, the At sua qui noscat pectora rarus adest." proposition, “things take effect upon
me," is seen to be untrue when applied It is time, however, that this subs to one period of human life at least, stance, and the doctrines and facts and thus the ego, or that which, in the taught in connexion with it, were test case of each individual man, is ~ 1," ed in a more rigorous and critical or, in other words, his true Being, is spirit--not, indeed, upon their own ac liberated from the control of the law count, but on account of those greater of causality, during the earlier stages and more important truths whose at least of his existence, in the most places they have usurped. How, then, conclusive and effectual way possible do we propose testing this substance ? -namely, by our showing that at In this way. The word “ mind” is that time this « I” has no manner of exceedingly remote and ambiguous, existence or manifestation whatsoever. and denotes-nobody knows what. Does the philosopher of mind, girLet us then substitute in place of it ing up this point, maintain that the that much plainer expression which proposition quoted has, at any rate, a every body makes use of, and in some true and intelligible application to us degree, at least, understands—the ex- in our grown or advanced condition ? pression “I” or “ me"_and let us Then we tell him that, in that case, see how mind, with its facts and doc. the affirmation, or dogma, is alto. trines, will fare when this simple, un- gether premature, because, before it pretending, and unhypothetical word can be admitted, he is bound to exis employed in its place.
plain to us how the particular Being * External objects take effect upon given and contemplated, which was mind, and perception is the result." not “I" or " me' at first, became
This doctrine lies at the very threshold converted into “me.” Before any of our ordinary metaphysics, and subsequent averment connected with forms the foundation-stone upon which this "me" can be listened to, it is, their whole superstructure is erected. first of all, incumbent upon him, we But is it true? Let us come to a more say, to point out to us how this con. distinct understanding of it by chang- version is brought about- to explain ing it into the following statement, to us the origin and significance of and we shall see what gross though this "L"the circumstances out of deep-lurking falsities are brought to which it arose, for, as we have already light by the alteration. Let us say said, the particular Being which now * external objets take effect upon appropriates it was certainly not sent me, and perception is the result." We into the world a born or ready-made now then ask, To what period of our “1." life is this proposition meant to have Suppose, then, that the metaphysi. reference: Does the philosopher of cian should say that this Being becomes * mind" answer that it may be applied “L” under the law of causality, and to us during any period, from first to beneath the action of the external ob. last, of our existence? Then we tell jccts which produce impressions upon him, in return, that, in that case, the it, then we would like to know how it doctrine is certainly false, for it is not happened that these outward objects, the fact that things take effect upon which induced the human Beings sen* me" at the birth or during the ear sations at the very first, did not cause him to become “I” then. When he being filled and monopolized by the was first born he was just as sensitive same, it never rises above it, but yieldas he ever was afterwards - no doubting to its influence, it becomes altomore 30,-but for long his sensations gether the slave of the law of causacontinued pure and unalloyed. After lity, or of the force that is working on a time, however, they were found to it. But if this substance be conscious be combined with the notion and rea of the impression made upon it, then lity of self-a new notion and reality it is absolutely necessary, in the eye altogether. The human Being has of reason, that a portion of this being now become ego; from a thing he has should stand aloof from the impresbecome a person. But what new eir- sion-should be exempt from the accumstances were there in his sensa. tion of the object causing it-in short, tions, or their exciting causes, by which should resist, repel, and deny it in the they brought about this new fact and exercise of a free activity; otherwise, phasis of existence? The metaphysi- like animals and inferior things, being cian cannot answer us. He must ad completely absorbed and monopolized mit that the sensations and their causes by the influence present to it, it would remain, after the manifestation of the no more be able to become conscious of ego, precisely what they were before it than a leaf can comprehend the gale it came into existence, and, therefore, in which it is drifting along, or the tiger that they can never account for its the passion which impels him to slake origin.
