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Full text of "The religion of philosophy : or, The unification of knowledge : a comparison of the chief philosophical and religious systems of the world made with a view to reducing the categories of thought, or the most general terms of existence to a single principle, thereby establishing a true conception of God"













EESE LIBRARY 




UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

Received . 
Accessions No. <J>'**-< J <J ' J Shelf No. 



THE 

RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY 

OR 

THE UNIFICATION OF KNOWLEDGE: 

A COMPARISON 

OF THE 

CHIEF PHILOSOPHICAL AND RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS 
OF THE WORLD 



MADE WITH A VIEW TO REDUCING THE CATEGORIES OF THOUGHT, OR THE 

MOST GENERAL TERMS OF EXISTENCE, TO A SINGLE PRINCIPLE, 

THEREBY ESTABLISHING A TRUE CONCEPTION OF GOD. 



BY 

RAYMOND S. PERRIN 




NEW YORK G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

27 AND 29 WEST 23D STREET 

LONDON WILLIAMS & NORGATE 
1885 



T4- 



COPYRIGHT BY 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

1885 



Press of 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 
New York 



PREFACE. 

THERE is a popular dictum among priests and philosophers 
that God, or the First Cause, is unknowable, and yet all re-. 
ligions aim to teach the nature of God, and all philosophies 
strive to define the First Cause. 

Here is a manifest contradiction ; but the questions in- 
volved are of such magnitude and require so much study 
that, for the most part, it is allowed to pass unchallenged. 

The cultivated mind, whatever its antecedents, holds a 
judicial position. That is to say, the educated and thought- 
ful members of society are looked to, to pass impartial 
judgments upon questions concerning the general welfare. 
This impartiality is particularly necessary in philosophy, for 
thought is hedged about with prejudices, and almost every 
man represents some logical sect or school which he feels it 
his duty to support. 

The great obstacle which religion and philosophy alike 
encounter, in offering an explanation of the universe, is the 
difficulty of finding a symbol of divine power or unity. A 
symbol to have any real value must represent some fact, it 
must be the emblem of some experience. Otherwise it is a 
purely negative form of speech, a mere confession of igno- 
rance. 

The symbol which philosophy proposes for divine unity 
has precisely the same meaning as that which religion offers. 
They are both emblems of mystery ; they are both confes- 
sions of ignorance. In so far, therefore, as these two great 
spheres of knowledge, called philosophy and religion, have 
attempted an ultimate analysis of existence they have failed; 
the labor of both is incomplete. 

iii 



iv PREFACE. 

Philosophy, however, has approached this great problem 
from another side : it has endeavored to build up a synthesis 
of knowledge ; to discover the harmony or interdependence 
of all facts. It has endeavored to reach, by proceeding from 
particulars to generals, a universal principle. 

The theorists of philosophy, commonly known as meta- 
physicians, impatient of this slow method, would satisfy the 
natural craving for a true symbol of divine unity by postu- 
lating an unknowable principle, an emblem of mystery, as the 
ultimate fact. This postulate, however, has been steadily 
rejected, and the great quest goes on, insisting upon a true 
analysis of being. 

In this endeavor of philosophy to arrive at an ultimate 
analysis, the great practical difficulty has been to reduce the 
categories of thought, or the most general terms of existence, 
to a single principle. The speculations of all ages contem- 
plate this puzzle of universal terms, and endeavor with un- 
tiring purpose to form, from the dissimilar parts, a divine 
unity. 

It is to the rules and principles of this great calculation 
that the present work is devoted. The data employed are 
derived from the most respected authorities, the conclusions 
reached are confined to the equivalents of these data, and 
the argument is developed in easy stages from the beginning 
to the end. 

To solve the metaphysical problem is to point out the 
interdependence of all phases of knowledge by affiliating the 
activity of perception with general activity, or by showing 
the relation of the different aspects of existence, to existence 
in general. This is to accomplish the unification of knowl- 
edge, which has been the aim of all philosophies and of all 
religions. 

By what more direct way could this end be achieved than 
by reviewing the story of human speculation from its rela- 
tive beginning in ancient Greece to the present day, by 
tracing the efforts made in the same direction, although 
more indirect, which we find in the religions of the world, 



PREFACE. V 

and comparing each of these organized attempts at an under- 
standing of life with the result of an ultimate analysis? 

By this treatment the story of ancient and modern phi- 
losophy is given a new interest. Instead of employing the 
old historical method, the nearness of the approach of each 
school to the solution of the problem of thought is pointed 
out ; and the movement of the mind toward this goal is 
shown to be the inevitable course of human progress. 

The contemporaneous systems of Herbert Spencer and G. 
H. Lewes are carefully reviewed and their results affiliated 
with the sum of philosophy. So important are the psycho- 
logical and sociological questions dealt with in these systems 
that nearly one half of the space given to the review of phi- 
losophy is allotted to them. 

The successful study of the subject of Religion is shown 
to be dependent upon a knowledge of the nature of lan- 
guage and perception. In order to separate the supersti- 
tious from the rational in belief, the history of all the great 
religions is examined and the generic relation of Christianity 
to the other faiths of the world is pointed out. As a conse- 
quence the mind and character of Jesus are subjected to 
established rules of historic and moral criticism. The ideals 
of humanity for which Jesus so earnestly contended are found 
to have been distinct principles in all the ancient civilizations, 
and it is urged that we will need, in order to realize these 
ideals, a higher intellectual and moral discipline than is taught 
by Christianity. 

To the study of morality and the establishment of a true 
conception of God the best endeavors of the author have 
been directed. The enormous advantage which a just knowl- 
edge of the meaning of ultimate terms affords becomes 
apparent when the question of the relation of personal to 
general existence is discussed. The problems of ethics are 
completely beyond the mind that harbors the belief in a 
divine providence or a design in nature. These enthrone- 
ments of personal existence distort all the higher logical 
perspectives, and a morality which depends upon such an 
understanding of life cannot be a true inspiration. 



INTRODUCTION. 



IT is well known that religion, as well as philosophy, de- 
pends upon language for the expression of its truths. This 
seems a simple proposition, but what are its consequences? 
If language is the sole medium of development of the higher 
thoughts and feelings, in its genesis may we not hope to 
discover the deepest truths of life and mind ? 

Before the complex symbols which we call words came 
into use, and hence before the mind acquired the faculty of 
forming thoughts or extended comparisons, activities or 
motions were the only medium of expression between sentient 
beings. Language is the development of these expressive 
actions, and so highly complex has it become, so far removed 
from its rude beginnings, that it seems another order of 
creation, a system of miraculous origin. But when we 
remember that intelligence is a concomitant development 
with language, that thought or spirit is but a building up of 
words into ideas, and that these words are merely condensed 
memories, common experiences which have become current 
from tongue to tongue, is it not evident that there is no im- 
penetrable mystery in speech, and that its product, mind, is a 
synthesis of simple and familiar truths ? 

Again, when we retrace sensibility or feeling, from which 
language has been gradually evolved, to its beginnings in 
organic life, we find no absolute demarcations ; we find that, 
all life, whether mental or physical, is interdependent. 

Hence the wonders of the intellect or the soul are only 
wonders of complexity. The activities so intricately com- 
bined in thought and feeling are perfectly familiar to us in 
their simpler forms, and in the course of their development 



Vlii INTRODUCTION. 

they include no facts which are not assimilable with our 
experiences. But this announcement of the divine unity of 
life, is not a welcome one to the majority of minds ; on the 
contrary, it is generally regarded as an attack upon an ancient 
privilege of the mind, the right to declare itself incompre- 
hensible. 

Thus, in endeavoring to construct a true philosophy, we 
encounter at the outset a deep-rooted prejudice against 
those simple explanations of life which spring from a com- 
prehension of the nature of language. When the play of 
thought and feeling which constitutes every thing that is 
spiritual in our existence is discovered to be but a refine- 
ment of organic activities, the first impulse is to look with 
suspicion and dread upon such a levelling of the imagination. 
Alarmed for the safety of its venerable myths, religion op- 
poses the analysis of mind, and loudly proclaims against a 
synthesis of knowledge which will bring all facts, whether 
human or superhuman, into the true order of their develop- 
ment. 

Before the power of such an analysis as this, mysticism 
shrinks a frightened spectre from the theatre of mind, drag- 
ging in its train all the dissembling images of an undisci- 
plined fancy. The hierarchy of heaven and the hosts of 
hell, that have so long ruled over us, awake in their precipi- 
tous retreat a tempest of emotions which rise to call them 
back in the name of all that is holy. The light which drives 
these spectres away leaves those who have worshipped them 
almost sightless. The God which they could touch and 
measure with their limited thoughts and feelings has van- 
ished in the pure light of day, and in the cold immensity 
they are left alone, and, as they would believe, spiritually 
ruined. To such as these the truth seems terrible, that life 
is only action, that its possibilities lie in the direction of 
moral achievements, that its hopes, so far as they overstep 
these limits, are wild and fruitless fancies. 

To language, then, which is responsible for the extrava- 
gances of human belief, we must look for the solution of the 



INTRODUCTION. IX 

great enigma. The central truth of language is that it is an 
elaboration of the single principle of motion. In this fact 
all lines of thought and feeling converge. God is the divine 
unity of life, of which principle all individual existences are 
but limited expressions. Every event, every happening, 
whether human or extra-human, repeats this truth. 

Mind, therefore, is the function of conditions which are 
far wider and deeper than human life ; its images, so far as 
they are not true reflections of this universal order, are de- 
ceptive ; its perceptions spring from the concurrence of laws 
which are as independent of consciousness as they are capable 
of explaining the whole range of mental activity. 

Perception accounts for mind, not mind for perception; 
because perception is a simpler fact than language, and mind 
is the product of language. The activities of nature express 
conditions which are merely repeated in the processes of 
mind, for the simplest activity declares a truth as profound 
as any of the imaginings of the intellect. In this sense, and 
only in this sense, nature perceives itself, intelligence is uni- 
versal. 

But man would appropriate the principle of life and 
knowledge to himself. He would affirm that the infinity 
and eternity of relations, of which humanity is but the pass- 
ing form, are subservient to his existence ; that every thing 
happens in reference to himself ; and, as the great currents 
of nature toss him about in his struggle at self-maintenance, 
he builds a world of phantom beings supposed to be inde- 
pendent of natural processes in order to keep his theories in 
countenance. As the history of the race progresses, and 
the mastery of ignorance increases, this burlesque of nature 
moves further and further into the background of thought, 
for, as our view of cause and effect is widened, fewer and 
fewer inconsistencies appear demanding to be clothed in 
these unearthly forms. 

The discovery of the nature of language imparts to us the 
true knowledge of life. It discloses sensibility and feeling 
(which are but forms of motion) as inarticulate perception, 
and thought as an organic activity. 



X INTRODUCTION. 

Language is the first fruit of social life. For ages, ges- 
tures or expressive motions were employed to eke out the 
indefinite meaning of words, and where the faculty of speech 
did not exist or was but slightly developed, gestures have 
constituted of themselves a rude language. It is the growth 
of definiteness in language which marks the progress of 
humanity. In the delicate and intricate articulations of 
thought we have the only instrument by which man can 
establish extended relationships between himself and the 
universe. Thought is not a thing apart from language ; the 
spirit of a race breathes in the words and sentences which 
have grown up to express the common life, and in the simple 
laws which govern this development we find written the 
nature of the thinking being. The nature of a being, its 
origin and destiny, are revealed in the relations it bears with 
surrounding life. To adequately express such relations a 
definiteness of speech, hitherto unattained, is the first requi- 
site ; for how are we to weigh in the balance of the mind 
such fine proportions of thought unless the values of the 
terms we employ are first clearly distinguished ? 

The mind, then, is an activity which illuminates existence, 
exalting the delicacy and range of human relations, and 
giving to each individual that spirit of universal sympathy 
which we call morality. 

Religion and philosophy are ever offering us symbols of 
existence, promising clearer views of life. But when we find 
that these symbols do not harmonize, we are told that there 
is an innate disorder in the uttermost regions of knowledge, 
that all analyses lead at last to impenetrable mysteries. 
And yet the universal measure of success in thought is the 
establishment of order in the place of disorder, of definite 
knowledge in the place of mystery. Does it not seem as 
though this explanation were but a subterfuge ? 

Ever since man has been able to state categorically his 
beliefs concerning life and nature, the problem of Motion has 
occupied the highest place among his thoughts. The effort 
to solve this problem can be traced in an unbroken thread 



INTRODUCTION. XI 

from the dawn of philosophy to the present day. The cate- 
gories of thought in which this problem is stated form the 
burden of all metaphysical speculations, and the reduction 
of these categories to the simple fact of Motion gives us the 
solution of the metaphysical problem. 

In the more vague and emotional sphere of religion the 
same problem is unconsciously dealt with. The First Cause, 
the most general principle, the one God, or the highest 
among many gods, is the burden of all theological reasoning. 
As the attributes of deity become more refined ; as they 
exchange, through the agency of thought, the anthropomor- 
phic or personal for the divine or most general, their identity 
with the aspects of motion becomes evident ; for the Infinite 
and the Absolute mean simply space and time, the objective 
and subjective aspects of Motion. 

The principle of universal gravitation or the absolute inter- 
dependence of all things can be applied to mind and speech. 
All words centre about a single word, all activities, inorganic, 
organic, and superorganic, are strictly serial and intercon- 
nected ; they are indivisible excepting in so far as they yield 
to classification. In a word, the activities of the mind, and 
of nature, are forms of motion and can be expressed in terms 
of its aspects, space, and time. Applying this rule to lan- 
guage we find it impossible to frame a sentence without 
employing a verb, the symbol of action, and all the parts of 
the sentence are but modifications of this action expressed 
in terms of place and time. 

This generalization, apparently so simple, is of transcen- 
dent importance. It is fatal to every superstition and every 
form of mystery. It defines the limits of language and 
the nature of perception, for it shows that thought is in 
reality but action. 

To establish so important a conclusion as this, analysis 
alone will not suffice. The analysis must be accompanied 
with a synthesis which shall join the culture of the past with 
that of the present and show that the unification of knowl- 
edge is the natural consequence of the intellectual and moral 
development of the race. 



Xll IN TROD UC TION. 

This means that we need a new religion a religion 
which shall appeal to the reason as well as to the emotions ; 
which shall establish not a divine mystery, but the divine 
unity of life and mind. 

In Greece, thought was first emancipated from feeling ; and 
true to the myth of the goddess Athenae, reason sprang into 
the world a complete being armed cap-a-pie, ready for action. 
Before this, thought had been involved with feeling, in religious 
sentiment ; it had asserted its supremacy in many individuals 
and in many ways, but it had never obtained its freedom and 
established itself as an independent power in the world. 
This logical sovereignty, which was so firmly established in 
ancient Greece, has lasted through many vicissitudes to the 
present day. In the meantime society has developed to 
such an extent, that its other great forces clamor for an 
equal recognition. Feeling becomes louder and louder in 
her protestations of equality with the intellect. Her plea 
is that morality is not the function of the mind any more 
than of the organism, of reason any more than of slowly 
acquired habit ; that the will is not a purely logical phe- 
nomenon, but that its energies spring from and disappear 
in the labyrinths of sentiency; that in a word, there is a 
logic of feeling as well as a logic of signs, and the intellect is 
the companion of the heart, not its despotic ruler. Thus 
the despotism of reason is disputed, and we have the extra- 
ordinary spectacle of philosophy ay, even metaphysics 
disproving the unreasonable pretensions of an alleged " pure 
reason " and winning success by the subjugation of these 
pretensions. 

The Pythagoreans were the first who attempted a complete 
classification of the facts of the universe. Their effort, 
though feeble, was in the right direction ; for the first prin- 
ciple of perception is analysis, or classification ; and knowl- 
edge can never be unified until an ultimate or complete 
analysis has been performed. Aristotle repeated this effort, 
and inscribed his celebrated ten categories of thought. 

The history of thought has moved on, through the inter- 



INTRODUCTION. xiii 

ruptions of the decline of the Greek and Roman states, and 
the lethargy of the Dark and the Middle Ages. The light of 
Islam threw a pale glare upon the thought of Greece, but it 
soon faded out. Then the scholastic age ushered in the 
revival of learning, and the arena of intellectual war was re- 
opened in Europe. Many and fierce have been its conflicts. 
Descartes and Spinoza followed upon the wrangling of the 
Schoolmen, and established great systems of original investi- 
gation. Bacon anticipated this effort, and opened the career 
of logic in England. Then Kant reared his unequalled 
monument of Idealism in Germany, his example being 
followed by an army of the most thorough and devoted 
students the world has produced. It was in Germany that 
the exclusive sovereignty of the mind reached its zenith, 
when Kant declared that all reality was subjective, that Mind 
was the cause of the universe. Against this audacious tenet 
Science entered a protest, which soon assumed the propor- 
tions of a great impeachment ; and the psychologists of Eng- 
land superseded the idealists of Germany in the world of 
thought. The study of mind as the function of an organism 
was the form which this protest first took. It needed but a 
Darwin to show the perspectives of organic life, and a 
Spencer to point out that the individual was but a single link 
in the continuous chain of life and mind, for this great 
movement, supported by the best scholars on the Continent, 
to produce a. silent revolution in knowledge. 

The world, then, has fully entered upon -a new era of 
thought. But whether this thought is to be the sole 
enjoyment of a few, or is to become the common prop- 
erty of a great civilization, is a question which time must 
decide. If it is to become general, the reform of knowl- 
edge must penetrate to the very foundations of society ; 
which means that the religious and the intellectual faith 
of the multitude must be pledged to a single power or 
government. To accomplish this, a new civilization must 
arise, and whether it can arise out of any thing short of the 
ruins of the old, is the question which presses upon our age.. 



XIV INTRODUCTION. 

The civilization to which we belong bears, by common 
consent, the name of Christian. It has been brought to us in 
developed forms by different nations. Among us it has 
grown up into a new nation, different from any thing, in 
some respects greater than any thing, that the world has yet 
seen. But a rational view of history shows a certain mo- 
notony in our experiences which forbodes evil. For if we are 
passing through the same forms of development that past 
civilizations have experienced, what right have we to expect 
a better or a higher fate ? With Roman principles of law 
and government, with Grecian love of the intellectual and 
the beautiful, with the Scandinavian worship of freedom, and 
the Semitic worship of God, we lack but one element of a 
great national life, which is morality. If Christianity could 
secure for us this greatest boon, we should be safe ; but does 
it, can it, fulfil this all-important function ? Morality is not 
merely the expression of the sentiments, or beliefs, of an 
individual or race ; it is the type of its life. Its advocates 
must not, therefore, appeal to faith or to reason alone ; they 
must appeal with equal force to both. 

Christianity is a religion of faith. It is admitted far and 
wide, and among its most devout followers, that it cannot 
sustain itself against the keen analysis of science, or the 
commanding synthesis of history, but that it depends upon 
faith for its life. The question then arises : Is this a safe re- 
ligion for our age? Can we afford to bring up children, in a 
world teeming with intellectual energies, under any thing 
less than the broadest and highest logical discipline ? 

In advocating the Religion of Philosophy, there seems 
little hope of success. All imaginary advantages are on the 
side of the Religions of Faith. These religions do not scruple 
to hold out the promise of rich rewards in another world, for 
services and belief, of aeons of blissful existence for the 
faithful ; nor do they hesitate to threaten the unbelieving 
with punishments too dreadful to be described. The Re- 
ligions of Faith monopolize all the popular incentives to 
morality. As a consolation for the misery resulting from 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

the still unmastered passions, they emphasize the temporal 
character of human happiness, and contrast it with joys 
which they say are eternal. To the weary they promise 
rest ; to the bereaved, reunion with the dead ; to the poor, 
plenty ; to the sick, health. All these obligations are ac- 
cepted upon faith. Their redemption is postponed until the 
empire of time and space shall have passed away. 

Philosophy takes none of these advantages; it stoops to 
no such disingenuous methods. It sounds the alarm of a 
fleeting existence, it teaches the dire limitation of personal 
life, it identifies time with eternity, and matter with infinite 
space. It teaches that as there is no absolute death, there 
is no absolute personal life ; that the absolute means time, 
or the unchanging, and that individuality is transient and 
ever-changing. It teaches that cause and effect are but 
different aspects of each event, and that there is no need of 
a supernatural power to entail the effects of conduct, for 
they are inevitable. It appeals to nothing but the most im- 
personal sympathies as the incentive to morality; and yet it 
affirms that morality is the only real success of life. Thus 
without a single pretext of authority, except the voice of 
conscience pleading through the experience of ages the cause 
of humanity ; unenforced by mysterious fears, unsustained 
by ecstatic hopes, it confronts the gorgeous imagery, the 
superb organization, the venerated associations of the Re- 
ligions of Faith, and demands that their creeds shall be 
brought into harmony with the discoveries of science and 
history, that their promises shall be limited to their responsi- 
bility and their knowledge, and that their moral teachings 
shall be made to appeal to the highest nature of man. 

With these reforms, and nothing less, will philosophy be 
satisfied. To the realization of this ideal will all its efforts 
be bent. And should the materials of our civilization prove 
unequal to the tension of these principles, it will become 
the mission of Philosophy to deposit among its ruins the 
germ of a higher life. 



CONTENTS. 



PART /. 

THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

CHAPTER. . PAGB. 

I. THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY. . . .3 

Thales Anaximines Diogenes of Apollonia Anaximan- 
der Pythagoras. 

II. THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD 24 

Xenophanes Parmenides Zeno of Elea Heraclitus 
Anaxagoras Empedocles Democritus. 

III. THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. ... 42 

The Sophists Socrates Plato. 

IV. ARISTOTLE, THE STOICS, THE CYNICS, AND THE 

SKEPTICS OF THE NEW ACADEMY. ... 62 

Aristotle Zeno the Stoic Antisthenes Diogenes Epi- 
curus Pyrrho Arcesilaus Carniades. 

V. THE ALEXANDRIAN SCHOOL, SCHOLASTICISM, 

AND THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING. ... 85 

Philo Plotinus Abelard Bruno Bacon. 

VI. MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 105 

Descartes Spinoza Hobbes Locke Hartley Leibnitz 
Berkeley Hume. 

VII. GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 144 

Kant Fichte Schelling Hegel Schleiermacher 
Schopenhauer. 

VIII. THE ECLECTICISM AND POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY OF 

FRANCE AND THE SCOTCH SCHOOL. . . 180 

Gassendi Malebranche Condillac Cabanis Gall 
Royer-Collard Cousin Comte Reid Hamilton. 



XV111 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER 

IX. 



PART 21. 



THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 



PAGE,. 
211 



HERBERT SPENCER 

The Relation of Perception to Universal Activity The 
Definitions of Evolution and of Life The " Unknow- 
able." 

X. HERBERT SPENCER (continued) 239 

An Independent Study of the Relation of Perception to 
Organic Life The Interdependence of Thought, Feel- 
ing, and Action. 

XI. HERBERT SPENCER (continued') 254 

The Analysis of Reason The Fundamental Intuition 
The Contrasted Theories of Perception. 

XII. HERBERT SPENCER (concluded) 278 

Sociology an Instrument in Determining Ultimate Beliefs. 

XIII. GEORGE HENRY LEWES. ..... 296 

Belief in the Unknowable Its Influence upon the Study 
of Psychology. 

XIV. GEORGE HENRY LEWES (continued). . . .312 

The Principles of Psychology. 
XV. GEORGE HENRY LEWES (continued). . . . 326 

The Unity of the Whole Organism as a Factor of Mind 
Lewes' Definitions of Experience and Feeling. 

XVI. GEORGE HENRY LEWES (concluded). . . .351 
The Relation of Universal to Organic Activities Lewes' 
Theory of Perception. 



PART III. 

THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

XVII. SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY 

Resemblance between Primitive and Modern Religious 
Beliefs Superstition the Negative, Morality the Positive 
Form of Religion. 



367 



CONTENTS. XIX 

CHAPTER. PAGE. 

XVIII. THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. . . 390 

In Egypt the Belief in Immortality Reached its Highest 
Development Mysticism and Idealism. 

XIX. THE RELIGIONS OF CONFUCIUS, ZOROASTER, AND 

BUDDHA. ....... 416 

All the Higher Ideals of Christian Morality Firmly Estab- 
lished Principles throughout the World Ages before our 
Era The Resemblance between Christian Worship and 
the Worship of Earlier Faiths. 

XX. THE RELIGIONS OF GREECE, ROME, SCANDINAVIA 

AND ISLAM 440 

Widely Contrasted Types of Religious Belief Showing 
Constant Principles of Development. 

XXI. THE HEBREW RELIGION 468 

Semitic Monotheism The Jewish Conception of God. 

XXII. THE RELIGION OF CHRIST 489 

The Origin of the Faith The Doctrines of Jesus A 
Glance at the Present State of Christianity in America. 

XXIII. THE SCIENCE OF MORALITY. . . . .523 

An Ultimate Analysis Essential to an Understanding of 
Morality The Scope of Moral Perceptions The Effect 
upon Conduct of the Belief in a Personal God and a 
Future Life Language and Intelligence as Factors in 
Morality The Origin of the Idea of Duty or Obligation 
The Questions of Personal and of National Purity. 

XXIV. APPEAL TO THE WOMEN OF AMERICA IN BEHALF 

OF THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. . .551 

The Question Considered with Regard to Nations and Men 
The Question Considered with Regard to Children 
Religion is the Highest or Most General Thought and 
Feeling ; Morality the Embodiment of Both in Action 
The Home is the Citadel of Individual and of National 
Purity. 



PART I. 

THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 





PART I. 
THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Thales Anaximenes Diogenes of Apollonia Anaximander Pythagoras. 

s^ V 
IN searching, for the dawn of philosophy one becomes lost 

in the perspectives of the past. The comprehension of any 
study depends so largely upon what is brought to it by the 
student, upon the suggestions of his own knowledge, that in 
reading the myths and theories which have come down to us 
from the most ancient thinkers, it is natural to imagine them 
pregnant with the deepest meaning. We see in these early 
efforts to comprehend man and nature vague expressions of 
the very problems which occupy us to-day. Thus, owing 
to the plane of experience from which we regard ancient 
thought, we are apt to overestimate its significance. For us 
the difficulty is, to limit the meaning of the language of the 
ancients by the actual knowledge which they possessed. 

In this difficulty a knowledge of the nature of language 
comes to our assistance. Language itself is but a system 
of symbols representing ideas by virtue of an agreement 
which is the slow outgrowth of usage. The nicety of the 
adjustment of words to ideas is to be estimated by the pre- 
cision with which the ideas are called up by the words. 
If, for instance, a certain combination of words leaves a 
choice or uncertainty as to the idea intended to be conveyed, 
the expression is imperfect in proportion to the extent of the 
uncertainty. In thinking, we are obliged to employ words, 

3 



4 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

for thought itself is partly the function of words : language 
is a part of the structure of which thought is the activity. 

This brings us to the great truth, that there is an inter- 
dependence between ideas and words, between thought and 
its expression ; that order and success in the one imply sym- 
metry and definiteness in the other. It follows, therefore, 
that in studying the history of philosophy we can estimate 
the quality of the thought of each age by the character as to 
directness or definiteness of the terms in which we find it ex- 
pressed. 

We shall have no need of going beyond the history of 
Greece for a beginning of philosophy. The contributions to 
thought which come from other and earlier sources are all 
represented in the efforts of the early Greek thinkers. The 
degree of definiteness depends so largely, after all, upon the 
actual experience of the race (its progress as indicated by 
the spread of knowledge), that the higher generalizations can 
never far supersede that classified particular thought 
known as Science. Viewing intellect in its broadest light, as 
the logical or moral aspect of life, actions express thought 
with even greater precision than words. Valid comparisons 
between early races and nations in respect to this quality of 
definiteness as displayed in their general conceptions, must 
therefore be made to include more factors than those which 
are commonly called " intellectual." Such comparisons 
must be extended to their whole civilizations, including the 
phenomena of their arts and sciences, their religions and 
their morals. 

As a result of such a comparison, the Greek nation stands 
forward clearly as the progenitor of the higher types of 
European civilization and thought. In the history of Greek 
thought we find all the phases of speculative development 
which illustrate the inception and primary growth of the art 
of generalization ; and as this is the whole field of philoso- 
phy, to extend our examples to those furnished by the Hin- 
doos, Egyptians, Chinese, Persians, Hebrews, or any other 
nations, would be to needlessly lengthen what is at best a 



THE DA WN OF PHILOSOPHY. 5 

tedious story. Tedious by reason of its slowness, but it is 
deeply interesting when viewed as the explanation of what 
we are, and as giving us some idea of what we may become. 

Viewing thought as the perfecting process, or the purifica- 
tion of individual life, which is the most comprehensive 
theory of intellectual progress, the history of speculation 
becomes a matter of great practical interest. As we 
study the beginnings of human speculation and follow out 
its development we cannot but be impressed with the great 
logical possibilities which lie before us. Let us begin, there- 
fore, this story of human speculation with the far-famed ad- 
ventures of the Greek mind. 

Thales, who is supposed to have been the first Greek phi- 
losopher, was born at Miletus, a Greek colony in Asia Minor. 
There are no means of determining the exact date of his 
birth, but the first year of the 36th Olympiad (B.C. 636) is 
generally accepted as correct. Like most of the prominent 
men of Greece, he seems to have taken an active interest in 
public affairs. Egypt is credited as the source of his learn- 
ing, and, as he is said to have been a proficient in mathema- 
tics, there is little doubt that the famous Egyptian geometers 
were among his early instructors. The principal feature of 
his philosophy was the theory that water was the source of 
all things. In thus postulating a substance as a first cause, 
the battle of philosophy was begun. To the observing and 
thoughtful Greek, six hundred years before Christ, the uni- 
verse was a chaos of unexplained and irreconcilable differ- 
ences. The now familiar physical forces had not been dis- 
joined in thought from the substances which manifested them. 
When, indeed, we consider the unquestioning belief in the 
absolute and ultimate character of these ideal separations 
which we may observe in the writings of Tyndall, Balfour 
Stewart, Tait, and other Physicists of our day, even the 
ancient Greeks might be regarded as having a logical advan- 
tage over modern science ; yet the darkness in which the 
poverty of analysis, in the time of Thales, must have en- 
shrouded all nature can hardly be overestimated. The pro- 



6 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

cedure of the mind is ever constant ; thought establishes its 
base-lines and triangulates its more or less accurate advances ; 
and these projections reach toward a universal principle, a 
single fact by which all other facts may be explained. 

Thales naturally sought out a cause, or chief antecedent, 
of all that he saw around him, and his induction was more 
elaborate than would at first appear. It was during his time 
that a spirit of contemplation and investigation first made 
its appearance among the Greeks. Hitherto men had con- 
tented themselves with accepting what they saw without ex- 
planation, remanding all obscure phenomena to the realm of 
superstitious adoration. Thales being the first in Greece 
who sought to establish a primal cause, is regarded as the 
originator of philosophic inquiry. It is not easy to return 
from our more advanced point of scientific observation to 
that of Thales. Yet there can be little doubt that his choice 
of water as the ultimate or formative principle of nature 
was based upon extended observation supplemented by 
thought. He was impressed with the universal presence of 
moisture in animals and plants, in the earth and in the skies. 
Seeds were apparently nourished by moisture ; all life 
seemed due to the presence of water. His cosmological 
theory too was no doubt biased by the ancient superstition 
that the earth floated upon water ; for it is natural to sup- 
pose, when we consider the matter in connection with more 
modern thought, that this early step taken to establish a first 
principle was not entirely free from the then ruling influence 
of myths. Thales also endeavored to explain that every 
thing was evolved from seed-germs ; the whole world, as well 
as individual beings. 

This, however, leads us to the doctrines of Anaximenes, 
who is said to have been born in the same Greek colony as 
Thales, in the 63d Olympiad (B.C. 529). His views were 
fundamentally the same as those of Thales, though his ex- 
planation of the primary essence was different. Anaximenes 
could not accept water as the cause of all, for to him air 
seemed to be life. He taught that air was the origin of all 



THE DA WN OF PHILOSOPHY, J 

things ; that it was infinite, and in its pure state invisible. 
Only through its qualities heat, cold, moisture, and motion 
could it be known to us. To its eternal motion he attrib- 
uted all change, for he reasoned that motion alone is the 
power manifested in all the transformations of nature. He 
also believed that the condensation of air had produced, 
the earth, which he supposed perfectly flat, and supported 
by air. He also thought that the heavenly bodies were flat ; 
and he is said to have been the first to discover that the 
moon shone by the sun's light. Anaximenes goes a step 
further than Thales, for from individual life he endeavored 
to deduce universal life. It is true that this effort took the 
form of a theory, that the universe was a living organism, 
palpitating with the same kind of life observed in terrestrial 
organisms. So ancient is this belief, however, that it is hard 
to say in what degree Anaximenes surpassed Thales in his 
conception of the truth which underlies it. 

Another famous theory of the universe was offered in this 
epoch, by Diogenes of Apollonia, 1 born about the Both 
Olympiad (B.C. 460). He argued, with Anaximenes, that air 
was the origin of all things, but, giving it a deeper significa- 
tion, he compared it to the soul ; though the word soul, for 
him, meant life in a general sense, rather than mind distinc- 
tively. As the primary substance of Thales was more than 
the element itself was water endowed with vital energy, 
so the air of Diogenes was more than the atmosphere ; it was 
air full of vital qualities of warmth and life which ensouled 
the universe. Life was to him Intelligence : " For without 
reason," he says, " it would be impossible for all to be ar- 
ranged so duly and proportionately as that all should main- 
tain its fitting measure ; winter and summer, day and night, 
the rain, the wind, and fair weather, and whatever object we 
consider, will be found to have been ordered in the best and 
most beautiful manner possible." 

There is something very interesting in these intensely 

1 Diogenes of Apollonia is not to be confounded with Diogenes the cynic, 
the contemporary of Plato. 



8 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

human if crude speculations. The accuracy with which they 
have been repeated by the thoughtful of subsequent ages 
speaks volumes for the constancy of mental procedures, if 
not for the progress of knowledge. It would not be difficult 
to find, even in our day, men of high standing in the intel- 
lectual world who reason precisely as did Diogenes of Apol- 
lonia, with regard to universal intelligence. In other words, 
they apply to matter and to general phenomena a word 
which expresses conditions of human sentiency that have 
been built up into what we term intelligence or mind. 
They imagine that the order of nature can only be explained 
by the sequences of thought ; whereas all mental activity 
is but an expression of this order of nature, a consequence of 
conditions that are far wider and deeper than human life. It 
would thus be hardly fair, to charge Diogenes, who lived 
about twenty-three centuries ago, with anthropomorphism, 
for at that time the circumscriptions of human life, now so 
familiar, had scarcely been thought of, much less delineated ; 
but to interpret, in our times, the order of nature as a man- 
ifestation of intelligence, is to lose sight of the limits of 
language and the nature of perception. 

Diogenes believed that air was intelligence, or order itselL 
" That which has knowledge is what men call air ; it is it 
that regulates and governs all ; and hence is the use of air 
to pervade all, and to dispose all, and to be in all ; for there 
is nothing that has not part in it. " l 

It is seen from the above that Thales, Anaximenes, and 
Diogenes tried to explain the universe from a physical basis, 
citing water, air, and air-life as the origin of all things. 
There was a man, however, who lived about the same time 
as Thales, who seems to have divined the great truth that 
the physicial, substantial, or statical aspect of nature is not 
an ultimate fact, but rather a phase or aspect only of the 
ultimate fact. The learned disquisitions on the nature of 
matter, which form so prominent a feature of the philoso- 
phic literature of our century, were probably an unknown. 

1 See Ritter, vol. I., p. 214. 



THE DA WN OF PHILOSOPHY. 9 

luxury to the early Greek thinkers ; so that we have no 
choice but to admire the independence and astuteness of 
Anaximander in taking a position so much in advance of that 
occupied by the teachers of modern physics. No one who stu- 
dies the science of Physics, as it is taught in the universities 
of the world to-day, would suspect that matter was not an 
ultimate fact. Those who speak of the absolute weight and 
extension of atoms, postulating a material cause of all 
phenomena, reason precisely as did Thales, Anaximenes and 
Diogenes. To regard matter as an ultimate fact is to re- 
verse the order of preception, for matter can never mean 
more than an aspect of motion. 1 

Anaximander is said to have been born in the 42d Olym- 
piad (B.C. 610). He excelled in the political and scientific 
knowledge of his time. " He was passionately addicted to 
mathematics, and framed a series of geometrical problems," 
and is credited with the invention of the sun-dial and the 
origination of the system of geographical maps. 

Anaximander is stated to have been the first to use 
the term principle for the beginning of things. He defined 
this word as the infinite. One of his tenets was : " The 
Infinite is the origin of all things." In thus seizing upon 
a principle, not a substance, as the ultimate generalization, 

1 To show how vain it is to consider any special property of matter as ulti- 
mate, we quote the pertinent objections which Judge Stallo brings against the 
habit of regarding weight or density as absolute. 

" The weight of a body is a function, not of its own mass alone, but also of 
that of the body or bodies by which it is attracted, and of the distance between 
them. A body whose weight, as ascertained by the spring-balance or pendulum, 
is a pound on the surface of the earth, would weigh but two ounces on the 
moon, less than one-fourth of an ounce on several of the smaller planets, about 
six ounces on Mars, two and one-half pounds on Jupiter, and more than twenty- 
seven pounds on the sun. And while the fall of bodies, in vacua, near the sur- 
face of the earth amounts to about sixteen feet (more or less, according to lati- 
tude) during the first second, their corresponding fall near the surface of the 
sun is more than four hundred and thirty-five feet. 

" The thoughtlessness with which it is assumed by some of the most eminent 
physicists that matter is composed of particles which have an absolute primor- 
dial weight persisting in all positions and under all circumstances, is one of the 
most remarkable facts in the history of science." " Modern Physics," p. 205,. 



10 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Anaximander at once rose above materialism, and perceived 
that divine unity which alone can harmonize life and mind. 
Speaking of this principle, Ritter says : " The reason 
why Anaximander regarded the primary substance as infinite 
finds a natural explanation in the infinite variety of the 
evolutions of the world, which have their ground in it. He 
is represented as arguing that the primary substance 
must have been infinite to be all-sufficient for the limit- 
less variety of produced things with which we are en- 
compassed. Now, although Aristotle expressly charac- 
terizes this infinite as a mixture, we must not think of it as a 
mere multiplicity of primary material elements ; for to the 
mind of Anaximander it was a unity, immortal and imperish- 
able, an ever-producing ENERGY. This production of 
individual things was derived by Anaximander from an 
eternal motion of the infinite; from which it would appear 
that he ascribed to it an inherent vital energy, without, how- 
ever, employing the terms life and production in any other 
acceptation than the only one allowable by the character of 
his philosophy, in the sense, i. e., of motion, by which the 
primary elements of the infinite separate themselves one 
from another." * 

Anaximander acquired a great reputation for learning; 
and as the Greeks spoke little but their own language. his 
wisdom was, for the most part, the result of a direct study of 
nature. " His calculations of the size and distance of 
the heavenly bodies were committed to writing in a small 
work, which is said to be the earliest of all philosophical 
writings." 3 His inventions of the sun-dial and of geograph- 
ical maps, and his passionate love of mathematics, above 
.mentioned, declare him to have been a man of definiteness 
and thoroughness in his researches ; and this is the more in- 
teresting when we consider that he struck the key-note 
of philosophy, that he framed an hypothesis which all subse- 
quent research has proved unable to destroy. 

1 Ritter, vol. I., p. 269. 

2 Lewes : " Biographical History of Philosophy," p. n. 



THE DA WN OF PHILOSOPHY. 1 1 

The speculations of Anaximander, coming to us from 
a period five centuries before the beginning of the Christian 
era, before even Greece had reached her political and literary 
supremacy, stand out with prominence from their faded his- 
torical surroundings. And when we think that the doctrines 
of Pythagoras were the natural outgrowth of these specula- 
tions, and that even they were said to have their exact coun- 
terparts in the philosophy of the " Jews, Indians, Egyptians, 
Chaldeans, Phoenicians, nay, even the Thracians," we are 
compelled to acknowledge that the much vaunted progress 
of philosophy among us is a claim that at least should be 
investigated. 

Pythagoras, about the time of whose birth there is much 
dispute, opinions varying from the 43d to the 64th 
Olympiad, was the founder of a very large and important 
school of thought. 

To him we seem to owe the term philosophy ; for although 
the word was not current in his tirr.c, he declared himself to 
be a lover of wisdom for its own sake, which is to-day the 
accepted definition of philosopher. He regarded contem- 
plation as the highest exercise of man, and emphasized the 
distinction between seeking wisdom for ulterior purposes and 
seeking it for itself. It is to denote this distinction that he 
employed the term. philosopher. His aim was to reform life 
by cultivating religious sentiment, and by instilling morality 
into politics. 

The accounts of Pythagoras depict for us that spirit of 
exclusiveness which seems to have prevailed among the 
leaders of learning, as well as of religion, in the early history 
of thought. This tendency accounts for the constitution of 
the secret society of the Pythagoreans, into which initiation 
could only be obtained after five years of probation, years 
during which many privations and other tests of character 
were imposed. Indeed, so severe were these disciplines, 
chief among which was the injunction of silence, that many 
novices gave up in despair ; these were adjudged unworthy 
to enter the " sanctuary of science." 



12 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Pythagoras seems to have differed from the savants of his 
time in his ideas of the social and intellectual importance of 
women,' fifteen of whom were among the members of his 
school. Some accounts say that he lectured to and taught 
women, and that his wife also was a philosopher. 

The motto of the Pythagorean school was, " Not unto all 
should all be made known." Concerning its doctrines there 
is little unanimity of opinion ; they are said to have been 
derived principally from the Eastern nations ; and nothing 
indeed could be more natural than such a lineage, as from 
these nations came nearly all that was prior to Greek 
thought. The religious conceptions of Pythagoras, among 
all his teachings, are alone admitted to be of a Greek origin. 
Ritter tells us that the Egyptians taught him geometry, the 
Phoenicians arithmetic, the Chaldeans astronomy, and the 
Magi morality. 

The Pythagorean school is represented as being not only a 
scientific, but a religious and political society. Many mar- 
vellous things are told of its founder; but it is generally 
conceded that he attracted many students from distant 
countries ; that nothwithstanding the symbolical nature of 
his doctrines he advanced scientific knowledge, especially 
mathematics ; and that both in politics and in speculation 
he exerted a great influence over the age in which he lived. 
The attention which this school received from the later 
Greeks is instanced in the works of Aristotle, who modelled 
his categories of thought, or most general principles, upon 
the Pythagorean plan. Thus Aristotle describes its thought : 

" In the age of these philosophers [the Eleats and Ato- 
mists], and even before them, lived those called Pythagore- 
ans, who at first applied themselves to mathematics, a sci- 
ence they improved ; and having been trained exclusively in 
it, they fancied that the principles of mathematics were the 
principles of all things. 

"Since numbers are by nature prior to all things, in num- 
bers they thought they perceived greater analogies with that 
which exists and that which is produced, than in fire, earth,.. 



THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY. 13 

or water. So that a certain combination of numbers was 
Justice ; and a certain other combination of numbers was 
Reason and Intelligence ; and a certain other combination 
of numbers was Opportunity ; and so for the rest. 

" Moreover, they saw in numbers the combinations of har- 
mony. Since, therefore, all things seemed formed similarly 
to numbers, and numbers being by nature anterior to things, 
they concluded that the elements of numbers are the ele- 
ments of things ; and that the whole heaven is a harmony 
and a number. Having indicated the great analogies be- 
tween numbers and the phenomena of heaven and its parts, 
and with the phenomena of the whole world, they formed a 
system ; and if any gap was apparent in the system, they 
used every effort to restore the connection. Thus, since 
ten appeared to them a perfect number, potentially con- 
taining all numbers, they declared that the moving celes- 
tial bodies were ten in number ; but because only nine are 
visible they imagined a tenth, the Anticthorne. 

" We have treated of all these things more in detail else- 
where. But the reason why we recur to them is this that 
we may learn from these philosophers also what they lay 
down as their first principles, and by what process they hit 
upon the causes aforesaid. 

" They maintained that Number was the Beginning (Prin- 
ciple) of things, the cause of their material existence, and 
of their modifications and different states. The elements 
of number are Odd and Even. The Odd is finite ; the 
Even, infinite. Unity, the One, partakes of both these, 
and is both Odd and Even. All number is derived from 
the One. The heavens, as we said before, are composed 
of numbers. Other Pythagoreans say there are ten Prin- 
cipia, those called co-ordinates : 

" The finite and the infinite. 
" The odd and the even. 
" The one and the many. 
"The right and the left. 
*' The male and the female. 



14 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

" The quiescent and the moving. 

" The right line and the curve. 

" Light and darkness. 

" Good and evil. 

" The square and the oblong. 

" * * * All the Pythagoreans considered the elements as 
material ; for the elements are in all things, and constitute 
the world. * * * 

" * * * The finite, the infinite, and the One, they main- 
tained to be not separate existences, such as are fire, water,, 
etc. ; but the abstract Infinite and the abstract One are re- 
spectively the substance of the things of which they are 
predicated ; and hence, too, Number is the substance of all 
things. They began by attending only to the Form, and 
began to define it ; but on this subject they were very im- 
perfect. They define superficially; and that which suited 
their definition they declared to be the essence of the thing 
defined ; as if one should maintain that the double and the 
number two are the same thing, because the double is first 
found in the two. But two and the double are not equal 
(in essence) ; or if so, then the one would be many ; a con- 
sequence which follows from their (the Pythagorean) doc- 
trine." 1 

It has been the aim of all historians of philosophy to> 
classify the systems of belief which have reached us from, 
the past, paying due regard to their succession in time, in 
certain groups, or types of thought, which are more or less 
closely identified with the localities or countries in which 
they have appeared. This seems the most natural method 
to pursue in writing a description of thought as it has oc- 
curred in history. But when the object is, as in the case of 
this work, to examine the whole subject of human knowl- 
edge, a less elaborate historical method will better serve. 
Instead of going through the tedious repetitions of detail in 
all the recognized philosophies, and pointing out their inter- 
dependencies, classifying them into such schools as the 

1 Lewes: " Bio. His. of Phil.," p. 34. 



THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY. 15 

Ionian or physical, the Pythagorean or mathematical, the 
Eleatic, and the Megaric, we will content ourselves with a 
brief sketch of the most important systems, and a portrayal 
of the original features in each. The other method has 
been so exhaustively applied by such writers as Ritter, Ten- 
nemann, Degerando, Victor Cousin, Hegel, Zeller, and 
Uebervveg, and its results, after all, are so purely historical, 
so meagre in a logical and developmental sense, that there is 
little encouragement for others to follow it. 

We will confine ourselves, therefore, to the endeavor to 
show, by selections from the accounts of these philosophies, 
that there has been one great problem of thought which they 
have all attempted to solve, and that the nearness of the 
approach of each to the solution of this problem has 
little or no connection with their relative positions in 
history. The organic history of our race is so incom- 
parably great when measured by the few centuries of 
progress which make up the sum of recorded history, that 
in the strict sense of the word we have no ancient philosophy 
to study. The Greek mind suffers nothing by comparison 
with the mind of the nineteenth century. With regard to 
their natural capacity for dealing with the fundamental 
problems of thought, the Greeks were our peers. If intro- 
spection, or any purely logical achievement could have sup- 
plied this coveted knowledge, we should have inherited it 
from them in the same perfection in which their art has 
reached us. Neither with the Greeks nor the moderns has 
there been any want of intellectual acumen. There is a 
deeper cause for our failure, thus far, to grasp this problem 
of thought. 

