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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"


Nor is there the least reason for postulating any sudden injection of
life into our world. Living matter is composed of the same elements
as non-living, and no trace of any special "vital energy" has been
detected. The scientific view is that under the conditions obtaining
during the early history of the earth, the particular combination of
matter that we call life was formed in the cosmic test-tube, and once
formed could maintain itself by its power of self-reproduction. Any
other hypothesis is less simple: the onus of proof falls on those who
would maintain it.

What then becomes of the apparent dualism between matter and
spirit? Many philosophers, including Professor Montague, persist in
affirming that the only alternative is materialism, according to which
mind is "a function of the body (matter), and depends upon it com-
pletely. " This is an easy thesis to demolish; and having demolished
it, they conclude that the dualistic alternative is true. However, the
real alternative to dualism they have conveniently omitted to mention.
The only logical alternative to dualism is monism—that matter and
mind are two aspects of one reality, that there exists one world-stuff,
which reveals material or mental properties according to the point of
view. Looked at from the outside, the world-stuff has nothing but
material properties; its operations appear as mind only to itself, from
within.1 The first objection to this, that we have experience of the
minds of other people, disappears when we remember that this ex-
perience is not direct, as is the experience of our own psychic processes,
but indirect, deduced from other people's behaviour (including ex-
pression and verbal behaviour), combined with our knowledge of our
own minds. The second objection, that a dead man still has the same
body as a live one, and therefore differs by the loss of a living soul, is
still more easily disposed of. A dead body is not the same as a living
body: the chemical conditions in it—for instance, the presence of
enough oxygen for the functioning of the tissues—are different. If
you substitute oil for acid in the battery of your automobile, no
current will pass. The interpretation of a primitive savage might well
be that the living soul of the contraption had fled. But we know that
the conditions have been altered: restore the old conditions and the
battery becomes "live" again. It is the same with the body. The
physicochemical conditions of the dead body are different from those
of the living body: if you could restore the conditions found in the
1 The term mind is used here broadly, to denote all psychical activity and ex-
perience, conscious or subconscious, sensory, emotional, cognitive, and conative.
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