his burning heart in blood. It is obvi. But we have already, in the preced. ous, that the point in man at which he ing chapter, disproved still more effec. becomes aware of his impressions must tually the fact, that the ego comes into be free from these impressions, and existence in consequence of the influa must stand out of their sphere, otherence of external objects. We there wise it would be swallowed up by showed that consciousness not only them, and nothing save the impresdoes not manifest itself in obedience sions would remain. But man is not to their action, but that it actually made up of mere impressions - pas. tends to be suppressed and obliterated sions, sensations, “ states of mind," or thereby. Now, consciousness is the whatever they may be. He is not very essence and origin of the ego engulfed and borne along in their consciousness creates the ego—without vortices. There is a point from which consciousness no man would be “ 1." he looks down upon them all, and Therefore the ego is also exempt from knows himself to be free. He stands the influence of outward objects, and within a circle more impregnable than manifests itself, and maintains its place, enchanter's ring--a circle which, how, not in consequence, but in spite of them. ever much they may assault it, they Consciousness developes and preserves cannot overpass; and this point or itself by refusing to take part or iden- circle of freedom—this true life of hutify itself with the sensation, passion, manity, is that which, in the case of or whatever it may be that is striving each man, is “ 1." to enslave the man; and the ego, which This view disposes of a question is but the more personal and vital er which has been ever regarded as forma pression of consciousness, exists merely ing the opprobrium of metaphysics, by refusing to imbibe the impressions We allude to the problem respecting of external things. Thus, so far is it the mode and nature of the intercourse from being true that outward objects which takes place between the exter. take effect upon me, that “ I," in truth, nal universe and man-or, as metaphy, only am by resisting and refusing to sicians say, “ Mind." This question is be impressed by their action.
now given up-not because it has been When an effect or impression is solved not because it is regarded as produced on any substance, whether too contemptible and irrelevant to be it be motion, as in the case of a struck entertained by speculative philosophy, billiard ball, or sensation, as in the but (pro pudor !) because it is consid. case of animals and men, the substance ered insoluble, inscrutable, and beimpressed is either conscious of the yond the limits of the human faculties. impression, as is the case with men; or Oh, ye metaphysicians! ye blind lead. unconscious of it, as is the case with ers of the blind! How long will ye animals and billiard balls. If it be be of seeing and understanding that unconscious of the impression, then there is no communication at all be. tween man, in his true Being, and the never passive. Its being is pure act. universe that surrounds him_or, that To hold it passive is to hold it annihi. if there be any, it is the communica- lated. It is for ever acting against tion of non-communication ? Know the fatalistic forces of nature. Its free ye not that ye are what ye are only and antagonist power shows itself on account of the antagonism between equally to the eye of reflection, in our you and it—that ye perceive things simplest perceptive, as in our highest only by resisting their impressions, moral acts. It lives, and has a being, by denying them, not in word only, only in so far as it refuses to bow un. but also in vital deed : that your re der the yoke of causality ; and when. fusal to be acted upon by them, con. ever it bends beneath that yoke, its stitutes your very personality and your life and all its results are gone." very perception of them; that this per. One word to those who imagine that ception arises, not in consequence of the ego is merely a variety of expres. the union, but in consequence of the sion, signifying nothing inore than the disunion between yourselves and mat. proper name of the person employing ter; and, in fine, that your conscious. it. There cannot be a greater philoness, even in its simplest acts, so far sophical error than to conceive that from being in harmony and keeping the non-manifestation of the ego is with the constitution of nature, is the merely a verbal or logical defect, and commencement of that grand disrup. that the reality of it may exist in a tion between yourselves and the world, being, where the notion of it is want. which perhaps ye will know more ing. Yet this appears to us to be one about before ye die ?
of the commonest errors in psycholo. Of all difficult entails to be broken gy. Metaphysicians, undisciplined by through, the most difficult is the en. reflection, when contemplating the tail of false facts and erroneous opi- condition of a young child, and obserynions. If, however, the foregoing ob- ing its various sensitive, passionate, or servations be attended to, we trust we rational states, are prone, in the ex<r. have done something to cut off specu. cise of an unwarranted imagination, lators yet unborn from their inheri. also to invest it with a personality tances of error. Of all the false facts with consciousness-in short, with involved in the “ science of the hu. that which, in their own case, they call man mind," the greatest is this, that, “1,"transferring over upon it this no. starting from the assumption of “mind" tion and reality which exist only for as a given substance, we are thereby them. For the child all this while led to believe that the ego or central does not think itself “1," and thereand peculiar point of humanity comes fore it does not in reality become“ 1." into the world ready-made. In op. It never can become “I” through position to this belief, the true fact is their thinking. The “I” they think that the ego does not thus come into the for it is a spurious and non-existent world, but that the being which is now “1." To become “l" in reality, it " I” was not “I” at first, but became must think itself “ I," which it has not “I” after a time and after a process, yet done. But what do we mean prewhich it is the business of the philoso- cisely by saying that the notion of "I" pher to explain. Various other ficti. creates the reality of “I ?" This we tious facts spring out of this tap-root of can best explain by a digression into error. Thus, if we start from mind the history of philosophy, and by res. as a given substance, we, of course, are cuing a once famous dogma from the compelled to make this, in the first in undeserved contempt into which it has stance, passive, and only active through generally fallen. a species of reaction. But the ego is
• “ The false facts of metaphysics" ought to form no inconsiderable chapter in the history of philosophy. Those specified are but a few of them ; but they are all that we have room for at present. To state, almost in one word, the fundamental error we have noticed in the text, we should say, that the whole perversion and falsity of the philosophy of man are owing to our commencing with a substance,“ mind,"--and not with an act—the act or fact of consciousness.