What is this cause ? It is to be found in the limitations 
which have hitherto restricted our conceptions of knowl- 
edge. Human knowledge in the higher sense means human 
life, and the problem of thought can only be solved by the 
development of knowledge as a whole. From the time of 
the ancient Greeks to our day, the nature of man has pro- 
gressed but very little. Human character appears rather in 



1 6 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

the attitude of about ascending to a higher plane than of oc- 
cupying it. And until this ascent has been actually made, 
we cannot look upon the struggles of the Greeks to solve 
the problems of thought as antique or alien. Their meth- 
ods, their aspirations, and their successes, judged by accepted 
standards, were in essence like our own ; and with our own 
they compare very favorably. In describing, therefore, the 
outlines of the thought of Thales and his immediate succes- 
sors, and in emphasizing the success of Anaximander in his 
effort to reach a solution of the great problem before us, 
strange as it may seem, we have already drawn the logical 
boundaries of the whole history of philosophy. Notwith- 
standing that the achievements of Socrates, Plato, and Aris- 
totle have not yet been mentioned, and that the writings of 
Descartes, Kant, and their successors, up to the time when 
contemporaneous writing begins, are yet to be described ; 
the whole logical compass of these illustrious writers has 
been anticipated by previous thought, and the farthest reach 
of their speculations proves to have been familiar ground 
to prehistoric minds. The corroborations of these state- 
ments are to be heard on every hand. The futility of 
thought, the hopeless search of metaphysics, the limits of 
the knowable, even so recent a movement in philosophy as 
agnosticism the modern term for the belief in an unknow- 
able are but expressions of the common verdict, that these 
early Greeks, and their predecessors in the East, went just 
as far as we have gone, in an intellectual sense, toward solv- 
ing the first problem of life. 

When we say that the growth of knowledge as a whole 
will alone realize any actual progress in this constant effort 
of our race to achieve an ultimate analysis, we merely specify 
that science and religion as well as thought are necessary 
factors in this growth, and that what is known as specula- 
tion and unaided introspection are of themselves utterly im- 
potent to accomplish the desired result. After this state- 
ment it may seem abrupt to offer the student a key to the 
ever-recurring enigmas of philosophical systems, as we find 



THE DA WN OF PHILOSOPHY. I/ 

them recorded in history. But as the charge, that philoso- 
phers have reasoned in a circle from the earliest records of 
human speculation, is not a new one, to emphasize the po- 
sition here advanced we must demonstrate the possibility of 
progress. 

It is the task of this work to show that knowledge is not 
merely thought, but that it includes conduct ; that truth 
cannot find a fuller expression in words after all than in ac- 
tions, and as a consequence, that we shall have to extend 
the sphere of metaphysics to that of morality, identifying 
these spheres as but phases of one fact of development in 
order to accomplish our demonstration. In offering, there- 
fore, at the very outset, a key to the metaphysical problem, 
it might appear that I have anticipated our argument, but I 
do not go beyond that department of truth which is indi- 
cated by the general title of these chapters. As we ap- 
proach the climax of Greek Philosophy, in the systems of 
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, if we are to show that the 
thought of these men has no higher significance than earlier 
speculations, it will be necessary to have some common 
measure for the significance of words ; : for all philosophy 
aims at an ultimate analysis. This needed criterion, then, 
we will proceed to explain. 

There is in England a school of geologists who have re- 
nounced all forms of generalization. They refuse to build 
up any theories of the organic history of our planet, but 
devote themselves entirely to the accumulation and classifi- 
cation of geological data. This resolution is the outgrowth 
of the many disappointments with which the generalizations 
or theories of geologists have met. The insuperable difficul- 
ties of estimating the comparative remoteness of events, 
when the only record of them is to be found in solidified 
sand and mud, all the results of physical forces and condi- 
tions which repeat themselves over and over again, leaving 
no traces of their chronological interdependence, have dis- 
couraged these scientists, and they have determined to 
-hazard no further opinions until they have accumulated 



1 8 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

more facts. This is a silent reproof to the less conscientious 
members of their profession who " have imagined that they 
could tell us what was going on at all parts of the earth's 
surface during a given epoch ; and have talked of this de- 
posit being contemporaneous with that deposit, until, from 
our little local histories of the changes at limited spots of 
the earth's surface, they have constructed a universal history 
of the globe as full of wonders and portents as any other 
story of antiquity." 

The only radical distinction between the development of 
ancient and of modern philosophy is that which arises from 
the poverty of the ancients in scientific facts. In other 
words, the only difference between ancient and modern 
knowledge (leaving out for the present the moral aspect) is 
the growth of science. This does not deny to philosophy an 
exclusive sphere relatively independent both of science and 
religion ; on the contrary, it circumscribes that sphere. It 
does emphatically deny, however, that there is any other 
method of mental apprehension used in any of these three 
spheres of human activity than that now universally ac- 
knowledged to be the method of science. Mind is a function 
of the organism, and has a definite and invariable mode of 
procedure. To identify the principle of this procedure with 
that of the humbler organic activities is the special task of 
the succeeding part of this work ; but it is not too soon to 
make the statement that truth is independent of words, that 
facts express themselves. If we fail to interpret facts aright, 
it is a failure of harmony between our minds and our sur- 
roundings, a maladjustment of inner to outer activities. 
The classification of facts which constitutes our intelli- 
gence and accounts for every aspect of it is a classification 
of changes. These changes express relations which have 
their terms in other changes, and so on to eternity and in- 
finity. If we would express these changes in numbers, we 
should merely reduce them to units of time ; if we would 
express them in quantities, we should merely reduce them 
to units of space ; if we would seize these changing phenom- 










THE DA WN OF PHILOSOPHY. 19 

ena and analyze them in order to determine their weights 
and affinities, we should merely express many relations in 
terms of simpler relations, for weight and affinity are re- 
lations having for their terms more or less familiar condi- 
tions ; if we would comprehend the aggregates of changes 
viewed in the heavens and on the earth, we should merely 
enlarge the scale of the very method of investigation which 
we have applied to lesser groups. If we turn our attention 
to our race and generalize the principles of its development, 
we use the same method and our effort expresses the same 
law ; the analogy never ceases, and it never begins. We 
discover our lives to be the function of this infinity and 
eternity of conditions. 

Philosophy, rebelling against imaginary limits to percep- 
tion, would turn its face away and peer into the depths 
beyond. Resolutely it has held this attitude for centuries. 
Its eye has not dimmed, its hope has not abated, but the 
misty distances into which it has been peering have gradually 
been peopled with facts ; for science has patiently plodded 
on, enlarging the sphere of reality until we find ourselves in 
a universe of facts grand enough to satisfy our proudest 
hopes. When we look back at this steadfast unsatisfied gaze 
of the ancients trying to penetrate phenomena, we regard 
them with a certain poignant pity, because their horizon of 
reality was so limited. But to-day where is the mind that 
has taken full advantage of its opportunities in this newer 
world of knowledge? Who can afford to look unintelli- 
gently or contemptuously upon our domain of facts ? Who 
can complain of the method which has accomplished such rich 
results ? Not the philosopher who would truly interpret 
nature. There are phases of nature, however, which seem 
to evade the scientific method ; they are the phenomena of 
humanity. The questions which they raise are those of our 
origin and destiny, of our relations to one another and to 
the universe. 

This is a philosophy which would still bid defiance to the 
slow teachings of experience ; it is impatient of the restraints 



20 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

and the discipline of universal order; it claims a higher 
source of knowledge than that of the classification or com- 
parison of facts. This philosophy is called religion ; to its 
study we devote the third division of this work. It is to 
that philosophy which stands between science and religion, 
which occupies the territory of mind or language, that we 
would now give our attention. 

The word entity is a fiction. There is no such thing as an 
unrelated fact, an unconditioned existence. The mind rep- 
resents a principle, but it is the principle of all activity. 
Both ancient and modern philosophy teem with efforts to 
reduce diversity to unity, the many to the one. This one is 
not a place or a time, but a principle. The word principle 
means first ; the word first means one. Hence to succeed in 
this effort, to discover that unity which is the natural goal of 
classification, will be to accomplish the object of philosophy 
and amalgamate it with the departments of knowledge 
hitherto distinguished as science and religion. 

For the discovery of this ultimate fact, so long sought, 
philosophy wholly depends upon that method of comparing 
facts which is pursued in the sciences. From the time of 
Thales to that of Kant, philosophy has consisted of nothing 
but the grouping of observed facts, and deductions from 
them. Words have never been more than an attempt to ex- 
press what has already been expressed in these facts. If 
mind is a fact, it must be the product of other facts ; if it is 
.a phenomenon, it must be the function of its conditions ; if 
it is a relation, it must have its terms in the other relations. 
To say that it is an entity, is to corrupt our language with hid- 
den contradictions, to stultify the mind. As we have seen, 
the only ultimate difference between the philosophies of 
different ages is to be found in the command of facts enjoyed 
by each age. Apart from this, the scope of all philosophies 
has been identical. The question of the ultimate analysis was 
just as clearly stated in the speculations of Thales, Anaxi- 
mander, and Pythagoras, as in Descartes, Spinoza, or Kant. 
The latter writers, especially Kant, had a vast accumulation 



THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY. 21 

of empirical data, scientific knowledge, to aid them in their 
speculations, but they had not successfully applied them 
to the science of mind. The postulate of Descartes (" I 
think, therefore I am "), the God of Spinoza, and the 
idealism of Kant, were no nearer the ultimate generaliza- 
tion than the speculations of the earliest thinkers. They 
one and all strove to reduce all imaginable diversities to one 
principle. The vastly superior scientific knowledge of the 
modern thinkers only seemed to increase the field of their 
diversities, it did not bring them to the ultimate simplicity. 
This ultimate simplicity has many names ; in seeking for 
it, it has been denominated the ultimate unity, truth, fact, 
principle, cause, substance, energy, force, existence, or 
reality. Thales, in the paucity of his scientific experience, 
thought that it was water ; Anaximenes, that it was air ; 
Diogenes of Apollonia, that it was living air ; Anaximander 
of Miletus, that it was the eternal motion of the infinite ; 
Descartes considered it a dual principle of mind and matter; 
Spinoza calls it God. Kant attributes this ultimate reality 
to mind alone, and Herbert Spencer calls it the " persistence 
of force." Where is the progress of the intervening twenty- 
five centuries ? Surely it is in scientific knowledge, and not 
in pure philosophy. 

Will it be too much to ask the reader to believe that this 
ultimate reality or principle is plainly and unmistakably 
confronting us wherever w r e turn, that it alone accounts for 
every experience, and that the only reason why it has so 
long escaped us is, that it is an inseparable and primordial 
quality of our very existence ? It is too near to be seen, too 
easy to understand ; and for this reason, and only for this 
reason, it is difficult to explain. If singleness of mind is 
strength, then indeed it requires the greatest intellectual 
power to grasp this fact. It would seem, though, that 
the requisite condition of the mind to appreciate this truth 
is not that of great tension, or a very high degree of train- 
ing, but a self-discipline, a submission to the power of facts, 
a renunciation of mental or verbal conceit ; in a word, the 



22 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

very thing in an intellectual sense that religion demands of 
us in a sentimental sense in order to know God. 

To present the argument in a scientific form, the whole 
burden is to prove that matter and space are words which 
have the same ultimate signification. Matter is clearly a 
generalization of the statical side of phenomena. Under 
analysis matter disappears in motion. Space is simply our 
term for infinity or extension, and therefore the argument 
turns upon the point whether the universe is a plenum or 
not. In further support of the fact that it is, I refer the 
reader to an argument in " Problems of Life and Mind," by 
G. H. Lewes, as a powerful corroboration of this view, that 
matter and space are terms which are logically indistinguisha- 
ble. This argument, entitled " Action at a Distance," is 
given entire in Chapter XV., Part II., of the present work. 

Some time after I had made an attempt J to explain the 
above theory of the identity of matter and space, this essay 
gave me unexpected assistance. Although it does not state 
in terms that matter and space are the same thing, this is an 
irresistible inference from the argument. The question is one 
of such transcendent importance in philosophy, and this 
argument by Lewes seems to me so conclusive, that I thus 
refer to it in advance. 

The consequences of this reasoning are momentous. Un- 
less this theory stand, the categories of thought, or ultimate 
realities, will remain discrete, as we find them in Herbert 
Spencer's " Psychology," and in all other modern philoso- 
phies, namely, Space, Time, Matter, Force, and Motion. 
Some writers add Cause, but it is now generally admitted that 
Cause stands for merely one aspect of every phenomenon, 
the obverse side of which is Effect, cause being thus a term 
denoting a purely logical distinction. Others, again, postu- 
late Consciousness as an ultimate reality. Spencer, for 
instance, distinctly declares consciousness to be an irreduci- 
ble principle, but this error is fully met and set aside by 
Lewes. 

1 An anonymous brochure published in 1881. 



THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY. 2$ 

The interdependence of the five ultimate terms, above- 
named, has not as yet been successfully demonstrated ; but 
if matter and space are admitted to be the same reality, 
under different aspects, the difficulty at once disappears ; 
for then motion becomes the ultimate reality and space and 
time become its obverse aspects. Space and time have no 
separate existence apart from motion ; their identity is 
merged in this ultimate fact. 

As stated above, the amount of mental reorganization or 
reform necessary to grasp this simplest of all facts is such as 
to place it practically beyond the reach of minds that have 
been trained to cherish the distinctions which this theory 
would destroy. We have met many people of scientific and 
philosophic training who are logically incapacitated for re- 
ceiving this truth ; they would no more believe that matter 
and space were the same thing than a devotee would surren- 
der his faith. It is, therefore, to the younger class of think- 
ers that we must appeal, thinkers who have not committed 
themselves too deeply, who are open to conviction, who are 
hospitable to new truths when they are clearly stated and 
amply sustained. 

If motion is the ultimate reality, and space and time are 
its obverse aspects, all ultimate terms must be made to take 
their places in this trinity of realities. The word infinite, 
for instance, can have no signification beyond that of space; 
and the terms extension, coexistence, and unlimited, so often 
found in philosophic writings, all stand for the statical aspect 
of motion, the most convenient name for which is space. 
On the other hand, the word absolute has no signification 
beyond that of time, and the terms sequence, invariable flux- 
ion, and unconditioned, mean in their deepest sense the same 
thing as time. With this understanding of the ultimate sig- 
nificance of the chief philosophic terms, it will be compara- 
tively easy to continue our review of philosophy, for we 
have the key to every metaphysical situation. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 

Xenophanes Parmenides Zeno of Elea Heraclitus Anaxagoras Empedo- 
cles Democritus. 

ACCORDING to the well-known essay of Victor Cousin, 
Xenophanes was born in the 4<Dth Olympiad (B.C. 620616} 
and must therefore have been the contemporary of Thales., 
Although he is counted among the early philosophers, he 
was more a poet than a thinker. He is called the " Rhap- 
sodist of Truth." Banished from his native city, probably 
on account of his convictions, he wandered over Sicily as a 
Rhapsodist 1 during the remainder of his life, which lasted 
nearly a hundred years. His chief aim seems to have been 
to oppose to the worship of nature and of many gods a pure 
monotheism, to spread the doctrine of the unity and eternity 
of God, and to dispel the deep superstitions of his age. Al- 
though by no means indifferent to the beauty of the Homeric 
fables he fiercely opposed the religious falsehood which they 
contained. Plato, great as was his appreciation of every thing 
good in literature, took the same position, as can be seen by 
the latter part of the second and the beginning of the third 
books of his Republic. In fact, does it not appear as though 
the criticism of Plato might have been suggested by these 
verses of Xenophanes ? 

" ' Such things of the Gods are related by Homer and Hesiod 
As would be shame and abiding disgrace to any of mankind ; 
Promises broken, and thefts, and the one deceiving the other.' " 

1 The Rhapsodists were the minstrels of antiquity. They learned poems by 
heart, and recited them to assembled crowds on the occasions of feasts. 

24 



THE PRE-SOCRA TIC PERIOD. 2$: 

In another place the following verse occurs, showing how 
intimately religious feeling and philosophy were conjoined 
in the minds of-the ancients : 

" One God, of all things divine and human the greatest, 
Neither in body alike unto mortals, neither in spirit." 

Identifying God with the universe the All Xenophanes 
again says : 

" Wholly unmoved and unmoving, it ever remains in the same place, 
Without change in its place when at times it changes appearance." 

God moved all finite things ; " without labor he ruleth all 
things by reason and insight." 

These things sung by a wandering Greek minstrel six 
hundred years before the beginning of our era, among a 
people whose only strong bonds of union were connected 
with religious observances, show how deep-seated are re- 
ligious feelings, and how much they depend for expression 
and refinement upon the advance of knowledge. 

Parmenides, who was born about the 6ist Olympiad 
(B.C. 536), belonged to a wealthy and distinguished family 
of Elea. It is said that his early life was wasted in dissipa- 
tion, and that it was only after his friends, Ameinias and 
Diochaetes, had persuaded him to join the Pythagoreans 
that he embraced a philosophic life and began to contem- 
plate " the bright countenance of Truth in the quiet and still 
air of delightful studies." 

Parmenides made a great logical advance on Xenophanes 
when he warned us that to see Truth we must rely on 
our reason alone, and not trust our senses, which lead 
us merely to human Opinion. This discrimination is of 
much historic interest as it anticipates the doctrine of innate 
ideas. He believed in the unity of all Being, or, in other 
words, that all that exists is in its essence the same the 
One ; that Being alone fills space, while the fullness of 
all Being is Thought. Non-Being, he assumed, could not be, 
because nothing can come of nothing. If, therefore, Being: 



26 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

existed, it must embrace all existence. He regarded the 
senses as the cause of all error, as they reflect the appearance 
of plurality and mutability, and oblige us to follow our 
many sensuous impressions to apprehend the changeable 
and the many ; thus preventing us from understanding the 
One the divine truth in all its reality. 

Parmenides wrote a philosophic treatise entitled " Nature," 
which was divided into two parts ; the first described what 
he termed absolute Truth as disclosed to us by the reason ; 
and the second endeavored to describe the difference between 
this absolute Truth and human Opinion ; a task which 
has been attempted many times since, up to the present day. 
Parmenides expresses himself thus : 

" Such as to each man is the nature of his many-jointed limbs, 
Such also is the intelligence of each man ; for it is 
The nature of limbs (organization) which thinketh in men 
Both in one and in all ; for the highest degree of organization gives the high- 
est degree of thought." 

An advanced psychological theory as viewed from this 
century. 

Parmenides denied motion in the abstract, but was obliged 
to admit that according to appearance there was motion. 

Zeno 1 was called by Plato the Palamedes of Elea, " on ac- 
count of the readiness and scientific skill with which he in- 
dicated the contraries of all things." * He was a singularly 
prominent character among the ancient philosophers. Born 
to high social position, which gave him political power, 
he early manifested a disdain for the honors of rank and 
office, and sought that seclusion which is the natural sphere 
of thought. Some accounts charge him with a misanthropic 
disposition, but there are good reasons for believing that the 
political corruption and general immorality of his age 
repelled him and held him aloof from public life. His 
character can be judged of from the following words which 
are attributed to him : " If the blame of my fellow-citizens 

1 Not Zeno the stoic. "Ritter, vol., I., p. 470. 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 2/ 

did not cause me pain their approbation would not cause me 
pleasure." 

To Zeno's high character and austere conduct is due much 
of his celebrity. His contemporaries failed to understand 
how benevolent and studious occupations could wean him 
from the sensuous pleasures with which he was surrounded. 

The invention of Dialectics the name given to the first 
attempts at formal logical analysis is by the universal con- 
sent of antiquity attributed to Zeno. " It may be defined 
as a refutation of error by the reductio ad absurdum as a 
means of establishing the truth." 

Zeno was a devoted patriot, without being ambitious. 
This character he showed while Greece was freeing herself 
from the yoke of the Persians and trying to establish free in- 
stitutions. He was much attached to his little colony of 
Elea, and only occasionally visited Athens (where he had 
Pericles among his pupils) to spread abroad his doctrines. 
On his last return to his native colony, he found it in the 
hands of the tyrant Nearchus (or Diomedon, or Demylus), 
against whom he conspired. Failing in the attempt, he was 
dragged before the tyrant, when " he gave proof by his ac- 
tions of the excellence of his master's doctrines, showing that 
a strong soul fears only that which is unworthy." Being 
called upon to testify against his fellow-conspirators, " he 
bit his tongue out and spat it in the face of the tyrant." 1 The 
people, roused by this act of heroism, fell upon Nearchus and 
killed him. Here the story is lost, the manner of the philso- 
pher's death being unknown. 

It is said that Zeno was the first Eleatic philosopher who 
wrote in prose. To the system of Parmenides, his master, 
he brought nothing new, but he labored bravely to establish 
it. This he sought to do by his method of reasoning called 
Dialectics, which employs principles generally acknowledged 
to be true, as the bases upon which to build each structure 
of facts. 

1 Cousin: " Fragments Philosophiques," Zenon d'Elee. 



28 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Zeno argued particularly against multiplicity and motion. 
He said, like his teacher, that there was but One thing really- 
existing and that every thing else was but the appearance of 
the One, and had no real existence. Motion he believed did 
not exist in reality, but only in appearance ; for, he argued, 
every object filling a space equal to its size is at rest in that 
space at any given moment as an arrow flying through the 
air is at each moment at rest in the same space. Of course 
space and time are here reduced to their most minute par- 
ticles, and therefore he concludes that motion is not, but is 
only the appearance of, motion, or a number of spaces in 
which the object is momentarily at rest. 

It will be seen at a glance, if it is remembered that 
matter and space are the same thing, how simple this great 
question v of motion becomes. What Zeno tries to 
prove is, that a moving body never moves away from the 
space that it occupies, which is equivalent to saying that a 
thing cannot move away from itself, a postulate so sensible 
that we cannot wonder at the force with which it struck the 
ancients. 

These brief accounts of the early philosophies are given 
solely to show how invariably all attempts at generalization 
centre about a single problem, and how the various interpre- 
tations given to this problem are merely different expres- 
sions of the ultimate fact, motion. To reduce all systems 
of thought to their most abridged form, and place them in 
the order of their logical merit would suffice, therefore, if we 
were to regard philosophy from the ideal standpoint, assure 
reason. But however much we may extol the power of 
"reason," we can never lift it above what it is. In the case 
of the individual it is simply the logical aspect of individual 
life ; in the case of a society it is the logical aspect of social 
life. In the case of a race, the logic of action becomes in- 
corporated in wider customs and broader principles forming 
what we call Conscience. 

If we look deeper down into this logic of action we shall 
find it expressed in the very structure of the organism. 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 29 

Thus the bee is a practical geometrician : it finds and em- 
ploys in the construction of its cell the best angle for saving 
space and securing strength. Its little mind, or sensorium, 
is incapable of expressing this calculation in symbols, or of 
reducing it to those general principles which give it, for us, 
the form and value of a demonstrated problem : but the bee 
has inherited a nervous structure which is the expression 
and embodiment of the habits of its ancestors. Whether 
they were compelled, by the Darwinian theory of " the sur- 
vival of the fittest," to use this best-adapted angle, or 
whether Mr. Spencer's auxiliary theory of "the direct 
adaptation of the organism to its environment " was the 
cause, the logic of the actions of the bee is expressed in its 
tiny organism ; or, the formation of the proper angle in its 
waxen cells is the natural or logical activity of this or- 
ganism. 

Applying, now, this principle to our own life, the reason- 
ings of every individual are attempts to convert into the 
symbolic form of language the logic of the actions of our 
race. All the excursions into the supposed conditions of 
life which philosophers have made, so far as they have failed 
to bring back some clearer principle of action, are but verbal 
constructions, curiosities in mental architecture. Those who 
love these ruins for their own sake, write minute histories of 
philosophy, making it their aim to record the details of each 
system. When, however, the object is to extract from the 
history of thought its modicum of truth we must adopt 
the method of measuring each system by a single logical 
standard, and we must regard the thought of each age as 
the natural and necessary consequence of its social or moral 
organization. 

Philosophy, after all, is merely an attempt to identify 
human nature with more general principles. There are no 
laws of motion or of the most general existence. 1 The re- 

1 ' ' There is no form of material existence which is its own support or its own 
measure, and which abides either quantitatively or otherwise than in perpetual 
-change, or an unceasing flow of mutations. * * * And the fact that every 



30 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

current activities which we observe in phenomena are classi- 
fied and reduced to more and more general principles until 
we come to the most general fact, which is Motion. No 
law or rule of action has pre-eminence, therefore, as being a 
law of motion otherwise than by virtue of its degree of sim- 
plicity. 

If we would review philosophies, we must review lives 
and characters ; if we would understand Greek thought, we 
must study Greek life and its surroundings; if we would 
understand universal thought, we must study the progress 
of civilization as pictured in the gradual formation of an ul- 
timate generalization, or the conception of God as the divine 
unity or principle. 

Heraclitus was the famous weeping philosopher, coupled in 
history with Democritus the laughing philosopher : 

" One pitied, one condemned the woeful times ; 
One laugh'd at follies, and one wept o'er crimes." 

Some writers think both of these characteristics are mythi- 
cal, while others say they are no doubt exaggerations of 
truth ; but " there must have been something in each of these 
philosophers which formed the nucleus round which the 
fables grew." 

Heraclitus was born at Ephesus about the 6gth Olympiad 
(B.C. 503). He is represented as being of a very haughty 
and melancholy temperament, holding his fellow-men and 
their pursuits in contempt, and as being too proud to accept 
the distinguished position offered him in his native city, 

thing is, in its manifest existence, but a group of relations and reactions at 
once accounts for nature's inherent teleology. * * * It follows therefore, 
that the establishment and verification of the laws of motion are impossible. 
And yet no one knew better than Euler himself that all experimental ascertain- 
ment and verification of dynamical laws, like all acts of cognition, depend upon 
the insulation of phenomena. * * * Euler's proposition can have no other 
meaning than this, that the laws of motion cannot be established or verified 
unless we know its absolute direction and its absolute rate," which are con- 
tradictions in terms. [The italics are the author's.] Stallo : " Modern Physics,'* 
pp. 185, 186, 202. 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 31 

because it would oblige him to associate with men lacking 
in moral character. He was a misanthrope, a critic of that 
severe order which fails to see any good in others. But his 
virtue, dogged as it was, became famous. The follow- 
ing letter, written by Heraclitus to Darius, king of Persia, 
in reply to a cordial invitation to visit his court, throws some 
light upon his character : 

" Heraclitus of Ephesus to the king Darius, son of Hystas- 
pes, health ! 

"All men depart from the path of truth and justice. 
They have no attachment of any kind but avarice ; they 
only aspire to vain-glory with the obstinacy of folly. As 
for me, I know not malice ; I am the enemy of no one. I 
utterly despise courts, and never will place my foot on Per- 
sian ground. Content with little, I live as I please." 

It is not surprising to learn that the author of this letter 
" retired to the mountains and there lived on herbs and roots 
like an ascetic." 

In opposition to the mathematical school which taught 
that reason was the source of all truth, and that impressions 
through the senses were the source of the uncertainty of 
knowledge, Heraclitus believed that it was through the or- 
gans of sense that we drank in all knowledge, all truth, and 
that it was only the ill-educated sense that gave false im- 
pressions. 

The great question for him as well as for Parmenides, and 
indeed for all philosophers, was that of the origin of ideas. 
Thinkers on this important question, from ancient times to 
our day, have been divided into two principal classes, those 
who, like Parmenides, believe in idealism, holding sense in 
contempt, and those who, like Heraclitus, believe in material- 
ism, holding that all knowledge is derived through the senses. 
Thus we find in these almost prehistoric times, the deepest 
questions of mind or perception discussed, and answered 
quite as satisfactorily as they are to-day by' the great major- 
ity of metaphysicians. The only difference is, that all who 
discussed these questions in those days had the advantage 



32 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of being the originators, to at least some extent, of their 
different theories, whereas, in our time the metaphysician, 
however fantastic may be his taste, finds some theory ready- 
made to please him, and hence by the practical world is 
generally regarded as a delver in an exhausted soil. 

This popular impression with regard to metaphysicians 
cannot be complained of, when it is considered that, as a 
class, they show no advance beyond the difficulties and delu- 
sions of their most remote predecessors. It is for this reason 
that such writers as Herbert Spencer treat metaphysics con- 
temptuously, and openly declare it to be an effete science. 
They are, nevertheless, compelled to take up the very prob- 
lems which this science treats of, and attempt to solve them, 
before they can fairly begin the study of mind. The ques- 
tion, What is the ultimate reality ? must be answered before 
mental procedures can be fully understood. This is because 
the mind can be successfully studied only through its func- 
tions ; activities which at the outset must be either distin- 
guished from or identified with wider or more general activi- 
ties. It would be unjust to say, that Spencer has not iden- 
tified mental with universal activity, for he distinctly traces 
-both to the principle which he calls "the persistence of 
force," but he does not identify this principle with motion, 
nor does he point out the relations which such ultimates 
as matter, space, force, and time bear to his principle, " the 
persistence of force," or to the principle called motion. He 
therefore, without acknowledging it, enters into the sphere 
of metaphysics, but leaves it in as great confusion as before 
the advent of his system. 

When it is remembered that heat is a form of motion, the 
.following generalization of Heraclitus will not appear so wide 
of the mark : 

He conceived human intelligence to be a portion of the 
Universal Intelligence, man's soul but an emanation of the 
Universal Reason, or Fire ; and thus man, being merely a 
part of the whole, must necessarily be imperfect and transient ; 
while mankind came a little nearer to the truth, as many 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 33 

parts approach nearer to the whole than one part. Fire, or 
heat, was to him the God, the One, from which all things 
emanated and to which all things would return. Life was 
but a constant change, and all things followed in a perpetual 
flux and reflux ; the quicker and more perfect the motion, 
the higher and more perfect the life. 

Ritter says in this regard: " The notion of life implies 
that of alteration, which by the ancients was generally con- 
ceived as a form of motion. The universal life is therefore 
an eternal motion, and consequently tends, as every motion 
must, toward some end, even though this end, in the course 
of the evolution of life, present itself to us as a mere transi- 
tion to some ulterior end." ' 

Heraclitus saw vital energy in all phenomena, endless 
change in all things ; for him all was in motion, and he 
denied that there was any absolute rest, the harmony of the 
world was contained in its ever-conflicting impulses : even 
the very consciousness of life is founded on constant mo- 
tion. Is any thing but a fuller knowledge of physical phe- 
nomena lacking in these inductions? 

Anaxagoras is credited with having had such illustrious 
pupils as Pericles, Euripides, and Socrates. On leaving 
Clazomenae, his native city, he went to Athens, at a time 
when this city was rising in political importance, and be- 
coming the centre of Greek learning ; when the great Age 
of Pericles was at its dawn, and commercial and military ac- 
tivity indicated a glorious epoch. " The young Sophocles, 
that perfect flower of antique art, was then in his bloom, 
meditating on that drama which he was hereafter to bring 
to perfection in the Antigone and the (Edipus Rex." 

With Anaxagoras Ionian philosophy became naturalized 
in Athens ; though he had to struggle hard, during the 
many years he lived there, to overcome the prejudices of the 
people. His philosophy was astute, and commanded wide at- 
tention. But the names of his pupils remind us that we are 
approaching the close of what may be called the first growth 

J " Hist, of Ancient Philosophy," vol. I., p. 239. 



34 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of Greek thought, known as the pre-Socratic epoch. The 
tenets, therefore, of Anaxagoras have a certain freshness 
which subsequent systems lack, in proportion to their re- 
moteness from early Greek philosophy. To show how dis- 
heartening the monotonous repetitions of philosophy are to 
those who compare ancient and modern thought, and how 
they encourage belief in that mystery or superstition called 
the unknowable, we have but to read such passages as the 
following from Lewes : 

" Philosophy has been ever in movement, but the move- 
ment has been circular ; and this fact is thrown into stronger 
relief by contrast with the linear progress of Science. In- 
stead of perpetually finding itself, after years of gigantic 
endeavor, returned to the precise point from which it started, 
Science finds itself year by year, and almost day by day, 
advancing step by step, each accumulation of power adding 
to the momentum of its progress ; each evolution, like 
the evolutions of organic development, bringing with it 
a new functional superiority, which in its turn becomes the 
agent of higher developments. Not a fact is discovered but 
has its bearing on the whole body of doctrine ; not a me- 
chanical improvement in the construction of instruments but 
opens fresh sources of discovery. Onward, and forever on- 
ward, mightier, and forever mightier, rolls this wondrous 
tide of discovery, and the ' thoughts of men are widened by 
the process of the suns.' While the first principles of 
Philosophy are to this day as much a matter of dispute 
as they were two thousand years ago, the first principles 
of Science are securely established, and form the guiding 
lights of European progress. Precisely the same questions 
are agitated in Germany at the present moment as were 
agitated in ancient Greece ; and with no more certain 
methods of solving them, with no nearer hopes of ultimate 
success." And this from the most eminent of modern 
philosophic writers. 

Anaxagoras thus announces the principles of his system : 
" Wrongly do the Greeks suppose that aught begins 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 35 

or ceases to be ; for nothing comes into being or is de- 
stroyed ; but all is an aggregation or secretion of pre-exist- 
ent things; so that all becoming might more correctly be 
called becoming-mixed, and all corruption becoming- 
separate." * 

This idea recalls Spencer's definition of Evolution, "the 
progress from the simple, indefinite, and homogeneous, 
to the complex, definite, and heterogeneous." 

The Nous of Anaxagoras is employed as the creative prin- 
ciple or ultimate fact. The mistake which the critics of this 
system generally make is to imagine that this Nous is simi- 
lar to human intelligence. When on further examination 
into the system they find that such an intelligence has 
no place in it, as an ultimate fact, that it means the simple 
fact of motion not the complex fact of mind, they declare 
that there is a contradiction ; without seeing that they are 
themselves alone responsible for it. The original power of 
the universe Anaxagoras declared to be this Nous, which is 
generally interpreted as Intelligence, hence he is said to 
have opposed mind to matter. This principle he identified 
with all motion, viewing it as the source of all order in the 
universe. It was the rarest and purest of all things, some- 
thing above the confusion of phenomena, its characteristics 
being singleness, power, and life. He rejected Fate and 
Chance as empty words having no ultimate significance. 

A short time before the Peloponnesian war, Anaxagoras 
was accused by his enemies of impiety, and was tried and 
condemned to banishment. On leaving Athens his proud 
remark was, " It is not I who have lost the Athenians ; it is 
the Athenians who have lost me." He was an old man 
when he retired to Lampsacus, where he was much re- 
spected by the citizens, and lived quietly until his death, 
which occurred about the year 428 B.C. On his tomb may 
be seen this inscription : 

" This tomb great Anaxagoras confines, 
Whose mind explored the heavenly paths of Truth. " 

'Ritter, vol. I., p. 284. 



36 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

According to our best authorities, Empedocles was born 
at Agrigentum in Sicily ; he descended from a powerful and 
eminent family, and enjoyed a high reputation through his 
espousal of the democratic cause, at the same time that his 
native city rose to its greatest splendor and became the rival 
of Syracuse. This was about the 84th Olympiad (444 B.C.). 
Like most of the early philosophers, he is said to have trav- 
elled much in distant lands, and to have acquired a great 
store of knowledge in the East. His love of distinction was 
so great that it led him to allow a belief in his divinity. He 
dressed in gorgeous robes, wore a golden girdle and the 
Delphic crown, and surrounded himself with a courtly train 
of attendants. It was said that he possessed power to per- 
form miracles, to calm the winds, and to call the dead to 
life. In fact his personal history is so full of marvellous 
stories, so embellished by fable, that it is a very difficult 
matter to arrive at any truth concerning it. But we may 
say with certainty that he possessed rare intellectual gifts, 
and that he was extremely disinterested and generous, as he 
refused the government of Agrigentum when the citizens 
offered it to him, and he is said to have devoted most of his 
wealth to giving dowries to poor girls that they might marry 
young men of rank. 

Of the doctrines of Empedocles, Ueberweg 1 says: "Em- 
pedocles posits in his didactic poem ' On Nature/ as the ma- 
terial principles or ' roots ' of things, the four elements, earth, 
water, air, and fire, to which he joins as moving forces two 
ideal principles, love as a uniting and hate as a separating 
force. The periods of the formation of the world depend on 
the alternate prevalence of love and hate." 

To thus express the economy of the universe in sym- 
bols of human emotions, is but to follow the principle of 
idealism to one of its logical consequences. To say that 
" the mingling of the elements is the work of Love, their 
separation is effected by Hate/' is the same order of reason- 
ing as that great tenet of idealism which declares mind to be 

1 Ueberweg : " History of Philosophy," translated by G. S. Morris. 



. 

THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 37 

the absolute cause of all phenomena, and that the universe is 
governed by a supreme intelligence. Any theory which makes 
human methods and human feelings universal, any theory 
which disregards the limits of human life, is a species of 
idealism. Perhaps the mildest form of this idealism is the 
belief that love is universal ; for what is love but affinity ? 
and how natural it is to attribute to universal affinities the 
warmth and individuality of the strongest human sentiment. 
The procedure of perception is from one fact to many from 
the fact of personal existence to that of general existence. 
In Idealism we have a system which has established its in- 
ability to look beyond personal existence. 

The belief of Empedocles, that Love was the chief crea- 
tive power, and that it was identified with the Universal 
Principle, is also interesting, as it throws light upon the 
logical origin of the central principle of Christianity. 

Democritus, the laughing philosopher, was born at Ab- 
dera, in the 8oth Olympiad (B.C. 460). One writer suggests 
that perhaps the native stupidity of his countrymen, who 
were famous for abusing the privilege of being stupid, 
afforded him continual cause for merriment. His family, 
who were noble and wealthy, entertained Xerxes at Abdera, 
and the king, as a recompense, left some of his magi as in- 
structors for the young Democritus. 

The gathering mists in the history of philosophy, even at 
this early date, are to be seen in the efforts of leading 
writers to classify the philosophy of Democritus. " Rein- 
hold, Brandis, Marbach, and Hermann, view him as an 
Ionian ; Buhle and Tennemann, as an Eleatic ; Hegel, as 
the successor of Heraclitus and the predecessor of Anax- 
agoras ; Ritter, as a Sophist ; and Zeller, as the precursor of 
Anaxagoras." * Is it not already apparent that the sphere of 
philosophy is limited to the determination of an ultimate 
principle, and that the approach of each age to the solution of 
this problem is the measure of its knowledge? The systems 
we have reviewed are the efforts of powerful minds to pene- 

1 G. H. Lewes : " Biographical History of Philosophy." 



38 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

trate beyond sensible impressions to a logical focus, in which 
all lines of observation converge, disclosing the unity of 
cause. The ancients' knowledge of cause and effect, al- 
though limited, was not too limited to constantly suggest 
the possibility of this final generalization ; and all thought 
which attempted this problem was by common consent 
called philosophic, without analyzing its merit. There was 
no adequate standard of definite knowledge by which to test 
the validity of thought, and therefore the classes into which 
historians have divided the ancient systems are of very little 
use, except as aids to the memory in acquiring an historical 
knowledge of philosophy ; for the logical distinctions upon 
which these classifications are based are too vague and con- 
tradictory to be of any real value. 

As I have heretofore suggested, the question of merit in 
philosophic systems reduces itself to a comparison of the 
directness and definiteness of the ultimate or most general 
terms employed. 

If we are in the possession of the secret which all these 
systems seek, we shall have little difficulty in judging of the 
nearness of their approach to it. The fulness of our appre- 
ciation of this great truth depends upon the quality and ex- 
tent of our knowledge, the training of the character as well 
as the intellect, for knowledge does not live in words alone. 
The progress of knowledge, therefore, is the development 
of this greatest of all truths among men, and the history of 
philosophy is but a register of their efforts to get at the begin- 
ning, or greatest simplification of knowledge ; not its end. Is 
it not clear that the beginning of knowledge should be the 
deepest or most general fact ? 

We have aleady said that, as far as unaided introspection 
could accomplish the result, the ancients made as much pro- 
gress in philosophy as has been realized at any subsequent 
time. They detected the principle of universal unity, they 
declared it to be a principle, not a person, and they gave it 
such names as God, Motion, Love, Intelligence, Unity, and 
Mind. Their deepest thought was always religious, their 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 39 

deepest feeling always gravitated toward morality. Was it 
possible for them to form a conception of the universal 
principle such as we can form ? They had not the wealth 
of discovered facts which science has bequeathed to our age. 
Could they reason that light and radiant heat are different 
aspects of one kind of energy ; that the ray of light reaching 
us from the farthest star is not a fluid passing from space to 
space, but a definite agitation of an interstellar medium of 
infinite extension, and that therefore there can be no break 
in it, no absolute vacuum; that the universe \s a. plenum; 
that all differences between resistance and non-resistance, 
between matter and space, are relative, not absolute? Could 
they have ascertained the fact that all words meaning un- 
conditioned, such as absolute, abstract sequence, or force con- 
sidered apart from matter, were simply outgrowths of the 
conception of Time, that they can mean nothing more than is 
given in this subjective aspect of Motion ? Or could they have 
known that all words signifying unlimited, such as infinite, 
abstract co-existence, extension, or matter considered apart 
from force, were simply outgrowths of the conception of 
Space, that they can mean nothing more than is given in 
this objective aspect of Motion ? This deepest of all truths, 
the idea of one in three and three in one, has been dimly re- 
flected in the minds of the oldest thinkers which even tradi- 
tion tells of; it has found its way into religions and taken 
upon itself interpretations which almost forbid its recogni- 
tion ; but it is the beginning of knowledge, not its end ; 
the only use that can be made of it is to enable us 
to declare a common agreement with regard to first prin- 
ciples, and devote our attention to Knowledge, which is 
Life. 

This agreement will not take place until Science has made 
these first principles so clear that they will become the com- 
mon property of the world. This result cannot be reached 
until the ultimate signification of our most general (meta- 
physical) terms has been placed beyond dispute. When a 
term meaning time is used, we have a right to insist upon the 



40 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

limits of that conception, and so with the term space. Thus 
armed with clear and definite ideas of the scope of language, 
the most ordinary intellect can expose the fallacies of the 
conventional metaphysicians, and the tortures to which these 
autocrats of our higher speculations have subjected com- 
mon-sense minds for the past twenty-five centuries will hap- 
pily cease. 

To continue our narrative : Democritus declared Being to 
consist in an infinite number of small invisible bodies mov- 
ing in the void, these were the primary elements, and all 
production was caused by the change of relation among 
them. He accepted motion as something eternal, and did 
not attempt to explain it. Atoms, he said, being indivisible, 
must necessarily be self-existent, and all consists of Atoms 
and the Void. 

The atomism of Democritus is a very profound specula- 
tion. In it he tried to distinguish between the ideas of 
force and those of weight, and of course did not succeed. 
Lewes, anxious to compare Democritus to Leibnitz, declares 
that the atoms of Democritus had no weight, only force ; 
while on the same subject Zeller says : " Democritus sup- 
posed that all atoms are too small to be perceived by our 
senses ; this he was compelled to assume because every sub- 
stance perceptible to sense is divisible, changeable, and of 
determinate quality. But magnitude directly involves 
weight, for weight belongs to every body as such ; and as all 
matter is homogeneous, it must equally belong to all bodies ; 
so that all bodies of the same mass are of the same weight. 
The proportion of weight of particular bodies is therefore 
exclusively conditioned by the proportion of their masses, 
and corresponds entirely with this ; and when a large body ap- 
pears to be lighter than a smaller one, this is only because it 
contains in it more empty space, and therefore its mass is 
really less than that of the other. Thus the atoms must 
have weight, and the same specific weight ; but at the same 
time they must differ in weight quite as much as in magni- 
tude. This doctrine is of great importance for the Atomic 



THE PRE-SOCRATIC PERIOD. 4* 

system : texts which maintain the contrary are to be consid- 
ered erroneous." 

It is difficult to perceive what progress modern physicists, 
who regard matter as an ultimate fact, have made beyond 
this ancient theory. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 
The Sophists Socrates Plato. 

BEFORE attempting a description of the doctrines of Soc- 
rates, Plato, and Aristotle, which are looked upon as the 
climax of Greek thought, it will be well to call attention 
to the storm of common sense that swept over Greece just 
before and during the advent of these men. It was a 
general movement of dissatisfaction with the results of 
philosophic thought ; a reaction which has often repeated 
itself since then. Its leaders are referred to in the writings 
of their opponents as Sophists ; and as these writings con- 
stitute the chief literature of that epoch, our notions of the 
Sophists have been modelled by their bitter antagonists. The 
doctrines of the Sophists were the natural consequence of 
the decline of the first schools of philosophy. They were of 
use in bringing the different schools into comparison and 
showing the defects of each. Protagoras, the first and most 
accomplished of the Sophists, was born at Abdera. It is 
stated that Democritus instructed him in philosophy, but 
there is probably little truth in the statement, as Protagoras 
was older than Democritus ; still it indicates a certain con- 
nection between the thought of the two philosophers. Pro- 
tagoras endeavored to trace the origin of all conceptions to 
sensation. His doctrine was, that all thought is the same as 
sensation, and is limited by it ; and that as all sensation is 
but relatively true, all knowledge is relative, and therefore 
imperfect. In the energetic mind of Protagoras these con- 
clusions led to outright skepticism. It resulted in the for- 

42 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 43 

mula : " Man is the measure of all things " ; an epigram 
which expresses with wonderful clearness the doctrine of 
Kant and the great school of modern idealists. In tracing 
all thought to sensation, however, we have a forecast of 
modern psychology. The following translation from Sextus 
Empiricus is perhaps the best description extant of the psy- 
chological doctrines of Protagoras. 

" Matter," says Protagoras, " is in a perpetual flux ; whilst 
it undergoes augmentations and losses, the senses also are 
modified, according to the age and disposition of the 
body." 

" The reasons of all phenomena (appearances) resided in 
matter as substrata ; so that matter, in itself, might be what- 
ever it appeared to each. But men have different percep- 
tions at different times, according to the changes in the thing 
perceived. Whoever is in a healthy state perceives things 
such as they appear to all others in a healthy state, and vice 
versa. A similar course holds with respect to different ages, 
as well as in sleeping and waking. Man is therefore the 
criterion of that which exists ; all that is perceived by 
him exists, that which is perceived by no man does not 
exist." 1 

It would be hard to find a simpler and more lucid expres- 
sion of the Kantian theory of perception than this doctrine 
of Protagoras. From the speech of Callicles, in " Plato's 
Gorgias," we can gain an idea of the way in which the 
Sophists regarded philosophy. 

" Philosophy is a graceful thing when it is moderately cul- 
tivated in youth ; but, if any one occupies himself with it 
beyond the proper age, it ruins him ; for, however great may 
be his natural capacity, if he philosophizes too long, he must 
of necessity be inexperienced in all those things which 
one who would be great and eminent must be experienced 
in. He must be unacquainted with the laws of his country, 
and with the mode of influencing other men in the inter- 
course of life, whether private or public, and with the pleas- 

1 " Pyrrhon. Hypot.," p. 44. (Trans, by Lewes.) 



44 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

ures and passions of men ; in short, with human characters^ 
and manners. And when such men are called upon to act, 
whether on a private or public occasion, they expose them- 
selves to ridicule, just as politicians do when they come to 
your conversation, and attempt to cope with you in argu- 
ment ; for every man, as Euripides says, occupies himself 
with that in which he finds himself superior ; that in which 
he is inferior he avoids, and speaks ill of it, but praises what 
he excels in, thinking that in doing so he is praising himselL 
The best thing, in my opinion, is to partake of both. It is, 
good to partake of philosophy by way of education, and it 
is not ungraceful in a young man to philosophize. But if 
he continues to do so when he grows older, he becomes ri- 
diculous, and I feel toward him as I should toward a grown 
person who lisped and played at childish plays. When I see 
an old man still continuing to philosophize, I think he de- 
serves to be flogged. However great his natural talents, he 
is under the necessity of avoiding the assembly and public 
places, where, as the poet says, men become eminent, and to 
hide himself, and to pass his life whispering to two or three 
striplings in a corner, but never speaking out any thing great, 
and bold, and liberal." 

