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that Mr Spencer is evolving mind or self-consciousness out of the process in which simple relations of matter and motion form the lowest stage, and reflex action is that which approaches most nearly to having mental characteristics. And, from this objective point of view, he speaks of his philosophy as an interpretation of “the detailed phenomena of life, mind, and society, in terms of matter, motion, and force.”ı But when he discusses the subjective side, he admits that it is entirely unique and sui generis,2 and adopts what is known as the “two aspects” theory—the theory that mind cannot be accounted for as derived from matter, any more than matter can be accounted for as derived from mind, but that they are both phases of one ultimate and unknown reality. This admission involves a practical acknowledgment that it is impossible to arrive at consciousness or at subjectivity by a process of natural development. We must, it affirms, postulate two aspects or phases of existence, or two lines of development, connected probably in their ultimate reality, but, as known to us, distinct from one another, and without mutual influence.
The doctrine that a reference to self-conscious- Reference ness is implied in experience, may perhaps be made clearer by considering a criticism to which it has
1 First Principles, $ 194, p. 556.
recently been subjected by an able psychological writer. Professor W. James writes as follows :
“The doctrine of the post-Kantians, that all knowledge is also self-knowledge, seems to flow from this confusion [between the psychologist's standpoint and the standpoint of the feeling upon which he is supposed to be making his report]. Empirically, of course, an awareness of self accompanies most of our thinking. But that it should be needed to make that thinking objective' is quite another matter. “Green-after-red-and-other-than-it' is an absolutely complete object of thought, ideally considered, and needs no added element. The fallacy seems to arise from some such reflection as this, that since the feeling is what it feels itself to be, so it must feel itself to be what it is—namely, related to each of its objects. That the last is covers much more ground than the first, the philosopher here does not notice. The first is signifies only the feeling's inward quality ; the last is covers all possible facts about the feeling-relational facts, which can only be known from outside points of view, like that of the philosopher himself.” 1
Now it seems to me that the real confusion here is between the point of view of experience, and the point of view of reflection on experience, and that it is not the “post-Kantians” who confuse the two points of view. The “post-Kantians ”—by whom Professor James means T. H. Green and the
writers commonly associated with him — habituthough not ally occupy the latter standpoint. They do not itself a part of experi
o hold that“ all knowledge is also self-knowledge,” in
the sense that “an awareness of self accompanies most [or all] of our thinking.” When we have this
1 Mind, ix. 21.
empirical “awareness of self,” our object is the more or less distinct contents of perception, &c., which make up the empirical ego. But this knowledge of the empirical ego, equally with knowledge of external nature, implies logically the action of logically
bni implied by self-consciousness. When we reflect upon experi- emper ence, one constant element is seen to be implied in it — the reference to a subject of knowledge and feeling. Certainly “post-Kantians” do not imagine -as Professor James seems himself to imagine and to think they do—that a feeling feels itself, or an object knows itself. “Green-after-red-and-otherthan-it” is for them, as for him, if not “an absolutely complete object of thought,” yet relatively complete. It may be apprehended alone as a part of experience. But reflection on experience shows that it, like any other object of thought, depends upon a knowing subject. The “post-Kantians” do not assert that knowing an object involves for the individual knower actual consciousness of what his knowledge implies, any more than they would say that the “plain man" is already a metaphysician. But they hold that reflection on experience shows that self-reference, or reference to a subject, is a logical condition of there being experience at all. So far from confusing the two standpoints, they require carefully to emphasise their difference, lest the actual content of a state of consciousness in the individual man be held to be equivalent to the
grounds or conditions of that state of consciousness.
The reason why there is even an apparent plausibility in the attempt to get at a natural development of self-consciousness, is that the reference to self is, from the outset, implicitly, but logically, assumed in tracing the sequence of events which forms the subject-matter of the theory of evolution, while the course of development does nothing more than render its implication explicit. Self-consciousness is not something that exists apart from the world of known and knowable objects, any more than it is itself a special department of this world of objects distinguishable from, and determined by, its surroundings. It is, on the contrary, the supreme condition of the world of objects having any existence whatever. It is only through objects being brought into relation with the identical and permanent subject of knowledge, that there is unity in nature, or, in other words, that there is a known world of nature or experience at all. The evolution of mind or self-consciousness out of experience is, therefore, not merely to be rejected as a problem too intricate for psychological analysis. It is a mistake to think that it is a possible problem at all; for it attempts to make experience account for and originate the principles on which its own possibility depends.
But it is the second change in point of view
rality from reflex action.
which needs special emphasis here—the change clear in the from the point of view of science to that of moral- trace moc ity. Taken in its bare form, this is perhaps little more than a confusion of thought. The fact of things being of a certain constitution, and of their progress tending in a certain direction, cannot of itself supply a law for the exercise of our activity. But the view is associated with a theory of the nature of human action which seeks to bring it into the strict line of natural development. Just as empirical psychology attempted to treat self-consciousness as a stage in the evolution of experience or knowledge, so the empirical theory of morality, aided by the doctrine of evolution, tries to show how the action which is called moral has been developed out of purely physical or reflex action. But this theory of the development of moral action is really open to the same objection as that which was urged against the theory which evolves self-consciousness from the unconscious. The objection to the latter was, that experience, itself constituted' by consciousness, is made to produce the condition of its own possibility; and a similar confusion is involved in attempting to develop moral action out of merely physical or reflex action. The only case of true psychical or conscious action is that in which there is a conscious determination of end and means; and action of this kind implies the same relation to self-consciousness as that by which knowledge is