The Cartesian philosophy is said to cussum quid which will resist for ever commence by inculcating a species of all the assaults of scepticism. wide and deep-searching scepticism; But no instance of this kind is to be and its fundamental and favourite found, as we have seen, by attaching tenet is that cogito ergo sum, which our thoughts to the objects of the uni. is now so universally decried. But verse around us. Our thinking them abandoniug altogether its written dog does not make them realities. If they mas and formulas, let us only return are realities, they are not so in conseupon them after we have looked forth quence of our thoughts; and if they for ourselves into the realities of are not realities, unreal they will rethings.
main in spite of our thoughts. Let us When a man sees and thinks a turn from the universe, then, and look mountain, it is obvious that his thought to ourselves. “1." Now here is an does not create the mountain. Here, instance in which there is no distincthen, the thought and the reality are tion or sundering between the notion not identical ; nor does the one grow and the reality. The two are coinciout of the other. The two can be se. dent and identical or rather, we parated, and, in point of fact, stand should say, the one (that is, the notion apart, and are quite distinct. In this “I") creates and enforces the other case, then, it requires some degree of (that is, the reality “ I"); or, at any faith to believe that the notion and the rate, this appears to be the best way of reality correspond. It is evident that logically exhibiting the two. Between there is a sort of flaw between them the notion and the reality in this case which nothing but the cement of Faith scepticism can find no conceivable encan solder; a gap which no scientific trance for the minutest point of its ingenuity has ever been able to bridge; spear. Let any man consult his own -in short, that here there is a chink in experience whether, the notion « l" the armour of reason which scepticism being given, the reality “ I” must not may take advantage of, if it chooses; also necessarily be present, and also for the reality of the mountain being whether, the reality being present, the independent of the notion of the moun notion must not also accompany it. tain—the notion may also be indepen. Let him try to destroy or maintain the dent of the reality, and, for any thing one without also destroying or main. that can be shown to the contrary, may taining the other, and see whether he have been induced by some other cause. can succeed. Succeed he easily may In short, the notion, even when the in the case of any other notion and mountain appears present before us, reality. The word mountain, for inmay possibly exist without any corre- stance, denotes both a notion and a sponding reality, for it clearly does not reality. But the notion may exist percreate that reality.
fectly well without the reality, and In looking out, then, for a sure and the reality without the notion. The certain foundation for science, we must notion «°1," however, cannot exist not build upon any tenet in which a without the reality “ I," and the readistinction between our thought and lity cannot exist with the notion " ]," its corresponding reality is set forth as any one may satisfy himself by the (as, for example, upon any proposition slightest reflection. expressing the real existence of an ex. Here, then, we have found the internal world), for here scepticism might stance we were seeking for. What is assail us—possibly with success ; but the notion “ I?” It is consciousness, we must seek for some subject of ex- or the notion of self. What is the perience, between the notion of which reality « I?” It is simply “ 1.” Conand the reality of which there is no nect the two together in a genesis flaw, distinction, or interval whatso, which makes the one arise out of the ever. We must seek for some in- other, and you have the famous funstance in which the thought of a cer- damental position of the Cartesian tain reality actually creates that re- Philosophy, cogito ergo summa forality; and if we can find such an in- mula which is worthy of respect, for stance, we shall then possess an incon- this reason, if for no other, that by it