It is to be seen by this that the Sophists were merely ag- 
gressive skeptics. They lost faith in the power of man to 
reason out his relations with the universe, and turned their 
attention to studying the relations of men to one another. 
Both the skeptics and the Sophists were convinced of the 
insufficiency of all knowledge, but the former contented 
themselves with reasoning upon this conviction, while the 
latter turned from philosophy and devoted themselves to 
politics and rhetoric. 

Thus Plato represents Protagoras as arguing, " that the: 
wise man is the physician of the soul. He cannot, indeed, 
induce truer thoughts into the mind, for all are alike true, 
but better and more profitable ; thus he may heal the souls 
not merely of individuals, but also of States, since, by the 
power of oratory, he may introduce good and useful senti- 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 45 

merits and opinions in the place of the base and the hurt- 
ful." ' 

In Grote's " History of Greece," as well as in Lewes' 
*' History of Philosophy," a spirited defence of the Sophists 
is made against the many and bitter attacks of Plato and of 
those who followed his example. It is worthy of remark 
that the criticisms which Socrates directed against the 
Sophists are free from that party spirit which characterizes 
the attacks of the Platonists. We find no such bitterness 
between Socrates and the Sophists in the biographical work 
of Xenophon. 

The Sophists acquired wealth and power by educating the 
children of rich and noble families ; and judging from the 
constant polemics of Plato against them, their influence 
must have been great. It is said of them that they held as 
a principle that nothing was right by nature, but only by 
convention, and that following this pernicious rule of expe- 
diency they made all law and justice yield to personal in- 
terest. But these are too general terms in which to condemn 
any class. They suggest more antithesis than is possible 
between right and reason. It must be remembered that 
with the Sophists disputation became an art, and that, like 
many of our modern journalists and lawyers, carried away 
by their own eloquence, they sometimes made the worse 
cause appear the better. When it is said that much of the 
immorality of the time is attributable to the influence of 
their teaching, the limit of just criticism is reached. They 
were the intellectual leaders of their age, but the degener- 
acy of that age had causes far beyond their control. It is 
certain that about this period egotism reigned supreme, State 
trampled upon State, and the people of Greece, losing all 
respect for law, were not slow in violating private as well as 
public rights. The quibbling nature of the Greeks, and their 
excessive love of lawsuits, led them to value the art of 
oratory like that of arms, as an important means of self- 
defence, especially as each citizen was obliged to appear in 

1 Ritter : " Hist, of Ancient Philosophy," vol. I., p. 578. 



46 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

person before the courts of justice and plead his own cause. 
To become a master in the art of disputation was the ambition 
of all, for no one could hope to attain to a high position with- 
out this acquirement. It would be ungrateful to the Sophists, 
however, not to acknowledge the indirect benefits which we 
have derived from their influence ; for " if forensic oratory 
does sometimes make the worse appear the better reason, it 
also makes the good appear in all its strength. The former 
is a necessary evil, the latter is the very object of a court of 
justice." 

The reign of doubt, both scientific and moral, which in- 
vaded all departments of Greek life during the supremacy of 
the Sophists, received a strong check from the influence of a 
great moral teacher, whom the needs of the times produced. 
This teacher was Socrates, who was born B.C. 469, during 
the golden period of Greek intellectual life, though his ca- 
reer was synchronous with the decline of Athenian political 
power. The story of his trial and execution is one of the 
most touching and impressive in history. The Peloponne- 
sian war, which ended in the fall of Athens, was carried on 
during the active life of Socrates ; and the causes which 
were working the ruin of the Athenian Empire the decline 
of manhood and patriotism seemed to call this great moral 
teacher into being. 

" Every thing about Socrates is remarkable personal ap- 
pearance, moral physiognomy, position, object, method, life, 
and death." 

Among the art treasures of the Acropolis there was for 
many years a group of graces which tradition accredited 
to Socrates. According to Diogenes Laertius the young- 
sculptor attracted the interest of Crito, a wealthy Athenian, 
who provided for his education, and afterward became a de- 
voted disciple of the moral reformer whose powers he had 
so early recognized. 

In the second division of this work, entitled The Nature 
of Perception, we have attempted to demonstrate that thought 
is a manifestation of natural laws ; that it is an expression 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 4; 

of the conditions of life, the inevitable expression ; but the 
conditions are far too complex to admit of any predictions 
of events, excepting in the most general terms. In the case 
of great moral teachers or prophets, such as Socrates, that 
which constitutes their influence and enraptures others, is 
not a mystical power of divination concerning the particu- 
lars of the future, but the grasp of truth expressed in the 
grandeur and purity of their lives. Their powers of divina- 
tion are wholly natural. They perceive the future because 
they have discerned the deepest principles of life, and apply 
them in judging coming events. Knowing and feeling these 
principles more deeply than others, they command a wider 
view of human life. 

Modern psychology teaches that perception is a purely 
natural activity akin with activities which we regard as sim- 
ple or comprehensible ; what distinguishes mental from 
what are known as natural phenomena is simply the higher 
complexity of the conditions. Moral perceptions, therefore, 
such as have made Socrates immortal, presuppose but a 
higher and broader life, deeper sympathy, further insight, 
greater logical sensitiveness. 

Many suppose with regard to men as with regard to re- 
ligions, that " if they contained no mystery they would in- 
spire no reverence." This is only true for those who are en- 
tirely beyond the influence of the divine unity of nature, 
who imagine that familiar things are somehow isolated from 
the unfamiliar, who have never thought out the great truth 
that every fact is indissolubly connected with all facts, and that 
it is the principle of perception that discloses to us that uni- 
versal fact which explains both life and mind. Any hypothe- 
sis concerning future events can only be a more or less in- 
telligent judgment of consequences from experiences. If 
prophesies of future events are by nature imagined experi- 
ences, what shall we say of predictions which are declared to 
be entirely beyond the pale of experience? The nature of 
language declares them to be self-contradictory ; for language, 
and thought, which is in great part the function of language ... 



48 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

to be intelligible must represent experiences. Under this 
category of self-contradictory statements must come all at- 
tempted descriptions of a future life essentially different 
from the life which we experience. To be intelligible, every 
thought must be subordinate to the broad generalization 
that life is an eternal and infinite principle without begin- 
ning or end, and that this principle is manifested in every 
kind and degree of phenomena. 

These remarks are required by the fact that we are about 
to recount the earliest attempt to establish a philosophical 
basis for the belief in a future existence. 

Among all the earlier nations, and among nearly all sav- 
age tribes, a future life has been more or less distinctly be- 
lieved in. In fact, it would be difficult to find a religion or 
a philosophy in which this belief is not a prominent feature. 
But a refinement of intelligence which can alone come with 
an increased definiteness in our understanding of general 
terms, a purification of language, brings these vague and 
unrestrained beliefs under a higher and higher discipline. 
The details of a physical immortality are one by one rejected 
as inconsistent, until the belief, as it is held by the better 
class of minds, to-day is a formless principle, which they dare 
not limit even by the most general description. Closely 
allied to the belief in immortality is the idea of a personal 
God, or a design in nature commonly known as the doctrine 
of a Divine Providence. 

All these beliefs, which are logically inseparable, we find 
warmly entertained by the great moralist of ancient Greece. 
Although Socrates was not the first to treat of the immor- 
tality of the soul, he was the first, as we have said, to give 
it a philosophical basis. We find in his arguments in sup- 
port of the theory of a divine providence many anticipations 
of the modern writers upon Natural Theology. 

All those deep sentiments which are more or less perfectly 
voiced in the religions of the world were constantly arising 
in his mind and asserting themselves in his conversations. 
"' How is it, Aristodemus, thou rememberest or remarkest 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 49 

not, that the kingdoms and commonwealths most renowned, 
as well for their wisdom as antiquity, are those whose piety 
and devotion have been the most observable ? and that even 
man himself is never so well disposed to serve the Deity * as 
in that part of life when reason bears the greatest sway, and 
his judgment is supposed to be in its full strength and 
maturity ? * * * Then shalt thou, my Aristodemus, under- 
stand there is a Being whose eye pierceth throughout all 
nature, and whose ear is open to every sound ; extended to 
all places, extending through all time ; and whose bounty 
and care can know no other bound than those fixed by his 
own creation." 2 

The fitting mission of Socrates was the education of 
youth, for he saw more honor in making wise and virtuous 
citizens and rulers than in being chief ruler of the state him- 
self. He was willing to assist all in the paths of knowledge, 
but each must conquer truth for himself. The injunction of 
the Delphic god, " know thyself," seemed to realize his phi- 
losophy. He confined himself chiefly to ethical questions 
concerning both public and private life, seeking to counter- 
act the influences of sophistry, with its debasing opinion 
that there was no truth for man, only the shadow of it, with 
which he might " disporte himself at will." 

Order seems to have been the motive of Socrates' method. 
He lived in a time when science was in its infancy. The 
method of science, well understood to-day to be wholly that 
of sensible experiences and their logical extension into the 
sphere of mind, was then hopelessly confused with vague 
theories and speculations. Socrates did not by any means 
penetrate to the principle of perception. His psychology 
was of the rudest sort, but he insisted upon order in mental 
procedures by demanding definitions. His whole method 
was simply an effort to systematize the every-day thinking 

1 "Although both in doctrine and conduct Socrates invariably evinced his re- 
spect for the national deities, still it cannot be denied that he shared the opinion 
which had led many of the earliest philosophers to attack and reject polytheism, 
namely, that one supreme God ruled all human things." Ritter, vol. II., 27. 

3 Xenophon : " Memorabilia," chap. iv. 



50 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE 

of his fellow-men. He would take the most familiar sub- 
jects, and ask his pupils to give their understanding of them. 
Hence common observation, not minute research, was his 
field. Of course, in these conversations it was necessary to 
classify objects, forming them into groups and sub-groups. 
The words genus and species, and the notion of the indi- 
viduals included in them, were employed by Socrates. For 
him these classes merely represented different families of 
objects and the individuals composing them, classified on 
the basis of certain kinds of relationships. This primitive 
classification, without the aid of which it is impossible to 
proceed to any great lengths in reasoning, was the beginning 
of logic a very much abused as well as an overestimated 
word. The simplest thought involves logic, which word 
means, in its plainest sense, a conscious employment of the 
fundamental process of all thought, the classification of ob- 
jects. So that Socrates was merely an orderly thinker of 
great natural benevolence and integrity, who found so much 
disorder of thought and action about him that he devoted 
his life to giving others the two-fold benefit of his clearer in- 
tellectual perceptions and of his higher ideals of conduct. 
That he produced a revolution in thought, initiated the in- 
ductive method, and founded Greek Philosophy (which are 
claims that his biographers repeatedly make), are only other 
ways of expressing the above facts. The point to which we 
would call attention is, that Socrates, while he was the 
subtlest of disputants, was not, in our sense, a metaphy- 
sician. Up to his day, and during his time, metaphysics 
were in too rude a state to be recognized as a form of inves- 
tigation. Philosophy had not as yet agreed upon a vocabu- 
lary which could make the separation of metaphysics and 
science possible. Taking the experiences of daily life for 
his data, his conclusions had to do with human actions more 
than with ultimate principles. The only ultimate principle 
that he posited was the existence of God, his symbol of per- 
fect action. He devoted himself to the study of the nature 
of Knowledge as expressed in human conduct, and his chief 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT, 51 

conclusion was the identification of Virtue and Knowledge. 

Socrates hovered on the threshold of that long avenue of 
thought which in its detours has included the whole field of 
metaphysical speculation. His pupil Plato, followed by 
Aristotle, plunged into this labyrinth, and they have been 
followed by the great majority of those who have become 
what might be called professional thinkers ; but Socrates 
held on so firmly to the principle that thought and action 
are but different sides of the great fact called Knowledge, 
that he never exchanged the world of facts for the world of 
words, in which metaphysicians live. We do not mean that 
Socrates consciously grasped this principle in any thing like 
the fulness with which it can be understood in this age ; for 
this fulness is the product of its growth in the countless di- 
rections which scientific investigation has taken. There are 
also many indications of the metaphysical tendency of mis- 
taking words for things in his teachings. He saw that all 
phenomena were but coordinated changes, and he sought 
for a stable existence. But he never declared that this stable 
or unchanging existence 1 was an inherent quality of words 
(or of the ideas which they represent), as distinguished from 
the objects of thought which give rise to both the words 
and the ideas. This assumption constitutes the first and 
last mistake of metaphysics. 3 

Plato did make this assumption, and, having once made 
it, he was forced to elaborate the error into a system of ex- 
planations from w r hich modern idealism has sprung. 

In approaching the works of Plato, it will be well to define 
again the position which we have taken, namely, that the 
logical circle in which all attempts at ultimate analysis inev- 
itably revolve has already been described by the philosophy 
of Greece. The point or principle at which all analysis ends 

1 We would call the reader's attention to the fact that the phrase "unchang- 
ing existence," although often employed in metaphysical writings, is a meaning- 
less contradiction in terms, because all existence has for its source or ultimate: 
fact the principle of change. 

3 "Names henceforth have the force of things." See Plato's " Cratylus,"' 
passim. 



52 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

and all synthesis begins has already been disclosed through 
the speculations of the pre-Socratic philosophers. Hence, now 
that we are about to examine the genius of another thinker, 
let us bear in mind that any truths which he may have to offer 
us, if they are new, are only other applications of this funda- 
mental truth which we have discovered. In other words, 
the only field for novelty left to those who have solved the 
metaphysical problem is that of variety, for we have estab- 
lished the divine unity in performing an ultimate analysis. 

We must not adopt the prevalent notion that Plato was 
essentially a poetical idealist, a dreaming philosopher, and 
the author of the popular conception of platonic love. 
" Plato [says Lewes] was any thing but a dreamer or an 
idealist ; he was a severe thinker, a confirmed dialectician, 
and a great quibbler. He gathered into a beautiful whole 
the scattered results of the earlier Greek philosophy, and 
yet his metaphysics are so abstract as to puzzle all but the 
most persevering student. His moral character has come 
down to us free from stain. Both his morals and his politics 
are of the highest logical severity, almost above the reach of 
humanity. He seems to have regarded human passions and 
pleasures with contempt. For him life was worth nothing 
if not devoted entirely to the search of truth." 

Aristocles, surnamed Plato (the broad-browed), was born 
at Athens or ^Egina, in the 8;th Olympiad (B.C. 430), 
about the time of the Peloponnesian war and the death 
of Pericles. By birth he was connected with some of the 
most distinguished families of Athens. He received an ex- 
cellent education, in which gymnastics were not neglected ; 
for, like a true Greek, he considered that gymnastics did for 
the body what dialectics did for the mind. His early youth 
was devoted to poetry, music, and rhetoric ; but at the age 
of twenty, when he became acquainted with Socrates, he 
abandoned these pursuits and devoted himself entirely to 
philosophy. The melancholy meditative mind of this re- 
markable scholar led him to love the contemplation of 
^Nature. Skepticism, that fever of the age, was not without 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 53 

its effect upon him. Along with doubt went the deep 
craving for belief, and under the guidance of his beloved 
master he earnestly sought for truth. He remained with 
Socrates until death separated them. He sought at the 
trial to defend his master, but this was not permitted him ; 
he then begged Socrates to accept a sufficient sum of money 
to buy his life, but Socrates preferred to die for his convic- 
tions. 

A public garden in the neighborhood of Athens, called 
the Academia, was the resort of Plato and his pupils. 
Here the famous lectures were given which are still imitated 
in almost every seat of learning in Christendom, and it will 
be our special endeavor to explain the subtle errors which 
are involved in the reasonings of this greatest of the ancient 
dialecticians. 

The story which has been so widely circulated concerning 
the inscription over the door of his academy, "Let none but 
Geometricians enter here" is supposed to have originated in 
the purely argumentative nature of the discourse. The chief 
objection to its authenticity was that Plato regarded mathe- 
matics as entirely distinct from philosophy, not only in its 
objects but in its method of reasoning. Nor did he admit 
poetry to his philosophy. Poets he held to be inspired mad- 
men, unconscious of what fell from their lips. 

Throughout a long lifetime of thought, many changes of 
opinion must naturally take place in an active mind, and it; 
is most necessary to remember this in regard to Plato. We 
find that in his old age he discards the idea of Socrates, which 
identifies virtue with knowledge, and vice with ignorance, 
thereby making vice involuntary. Plato adds incontinence to 
ignorance as the cause of our errors ; and in speaking of 
anger and pleasure as the causes of our faults, he mentions 
ignorance as being a third cause. 

Like Socrates, he was in doubt respecting the certainty of 
knowledge ; and if his life was devoted to the search of 
truth, it was without professing to have found it. 

Plato approached to the solution of the central question 



54 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of metaphysics and this is the more wonderful when we 
consider the condition of science in his day for Aristotle 
says that Plato, in the Timczus, maintained space and matter 
to be the same, but that, in what are called the unwritten 
opinions, he considered space and place to be the same. 

Socrates, in his investigations, relied mainly on the in- 
ductive mode of reasoning, and on definitions. These did 
not satisfy Plato : he found it necessary to go still further, 
and to insist upon analysis as a philosophic process, it being 
impossible to understand the whole without first under- 
standing the parts, or, as he says, " seeing the One in the 
many." Long before Plato's time the idea had become 
prevalent that sense-perception was unreliable and incom- 
plete, as it was but the knowledge of the changeable, or of 
phenomena. But it was far too early in the history of 
knowledge to grasp the idea that all life is change, and that 
the unchangeable which they sought was the principle of 
Unity, and not another kind of existence. In transitory 
phenomena Plato did not perceive the true existence, but 
only the image of it. To know real existence (his words 
were deeper than he knew) one must seek to discover the 
invariable in the variable, the One in the many. 

During the summer of 1881, I had occasion to visit the 
Concord School of Philosophy, in Massachusetts, which I 
had been informed was founded principally upon the doc- 
trines of Plato. There was a little rustic chapel built 
among trees in a picturesque position. It was at some dis- 
tance from the village, so that the lecturers and students 
had a pleasant walk to and from the grove. I arrived in 
time to hear an evening lecture ; it was on the subject of 
Faded Metaphors, a very pleasing discourse, of a character 
to serve as an interlude to the heavy philosophic arguments 
which were the order of the place. After the lecture I met 
a school-teacher from the west, who had come there deter- 
mined to learn philosophy ; and, being very anxious to know 
the drift of the thought of the school, I asked him if he was 
able to make the philosophy which he learned there agree 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 55 

with such knowledge or facts as he possessed ? He replied 
with perfect earnestness : " In this school we learn a philoso- 
phy that is above the range of what are generally termed 
facts." " But," I insisted, " supposing you cannot make 
\vhat you learn agree with such facts as you have, what do 
you do then?" " Then," he replied, " we make the facts 
agree with our philosophy." 

In the morning, there was a lecture upon the Idealism of 
Plato, given in the tone of a disciple of that great master. 
It occupied two hours. One of the illustrations used and 
it cannot be denied that it is a fair consequence of Platonic 
reasoning was this : " The St. Louis Bridge does not really 
exist in the structure that spans the Mississippi ; its real ex- 
istence is in the idea of the engineer who constructed it." 
Here is Plato's answer to Diogenes, who thought he had 
demolished the theory of idealism by saying, " I see indeed a 
table, but I see no idea of a table." Plato replied, " Because 
you see with your eyes and not with your reason." Twenty- 
three centuries after this reply was made, we find the 
disciples of Plato in America teaching the same difference 
between the perception of the senses and that of the reason. 
Both Plato and his modern disciples agree in saying that the 
phenomenal, the changing, or the unreal, is that which is 
perceived by the senses, and that the noumenon, the unchang- 
ing, or the real, is that which is perceived by the reason. 

" Plato, "says Lewes, " held that human knowledge is nec- 
essarily imperfect, that sensation troubles the intellectual 
eye, and that only when the soul is free from the hindrances 
of the body shall we be able to discern things in all the in- 
effable splendor of truth." 

We would not question the fact that the " ineffable splen- 
dor of truth " is obscure, and that we need purification of 
mind and life to perceive it, but we wish to emphasize the 
great truth that the aspect of the natural procedure of per- 
ception, which is known as the perception of the senses, is 
not to be regarded as a degraded aspect because in the nar- 
row view taken of it we cannot see the highest results of 



56 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

thought. We should regard the perception of the senses as 
a means to an end ; we should remember that the limits we 
give it have no objective existence, that they are purely the 
effect of our method of classification, which is another name 
for perception itself ; and that therefore the perception of 
the senses is just as exalted in its nature as the highest 
achievements of the reason. 

This principle of Idealism, this disease of philosophy, 
which was announced by Plato, burlesqued by Berkeley, per- 
petuated by Kant, renewed by Hegel, and revived in this 
country by the Concord School of Philosophy, is, that there 
are two distinct kinds of human perception, one the per- 
ception of the reason, and the other the perception of the 
senses ; the product of the one being noumena, ideas, reality,, 
and that of the other phenomena, objects, change. 

This is not the place to demonstrate the fallacy of sup- 
posing that there are two distinct kinds of perception, pro- 
ducing different results. In the second division of this work 
I hope to show the inconsistency of this idealistic theory 
from the organic standpoint ; but here we have to do with 
the super-organic sphere, that of language, and we must de- 
pend upon the demonstrated significance of words for our 
refutation. Are not the means at hand? If the ultimate 
principle, existence, reality, is the fact of motion, or change,, 
how can phenomena, which is another word for change, have 
less to do with reality than noumena, which is a term created 
to express unchanging existence ? Where shall we find un- 
changing existence ? Two other terms which we find con- 
trasted by the ideal theory are reality and change ; and this 
contrast illuminates the whole question ; for do we not suf- 
ficiently understand the meaning of metaphysical terms to 
see that change and reality both stand for the same ultimate 
principle? Thus the antithesis which idealism seeks to 
establish between reality and change falls to the ground 
when the contrasted terms are measured by one standard of 
reality. But there is one more position which Plato holds,, 
namely, the contrast of reality between ideas and objects. 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 57- 

Aristotle says : " Plato followed Socrates respecting defini- 
tions, but, accustomed as he was to inquiries into universals, 
he supposed that definitions should be those of intelligibles 
(i. e. noumend] rather than of sensibles (i. e. phenomena] : for 
it is impossible to give a general definition to sensible objects, 
which are always changing. Those Intelligible Essences he 
called Ideas ; adding that sensible objects were different 
from Ideas, and received from them their names ; for it is in 
consequence of their participation in Ideas, that all objects of 
the same genus receive the same name as the Ideas." * 

It is with a certain reluctance that we make this quota- 
tion ; for, although it is one of the clearest of all the interpreta- 
tions of Plato's idealism, it has that fatal mist about it which 
has permanently enshrouded so many powerful minds. Here 
are the quicksands of philosophy which have swallowed up 
so many thinkers, who by their gigantic efforts to extricate 
themselves have made enduring fame. Recognizing the 
danger of this perilous place, let us remember our principles,, 
and we shall be safe. 

To repeat : " Definitions should be those of intelligibles 
(i. e. noumend) rather than of sensibles (i. e. phenomena], for it 
is impossible to give a general definition to sensible objects, 
which are always changing." Intelligibles which are after- 
ward identified with ideas are unchanging existences (i. e., 
noumend], and sensibles which are afterward identified with 
objects are changing existences (i. e. phenomena]. The ob- 
ject of Plato is to prove that intelligibles, ideas, unchanging 
existences, noumena terms which are all identified as having 
the same ultimate significance represent reality ; and that 
sensibles, objects, changing existences, phenomena which 
are also identified as terms having the same ultimate signifi- 
cance represent the opposite of reality. This brings out 
Plato's central idea (of the truth of which we are now able 
to judge), namely, that unchanging means real, and that 
changing means unreal. This is the idealist theory as it 
first appeared in the world, reduced to its simplest terms. 

'Metaph. I., 6, p. 28. Bohn. 



58 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

It is next to impossible for minds trained to this school of 
thought to escape this dogma and recognize that the central 
fact of the universe is change. 

Plato's thought is susceptible of a much higher inter- 
pretation than is to be found in modern Idealism, as he 
"sought to detect the One amidst the multiplicity of ma- 
terial phenomena, and, having detected it, declared it to be 
the real essence of matter, so also did he seek to detect the 
One amidst the multiplicity of ideas, and, having detected 
it, declared it to be God. What ideas were to phenomena, 
God was to ideas the last result of generalization. God 
was thus the One Being comprising within himself all other 
Beings, the Cause of all things, celestial and terrestrial. 
God was the supreme Idea. Whatever view we take of the 
Platonic cosmology whether God created ideas, or whether 
he only fashioned unformed matter after the model of ideas 
we are equally led to the conviction that God represented 
the supreme Idea of all existence ; the great Intelligence, 
source of all other intelligences ; the Sun whose light illu- 
mined creation." 

This interpretation is clearly a logical development of the 
thought of Plato. It discloses the highest results of the 
Platonic reasonings, and does not confine itself to what is 
said in the original. The ability of Lewes to thus instil 
a higher meaning into the dialectics of Plato cannot be 
doubted by those who have read his invaluable writings on 
the " Problems of Life and Mind," which will be fully re- 
viewed in Part II. It is nevertheless difficult to read this 
far-seeing interpretation of Plato's thought without wonder- 
ing that its author failed to perceive the simple solution of 
the metaphysical problem, especially as we find abundant 
evidence in Lewes' works that he was conscious of the need 
and of the possibility of this solution. 

Plato held that intelligence was another name for God. 
He reasons that, in this world of changing phenomena, evil 
dwells, and to overcome the evil we must lead the life of 

1 Lewes : " Hist, of Philosophy," p. 229. 



^%few*2/ 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 59 

the gods. Now, what was the life of the gods? Every 
Platonist will tell you that it is a life of the eternal contem- 
plation of Truth, of Ideas. Man must find his salvation in 
dialectics. 

A glance at Plato's psychology will give us a still better 
idea of the character of his thought, and its degree of diver- 
gence from what is acknowledged in our day as safe or sci- 
entific reasoning. Plato considered the soul as a self-sub- 
sisting essence, the principle of all motion in the universe ; 
it always has been, and always will be. It does not depend 
for its existence on its union with the body ; and as it ex- 
isted before the union, so it will exist after the separation. 
The difference between animate and inanimate bodies is, 
that the former has a soul which moves it from within, 
Avhile the latter is moved from without ; so the soul is 
everywhere the moving force, which can neither be pro- 
duced nor decay, else all motion would eventually cease. 
This double-edged belief in immortality (the belief in a pre- 
natal as well as in a future existence) is really the only con- 
sistent form which it can take. 

Thus we see that during the time of Plato there were just 
as pure conceptions of the Deity as can be found in our 
time. God, by the best minds then, was regarded as a prin- 
ciple, not as a person ; the source of all light and good, and 
the end of all generalization. The concrete conceptions of 
the Deity, so prevalent among us, which ascribe to him the 
attributes and limits of humanity, are merely less successful 
efforts to reach an ultimate principle, although they occur in 
a later age. It is also to be seen that morality, in ancient 
Greece, was taught with a directness and freshness which 
compares with any method to be found in our age, and that 
these moral teachings are the more to be admired on account 
of their freedom from those personal incentives which have 
crept into the ethics of more recent times. The great 
moral teacher of Galilee, who bore the same relation to the 
decline of Roman power and manhood that Socrates bore to 
the decline of the power and manhood of ancient Greece, 



60 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE, 

was not to be heard for nearly four centuries, and yet there 
is not a precept which he taught, nor a sentiment which he 
breathed, that has not its counterpart and peer in the annals 
of Greek thought and feeling. It would be well, before 
leaving Plato, to call attention to the fact that Lewes objects 
to calling Plato an idealist, as that phrase is usually under- 
stood ; and in the same breath he says, " Plato was an invet- 
erate dialectician." It is these fine distinctions between 
different degrees of error in metaphysics which make this 
study perhaps the most fruitless and discouraging in the 
whole field of research. 

Speaking of Plato's ideal theory, Lewes says: "Plato, 
according to Aristotle, gave to General Terms a distinct 
existence, and called them Ideas. He asserted that there 
was the abstract man no less than the concrete men; the 
latter were men only in as far as they participated in the 
ideal man." If this is not idealism, as the word is usually 
understood, then the word idealism cannot be used to indi- 
cate any definite type of belief. 

Again Lewes says : " Dialectics was the base of the Pla- 
tonic doctrine. Indeed, Plato believed in no other science ; 
dialectics and philosophy were synonymous. For dialectics, 
(or logic) to be synonymous with philosophy, the theory of 
Ideas was necessary. Dialectics is the science of general 
propositions, of general terms, of universals. To become 
the science, it must necessarily be occupied with more impor- 
tant things. Ideas are these important things ; for Ideas 
are at once the only real Existences and General Terms." 

If Dialectics is the science of universals, and universals 
are ideas, and ideas are the only real existences, surely dialec- 
tics, at least as Plato taught the science, is nothing more nor 
less than Idealism. If Plato's ideas, however, were continu- 
ally changing, as we are told they were, while the meaning 
of his terms remained relatively constant, there is plenty of 
room for confusion in expounding his thought. 

The influence of Plato upon subsequent ages is only sec- 
ond to that of Aristotle. Throughout the time of the Alex- 



THE CLIMAX OF GREEK THOUGHT. 6 1 

andrian school, in which Plato's philosophy received so 
many interpretations, until the second century of our era, 
when Ammonius Saccas founded the school of the Neo-Pla- 
tonists, the mind of Plato seems to have presided over the 
most thoughtful part of the world. 

The second generation of the Neo-Platonists went to great 
lengths in mysticism, citing texts from the writings of their 
" God-enlightened master " as authority for all sorts of 
extravagances of faith, among which were the revival of the 
ancient rites of expiation, divination, astrology, and the inter- 
pretation of visions ; all of which had been strongly con- 
demned by Plato. Plutarch, and Boethius (the last of the 
Neo-Platonists), redeemed somewhat the character of this 
philosophy, until it almost disappeared after the Emperor 
Justinian interdicted all instruction in the Platonic schools. 

The early Christian Fathers owe much of their theology 
to Plato. " Justin Martyr, Jerome, and Lactantius, all speak 
of him as the wisest and greatest of philosophers. St. 
Augustine calls him his converter, and thanks God that he 
became acquainted with Plato first and with the Gospel 
afterward." Passages of his Dialogues bear a close resem- 
blance to parts of the Scriptures, and the moral ideals which 
are pictured in the Platonic accounts of the death of Socrates 
are reproduced with singular faithfulness in the Christian 
accounts of the tragedy of Christ. 

Thus the metaphysical teachings and the original genius 
of Plato have become insensibly merged in Christianity. In 
the bosom of the Christian Church Plato survives through 
the dark ages, when the classics were read only by monks 
and churchmen, and Platonism, with its natural logical 
opponent the Aristotelian faith, produced through the 
agency of Scholasticism that marvellous compound of Greek 
thought and primitive science known as Mediaeval Theology. 
When in the wake of this development the revival of learn- 
ing in Europe brought into life a modern philosophy, the 
influence of Plato again asserted itself, and the German 
idealists have made this great teacher immortal. 



CHAPTER IV. 

ARISTOTLE, THE STOICS, THE CYNICS, AND THE SKEPTICS OF THE 
NEW ACADEMY. 

Aristotle Zeno the Stoic Antisthenes Diogenes Epicurus Pyrrho 
Arcesilaus Carneades. 

ARISTOTLE was the scientist of antiquity. His life was 
given rather to the investigation of facts than to abstract 
speculation. He had an aversion to the unrealities of meta- 
physics, and yet he was obliged, in common with every 
thinker of every school, to offer his solution of the great 
metaphysical problem. This effort led to the formation of 
his celebrated ten categories of thought, or the classification 
of the ultimate realities, which will receive full treatment as 
we proceed. 

Aristotle was born at Stagira, a colony of Thrace on the 
western shores of the Strymonic Gulf, in the QQth Olympiad 
(B.C. 384). His life was one long devotion to the pursuit of 
knowledge. His writings were numerous, but only a fourth 
part of them is supposed to have descended to us ; and the 
authenticity of even these has long been a subject of dis- 
cussion among scholars. The influence of these works, 
spurious and genuine, upon Eastern as well as European cul- 
ture, it is impossible to estimate. " Translated in the fifth 
century of the Christian era into the Syriac language by the 
Nestorians, who fled into Persia, and from Syriac into Arabic 
four hundred years later, his writings furnished the Moham- 
medan conquerors of the East with a germ of science which, 
but for the effect of their religious and political institutions, 
might have shot up into as tall a tree as it did produce in 



ARISTOTLE. 6^ 

the West ; while his logical works, in the Latin translation 
which Boethius, ' the last of the Romans,' bequeathed as a 
legacy to posterity, formed the basis of that extraordinary 
phenomenon, the Philosophy of the Schoolmen. An em- 
pire like this, extending over nearly twenty centuries of time, 
sometimes more and sometimes less despotically, but always 
with great force, recognized in Bagdad and in Cordova, in 
Egypt and in Britain, and leaving abundant traces of itself 
in the language and modes of thought of every European 
nation, is assuredly without a parallel." 

The ceaseless civil wars and counter-invasions which make 
up the major part of the history of Greece had exhausted 
the nation, enabling Philip of Macedon to subjugate the 
Greek States. Philip gave the charge of the education of 
his son Alexander to Aristotle, who taught the illustrious 
boy philosophy during four years. They separated at the 
beginning of the Macedonian war. Aristotle went to Ath- 
ens to open his school, which received the name of Peripa- 
tetic, from his habit of walking up and down the shady 
groves of the Lyceum while explaining his philosophy. Alex- 
ander departed on his Indian expedition accompanied by 
Calisthenes, a pupil and kinsman of Aristotle. The philoso- 
pher long enjoyed the favor of Philip and Alexander. "The 
conqueror is said, in Athenaeus, to have presented his master 
with the sum of eight hundred talents (about one million 
dollars) to meet the expenses of his ' History of Animals/ 
and, enormous as the sum is, it is only in proportion to the 
accounts we have of the vast wealth acquired by the plunder 
of the Persian treasures. Pliny also relates that some thous- 
ands of men were placed at his disposal for the purpose of 
procuring zoological specimens which served as materials for 
this celebrated treatise." 2 It is a work based on knowledge 
evidently acquired by close inspection and special studies of 
dissection, and is one which naturalists may still consult 
with profit. 

Aristotle severely criticised the Ideal theory of Plato, for 

1 Blakesley : "Life of Aristotle." 2 Blakesley, p. 68. 



64 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

he was convinced that this theory had its origin in intro- 
spective, not in physical, researches ; that it sought to sepa- 
rate the universal from the material, and put forth doctrines 
concerning things which did not correspond with phenom- 
ena. He denied to ideas an objective being, and could not, 
like Plato, give to qualities, such as weight, size, and color, 
separate existences. While Plato believed that from a 
single idea man could arrive at the knowledge of all ideas, 
Aristotle maintained that all knowledge comes through ex- 
perience ; that every idea is caused by a separate sensation, 
and that the universal principle is a principle of contradic- 
tion, man having power to perceive difference only through 
comparing like with unlike. His method was new, his con- 
ceptions just ; but, in that early age of knowledge, and 
with such narrow data to generalize from, he could not ac- 
complish much. Though both these philosophers admitted 
that science could only be derived from universals, one gave 
Experience as the basis of all science, and taught men to 
observe and question Nature ; the other gave Reason as the 
basis, and taught men the contemplation of Ideas. 

It will be asked : If Aristotle was a cautious thinker, and 
closely followed what has since received the name of the 
Scientific Method, how could he have been at the same time 
so famous a metaphysician ? 

This question will be answered by getting at the nature, 
not particularly of Aristotle's metaphysics, but of meta- 
physics in general. Perhaps the most exact metaphysical 
thought which the world has produced up to the time of the 
appearance of Lewes's " Problems of Life and Mind," is to 
be found in the writings of Herbert Spencer ; and yet Mr. 
Spencer would, no doubt, be astonished were he called a 
metaphysician. The fact is, no one can take an intelligent 
view of life and its surroundings without becoming in some 
degree a metaphysician. The moment we attempt any thing 
like ultimate questions, we are in the midst of the most pro- 
found metaphysical problems. Aristotle stated what he 
took to be the ultimate realities or principles of all things, 
his ten categories of thought, as follows : 



ARISTOTLE. 6$ 

Relation, Substance, 

Quantity, Quality, 

Action, Passion, 

The Where, The When, 

Position in Space, Possession. 

It will be seen at a glance that there are repetitions in 
these principles. If we refer back to the beginning of Greek 
philosophy, we shall find that the ten double principles of 
Pythagoras, to whose school Aristotle gave a great deal of 
attention, probably suggested the above categories. How- 
ever this may be, Aristotle reduced the number of these 
principles by one half, as those of the Pythagoreans were 
double or coordinates, making twenty in all. Modern 
thought has reduced these principles or ultimate realities to 
five. In Spencer's system, which agrees substantially with 
the best contemporaneous writings upon the subject, they 
are stated as follows : 

Space, Time, 

Matter, Force, 

Motion. 1 

i contend that a generalization of these principles is pos- 
sible ; that they are all aspects of the single principle of 
Motion. There are so many repetitions, however, among 
the terms employed to represent them, that confusion 
inevitably results. It should be the aim of a true system of 
metaphysics to do away with this tautology. For as Matter 
and Space are but different aspects of the statical appear- 
ance of the universe, Time and Force are also the obverse 
aspects of the dynamical appearance of the universe. The 
greatest difficulty in making physics and metaphysics har- 
monize, or in making the experiences of phenomena agree 
with the ruling principles of all things, is to identify motion 
and the thing moved ; or, in other words, to overcome what 

1 In Spencer's " First Principles " there are six ultimate realities postulated, 
as Consciousness is added to the five above cited ; it is a fair inference from, 
other parts of his works, however, that Consciousness is a relative, not an abso- 
lute, fact. 



66 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

is simply a logical or subjective separation of an indivisible 
fact. A large class of scientists persist in imagining a 
force as the cause of motion ; in imagining a matter in itself 
inert and propelled by this force ; the two being in some 
way conjoined, they do not attempt to say how, make what 
we call Motion. They then introduce Time to the com- 
bination as another necessary element, and considerately 
supply an infinite Space for its convenience and occupancy. 
These logical preliminaries being arranged, the universe goes 
on without difficulty. Is it not wonderful that all these 
principles should work together so well in spite of the 
inartistic way in which they have been put together by 
human physicists ? 

Dr. Holmes says somewhere that whenever he comes in 
contact with a mathematician he imagines he hears the 
click of the wheels within his head ; but if we must imagine 
that there are wheels in the heads of mathematicians, to 
account for the accuracy of their calculations, what shall be 
our symbol for the stupendous cohesive and organizing 
power supplied by the modern physicist who can make 
isolated principles hold together and work out all the 
wonders of evolution? How much more in accord with our 
attitude as students of the majestic sequences of evolution, 
having for their obverse aspects what we call infinite space 
and absolute time, would it be to recognize that divine 
unity, that universal principle, which we symbolize as power 
in so many ways, which we apprehend through the ever-in- 
creasing experiences of life. Let us not regard this prin- 
ciple as a veil which obscures reality from us, as a limit 
to knowledge, or a boundary of the " unknowable" for it is 
that of which Life or Knowledge consists. 

Aristotle's metaphysics were about as coherent as the 
science or actual knowledge of his time; and this is the 
highest compliment that can be paid to any thinker. All 
the early thinkers sought with wonderful perseverance the 
knowledge of the First Cause. The Four Causes of Aris- 
totle, though they had been separately recognized, had not 



ARISTOTLE. 6? 

all been proclaimed necessary. Aristotle, like a true philos- 
opher, while he considered nothing that happens unworthy 
of notice, yet gave his chief attention to the solution of the 
problem of First Causes. He maintained that there were 
four, as follows : First, the Material Cause, or Essence ; sec- 
ond, the Substantial Cause ; third, the Efficient Cause, or 
the principle of motion ; fourth, the Final Cause, or the Pur- 
pose and End. 1 

After what has been said, it is hardly necessary to go into 
the merit of these speculations ; they are obviously the ex- 
pression of a very high order of reasoning power, making 
the best use of such materials as were at hand. We can- 
not help regarding them with respect, considering the 
opportunities of their author; and as they occur again in 
the works of later thinkers, we should maintain the same 
attitude toward them ; for the superior advantage which we 
enjoy in the way of scientific knowledge is partly a product 
of these very speculations. 

The progress of knowledge consists of an ebb and flow 
between hypothesis and verification, thought, and science ; 
and it is the rivalry or interaction of these opposite modes 
of procedure repeated in the individual, the school, the 
epoch which constitutes the true progress of our race. 

The strength of Aristotle lay in his marvellous command 
of facts and in his power of grouping them. Plato will al- 
ways be regarded as a finer writer, and, in the literary sense, 
as a greater genius. Aristotle never reached the sublime 
heights of abstraction which we find in the theology of 
Plato ; he rather occupied himself with bringing the results 
of previous thought into harmony with actual knowledge, 
and enlarging this knowledge through the agency of new 
facts, a more patient and thorough method than Plato's. 

The science of Logic is said to have been originated by 
Aristotle. If we admit this to be the case, we must be careful 

fitter gives the four causes as follows: The Material, the Formal, the 
Moving, and the Final : and says that Aristotle sometimes speaks of only three 
Causes, identifying the Form with the End. He calls Form that which a thing 
is in truth and apart from matter, it is the notion of the Essence. 



68 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

to limit the definition of logic to an exposition of the laws and 
methods of reasoning, for it is clear that actual reasoning is lit- 
tle dependent upon a knowledge of this science. Some of the 
greatest feats of reasoning which history records occurred 
before Aristotle was born, before logic was recognized as a 
science. Logic enables us to compel assent to propositions, 
rather than to discover truth. In other words, it too often 
constitutes merely a training in the art of disputation. Peo- 
ple are disconcerted and defeated more than convinced by 
its processes. In his treatment of logic Aristotle seems to 
have laid aside in part his distinct scientific character. 

He made the mistake of regarding logic as the art of think- 
ing, instead of " a portion of the art of thinking." He saw 
the dependence of thought upon words, and imagined that 
truth or falsehood in logical processes wholly depended upon 
combinations of words, or propositions, instead of upon the 
facts or things which the propositions represent. The fine 
distinction that Aristotle made between the definitions of 
words and those of things is declared by Mill to be futile. 
As this theory of Aristotle involves a mistaken idea with 
regard to the scope of language, we will give the argument 
of Mill at length. 

" The distinction between nominal and real definitions, between definitions 
of words and what are called definitions of things, though conformable to the 
ideas of most of the Aristotelian logicians, cannot, as it appears to us, be main- 
tained. We apprehend that no definition is ever intended to ' explain and un- 
fold the nature of the thing.' It is some confirmation of our opinion, that none 
of those writers who have thought that there were definitions of things, have 
ever succeeded in discovering any criterion by which the definition of a thing 
can be distinguished from any other proposition relating to the thing. The 
definition, they say, unfolds the nature of the thing : but no definition can un- 
fold its whole nature ; and every proposition in which any quality whatever is 
predicated of the thing, unfolds some part of its nature. The true state of the 
case we take to be this. All definitions are of names, and of names only ; but, 
in some definitions, it is clearly apparent that nothing is intended except to 
explain the meaning of the word ; while in others, besides explaining the mean- 
ing of the word, it is intended to be implied that there exists a thing, corres- 
ponding to the word. Whether this be or be not implied in any given case, 

1 See J. S. Mill's " System of Logic," p. 26. 



ARISTOTLE. 69 

cannot be collected from the mere form of the expression. ' A centaur is an 
animal with the upper parts of a man and the lower parts of a horse,' and ' a 
triangle is a rectilineal figure with three sides,' are, in form, expressions pre- 
cisely similar, although in the former it is not implied that any thing conform- 
able to the term really exists, while in the latter it is implied as may be seen by 
substituting, in both definitions, the word means for is. In the first expression, 
' a centaur means an animal,' etc., the sense would remain unchanged ; in the 
second, ' a triangle means,' etc., the meaning would be altered, since it would 
be obviously impossible to deduce any of the truths of geometry from a propo- 
sition expressive only of the manner in which we intend to employ a particular 
sign. 

" There are, therefore, expressions, commonly passing for definitions, which 
include in themselves more than the mere explanation of the meaning of a term. 
But it is not correct to call an expression of this sort a peculiar kind of defini- 
tion. Its difference from the other kind consists in this, that it is not a definition, 
but a definition and something more. The definition above given of a triangle 
obviously comprises not one but two propositions, perfectly distinguishable ; 
the one is, ' there may exist a figure bounded by three straight lines ' ; the 
other, ' this figure maybe termed a triangle.' The former of these propositions 
is not a definition at all ; the latter is a mere nominal definition, or explanation, 
of the use and application of a term. The first is susceptible of truth or false- 
hood, and may therefore be made the foundation of a train of reasoning. The 
latter can neither be true nor false ; the only character it is susceptible of is 
that of conformity or disconformity to the ordinary usage of language. 

"There is a real distinction, then, between definitions of names and what 
are erroneously called definitions of things ; but it is that the latter, along with 
the meaning of a name, covertly asserts a matter of fact. This covert assertion 
is not a definition, but a postulate. The definition is a mere identical proposi- 
tion, which gives information only about the use of language, and from which 
no conclusions affecting matters of fact can possibly be drawn. The accom- 
panying postulate, on the other hand, affirms a fact, which may lead to conse- 
quences of every degree of importance. It affirms the actual or possible exist- 
ence of things possessing the combination of attributes set forth in the defini- 
tion ; and this, if true, may be foundation sufficient on which to build a whole 
fabric of scientific truth." : 

From the above it is seen that the operation on words or 
symbols, of which logic consists, is limited in its results by 
the collateral understanding of the symbols employed ; so 
that the formalities of logic are entirely subordinated to the 
original thought and investigation which enrich and make 
more definite the meaning of words. 

Thought is, no doubt, the function or activity of words or 

1 J. S. Mill : " System of Logic," pp. 112, 113. 



70 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

language, but it is independent of words in the sense that 
words are at best but copies of actions, while thought, in the 
deepest sense, is action. 

There is a divergence between the Aristotelian and the 
Platonic methods which lasts throughout the subsequent 
history of philosophy. The two systems were opposite 
views of a single group of facts, or a different selection of 
facts from a single organon of truth. 

Aristotle was a scientist, Plato a theologian. Aristotle 
endeavored to build up a synthesis of thought from a wide 
range of facts, and was comparatively indifferent to an ulti- 
mate generalization ; Plato, on the contrary, regarded all 
facts as subservient to a single fact, and never tired in his 
efforts to illustrate the omnipresence of this principle by ex- 
pressing every thought and feeling in terms of a divine 
Unity. From these two schools we trace the growth of 
science and of metaphysics, of patient investigation accom- 
panied by verification, and the contemplation of universals. 
The natural philosophy of Aristotle was far more metaphysi- 
cal than that of the present day. The natural philosophy of 
modern times is a science based upon mathematics, and be- 
gins with such general principles as are given, for instance, 
in the Principia of Newton. This science considers all ulti- 
mate questions concerning existence and first cause as be- 
yond its sphere. Aristotle, on the contrary, sought to base 
his theories of Nature upon ultimate conceptions ; he tried 
to make the line of thought unbroken between the most ab- 
struse metaphysical reasonings and his interpretations of 
physical phenomena. The difficulty in finding an ultimate 
reality upon which to build knowledge, Aristotle met by ac- 
knowledging the impossibility of any unconditioned or ab- 
solute creation or beginning to the universe. By a dexter- 
ous verbal manoeuvre he explained that the regions from 
which all things have sprung are those of the possible or po- 
tential, and that the transition from this mystic state brings 
us to the actual. Possibility and Actuality, therefore, he 
tells us, are the opposite poles of reality, and the 



ARISTOTLE. 71 

meaning of the often-recurring " is " and " became" or the 
perplexing problems of existence and first cause, are thus 
disposed of. Aristotle speaks of " Nature " as " a principle 
of motion and rest essentially inherent in things, whether 
that motion be locomotion, increase, decay, or alteration." 
He reasons that there is only one Universe or Cosmos, and 
that outside of this there is " neither space, nor vacuum, nor 
time." The irresponsible way in which so many modern 
writers on metaphysics and theology speak of space and 
time, and separate the idea of time and eternity, can be 
traced to Aristotle, who said that " the things outside " of 
the Cosmos " existing in neither space nor time, enjoy for 
all eternity a perfect life of absolute joy and peace. This is 
the region of the divine, in which there is life and conscious- 
ness, though perhaps no personality ; it is increate, im- 
mutable, and indestructible. 

