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or power of the material world, why not also for the origin of man? It is impossible for us to picture such action and agency, because the requisite anterior experience is lacking to us, and we cannot imagine what we have never had any experience of. Whatever mental picture we frame for ourselves of such action and agency must, our reason assures us, be unreal and false ; but that is no ground for our not accepting the real existence of an action and agency which we cannot picture. It has been objected, by Professor Tyndall, against such conceptions, that they cannot be "mentally visualized ;” but so far is this condition from being a proof of delusion, that we may rather say, whatever in such matters can be "mentally visualized” is necessarily untrue, and it is often the more untrue the better it can be so “visualized.”
If such a prejudice, such a gross and manifest delusion of the mere imagination, thus possesses the mind of a distinguished physicist, a general commander in science, it is no wonder that it besets the rank and file of the scientific regiments. When we say that reason indicates the existence of an immaterial principle as forming that in every material existence which is active and dynamical (so that in each organism it is rather that principle than any combination of matter, which may be said to constitute such organism),* we are met by the protest, “Such teaching is not science.” But the protest is an unreasonable one, and directly contradictory of the truth. For what is science? It is and must be the highest and most certain knowledge
* See “On Truth,' p. 432.
attainable by us. Now, our most careful and complete investigations in all departments of nature are sciencephysical sciences of different kinds—but they are not and cannot be the highest science, or science par excellence, for they do not embody the "most certain knowledge.” Observations and experiments are of the greatest value ; nevertheless, in the last resort, when we have done observing and experimenting, we depend for the result entirely on our knowledge of absolute and necessary truths. Were it not for our implicit knowledge of such truths, we could not know that we had ascertained the facts we had ascertained ; neither could we know their necessary bearings and the most certain deductions from them.
Science has to do with self-evident, necessary truths —first principles which underlie and maintain every kind of physical science. When, then, truths seen by the intellect to contain their own evidence, or which result from reasoning logically carried on, are declared to be uncertain, or even false, because they do not agree with what is (by a confusion of terms) called “the scientific imagination," as great an absurdity is committed as if it were said that it must be false that any vessel has gone directly against the wind, because a sailing vessel is unable so to do.
It is, of course, true that mechanical conceptions have been and are of great utility. It is, therefore, not only permissible, but laudable, to make use of them as working hypotheses. But it is a very different thing to represent them as absolute truths. Yet much of what is often spoken of as "science” is really undeserving of that name—it is an attempt to inculcate the truth of such hypotheses, and to "picture" and “visualize,” in terms of sense perceptions, matters which reason tells us are altogether beyond the power of senseperception.* Thus it is deemed especially “scientific" to regard all the phenomena of nature as being essentially nothing but matter and motion. Whereas, in trying so to regard them we are but “ following the line of least resistance,” and yielding to the temptation of dwelling upon those imaginations which experience has made easiest for us. f It is this which causes the mind to take so readily to the idea of motion, and to feel “at home" therein.
Hence the favour with which mechanical theories of the universe are accepted, and vibrating molecules and atoms regarded with special favour. A firm faith in "small balls in motion” is deemed a faith which unless a man keep whole and undefiled he shall without doubt perish everlastingly from the roll of scientific worthies. It is, indeed, a short cut to seeming knowledge when a man can allow his imagination to“ visualize " variously moving balls of various sizes, and then with mental satisfaction exclaim, “That is feeling!” “That is thought !” Yet to say that the fidelity and affection of the dog, the maternal care of the nesting bird, or the actions of the insect which prepares food it cannot eat for a progeny it will never behold—to say that such things (to say nothing of intellectual conceptions) are but minute motions to be explained by mechanics, is to mock us with unmeaning or delusive phrases.
We are in this nineteenth century only beginning to get free from that dark cloud of materialism which shrouded the latter half of the eighteenth. But the cloud is passing, and we may already, here and there, catch a glimpse of its silver lining. When it has finally vanished, thinking men will once more appreciate what science really means, and look back with even more wonder than contempt at not a few of the so-called " scientific speculations” of our day—as Aristotle despised the materialism his system combated and ultimately for ages subdued.
The name of Aristotle suggests an answer to yet another prejudice which the candid seeker after truth has now to struggle against, and about which a few preliminary words need saying. We refer to theological prejudice. The popular science of the day is truly “denominational.” The odium antitheologicum has become established and endowed, and, as men are ordinarily under the temptation to consider others like themselves, the opponents of a mechanical theory of the universe are accused of working, not in the interest of philosophic truth, but of a creed. We ourselves have had such accusations hurled against us, with others who have been declared to be scientific workers for whom things “ought to be made unpleasant.”
With a view, therefore, to guarding against such a system of “ poisoning the wells,” we think it incumbent upon us to make a brief statement concerning this matter.
No one has more decidedly and uncompromisingly asserted the difference of nature between man and beast than has Aristotle. Yet no one can pretend that he was actuated by theological prejudice in arriving at the conclusions he did arrive at. It is quite otherwise with the most prominent advocates of the bestiality of man That doctrine has again and again been declared to be, for them, a necessary doctrine. They speak truly ; for to establish the separate and essentially distinct nature and origin of man, is practically to refute the mechanical theory of the universe. With the proclamation of man's essential rationality, the folly of the maintainers of that theory is simultaneously proclaimed.
Thus the assertion of man's bestiality is the very articulus stantis vel cadentis eccelsia for the whole school which numbers amongst its followers, Darwin, Haeckel, Vogt, Huxley, Herbert Spencer, Tyndall, and Prof. Lankester. But it is very different as regards their opponents. We, at least, are by no means bound, in the interest of any Church or system, to maintain that an essential difference of nature and origin does exist between man and brute. We are free, the most Ultramontane Catholic is absolutely and entirely free, to hold that the saint and the philosopher, the faithful hound and the tormenting parasite, all possess a fundamentally common nature, and that an analogous immortal destiny awaits them all. This we do not believe ; but our disbelief is grounded upon science and philosophy alone, and theological convictions have no part or share therein.
Again, as to early man, the most fervent Catholic, who deems that man has an essentially distinct nature, is none the less absolutely and entirely free to hold that