Зображення сторінки

reproach him with materialism.1 But the aid he has lent to psychologists is considerable. In the first place, he has proclaimed it a science of observation; he discovered that our sensations do not correspond with external qualities, that they are only a modification of the sentient subject, a discovery which Descartes has adopted or made for himself in his Meditations; finally, he wrote a 'masterly' chapter on the association of ideas, though he evidently was quite unaware of its extensive application.'



Locke is the founder of modern psychology; he understood the necessity of a critical determination of the limits of the human mind. He commenced the history of the development of our thoughts, others having been content to take ideas as they found them; Locke carefully sought for the origin of all our ideas. In order to complete his psychology he ought to have searched for the origin of our faculties. M. Victor Cousin, who, as a rhetorician,' opposes Locke, complains of his speaking of savages, of children, of travellers' tales, and he does not see that Locke was trying the comparative method. When John Hunter sought for the elucidation of several anatomical problems in comparative anatomy, he was laughed at; and now every one knows that comparative physiology and embryology are the surest guides in all biological questions: because simple organisms are more easy to study than complex organisms. Locke also foresaw, but confusedly, the possibility of this comparative study in psychology.

Psychology owes only one thing to Leibnitz, but which is of immense value: the distinction between perception and apperception.3


'There are few men of whom England has better reason to be proud than of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne.' He has not been spared raillery or attack, but most frequently his critics have not understood him.

'When Berkeley denied the existence of matter, he meant by "matter” that unknown substratum, the existence of which Locke had declared to be a necessary inference from our knowledge of qualities, but the nature of which must ever be altogether hidden

1 Vol. ii. p. 226.

2 P. 246.

8 P. 280.

4 P. 281.

from us. Philosophers had assumed the existence of Substance, i.e. of a noumenon lying underneath all phenomena—a substratum supporting all qualities-a something in which all accidents inhere. This unknown Substance Berkeley rejects.'1

This is why he says that he believes as fully in matter as any one; but that in his belief he separates himself from the philosopher, and agrees with the vulgar. He denies matter, then, not in the vulgar sense, but in the philosophical sense of the word. We must acknowledge, however, that his language is ambiguous, and tends to mistakes.2

When philosophy examines the notions of common sense, relative to the exterior world, it meets with this problem. Our senses inform us of certain sensible qualities,-extent, colour, etc. But our reason tells us that these qualities must be the qualities of something. What is that something? It is the unknown substance which serves for support to the qualities. So that in the ultimate analysis our only reason for inferring the existence of matter is the necessity of a synthesis of attributes. What says Berkeley to this? He boldly resolves the problem by saying that the synthesis is a mental synthesis. He first causes us to remark that the objects of our knowledge are ideas, an indisputable assertion, rigidly founded upon the facts of consciousness, and which can appear paradoxical only to those who are unused to questions of this kind. 'When,' he says, 'we do everything in our power to conceive the existence of external bodies, we are all the time doing nothing but contemplating our own ideas.' These objects and ideas are the same thing, then; nothing exists, then, but what is perceived. Can we maintain that in addition to ideas, there are things of which ideas are copies? As an idea can only resemble an idea, of two things one must be true: either the object of which we speak is an idea, and then idealism triumphs; or we maintain that a colour resembles something invisible, the rough object an intangible thing.

Realism, says Mr. Lewes, has not the shadow of an answer to

1 Lewes, History of Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 283.

* In support of his interpretation Mr. Lewes quotes several passages from Berkeley. See Principles of Human Knowledge, § 35 et seq.

make. Applied to the facts of the adult consciousness, the analysis of Berkeley is unimpeachable ;' unless we should deny that consciousness is immediately affected by sensations, and affirm that it is immediately affected by external objects; which no metaphysician would do, because this would lead him to maintain that consciousness is nothing but sensations produced in the organism by external influences, and so cause the substratum mind to disappear altogether.

The question of knowing whether consciousness is something superior to its acts (if it is, to use the language of French psychologists, a distinct faculty) may be considered to have been established since Brown. Nevertheless, we still find the old notion of a duplication of consciousness, of a consciousness which is a feeling of feeling, that will remain until the notion of mind as an entity shall have been banished from psychology.

Are there two distinct existences, matter and spirit ?—is there only one? And which? Such is, when we reflect upon it, the point in debate in the question which occupies us.