" Descending from this region if that can be called region 
which is out of space altogether we come in the Aris- 
totelian system to the ' First Heaven,' the place of the fixed 
stars, which ever revolves with great velocity from the left 
to the right. In a lower sphere, revolving in the contrary 
direction, are the sun, moon, and planets ; and we are told 
that we must not suppose that either stars or planets are 
composed of fire. Their substance is ether, that fifth ele- 
ment, or quinta essentia, which enters also into the composi- 
tion of the human soul. They only seem bright like fire 
because the friction caused by the rapidity with which they 
are carried round makes them red-hot. The reason why 
the stars twinkle, but the planets do not, is merely that the 
former are so far off that our sight reaches them in a weak 
and trembling condition ; hence their light seems to us to 
quiver, while really it is our eyesight which is quivering. 
Sun, moon, and stars alike are living beings, unwearied, and 
in the enjoyment of perfect happiness. * * * 

" Aristotle argued that if the earth were to move, it could 
only do so 'unnaturally,' by the application of external 
force in contradiction to its own natural tendency to rest 



72 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

round the centre, and that no such forced movement could 
be kept up forever, whereas the arrangements of the Cosmos 
must be for all eternity. Therefore the earth must be at 
rest ! As to its shape, Aristotle was more correct ; he proved 
it to be spherical." 1 

Alexander von Humboldt says : " The great influence 
which the writings of Aristotle exercised on the whole of 
the Middle Ages renders it a cause of extreme regret that 
he should have been so opposed to the grander and juster 
views of the fabric of the universe entertained by the more 
ancient Pythagorean school." 2 

" Unconvinced by the speculations of the Pythagorean 
school, and of Aristarchus of Samos, the great Alexandrian 
astronomer, Ptolemy, in the second century of our era, re- 
affirmed the Aristotelian views as to the spherical form and 
motion of the heavens, as to the earth's position in the centre 
of the heavens, and as to its being devoid of any motion of 
translation. And the Ptolemaic system satisfied men's minds 
until, with Copernicus and Galileo, modern astronomy 
began." 

The firm hold which the speculations of Aristotle obtained 
upon the world can be judged of when we remember that 
the theories of Copernicus, supported by Galileo and Des- 
cartes, were so slow in gaining ground against the Ptolemaic 
system, that Shakespere died in the belief that the world 
held a fixed position with regard to the rest of the universe ; 
and Milton framed his plan of the universe, in " Paradise 
Lost," according to the teaching of the Ptolemaic school, in 
which he had been educated. 

The cause of this is that Christianity incorporated with its 
faith the Aristotelian philosophy, further elaborated by 
Ptolemy and St. Thomas Aquinas. As a reminder of which 
the peripatetic logic and metaphysics still survive, as a 
part of the formal instruction in Roman Catholic ecclesias- 
tical institutions of the present day. 

1 See Alexander Grant's " Aristotle," pp. 138, 140, 141. 
a " Cosmos," vol. I., note 48. 



THE STOICS. 73 

The Stoics no more than the Sophists can be said to have 
founded any special doctrine, or set of principles, clearly dis- 
tinguishable from the complex of philosophy. Like the 
Cynics, their doctrines were widely diversified, and repre- 
sented a sort of general criticism of philosophy, rather than 
any type of thought that could be clearly demarcated from 
the established schools. It was not so with the pronounced 
Skeptics. Skepticism is a well-defined belief ; and although 
the strongest types have disappeared, the logical character- 
istics which Pyrrho and Carneades brought into such prom- 
inence in ancient Greece are still constantly asserting them- 
selves in every form of society. The Stoics were numerous, 
and many of them celebrated. Zeno founded the sect, and 
Brutus and Marcus Antonius were among the last who con- 
tributed to its renown. 

The Stoics classed themselves as followers of Socrates, 
and they were in fact nearly related to him by their doc- 
trines. They seem to have been the most rational of the 
Greek philosophers ; they made logic and physics auxiliary 
to ethics, teaching that action or conduct was the chief 
problem of man. They taught that the supreme end of life, 
or the highest good, is virtue ; for virtue is inseparable from 
perfect happiness. This they supported by the still higher 
principle that virtue is sufficient for happiness. 

" Physics, with the Stoics, includes not only Cosmology, 
but also Theology. They teach that whatever is real is 
material. Matter and force are the two ultimate principles. 
Matter is per se motionless and unformed, though capable 
of receiving all motions and all forms. Force is the active, 
moving, and molding principle. It is inseparably joined 
with matter. The working force in the universe is God." 1 

Zeno, who was probably the most illustrious of the Stoics, 
was born at Cittium, a small city in the island of Cyprus, of 
Phoenician origin, but inhabited by Greeks. The time of his 
birth is not known. In his youth he was engaged in com- 
merce, as his father was a merchant ; but after reading the 

1 Ueberweg : " Hist, of Philosophy," vol. I., p. 194. 



74 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

works of Socrates, which his father brought him from 
Athens, his mind became entirely occupied with philosophy. 
In his mature age, on his first visit to Athens, he was ship- 
wrecked, and, having lost all, he joined the Cynics, whose 
ostentatious display of poverty pleased him at the time. 
But his moral sensibility soon revolted at their grossness and 
insolence. After twenty years of serious study in different 
schools, he formed one of his own at Athens. The place 
selected was the Stoa, or Porch, which had once been the 
place of meeting of the poets, but was now deserted ; and 
from this Stoa the school derived its name. 

Zeno was much admired for the temperance and austerity 
of his habits. Though possessed of a delicate constitution, 
by leading an abstemious life he lived to an old age. The 
Athenians respected him so much that they entrusted him 
with the keys of the city ; and at his death they erected 
monuments in his honor, with inscriptions to the effect that 
his life had been in perfect harmony with his philosophy. It 
was certainly the highest praise that they could have be- 
stowed upon him. 

Greek civilization was now in its decline, and Rome was 
fast taking the place in political power that Athens had once 
held. Zeno, alarmed at the skepticism of the age, turned 
his thoughts chiefly upon moral questions, holding in con- 
tempt knowledge which did not immediately refer to conduct. 

"The fundamental criterion of truth with the Stoics is sen- 
suous distinctness in the mental representation "; 1 or, as Des- 
cartes said many centuries afterward, " all clear and distinct 
ideas are true." Sextus Empiricus tells us that the Stoics 
-called this criterion of truth the " Cataleptic Phantasm;' that 
is, the sensuous apprehension. 

In the review of Plato, in the preceding chapter, this ques- 
tion of the sensuous and intellectual apprehension has already 
been dealt with. A more thorough examination of it re- 
quires a careful study of the nature of perception, which the 
reader will find in Part II. 

1 Ueberweg, vol. I., p. 191. 



THE CYNICS. 75 

Antisthenes, an Athenian, born of a Phrygian or Thracian 
mother, was a pupil of Gorgias, the Sophist. After finishing 
his studies, he established a school of his own, which he sub- 
sequently gave up when he had made the acquaintance of 
Socrates. His admiration for this wise man was such that, 
with more modesty than most philosophers possess, he be- 
came his disciple, and persuaded all his own pupils to follow 
him, telling them that in so doing they could best learn wis- 
dom. He took such pride in his poverty that Socrates one 
day said to him : " I see thy vanity, Antisthenes, peering 
through the holes in thy cloak." 

It is difficult even for wise men to walk in the narrow 
path of moderation ; and Antisthenes, after the death of his 
master, carried poverty to such extremes that he became re- 
pulsive. In his virtuous zeal he carried every thing to ex- 
cess, ignoring completely the Socratic moderation. He held 
all sensuous enjoyment in such contempt that he is repre- 
sented as saying : " I would rather be mad than sensual." 
Indeed, he and his followers became so indecent and un- 
couth, that their manners finally resembled those of dogs 
rather than men, and caused the refined Athenians to give 
them the name of Cynics. 

" The doctrine of Antisthenes was mainly confined to 
morals ; but, even in this portion of philosophy, it is exceed- 
ingly meagre and deficient, scarcely furnishing any thing be- 
yond a general defence of the olden simplicity and moral 
energy against the luxurious indulgence and effeminacy of 
later times." ' 

Diogenes of Sinope, the famous scholar of Antisthenes, 
was the son of a banker who was accused of debasing the 
coin. His son, being implicated, was obliged to fly to 
Athens, where he was soon reduced to the most abject pov- 
erty. He then went to Antisthenes, who refused to receive 
him ; and, as Diogenes would not depart, the Cynic 
threatened to strike him with his staff. " Strike ! " an- 
swered Diogenes, " you will not find a stick hard enough to 

1 Ritter, vol. II., p. no. 



76 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

conquer my perseverance." He was then accepted as a 
pupil. 

The Cynics despised the Athenians for their joyous way 
of life, and opposed to it the greatest self-denial. They 
maintained that the wise man must hold himself superior to 
all outward influences, and out of their utter disregard for 
social institutions arose their brutal coarseness. 

By the Cynics, philosophy was reduced to the art of life, 
but life stripped of all beauty, grace, and pleasure. They 
denied that science or definite knowledge was possible, and 
refused to accept the Socratic idea, that a definition was the 
essence of a thing. Thus they opposed facts to arguments, 
maintaining that definitions might prove that there was no 
such thing as motion, but this was merely a manipulation of 
words and did not alter the facts, which remained the same. 
In this it must be admitted that they had an insight into the 
great truth that facts express themselves, and are, therefore, 
in one sense, independent of words ; a truth which indicates 
the limitations of language. 

We find among the Cynics the most extraordinary example 
of the influence which skepticism can exert upon conduct. 
As far as their opposition to the tenets of philosophy was con- 
cerned, their skepticism was of a mild type, but their moral 
distrust amounted to fanaticism. They arbitrarily dis- 
sociated the mind from the body, and regarded the functions 
of the one as holy and of the other as unholy. They made 
the further mistake of estimating the degradation of bodily 
functions by the degree of pleasure derived from their 
exercise. They may have had an excuse for this belief in 
the excesses of the age, but it brought them to the conse- 
quence of such a doctrine the belief that pain is in itself a 
virtue. They saw that virtue could only be attained by 
reasoning with the desires, by a stern self-discipline : con- 
necting this idea with that of suffering, they came to despise 
all bodily comforts, and actually to court squalor, privation, 
and pain. 

The Stoics held themselves superior to worldly enjoyments,, 




EPICURUS. 

and were proud of poverty : they thought that it enabled 
them to devote their lives to the study of truth. The 
Cynics devoted their lives to illustrating their contempt for 
all kinds of pleasure, looking upon joy itself as a reproach 
and beneath their dignity. They were admired for this 
great force of character, and feared and respected for the 
fierce purity of their motives. 

Opposed to the repulsive and mutilated morality of the 
Cynics we find the celebrated school of the Epicureans. The 
popular idea of this school is, that it was licentious and 
given up to the worship of pleasure. In fact, the word Epi- 
curean has degenerated into signifying " a luxurious and 
dainty eater ; a person given to luxury." If there is such a 
school in our day it can have but little resemblance to its 
prototype in ancient Greece. 

Epicurus, the son of poor parents, was born in the lOQth 
Olympiad (B.C. 342), at Samos, according to some ; or, ac- 
cording to others, at Gargettus, a borough near Athens. He 
visited Athens at the age of eighteen. Xenocrates was then 
teaching in the Academy, while Aristotle was in Chalcis. 
After studying for a short time under Xenocrates he left 
Athens, and resided in different cities of Greece until the age 
of thirty-six. He then returned to Athens to teach his own 
philosophy, in a school over which he presided until his 
death. 

Opportunities were not lacking at this time for study 
in Athens. The Platonists had their Academic Grove, the 
Aristotelians walked along the Lyceum, the Cynics growled 
in the Cynosarges, the Stoics occupied the Porch, and the 
Epicureans had their Garden. 

" Here, in the tranquil Garden, in the society of his friends, 
Epicurus passed a peaceful life of speculation and enjoyment. 
The friendship which existed amongst them is well known. 
In a time of general scarcity and famine they contributed to 
each others' support, showing that the Pythagorean notion 
of community of goods was unnecessary amongst friends, 
who could confide in each other. At the entrance of the 



78 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Garden they placed this inscription : ' The hospitable keeper 
of this mansion, where you will find pleasure the highest 
good, will present you liberally with barley-cakes and water 
fresh from the spring. The gardens will not provoke your 
appetite by artificial dainties but satisfy it with natural sup- 
plies. Will you not be well entertained?" 

It is believed now that Epicurus was a man of pure life, 
who by his doctrines sought to inculcate moderation and ab- 
stemiousness. He differed from Plato and Aristotle in one 
essential point. He regarded philosophy as the Art of Life 
rather than the Art of Truth ; declaring it to be an activity 
which, by means of ideas and arguments, procures the hap- 
piness of life. Epicurus did not seek the pleasure of the 
moment, but the uninterrupted course of happiness through 
life. This was to be obtained through the enjoyments of 
the mind, which are lasting, rather than through those of the 
senses, which are fleeting. He taught that virtue was in- 
separable from true pleasure; and though he did not ex- 
actly condemn all luxuries, he saw that a simple life was 
best, saying, "wealth consists not in having great posses- 
sions, but in having small wants." Thus, from the skepti- 
cism which the imperfect philosophy of the age inspired, 
Epicurus sought a refuge in morals, and endeavored to place 
them on a philosophic basis. 

To Epicurus are attributed some of the most astute gener- 
alizations which are to be found in Greek thought. Ueber- 
weg says : " Epicurus considers the dialectical method 
incorrect and misleading. * * * Representations are re- 
membered images of past perceptions. Beliefs are true or 
false, according as they are confirmed or refuted by percep- 
tion. * * * Animals and men are the products of the 
earth ; the rise of man to the higher stages of culture has 
been gradual. Words were formed originally, not by an ar- 
bitrary but by a natural process, in correspondence with our 
sensations and ideas. * * * Opinion or belief is due to 
the continued working of impressions on us. The will is 
excited, but not necessarily determined by ideas. Freedom 



PYRRHO. 79 

of the will is contingency (independence of causes) in self- 
determination." ] 

It would be hard to find, even among the most modern 
writers, a better statement of the fundamental facts of bi- 
ology, psychology, and philology than these words of Epi- 
curus. 

The teachings of Socrates were said to have been a reac- 
tion against the skepticism of his time ; and yet Pyrrho, 
whose career did not begin until after the death of Socrates, 
is regarded as the founder of skeptical philosophy. This , 
apparent anachronism is to be explained by the fact that 
skepticism existed as a definite type of belief in Greece long 
before its organization into a school by Pyrrho. This school 
developed later on into the New Academy. Among its. 
pupils we find the names of Horace and Cicero. 

Of the doctrines of Pyrrho, but an outline has come down 
to us, so mixed are they with the teachings of his pupils. 
These doctrines centre, like all skepticism, in the tenet that 
there is no criterion of truth. Perhaps in the writings of 
Sextus Empiricus is found the most complete portrayal of 
the doctrines of skepticism. 

The celebrity which the school of Pyrrho attained is due 
more to the prominence of the doctrines which it combated 
than to any originality in its own teachings. It is easy to 
criticise. Skepticism criticised the creations of Socrates, 
Plato and Aristotle, and well-nigh brought them to naught. 
It exposed the weak points in these systems, but it offered 
nothing worthy to take their place. Skepticism and Faith 
are opposite intellectual extremes, and an undue tendency 
toward either is enervating to the mind. Faith is trust in. 
appearances, skepticism is distrust in appearances. Appear- 
ance and disappearance are our symbols for change. All. 
knowledge springs from these changes : to alternately trust 
and distrust them, to experiment and verify, is the natural 
course of perception. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, 
that the actions and reactions which have gone to make up- 

1 " Hist, of Philosophy," vol. I., pp. 203, 205. 



80 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

the growth of knowledge should have produced the greatest 
extravagances of belief and unbelief. 

The extremes of faith and of skepticism are equally 
opposed to thought. Science has no fear of skepticism, 
for the element of doubt is never neglected in its conclu- 
sions. Scientific facts are frustrations of doubt ; they rest 
upon the " Universal Postulate/' the underlying principle of 
certitude, the inability to believe the negation of a propo- 
sition, which alone constitutes conviction. Skepticism is 
said not to be a belief, but an unbelief. This is a misappre- 
hension, for it is a clearly-defined doctrine, resting upon evi- 
dences supposed to be axiomatic in their certainty. It has 
a well understood method, and it has even created elaborate 
dogmas. Its tendency is to depress conviction, not to 
destroy it. Its position with regard to belief is like that of 
the misanthrope who declared that he was most happy when 
utterly alone, but was obliged to confess that he needed 
some one to whom to communicate this happiness. 

Let us examine some of the convictions of Skepticism. 
Skepticism affirms that there is no criterion of truth. The 
evidence it offers for this assertion is, that knowledge can be 
only a knowledge of phenomena, and phenomena are the ap- 
pearances of things, not the things themselves. According 
to the Academicians, perceptions bore no conformity to the 
objects perceived, or, if they did bear any conformity to 
them, it could never be known. They assume that there is 
a reality deeper than phenomena, or change, which they call 
noumena. They mean, however, by phenomena, truth (facts), 
for they assert that there is no measure or criterion of truth ; 
and as they cannot reach the noumena to compare or meas- 
ure them, had they this criterion, they must regard phenom- 
ena as their organon of truth. Their assumptions, then, 
amount to this : We have no absolute standard of facts by 
which to measure the truth of facts ; and if we had, it would 
be of no use, because there is a noumenon behind facts which 
is more true and more real than facts themselves. This 
noumenon is an unchanging existence, whereas facts are 



THE SKEPTICS OF THE NEW ACADEMY. 8 1 

changing existences. Now, was there ever such a mass of 
contradictory statements as this ? 

Have we not already reached a point which enables us to 
say that existence cannot be other than changing existence, 
and that, therefore, unchanging existence is a contradiction 
in terms. May we not now call upon the skeptics to prove 
that there is such a thing as unchanging existence, before we 
can accept their statement that there is a noumenon^ or a 
deeper source of truth than phenomena? 

Their assertion that perceptions bear no conformity to the 
objects perceived, or, if they did, that it could never be 
known, really amounts to this : A lady viewing herself in a 
mirror is bound to believe that she is looking at some one 
else, or that she is some one else ; or if she is not, it does not 
matter, as she cannot know who she is. And it is said that 
skeptics can believe nothing ! 

Of course Arcesilaus and Carneades would have thought 
this a frivolous way of meeting their profound arguments. 
But let us bear in mind that profundity is not necessarily 
proven by a confusion of ideas. Nor would we take advantage 
of the rich inheritance of our century in definite knowledge to 
make it appear that the acute intellects who puzzled the 
Greeks and confounded the Romans were stumbling over 
obvious errors. What we wish to prove is, that the Skeptics 
had beliefs as well as other people, but that these beliefs 
were divorced from facts by the tautologies and circumven- 
tions of reasoning from a false premise. 

If belief is but a phase of knowledge, a natural movement 
of the mind which springs from the deeper impulses, those 
dim, inarticulate perceptions which we call faith, then is not 
Skepticism an artificial and unnatural belief, but none the 
less a belief? 

An analysis of these beliefs brings us inevitably to those 
deep movements of consciousness, those simple and natural 
perceptions upon which rests the whole structure of certi- 
tude. 

Arcesilaus was born at Pitane in the i i6th Olympiad (B.C., 



82 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

316). He was the successor of Crates to the Academic 
chair, and is said to have filled it with great ability. The 
difference between the views entertained by the Academi- 
cians and those of the absolute Skeptics, we are told, is that 
the former declared that all things were incomprehensible, 
and that the latter did not affirm any thing, not even 
that all things were incomprehensible. As it would be diffi- 
cult to criticise the views of the latter class, we may consider 
the Academicians the most pronounced Skeptics, for we are 
in no danger of being contradicted by the other branch of 
the sect. 

Carneades, the most illustrious of the Academicians, was 
born in the 141 st Olympiad (B.C. 213), at Cyrene in Africa. 
Diogenes, the Stoic, instructed him in the art of disputation. 
He was sent to Rome as ambassador, and astonished all 
who heard him in that city by the brilliancy of his eloquence. 
He was much praised for his celebrated discourse on Justice ; 
but when trying to prove the uncertainty of all human 
knowledge, he spoke against justice as strongly as he had 
spoken for it ; Cato, the Censor, startled by these sophistries 
hastened to have him dismissed from the city for fear that 
he would corrupt the Roman youth. One of the pupils of 
Carneades confessed that he could never discover what the 
real opinion of his master was, so skilled was he in the art 
of disputation. 

Arcesilaus, while he admitted the arguments of Plato 
which destroyed the certainty of Opinion, also admitted 
those of Aristotle which destroyed the Ideal theory; thus 
he left himself nothing but absolute Skepticism. The chief 
problem which occupied the Academicians, briefly stated, is 
this : Does every modification of the mind exactly corres- 
pond with the external object which causes the modification ; 
or, in other words, do we know things as they really are ? 
The fact that all knowledge is derived through the senses 
made them doubt its accuracy. It is true that the senses 
are the outposts of the understanding, but what has that to 
do with what takes place within the citadel of thought? 



THE SKEPTICS OF THE NEW ACADEMY. 83 

Can the Skeptic say where sense leaves off and reason 
begins? He cannot. Then is it not safe to say that all 
reason has a sensuous aspect, and that all sense has a 
reasonable or logical aspect ? 

We know that such truth as we possess is the function of 
certain conditions ; that these conditions are those of per- 
ception ; that reason is one aspect of the mental procedure 
called perception, and that objective phenomena, or change, 
is the other. We know that phenomena and reason, there- 
fore, are related to each other as cause and effect, and that 
cause and effect are simply two aspects of the same thing. 
When light awakens the phenomena of sight within us, and 
this, with the cooperation of other activities of our complex 
organism, is elaborated into an idea, or the- phenomena of 
reason, we have but sequent groups of changes, natural 
chains of cause and effect, uniting and explaining observed 
phenomena, sensuous apprehension, and ideas. The greater 
the number of changes coordinated in the mind, made pos- 
sible by accumulated modifications of the mental structure, 
the greater the extent of reason ; the greater the com- 
mand of facts, the wider and deeper the generalizations 
or the establishment of interdependencies among facts. To 
state, therefore, that things are not in reality what they 
seem, is an entirely gratuitous assertion. We know things 
as they affect, and to the extent that they affect, us. 
This effect is the function of a definite structure. As the 
modifications of the structure increase, this function or 
response becomes more extended. To know an object in 
the sense that the Skeptics imagined that we ought to know 
it (to have an absolute knowledge of it) could only be accom- 
plished by changing identity with the object by becoming 
the object ; as then, and only then, the perception would be 
the function of its whole nature. 

This is the way that God knows things, because God 
shares his existence with every thing. 1 We, whether it be 
regarded as fortunate or unfortunate, enjoy some sort of in- 

1 This expression, it is understood, is purely symbolical. 



84 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

dividuality, and our perceptions are never more and never 
less than the natural relationship or interaction between our- 
selves and the things perceived. In the silent contemplation 
of nature we come face to face with the deepest realities, 
but the moment we would translate these realities into the 
metaphor of language we are defeated on every hand. 
What is more real than action ? What is more unreal than 
its portrayal in words ? What is more certain than a feeling, 
a sentiment, or a thought ? What is more impotent than 
the best attempt at its conversion into symbols? The 
incontrovertible part of life is its action, the delusive part is 
its speech ; words are forever meaningless to those who have 
not actually experienced the thoughts which they express. 
The whole history of thought is a struggle with metaphors, 
an effort to express thought and then a confusion of the ex- 
pression with the thing expressed. As language, the great 
medium of thought and feeling, enriches the lives of all who 
use it, so it is the source of endless confusion and error to 
those who have not actually lived up to its significance. 

The issue we take with those who are willing to surrender 
the results of philosophy to the Skeptic is now apparent. 
Skepticism is only an involved and obscure philosophy, a 
system of ultimate beliefs. Contrary to its teachings, we 
hold that there is a successful philosophy, a successful 
metaphysics, and that the most absolute Skepticism which 
it is possible to state in terms is both a positive and a 
mistaken belief. 

These arguments, which seek to disclose the Scope of 
Language, cannot be further produced without attempting 
a close study of the Nature of Perception, which follows in 
its allotted place. I am content for the present if I have 
helped to dispel that logical presumption which has hung 
for so many centuries like a dark cloud over the entire field 
of thought. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE ALEXANDRIAN SCHOOL, SCHOLASTICISM, AND THE REVIVAL 
OF LEARNING. 

Philo Plotinus Abelard Bruno Bacon. 

THE fall of Greek independence and the advent of Skep- 
ticism dethroned philosophy in Greece, and the centre of 
speculative thought was transferred to Alexandria. Here, 
during the first centuries of our era, Greek thought and 
oriental mysticism combined in the formation of Chris- 
tian theology. Alexandria, for three centuries previous to 
this time, had been the centre of vast commercial as well as 
literary enterprise. Its celebrated library, which contained 
inestimable treasures of Egyptian, Indian, and Greek litera- 
ture, (destroyed by Christian fanatics under the arch- 
bishop Theophilus, in 391 A.D.) had been enriched and 
fostered by such men as Euclid, Conon, Theocritus, Calli- 
machus, Apollonius Rhodius, and Hipparchus. 

For three centuries the Alexandrian school of philosophy 
contended with Christianity for the intellectual and moral 
control of Europe. It was not a fight between religious 
faith and reason, as might be supposed, for religious faith 
was the foundation of the Alexandrian philosophy ; it was a 
struggle between the special beliefs of Christianity, which 
were formed by the early Christian fathers into a complete 
organon of faith, and the incomplete beliefs which philoso- 
phy at that time offered. This struggle still continues, with 
the difference that the completeness of philosophical beliefs 
now is far in advance of the Alexandrian school. The chief 
objection to resigning Christian faith for Philosophy is that 
something is given up with the former which is not replaced 

85 



86 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

by the latter, and the objection is valid ; for until Philosophy 
can round out and organize its tenets so as to present a 
complete system of belief, with a definite creed, a moral law, 
a source of inspiration, a cosmology, a distinct theory of the 
origin and destiny of our race, expressed of course in terms 
which comply with the laws of perception, until then, re- 
vealed religion will have an advantage over philosophy 
which will decide the choice of the multitude irf*its favor. 
The question which presses upon us is whether it is not 
possible to make of philosophy a religion superior to any 
faith which the world has yet known. 

The curious feature of the Alexandrian philosophy is, that 
it was founded on faith, not on reason. Reason had been 
defeated by Skepticism, and it was declared, by what was 
then an unanswerable argument, that it was not a criterion 
of truth. A philosophy of Skepticism sprang up which 
denied the validity of human reason and demanded another 
criterion of truth ; for belief is ever active, it never tires of 
the effort to establish itself in fact. The philosophy of the 
Alexandrian school took the stand that Faith was the criterion 
of truth. It is interesting to know, therefore, that Christianity 
owes to philosophy its doctrine of faith, so predominant 
among its teachings. It is to the ingenuity of the teachers 
of philosophy, who, defeated by Skepticism, sought another 
explanation of the source of knowledge than reason, that re- 
ligion owes this bulwark of its creeds, this unanswerable 
argument of Faith. It is certainly a most fortunate starting- 
point for any special belief, for it was devised as a defence 
against the reasonings of Skeptics and has proved invulner- 
able to all kinds of reasoning, both true and false. 

Philo, the Jew, the first of the Neo-Platonists, was born in 
Alexandria, shortly before the beginning of the Christian 
era. He had imbibed the doctrines of the New Academy, 
and therefore made no attempt to refute Skepticism ; he 
merely tried to avoid it and to build a system of belief 
which would endure in spite of Skepticism, not in place of 
it. The manner in which he expressed his criterion of truth 



THE ALEXANDRIAN SCHOOL. 8/ 

is as follows : " The Senses may deceive, Reason may be 
powerless ; but there is still a faculty in man there is 
Faith. Real Science is the gift of God ; its name is Faith ; 
its origin is the goodness of God ; its cause is Piety." That 
Hebrew anthropomorphism which regards the Universal 
Principle or Ultimate Generalization that the Greeks called 
God, or the One, as a person having human attributes, as- 
serted itself in Philo's teachings. Again : Mysticism, that 
peculiar belief of oriental nations, far more ancient than any 
thing which has come to us from the Greeks, was also a 
factor in the doctrines of Philo ; and from these various 
sources he framed a theology which is reproduced with 
wonderful faithfulness in the Christian system of belief. 
The most singular tenet of mysticism is that of a mediator 
between God and man, made necessary by the inaccessible 
nature of Deity. This mediator the Mystics called The 
Word. 

The school of Alexandria was founded by Ammonius 
Saccas, toward the close of the second century of the 
Christian era, at a time when civilization was on the decline. 
This school gathered to itself many great and noble minds 
which gave it unwonted brilliancy and power, while its 
rivalry with Christianity spread its renown throughout the 
world. For three centuries, this school lasted, during which 
time Plotinus revived the doctrines of Plato ; Porphyry and 
lamblicus sought to make it rival Christianity ; and Proclus 
tried to harmonize philosophy and religion. This grand in- 
tellectual centre to which the religious culture of our 
era can be so clearly traced was indeed cosmopolitan in 
its influences. Not far from the temple of Serapis, Greek 
Skepticism, Platonism, Judaism, and Christianity, were all 
interpreted. 

Alexandrian Eclecticism, 1 though based on the doctrines of 
Plato, had much that was original in it ; but its composite 

1 Eclecticism is that method of philosophy which believes that by placing the 
better parts of all systems of thought in comparison the highest truth will make 
itself apparent. In modern philosophy, this method has been employed in. 
.France by Victor Cousin and his contemporaries. 



88 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

character produced by degrees a mystic pantheism wholly 
foreign to Greek thought. If the method of the school was 
Platonic, its doctrine of the Trinity rendered it clearly mystic. 
What is generally understood by the term theology is a body 
of beliefs, largely originated by the teachers of philosophy 
known as the Neo-Platonists, concerning the attributes of God. 
These men, as above stated, were not only opposed to the 
special tenets of Christianity, but endeavored to found a re- 
ligious organization in opposition to the Christian church. 
The Alexandrians exaggerated the vicious tendency so 
prevalent in most religions, to despise human nature. 
" Plotinus blushed because he had a body: contempt for 
human personality could go no further." 

Plotinus was the chief author of the metaphysics of the 
Alexandrians, an exceedingly subtle and involved system, 
especially interesting because it is closely reproduced in 
modern German speculations. This system rests upon the 
identification of subject and object as the principle of human 
perception. If the explanation of perception which the 
Alexandrians offered were reduced to its simplest terms it 
would be correct ; but it is so involved, so many repetitions 
in the use of ultimate terms occur, that it is impossible to 
give it any definite form. The object seems to be to prove 
that the varieties of the universe are but modes of God's 
existence. If God is viewed as the universal principle, the 
theory is essentially true, although unhappily expressed. 
The commanding generalization which it suggests is clouded 
by the fault of regarding God as a person, and the power 
which is represented by divine unity as an intelligence. This 
tendency to view human intelligence as universal degrades 
what would otherwise be a sublime philosophy into a pan- 
theism, or the belief that the universe is God and that God 
is a personal intelligence. Thus Plotinus taught that "the 
Sensible world was but the appearance of the Ideal world, 
and that the Ideal world, in its turn, was but the modes of 
God's existence." The correct view of the nature of per- 
ception which we see struggling to the surface in the teach- 



THE ALEXANDRIAN SCHOOL. 8c 



ings of Plotinus is obscured by that mystic theory known as 
the "ecstatic vision of the Infinite" (or God). Nothing 
could be more destructive to a true philosophy than this 
superstitious notion of perception, which postulates that the 
knowledge of God is essentially a mystery. The fault of 
this theory will be fully exposed in our review of German 
thought ; for in Germany the Alexandrian metaphysics have 
reached their farthest development. The origin of this, 
theory of the ecstatic vision of God has already been indi- 
cated, as it is merely mysticism in a metaphysical form. 

All Christian metaphysics sprang from the belief in mys- 
teries. The mystery of the Incarnation, the Redemption, 
and the Holy Trinity, as they have been differently inter- 
preted, have given rise to the great heresies, 1 and all the 
subsequent Christian sects. Strange to say, modern philoso- 
phy also rests upon a fundamental mystery, which is called 
the Unknowable. No philosophy can succeed or become an 
adequate guide to life (a religion) which does not establish 
beyond all cavil the reality of human knowledge, the im- 
possibility of a fundamental mystery in life or nature. Until 
philosophy can build its truths upon a firmer foundation 
than mystery, revealed religion will be its logical peer ; for 
in fact there are few religions, taking them all in all, that are 
not better philosophies than Agnosticism. 

The dispute as to the priority of the Alexandrian or the 
Christian doctrine of the Trinity is familiar to all students 
of theology. Both doctrines clearly point to beliefs of great 
antiquity. A brief description of them in the forms which 
they respectively assumed under Christian and anti-Christian 
philosophy, will suffice for our purpose. The doctrine of 
the Christian Trinity is the highest and most " mysterious" 
of Christian beliefs. The fullest statement of this mystery 
is to be found in the Athanasian creed : " That we worship 
one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity ; neither confound- 
ing the persons nor dividing the substance ; for there is one 
person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the. 

'Arianism, Sabellianism, and Nestorianism. 



^90 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one ; the glory equal ; the 
majesty co-eternal." The most striking argument which is 
offered in support of this complex belief is, that the names 
applied to God in the Old Testament, such as Elohim, 
having a plural signification and being used in connection 
with a singular verb, suggest a combination of the ideas of 
unity and plurality in the Godhead. To any one not initi- 
ated into the mysteries of theology, the thought would 
occur that the use of a plural name for God by the ancient 
Hebrew tribes meant that they believed in more than one 
God ; but the theologians tell us that, on the contrary, it 
meant that they believed in one God composed of three dis- 
tinct persons. We have looked in vain among the traditions 
of Moses, however, for any of the scholarly subdivisions of 
deity in which the Alexandrian Jews so delighted. Nothing 
can more clearly exonerate Moses from any connection with 
the complicated idea of three gods in one, than the artless 
manner in which he is made to speak of Yahveh in the 
ancient Hebrew Scriptures. 

Plotinus was more original in his explanation of the Trin- 
ity than the Christians : he does not consider Moses at all 
in this explanation, although he was literally surrounded by 
learned Jews; in fact he explains the Hypostases, or Sub- 
stances, of deity with a provoking indifference to all our 
theories of Semitic monotheism. In speaking of the Alexan- 
drian doctrine of the Trinity as compared with the Christian, 
Jules Simon says : "The unity of one God in three differ- 
ent persons or hypostases (substances), this is all the resem- 
blance, up to the present time, that we have found between 
the trinity of Plotinus and the Christian Trinity. But each 
of the hypostases of the god of Plotinus differs radically from 
the corresponding divine persons of the Christian dogma; 
and the opposition is not less great when we consider not 
only the persons but their diverse relations. Thus, in the 
Christian doctrine, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 
know and love one another. The Father loves the Son and 



THE ALEXANDRIAN SCHOOL. 9! 

is beloved by him, the Holy Ghost knows the Father and the 
Son, and has of both an equally complete and direct knowl- 
edge. In Plotinus, on the contrary, each hypostasis knows 
and loves exclusively the preceding hypostasis, and remains a 
stranger to inferior hypostases. Unity, which has nothing 
above it, knows and loves nothing, and Plotinus only admits 
in trembling that it loves and knows but itself. He can 
say with Spinoza, ' No one can desire to be loved by God, 
for it would be to desire that God should cease to be per- 
fect.' " ' 

Is it not safe to say, upon a careful comparison of these 
two doctrines of the Trinity, that the Christian myth is 
the more sensuous, because in it the attributes and powers 
of each person of the Godhead are declared to be equal, 
which makes 'it impossible to regard the Christian theory of 
the Trinity as pointing to a universal principle through the 
subjective and objective aspects of life ? 

In passing from ancient to modern philosophy we must 
remember that Rome holds no important place in the annals 
of human thought. This great empire rose and fell without 
producing any perceptible movement in philosophy. Roman 
speculation, which was never more than a faint reflection of 
that of Greece, fed upon the Alexandrian culture during and 
long after the Augustan age ; and the great Church of Rome 
established its faith and took up its chief theological positions 
under the guidance of this same culture. From the decline 
of philosophy in Alexandria to the revival of learning in 
Europe, all organized thought seems to have been enlisted 
in the service of the church. Christianity fostered the learn- 
ing and logical skill which survived amid the decay of the 
Roman Empire and the crude political beginnings of the 
barbarian states ; and thus the church was for centuries the 
custodian and promoter of the intellectual and moral order 
of Europe. But although Rome protected thought, she 
afterward enslaved it ; and, when the mind of Christendom, 
encouraged by the growing liberties of our civilization, 

1 " Histoire de 1'Ecole d* Alexandria, " vol. I., p. 332. 



92 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

opposed these restraints, it found in the church, instead of a 
friendly protector, a powerful and determined enemy. 

Scholasticism proper began with the schools (scholce) 
opened by Charlemagne in the eighth century. These 
schools were instituted in the episcopal sees, in the mon- 
asteries, convents, and cloisters of the new Germanic Em- 
pire. For centuries previous to this, Christian culture had 
shown itself chiefly in the writings of the Greek and Latin 
fathers of the church ; but now the famous doctors of the 
Scholastic age arose. Joannes Scotus, the Irish erudite of 
the ninth century, began the movement, which was carried 
on by St. Anselm (1034), who is considered the reviver of 
metaphysics after the decline of the Roman Empire. The 
impetus given to thought by Charlemagne soon spread its. 
results throughout Europe, and the writings of Albert the 
Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus, remind us of 
the vast proportions which the theological disputes of the 
Middle Ages assumed. 

The most interesting character among the Scholastics, 
from a philosophic standpoint, is Abelard. This celebrated 
French logician, born near Nantes in 1079, manifested at an 
early age a genius for dialectics. This was before the revival 
of learning, but philosophy and theology were already be- 
ginning to take divergent paths. There is no evidence that 
Abelard was a great student or a profound thinker ; but he 
must have had a ready insight into the inconsistencies of the 
current philosophy of his time. Becoming eager to exercise 
his natural faculty for metaphysical discussion, he went to> 
Paris at the age of twenty and joined the school of William 
de Champeaux, a renowned teacher of the art of disputation. 
It was not long before Abelard challenged his teacher and 
defeated him in argument ; then the character of his am- 
bition became apparent. He was not primarily a lover of 
wisdom, but rather of the glories and triumphs of contro- 
versy. He looked upon the past as a repository of knowl- 
edge containing more truth than his age possessed, and 
throughout his teachings this attitude was maintained, which- 



SCHOLA S TICISM. 93 

caused them to lack the inspiration of progress. In our age 
we are not discouraged by believing in the retrogression of 
knowledge ; our studies are full of hope, we feel the possi- 
bility of increasing knowledge, of exalting human life. 
During the revival of learning in Europe, all study was a 
retrospect, and thought flowed down from the intellectual 
heights of ancient Greece to the lower levels of the later 
civilizations. 

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that Abelard con- 
tented himself with exhibiting to admiring crowds the treas- 
ures which he found in the literatures of the Greeks and the 
Romans, and that he felt the hopelessness of any endeavor 
to add to the achievements of the past. 

We are reminded by his fate that the deepest reproach 
that can be made to a teacher, is that of unfaithfulness to 
his precepts. 

He was a brilliant orator and a master of the art 
of disputation ; but in teaching there is no power like 
that of example ; and as he lacked those sterling virtues 
which alone could have made his life correspond with the 
ideals which he held up for others, his career challenged ad- 
miration but failed to command respect, or to exert any 
deep influence. 

Abelard was a representative Scholastic. He has been 
called by different writers a nominalist, a realist, and a con- 
ceptualist. Others think that his doctrines contain all these 
kinds of thought in more or less definite proportions. For 
our purpose it will be well to avoid these fine distinctions, 
as they never mean any thing sufficiently definite to repay 
the trouble of analyzing the terms. 

There is one broad distinction, however, running through 
all philosophic thought which can form the sufficient basis 
of our classification. This distinction begins in the differ- 
ence between the teachings of Aristotle and those of Plato. 
Plato gave an objective existence to ideas ; he believed that 
thoughts came nearer to the source of things than the 
things themselves ; and as we can only recognize ideas by 



94 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

names or words, he mistook symbols for realities, and be- 
lieved that, by operating on these symbols, deeper truths 
could be reached than by studying nature directly. This 
was the dialectics of Plato, and can be best described by the 
term Idealism. The antithesis of idealism is science, the 
patient investigation of facts accompanied by verification, 
and the grouping or classification of these facts into more 
and more general ideas. The ideas of science are always 
subordinate to facts, because they are derived from them. 
This, in general terms, is Aristotle's theory, and is distin- 
guished from Plato's in that Plato held ideas to be superior 
to facts. Of course there is a fundamental truth of which 
both these interpretations are more or less distinct expres- 
sions, but the difference between the theories is broad and 
clear ; other and more minute distinctions are unnecessary 
for the understanding of the general history and principles of 
philosophy. For instance, Realism is a belief which sup- 
poses that certain kinds of ideas, known as general terms or 
abstract ideas, such as animal man truth, have an objec- 
tive existence. Idealism maintains that all ideas have ob- 
jective existences, such as both the idea of a given man, and 
the idea of man in general, or that of a given animal and 
the order animal. Nominalism is the ultra scientific posi- 
tion. It holds that names stand for relations which we per- 
ceive among facts, and that all relations are merely functions 
of their terms or conditions : that a general name, such as 
circle, simply stands for the relation of a circumference to 
its centre ; that this relation can be generalized by apply- 
ing it to many simpler groups of facts ; but in each case it 
is strictly the function of these facts and has no separate 
existence. 

Realism, on the contrary, holds that the name circle 
stands for a type of existence independent of all conditions. 
It is a modified form of that rank Idealism of Plato which 
believed in divine archetypes from which all concrete em- 
bodiments were derived ; that an attribute or quality was 
not simply the expression of certain conditions, but was a 



SCHOLASTICISM. 95 

mystic genus or supernatural order of being, a mysterious . 
something more real than the conditions expressing it. 
This Idealism has fallen into such disrepute that the word 
real has come to signify the exact logical opposite of it. 
Real, to us, means rational, sensible, true, the antithesis of 
ideal, fanciful, unreal. Is it surprising, therefore, that com- 
mon-sense people should be puzzled when they are told that 
Realism is a species of Idealism, and that it is the theory 
that general names, such as circle beauty right, have a sep- 
arate existence from round things beautiful objects right 
actions ; that, in a word, Idealism believes that all reality is 
in the mind ; Realism, that about seven-eighths of all reality 
is in the mind ; whereas Nominalism leaves things as they 
are, and claims for the mind no monopoly of reality ? But 
the confusion becomes doubly confounded when we find the 
Scholastics declaring that Aristotle, who is supposed to stand 
for the rational or scientific order of perception, was a Real- 
ist or a semi-Idealist. Aristotle, who honestly endeavored 
to oppose the Idealism of Plato, became so entangled in its 
mystical phraseology that his works were interpreted in the 
Middle Ages as Scholastic Realism, and were identified with 
religious orthodoxy. 

The broad distinction which exists between Idealism and 
Science is the only safe one to use in philosophic classifica- 
tion. This distinction, as we have before said, can be traced 
to the difference between Aristotle and Plato ; but as both 
these great masters were monopolized by the church for 
many centuries, the interpretations put upon their works are 
more than confusing. Hence we shall not be surprised to 
find a long line of logical reformers from Abelard even to 
Francis Bacon denouncing the teachings of Aristotle as a 
means of opposing Idealism. 

Abelard was a strange mixture of Idealism and Nominal- 
ism. An analysis of his thought in this regard would be as 
tedious as profitless, for it suggests nothing original and 
gives no indications of a direct study of nature. His career 
was neither scientific nor, in the best sense, philosophic. 



-96 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

We must not forget, however, that he contended long and 
earnestly for freedom of thought, and practically began the 
movement which resulted in the separation of philosophy 
and theology, the severing of that union which had been 
effected by the Alexandrian school. 

To glance at another civilization, the Mohammedan cul- 
ture is not without its position in the history of thought. 
The Arabians were diligent students of Greek philosophy, 
and had translated a number of Aristotle's works into their 
language long before the revival of learning among the Chris- 
tian nations. An Arabian philosophy grew up which was a 
combination of Mohammedanism and Greek thought, as 
Scholasticism was a combination of Greek thought and 
Christianity. The chief feature of this philosophy was mys- 
ticism. All Eastern thought has a tinge of mysticism 
that strange faith which has the doctrine of total depravity 
for one support, and the principle of ecstatic communication 
with God for the other. The Mystics had a contempt for 
human energy. One of their orders symbolized this idea by 
planting a stick in the desert and carrying water hundreds 
of miles across the burning sands to water it. They believed 
that the highest possible existence is absolute inaction, in 
order to superinduce a reverie, or ecstasy, which is the con- 
dition necessary to have perfect communion with God. 
This idea is distinctly visible in Plato's teachings, and it 
lingers in modern philosophy in the greatly modified form 
of a belief in a priori ideas. Such an advanced work, even, 
as Spencer's "Psychology" has a faint trace of it in the 
notion of irreducible intuitions. 

We find nothing in the system of Algazzali, the greatest 
of Arabian philosophers (born in the city of Tours, 1 508 A.D.), 
which is sufficiently distinct from the thought already re- 
viewed to merit notice, unless it be this element of mysticism 
which pervades the school, and which is abundantly repre- 
sented in Christian culture. 

Philosophy as well as religion has had its martyrs. In A.D. 
1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome by 



SCHOLA S TICISM. 97 

the Holy Inquisition for teaching independence of thought. 
It is true that he attacked religious beliefs with great force, 
but he did it through philosophic writings and lectures. An 
Italian of great learning, he conceived an intense feeling of 
rebellion against the narrowness and superstition of his 
time, and devoted his life to advocating principles of intel- 
lectual reform. At that time the works of Aristotle were 
regarded by the learned world with the same superstitious 
reverence as that in which the Bible is now held ; and as 
almost all learning was then confined to the church, there 
was a strange combination of Aristotle's logic and physics, 
the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, and the Christian 
dogmas, forming the accepted faith of the church. All those 
who opposed any part of these beliefs were persecuted as 
enemies of the Christian religion. The hold which this 
combination of imperfect science and blind religious belief 
had upon the public mind, is scarcely conceivable to us. 
" In 1624 a quarter of a century after Bruno's martyrdom 
the Parliament of Paris issued a decree banishing all 
who publicly maintained theses against Aristotle ; and in 
1629, at the urgent remonstrance of the Sorbonne, decreed 
that to contradict the principles of Aristotle was to contra- 
dict the Church ! There is an anecdote recorded somewhere 
of a student, who, having detected spots in the sun, commu- 
nicated his discovery to a worthy priest. ' My son/ replied 
the priest, ' I have read Aristotle many times, and I assure 
you there is nothing of the kind mentioned by him. Go, 
rest in peace ; and be certain that the spots which you have 
seen are in your eyes, and not in the sun.' ' 

For ten years previous to Bruno's imprisonment at Venice, 
where he languished without books or writing materials for 
six years, he had wandered over the Continent and into 
England. He was encouraged by Queen Elizabeth, and 
through her influence lectured at Oxford. Before this he 
lectured at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he attracted great 
attention and became very popular. After leaving England 
he visited Marburg, Wurtemburg, and Prague. In almost 



98 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

every place his aggressive nature and principles brought him 
in conflict with the superior powers, and his visits to the seats 
of learning were short and stormy. At last, returning to 
Italy, whence he had fled, he was apprehended, suffered his 
long imprisonment, and was put to death. 

Together with the prevailing religious beliefs, Bruno bit- 
terly and persistently attacked Aristotle and Ptolemy, and 
in the more hospitable universities, debates of great pomp 
and ceremony were organized to oppose his teachings. It is 
to be remembered that these tournaments of learning were 
a feature of the age. Bruno was a constant satirist of the 
pedant, whom he held responsible for a great deal of the 
narrowness of the times, and lost no opportunity to bring 
him into ridicule. Speaking of him, he says : " If he laughs, 
he calls himself Democritus ; if he weeps, it is with Her- 
aclitus ; when he argues, he is Aristotle ; when he com- 
bines chimeras, he is Plato ; when he stutters, he is Demos- 
thenes." 

Bruno was not a scientist, but he had the scientific spirit ; 
he advocated the study of nature, instead of that unscientific 
introspection which was the habit of his time. It may seem 
strange that he was so opposed to Aristotle, and still so 
thoroughly in sympathy with the Aristotelian method ; this 
can only be explained by the narrow way in which the writ- 
ings of the great Stagirite were interpreted by the church. 
Bruno never could have come into contact with the broad 
spirit of the Aristotelian method, or he would have recog- 
nized in it the same hopes and ambitions which he enter- 
tained himself. Bruno's philosophy had not become eman- 
cipated from Scholasticism, as indeed but few modern 
philosophies have. The highest generalization of the an- 
cients, to which they gave the name of God, or Divine 
Unity, had become substantialized by constant use in re- 
ligious thought until its meaning was degraded by undue 
limitations. 

This substantialization of the Universal Principle, or the 
idea of deity, is the great obstacle to an understanding be- 



THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING. 99 

tween philosophy and religion. These two contrasted 
interpretations of deity employ the same terms but 
give to them different meanings ; and so deeply rooted has 
this misunderstanding become, that it is virtually beyond 
correction. New generations must grow up with a common 
knowledge of the meaning of these most important of all 
words, before a reconciliation can be effected. 

After the time of the Neo-Platonists and the Alexandrian 
school, philosophy for fifteen centuries remained subservient 
to religion and degenerated into a mystic theology. Such 
men as Bruno rebelled against this low order of thought, and 
struggled to throw off the concrete meanings imposed upon 
ultimate terms ; they were only partially successful, and 
passed away leaving their work incomplete. But from the 
turmoil of mixed theological and philosophic debate, called 
Scholasticism, the science of Metaphysics again springs into 
existence, and the word God becoming purer and purer 
in its meaning, at last assumes the form of the Ulti- 
mate Reality, or Universal Principle Motion, the ob- 
jective and subjective aspects of which are Space and Time. 
Thus Science and Theology unite in the Synthesis of 
Knowledge, giving us at once the only true philosophy, the 
only pure religion. 

Francis Bacon, about the merit of whose works there has 
been so much dispute in England, especially during the 
present century, was born in 1561. He studied at Cam- 
bridge, and afterward took up the profession of law, in which 
he became eminent. Under the reign of James the First his 
fortune advanced rapidly. In 1616 he was sworn a member of 
the Privy Council, and in the following year was appointed 
Keeper of the Great Seal, then created Baron of Verulam, 
and Viscount of St. Albans. Macaulay says : " The moral 
qualities of Bacon were not of a high order. We do not say 
that he was a bad man. He was not inhuman or tyrannical. 
He bore with meekness his high civil honors, and the far 
higher honors gained by his intellect. He was very seldom, 
if ever, provoked into treating any person with malignity 



100 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

and insolence. * * * No man was more expert at the soft 
answer which turneth away wrath. He was never ac- 
cused of intemperance in his pleasures. His even temper, 
his flowing courtesy, the general respectability of his de- 
meanor, made a favorable impression on those who saw him 
in situations which do not severely try the principles. His 
faults were we write it with pain coldness of heart and 
meanness of spirit. He seems to have been incapable of 
feeling strong affection, of facing great dangers, of making 
great sacrifices. His desires were set on things below." 
In the zenith of his prosperity a sudden reverse was at hand. 
Notwithstanding his large income, his habits of extravagance 
tempted him to accept bribes. He was charged with cor- 
ruption, and, after an attempt at defence, publicly acknowl- 
edged his guilt. The sentence was severe : he was condemned 
to imprisonment during the King's pleasure, and fined forty 
thousand pounds ; he was declared incapable of holding any 
office in the State or of sitting in Parliament, and was also 
banished from Court. This sentence was scarcely pro- 
nounced when it was mitigated, for he passed only two days 
in the Tower, when he was liberated. Retiring to Gorham- 
bury, he devoted himself to literature during the remainder 
of his life. When the rest of the sentence was finally remit- 
ted, and he could have resumed his seat in the House of 
Lords, he did not do so, shame, perhaps, preventing him. 
On his death-bed, knowing that if he had thought pro- 
foundly, he had nevertheless acted most unworthily, he said : 
" For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable 
speeches, and to foreign nations, and to the next age." His 
confidence was not misplaced ; men have dealt leniently 
with him, for " turn where we will, the trophies of that 
mighty intellect are full in view." 

Bacon is accredited with the honor of establishing the 
modern scientific method. Although it would be difficult 
to find an age, since history began, completely without a sci- 
entific method, a glance at the situation in the time of Bacon 

1 Macaulay's " Miscellanies," p. 255. 



THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING. IOI 

will convince us that much of our scientific advancement 
and educational reform are to be traced to his influence. 
Bacon lived in a time of marked theological and metaphysi- 
cal activity. The great work of Copernicus had just begun 
to unsettle the Christian beliefs, and Galileo was in the midst 
of his controversy with Rome. The paths of science and 
religion were beginning that redivergence which has since 
brought these two branches of knowledge into such antag- 
onism. Lessing's "Fragments" and the acrimonious wars 
which they engendered were yet unheard of, but theological 
debates filled the air, and there was a certain freshness and 
earnestness about these collisions which they are without to- 
day. Science was so feeble and had so few friends, religion 
was so generally held as the arbiter of all questions of the 
understanding, that Bacon's unflinching devotion to the 
scientific method, his supreme indifference to the war of 
words around him, showed a deep appreciation of the real 
needs of his time. 

Bacon is often called the father of experimental philosophy, 
but his works attempt no solution of the metaphysical prob- 
lem ; he carefully avoids throughout the use of ultimate terms. 
His idea of the nature of perception constitutes the great 
force of his system. He saw clearly that human knowledge 
is but an aspect of life, and that it springs from a fact which 
is more than human and deeper than personality. He saw 
the futility of trying to express this fact in terms either of 
human or divine personality, and therefore declared that all 
knowledge was subordinate to or expressed by facts. Gen- 
eralizations, he reasoned, are only broad classifications of 
facts. He overlooked, however, the great truth that all facts 
must take some part in human life in order to be classified, 
and that the constant human or subjective term in every 
perception can be made to disclose a constant objective 
term ; that in the multiplicity of facts a unity can be dis- 
cerned, a principle which accounts for universal as well as 
individual life. 

One of Bacon's celebrated aphorisms is : " Man, the min- 



102 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

ister and interpreter of Nature, can act and understand in as 
far as he has, either in fact or in thought, observed the 
order of Nature: more he can neither know nor do." In 
other words, to understand any thing perfectly, that thing 
must harmonize with our experiences. If our experiences 
are not sufficiently extended to receive great truths, we must 
extend them by the accumulation of more facts, as the only 
means of increasing knowledge, or, what is the same thing, 
of enlarging life. If we were to reduce Bacon's method to a 
single sentence, we would say: do not jump at conclusions ! 
His power and originality centre in the " systematization 
of graduated verification as the sole method of research." 

He shows a great contempt for the conventional meta- 
physical method of forming generalizations from insufficient 
facts. 

" There are two ways," he says, " of searching after and 
discovering truth ; the one, from sense and particulars, rises 
directly to the most general axioms, and resting upon these 
principles and their unshaken truth, finds out intermediate 
axioms, and this is the method in use ; but the other raises 
axioms from sense and particulars by a continued and gradual 
ascent, till at last it arrives at the most general axioms, 
which is the true way, but hitherto untried. 

" The understanding, when left to itself, takes the first of 
these ways ; for the mind delights in springing up to the most 
general axioms, that it may find rest ; but after a short stay 
there it disdains experience, and these mischiefs are at length 
increased by logic for the ostentation of disputes. 

" The natural human reasoning we, for the sake of clear- 
ness, call the anticipation of nature, as being a rash and 
hasty thing ; and the reason only exercised upon objects, we 
call the interpretation of nature." 

To interpret nature, therefore, was Bacon's only way to 
learn. As Bacon paid little or no attention to an ultimate 
analysis, he never seemed to realize that the greatest need 
of the race is a point of beginning for perception, so that all 
the " graduated verifications," upon which he so earnestly 



THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING 103 

insisted, should invariably lead us back to one incontroverti- 
ble principle. That he, nevertheless, felt the possibility of 
such an analysis is manifest from the following passage in 
his " Novum Organum " : "But let none expect any great 
promotion of the sciences, especially in their effective part, 
unless natural philosophy be drawn out to particular sciences ; 
and, again, unless these particular sciences be brought back 
again to natural philosophy. From this defect it is that 
astronomy, optics, music, many mechanical arts, and what 
seems stranger, even moral and civil philosophy and logic, rise 
but little above their foundations, and only skim over the 
varieties and surfaces of things, viz. : because after these 
particular sciences are formed and divided off, they are no 
longer nourished by natural philosophy, which might give 
them strength and increase ; and therefore no wonder if the 
sciences thrive not, when separated from their roots." 

The roots of all science he thus conceived to be moral or 
natural laws. To reduce these natural laws or experiences 
to a single principle never seemed to occur to him as 
feasible. 

Bacon said that Aristotle corrupted natural philosophy 
with logic, which simply means that he reasoned beyond 
his depth. 

Aristotle for centuries was regarded as the originator 
of the inductive method, because he was a scientist and 
studied nature, carefully accumulating facts and drawing 
from them general laws. He classified facts through resem- 
blances of different kinds, and gave to these resemblances 
names. His attention was largely devoted to the study of 
comparative anatomy, the resemblances in the structure of 
animals. These classifications have led to our present divi- 
sion of the whole animal kingdom into five sub-kingdoms, 
each of these sub-kingdoms again divisible into provinces, 
each province into classes, and the classes into successively 
smaller groups, orders, families, genera, species. Surely 
thus far Aristotle did not corrupt natural philosophy. But 

1 " Novum Organum," I., Aph. 79, 80. 



104 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

he did strive to reach an ultimate analysis, and to this end 
he framed his ten categories of thought. He also indulged 
in a great deal of metaphysical speculation, which Bacon 
regarded as a sheer waste of time. It is an interesting fact 
that Bacon should have differed so much from Aristotle and 
still have inherited from him his own chief distinction ; for 
Bacon is now widely known as the apostle of the inductive 
method of philosophy. This method is supposed by some 
to constitute a kind of reasoning distinct from that em- 
ployed in the deductive method ; whereas all that is really 
meant by the terms induction and deduction is a different 
manner of investigating facts, the process of reasoning being 
constant in all methods. Before Aristotle's time the animal 
kingdom was regarded as a great mass of unrelated phe- 
nomena. Biology was unknown, and anatomy and physiology 
were confined to such rude results as could be obtained by 
untrained observation. The result was that the knowledge 
of animal life was chaotic. As we have seen, Aristotle 
studied animal structures, and from comparisons built up 
classes of resemblances. This is the inductive method of 
research, because it is said to proceed from particulars to 
generals. It is contrasted with the deductive method, or 
the procedure from generals to particulars. 

The fault which Bacon finds with Aristotle, then, is sim- 
ply that he did not proceed to the farthest lengths of rea- 
soning, that he did not define the contrasted nature of 
individual and general existence, without breaking loose 
from his careful synthesis of organic life. This objection of 
Bacon's is well taken ; but it must be remembered that 
Aristotle was far less fully equipped for such an undertaking 
than Bacon might well have been, and that the latter lacked 
the ambition and courage for the attempt. 



CHAPTER VI. 

MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 
Descartes Spinoza Hobbes Locke Hartley Leibnitz Berkeley Hume. 

IF it is to England that we owe the inauguration, through 
Francis Bacon, of experimental science, it is to France that we 
are indebted for the firm establishment of Modern Philosophy. 
The writings of Rene Descartes Duperron mark the transi- 
tion from mediaeval to modern thought. To be a great thinker 
is a higher distinction in France than in any other country. 
Not that there are as many scholars in France as there are 
in Germany, or that the logical achievements of England 
suffer by comparison with those of the continent ; but 
the French language affords the least opportunity of all 
tongues for vagueness of expression, and hence a system of 
philosophy, to command lasting respect in France, must be 
distinguished for clearness, definiteness, and good sense. 
Such, allowing for the time in which it was written, is the 
system of Descartes. 

Born in 1596, Descartes was contemporaneous with Galileo, 
and suffered not a little from the spirit of religious intoler- 
ance which pervaded Europe at that time. Educated by 
the Jesuits, he had no sooner mastered the religious and 
philosophic thought of his time than he announced his dis- 
satisfaction with it. He declared that the only result of his 
studies had been to enable him to discern his utter ignorance. 
At the age of twenty-three he conceived the project of re- 
organizing the philosophic knowledge of the world, and be- 
gan a series of travels principally in his own country, for the 
purpose of studying life. These travels, which lasted about 
ten years, included various periods of service in the army. The 

105 



106 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

garrison life afforded him opportunities of study, and brought 
him in contact with many scholars of note. Mathematics 
was the favorite study of Descartes, and it was not long be- 
fore he achieved a European reputation in this science. The 
faculty which he acquired for solving problems was marvel- 
lous. The discovery of the application of algebra to geome- 
try, his chief scientific merit, was a crisis in his career. The 
manner in which he approached this discovery he thus 
describes: "The long chains of simple and easy reasons 
which geometers employ in arriving at their most difficult 
demonstrations made me fancy that all things which are the 
objects of human knowledge are similarly interdependent ; 
and that, provided we abstain from assuming any thing false, 
and observe the correct order in deducing things one from 
another, there are none so remote that we cannot reach and 
so hidden that we cannot discover them. I was at no trouble 
in finding out where to begin ; for, considering that the 
mathematicians only had attained to some certainty, and 
this because they occupied themselves about the easiest sub- 
ject of all, I thought I should examine this first. And 
then, considering that to know the mathematical sciences, 
I should sometimes require to consider them each in detail, 
and sometimes only to retain or understand several of them 
conjointly, I thought that to consider them better in partic- 
ular I must consider them in lines, because I could find noth- 
ing simpler, or more distinctly representable to my imagina- 
tion and senses ; but to retain them, or to consider several 
of them together, it was necessary to explain them by the 
briefest possible symbols, and thus I should borrow all that 
was best from geometrical analysis and from algebra and 
correct the defects of each by the other." 

This puissant method opened up new fields of discovery 
to Descartes. Not content with applying it to mathematics, 
he saw its bearing upon the physical sciences, and even enter- 
tained a vague hope of applying it in some form to the 
study of mind. " Not that I ventured to examine forth- 
with all manner of problems, which would have been a vio- 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. IO/ 

lation of my rules; but, knowing that their principles must 
all be derived from [first] philosophy, in which I could, as 
yet, find none that were certain, I thought that here, above 
all, I ought to establish them." Thus we see that the exact 
deductions of mathematics had a charm for Descartes, and 
supplied him with a method to which he always afterward 
adhered. During these ten years of wandering, Descartes 
resided at times in Paris, where he had the advantage of 
scientific friends as well as the distraction of Court life 
into which his good social position introduced him. This 
scientific association gave him ample exercise in mathemat- 
ics and developed in him a taste for other investigations, 
among which is prominently mentioned practical optics ; 
but he longed for more abstract studies and the retirement 
which makes them possible. 

At the age of thirty we find him secluding himself in Hol- 
land and beginning the work which resulted, eight years 
afterward, in the publication of the " Discourse on Method," 
and the celebrated " Meditations." The appearance of these 
works interested at once the learned world, and their author 
was almost immediately recognized as an original and pow- 
erful thinker. Charles the First of England and Christina 
of Sweden urged him to come to their respective Courts. 
The civil war in England decided his choice in favor of 
Stockholm, where he became interested with Christina in 
the establishment of an academy of sciences. Descartes' 
delicate health, however, soon succumbed to the rigor of 
the northern climate. With Scandinavian indifference to 
comfort, Christina insisted upon taking her lessons in phil- 
osophy at five o'clock in the morning of an Arctic winter. 
Descartes was too chivalrous to demur; and scarcely had 
he begun to teach his royal friend the principles of his phil- 
osophy, when he was taken with the illness which in a few 
days caused his death. 

In the development of the mind of Descartes we find mir- 
rored the dawn of modern philosophy in Europe. His ap- 
preciation of the Advantages of a broad culture can be judged 



108 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of from the famous autobiographical passage in the opening 
of the " Discourse on Method " : " I know that the languages 
I then learned were necessary for the understanding of 
ancient authors ; that the grace of myths stimulates the 
mind ; that the memorable deeds in histories exalt it, and, 
being read with discretion, and in forming the judgment, 
that the reading of all good books is like a conversation with 
the best people of past centuries who have written them, 
nay, even a studied conversation, in which they disclose to 
us only their best thoughts ; that eloquence has incomparable 
strength and beauty; \hakpoetry has enchanting delicacy 
and sweetness. * * * But I came to think that I had spent 
enough time at languages, and even in the reading of 
ancient books and their histories and fables: for it is almost 
the same thing to converse with men of other ages as it is 
to travel ; but if one travel too long, one becomes a stranger 
to one's own home. * * * I highly esteemed eloquence 
and loved poetry ; but I thought that both one and the 
other were mental endowments rather than the fruits of 
study. Those who have the strongest reasoning faculty and 
digest their ideas most thoroughly, so as to make them clear 
and intelligible, are always best able to persuade men of 
what they propose even though they talk bos Breton and 
have never learned rhetoric ; and those who have the most 
pleasing fancies, and can express them with best adornment 
and most sweetness, will still be the best poets, even should 
the art of poetry be unknown to them." 

Passing from this delineation of culture to his philo- 
sophic position, we find that Descartes perceived that a 
vacuum, or absolutely empty space, was an impossibility. 
He said that the essence, or first principle of matter, or sub- 
stance ', is extension, and that wherever there is extension there 
is matter ; or, which is the same thing, he identifies Matter 
with Space. " The substance which fills all space must be 
assumed as divided into equal angular parts. Why must 
this be assumed ? Because it is the most simple, therefore 
the most natural supposition. This substance being set ins 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 109 

motion, the parts are ground into a spherical form, and the 
corners thus rubbed off, like filings or sawdust, form a second 
or more subtle kind of substance. There is, besides, a kind 
of substance, coarser and less fitted for motion. The first 
kind makes luminous bodies, such as the sun and fixed stars; 
the second makes the transparent substance of the skies ; 
the third kind is the material of opaque bodies, such as earth, 
planets, etc. We may also assume that the motions of these 
parts take the form of revolving circular currents, or vortices. 
By this means the matter will be collected to the centre of 
each vortex, while the second or subtle matter surrounds it, 
and by its centrifugal effort constitutes light. The planets 
are carried round the sun by the motion of this vortex, each 
planet being at such a distance from the sun as to be in a 
part of the vortex suitable to its solidity and mobility. The 
motions are prevented from being exactly circular and reg- 
ular by various causes. For instance, a vortex may be 
pressed into an oval shape by contiguous vortices." * 

With these rather fanciful theories of physics, fanciful 
from our point of view, but exceedingly penetrating when 
we consider the state of science in the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, Descartes makes the most important 
assertion in the whole range of physical truth, but he seems 
to have little conception of its vast logical importance. This 
assertion was the identification of Matter and Space, as con- 
vertible terms, representing the ultimate statical generaliza- 
tion. The ultimate fact with Descartes was personal exist- 
ence, or consciousness. From this he deduced the fact of 
general existence, or God. His famous dictum, " I think 
therefore I am,'* is really an identical proposition ; for the 
kind of existence postulated is Consciousness, or the act of 
thought. His proposition simply means, Existence being 
thought, I think therefore I exist, or, I think therefore I 
think. The method of Descartes is a faithful elaboration 
of his fundamental tenet of consciousness. His capital 
axiom is, ll All clear and distinct ideas are true" ; which means 

1 Whewell : " Hist, of the Inductive Sciences," vol. II., p. 134. 



110 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

that thought justifies itself. This rule, although true in the 
sense that all facts justify or express themselves, is merely 
an argument against a superstitious belief in causes. It ad- 
vocates a careful scrutiny of the relations between cause and 
effect. 

The assertion that all clear and distinct ideas are true, 
does not disclose the nature of perception ; nor does the 
dictum "I think therefore I am " throw any light upon the 
purely relative nature of the fact of individuality, or per- 
sonal existence. Descartes, in deducing the existence of 
God from personal existence, clearly reversed the order of 
perception ; for God is the Ultimate Reality, the chief fact 
from which all individual facts are but derivations. 

In perception, the individual responds to the universe ; 
and as the individual is but a part of the universe, the fact 
of personal existence is subordinate to that of general exist- 
ence, or God. 1 God cannot, therefore, be deduced from 
consciousness, but consciousness may be deduced from God. 
The conception of Deity is an ultimate analysis. Every 
conception, however humble, employs this fact as an inte- 
gral part. 

To reduce the above argument to metaphysical terms, 
God is Motion thoughts, or individual perceptions, are 
motions. Here we have Divine Unity contrasted with the 
variety which is expressed in personal life. 

With Descartes, who read and admired Bacon, and util- 
ized many of his valuable suggestions, the beginning of 
modern science was fairly inaugurated. In the metaphysical 
reasonings of Descartes I am unable to see more profundity 
or originality than can be found among the ancient Greek 
and Alexandrian authors. The dissatisfaction with the an- 
cients, so commonly felt at the time, was more with their 
science than with their philosophy, more with the paucity of 
their facts than with the use made of them. 

1 This interpretation of consciousness is fully explained in the review of the 
systems of Herbert Spencer and G. H. Lewes, Part II., where the mind is 
studied as the activity of an organism. 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 1 1 1 

A full appreciation of the greatness of Descartes can be 
had only by viewing him in the scientific plane of his age. 
His ideas on physics were elaborated before the other parts 
of his system, although the fear which the persecution of 
Galileo inspired delayed for a long time their publication. 
Descartes saw that it was impossible to write upon philoso- 
phy without ultimately declaring himself upon these ques- 
tions, and therefore his true originality was hidden for a 
time through fear of a conflict with the church. Had 
he announced his discoveries concerning the operations of 
nature as they occurred to his mind, he would have des- 
troyed his influence and imperiled his liberty. His first phil- 
osophic production was an elaborate exposition of the true 
method of investigation. Its title was, " Discourse on the 
Method of Properly Guiding the Reason in the Research 
of Truth in the Sciences : also the Dioptric, the Meteors, 
and the Geometry, which are Essays in this Method." It is 
seen that, in this work, an effort was made to avoid religious 
controversy. It was distinctly scientific. Of course, in 
studying the nature of thought, it is necessary to become 
metaphysical ; but where this occurs, the argument is 
couched in conciliatory and devout language, with the mani- 
fest object of escaping the direct charge of infidelity. 

In the fourth division of the " Discourse on Method " the 
nature of God and of the human soul is discussed. By a 
course of reasoning which ignores one difficulty after an- 
other, the author arrives at the conclusion that the human 
soul is absolutely distinct from the body 1 ; that this soul is 
put into the body by a divine being infinitely perfect, whose 
existence is proved by the ideas we have of his perfection. 
These ideas disclose to us our imperfection, as the positive 
discloses the negative, or as being discloses non-being. 8 

No one can read the fourth division of the " Discourse on 
Method " without seeing in it the identical metaphysical 
reasonings which are most popular with the orthodox writers . 

1 " Discours de la Methode," vol. I., pp. 158, 159. 
* Ibid., vol. I., p. 60. 



112 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of the present day. The popularity of these metaphysics is 
due to the fact that they are just enough involved to escape 
the plain statement that God is not a spirit, but the ultimate 
reality or fact of the universe. 

The theologians of the seventeenth century, however, 
were by no means satisfied with these guarded statements ; 
and although Descartes declared himself a conservative in 
faith, although he was a " pet pupil of the Jesuits," and 
strove earnestly to discuss philosophy apart from religion, 
and to uphold the moral teachings of the church, the appear- 
ance of his argument on Method was the occasion of a tem- 
pest of controversy, in which he was bitterly assailed by the 
leading theologians of the Universities of northern Europe, 
both Catholic and Calvinistic. These attacks were made by 
theological theses against Descartes, in some of which the 
printed comments were so offensive that they were struck 
out by order of the magistrates of Utrecht. 

About four years after the appearance of the " Discourse on 
Method," the " Meditations " made their appearance. These 
were more religious in tone, and consequently more meta- 
physical. Unlike his first work, they were written in Latin, 
and constitute a labored argument about first principles. 
Although they are considered by many to be the greatest 
achievement of Descartes, they are in reality the least valu- 
able of his writings. The " Meditations " was printed in Paris 
in 1641, with the King's privilege and the approbation of 
the Doctors of the Sorbonne. The full title was " Medita- 
tions concerning the First Philosophy, in which are demon- 
strated the Existence of God and the Immortality of the 
Soul." The official sanctions under which this work was 
published were obtained by the direct prayer of Descartes, 
who felt keenly the attacks made upon his first work. He also 
took the precaution of having a dozen copies of the " Medi- 
tations " submitted to the ablest theologians of the time, so 
that the criticisms might be obtained and published with 
the author's replies to them, thus establishing the work in a 
controversial light from the beginning. One of the chief 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 113 

results of these criticisms, which came from such distin- 
guished men as Arnauld, Gassendi, and Hobbes, was to 
change the discussion of the immortality to the immateriality 
of the soul, which latter title was more in accordance with 
the manner in which Descartes treated the subject. 

The scientific writings, which form the most interesting 
part of the " Method," were omitted in the " Meditations," 
which reduce it to a mere enlargement of the metaphysical 
argument of the first publication. This argument concern- 
ing the relative importance of the facts of general and per- 
sonal existence, or of God and the human soul, has been 
fully dealt with above. The question of the principles 
of certitude, or the measure of doubt, also receives much 
attention in the " Meditations." As has already been ex- 
plained in a previous chapter, this question belongs to the 
nature of perception, or the study of mind as the function 
of the organism, and cannot be successfully discussed in the 
absence of an ultimate physical analysis, or without full un- 
derstanding of the relation of body and mind. 1 What con- 
cerns us most is, not the logical position of the " Medita- 
tions," for this position has been superseded long ago, but 
the effect which the work wrought upon the world and the 
life of the author. 

In the preface to the " Meditations," Descartes, not feel- 
ing quite satisfied with his proof of the immortality of the 
soul, says, that a strict proof of this theory would require a 
complete development of his whole system of physics. He 
suggests that the first requisite is to form a " clear and 
distinct " conception of the soul as distinct from the body, 
because substances thus clearly conceived to be distinct 
must really be so ; which is in effect " taking firm hold of 
one's own sleeve in order to jump over the river." In reply 
to the objection that Hobbes made to this argument, Des- 
cartes admits that we only infer the difference between 
mind and body from the difference in their qualities, or ac- 
tivities, which as above said, at once remands the whole 

'See Part II., chap. i. 



114 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

question to the study of mind as the function of an organ- 
ism, or modern psychology. 

The Protestant theologians of Utrecht and Leyden, irri- 
tated by the imprudent enthusiasm of one of Descartes' 
disciples, Le Roy (Regius), began a systematic opposition to 
the Cartesian philosophy. This movement developed into 
a persecution which proved a grievous trial to Descartes. It 
began with disputations by theses in the Universities, 
which were followed by the public with intense interest. 
These disputes were confined for some time to general prin- 
ciples, but Le Roy, wishing to force a logical issue with 
his adversaries, boldly announced the principle, under the 
authority of Descartes, that man was a being composed of 
the two elements of mind and extension ; that he was not a 
substance per se, but a substance per accidens, which means, 
that human existence is not an unconditioned fact, but that 
man is a natural phenomenon, and is therefore the function 
of his conditions. This announcement was a direct chal- 
lenge to the powerful orthodox party. The Protestants, 
represented by Voe't and Arnauld, the rectors of the Uni- 
versities of Utrecht and Leyden, immediately resented it. 
The acumen of these theologians can be judged of from 
the fact that they were Aristotelian in their faith, bitterly 
opposing the theory of the earth's motion round the sun, 
which theory they identified with the philosophy of Des- 
cartes. From our point of view, it would seem as though all 
the best thought and intelligence of the seventeenth cen- 
tury were arrayed against Christian orthodoxy, but this is 
hardly fair either to the early Protestants or the Catholics ; 
for religion does not oppose science because it is science, but 
because new theories of life and mind disturb the authority 
and dignity of the church. As long as religion attaches her 
faith to persons instead of to principles, to fixed creeds hav- 
ing the authority of mysterious books instead of to the great 
principles of human progress, so long will those discoveries 
which are the natural movement of life disturb her peace. A 
religion on the contrary which identifies God with the Uni- 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 115 

versal Principle will employ science as a great moral power, 
enlisting in its services the best efforts of the mind. 

The Calvinist theologians, headed by Voet, were so bitter 
in their attacks on Descartes, that an appeal to the Prince 
of Orange was necessary to put a stop to the persecution. 
The authority of this prince alone saved the theories of Des- 
cartes from being formally expelled from the University 
teachings, and his books from being publicly burned by the 
hangman of Utrecht. The right of private judgment, which 
was the fundamental principle of the Cartesian philosophy, 
first excited the opposition of the church, both Protestant 
and Catholic ; for Christianity rests its judgments or per- 
ceptions upon the theory of faith originated by the Alexan- 
drian mystics. 

The enduring part of Descartes' system, that which has 
fairly won for him the name of a great thinker, was his 
original investigations of natural phenomena and his able 
criticisms of the sciences. His metaphysics, his reasonings 
concerning existence, as above indicated, were not in ad- 
vance of the best Greek thought. Epicurus made a more 
perfect synthesis of life, Anaximano^er a far keener analysis 
of first principles; but Descartes gathered together the 
learning of his age, enriched it with new investigations, and 
co-ordinated it into a system of knowledge which will ever 
bear his name and mark an epoch in human history. 

The science of mathematics is purely a study of motion 
and its aspects ; that is to say, it expresses all its results in 
terms of time and space, or of number and quantity, which 
are but the aspects of motion. 

Descartes felt that all phenomena could be reduced to 
terms of time and space, and thus " insisted upon the only 
true path ever followed by physical science its reduction to 
the mathematical laws of figure and of motion. 

" Having first shown," says Prof. MahafTy, " that by the 
earliest of his discoveries all problems in figure could be 
reduced to arithmetical formulae, and that these could be 
generalized by the use of algebraic symbols, he insisted that 



Il6 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

nothing should be assumed in explaining the laws of nature 
but the laws of figure and motion. He cast to the winds 
the whole apparatus of occult qualities, intuitional species, 
and other assumed secrets by which the scholastic Peri- 
patetics endeavored to explain, and by which they succeeded 
in obscuring and confusing, nature." 

The boldness and novelty of this position of Descartes' 
can only be appreciated by looking at his scientific sur- 
roundings. In our day, we are so accustomed to the asser- 
tion that all phenomena can be expressed in terms of mo- 
tion, that the importance of this great truth escapes us. 
How few among those to whom this proposition is familiar 
are willing to admit its full significance, that all phenomena 
means all life, and that the term life includes mind. Des- 
cartes, even, failed to rigorously follow out the meaning of 
his own induction. He states that all phenomena can be 
expressed in terms of motion, which distinctly means that 
motion is the ultimate fact of life ; and yet the fundamental 
principle of his metaphysics, or his analysis of knowledge, is, 
that consciousness, or mind, is the ultimate fact of life. 

His application of algebra to geometry, or his expression 
of space relationships in algebraic symbols, led to the de- 
velopment of the fluctional calculus elaborated by Newton 
and Leibnitz, which constitutes the most exact portrayal 
science affords of infinitesimal measurements or motions. 
This discovery of Descartes' raised the science of geometry 
from a mass of isolated demonstrations of figure and meas- 
urement, as it came to us from the ancients, to a system of 
abstract calculations, in which given powers of co-efficients 
are made to represent constant space relationships. Thus 
Descartes introduced his philosophy with brilliant discourses 
in mathematics and physics, which at once commanded the 
attention of scholars, and gave to his more abstract reason- 
ings a reputation which they could not have achieved of 
themselves. 

" The Principles of Philosophy," the first planned and last 
published of his capital works, was the most thorough of 



MODERN PHIL OSOPH Y. 117 

them all ; and yet the author admits that this great treatise 
on physics was incomplete, inasmuch as it was not extended 
to the treatment of plants, animals, and lastly of man ; so 
that what is generally supposed to be the greatest logical 
feat of Descartes his postulate that consciousness is the 
ultimate fact of the universe is seen to be a direct contra- 
diction of his best and most original teachings, which tended 
to subordinate individual to general existence, or conscious- 
ness to the more general fact of Motion, or God. 

Benedict Spinoza was born in Amsterdam, in 1632, of a 
Hebrew family that had moved from Portugal to escape 
persecution. He studied under the auspices of the Jewish 
church of his native city ; but his mind soon rebelled against 
the limits of this religion, and the Rabbins, finding it impos- 
sible to change his course, visited upon him the then terrible 
penalty of excommunication. 

Among the ancients, the word piety seems to have been 
employed in the sense which we give to the word humanity. 
It had less to do with formal beliefs and more with charac- 
ter. A man who sought universal truth, for its own sake, was 
considered pious. 

The Greeks knew less of the importance of religious dis- 
cipline than we do ; being without the past two thousand 
years of human experience, they were unable to distinguish 
between intellectual and moral exercise as factors in social 
advancement. Again : the intellectuality of the Greeks 
was less taught, more spontaneous, than ours. The great! 
fact that thought purifies was constantly before them. A 
man, to be a great thinker in Greece, had to do, for the 
most part, his own thinking. He had not our facilities for 
imbibing thought ready-made from others. Those wide 
sympathies which are the necessary accompaniment of a 
deep understanding of life, presuppose a certain moral 
advancement. To discourse of God, or the Universal Prin- 
ciple, in Greece, was not that semi-mechanical operation 
which we so often see among religious teachers of more 
recent times. It was an enthusiasm for the higher or most 



Il8 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

general truths, at once elevating and purifying to the whole 
life. This thoughtful and devotional cast of mind the 
ancients called piety. It demanded a certain capacity, an 
earnest and sustained effort to bring the mind into harmony 
with its farthest surroundings ; an effort which is sure in 
time to compel moral development. 

It was this kind of piety that was the inspiration of 
Spinoza's life ; and so completely did it possess him, that 
the sentence of excommunication with its terrible conse- 
quences did not even seem to depress him. His life is a 
singular instance of the resources which we possess in the 
higher sentiments. 

It was not considered enough for the ancient Jewish 
doctors to be scholars ; they were required also to learn 
some mechanical art by which to support themselves. 
Spinoza learned the art of polishing glasses for optical instru- 
ments, in which he attained great proficiency. To escape 
persecution, he retired to Leyden or Rynsberg, where he 
passed the life of a recluse, devoting himself to study. 

A heroic firmness that is truly invigorating to contem- 
plate shines throughout the life of this man. Our deepest 
admiration is aroused by his independence of spirit, his cheer- 
ful nature, his moderate wants and indefatigable industry. 

In the doctrines of Spinoza we have a worthy study. 
Many have complained of the abstruseness of his writings, 
but this is largely due to his persistent effort to reduce all 
his generalizations to mathematical forms of expression. 
The language of numbers and quantities is too cold and 
inflexible to serve as a medium of philosophic thought. 

To give an idea of the rigidity of Spinoza's style, we cite 
a few of his celebrated definitions, and place opposite to 
them the interpretation which the reduction of the cate- 
gories of thought to a single principle enables one to make. 

" DEFINITION III. By Substance I Existence is the ultimate reality, or 

understand that which exists in itself, Motion. Substance, of course, has a 

and is conceived/^r se ; in other words, place in the conception of Motion, 

the conception of which does not re- For if matter and space are the same 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 



quire the conception of any thing else 
antecedent to it." 



" DEF. VI. By God I understand 
the Being absolutely infinite, i. e., the 
Substance consisting of infinite At- 
tributes, each of which expresses an 
infinite and eternal essence. 

"Explanation. I say absolutely in- 
finite, but not infinite suo genere j 
for to whatever is infinite only suo ge- 
nere we can deny infinite Attributes ; 
but that which is absolutely infinite 
includes in its essence every thing 
which implies essence and involves no 
negation." 

" DEF. VIII. By Eternity I under- 
stand Existence itself, in as far as it is 
conceived necessarily to follow from 
the sole definition of an eternal thing." 



thing, and space is merely an aspect 
of Motion, our conception of Sub- 
stance is a part of that of Motion. 

If absolute means time, and infinite 
means space, God, or the ultimate 
generalization or reality, and Motion, 
are convertible terms ; they mean the 
same thing, for the aspects of Motion 
being space and time, and the attri- 
butes of God the infinite and the ab- 
solute, they are convertible terms, and 
must point to the same fact. 

The "Explanation" of the defini- 
tion I consider more involved than 
the definition itself, and therefore not, 
properly speaking, an explanation. 

There is but one clear meaning to 
the word Eternity, and that is Time. 
Time is an aspect of Motion, and is 
therefore an aspect of Existence. In 
No. III. Spinoza says that Substance 
is Existence itself, and in No. VIII., 
that eternity is Existence itself. In 
one case he means Space and in the 
other Time, and in both his words ex- 
press the conception of Motion, which 
includes Space and Time. 



At the risk of being tedious, we select the seventh and 
eighth of Spinoza's Propositions with the Scholium attached, 
in order to show how necessary it is to be definite and clear 
with regard to the meaning of ultimate terms in forming a 
final generalization, and also what store Spinoza placed by 
his ultimate generalization, which he called Substance. 

" PROPOSITION VII. It pertains to the nature of Substance to exist. 

" Demonstration. Substance cannot be created by any thing else, and is, 
therefore, the cause of itself ; its essence necessarily involves existence ; or it 
pertains to the nature of Substance to exist." 

" PROP. VIII. All Substance is necessarily infinite. 

" Dem. There exists but one Substance of the same Attribute ; and it must 
either exist as infinite or as finite. But not as finite, for as finite it must be 



120 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

limited by another Substance of the same nature, and in that case there would 
be two Substances of the same Attribute, which is absurd. Substance, there- 
fore, is infinite." 

" Scholium. I do not doubt that to all who judge confusedly of things, and 
are not wont to inquire into first causes, it will be difficult to understand the 
demonstration of Prop. VII., because they do not sufficiently distinguish 
between the modifications of Substance and Substance itself, and are ignorant 
of the manner in which things are produced. Here it follows, that seeing 
natural things have a commencement, they attribute a commencement to Sub- 
stances ; for he who knows not the true causes of things confounds all things, 
and sees no reason why trees should not talk like men, or why men should not 
be formed from stones as well as from seeds, or why all forms cannot be changed 
into all other forms. So, also, those who confound the divine nature with the 
human naturally attribute human affections to God, especially as they are ig- 
norant how these affections are produced in the mind. But if men attended to 
the nature of Substance, they would not in the least doubt the truth of Prop. 
VII. ; nay, this proposition would be an axiom to all, and would be numbered 
among the common notions." 

This effort of Spinoza at mathematical exactness in 
thought serves to bring out boldly the nature of the final 
problem of philosophy. It demonstrates also the impos- 
sibility of using more than one term to denote the Ultimate 
Reality, unless the equivalence of meaning between the 
terms is distinctly laid down. It also shows how necessary 
it is to determine the exact relationship existing between all 
the categories, such as time, space, matter or Substance, 
force, the infinite, the absolute, etc. 

Time and Eternity are used by Spinoza without any 
acknowledgment that they mean the same thing. Again : 
space, matter, extension, infinite, follow in close succession 
without any effort being made to harmonize or compare 
their meanings ; whereas in their widest sense they mean 
precisely the same thing. This important fact is brought 
out indirectly by Spinoza's own arguments ; for a careful 
examination of the exhaustive definitions of Substance 
which he offers shows that it is impossible to establish any 
ultimate difference between the meaning of the terms he 
employs to denote space or extension. Again : the words 
essence, substance, God, and existence, are used repeatedly 
in a similar sense, and yet no distinct declaration is made of 



i ft 

'< 





MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 121 

their equivalence of meaning. Is it any wonder that meta- 
physics should have been declared a failure by the ancient 
skeptics, and an effete science by modern agnostics ? And 
yet how remarkable it is to see throughout the writings of 
these schools an ever-renewed effort to solve the meta- 
physical problem ! 

It is impossible to discuss philosophy in any of its phases 
without including, directly or indirectly, this problem. In- 
deed, so fundamental is this great question of the meaning 
of ultimate terms, that scarcely a thought or feeling can 
be imagined that is not, in some degree, influenced by it ; 
and the science of metaphysics, instead of being the farthest 
removed from practical life, is really the mainspring of all 
human action, for it identifies and correlates the energies of 
the mind with those of the universe. 

When this simple solution of the metaphysical problem 
shall have become the property of the thinking world, the 
illogical misgivings which we call skepticism, or agnosticism, 
will disappear, with all those lower forms of belief in mys- 
tery known as superstition, and it will be no longer necessary 
for the mind to become shipwrecked among the meanings 
of ultimate terms in the outset of the study of human 
progress. 

Spinoza was the opposite of a skeptic. Although it has 
by no means been acknowledged that his system success- 
fully refutes the doctrines of skepticism, it opposes these 
doctrines consistently throughout. Here the difference 
between Spinoza and Lewes appears. 

Spinoza declares that our knowledge is real, that our 
impressions of things disclose their real nature. Lewes 
says that our knowledge is only knowledge of phenomena, 
and therefore does not disclose the actual nature of things ; 
which is a gratuitous assertion that the actual is a mystery, 
or something that cannot be understood. 

There is perhaps no more direct way of explaining the 
philosophy of Spinoza than by quoting his argument against 
the teleological interpretation of nature : this argument 



122 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

occurs in the form of an Appendix to the book " De Deo " : 
" Men do all things for the sake of an end, namely, the 
good, or useful, which they desire. Hence it comes that 
they always seek to know only the final causes of things 
which have taken place, and when they have heard these 
they are satisfied, not having within themselves any cause 
for further doubt. But if they are unable to learn these 
final causes from some one else, nothing remains to them 
but to turn in upon themselves, and to reflect upon the ends 
by which they are themselves wont to be determined to 
similar actions ; and thus they necessarily judge of the 
mind of another by their own. Further: as within them- 
selves and out of themselves they discover many means 
which are highly conducive to the pursuit of their own 
advantage, for example, eyes to see with, teeth to masticate 
with, vegetables and animals for food, the sun to give them 
light, the sea to nourish fish, etc., so they come to consider 
all natural things as means for their benefit : and because 
they are aware that these things have been found, and 
were not prepared by them, they have been led to be- 
lieve that some one else has adapted these means to their 
use. For after considering things in the light of means, they 
could not believe these things to have made themselves, but 
arguing from their own practice of preparing means for their 
use, they must conclude that there is some ruler or rulers of 
nature endowed with human freedom, who have provided 
all these things for them, and have made them all for 
the use of men. Moreover, since they have never heard 
any thing of the mind of those rulers, they must necessarily 
judge of this mind also by their own ; and hence they have 
argued that the Gods direct all things for the advantage of 
man, in order that they may subdue him to themselves, and 
be held in the highest honor by him. Hence each has 
devised, according to his character, a different mode of 
worshipping God, in order that God might love him more 
than others, and might direct all nature to the advantage of 
his blind cupidity and insatiable avarice. Thus this preju- 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 123 

dice has converted itself into superstition, and has struck 
deep root into men's minds ; and this has been the cause 
why men in general have eagerly striven to explain the 
final causes of all things. But while they have sought 
to show that Nature does nothing in vain (i. e. which is not 
fit for the use of men,) they seem to me to have shown 
nothing else than that Nature and the Gods are as foolish 
as men. And observe, I pray you, to what a point this 
opinion has brought them. Together with the many useful 
things in Nature, they necessarily found not a few injurious 
things, namely, tempests, earthquakes, diseases, etc. ; these, 
they supposed, happened because the Gods were angry on 
account of offences committed against them by men, or 
because of faults incurred in their worship ; and although 
experience every day protests, and shows by infinite ex- 
amples, that benefits and injuries happen indifferently to 
pious and ungodly persons, they do not therefore renounce 
their inveterate prejudice." 

This simple and commanding argument remands humanity 
to its due place in the universe, and rebukes that inordi- 
nate conceit which is known in metaphysics as Idealism, 
and in general philosophy as Anthropomorphism. The 
former appropriates all reality to the mind, and the latter 
all nature to the purposes of man. The charge of athe- 
ism which was so generally brought against Spinoza rests 
chiefly upon his unfortunate selection of the term Sub- 
stance to designate the Ultimate Reality ; for it naturally 
shocks the understanding to designate God by that single 
aspect of the Universal Principle which we call Substance, 
Infinity, or Space. In using the word Substance in this 
widest of its applications, Spinoza meant the substance of 
existence, or life, the ultimate fact, rather than the statical 
aspect of the universe which we call Matter or Space. The 
justice of the claim for Spinoza that he distinctly appreciated 
the divine unity of nature, and rose above the level of ideal- 
ism, and all other teleological interpretations of life, none 
who carefully follow his thought will dispute. The most 



124 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

condensed description of his philosophy, and one on the 
main points of which all the best authorities agree, is given 
by Lewes. " There is but one infinite Substance, and that is 
God. Whatever is, is in God ; and without Him, nothing 
can be conceived. He is the universal Being of which all 
things are the manifestations. He is the sole Substance ; 
every thing else is a mode; yet, without Substance, Mode 
cannot exist. God, viewed under the attributes of Infinite 
Substance, is the natura naturans, viewed as a manifesta- 
tion, as the Modes under which his attributes appear, he is 
the natura naturata. He is the cause of all things, and that 
immanently, but not transiently. He has two infinite at- 
tributes Extension and Thought. Extension is visible 
Thought, and Thought is invisible Extension ; they are the 
Objective and Subjective of which God is the Identity. 
Eveiy thing \s a mode of God's attribute of Extension ; every 
thought, wish, or feeling, a mode of his attribute of Thought. 
* * * Substance is uncreated, but creates by the internal 
necessity of its nature. There may be many existing things, 
but only one existence ; many forms, but only one Substance.. 
God is the idea immanens the One and All." 