The idealist says, There is only one existence, the mind. Analyse the conception of matter, and you will discover that it is only a mental synthesis of qualities.

The realist will say, There is only one existence, matter. Analyse your conception of mind, and you will discover that it is only a synthesis of qualities (states of consciousness), which are the activities of the organism. The synthesis is the organism.

The sceptic, in agreement with both, and in disagreement with both, says: Your matter is only a floating succession of phenomena; your mind a floating succession of ideas.

The dualist says, There is spirit, and there is matter; each is essentially distinct; they have nothing in common. Nevertheless, they can act one upon the other. How? That is a mystery.

No doubt; but as philosophy cannot be contented with phrases, it remarks that where realism and idealism admit only one factor, dualism introduces two; consequently it rejects it in virtue of the rule, Entia non sunt multiplicanda præter necessitatem.2

Must we now, taking the side of idealism, conclude with

1 Vol. ii. p. 295.

2 Ibid. p. 296.

Berkeley, that as we only know ideas, objects must be identified with ideas, and that the esse of objects for us is percipi? There is an ambiguity in that. No doubt we cannot think of an object without making it subject to the laws of nature, under the conditions of our thought; but it is quite different to say, 'I cannot conceive things otherwise, therefore they cannot exist otherwise.' Idealism here assumes that human knowledge is absolute, not relative; that man is the measure of everything.

'Perception is the identity of the ego and the non-ego-the relation of two terms, the tertium quid of two united forces; as water is the identity of oxygen and hydrogen. The ego can never have any knowledge of the non-ego in which it (the ego) is not indissolubly bound up; as oxygen can never unite with hydrogen to form water without merging itself and the hydrogen in a tertium quid. Let us suppose the oxygen to be a process of consciousness, i.e. a feeling of changes. It would attribute the change not to hydrogen, which is necessarily hidden from it, but to water, the only form under which hydrogen is known to it. In its consciousness it would find the state named water, which would be very unlike its previous state; and it would suppose that this state, so unlike the previous one, was a representation of that which caused it. We say then that, although the hydrogen can only exist for the oxygen (in the above case) in the identity of both as water, this is no proof that hydrogen does not exist under some other relations to other gases. In like manner, although the non-ego cannot exist in relation to mind otherwise than in the identity of the two (perception), this is no sort of proof that it does not exist in relation to other beings under quite different conditions.' 1

We admit then, with the idealists, that our knowledge is subjective; but we believe in the existence of an external world, altogether independent of the perceiving subject. The argumentation by which idealism seeks to disturb this belief is vitiated by the assumption that our knowledge is the criterion of existence; this is conferring upon it an absolute value that it does not possess.

1 History of Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 302.

Hume follows up Berkeley. He suppresses the mind as an entity, and reduces it to a series of impressions, or, as modern psychologists would say, to a series of states of consciousness. But how then is continuity of consciousness to be explained, since between two states there is necessarily an interval? Does consciousness vanish during this interval, to re-appear with the after state? Hume does not solve this question; he does not even put it.

The metaphysician replies, Yes: the mind continues and unites all its manifestations in one synthesis.

The biologist replies, Consciousness being a vital process, not an entity, has its synthesis in the continuity of the vital conditions. The nervous mechanism, of which consciousness is a function, continues to exist in the interval between two acts of consciousness.

If the metaphysician objects that the reality of the mind is proved by consciousness, and by the fact that I say, My body; the biologist will reply, that the testimony of consciousness needs sifting by analysis; and that if I say, My body, I also say, My mind. Its personality is a notion whose genesis has not been yet clearly traced by any psychologist.1

After Hume, psychology is represented by Hartley, Darwin, and the Scotch school.

Hartley is the first who has attempted to explain the physiological mechanism of psychological phenomena. He explains sensations by vibratory movements; a hypothesis which adds nothing to our knowledge of psychical processes. To speak of vibrations and vibratiuncles does not at all enlarge our horizon. Although since Hartley the progress of science has given a high degree of probability to the general doctrine of vibrations, nevertheless, even now, our knowledge of sensations is much more certain than that of the vibrations involved. The doctrine of vibrations would be useful, if from the known laws of vibratory bodies we could deduce and explain the still unexplained mental phenomena; but nothing of the kind has been done as yet, and the theory of Hartley is much too vague to aid us.3

1 · History of Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 316. Ibid. p. 349.

8 Ibid. p. 353.

« НазадПродовжити »