The obvious fault in this analysis of existence, or life, is, 
that thought is regarded as an ultimate fact, a fact as simple 
and general as space or extension an attribute or aspect of 
God ; whereas thought is a very complex phenomenon re- 
quiring a vast plexus of conditions. It presupposes the 
facts of sentiency, of organic life, of individuality, and is 
therefore far removed in the scale of generality from the 
subjective aspect or attribute of God, which is the meaning 
that Spinoza applies to it. Again : Extension is said to be 
the opposite aspect of God, the antithesis of thought ; while 
thought, again, is said to be invisible extension. Confusions 
here are multiplied, for matter is the name commonly given 
to that space or extension which is sufficiently tangible to be 
called visible ; and although thought, viewed as the activity 
of an organism, has a distinct statical aspect, there is surely 
no necessity for confusing the ideas of thought and matter., 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 



125 



This is where Spinoza has laid himself opten to the charge of 
Pantheism, that theory which invests all nature, animate 
and inanimate, with an inherent faculty of thought, and con- 
fusing again the ideas of thought and God, disseminates, as 
it were, a thinking spirit of God throughout the universe, 
a sort of magnificent fetichism, filling all things with an 
omnipotent mystery. How different from that simple and 
pure conception of Deity which demarcates thought as 
simply an aspect of individuality, recognising in God, or 
general existence, the divine principle of Life, having eter- 
nity and infinity respectively for its subjective and objective 
aspects. 

Spinoza did not carry his impeachment of the teleological 
interpretation of nature far enough ; for, although he ex- 
posed the presumption of the belief that nature moves for 
the benefit of man, he confused that attribute of man which 
we call thought with the subjective aspect of God. This 
confusion was a natural consequence of the Cartesian dualism 
(in which philosophy Spinoza had thoroughly grounded him- 
self), and also furnished an excuse for the extravagances of 
German idealism which were soon to follow. 

Spinoza's greatest work is " Ethics Demonstrated by a 
Geometrical Method," from which most of the foregoing 
quotations are given. It is generally admitted that this 
work is a masterpiece of metaphysical reasoning, and many 
writers say that it has never been successfully attacked, such 
is the rigor and precision of its deductions. 

Spinoza lived a life of retirement and privation, princi- 
pally in Holland, where he was, in a measure, protected from 
the fierce religious persecution of the seventeenth century. 
For more than a hundred years after his death he was 
generally stigmatized as an atheist and a monster. The 
German scholars of Goethe's time, notwithstanding these 
epithets, promptly recognized his great genius and the 
touching sublimity of his life and character. Goethe says of 
him, the man was represented an "Atheist, and his opinions 
as most abominable ; but immediately after, it is admitted 



126 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

that he was a calm, reflective, diligent scholar, a good cit- 
izen, a sympathizing neighbor, and a peaceable domestic 
man." 

Just at the close of Descartes' career, and before the great 
unity of Spinoza's thought had been given to the world, 
a mind of singular power and clearness made its appearance 
in England. Thomas Hobbes, like most of the scientific 
men of his time, was an eminent mathematician. He studied 
at Oxford, where the Ptolemaic system of astronomy was 
still taught, and where the philosophic lectures were chiefly 
confined to scholastic metaphysics. This was before the 
law of gravitation or the fluctional calculus had been dis- 
covered, as Newton and Leibnitz were in their boyhood. 
The circulation of the blood, which had been known 
to the Chinese five hundred years before, 1 had just been 
announced in England by Harvey. The conservation and 
equivalence of the physical forces was a fact hardly as yet 
suspected. Galileo had discovered the spots on the sun, 
the satellites of Jupiter, and Saturn's rings, and was dis- 
cussing other questions of astronomy with the monks of 
the Holy Inquisition. Kepler was engaged in working 
out his laws of the planetary motions. Milton, who had 
been carefully taught at Christ's College, Cambridge, that the 
sun turned round the earth, was planning the scene of his 
great drama of Heaven. The genius of Shakespeare, thirty 
years after the great poet's death, was not yet recognized. 
The language of France was just attaining its present state 
of perfection under the magic sentences of Moliere ; and, as 
above indicated, Descartes, the first modern who applied to 
philosophy the rule of scientific investigation, had but a few 
years before published his " Meditations." It was with these 
surroundings that Hobbes, by a masterly analysis of the 
facts of consciousness, laid the foundations of the science of 
psychology, which has since attained to such development 
in England. Bacon before him had insisted that facts could 
alone be * the foundation of knowledge ; that theories, or 

1 And to at least one Italian physiologist. 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 12? 

ideas, must always be subservient to facts. Proceeding upon- 
this slow but sure method, Hobbes, in a style that is simple, 
powerful, and clear, analyzed consciousness and thereby in- 
dicated the solution of the great problems of the scope of 
language and the nature of perception, which can alone 
afford an understanding of the relations of life and mind. It : 
is also interesting to note that at this time the world had not 
yet heard of the adventures of German thought, as Germany 
was lying prostrate under the terrible effects of the Thirty 
Years' War, which had virtually destroyed her civilization. 
Her great intellectual life had not as yet begun. Hence^ 
Hobbes had no bad examples of modern idealism to influ- 
ence him (Berkeley and Kant were yet unborn) ; nor do his 
writings show that he troubled himself much about the. 
dialectics of Plato, or the logical difficulties of the Skeptics. 

The insight which Hobbes had of the all-important question 
of the scope of language is intimated by his famous aphor- 
ism : " Words are wise men's counters ; they do but reckon, 
by them ; but they are the money of fools." This shows 
that he had studied out the great truth that language springs, 
from action, and that thought is a part of action inseparable 
in nature from the simplest organic and even inorganic ac- 
tivities. Instead of this being materialism, it is the most 
exalted view of the mind, for it identifies mind with life, 
explaining the presence of the infinite and the absolute in 
our conceptions as the obverse aspects of the Universal 
Principle of life, or Motion. But it must not be assumed 
that Hobbes made a perfect analysis of the mind, that would 
have been impossible with the limited scientific advantages 
of his time ; but his conclusions, as far as they went, are the 
result of a careful study of facts, and are therefore valuable : 
he did not attempt those purely theoretical constructions, 
which have since taken up so much room in philosophy. 

The connection between thought and sensation is de- 
scribed by Hobbes with a candor and simplicity which is re- 
freshing, after reading the tortuous theories of the meta- 
physicians. It is now a well-established fact that sensation 



128 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE, 

and thought are but different phases of the activity of a sen- 
tient organism. Thoughts are those vastly more complex 
co-ordinations of impressions which the highly-structured 
nervous organism, through the condensing process of lan- 
guage, accomplishes within us ; while sensation is the com- 
paratively simple external view of isolated impressions. 
But as there is no absolute dividing line between the muscle 
and the nerve, or between motorial and psychical phenom- 
ena, sensation insensibly becomes thought, and thought 
again sensation. These facts of psychology will be fully ex- 
plained in the review of Lewes' works on the subject, which 
occurs under the study of the nature of perception, in Part 
II. The object in thus mentioning them in advance is to 
show how clearly Hobbes perceived the true relations be- 
tween body and mind. Thus, in speaking of the origin of 
ideas, he says : " When a body is once in motion it moveth, 
unless something hinder it, eternally ; and whatsoever hinder- 
eth it, cannot in an instant, but in time and by degrees, quite 
extinguish it ; and as we see in the water, though the wind 
cease, the waves give not over rolling for a long time after : 
so also it happeneth in that motion which is made in the 
internal parts of man. * * * For after the object is re- 
moved, or the eye shut, we still retain an image of the thing 
seen, though more obscure than when we see it. * * * 
The decay [subsiding] of sense in men waking is not the de- 
cay of the motion made in sense, but an obscuring of it, in 
such manner as the light of the sun obscureth the light of 
the stars ; which stars do no less exercise their virtue, by 
which they are visible, in the day than in the night. But 
because amongst many strokes which our eyes, ears, and 
other organs, receive from external bodies, the predominant 
only is sensible ; therefore the light of the sun being pre- 
dominant, we are not affected with the action of the stars." 
The fault of Hobbes' analysis is not its incorrectness, but its 
incompleteness. As far as he goes, he has contributed to 
the science of psychology. It is true that his works lay 
neglected until James Mill discerned their merits ; that Par- 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 129 

liament passed censure upon them on account of the oppo- 
sition they excited from the church ; but this is due more to 
the ethical and sociological development of Hobbes' thought 
than to any thing repulsive in his analysis of mind. 

The ethics of Hobbes are any thing but attractive, and his 
ideas of social development were as faulty as the exceeding 
complexity and difficulty of the subject, and the fact that it 
had hardly been touched upon before him, excepting in a 
purely theoretical manner, would lead us to expect. 

Auguste Comte, who was practically the originator of 
sociological science, belongs to two centuries later. Such 
writings as the " Republic " of Plato can hardly be said to 
belong to a methodical study of the great problems of social 
life. Hence, when we read of " Hobbes' Theory of Govern- 
ment," and the " Social Contract," we expect little that is 
instructive, and we are not disappointed. 

Hobbes teaches that the natural state of man is war, or 
mutual opposition, and that society consists in the establish- 
ment of an authority over him sufficient to overcome this 
opposition. The end of society, therefore, is to suppress the 
natural propensities of man, not as we understand it, to 
develop his better nature. The absurd part of Hobbes' doc- 
trine is the theory that the cause of the formation of society 
is the " misery of the natural state of war," and whether the 
authority exerted to suppress this natural state be founded 
upon the right of superior strength or cunning, or upon jus- 
tice, matters not, providing it be strong enough to suppress 
the state of war. 

According to Hobbes, the justification of a government is 
in its strength, and therefore an absolute monarchy is the 
best form of government, because the strongest. It is easy 
to understand how his philosophy, loaded down as it was with 
these imperfect theories, was neglected for two centuries, 
and is even yet regarded with enmity by many. Not until 
the elder Mill discriminated Hobbes' valuable analysis of 
mind from his ethical and sociological theories, was this great 
English thinker appreciated even by his own countrymen. 



130 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

While Spinoza was quietly elaborating his system of 
philosophy in Holland, and Newton and Leibnitz were uncon- 
sciously vying with each other in the higher mathematics, the 
study of mind, as the function of an organism, was taken up 
where Hobbes had left it and further developed by John 
Locke (1632-1704). He, too, studied at Oxford and became 
a mathematician, but principally devoted himself to medi- 
cine, in which science he attained marked proficiency. His 
life was cast in those troublous times in England when the 
principle of the " Divine Right of Kings," which James the 
First had introduced from Scotland, was being tested by the 
contending political and religious parties over which his son 
Charles the First tried to reign. 

The Scotch Covenanters, so terribly in earnest in resisting 
that ritual in which they saw but a return to the despotism 
of Rome ; the discontented Romanists, representing a large 
part of the culture and rank of the nation ; the English 
Puritans, who opposed and mistrusted them ; that large 
class of dissolute nobles, the immoral tlite of England, too 
selfish to espouse any religion for its own sake, too unintelli- 
gent to adopt any broad national policy, supporting Royalty 
but for its emoluments and license, and laying up by their 
vices and crimes that reaction which Cromwell rose to con- 
trol ; among these circumstances it was that England ex- 
hausted, at least for herself, the question of the divine right 
of kings. And this was the political, social, and moral at- 
mosphere in which the ideas of Locke were formulated and 
promulgated. Toleration was a word of vast importance 
in those days ; hence the conciliatory tone of Locke's writ- 
ings. Many have mistaken his disposition to avoid too 
pronounced assertions on ultimate questions for logical 
weakness or mediocrity : thus Leibnitz calls Locke poor in 
thought, " paufertina philosophia" This view has been 
taken up by so many critics, that one who approaches Locke 
through his general reputation is .surprised to find through- 
out his writings so much vigor and firmness of thought. His 
aim seems to have been to create a feeling against Scholasti- 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 131 

cism, or purely theoretical philosophy and its interminable 
disputes, and to study the workings of the mind with a 
view to discovering what it could do and what it could not 
do. His philosophy, therefore, was that of experience ; for 
he examined into what the human mind did after it became 
a mind more than into the genesis of consciousness. 

In modern philosophic writings the popular term for that 
branch of inquiry which begins with the fact of mind, and 
proceeds to study its assimilation of ideas, is a posteriori 
(or that which comes after the fact of mind). The term 
which denotes an inquiry into those principles which are 
anterior to the fact of mind is a priori. 

It has been the habit of that school of writers in 
which Kant is pre-eminent to fix upon arbitrary categories 
or forms of thought and call them a priori ideas, for natu- 
rally enough they could not explain the existence of the 
mind from purely mental experiences. Without any attempt 
to explain the genesis of these a priori ideas, however, they 
proceed to build up vast theoretical systems in which the 
mind is the central mystery, to which all the other mysteries 
of their theories are made to point. To these a priori phi- 
losophers, or modern idealists, who have prospered most in 
the intellectual climate of Germany, we will give attention 
in the following chapter. 

Locke, as the successor of Bacon and Hobbes, occupied a 
hostile position toward this school, which was the beginning 
of that broad divergence so plainly seen to-day between 
theoretical and practical philosophy, or the German idealists 
and the English psychologists. 

Locke's principal philosophical work was written as early 
as 1671, although it was not published until 1690. The 
cause of this long delay was not improbably a very natural 
reluctance to augment by any possible means the fierce re- 
ligious disputes which were raging in England, and indeed 
throughout Europe, during his entire life. This theory 
becomes all the more probable when we compare his utter- 
ances on religious subjects with the general clearness and 



132 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

depth of his thought. In this regard let us first consider 
his ethical theories. 

Although Locke taught a belief in a personal God, whose 
will was the source of all morality in man, he made the 
scope of moral conceptions purely human, or organic, by 
resolving the meaning of good and evil into that of pleasure 
and pain, making the ultimate test of virtue the degree in 
which it promotes pleasure and averts pain. 

This is a logical necessity, to which all writers upon ethics 
are eventually brought ; for the fundamental fact of individ- 
ual or organic life is personal existence, and pleasure or 
happiness, used in its broadest sense, means successful exist- 
ence, or life ; and pain, used in its broadest sense, means the 
opposite of this, or death. 

The question of conduct, therefore, in its simplest form, 
is a question of life and death ; in its developed form it 
becomes a study of the most successful or highest life. Al- 
though Locke says that he believes morality can be reduced 
to a science, which means that conduct can be reasoned 
from its origin in the principle of life to all its applications 
in the details of our existence, he nevertheless makes use of 
much conventional and theological phraseology which de- 
prives his system of the purity, breadth, and consistency 
which is demanded of such writings in our time. For in- 
stance, after reasoning against the existence of any innate 
moral rule or idea, he says : " The true ground of morality 
can only be the will and law of God, who sees in the dark, 
has in his hands rewards and punishments, and power 
enough to call to account the proudest of offenders ; for 
God having by an inseparable connection joined virtue and 
public happiness together, it is no wonder that every one 
should not only allow, but recommend and magnify, those 
rules to others, from whose observance of them he is seen to 
reap advantage himself. The conveniences of this life make 
men own an outward profession and approbation of them, 
whose actions sufficiently prove that they but little con- 
sider the lawgiver that prescribed these rules, or the hell 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 133 

he has ordained for the punishment of those that transgress 
them." * 

Thus we see that, although Locke rebelled against the 
theory of innate or supernatural ideas, he had a very me- 
chanical way of looking upon the relations between the di- 
vine and the human. He seemed to think that the divine 
meant a God fashioned after man, dealing out rewards and 
punishments in a distinctively human manner, and even 
employing a mechanical hell to enforce his will. All this 
seems unworthy of the breadth of Locke's mind ; but we 
must remember the times in which he lived and the condi- 
tion of religious knowledge in England during the seven- 
teenth century. After the above quotation, however, it is 
not without wonder that we read the following ethical com- 
parisons : " Yet, if we ask a Christian who has the views of 
happiness and misery in another life, why a man must keep 
his word, he will give this as a reason : Because God, who 
has the power of eternal life and de^ath, requires it of us. 
But if a Hobbist be asked why, he will answer: Because 
the public requires it, and the Leviathan will punish you if 
you do not. And if one of the old philosophers had been 
asked, he would have answered : Because it was dishonest, 
below the dignity of a man, and opposite to virtue, the 
highest perfection of human nature, to do otherwise." 2 

This shows a complete independence of superstition ; and 
we are compelled to believe that Locke, like Descartes, 
knew better than he thought it advisable to write on re- 
ligious matters ; or else, that he had not harmonized his 
thoughts on the existence and nature of God with the 
results of his other investigations. This opinion is confirmed 
by such passages as the following, which, although they do 
not deny, are surely intended to undermine the belief in 
a supernatural revelation. " So God might by revelation 
discover the truth of any proposition in Euclid, as well 
as men by the natural use of their faculties come to make 
the discovery themselves. In all things of this kind there is 

J " Essay Concerning Human Understanding," vol. I., p. 62. * Ibid., p. 61. 



134 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

little need or use of revelation, God having furnished us 
with natural and surer means to arrive at the knowledge of 
them. For whatsoever truth we come to the clear discovery 
of, from the knowledge and contemplation of our own ideas, 
will always be certainer to us than those which are con- 
veyed to us by traditional revelation. For the knowledge 
we have that this revelation came at first from God can 
never be so sure as the knowledge we have from the clear 
and distinct perception of the agreement or disagreement of 
our own ideas. * * * The history of the deluge is conveyed 
to us by writings which had their original from revelation ; 
and yet nobody, I think, will say he has as certain and clear 
a knowledge of the flood as Noah, that saw it ; or that he 
himself would have had, had he then been alive and seen 
it. For he has no greater assurance than that of his senses 
that it is writ in the book supposed writ by Moses inspired ; 
but he has not so great an assurance that Moses writ that 
book as if he had seen Moses write it." 1 

The extreme timidity of this criticism of the authorship of 
the Pentateuch is to be contrasted with the confidence 
with which Professor Max Miiller now speaks upon the sub- 
ject to the English public ; but it should be remembered 
that Mr. Miiller now places the latest known revelation 
of God to man as far back as Abraham, 2 which renders all 
the historical surroundings of Moses perfectly natural. 

The task which Locke set himself in writing the " Essay 
on Human Understanding" was, " to inquire into the 
original certainty and extent of human knowledge, together 
with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion and assent " ; 
or, as we would express it to-day, to examine into the 
objects of perception, and the principles of certitude, as 
distinguished from the nature of perception. Thus he confined 

1 "Works of John Locke," vol. III., pp. 140, 141. 

3 ' ' And if we are asked how this one Abraham possessed not only the 
primitive intuition of God as He had revealed Himself to all mankind, but 
passed through the denial of all other gods to the knowledge of the one God, we 
are content to answer that it was by a special Divine Revelation." Max Miiller, 
"Chips from a German Workshop," vol. I., p. 367. 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 135 

himself to that branch of psychology which begins with the 
fact of mind. 

Locke, employing the ancient simile, viewed the mind as 
a tablet upon which experience records its impressions ; a 
very inadequate way of looking upon mental phenomena, as 
it leaves out of view many prominent conditions. What 
resemblance is there, for instance, between a white tablet, 
which certainly has no reactionary power of its own, and 
a complex organism of definite structure, and therefore 
predetermined functions or activities, existing in a medium 
of language or intelligence which also has a definite 
structure, and hence the power of reacting in a prede- 
termined manner ? 

The study of language as the social factor in mental phe- 
nomena, by such men as Comte, Spencer, and Lewes, has 
yielded rich results for psychology ; but this view of lan- 
guage was scarcely entertained in the time of Locke. The 
nearest approach to this great subject which he made 
was his dim foreshadowing of the " association of ideas," 
afterward developed by Hartley and Mill. But Locke had 
enough to do to combat the doctrine of innate ideas, which 
was so generally accepted in his time. It was acknowledged 
that there are predispositions of the mind which give to in- 
dividuals, through the accumulated modifications of heredity, 
understandings of things, or conceptions, which are practi- 
cally before experience ; but these inherited mental ten- 
dencies were regarded as ultimate psychological facts defy- 
ing analysis, and taking the form of arbitrary, irreducible 
categories of thought. This is the theory which Locke op- 
posed, and well he might, for its influence has been so per- 
sistent as to have governed the metaphysical opinions of 
even such recent thinkers as Mill and Spencer, both of whom, 
as will be abundantly shown hereafter, devoutly believe in a 
priori, unknowable conceptions which they postulate as irre- 
ducible and mysterious figments of the mind, whence all 
thought springs. 

The strange part of this modern a priori philosophy is that 



136 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

its advocates include among the mental mysteries the fact 
of Consciousness itself, 1 which really throws all these specula- 
tions about the ultimate principles of mind into hopeless 
confusion. 

Locke taught that the source of all our ideas is sensation ; 
and that thought, or reflection, is the apprehension and gen- 
eralization of facts. This is strictly in accordance with the 
best conceptions of modern psychology, if the consideration 
be not omitted that the organ of thought, which is now 
called the sensorium, is only developed by experience, and, 
therefore, that its structures contain a potentiality which is 
a factor in the formation of ideas ; in a word, without this 
definite structure ideas would be impossible, and experience, 
as an educator of ideas, would be in vain. 

It is interesting to see how Locke approaches the prob- 
lem of the categories of thought. Our idea of Space, he 
says, is derived from sight and touch. These experiences 
are co-ordinated and generalized until we form a symbol or 
general idea of all externals, co-existences, or Space. This 
idea of Locke shows how much deeper down in the scale of 
reality is Motion than its aspects, Space and Time ; for what 
myriads of motions, both subjective and objective, are im- 
plied in the phenomena of sight and touch, and the co-ordina- 
tions of their results in thought ! 

In the review of Herbert Spencer's works, this theory, 
that the origin of our conception of Space is the " sense of 
resistance," will be found clearly and fully developed, giving 
us one of many points of resemblance between the writings 
of Locke and Spencer. 

To those who have made themselves conversant with mod- 
ern philosophy, the writings of Locke are an unfailing source 
of interest, as they show that the psychology for which Eng- 
land has become so famous is but a generic development of 
his thought. 

Improving upon the psychology of Locke, David Hartley 
(1705-1757), an eminent English physician, propounded the 

1 See Spencer's " First Principles," and Mill's " Logic." 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 137 

" vibration theory " as an explanation of the association of 
ideas. In his celebrated work, " Observations on Man," 
upon which he labored from 1730 to 1746 (first published in 
1749), he tells us that his idea of a physical basis to mind, 
or that there is a physical explanation possible of sensation 
and thought connecting the two as muscular action and sensa- 
tion, was first suggested to him by the Principia of Newton. 

The theory of "the association of ideas " can, in a simpler 
form, be traced as far back as Aristotle. Hobbes noticed 
the principle under the name of " mental discourse," but 
Locke gave it its present familiar name. 

Hartley acknowledges his obligation to a dissertation by 
the Rev. Mr. Gay prefixed to the translation of Archbishop 
King's " Origin of Evil," in which the principle of " the 
association of ideas " is applied to moral phenomena ; but 
Hartley was the first to definitely formulate this principle, 
which is now " applied to the different practical fields of 
language, law, morals, politics, education, religion, and soci- 
ology," 1 into a philosophic system, and to make its enunci- 
ation the study of a lifetime. It is to be seen from the fact 
that this principle was first advocated by men of acknowl- 
edged religious spirit, that the ideas of evolution are the 
natural fruit of the most devout minds. 

Hartley endeavored to prove that the primal fact of con- 
sciousness had its physical expression in changes in the 
nerve centres of the thinking being, and that the structures 
of the nervous system centring in the brain were the physi- 
cal counterpart of all mental phenomena ; " that our ideas 
spring up, or exist, in the order in which the sensations ex- 
isted of which they are copies." The order of occurrence of 
ideas, therefore, is determined by the past activities of the 
mind as we find them registered in the structures of the 
brain. The happiness of this thought is manifest to those 
who have traced its development in the psychological studies 
of Herbert Spencer and George H. Lewes, where the inter- 
actions of function and structure explain all organic life. 

'See "David Hartley and James Mill," by G. S. Bower. 



138 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

The particular development which Hartley gave the vibra- 
tion theory is known as his theory of "neural tremors," 
which, it must be admitted, has many special features that 
the advance of Science has proved incorrect. Newton's 
hints as to the relation between sensation and motion con- 
tributed to the neural hypothesis. The difficulty of the 
subject Hartley describes as follows : " If that species of 
motion which we term vibrations can be shown by probable 
arguments to attend on all sensations, ideas, and motions, 
and to be proportioned to them, then we are at liberty 
either to make vibrations the exponent of sensations, ideas, 
and motions, or these the exponents of vibrations, as best 
suits the inquiry, however impossible it may be to discover 
in what way vibrations cause, or are connected with, sensa- 
tions or ideas." 1 As the term vibration is so indefinite as 
to mean much the same thing as motion the ultimate fact 
in all phenomena of mind as well as of body, in tracing con- 
sciousness to neural tremors or vibrations we have reached 
the theoretical end of the analysis of mind. To state these 
neural tremors in terms of time and space, or numbers and 
quantities, is the task of the psychology of the future, but it 
cannot afford us a deeper or more general principle than we 
have already discovered in that of Motion employed as an 
explanation of mind. 

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz (1646-1716) was a Ger- 
man mathematician and philosopher of great merit. He 
was the Newton of Germany ; but, unlike Newton, he in- 
dulged in metaphysics, and has therefore been considered 
more of a philosopher than his great English contemporary, 
whose theory of universal gravitation still holds the highest 
place among our generalizations of motion. At the age of 
twenty Leibnitz endeavored to harmonize the systems of 
Plato and Aristotle, and produced a treatise on the " Com- 
binations of Numbers and Ideas." At twenty-three he ac- 
cepted the office of Councillor of State at Frankfort, and in 
the year following, 1668, published his " New Method of 

1 "Observ. on Man," vol. I., p. 32. 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 139 

Learning and Teaching Jurisprudence." In 1670 he ad- 
vanced new and bold theories of Motion (" Theory of Con- 
crete Motion " and " Theory of Abstract Motion "), which, 
when compared with the great discovery of Newton in the 
same direction, show how inevitably the mind reverts, in 
science as well as in religion, to the problem of the Univer- 
sal Principle. About this time Leibnitz visited Paris, where 
he met Cassini and Huyghens, and soon after made the ac- 
quaintance of Newton and Boyle in London. Here he was 
made a member of the Royal Academy, and announced his 
discovery of the Infinitesimal Calculus, nearly identical with 
Newton's Method of Fluctions. 

The ambitions of Leibnitz were not satisfied with the vast 
command of the physical sciences which he enjoyed, and 
which made him famous throughout France, England, and 
Germany, for in the prime of his life he interested himself 
in a beneficent effort to harmonize the Protestant and the 
Catholic churches. Toward the end of his career (1710) he 
produced his great work entitled " Essay of Theodicea, on 
the Goodness of God, the Liberty of Man, and the Origin 
of Evil " ; in which he advanced the celebrated theory of 
Optimism. 

Leibnitz confined himself in writing almost entirely to 
French and Latin ; for at his time, as will aftenvard appear, 
there was comparatively little culture in Germany, and the 
Greek language was employed scarcely at all in science or 
philosophy; his audience, therefore, was principally in 
France and in England ; for it was only toward the close of 
his life that Germany began to show signs of the marvellous 
intellectual development which she has since achieved. 

Among the philosophical writings of Leibnitz his criti- 
cisms of Locke are the most interesting, as Leibnitz was a 
Cartesian, believing in a dual principle in nature, or an abso- 
lute difference between body and mind. His opinions are 
clearly based upon the teachings of Plato and Democri- 
tus ; and it is a fact of no small interest that as Bacon, 
Hobbes, and Locke laid the foundations of English thought, 



140 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Leibnitz gave the first impetus to the Idealism of Germany. 
The difference between Leibnitz and Locke is thus stated 
by the former : " The question between us is whether the 
soul in itself is entirely empty, like tablets upon which noth- 
ing has been written (tabula rasa), according to Aristotle and 
the author of the ' Essay,' and whether all that is there 
traced comes wholly from the senses and experience ; or 
whether the soul originally contains the principles of several 
notions and doctrines, which the external objects only awaken 
on occasions, as I believe with Plato." Leibnitz here at- 
tempts to prove the existence of innate ideas in order to 
oppose the theory that knowledge springs wholly from the 
exercise of the senses and reflection. The factor of reflec- 
tion, however, which was insisted upon by Locke, is so sug- 
gestive as to discover to the close observer a remote agree- 
ment between the two great schools of thought which 
Leibnitz and Locke respectively represented. 

It is to a clear knowledge of the nature of perception that 
we must look for a reconciliation of these conflicting theories. 

Bishop Berkeley (1684-1753) and Hume (1711-1776) were 
the historical successors of Hobbes, Locke, and Hartley as 
English writers on philosophy ; but as they respectively re- 
produced those eccentricities of Greek thought known as 
Idealism and Skepticism, they retarded, if any thing, the 
scientific study of mind which their immediate predecessors 
had inaugurated. They were both erudites learned in Aris- 
totle, Plato, and the Greek Skeptics. But these ancient 
theories, deeply interesting as they are when studied as parts 
of the civilization which produced them, appear very faded 
when compared with modern thought. Hence we find the 
metaphysical speculations of Berkeley and Hume tame and 
uninstructive. 

George Berkeley was born and educated in Ireland, and 
was always distinguished for the best qualities of his race 
generosity, morality, and religious fervor ; in fact, the sat- 
irist Pope expresses the common verdict of his time in 
ascribing " To Berkeley every virtue under heaven." He 




MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 

published, in 1709, "An Essay Toward a New Theory of 
Vision," and in the year following, " The Principles of 
Human Knowledge," in which he advanced his celebrated 
theory of Idealism, that there is no proof of the existence 
of matter anywhere but in our own perceptions, as though 
the words proof and perception did not both imply mind, 
which can never be more than one of the two terms of the 
relation expressed in thought. If mind implies an external 
relation it implies space or matter. This theory of Idealism 
has been examined as it first appeared in Plato, and we 
again study it in its subsequent unparalleled development in 
Kant's a priori philosophy. Suffice it to say that Berkeley 
has been more or less faithfully reproduced in the Subjective 
Idealism of Schelling and the Absolute Idealism of Hegel, 
both generic developments of Kant and remote develop- 
ments of the Dialectics of Plato, and the Skepticism of the 
New Academy ; for, strange to say, the unnatural exaltation 
of the fact of perception which we find in Idealism leads 
directly to the distrust of mind exemplified in Skepticism. 

Berkeley gave evidences of being influenced by Locke and 
Hartley. He followed Locke in regarding the proposition, 
that a material world really exists, as not strictly demonstra- 
ble, but went beyond him by declaring the proposition false. 
He followed Hartley in asserting that there was a necessary 
succession or association of ideas, but he went beyond him 
by declaring that the order of nature was not reflected by 
mind, but was caused by mind. " That which we call the 
law of nature," he says, " is in fact only the order of the suc- 
cession of our ideas." This is manifestly reversing the order 
of perception, or assuming individuality to be the ultimate 
fact, and general existence to be a subordinate fact derived 
from individuality ; the absurdity of which, when followed 
to its logical consequences, is beyond expression. 

Berkeley published, in 1725, "A Proposal for Converting 
the Savage Americans to Christianity." To promote this 
idea he undertook to found a college in this country. The 
English government promised to aid the enterprise, and he 



142 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

sailed for Rhode Island in 1728. During the voyage he 
wrote a poem on the subject of his mission. 

While in this country he preached for about two years at 
Newport, R. I., but the British ministry failing to keep 
their promise concerning the projected college, he returned 
home. 

The Skepticism of David Hume was so marked and so 
ably reasoned that it awakened a number of Scottish philos- 
ophers, headed by Thomas Reid, to a vigorous polemic 
against it, and in Germany incited Immanuel Kant to the 
construction of his Critical Philosophy. At the age of 
twenty-six, Hume published in London (1738) his "Treatise 
on Human Nature," in which the principles of his Skep- 
ticism are declared, and of which work Mackintosh says: 
" It was the first systematic attack on all the principles of 
knowledge and belief, and the most formidable, if universal 
Skepticism could ever be more than a mere exercise of 
ingenuity." In 1742, his " Essays, Moral, Political and Lit- 
erary," appeared ; in 1752, " Political Discourses," and soon 
after, the famous " History of England." 

Hume traces our idea of Cause to what he calls habit, 
our habit of observing the causes of events ; and from this 
he argues that it is impossible for us to form any idea of the 
real nature of cause, because our idea is derived entirely 
from particular experiences. He forgets that the firmest 
ground of certainty is our inability to disbelieve. Hence an 
experience which is without exception is universal to us. If 
we are able to reduce every conceivable phenomenon, or 
experience, to an ultimate fact, which remains constant in 
every experience, that fact, to us, is our highest generaliza- 
tion of cause, and constitutes the general existence of which 
individuality is but the consequence. Infinity, to man, is 
that which he is unable to limit ; the Absolute, that to 
which he is unable to supply conditions. The former effort 
has manifestly more to do with externals, or objects, than 
the latter, and is therefore the objective as distinguished 
from the subjective, aspect of the irreducible fact, cause, or 



MODERN PHILOSOPHY. 143 

Motion. Hence Hume, in denying the possibility of our 
knowing the nature of the objective connection between 
cause and effect, merely stated, in other words, the old 
theory of Carneades, that we cannot know phenomena as 
they really are. This theory we have fully dealt with in 
chapter IV. 

As a natural consequence of Hume's theory of the unreal 
nature of knowledge, he denied that we could form a con- 
ception of God, or the immortality of the soul, two widely 
different propositions, as God is the ultimate fact, and 
Immortality is the endless perpetuation of a relative fact, 
which gives us a contradiction in terms. 

Hume's political writings brought him into prominence, 
and after his return from Paris, accompanied by his friend 
Rousseau, he was intrusted with the diplomatic correspond- 
ence of England (in 1767). Soon after this he retired to 
Edinburgh, the scene of his best literary efforts, and lived in 
retirement until his death in 1776. 



CHAPTER VII. 

GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 
Kant Fichte Schelling Hegel Schleiermacher Schopenhauer. 

FOR those who have ceased to regard the mind as a mys- 
tery, a critical review of the German a priori philosophy 
is unnecessary, for they will easily identify this new growth 
of Idealism with its kindred errors of the past. They 
will regard such events as the Centennial translation of 
Kant's ''Critique of Pure Reason/' by Professor Max Miil- 
ler, and other like publications, as the last guns which ob- 
stinate artillerymen fire after the tide of battle has turned 
against them and their cause has been rendered hopeless. 

The vast majority of people, however polite may be their 
culture, are accustomed to view history through its external 
events, and to judge thought by its official position. To 
them, reformations are invisible until their effects become 
crystallized in structural changes, and logical movements are 
unappreciated until they appear in text-books and encyclo- 
paedias. To such as these the a priori philosophy will be a 
reality as long as animate professors expound it to living stu- 
dents. But to the earnest thinker who is in full sympathy with 
the progress of his times, whether he be able or not to state 
categorically his belief, there are abundant evidences that 
Idealism has been permanently superseded by a higher and a 
better faith. The proof of this is the increasing contempt 
with which scientific men, whatever may be their religion, re- 
gard metaphysics, and the importance which the teaching of 
morality has gained over the mere defence of dogma through- 
out the Christian world. An understanding of the scope 
of language has insensibly dawned upon our era, as a result 

144 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 



145 



of which ideas are subordinated to actions ; beliefs are be- 
ginning to be estimated by the lives of the believers; and 
although the organization of religion and learning remains 
apparently the same, theology and metaphysics, considered 
as distinct sciences, are almost universally regarded as merely 
formal acquirements of little or no practical value. When 
in addition to these facts it is remembered that almost every 
surviving system of theology or of metaphysics is idealistic 
in its tendency, we perceive that there is in effect a popular 
uprising against the empty idioms of the a priori school, 
which extends far and wide beyond the limits of philosophic 
culture. 

We have no idea, however, of depending upon a sympathy 
so general and indefinite for the refutation of Idealism. 
There are too many instances in history of the re-establish- 
ment of false doctrines long after they have been to all 
appearances destroyed, to trust to what is, after all, but 
a harbinger of victory. 

As Germany slowly arose from the almost indescribable 
desolation of the Thirty Years' War, she entered upon a 
century of her history during which she had no national 
existence or memories, no literature or language, no social, 
religious, or moral life. The nation had expired when peace 
was concluded in 1648. This war not only destroyed an old 
civilization which was fairly abreast with that of the rest of 
Europe ; it so completely destroyed it that the nation has 
been two hundred years in regaining her natural status in 
the world. Commercial statistics show that the general pros- 
perity of Germany in 1850 had but just reached the level of 
that which she enjoyed at the beginning of the war of 1618. 
" The highly cultivated language of Luther was forgotten, 
together with the whole literature of his time. Many 
schools and churches stood abandoned, for public instruc- 
tion and public worship had nearly perished. * * * There 
was no middle class nor gentry left; the higher noble- 
men had become petty despotic princes, with no hand over 
them, since the Emperor was but a name ; the lower went 



146 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

to their court to do lackey's service. A whole generation- 
had grown up during the war, and considered its savage bar- 
barism as a normal state of society. * * * For all habits 
of self-government, even in the cities, had gone ; the gentle- 
men had become courtiers instead of magistrates. An un- 
precedented coarseness of manners had invaded not only 
courts and cities, but also the universities and the clergy." 

A century later, when Frederick II. realized the desires of 
Prussia in a reign memorable for its impartial devotion to 
the whole nation, firmly establishing the Prussian State, the 
intellectual life of Germany was not only awakened but im- 
mediately burst into a luxuriant growth. Universities were 
established and regenerated, great scholars, great poets, and 
great thinkers immediately appeared. Leibnitz, Kant, 
Goethe, Schiller, Herder, and the rest, came to glorify the 
new national life. The beauties of the ancient classics were 
rediscovered, history was read by fresh minds and its organic 
nature disclosed, sciences were created to deal with the new 
problems of life ; for a nation had arisen and taken a new 
interest in humanity. In the midst of this intellectual exal- 
tation German philosophy was born. Is it any wonder that 
its whole existence has been marked by a kind of subjective 
intoxication ? 

Each national language formulates its philosophy with an 
unfeigned satisfaction and pride. The old, old problems of life^ 
which Greece absorbed from the East and expressed so vivid- 
ly, were new in Germany ; but a careful examination of their 
structure discloses them to be of the same logical species as 
their progenitors. The German type of these problems, 
however, has marked modifications due to a greater and a 
higher environment. German philosophy is more Greek 
than the Grecian ; it is a refined leaven of the Greek thought, 
so powerful that it has fermented the mind of Europe ever 
since its appearance. It has produced idealists beside whose 
theories Plato's Idealism is rational ; it has produced materi- 
alists whom Aristotle would not have recognized ; it has 

1 See " German Thought," by Karl Hillebrand. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 147 

generated skeptics whom Carneades would have wondered 
at. But of all these schools Idealism has taken the deepest 
root, its fancies have most pleased the multitude, and what 
was in the beginning the innocent recreation of a few literati 
has become a national vice. 

How different has it been with France and England ! 
These nations have had their wars and revolutions, but they 
have never suffered destruction ; their development has had 
no great gap in it ; it has been more gradual, and conse- 
quently more rational. During the time that Germany was 
slowly regaining life, France was leading the civilization of 
Europe under Louis XIV. England was in advance in 
political institutions and religious liberty, and, as well as 
Spain and Holland, was superior in commerce and conquest; 
but in all those graces of life and mind which tend to develop 
and refine the individual, and in the unity and strength of 
her national life, France of the eighteenth century was pre- 
eminent. " The French," says Taine, " became civilized by 
conversation. Their phrases, still formal, under Balzac are 
looser and lightened ; they launch out, flow speedily, and 
under Voltaire they find their wings. Pedantic sciences, 
political economy, theology, the sullen denizens of the 
Academy and the Sorbonne, speak but in epigrams. * * * 
What a flight was this of the eighteenth century! Was 
society ever more anxious for lofty truths, more bold in their 
search, more quick to discover, more ardent in embracing 
them ? The perfumed marquises, all these pretty, well- 
dressed, gallant, frivolous people, crowd to philosophy as to 
the opera ; the origin of animated beings, the question of 
free judgment, the principles of political economy, all is to 
them a matter for paradoxes and discoveries." 

Just previous to this time we find Leibnitz complaining of 
the sensuality and ignorance of the German gentry as com- 
pared with the love of science in England, and the intelli- 
gence and culture of the French. Count Mannteufel writes 
to Wolff, as late as 1738, " The German princes, who might 
be compared to your lords, think it beneath their dignity to 
cultivate their mind." 



148 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Thus we have England, in the first half of the eighteenth 
century, enriched by Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, Addison, 
and Swift, and learning from Locke and Newton ; France in 
possession of Pascal, Descartes, Moliere, Malebranche, Ra- 
cine, and Boileau ; England earnest and studious ; France 
brilliant and refined, and Germany as yet intellectually un- 
born. 

Looking at Germany from the closing years of the nine- 
teenth century, with an unequalled army of trained scientists 
animated by the true spirit of original investigation, and 
almost universal culture, with intellectual and religious free- 
dom, one might easily expect great things of her. But her 
originality, her genius, which attained such a marvellous 
life during the century which closed with 1850, has seeming- 
ly passed away, and it is in her abnormal Idealism, the natu- 
ral consequence of a sudden intellectual development, that we 
are to find the cause. 

There is a lesson to be learned from the process which 
underlies the survival of great names in history. It is 
that the most indestructible lives are not necessarily 
those which have most interested their contemporaries, 
but those which have instigated the most needed re- 
forms. As these lives recede in history, they fade out or 
become brighter according to the degree in which they 
have actually served the needs of their time. We find, 
therefore, that the reputation of Kant, the first of the great 
German thinkers, depends upon the intrinsic value of his 
philosophy, although his philosophy is really the least im- 
pressive feature of his life. What Germany most needed, 
what every nation most needs, is a true philosophy. Kant 
endeavored to supply this need, and if he failed, his great 
learning, his broad humanity, his moral acumen, may insure 
for him the lasting love and esteem of his countrymen, 
but they cannot sustain his greatness as a logical reformer. 

The " Critique of Pure Reason " is acknowledged to be 
the representative work of Kant. Let us carefully examine 
it with a view to forming an estimate of its value. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 149 

The first words of the preface are : " Our reason ( Vernunff) 
has this peculiar fate, that, with reference to one class of its 
knowledge, it is always troubled with questions which cannot 
be ignored, because they spring from the very nature of rea- 
son, and which cannot be answered, because they transcend 
the powers of human reason." 

This simply means that the ultimate nature of reason is 
incomprehensible, which is rather a discouraging admission to 
make at the very outset of a work, the object of which is to 
examine into the nature of reason. Kant must have believed, 
however, that the nature of reason was comprehensible in 
some degree, otherwise he would never have attempted an 
exhaustive criticism of " Pure Reason/' 

Let it be our object, then, to discover what degree of com- 
prehensibility Kant believed in, or hoped for, with regard 
to the nature of reason. The preface continues as follows : 
" Nor is human reason to be blamed for [being incompre- 
hensible]. It begins with principles which, in the course of 
experience, it must follow, and which seem sufficiently con- 
firmed by experience. With these, again, according to the 
necessities of its nature, it rises higher and higher to more 
remote conditions. But when it perceives that in this way 
its work remains forever incomplete, because the questions 
never cease, it finds itself constrained to take refuge in prin- 
ciples which exceed every possible experimental application, 
and nevertheless seem so unobjectionable that even ordinary 
common-sense agrees with them." 

This clearly states a well known fact, that the reason 
springs from particular experiences and rises to general 
truths. But among these general truths, Kant tells us, the 
Reason can find no end, no resting-place, and is " constrained 
to take refuge in principles which [transcend experience'] ex- 
ceed every possible experimental application." 

The point to be marked here is, that it is impossible for 
Reason to act at all without putting in motion or expressing 
its deepest principles. If reason springs from experience, as 
Kant admits, we can find in experience the expression of its 



150 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

first principles. These categories, or most general principles, 
Kant declares, transcend all experience, and yet he clearly 
admits that the reason, of which these principles are simply 
the aspects, begins in experience. This contradiction we 
find still more emphatic further on. In the introduction 
Kant tells us, " If we remove from experience every thing 
that belongs to the senses, there remain, nevertheless, cer- 
tain original concepts, and certain judgments derived from 
them, which must have had their origin entirely a priori, and 
independent of all experience, because it is owing to them 
that we are able, or imagine we are able, to predicate 
more of the objects of our senses than can be learned from 
mere experience, and that our propositions contain real 
generality and strict necessity, such as mere empirical knowl- 
edge can never supply." 

Here is an assertion which, in our time, sounds indeed pre- 
posterous, that there is an absolute dividing line, or differ- 
ence of nature, between sensuous apprehensions and the co- 
ordination of those apprehensions which gives us the highest 
achievements of reason. By the term " a priori" which 
really means nothing but before, Kant wishes to designate 
certain mysterious conceptions which cannot be accounted 
for by the natural activities of the sentient organism. But 
these principles, notwithstanding their mysterious nature, are 
supposed to reside somewhere in the organism. On the 
same page we are told that there is a certain kind of 
" knowledge which transcends the world of the senses, and 
where experience can neither guide nor correct us : here rea- 
son prosecutes investigations, which by their importance 
we consider far more excellent, and by their tendency 
far more elevated, than any thing the understanding can find 
in the sphere of phenomena." 

This looks rather ominous. If Kant is to take us into 
a region of knowledge where our investigations cannot be 
verified by any possible experiences, a region of investiga- 
tion which is far more " excellent " and " elevated than any 
thing the understanding can find in the sphere of phenom- 



GERMAN PHILOSOPH Y. 1 5 1 

ena," no one will blame us if we feel alarmed at the thought 
of the intellectual apparitions which we are to meet there. 

But any reluctance which we may have to accompany our 
author is dissipated when he continues, " Nay, we risk 
rather any thing, even at the peril of error, than that we should 
surrender such investigations, either on the ground of their 
uncertainty or from any feeling of indifference or contempt. 
* * * Besides, once beyond the precincts of experience, 
we are certain that experience can never contradict us, while 
the charm of enlarging our knowledge is so great that 
nothing will stop our progress until we encounter a clear 
contradiction." ] 

From this it is evident that the only defence we are to 
have, in the region of knowledge to be traversed by the 
" Critique of Pure Reason," against the delusions of the 
imagination, is the sense of " clear contradiction." This is a 
certain relief ; for it assures us that we are not expected to 
leave all sense behind. But the question arises : How, 
in a sphere of " knowledge which transcends the world of 
the senses," are we to retain enough sense to appreciate a 
clear contradiction ? 

The modern psychologist has no faith in the existence of 
" Pure Reason " ; the very name implies a belief in the 
actual separation of what are but aspects of one fact of sen- 
tiency. To show how firmly Kant believed in this actual 
separation, we give his definition of Pure Reason : " Every 
kind of knowledge is called pure if not mixed with any thing 
heterogeneous. But more particularly is that knowledge 
called absolutely pure which is not mixed up with any expe- 
rience or sensation, and is therefore possible entirely a priori. 
Reason is the faculty which supplies the principles of knowl- 
edge a priori. Pure Reason, therefore, is that faculty which 
supplies the principles of knowing any thing entirely a priori. 
An Organum of pure reason ought to comprehend all the 
principles by which pure knowledge a priori can be acquired 
and fully established. A complete application of such an 

1 Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason," vol. II., pp. 2, 3. 



152 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Organum would give us a System of Pure Reason. But as 
that would be a difficult task, and as at present it is still 
doubtful whether such an expansion of our knowledge is 
here possible, we may look on a mere criticism of pure 
reason, its sources and limits, as a kind of preparation for a 
complete system of pure reason. It should be called a 
critique, not a doctrine, of pure reason. Its usefulness would 
be negative only, serving for a purging rather than for an 
expansion of our reason." ] Any meaning which this defini- 
tion has certainly hinges upon the term a priori. The 
further service which this term is made to do in Kant's ideas 
can be judged of from the following : " I call all knowledge 
transcendental which is occupied not so much with objects 
as with our a priori concepts of objects. A system of such 
concepts might be called Transcendental Philosophy. But 
for the present this is again too great an undertaking. We 
should have to treat therein completely both of analytical 
knowledge and of synthetical knowledge a priori, which is 
more than we intend to do, being satisfied to carry on the 
analysis so far only as is indispensably necessary in order to 
understand in their whole extent the principles of synthesis 
a priori, which alone concern us. This investigation, which 
should be called a transcendental critique, but not a sys- 
tematic doctrine, is all we are occupied with at present. 
It is not meant to extend our knowledge, but only to rectify 
it, and to become the test of the value of all a priori knowl- 
edge." 

Thus we have the privilege of reviewing a transcendental 
criticism of a priori knowledge, or, knowledge which acknowl- 
edges no connection with experience. 

Kant describes the scope of his great work in these words : 
" All that constitutes transcendental philosophy belongs to 
the Critique of Pure Reason. * * * Transcendental phi- 
losophy is the Wisdom of pure speculative reason. Every 
thing practical, so far as it contains motives, has reference to 

1 Kant's " Critique," pp. 9, 10. a Ibid., pp. 10, n. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 153 

sentiments, and these belong to empirical sources of knowl- 
edge.'" 

The " Critique of Pure Reason " opens with a discourse on 
what Kant calls " Transcendental ^Esthetic," and from that 
proceeds to " Transcendental Logic," "Transcendental An- 
alytic," " Transcendental Dialectic," and closes with the 
Method of Transcendentalism, under the respective heads of 
" Discipline of Pure Reason " and " Canons of Pure Rea- 
son." These titles have a magnificent sound, but there is too 
much that is transcendental (above the earth) about them. 
The careful or conscientious thinker, being earthly, likes to 
keep his feet upon the solid ground of good sense ; he feels 
that this is the only position which secures logical strength 
and repose, and that no thoughts are too high, too pure, or 
too excellent to rest upon so human a base. Correct reason- 
ing is logical integrity, intellectual morality ; but we have no 
right to impeach the logical integrity of the " Critique of 
Pure Reason " by assuming any connection between moral 
and intellectual procedures ; for its author tells us plainly, in 
the last page of the introduction, that " although the highest 
principles of morality and their fundamental concepts are a 
priori knowledge, they do not belong to transcendental phi- 
losophy, because the concepts of pleasure and pain, desire, 
inclination, free-will, etc., which are all of empirical origin, 
must here be presupposed." This leaves us in an uncom- 
fortable state of uncertainty whether he means that trans- 
cendental philosophy has nothing to do with morality, or 
whether a priori knowledge has nothing to do with transcen- 
dental philosophy. At all events, the assertion is definite 
that in transcendental philosophy the moral sentiments, so 
far as they represent a motive, have no place. 

Hence the author of the " Critique of Pure Reason," in 
describing the scope of his work, deliberately takes leave of 
all that is estimable and useful in philosophy, namely, the 
study of life as a means of illuminating conduct, and applies 
himself to the creation of that system of " a priori knowl- 
edge " now widely known as German Idealism. 

1 Kant's " Critique," pp. 12, 13. 



-154 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Herder, the Pindar of Germany, a pupil of Kant, a pro. 
found scholar and moral teacher, earnestly denounced the 
Kantian philosophy. James Sully, in the Fortnightly Review 
of October, 1882, thus describes the antagonism of teacher 
and pupil : 

" Herder's conception of history as but an extension of 
nature's processes was diametrically opposed to Kant's 
dualism of human freedom rising above and opposing na- 
ture. * * * He had no liking for Kant's critical philoso- 
phy, with its cumbrous apparatus of ' intellectual forms.' 
To his concrete mind ever impressed with the organic unity 
of man, it seemed to resolve the human intellect into a num- 
ber of unreal abstractions. It was a distinct retrogression 
from the experience philosophy of his predecessors, and 
along with the French Revolution threatened ' to send back 
the world a hundred years.' Herder's chief dislike of the 
Kantian philosophy, however, arose out of his view of its 
hurtful consequences in literature, art, and theology. ' Criti- 
cism ' was the fashion of thought of the hour. ' In every 
journal ' (writes Herder) * these dogs and curs bark and yelp 
the critical canons without canon, without feeling, law, and 
rule. God help us!' The sharp separation of art and mo- 
rality and the worship of pure form in art which Schiller and 
Goethe were preaching, were professedly based on Kant's 
teaching. And then there was the young generation of 
theologians who had come under the spell of Fichte's elo- 
quence at Jena, and who were blatant with somewhat vague 
ideas about liberty and the supremacy of reason. One can 
hardly wonder that the soul of the General Superintendent 
should have been excited to wrath by the appearance of 
youthful candidates for clerical appointments who thought 
to conceal by loose talk of this sort the depth of their igno- 
rance on all theological matters, candidates of whom one 
even had the audacity to write an essay against marriage. 

" So it came to pass that Herder's spirit was inflamed 
against Kant, and delivered itself of a solemn denunciation. 
In the year 1799-1800, there appeared from his pen two 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 155 

works which were intended to give the coup de grace to 
Kant's influence. These were the ' Metakritik,' which was 
directed against the 'Critic of the Pure Reason/ and the 
' Kalligone,' which was to be a refutation of the theory of 
taste and art put forth in the ' Critic of the Practical Reason.' 
The mode of attack may be seen by a reference to the intro- 
duction to the ' Metakritik.' It is an appeal from chair phi- 
losophers to the sensible laity. He dwells on the mischief 
wrought by the Kantian teaching. * For twelve years the 
critical philosophy has been playing its part, and we see its 
fruits. What father (let him ask himself) wishes his son to 
become an autonomous being of the critical sort, a metaphy- 
sician of nature and virtue, a dialectical or revolutionary 
pettifogger, according to the critical stamp? Now look 
round and read ! What recent book, what science is not 
covered with flaws of this kind, and how many noble talents 
are (we hope for a time only) ruined ! Foreign nations 
scorn us : " Are you there, you Germans, you who were so 
far on in many things? Are you speculating about the 
question how it is possible for your understanding to have 
come into existence ? * * * Unformed nation ! how differ- 
ent the things you ought to be thinking about ! " 

" The remedy for the evil lies in the hands of every intel- 
ligent reader. Ordinary men are fully capable of destroying 
the ' misty woof of words.' Everybody has a mind which 
he can interrogate in order to know whether it behaves in 
the fashion set forth in the ' Critic.' ' Ask thyself, thy senses, 
thy understanding, thy reason ; they have imprescriptible 
rights. Are the senses willing to be transubstantiated into 
empty forms, the understanding into a senseless process of 
spelling, and the reason into a chaos ? ' ' 

But this brave attack and timely warning fell to the earth ; 
it passed unheeded. And thus Herder, " the humanizer of 
theology, the reviver of pristine life in literature, injured 
himself only by his rash venture into the thorny enclosure 
of metaphysics. He called into existence a whole army of 
enemies only too ready to enlist under the banner of the 



156 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

Konigsberg philosopher, and he alienated some of his best 
friends." 

The mind of Germany has indeed been put back a hundred 
years in its growth by the Kantian philosophy. Idealism 
hangs like a fog over her intellectual life ; her art, her litera- 
ture, and even her science, are dwarfed by it. In Germany 
the religious world is either superstitious or materialistic; 
thought being separated from morality or real life, the 
religion of philosophy does not exist ; even her political life 
seems to be retarded by this unnatural divorce. The warm- 
est friends, the ablest critics of this great nation compare 
her to a mind without a body. From this can it not be in- 
ferred that her body in the highest sense is without a mind ? 

The fluent and methodical manner in which Kant pro- 
ceeds to analyze perception is calculated to throw one off 
his guard. The propositions which embrace his description 
of mental phenomena are stated with such precision and ap- 
parent candor that one is apt to take their logical integrity 
for granted. For instance, at the outset he affirms that 
" sensibility alone supplies us with intuitions (Anschauungen). 
These intuitions become thought through the understanding 
(Verstand), and hence arise conceptions (Begriffe). All 
thought, therefore, must, directly or indirectly, go back to 
intuitions (Anschauungen), i. e. to our sensibility, because in 
no other way can objects be given to us." 1 Thus we have 
sensation and thought duly recognized as different aspects, 
of mental phenomena, their separation being purely artificial. 
Then follows the very fair assertion: " The effect produced 
by an object upon the faculty of representation (Vorstel- 
lungsfdhigkeif), so far as we are affected by it, is called 
sensation (Einpfindung). An intuition [Anschauung] of an 
object, by means of sensation, is called empirical. The un- 
defined object of such empirical intuition is called phenome- 
non (Erscheinung)" But suddenly we have a leap into 
obscurity which is amazing, and which of course we cannot 
follow. Witness these words : " I call all representations 

1 Kant's "Critique," p. 17. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 157 

in which there is nothing that belongs to sensation, pure (in 
a transcendental sense). The pure form, therefore, of all 
sensuous intuitions, that form in which the manifold elements 
of the phenomena are seen in a certain order, must be found 
in the mind a priori. And this pure form of sensibility may 
be called the pure intuition (Anschauung)" 

A moment ago we were told that " sensibility alone sup- 
plies us with intuitions"; that "all thought must, directly 
or indirectly, go back to intuitions, i. e. sensations " ; that 
" sensation is the effect produced upon the faculty of repre- 
sentation by an object " ; thus completing the chain of cause 
and effect between the many forms of mental activity which 
Kant names as sensuous apprehensions, representations, in- 
tuitions, and thoughts. In the face of this we are told that 
he " calls all representations in which there is nothing that 
belongs to sensation,/#r^ (in a transcendental sense)." Truly 
this transcendental sense seems to be the source of Kant's 
lasting error ; lasting because, as we shall see, he has artic- 
ulated his system so ingeniously and covered up its logical 
defects so dexterously with such a wealth of tautology, that 
nothing but the most persistent vigilance can disclose the 
unconscious deceit which permeates the whole "Critique 
of Pure Reason." 

Speaking of space, Kant says : " No determinations of ob- 
jects, whether belonging to them absolutely or in relation to 
others, can enter into our intuition before the actual exist- 
ence of the objects themselves ; that is to say, they can 
never be intuitions a priori. * * * Space is nothing but 
the form of the phenomena of all external senses ; it is a 
subjective condition of our sensibility, without which no ex- 
ternal intuition is possible for us." Such language as this 
is simply an outrage upon good sense. If it came from a 
less illustrious pen than that of Kant, we might well pass 
it by with contempt. It involves a mass of contradictions 
and is loose and incoherent, logically, to the last degree. 

The determinations of objects, or the properties by which 

1 Kant's " Critique," p. 23. 



158 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

objects are perceived, imply a relation between the perceiv- 
ing subject and the object ; the determinations of objects, 
therefore, cannot belong to them absolutely, for they imply 
a relation. When Kant says that the " determinations of 
objects cannot enter into our intuition before the existence of 
the objects themselves," it is to be remembered that, as the 
determinations are qualities or functions of the objects, they 
imply or presuppose the existence of the object, and hence 
there can be no question of priority. As for the determina- 
tions never becoming " intuitions a priori" we have been dis- 
tinctly told that intuitions come alone through sensibility. 
We therefore deny that there is any meaning in the term 
"intuitions a priori." The difference between sensuous in- 
tuitions and intuitions a priori is based upon an arbitrary 
separation, by Kant, of the matter and form of phenomena ; 1 
a distinction which has no foundation in fact, for the form of 
objects is clearly the expression of certain statical or space 
aspects ; and the word matter is merely a generalization of 
the statical aspects of all phenomena. When Kant says, 
therefore, that space is a subjective condition of our sensi- 
bility without which no intuition of externals (objects) is 
possible, it is clear that he does violence to facts, first by 
insisting that space means form and does not mean matter, 
and then that form is absolutely distinct from matter or 
external phenomena. In a word, Kant abstracts from that 
aspect of motion or general existence, which we call space, 
a so-called transcendental principle which he calls form, and 
leaves behind a mutilated conception which he calls matter. 
Form, he says, belongs to the mind and transcends all sensi- 
bility or experience ; but matter does not belong to the 
mind, and cannot get into it, because it is not form. Surely 

1 " The matter only of all phenomena is given us a posteriori ; but their form 
must be ready for them in the mind (Gemuth] a priori, and must therefore be 
capable of being considered as separate from all sensations. * * * The pure 
form, therefore, of all sensuous intuitions, that form in which the mani- 
fold elements of the phenomena are seen in a certain order, must be found in 
the mind a priori. And this pure form of sensibility may be called the pure 
intuition (Anschauung)" "Critique of Pure Reason," p. 18. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 159 

the difficulty begins and ends with what Kant says, for he 
offers no proof whatever that form is transcendental, or that 
it is separable from the statical aspect of phenomena. 

The reader will no doubt be edified by the following defini- 
tion of time and space offered by Kant : " Time is the formal 
condition, a priori, of all phenomena whatsoever. Space, as, 
the pure form of all external intuition, is a condition, a pri- 
ori, of external phenomena only. But as all representations,, 
whether they have for their objects external things or not, 
belong by themselves, as determinations of the mind, to our 
inner state ; and as this inner state falls under the formal 
conditions of internal intuition, and therefore of time, time 
is a condition, a priori, of all phenomena whatsoever, and is. 
so directly as a condition of internal phenomena (of our 
mind), and thereby indirectly of external phenomena also." 1 

As a specimen of a priori or transcendental reasoning, this 
is a masterpiece; but it would not be in keeping with the 
spirit of the " Critique " to try and reduce these conceptions 
to " sense," or to assimilate them with " experiences." We 
suppose that " the formal condition, a priori, of all phe- 
nomena whatsoever " means the idea of all phenomena ; there- 
fore we have the assertion that time is the idea of all 
phenomena ; but we are told that space is a condition, a 
priori, of external phenomena. Now, by external, Kant 
means external to the mind, or phenomenal, so that exter- 
nal phenomena means all phenomena. Hence the differ- 
ence between these definitions of space and time results in 
nothing, and we have the simple statement, if a simple state- 
ment can be drawn from such language, that time and 
space are the ideas of all phenomena. " But," Kant con- 
tends, " as all representations, whether they have for their 
objects external things or not, belong by themselves, as de- 
terminations of the mind, to our inner state; and as this 
inner state falls under the formal conditions of the internal 
intuition, and therefore of time, time is a condition, a priori, 
of all phenomena whatsoever, and is so directly as a condition 

1 Kant's " Critique," pp. 29, 30. 



l6o THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of internal phenomena (of our mind), and thereby indirectly 
of external phenomena also." Is not this simply an asser- 
tion, that time is the idea of external phenomena, and also 
that it is the condition of internal phenomena (or mind)? 
In a word, Kant tries to occupy both sides of an imaginary 
boundary line, which he would draw between two aspects of 
a single fact of existence, and thereby, without perceiving it, 
obliterates the line. 

It will be remembered that phenomena are rigidly ex- 
cluded by Kant from the subjective or a priori world ; that 
man is not a natural but a supernatural being, using natural 
and phenomenal as convertible terms. But sensibility is of 
course natural and must belong to the world of phenomena. 
This difficulty he avoids by creating for himself an a priori 
man (in a transcendental sense), who is put into an a priori 
world ; and if by any chance the a priori man manifests any 
thing phenomenal, or natural, or sensible, he is ordered 
by the irate philosopher of Konigsberg to resume his apriori 
character. Then the good Kant looks about him and per- 
ceives that space is an inconveniently real and universal 
principle, and also that his a priori man has space relation- 
ships which cannot be destroyed ; so he avoids the difficulty 
by saying that all space is a priori and is in the a priori 
man. Whatever of space is not in the a priori man, is only 
matter and has no reality, for all reality is in the a priori 
man. This beautiful truth he expresses in the following 
familiar language: " Space, as the pure form of all external 
intuition, is a condition, a priori, of external phenomena 
only. But all representations, whether they have for their 
objects external things or not, belong by themselves, as de- 
terminations of the mind to our inner state." This defini- 
tion brings him in collision with time, which he finds to be 
also an inconveniently absolute principle that had not 
been well considered in the first creation of the a priori 
man. So he boldly attempts to make time a priori; 
but all his efforts prove fruitless ; he struggles hard, but 
time resists. Kant, however, would not have been the 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. l6l 

greatest of German philosophers had he allowed himself to 
be vanquished by time, so after a long and labored argu- 
ment 1 which attempts to prove the ideality of time, he 
makes the unprecedented point that time has an empirical 
existence, but that empirical not being a priori is not really 
any existence at all. The following argument is added 
under the head of an 

EXPLANATION. 

" Against this theory, which claims empirical but denies 
absolute and transcendental reality to time, even intelligent 
men have protested so unanimously, that I suppose that every 
reader who is unaccustomed to these considerations may 
naturally be of the same opinion. What they object to is 
this: Changes, they say, are real (this is proved by the 
change of our own representations, even if all external phe- 
nomena and their changes be denied). Changes, however, 
are possible in time only, and therefore time must be some- 
thing real. The answer is easy enough. I grant the whole 
argument. Time certainly is something real, namely, the 
real form of our internal intuition. Time, therefore, has 
subjective reality with regard to internal experience ; that is, 
I really have representation of time and of my determina- 
tions in it. Time, therefore, is really to be considered, not 
as an object, but as the representation of myself as an object. 
If either I myself or any other being could see me without 
this condition of sensibility, then these self-same determina- 
tions which we now represent to ourselves as changes would 
give us a kind of knowledge in which the representation of 

1 " Time is therefore simply a subjective condition of our (human) intuition 
(which is always sensuous, that is, so far as we are affected by objects), but 
by itself, apart from the subject, nothing. Nevertheless, with respect to all 
phenomena, that is, all things which can come within our experience, time is 
necessarily objective. We cannot say that all things are in time, because, if we 
speak of things in general, nothing is said about the manner of intuition, 
which is the real condition under which time enters into our representation 
of things. If, therefore, this condition is added to the concept, and if we say 
that all things as phenomena (as objects of sensuous intuition) are in time, then 
such a proposition has its full objective validity and a priori universality." 
" Critique of Pure Reason," pp. 30, 31. 



1 62 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

time, and therefore of change also, would have no place. 
There remains, therefore, the empirical reality of time only, 
as the condition of all our experience, while absolute reality 
cannot, according to what has just been shown, be conceded 
to it. Time is nothing but the form of our own internal 
intuition. 1 

" Take away the peculiar condition of our sensibility, and 
the idea of time vanishes, because it is not inherent in the 
objects, but in the subject only that perceives them/' a 
Take away the a priori man, and time is annihilated. 

I do not give these quotations for the purpose of proving 
any thing concerning time or space, but to show how in- 
coherent and contradictory were Kant's explanations of 
these ultimates. It is impossible to read the above quota- 
tions without seeing that both the objective and subjective 
existence of space and time are admitted in one breath,, 
and that the effort to limit the aspects of motion to an im- 
aginary subjective world absolutely separated from the 
world of sense, was as futile as it is, in the light of our day r 
absurd. 

After laying such a foundation of error, one can imagine 
the dreary waste of reasoning which follows in the subse- 
quent chapters of the " Critique." The a priori man is 
driven from pillar to post in the storm of facts which trans- 
cendental reasoning stirs up, and the extraordinary vitality 
which he displays is a lasting proof of the power of organiza- 
tion, whether it be for good or for evil ; for this a priori man 
is wonderfully articulated with facts where they are to be 
had, and an abundant supply of words where facts are 
wanting. 

We have reason to be grateful that philosophy is not so- 
rare a thing in the world that one is obliged to delve among 
the intricacies of " Kant's Transcendental Dialectics " for 

I 1 can say, indeed, that my representations follow one another, but this 
means no more than that we are conscious of them as in a temporal succession, 
that is, according to the form of our own internal sense. Time, therefore, i& 
nothing by itself, nor is it a determination inherent objectively in things. 

9 Kant's " Critique," pp. 32, 33. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 163 

the facts of consciousness. There is no denying that a great 
many of these facts are given by Kant, and that one can 
glean from his writings much that is valuable concerning the 
procedure of the mind ; but it is the opinion of all competent 
authorities that the fundamental principles of Kant's philos- 
ophy declare against the possibility of a unification of 
knowledge. 

Strange as it may seem, the philosophy of Kant strongly 
resembles the Skepticism of Hume. Hume openly declared 
philosophy to be impossible, upon the grounds that the 
operations of the mind are transcendental, or unknowable, 
while Kant acknowledged reality only in the subjective 
sphere, placing limits upon the intellect which are fatal to an 
understanding of the divine unity of nature ; or, to that con- 
ception of God which can alone harmonize life and mind. 

Kant's theory of the limitations of knowledge is thor- 
oughly anthropomorphic. It finds in knowledge certain 
principles of certitude which appear to him to be universal ; 
but because he discovers these principles through the agency 
of his own thought, he concludes that at all events they can- 
not extend beyond the range of human consciousness. The 
inevitable relations of consciousness to sentiency, and of sen- 
tiency to the general activities of nature, never seem to 
break upon his mind. But having measured the human 
understanding and described its absolute (?) limits, he is 
obliged to admit that it is only an island in a sea of mystery. 
This is the very position of the ancient skeptics, who saw 
no real harmony or identity of procedure between mind and 
the general activities of nature. 

Thus we find that the old theories of Skepticism, which 
were so highly developed by the Greeks in the New 
Academy, are reproduced in the Kantian dialectics with 
scarcely a variation ; while the novelty of their appearance 
in the German language under the elaborate forms of the 
" Critique of Pure Reason " was enough in itself to account 
for the reputation they at once achieved. The Skepticism 
of Kant is thus but a reproduction of ancient Skepticism, 



164 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE* 

which held that we cannot know things per se absolutely 
or as they really are in themselves. This can hardly be a 
correct theory of perception, since human knowledge is the 
relation between a sentient organism and its surroundings, 
and must be the expression of conditions, whereas absolute 
means independent of conditions. Absolute or a priori 
knowledge, therefore, is a contradiction in terms. Hence a 
system which rests its fundamental principles upon the 
assumption of an absolute knowledge becomes an absurdity. 

Lewes, who made a profound study of Kant, says : " In 
his ' Critique ' we are only to look for the exposition of a 
priori principles. He does not trouble himself with investi- 
gating the nature of perception ; he contents himself with 
the fact that we have sensations, and with the fact that 
we have ideas whose origin is not sensuous. * * * He did 
not deny the existence of an external world ; on the con- 
trary, he affirmed it, but he denied that we can know it ; he 
affirmed that it was essentially unknowable." 

The corner-stone of Kant's philosophy, as expressed in 
the " Critique of Pure Reason," is that there is no reality 
exactly corresponding to the notions of men, and that what 
constitutes reality for us is simply our own mental represen- 
tations. Let us examine this proposition. In perception 
there are two factors, the subject and the object ; or of the 
phenomenon of perception there are two aspects, the sub- 
jective and the objective. Kant says that there is no exter- 
nal reality corresponding to the subjective side of percep- 
tion, and that, therefore, as there is no disputing the reality 
of the subjective side or thought, all reality must be thought. 
This logical snarl is wholly due to a false limitation of the 
meaning of words. All those forms of mental activity 
known as notions, mental representations, or thoughts, im- 
ply an object as well as a subject. The separation of sub- 
ject from object in the consideration of thought is purely 
artificial. When we look upon thought as the activity of a 
sentient being, we cannot exclude from view the infinite 
conditions of this activity which relate it to universal life ; 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 165 

we cannot isolate the subjective phenomenon of thought by 
appropriating to it all reality. Thought is distinctly a rela- 
tion, the function of subjective and objective conditions. 

Kant's assertion, therefore, that all reality is subjective, is 
a one-sided view of the fact of thought. If the many names 
for mental or psychical activity, such as perception, thought, 
mental representation, etc., were recognized as relatively 
equivalent terms, and if mental phenomena were acknowl- 
edged as the activity of an organism, whether that organism 
be an individual or a race, there would be no difficulty in 
accounting for the subjective and objective sides of thought. 
It is our failure to identify these contrasted sides as aspects 
of a single fact which alone impels us to attribute exclusive 
reality to either the one or the other. To this latter asser- 
tion all Kantians would at once demur, for they are contin- 
ually speaking of absolute mind, or intelligence. The term 
absolute simply means time, or the unconditioned, and 
therefore cannot be applied to any individual phenomenon, 
such as thought or mind. This explanation might dispose 
of all the difficulties of the Kantian system, if there were not 
a distinct contradiction of this theory of the absolute nature 
of mind developed in Kant's psychology : for there is no de- 
nying that he also teaches that there is no absolute dividing 
line between subject and object in the act of perception 
that the mind does not think in itself, but is acted upon and 
reacts upon its surroundings in producing thought. His 
creation, however, of an a priori sphere of thought, which is 
absolutely separated from sensibility and external phenom- 
ena, so confuses the theory of the union of subject and ob- 
ject, that it is difficult to understand how he could have 
retained two such conflicting opinions at once. 

The teacher of philosophy is bound to express himself 
with simplicity and clearness ; and when he does not, it is 
fair to conclude that he himself is not clear upon the subject. 
The serious contradictions which occur in the two edi- 
tions of the " Critique of Pure Reason " are admitted by 
the most pronounced Kantians. In speaking of these two 



1 66 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

editions, Prof. Miiller says : " That the unity of thought 
which pervades the first edition is broken now and then in 
the second edition, no attentive reader can fail to see. That 
Kant shows rather too much anxiety to prove the harmless- 
ness of his * Critique ' is equally true, and it would have 
been better if, while refuting what he calls Empirical 
Idealism, he had declared more strongly his unchanged ad- 
herence to the principles of Transcendental Idealism. * * * 
I must confess that I have always used myself the first 
edition of Kant's ' Critique,' and that when I came to read 
the second edition, I never could feel so at home in it as in 
the first. The first edition seems to me cut out of one block, 
the second always leaves on my mind the impression of 
patch-work." 1 These contradictions are slight, however, when 
compared with those already pointed out in the main argu- 
ment of the " Critique " with regard to the nature of per- 
ception. 

Hence, since it is well known that the Nature of Perception 
is the foundation of every philosophy, we think we are justified 
in accepting what, outside of Germany, is becoming a very 
general opinion that Kant's " Critique of Pure Reason " is a 
monument of logical subtlety and at the same time an incor- 
rect and hopelessly confused analysis of Mind. That this 
view is not generally shared by those who have studied in 
Germany under the influence of the Kantian system is 
only too manifest. Professor Noire, in the introductory 
review to Max Miiller' s translation of the " Critique," after 
giving evidence of a very high order of philosophic culture, 
closes his examination of the pre-Kantian systems as follows: 
" Kant alone succeeded in solving all the contradictions and 
paradoxes in which the reason was entangled, and in ex- 
plaining them completely in accordance with their own 
nature, as he dropped the sounding-line into depths which as 
yet no mortal mind had dared to fathom, and brought up 
from thence to the light of day news of the primary condi- 
tions and eternal postulates of reason. It is therefore not 

1 Kant's " Critique," Translator's Preface. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 1 67 

too much to say that Kant is the greatest philosophical 
genius that has ever dwelt upon earth, and the ' Critique of 
Pure Reason ' the highest achievement of human wisdom." 1 

And Max Miiller makes more conspicuous this flagrant ex- 
ample of ethnic conceit by declaring that the thought of Kant 
fills up the entire logical perspectives of humanity. The only 
exception to be taken to this view of Professor Miiller is, 
that he has manifestly confused his own logical perspectives 
with those of humanity. 

The " Critique of Practical Reason," which appeared in 
1790, is generally admitted to be a retraction of the prin- 
ciples of the first edition of the " Critique of Pure Reason." 
But Kantians of the present day, for the most part, deny 
to their master the privilege of changing his mind, for they 
are almost unanimously of the opinion that the first edition 
of the " Critique of Pure Reason " really represents the teach- 
ings of Kant, while the second edition and the " Critique of 
Practical Reason " they seem to entirely ignore. 

We will not, however, be influenced by these eccentrici- 
ties of the followers of Kant ; for the least we can accord 
to the great master is, that his mental development was con- 
tinuous, and suffered no serious mishap during the heyday 
of his literary activity. 

The " Critique of Practical Reason " deals with the sub- 
ject of Morality. Its estimation of human duty is exalted, 
but its effort to trace duty to an ultimate principle has 
been widely criticised. Kant's original theory of justice 
was, that it is an entity, an innate principle of the human 
mind, present alike in all races and individuals, and indepen- 
dent of social progress. This theory he afterward modified, 
but still held to the belief that justice was universal. 
The strongest objection made to this belief was, that 
certain tribes of savages killed their old men when they 
became feeble. The mode of determining the degree of 
feebleness which merited death was, to require the most 
venerable men of the tribe to cling to the branch of a tree, 

1 Kant's " Critique," vol. I., p. 359. 



1 68 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

which was violently shaken, and those who failed to retain 
their hold were put to death. Kant's reply to this argu- 
ment was, that the fact that these old men were allowed 
a chance for life proved the presence of the idea of justice 
in the tribe. Was there ever an injustice which did not 
prove as much? 

In our day, it is well known that the conception of jus- 
tice (which, it is to be remembered, is a purely relative term) 
has grown up from the simplest mechanical experiences ; 
such, for instance, as the balancing of weights. The idea of 
justice or duty becomes clearer and more general with social 
advancement. Kant's theory, therefore, that justice is a 
priori, a mysterious presence in the mind which cannot be 
explained by natural experience, reduces the source of mo- 
rality to the level of a superstition which is the opposite of 
philosophical. 

Morality is rightly reasoned conduct ; but all reasoning 
cannot be represented in abstract symbols. There is a logic 
of feeling as well as of signs, an unspoken movement of 
the emotions which enters into every human determination. 
Since morality is the highest exercise of the judgment, the 
most complete harmony between practical and intellectual 
life, false methods of philosophizing, erroneous explanations 
of the procedures of the mind, are demoralizing in their 
effects upon society. The direct influence of idealism upon 
morality is seen in the tendency toward the idealization of 
human attributes, such as love, virtue, or reason. The en- 
thronement of these qualities as a priori or absolute princi- 
ples in life leads directly to the greatest extravagances of 
conduct. The theory that love is a God-inspired feeling, 
and that when a feeling can be clearly demonstrated to be 
love it becomes holy, or justifies itself, is a natural conse- 
quence of idealism ; and it is one of the most pernicious 
beliefs that it is possible to entertain. What rivers of blood 
have been shed, what homes destroyed, what hearts broken, 
in learning the nature of love ! Although love expresses the 
deepest feelings of which we are capable, it is but the func- 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 169 

tion of a vast plexus of conditions, and depends upon these 
conditions for its justification. However exalted and pure 
we may imagine a passion to be, whether life and happiness 
depend upon its gratification or not, the question whether the 
feeling is right or wrong is governed by the conditions which 
surround it, and has nothing whatever to do with its intensity 
or imagined purity. Again : the idealization of virtue, or self- 
abnegation the theory that virtue is an absolute principle 
moving in a foreign universe of sin an a priori, God-inspired 
intuition instead of the natural development of a well-or- 
dered life, the result of pure examples and good habits, 
leads to all those extravagances of conduct which vary from 
asceticism and other forms of moral austerity to the more 
general and lower grades of hypocrisy. Lastly : the ideali- 
zation of the faculty of reasoning (mind) gives rise to the 
greatest logical extravagances, from the Dialectics of Plato 
and the absolute Skepticism of the Academicians to those 
forms of Idealism known as the a priori philosophy of Kant 
and his followers, the influence of which still remains in 
modern agnosticism. Thus the success of morality, the ad- 
vancement of the chief science of life, depends directly upon 
a just appreciation of the limits of language and the nature 
of perception, which alone can make possible the Unification 
of Knowledge. 

All recognized German philosophy subsequent to Kant is 
but a development of either the practical or the ethical side 
of the Kantian system, with a more or less marked subser- 
vience to the Idealism with which Kant so deeply imbued 
the German mind. The cast of thought, therefore, which 
we find in Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Herbart, 
and the other post-Kantian writers, seems predetermined 
to an extent which it would be difficult to understand 
without first becoming acquainted with what may be called 
the solidarity of German philosophic culture, the almost 
servile imitation which marks the development of the German 
conception of Mind. 

There are instances, however, in the writings of all the 
above-named authors where they have risen above the arbi- 



170 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

.trary influence of their great predecessor, and delight us 
with their originality and genius. This was especially the 
.case with Fichte, who seems to have had the faculty of 
making all who came within his influence respect and love 
him. An example of the highest type of German character, 
he was a moral and intellectual enthusiast. 

Johann Gottlieb Fichte was born at Rammenau, a village 
.in Upper Lusatia, in May, 1762. His first serious effort in 
philosophy was the study of Kant's " Critique of Practical 
Reason," in which he tells us that he discovered, for the first 
time, the absolute freedom of the will. The theological 
training which he received in preparation for the ministry had 
given him the belief in a supernatural source of morality ; and 
as ethics was the subject nearest to his heart, a deep and 
natural sentiment, he was both surprised and overjoyed to 
find what he regarded as a successful attempt to trace the 
inspiration of virtue to the natural operations of the mind. 
He prepared a hurried treatise called " A Critique of Every 
Possible Revelation," and making a pilgrimage to Konigs- 
berg, presented it to Kant, who, recognizing in it a high 
order of ability, was instrumental in securing its publication. 
By an accident, the author's preface, in which he acknowl- 
edged himself a beginner in philosophy, was omitted from 
the first edition, nor did his name appear on the title-page. 
Some of the German newspapers jumped at the conclusion 
that it was a production of Kant, especially as it seemed to 
be a development of the ethical teaching of that writer, and 
accorded to it unbounded praise. When the mistake came 
to light, Fichte's reputation was instantaneously made, and 
the result was an invitation to fill the chair of Philosophy 
at Jena (1793). Here, according to one of the favorite criti- 
cal methods of his age, he was assailed for atheism, and re- 
fusing to make any retractions he resigned (1799). After 
many changes of place he was made professor of philosophy 
in the New University at Berlin, where his career was short 
but dramatic. His eloquence and ability secured him im- 
mediate and wide attention ; his lectures on Ethics were 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 1 71 

stirring, and made a visible impression upon his times ; but 
the national enthusiasm which marked the opening of the 
memorable campaign of 1813 carried him from the close of 
one of his lectures into the ranks of the assembling army, 
and within a year he was taken with a fever and died. 

The Fichtean philosophy was elaborated during the few 
years of stormy activity which its author passed at the Uni- 
versity of Jena. He endeavored to develop the practical or 
ethical side of Kant's philosophy ; for it was to expound the 
Kantian system that he had been invited to the chair. But a 
revolution in Kant's own views had taken place ; his " Critique 
of Pure Reason" had been virtually retracted by his " Cri- 
tique of Practical Reason"; and as these works appeared but 
six years apart, the latter shortly before Fichte began lectur- 
ing at Jena, it will readily be seen that the first great disciple 
of Kant had a somewhat difficult and confusing task in ex- 
pounding the views of his master. The object in reciting 
these details is to show how closely woven all that is known 
as German philosophy is, and how much it consists in the 
arbitrary creations of a few men, all living at about the same 
time, and most of them having personal intercourse and 
sympathy ; Kant being the senior of the group and the in- 
stigator of the whole movement. 

We can find no fault with Germany, therefore, when she, 
even at this time, looks to Kant as her greatest philosopher, 
for all German philosophy is acknowledged to be but branches 
or side developments of the Kantian theories. But when 
Germany says that Kant is her greatest mind, she under- 
estimates the value of her other geniuses, such as Herder, 
Goethe, Schiller, and Lessing, who have contributed so 
much to the knowledge of the world. Kant's philosophy, 
with all its branches, has, it is true, been written in German, 
but not in the universal language of good sense. 

Fichte exaggerated the idealism of Kant, which we have 
already described, by advocating what is known as Subjective 
Idealism. This means that objects of thought or percep- 
tion do not exist externally, but only subjectively, or in the 



172 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

mind. This belief, absurd as it seems, we are bound to 
believe was sincere, although it commits the fatal error of 
confusing thoughts with things : the very thing that Plato 
and the Skeptics did, but in a less grotesque manner. The 
reasoning by which this belief is brought about has been 
analyzed in our description of Greek thought. The fallacy 
which this reasoning so successfully conceals arises entirely 
from giving certain words different meanings, and afterward 
employing these words as having the same meaning. For 
instance, Fichte tries to establish the identity of being and 
thought, or general existence and personal existence. If 
we allow him to do this in the beginning, of course he can 
make whatever use he pleases of facts ; for if we admit that 
facts exist only in the mind, and if the mind is expressed 
only through language, he can form any hypothesis he 
wishes and we are powerless to resist ; for with an intel- 
lectual appetite which is hardly conceivable he devours fact 
itself, and consequently has on his own side all the facts in 
any argument he chooses to moot. But Fichte was too 
moral a man to make any dishonest use of the great logical 
advantage thus claimed. He amused himself in building 
up theories, which in turn served to amuse others. These 
theories have been called by his commentators " Theoretical 
Philosophy," to distinguish them from practical philosophy 
a not unsuggestive distinction. We must not forget, 
however, that Fichte's incomparable character, his enthusi- 
asm for intellectual and moral reform, his brilliant talents 
and scholarship, won for him vast numbers of admirers. 

Shortly after he began his lectures at Jena, Forberg writes : 
" Fichte is believed as Rheinhold never was. The students 
understand him even less than his predecessor, but they be- 
lieve all the more earnestly on that account." 

Leaving the metaphysics of Fichte to their fate, we turn 
with pleasure to his Moral Philosophy, which has a freshness 
and reality about it that enable it to survive the mystifying 
influences of his logic. What, he asks, is the revelation 
which consciousness gives ? It consists in the fact that 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 173 

41 1 am free ; and it is not merely my action, but the free de- 
termination of my will to obey the voice of conscience, that 
decides all my worth. More brightly does the everlasting 
world now rise before me ; and the fundamental laws of its 
order are more clearly revealed to my mental sight. My 
will alone, lying hid in the obscure depths of my soul, is the 
first link in a chain of consequences stretching through the 
invisible realms of spirit, as in this terrestrial world the ac- 
tion itself, a certain movement communicated to matter, is 
the first link in a material chain of cause and effect, en- 
circling the whole system. The will is the efficient cause, 
the living principle of the world of spirit, as motion is of the 
world of sense. I stand between two worlds, the one visible, 
in which the act alone avails, and the intention matters not 
at all ; the other invisible and incomprehensible, acted on 
only by the will. In both these worlds I am an effective 
force. The Divine life, as alone the finite mind can conceive 
it, is self-forming, self-representing will, clothed, to the mor- 
tal eye, with multitudinous sensuous forms, flowing through 
me and through the whole immeasurable universe, here 
streaming through my veins and muscles, there pouring 
its abundance into the tree, the flower, the grass. The dead, 
heavy mass of inert matter, which did but fill up nature, has 
disappeared, and, in its stead, there rushes by the bright, 
everlasting flood of life and power from its Infinite Source." 

This kind of eloquence, which was a new thing in the 
German language, must have moved the hearts, excited the 
minds, and transcended the understanding of Fichte's stu- 
dents. When it is carefully analyzed, however, it is found 
to be a sort of summer-night's dream in philosophy, which is 
fascinating though enervating to the mind. 

Frederick William Joseph Schelling was born in Wiirtem- 
berg, January, 1775, and was therefore thirteen years younger 
than Fichte. He afterward became Fichte's pupil and chief 
expositor, succeeding to his chair at Jena. Schelling made 
the acquaintance of Hegel at the University of Tubingen, 
where a warm and lasting friendship was formed between 



174 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

them. He remained in Bavaria until 1842 (where he was 
"honored, rewarded, and ennobled," when the King of 
Prussia persuaded him to come to Berlin to fill the chair 
once held by Hegel. Lewes tells us that in 1845 ^ e " had 
the gratification not only of hearing him lecture on Mythol- 
ogy to large audiences, but also of hearing him, in the ex- 
pansiveness of private conversation, pour forth his stores of 
varied knowledge." He continued an active, intellectual 
life to the last, and died August 20, 1854. 

Schelling taught that the Reason was incapable of solv- 
ing the problems of philosophy, a very old doubt, but 
certainly an inconsistent one ; for does not philosophy, 
which is an effort to solve the problem of existence, pre- 
suppose a belief in our ability to succeed? But this incon- 
sistency was a mere trifle to some of the difficulties which 
Schelling attempted to overcome. He saw that it was 
necessary to have some faculty which he could believe was 
able to solve the problem of life, so he decided to call this 
faculty the " Intellectual Intuition," a name so apt and 
pleasing that it has continued in use ever since, and is de- 
voutly believed in as a mental principle distinct from the 
natural coordinations of reason, even by advanced psycho- 
logical writers, who are supposed to belong to an opposite 
school. 

Schelling inaugurated what may be called an aristocracy 
of intuition, to which only a privileged few could gain ad- 
mittance. The line which circumscribed this elite, however, 
seems to have been drawn against all those who could not 
understand Schelling's philosophy. " Really," he exclaims, 
" one sees not wherefore Philosophy should pay any atten- 
tion whatever to Incapacity. It is better rather that we 
should isolate Philosophy from all the ordinary routes, and 
keep it so separate from ordinary knowledge that none 
of these routes should lead to it. Philosophy commences 
where ordinary knowledge terminates." Here we see some 
of the first fruits of that unnatural transcendentalism 
which Kant so successfully established in Germany. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 175 

The foundation of Schelling's philosophy was the lumi- 
nous principle that " Nature is Spirit visible ; Spirit is invis- 
ible Nature: the absolute Ideal is, at the same time, the 
absolute Real." If this proposition were as harmless as it 
is meaningless, we could well afford to pass it by without 
further comment. Let us, however, examine this saying, 
which depends so largely upon the meaning of the word 
absolute. 

The salient points in Schelling's philosophy are best 
brought out by comparing his system with that of Fichte. 
Fichte said that the Non-Ego was created by the Ego; 
Schelling said that the two were equally real, and that both 
were identified in the Absolute. " In what, then, does 
Schelling differ from Fichte, since both assert that the pro- 
duct (Object) is but the arrested activity of the Ego ? In 
this: the Ego in Fichte's system is a finite Ego, it is the 
human soul. The Ego in Schelling's system is the Abso- 
lute the Infinite the All, which Spinoza called Substance \ 
and this Absolute manifests itself in two forms in the 
form of the Ego, and in the form of the Non-Ego as Na- 
ture and as Mind." 1 When we remember that the word' 
absolute has no deeper meaning than Time, and that Time is 
not an ultimate but a relative fact an aspect of Motion ; 
when we think that the Ego means nothing but the indi- 
vidual ; that the Infinite means that other aspect of Motion 
which we call Space ; and that Substance, also, when used 
in its widest sense, means Space ; we can see how all these 
efforts to transcend the limits of language, to place words 
before things, ideas before facts in the order of reality, 
serve but to emphasize the great truth that a true con- 
ception of knowledge can be obtained alone by reducing 
the number of the categorical terms until the meaning 
of all possible combinations of words converges in that 
of a single term or universal principle. How long will 
the higher ingenuities of man be exerted to resist this 
all-powerful truth, and, by so doing, postpone the success 

1 Lewes: "Hist, of Phil.," p. 709. 



176 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

of philosophy, which is simply an ultimate analysis bringing 
the mind, or individual life, into harmony with general ex- 
istence ? 

But notwithstanding its intricacies and absurdities, there 
is an underlying strength in Schelling's thought which makes 
it evident that if Germany could only throw off this curse of 
Idealism, her genius would again assert itself and accomplish 
great things in the world of speculation. Schelling's writings 
display great knowledge and research, fine intuitions, but so 
many changes of opinion occur that, although some posi- 
tions are adhered to throughout, it is impossible to construct 
from them any coherent method. 

In this particular Hegel differs from Schelling ; for in 
Hegel we have a new and coherent method of dealing with 
the problems of philosophy. 

George Frederick William Hegel was born at Stuttgart 
.in 1770, and studied philosophy and theology at Tubingen. 
He was a private tutor in Switzerland and Frankfort until 
the death of his father in 1801, when a small inheritance 
enabled him to remove to Jena and to publish his first 
work, a dissertation directed against the Newtonian sys- 
tem of Astronomy, in which he pitted the transcendental 
theories of Schelling against the scientific method of in- 
duction. In any other country this proceeding would have 
helped the fame of Newton ; but in Germany it obtained for 
Hegel the reputation of an original thinker. Soon after this 
he joined Schelling in editing the " Critical Journal of Phi- 
losophy/' in which appeared his celebrated essay entitled 
" Faith and Knowledge," a criticism on Kant, Jacobi, and 
Fichte. It was at Jena also that he wrote his " Phanom- 
enologie des Geistes," the writing of which was not even 
interrupted by the battle which gave that place into the 
hands of the French. On the nigfyt of this battle he is said 
to have finished the work, oblivious of the pain and terror 
with which he was surrounded. We shall not be disap- 
pointed in the production of a mind capable of withdrawing 
itself so completely from the world. In 1816 he was called 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 177 

to the chair in Heidelberg, and two years later to that of 
Berlin, the first in Germany. Here he formed a school which 
included many illustrious members, and lectured until his 
death in 1831. 

What has made the fame of Hegel is the invention of his 
new method of philosophy. The world hitherto had been 
unable to discover the procedures of the mind ; Hegel 
fixed upon a mental procedure of his own and discovered 
it to the world. This method was none other than the fa- 
mous identity of contraries, which teaches that objects or 
ideas which are different are, in a sense, not different ; that 
contradiction implies an innate identity ; that subject and 
object are one, or that internal and external are equivalent 
terms in a transcendental sense. This, of course, was a great 
discovery, because, at least in the form in which Hegel ex- 
pressed it, it had never been made before ; and Hegel at once 
became a German prophet. Some hardy critics pronounced 
the principle absurd, because it led to contradictions, but 
Hegel replied that this was the very reason why it was true ; 
for, he said, the conditions of all truth consist in the identity 
of contraries or contradictions. This, it cannot be denied, 
was logical, providing his first assertion be admitted. The 
ground for this assertion, it is true, is a question of fact, but 
Hegel held himself superior to facts, and the intellectual 
portion of Germany applauded his brave position. 

Hegel established "Absolute Idealism." Kant was con- 
tent with plain idealism, Fichte with subjective, and Schell- 
ing with objective idealism. Hegel wanted absolute ideal- 
ism, and he therefore established it. 

" It may be thus illustrated : I see a tree. Psychologists 
tell me that there are three things implied in this one fact 
of vision, namely, a tree, an image of that tree, and a mind 
which apprehends that image. Fichte tells me that it is I 
alone who exist ; the tree and the image of the tree are but 
one thing, and that is a modification of my mind. This is 
Subjective Idealism. Schelling tells me that both the tree and 
my Ego are existences equally real or ideal, but they are 



1 78 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

nothing less than manifestations of the Absolute. This is 
Objective Idealism. But according to Hegel, all these expla- 
nations are false. The only thing really existing (in this 
one fact of vision) is the Idea the relation. The Ego and 
the Tree are but two terms of the relation, and owe their 
reality to it. This is Absolute Idealism." 

Some say that this idealism of Hegel is but the skepticism 
of Hume in a dogmatic form ; others, that it is a refinement 
of the Spinozistic notion of Substance. It is, in my opinion, 
a great truth badly expressed. 

The twelve octavo volumes of Hegel's Philosophy and 
Logic were not written in vain ; they constitute the most 
tortuous and fantastical expression that the world has ever 
produced of the simple truth that the ultimate fact or re- 
lation is Motion, and that Time and Space are its subjective 
and objective aspects. The harmonies of this truth can be 
traced throughout his dexterous paradoxes and his ingenious 
word-puzzles, but with an effort that is out of all proportion 
to the benefit derived. In fact Hegel, instead of helping the 
world to find the ultimate reality, seems to have done all he 
could to render it forever incomprehensible. And had we no 
other means of studying philosophy than Germany thus af- 
fords us, it is a question whether our civilization would last 
long enough to bring this truth to light. The difficulty, 
therefore, is not in understanding German thought, but in 
establishing, by any reasonable mental effort, an agreement 
between its assertions and the facts of consciousness and life. 

The warning of Herder against the idealism of Kant and 
his followers, however, was not entirely lost. There has been 
a distinct opposition in Germany, which has, in a measure, 
represented Herder and repeated his protests, but with little 
or no effect. Chief among this opposition we find the name 
of Schleiermacher (1768-1834), preceded by Christian Gottlieb 
Selle, Adam Weishaupt, Feder, Tittel, and Tiedemann. 
These men have defended the doctrine of the objective and 
real validity of knowledge, but their voices have been practi- 
cally unheeded by both philosophic and scientific Germany. 

1 Lewes : " Hist, of Phil.," pp. 723, 724. 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. 179 

Again: Schopenhauer, the pessimist (1788-1860), tried to 
reconcile idealism and realism, and postulated the Will (used 
in a wider sense than as a human faculty) as the ultimate 
reality. The success of these efforts can be best judged of 
from the writings of such prominent modern scientists as 
Du Bois-Reymond, and his pupil Professor Rosenthal, who 
distinguished themselves by brilliant discoveries in nervous 
phenomena, the very citadel of thought, and yet regard the 
mind with superstition, plainly showing the influence of the 
a priori philosophy. We also have the recent assertion of 
Karl Hillebrand, that " almost all the really great men of 
science in Germany are neither materialists nor spiritualists, 
nor skeptics, but critics of the Kantian school." 1 

But again it is to be remembered that Germany has prac- 
tically repudiated, little by little, all the post-Kantian phil- 
osophy of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, whom Schopenhauer 
courteously calls the three great impostors, and rests her case 
upon what Kant himself lived to refute and recall, the anal- 
ysis of mind to be found in the " Critique of Pure Reason." 

We are told that Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel endeavored 
to be true Kantians, but by resting one foot on the " Cri- 
tique of Pure Reason," and the other on the " Critique of 
Practical Reason," they were obliged to perform all sorts 
of logical contortions to preserve their equilibrium. 

When all these things are considered are we not, upon the 
whole, entitled to say that the transcendental production 
known as German philosophy assumes, to the disinterested 
student, the appearance of a huge family quarrel rather than 
a worthy attempt to solve the problems of life ; and that, 
as far as the progress of thought is concerned, the world can 
well afford to dispense with it ? 

Hence it is with a feeling of unfeigned relief that we 
turn to the more mature and gradually developed culture 
of France and England, in which soil the idiosyncrasies of 
thought that achieved such rank development in Germany, 
although frequently making their appearance, have never 
been able to gain a substantial hold. 

1 " German Thought," p. 203. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE ECLECTICISM AND POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY OF FRANCE 
AND THE SCOTCH SCHOOL. 

Gassendi Malebranche Condillac Cabanis Gall Royer-Collard Cousin 
Comte Reid Hamilton. 

AFTER the religious fervor of Europe had expended itself 
in the Crusades, there remained the three famous orders of 
chivalry known as the Teutonic Knights, the Templars, and 
the Knights of St. John. The latter maintained their or- 
ganization by a long and valiant defence of Southern Europe 
against the Turks. The Templars were disbanded about 
fifty years after the last Crusade, while the Teutonic Knights 
turned their attention to Christianizing what was then known 
as pagan Prussia. This they did by almost exterminating a 
brave and hardy people, who loved their rude mythology 
and bitterly opposed the forms of Christian worship and the 
rule of the Empire. While this was going on, Paris had 
become the first great seat of learning in Christendom ; its 
University was then a congeries of schools connected with 
monasteries and churches, but without that corporate unity 
which afterward made it the model of almost all the Uni- 
versities of Europe. 

As an example of its early importance, Henry II. of Eng- 
land, in 1196, offered to refer his dispute with Becket to the 
arbitration of the Peers of France, the Gallican Church, or 
-the Nations of the University of Paris. Toward the end of 
the thirteenth century Pope Nicholas IV. conferred privi- 
leges upon the doctors and students which virtually gave 
the University a government of its own ; and in the middle 
vof the fifteenth century it was attended by over twenty-five 

1 80 



THE ECLECTICISM OF FRANCE. i8l 

thousand students, which at that time was nearly half the 
population of Paris. It was in Paris that the chief battles 
of Scholasticism were fought. William de Champeaux, 
Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus, all lectured 
there. When the great Luther sounded the alarm of inde- 
pendent thought, which resulted in the emancipation of 
learned Europe from the papal authority of Plato and Aris- 
totle, Loyola opposed the movement by establishing the 
Society of Jesus, with its invincible organization and re- 
nowned culture. His object was to preserve the Catholic 
faith in its entirety, including its ancient philosophy. But 
it was the favorite pupil of the Jesuits, Descartes, who soon 
afterward dealt the death-blow to Scholasticism, emanci- 
pating thought from the tyranny of the church. 

Thus it was in the turmoil of the theological war which 
raged throughout England, France and Germany, and culmi- 
nated in the establishment of Protestantism, that modern 
philosophy was born. It was born in the writings of Des- 
cartes and Spinoza, and was therefore an avowed attempt 
to define, not motion, but the nature of God. Thus in 
severing its connection with theology philosophy exalted 
its religious character, instead of debasing it. It proceeded, 
untrammelled by obsolete faiths, to form a true conception 
of the unity of God, to bring all thought into harmony 
with this highest of thoughts, to establish an ultimate gen- 
eralization. 

But what great influence has been urging the claim of 
Motion to its position as the highest or most general con- 
ception ? Is it not the voice of Science, trying to persuade 
us that God is a principle, not a person ? Its method is 
patiently to classify and arrange all experience into one vast 
organon of truth. As Science progresses, it becomes more 
and more conscious that there is but one fact or principle, in 
which all analysis ends and all synthesis begins. 

Bacon, in England, took the sure path of science, feeling 
that although he might not reach a complete analysis of 
knowledge, such progress as he made would be in the right 



1 82 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

direction. There was but feeble resistance offered to this 
reform in France ; the age felt the need of throwing off the 
delusions of arbitrary dialectics and reaching out for actual 
facts. Such, however, is the fascination in seeking the ulti- 
mate analysis of life, that the superb scientific achievements 
of Descartes were neglected for his complicated and unsatis- 
factory metaphysics, which led to a dual principle, and there- 
fore did not even pretend to unify knowledge. 

To the philosophy of Descartes was opposed that of Gas- 
sendi, who inaugurated the eclectic philosophy, a school 
which subsequently attained to such eminence in France 
through Royer-Collard, Jouffroy, and Cousin. 

Pierre Gassendi was born in Provence, France, in 1592, 
and became a distinguished astronomer and mathematician, 
as well as a theologian. At the age of twenty-four he was 
appointed Professor of Theology at Aix, where he had 
studied. His first work was a polemic entitled " Paradox- 
ical Essay Against Aristotle " (1624), in which he opposed 
the Aristotelian Astronomy, but announced his fidelity to 
the church, maintaining that Christianity was in nowise 
dependent upon the then Christian philosophy. In 1647, 
through the influence of the Archbishop of Lyons, brother 
of Cardinal Richelieu, he was appointed Professor of Math- 
ematics in the College-Royal of France, where his lectures 
attracted great attention, and were attended by the Mite of 
Paris. 

"A System of Epicurean Philosophy " and " The Philo- 
sophical System of Gassendi " were his principal works. 
The latter was a combination of the various systems of 
antiquity, with a view to showing by their juxtaposition the 
correct method ; which is the plan of Eclecticism. 

Gassendi also wrote a criticism of the " Meditations " of 
Descartes, opposing the innovations of that writer in meta- 
physics. But his chief power was in the field of scientific 
investigation, where he had such friends as Kepler, Galileo, 
and Descartes. His reasonings with regard to the atomic 
theory are especially interesting and show a great boldness 
of thought. 



THE ECLECTICISM OF FRANCE. 183 

Gassendi combined the idea of material substance as 
taught by Descartes, with the idea of atoms. The weight 
of the atom he identified with its motion or energy ; thus 
refuting the theory of the imponderability of atoms which 
we find current among some physicists even of the present 
day. Motion, which is the fundamental fact in all phenom- 
ena, was selected by Gassendi in lieu of Descartes' erroneous 
theory of an ultimate substance or matter. " The atoms 
(created and set in motion by God) are the seed of all things : 
from them, by generation and destruction, every thing has 
been formed, and fashioned, and still continues so to be." 

It is also interesting to observe that Gassendi explained 
the fall of bodies by the earth's attraction, and yet, like 
Newton himself, held action at a distance to be impos- 
sible. 

A reference to the teachings of Democritus and Epicurus 
will distinctly show the source of Gassendi's speculations, as 
both these men offer a very refined and, considering their 
time, a wonderfully advanced theory of the universe, in 
which all phenomena are reduced to the principle of the 
related activities of atoms, or the finest imaginable subdi- 
vision of matter, the first step in the direction of an ulti- 
mate analysis. 

Gassendi also wrote a history of the science of Astronomy, 
including an account of the lives of Copernicus and other 
great astronomers, an excellent description of the state of 
that science in his day. 

The seventeenth century in France was as conspicuous for 
its theological activity as the eighteenth century was for its 
general and absorbing interest in philosophy. 

Nicholas Malebranche (1638-1715) was the last and great- 
est of those Oratorian priests and writers who contributed so 
largely to the religious literature of France. 

The philosophy of Malebranche was entirely subservient 
to the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and developed the 
ideal or mystical side of Descartes' teachings. It is so full of 
beauty and high moral purpose, however, that no philosophic 



1 84 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

writer has been more read and admired in France, not 
even Descartes. His chief work, " Recherche de la Ve- 
rit " (1674), was immediately recognized for its literary 
and philosophic merit. As a metaphysician, Malebranche 
interests us but little, for his reasonings are so mystical, or 
ideal, that he has been called the Kant of his country. He 
was essentially a Christian philosopher, and deduced his theory 
of knowledge from communication with a personal Deity, 
something after the method of St. Augustine or Moses, but 
with a less concrete conception of God. 

Malebranche taught that the soul and the body are enti- 
ties, absolutely distinct, and, as a natural consequence, that 
the senses cannot supply us with truth. As God embodies 
all truth, the soul must receive this truth directly from God, 
and endeavor to preserve it untainted by the sinful body. All 
of this sounds more like theology than philosophy. Male- 
branche was nevertheless far too good a writer and thinker 
to be neglected in a review of philosophy. He had an intu- 
ition of divine unity, and endeavored to express it by har- 
monizing the philosophy of Descartes with Christian beliefs. 
This gives us a succession of essays on duty which nothing 
but a most delicate and profound understanding of life could 
produce. These thoughts on ethics are interspersed with 
Platonic metaphysics, rendered in the terminology of Des- 
cartes. 

Next in the history of French thought, and really the di- 
rect logical successor of Gassendi and Descartes, we have 
Etienne De Condillac, who was born at Grenoble in 1/15. 
The attention which Locke's philosophy had attracted 
in France was signalized by this writer. Locke had en- 
deavored to prove that all thought springs from sensation 
and reflection. Condillac offered a simplification of this 
theory by saying that thought and sensation are but different 
views of the same thing, that sensation presupposes a sen- 
sorium, and that every activity of a sensorium is in some 
degree a thought. This opinion is vehemently opposed by 
modern psychologists, upon the ground that thought is 



THE ECLECTICISM OF FRANCE. 185 

exclusively the function of a special thinking organ called the 
brain ; and that the fact that some animals evince highly 
complex sensations after the brain has been removed proves 
that sensation is independent of thought. 

Condillac and his pupils gave to the word thought a wider 
meaning than perhaps properly belongs to it, but this is ex- 
cusable when we remember that it is only by calling atten- 
tion to the elasticity of the meaning of words that their 
hidden interdependencies are brought to view. The aphorism 
" to think is to feel " (pensercest sentir) is called an absurdity 
of the Sensational school, to which Condillac belonged ; but 
there is no denying that this dictum has a logical value, for 
the simple reason that no psychologist is able to point 
out exactly where sensation ceases and thought begins, 
although these faculties are distinct enough when viewed 
separately. 

Thought is a coordination, an activity, which takes place 
in the nervous system. That its operation is not entirely 
confined to the brain there are many means of proving. The 
effects upon thought which disturbances in the system, 
remote from the brain, occasion, to say nothing of the 
organic diseases which wholly incapacitate the mind, are 
familiar instances of the obscure cooperation of the whole 
sensorium in the act of thinking. The muscle .and the nerve 
are nowhere absolutely disjoined. But there is no need of 
confusing their functions. Condillac had no difficulty in 
distinguishing between thought and sensation, as the words 
are commonly used ; he simply wished to point out the fact 
that there is no absolute dividing line between thought and 
sensation ; and in so doing he rendered a service to philos- 
ophy ; although it is easy, from the better understanding 
which we now have of the subject, to find fault with his 
phraseology. 

Condillac, in his criticism of Locke, says : " Locke dis- 
tinguishes two sources of ideas, sense and reflection. It 
would be more exact to recognize but one ; first, because 
reflection is, in its principle, nothing but sensation itself; 



1 86 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

secondly, because it is less a source of ideas than a canal 
through which they flow from sense. This inexactitude, 
slight as it may seem, has thrown much obscurity over his 
system. He contents himself with recognizing that the soul 
perceives, thinks, doubts, believes, reasons, wills, reflects ; 
that we are convinced of the existence of these operations, 
because we find them in ourselves, and they contribute 
to the progress of our knowledge ; but he did not perceive 
the necessity of discovering their origin and the principle of 
their generation, he did not suspect that they might 
only be acquired habits ; he seems to have regarded them as 
innate, and he says only that they may be perfected by ex- 
ercise." x This seems unjust to Locke, when we remember 
how he strove to prove that we have no innate idea ; and 
yet Condillac's exception is well taken, for Locke does speak 
of many faculties as belonging to the mind, without offering 
any clear explanation of their origin. 

Condillac's psychology can hardly be called scientific, 
if we compare it with such recent works as those of Bain, 
Spencer, and Lewes. At the age of thirty-one he published 
his first work, an " Essay on the Origin of Human Knowl- 
edge " (1746). This was followed, in 1754, by his "Treatise 
on Sensation," which spread his reputation throughout 
Europe : soon after this he was appointed preceptor to the 
Prince of Parma, for whose use he wrote his "Cours 
d'Etudes." Among his literary friends we find the names 
of J. J. Rousseau, Grimm, and Diderot. In 1768 he was 
elected a member of the French Academy, but never after- 
ward attended any of its sittings. 

The chief merit of Condillac was his discovery of the im- 
portance of language as a factor in intelligence. He taught 
that we owe the development of our faculties to the use 
of signs, and that the power of thinking is directly depend- 
ent upon the exercise of speech. When we think how 
important these inductions are, and how little progress 

1 " Extrait raisonne du Traite des Sensations." " CEuvres de Condillac" 
-(1803), IV., 13. 






; 






THE ECLECTICISM OF FRANCE. 

has since been made beyond them, we realize the signal im- 
portance of Condillac's services to thought. 

As Comparative Physiology originated with Goethe, so did 
Comparative Psychology, notwithstanding its present un- 
developed state, originate with Cabanis, a French physician 
and philosopher, born at Conac, in 1/57. Cabanis admitted 
that all mental phenomena were reducible to activities akin 
with sensation, but he asked, What, after all, is sensation ? 
Is it feeling the name we give to sensations of which we are 
conscious ; and if so, what degree of consciousness does the 
word sensation imply ? What are we to call those myriad 
changes constantly going on within us of which we are 
entirely unconscious ? Is it not clearly only those activities 
which are sufficiently obtrusive to attract attention that we 
call feeling ; and are not all internal activities, in the broad- 
est sense, sensations ? These inquiries of Cabanis fairly 
opened the problems of Comparative Psychology, for they 
cited, as the field of psychological research, the whole vast 
empire of organic life in which the psychical states are 
but the evidences of a higher complexity of action. In the 
ascending complexity of organisms we have more and more 
sensitiveness to remote influences, more and more perfect 
coordinations of these impressions ; and as function and 
.structure are but different views of a single fact of develop- 
ment, we have potentialities which we severally call instincts, 
faculties, and innate ideas, awakened into activity, not created, 
by the experiences of life. Without certain inherited 
structures certain degrees of development are impossible, 
but the structure is not wholly in the individual, it resides 
also in the physical and intellectual environment, i. e. in 
civilization and language. Thus Cabanis not only demar- 
cated the scope of psychology, but he actually began the 
science by "connecting the operations of intelligence and 
volition with the origin of all vital movements." Auguste 
Comte later built upon this great plan, and in the systems 
of Herbert Spencer and George H. Lewes we shall find it 
.further developed. In 1802 Cabanis produced his principal 



1 88 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

work, " Relations Between the Physical System and the 
Mental Faculties of Man." He warns his readers that they 
will find no discussions of ultimate principles in his works. 
He contented himself with studying mind as the function 
of an organism ; and although some of his conclusions were 
crude, such as that " the brain secretes thought as the liver 
secretes bile," the worst that can be said of them is, that 
they are unhappy metaphors imperfectly expressing impor- 
tant truths. 

Cabanis was a personal and political friend of Mirabeau, 
the undisciplined genius of the French Revolution, whom he 
assisted with his pen during the great struggle. Diderot,, 
Condorcet, and Franklin are also numbered among the 
friends of Cabanis, who seems to have been in full sympathy 
with the great political and social movement of his time, 
a period in which a calm and complete philosophy was 
surely not to be thought of. 

We have now to note the appearance of an innovation in 
the study of the mind which was principally due to the Ger- 
man physician Francis Joseph Gall (1757-1828), the founder 
of the system of Phrenology. He graduated at Vienna, and 
practised medicine there for many years. He made a spe- 
cial study of the brain, and formed elaborate theories 
concerning the external signs connected with the different 
faculties of the mind. About 1805, with his coadjutor, Dr. 
Spurzheim, he began to propagate his views on Phrenology 
by lecturing in Paris, Berlin, and other cities. In 1808: 
he presented to the French Institute his " Researches into 
the Nervous System in General and the Brain in Particular," 
which was reported upon adversely by the committee to 
which it was given. Soon after this he began the publication 
of his principal work, " The Anatomy and Physiology of the 
Nervous System in General and the Brain in Particular." 
During the last twenty years of his life he was a resident of 
Paris. 

The bold theory that certain portions of the brain corre- 
sponded with certain mental faculties stimulated a more 



THE ECLECTICISM OF FRANCE. 189 

thorough research into nervous phenomena. The chief ob- 
jection made to the generalizations of phrenologists is, that 
the exceptions to their rules are so many and serious that 
the rules are virtually destroyed by them, leaving but iso- 
lated observations which give little prospect of ever becom- 
ing a science. The correspondence, for instance, between 
certain cranial shapes and certain mental peculiarities is 
scarcely ever to be relied upon. Who would be willing, 
upon seeing the shape of the skull, without hearing the voice, 
observing the actions, or weighing the words of a person, to 
make even a guess at his mental capacity or characteristics ? 
We must remember that the cranioscopist has the advantage 
of all these other means of judging before making his guess. 
Even the simplest of all phrenological generalizations " the 
size of the brain is a measure of power, other things being 
equal/' has so many exceptions that it is practically value- 
less. Of this rule, Lewes, who is so much at home on the 
subject, says : " Phrenologists forget that here the * other 
things ' never are equal ; and consequently their dictum, 
' Size is a measure of power,' is without application. There" 
never is equality in the things compared, because two brains 
exactly similar in size and external configuration will never- 
theless differ in elementary composition. * * * Nerve tis- 
sue, for example, contains both phosphorus and water as 
constituent elements, but the quantity of these elements 
varies within certain limits : some nerve-tissues have more 
phosphorus, some more water ; and according to these 
variations in the composition will be the variations in the 
nervous force evolved. This is the reason why brains differ 
so enormously even when their volumes are equal. The 
brain differs at different ages, and in different individuals. 
Sometimes water constitutes three fourths of the whole 
weight, sometimes four fifths, and sometimes even seven 
eighths. The phosphorus varies from 0.80 to 1.65, and 1.80; 
the cerebral fat varies from 3.45 to 5.30, and even 6.10. 
These facts will help to explain many of the striking excep- 
tions to phrenological observations (such, for example, as the 



THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

manifest superiority of some small brains over some large 
brains)." 

As far as Gall's efforts tended to place psychology on 
a physiological basis, they were in the right direction ; but it 
is to be observed that his chief followers have neglected the 
physiological side of phrenology for what is called cranios- 
copy, which on account of the uncertainty of its conclusions 
cannot be ranked as a science. 

Philosophy did not escape the reactions which followed 
the French Revolution. The reign of terror extended into 
thought. The horrors resulting from the brief and unnatural 
rule of ignorance and passion made the people return to the old 
belief that true intelligence is superhuman, so that the mys- 
tic philosophy of Christianity regained its ascendancy in the 
mind of the nation. The mistake made was that of suppos- 
ing the highest intelligence to be a mystery with which the 
church is in some way entrusted. 

Theories of life which attempt to do away with the 
element of mystery, which would make our highest concep- 
tions the natural or logical development of our most famil- 
iar experiences, have come in conflict with organized religion, 
and are therefore supposed to neglect the higher aspects of 
life. Until it is understood that the highest aspect of life 
means the most general or intelligent view of existence, un- 
til the idea of mystery is discovered to be but some degree 
of delusion, the endless recriminations which occur between 
the adherents of those schools of thought known respectively 
as the " natural " and the " supernatural " will continue to 
postpone the advent of a true religion, or the Unification of 
Knowledge. 

The effect of the Revolution upon the thought of France 
was to make it dread every thing anti-religious or anti- 
spiritual, and to bring the old-fashioned mystic philosophy 
again into favor. The best minds which France has since 
produced show an almost pathetic reverence for the spiritual. 
Had any one been bold enough to affirm that there is no fun- 
damental mystery in life, he would have been at once classed 



THE ECLECTICISM OF FRANCE. 191 

with the demons of the Revolution. Not French Philosophy 
alone, but even French criticism, has been warped by this 
reactionary tendency ; and we find the most superb intellects 
cringing before this spectre of the mind, variously denomi- 
nated as the unknowable, the infinite, or the absolute, or, 
worse than all, the spiritual. 

Even in the recent speech of Renan, before the French 
Academy, we find him burning incense to this ancient God by 
numerous mysterious references to the " Infinite " ; while in 
all the eclectic philosophers, such as Royer-Collard, Cousin, 
and Jouffroy, this mystical element is clearly present. 

When the University of France was established by the 
Imperial Government, centralizing the whole educational 
system of the nation, Royer-Collard was called to the chair 
of philosophy (1809), but only accepted the invitation after 
long hesitation, and then immediately began a course of 
study to fit himself for the position. He had studied at the 
College of Saint-Omer, which was under the management of 
his uncle, the Abb Collard, had adopted the legal pro- 
fession, and taken an active interest in the stormy politics 
succeeding the Revolution. At the time of his appointment 
to the chair of philosophy he was regarded as a man of wide 
culture and fine abilities, but he had not identified himself 
with any particular school of philosophy. Our interest 
in him comes from the fact that he founded what is known 
as the Eclectic System of Philosophy, which afterward 
gained such a reputation in France. It was at first simply a 
comparative study of the chief systems of thought, but un- 
der Victor Cousin it assumed the character of a distinctive 
method, which we will duly examine. 

The attempt of Royer-Collard was to effect a compromise 
between what he regarded as the opposite extremes, Sensa- 
tionalism and Idealism. He rejected Condillac's analysis of 
consciousness, and endeavored to introduce the mystical ele- 
ment of Idealism in the modified form in which it occurs 
in the writings of Reid and Stewart. The influence which 
he exerted on the thought of France has been chiefly 



THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

through his pupils, among whom were Guizot, Ampere de 
Remusat, and Cousin. 

Victor Cousin is one of the chief philosophic writers of 
modern times. He was the king-maker of the French phi- 
losophy during the first half of this century, for he first 
crowned Reid and Stewart, making the Scotch school popu- 
lar in France ; then studying Kant, he imposed upon his 
obedient countrymen the autocracy of Konigsberg. Weary- 
ing of this, he raised to power Proclus of Alexandria, editing 
his works and advocating his cause ; and after this he gave 
his inconstant allegiance to the transcendental Hegel, weav- 
ing his theories into the celebrated doctrine of Eclecticism. 
To the prodigious amount of study which such changes 
of heart must have cost, Cousin added the arduous task 
of editing the complete works of Descartes in eleven octavo 
volumes, and producing his works on Abelard and Pascal, 
the celebrated translation of Plato in thirteen volumes, his 
" History of Philosophy," well known in this country, and 
several original treatises, besides contributing largely to the 
literary and philosophic reviews of France. 

It would be difficult to find a more agreeable and eloquent 
writer than Cousin. In him we have a striking instance of 
the difference between the highest order of erudition and real 
logical acumen. His style is clear and graceful, his pages are 
laden with interesting references and pleasing generaliza- 
tions ; but one looks in vain for the development of any 
great theme or deep-laid philosophic purpose. There is 
every thing to beguile, but nothing to establish, the mind. 
His method, briefly described, is, that "All systems are in- 
complete views of the reality, set up for complete images of 
the reality. All systems containing a mixture of truth and 
error have only to be brought together, and then the error 
would be eliminated by the mere juxtaposition of system 
with system. The truth, or portion of the truth, which is in 
one system would be assimilated with the portions of the 
truth which are in other systems ; and thus the work would 
be easy enough." 



AUGUSTE COMTE. 193 

The extraordinary success which attended the lectures of 
Cousin in Paris from the year 1828 can only be accounted 
for by the beauty and lucidity of his expositions, and his en- 
thusiasm and eloquence. The interest which his lectures 
aroused has not been equalled since the days of William de 
Champeaux and Abelard. 

At the same time that Cousin and Jouffroy lived and 
taught, a mind of singular force and originality appeared in 
France as the founder of the so-called Positive philosophy. 
The name of Auguste Comte is familiar to the reading world, 
but the name of his philosophy is even more widely known. 
There is, however, nothing in his teachings which gives them 
an exclusive right to the name Positive, for we are unable to 
find that the author had a firmer grasp of the principles of 
certitude than many another philosopher. 

As the basis of his theory of knowledge, Comte postulates 
an unknowable existence, which he says we can never know. 
This mysterious existence, using the language of Plato and 
the Greek skeptics, he calls noumena. It is to be observed 
that he gives us no hint as to what the term noumena means, 
excepting that it is utterly unknowable. The reason which 
Comte gives for filling in the perspectives of human knowl- 
edge with noumena is, that our knowledge is only relative but 
noumena are absolute. Now, as absolute means without con- 
ditions, is it conscientious in Comte to impose upon noumena 
the condition of existence ? As for our knowledge being 
relative, it could hardly be any thing else, as relative means 
related, and we are certainly intimately related to the rest 
of the universe. The principles of certitude, therefore, which 
Comte fondly hoped to centre in his Positive philosophy are 
transgressed at the outset of his exposition of knowledge by 
intruding upon our perceptions the presence of an inde- 
finable mystery. After creating for himself these difficulties, 
Comte displays wonderful resources in avoiding them. His 
grasp of scientific facts is marvellous ; he marshals in review 
his battalions of data until one is overcome with the extent 
of his learning ; but as the succeeding columns disappear in 



194 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

the distance he offers no explanation as to whence this vast 
army comes or whither it is going. In a word, with regard 
to those ultimate problems of knowledge, such as the limits 
of language, and the nature of perception, Comte is incom- 
plete and unsatisfactory. 

The influence of Comte's writings in England was almost 
immediate. The English mind leans toward the positive, 
and was tempted by the name of the system to investigate 
it. Dr. Thomas Brown, J. S. Mill, Spencer, Lewes, and 
Harriet Martineau, all expound the Cours de Philosophic 
Positive. Comte had but a limited number of disciples in 
France ; the nation was too well entertained by the brilliant 
Cousin to give him their attention. The example of England, 
however, and the writings of Littre, the most eminent of 
Comte's disciples, at last brought the Positive school into 
such prominence in France that it is now commonly re- 
garded as the philosophic faith of the nation. 

The manner in which Comte abandons, in the outset of 
his system, the great problem of perception is thus aptly 
described by Mill : " The fundamental doctrine of a true 
philosophy, according to M. Comte, and the character by 
which he defines Positive Philosophy, is the following : We 
have no knowledge of any thing but phenomena ; and our 
knowledge of phenomena is relative, not absolute. We 
know not the essence, nor the real mode of production, of 
any fact, but only its relations to other facts in the way of 
succession or of similitude. These relations are constant 
that is, always the same in the same circumstances. The 
constant resemblances which link phenomena together, and 
the constant sequences which unite them as antecedent and 
consequent, are termed their laws. The laws of phenomena 
are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature 
and their ultimate causes, either efficient or final, are un- 
known and inscrutable to us." 

The metaphysical errors in this analysis of knowledge are 
now too familiar to need comment. They are the old, old 
errors of agnosticism, of skepticism, of the belief in an un- 



AUGUSTE COMTE. 195 

knowable. These errors give us but another instance of the 
perverse habit in introspective analysis of creating a mystery 
and then worshipping it as a " final cause." The assump- 
tion made is that there is an absolute knowledge (which is 
an absurdity), that this absolute knowledge is beyond our 
knowledge, for " we have no knowledge of any thing but phe- 
nomena," and yet this absolute knowledge is defined as the 
" essence," the " real mode of production," the " final causes 
of phenomena." " The essential nature, the ultimate causes 
of phenomena are unknown and inscrutable to us," and yet 
it is insisted that we know of these things which are un- 
knowable. How much more simple would it be to deny the 
existence of these precious mysteries. Would we run any 
serious risk in denying the existence of things which have 
never troubled any one excepting those who affirm over and 
over again that they know nothing of them? If the com- 
pensation for the risk is to be a rational theory of knowledge, 
let us at least try it. Let some other race of philosophers 
take up and cherish these mysteries ; we have nursed them 
long enough. 

The chief merit of Comte's system is to be found in his 
sociological inductions, by which he indicates the organic 
nature of all human development, thus opposing the theory 
advanced by Rousseau and others, that society with all its 
complex processes is an artificial structure, a divergence from 
nature. Notwithstanding the contradictions above enumer- 
ated, Comte suggested, through his classification of the 
sciences, principles of mental evolution which have contrib- 
uted greatly to our conception of knowledge. Perhaps no 
writer ever aimed so high, ever attempted to do more. His 
propositions are splendid. "A social doctrine," he says, " is 
the aim of Positivism, a scientific doctrine its means." "The 
aim of Positivism is to create a philosophy of the sciences 
as a basis for a new social faith," hence his celebrated 
"Organon of the Sciences" and his "Religion of Hu- 
manity " ; add to this " the predominance of the moral point 
of view," "the rigorous subordination of the intellect to the 



196 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

heart," and we have the figure of the great emotional sys- 
tem of Comte. 

There is scarcely an idea which the most advanced biology, 
psychology, and even sociology establish which cannot be 
found latent in the writings of Comte, ideas of course derived 
in part from such writers as Cabanis, Gall, Condillac, and their 
predecessors. But criticism has no right to give to imper- 
fectly elaborated theories the more perfect form of later and 
higher developments. Thought, like science, must pass for 
what it is, not for what it could be, or might have been. 
The idea that law rules in the moral and social as well as the 
physical world is clearly emphasized by Comte, but the fur- 
ther development of this idea, which we find in Spencer and 
Lewes, constitutes the distinction of these latter writers from 
Comte. Hence, to say that Spencer owes all his philosophy 
to Comte, an assertion which has attracted some attention 
in England recently, is as untrue as it is ungenerous. It is 
a significant fact that the profundities of Comte's system were 
but poorly appreciated until Spencer actually established 
great inductions which are scarcely more than germinal 
thoughts in the positive philosophy. No one can doubt this 
who will carefully compare Comte's scheme of the sciences 
with Spencer's synthetic philosophy; and yet Comte's 
scheme of the sciences is his best work, that which has 
challenged the widest admiration. The theory of knowledge 
which runs thoughout this scheme, however, as already 
pointed out, cannot bear close analysis. 

Comte taught that all true methods of investigation are 
fundamentally alike ; that philosophy is but the union of all 
positive knowledge into a harmonious whole. These are 
good generalizations ; but the moment he particularizes he 
becomes arbitrary, and contradicts himself. He says that 
the progress of humanity has three stages, the theological, 
the metaphysical, and the positive ; for speculation always 
begins with supernatural, advances to metaphysical, and 
finally reposes in positive, explanations ; which is equivalent 
to saying that all conceptions of God, or all efforts to arrive 



AUGUSTE COMTE. 197 

at an ultimate fact or principle, which, in all cultures, have 
taken the form of metaphysical and theological speculations, 
are to be cast aside as primitive methods tending but to un- 
certainty, and that positive philosophy alone complies with 
the canons of a true investigation. When we consider how 
faulty is the analysis of knowledge which this "positive 
philosophy " offers, and how true are the theological and 
metaphysical intuitions of the race when viewed as a whole, 
we fail to perceive that positivism has risen to the higher 
plane of thought and feeling which its author claims for it. 
This assumption of Comte is all the more strange when we 
remember how liberally he acknowledges the debt of human- 
ity to all who have contributed to the sum of knowledge 
either through religion or thought. The explanation is to be 
found in the fact that he was influenced by the belief in a 
fundamental mystery, and hence stigmatizes all efforts to 
find God, or an ultimate principle, as not only hopeless, but 
as belonging to stages of human development which are 
primitive in comparison to the unerring procedures of Posi- 
tivism. 

When we think that philosophy can only succeed by 
harmonizing religion with the search for divine unity known 
as metaphysics, and that the classifications of science can be 
but subsidiary to this achievement, we are unable to accept 
Comte's analysis of human progress or his definition of 
philosophy. And yet it is easy to see that notwithstanding 
his imperfect conception of the true nature of theology and 
metaphysics, he was keenly alive to the fact of a divine unity 
in life and mind ; for in describing the stages of human 
development he says that the highest condition of the theo- 
logical stage is " when one being is substituted for many, as 
the cause of all phenomena " ; of the metaphysical stage, 
"when all forces are brought under one general force called 
nature" ; and of the Positive stage, "when all phenomena 
are represented as particulars of one general view." This is 
certainly good evidence that notwithstanding his arbitrary 
subdivisions of progress he was conscious that the search for 



198 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

the Ultimate Fact, the First Cause, or God, first system- 
atically attempted in ancient Greece, still unremittingly 
prosecuted in our times, and which has been more or less 
distinctly voiced in all the concerted thought and feeling of 
the world, is the true philosophy, and that it must pursue 
the same methods to the end. Thus it is that in reviewing 
the writings of Comte we are forced into alternate con- 
demnation and praise, for with the highest merit the 
gravest inconsistencies are found. 

The subdivisions of philosophic thought have been largely 
determined by the ethnic sentiment, the ties of country and 
race. In ancient philosophy this is not so apparent, as 
Greece had little or no competition in the thought of other 
nations. In the Christian civilization, however, we not only 
find a rendering of philosophy in each of its languages, but 
there are further subdivisions corresponding with the geo- 
graphical boundaries of different peoples speaking the same 
language. It is natural enough that each different language 
of Europe should have a philosophy of its own, though these 
systems may much resemble each other. But when Scot- 
land and England are accredited each with a different school 
of thought, the merely geographical or national element in 
the division becomes obtrusive ; the classification lacks the 
dignity which should belong to the highest order of thought. 

As Auguste Comte taught a Positive philosophy, so did 
Thomas Reid promulgate a system of Common-Sense ; and as 
the qualities designated by these names are essential to every 
well-regulated mind, whether its surroundings be those of 
Athens, Paris, or Edinburgh, we must not be disappointed 
if we fail to find any very distinct logical characteristics in 
these systems corresponding with their names. 

The chief writers of what is called the Scotch School were, 
first, Thomas Reid (1710-1796), then Dugald Stewart, 
Thomas Brown, and Sir William Hamilton. They all lectured 
in Scotland. Stewart wrote upon the system of Reid, Brown 
lectured and wrote of both his predecessors, and Hamilton 
published complete editions of the works of Reid and 



THE SCOTCH SCHOOL. 199 

Stewart ; so we have in the thought of these four men an 
organon of truth which, whatever may be its other excel- 
lencies, can at all events be clearly identified with Scotland. 

Bishop Berkeley was the first to formulate in English the 
doctrine of Absolute Idealism. Hume deduced from Berke- 
ley's arguments a skepticism which, as we have already 
pointed out, is virtually the same thing as Idealism. Thomas 
Reid rejected the skepticism of Hume. But by admitting 
the possibility of an unknowable existence, he really agreed 
with Hume in all essential particulars. Dr. Thomas Brown, 
upon being asked whether the difference between Reid and 
Hume was not chiefly one of words, replied: "Yes, Reid 
bawled out we must believe in an outward world ; but added, 
in a whisper, we can give no reason for our belief. Hume 
cries out, we can give no reason for such a notion ; and 
whispers, I own we cannot get rid of it." Thus we have a 
confession from one of the chief Scotch metaphysicians that 
Reid, although he claimed to have refuted both idealism and 
skepticism, was really an agnostic, which is the most popular 
name for the modern skeptic. 

Dugald Stewart comes very near the truth when he says 
that the belief in the external world, or space, is one of the 
" Fundamental Laws of Human Belief," or, as we would ex- 
press it, one of the conditions of perception. 

Reid sought to prove that our instincts account for our be- 
lief in an external world, but he insisted that it is impossible 
to account for our instincts ; which is hardly an acceptable 
solution of the problem of perception. 

" To talk of Dr. Reid," said the Quarterly, in its review of 
Stewart's Second Dissertation, " as if his writings had op- 
posed a barrier to the prevalence of Skeptical Philosophy, is 
an evident mistake. Dr. Reid successfully refuted the prin- 
ciples by which Berkeley and Hume endeavored to establish 
their conclusions ; but the conclusions themselves he himself 
adopted as the very premises from which he reasons. The 
impossibility of proving the existence of a material world 
from ' reason, or experience, or instruction, or habit, or any 



2OO THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

other principle hitherto known to philosophers/ is the argu- 
ment, and the only argument, by which he endeavors to force 
upon us his theory of instinctive principles." 

Sir William Hamilton was one of the clearest and most 
advanced writers upon metaphysics, of modern times. His 
philosophy is principally devoted to the consideration of 
three questions, (i) the perception of the external world ; (2) 
the nature of necessary truths, or the principles of certitude ; 
and (3) the law of causation. The discussion of such ques- 
tions as these can lead to no definite results unless we first 
agree upon the signification of those general terms known as 
the Ultimate Realities, or the categories of thought. Such 
words as the Infinite and the Absolute, called by Hamilton 
the " two inconceivables," are employed so often that we feel 
convinced they stood for very important facts in his mind. 
Again : Space, Time, Matter, Force, and Motion, are con- 
tinually employed in conflicting senses. For instance, 
Hamilton affirms that Space and Extension mean the 
same thing, but, if there is any difference at all in them, 
Space is a priori and Extension a posteriori ; or, the idea of 
Space is given in the fact of mind and the idea of Extension 
grows up with experience. He also distinctly teaches that, 
whereas mind and matter both appear in Time, matter alone 
appears in Space : From which it is fair to conclude that space 
appears in mind, but mind does not appear in space. Now, 
as no mind has ever yet appeared out of space, we are unable 
to appreciate this distinction, however clear it may be to the 
admirers of the Scotch School. Again : Hamilton, it is well 
known, employs the word Matter frequently in the Kantian 
sense of Force, as a necessary element of consciousness, 
which makes it all the more difficult to understand how an 
element of consciousness, called matter, which we are told 
never appears out of space, can be an element of conscious- 
ness, if consciousness, or mind, appears only in Time and not 
in Space. It is generally admitted that matter always occu- 
pies space, but if mind cannot appear in space, the question 
arises, what becomes of the space which matter ought to oc- 



THE SCOTCH SCHOOL. 2OI 

cupy when it appears as an element of mind in Time alone ? 
It is evident from this that the Scotch School places matter 
in a very unfair position, for we are left to conclude that the 
matter which appears as an element of mind does not occupy 
the space that it should. 

Hamilton, as we have said, is one of the clearest and best 
writers upon metaphysics, of modern times ; but it cannot be 
denied that there are occasional infelicities in his manipula- 
tion of the Ultimate Realities, or the categories of thought, 
which none but the most indulgent readers of his system 
could overlook. 

How can we hope to determine such general questions as 
the " Perceptions of externals," " Necessary truths," " The 
law of causation," while such confusion reigns with regard 
to the meaning of the most general terms employed ? 

To Bacon can be traced the English love of the real as 
distinguished from the ideal in thought. The great work of 
Newton was a natural consequence of Bacon's scientific 
method, but Newton avoided all metaphysical discussions, 
not because he was not able to reason as well as any of his 
contemporaries, but because he was conscious of the need 
of a common understanding of the significance of general 
terms. The mind that could affirm that " all philosophy 
consists in the study of Motion " was incapable of enter- 
taining such a belief as the absolute separation of mind and 
matter : the mind that saw the impossibility of " action at 
a distance," or unrelated phenomena, could not consent to 
an absolute distinction between matter and space, or be- 
tween force and time. 

Science, in England, has steadily progressed upon the 
plan suggested and developed by Newton. In the mean- 
time the scientific study of mind as the function of an organ- 
ism, founded by Hobbes and Locke, and developed by Dr. 
Hartley, the elder Darwin, and the elder Mill, has led to 
such works as J. S. Mill's " System of Logic," the psycho- 
logical studies of Professor Bain, and the complete philo- 
sophic systems of Herbert Spencer and George H. Lewes. 



202 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

As these latter systems embody the highest results of 
English, and in fact of modern, science and thought, our 
argument can best be furthered by a careful review of them, 
especially as they constitute the most thorough study in ex- 
istence of that aspect of knowledge which we call perception. 

In closing this portion of the work, which has been in 
large part devoted to the explanation of the scope of lan- 
guage, let us bear in mind that language can only represent 
motion, that it is impossible to frame a sentence or express 
an idea which does not imply as a fundamental fact some 
movement or activity. The most abstract mathematical sym- 
bols, such as numbers, letters, a dot, a straight line, or a curve, 
represent respectively the operation of counting, the grouping 
of the results of counting, the separation of wholes into parts, 
the shortest movement between two points, or the movement 
of a point around a centre. It is well known that the most 
abstract metaphysical symbols, such as space and time, can 
only be represented by motions, and are but aspects of the 
universal fact of Motion. But there are few who are willing 
to acknowledge the full significance of this truth, that 
motion is the universal fact ; for it means that all compre- 
hension, perception, mind, will, are functions or consequences 
of this fact. This great truth, which is the simplest state- 
ment of the scope of language, can only be apprehended by 
studying the genesis of language ; and although this study 
is scarcely begun in the world, our argument would be in- 
complete if we were not to give some idea of it. 

The fundamental form of communication is by gesture. 
Gesture-language, therefore, is the genetic beginning of all 
language. Even in these days of developed and apparently 
arbitrary speech it constitutes a universal medium of ex- 
pression. Animals comprehend movements or gestures more 
easily than sounds ; but when we think that sound, or any 
other activity which appeals to the senses, is but movement, 
we begin to appreciate how utterly dependent the mind is 
upon activity or motion. It is a well-authenticated fact that 
deaf-mutes and savages converse readily through gestures, 



CLOSE OF THE ARGUMENT. 203 

"because in the former, speech, or communication by words, 
is wholly undeveloped, and in the latter but imperfectly. 
Even when speech is highly developed, gestures are used as 
a further emphasis of meaning. The interaction of expres- 
sion and ideas, or language and thought, the fact that they 
develop each other, is aptly illustrated by the description 
which Kruse (himself a deaf-mute and a well-known teacher 
of deaf-mutes) offers of the formation of gesture-language : 
" Thus the deaf and dumb must have a language, without 
which no thought can be brought to pass. But here nature 
soon comes to his help. What strikes him most, or what 
makes a distinction to him between one thing and another, 
such distinctive signs of objects are at once signs by which 
he knows these objects, and knows them again ; they become 
tokens of things. And whilst he silently elaborates the signs 
he has found for single objects that is, whilst he describes 
their forms for himself in the air, or imitates them in thought 
with hands, fingers, and gestures, he develops for himself 
suitable signs to represent ideas, which serve him as a means 
of fixing ideas of different kinds in his mind and recalling them 
to his memory. And thus he makes himself a language, the 
so-called gesture-language ; and with these few scanty and 
imperfect signs a way for thought is already broken, and, 
with his thought as it now opens out, the language cultivates 
and forms itself further and further." It is well understood 
among those who have studied gesture-language that deaf- 
mutes and savages are far better able to master it and ex- 
press themselves than educated people who enjoy the full 
use of their faculties. Said the director of an Institute : 
" None of my teachers here who can speak are very strong 
in the gesture-language. It is difficult for an educated, 
speaking man to get the proficiency in it which a deaf-and- 
dumb child attains to almost without an effort." 

It is evident that all language not only springs from ges- 
ture-language, but is essentially of the same nature. Not 
only the means of expression, but the objects of expression, 
are found upon analysis to be motion. All sentences de- 



204 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

pend upon some verb (expressed action or being) for their 
meaning. Now, when being or existence is identified with 
life or universal activity through the aid of a metaphysical 
analysis, we see how from the grammatical side of language 
also we are irresistibly led to this ultimate fact. All parts 
of speech are but modifications or inflections of motion. 
Thus " the deaf-mute borrows the signs of space, as we do 
similar words, to express notions of time : * * * the present 
tense [of the verb can be expressed] by indicating ' here ' 
with the two hands held out, palm downward ; the past 
tense, by the hand thrown back over the shoulder, * behind ' ; 
the future, by putting the hand out, ' forward.' But when 
he takes on his conjugation to such tenses as ' I should have 
carried,' he is merely translating words into more or less 
appropriate signs." 1 

Quoting from Quintilian, Mr. Tylor says : " As for the 
hands indeed, without which action would be maimed and 
feeble, one can hardly say how many movements they have, 
when they almost follow the whole stock of words ; for the 
other members help the speaker, but they, I may almost 
say, themselves speak. * * * Do they not, in pointing out 
places and persons, fulfil the purpose of adverbs and pro- 
nouns ? So that in so great a diversity of tongues among 
all people and nations this seems to me the common language 
of all mankind." 

" The best evidence," continues Mr. Tylor, " of the unity 
of the gesture-language is the ease and certainty with which 
any savage from any country can understand and be under- 
stood in a deaf-and-dumb school. A native of Hawaii is 
taken to an American Institution, and begins at once to talk 
in signs with the children, and to tell about his voyage and 
the country he came from. A Chinese, who had fallen into 
a state of melancholy from long want of society, is quite 
revived by being taken to the same place, where he can talk 
in gestures to his heart's content. * * * Macrobius says it was 
a well-known fact that Cicero used to try with Roscius, the 

1 E. B. Tylor : " Early Hist, of Man." 



CLOSE OF THE ARGUMENT. 2O5 

actor, which of them could express a sentiment in the greater 
variety of ways, the player by mimicry or the orator by 
speech, and that these experiments gave Roscius such con- 
fidence in his art, that he wrote a book comparing oratory 
with acting. Lucian tells a story of a certain barbarian 
prince of Pontus, who was at Nero's court, and saw a panto- 
mime perform so well, that though he could not understand 
the songs which the player was accompanying with his 
gestures, he could follow the performance from the acting 
alone. * * * Religious service is performed in signs in many 
deaf-and-dumb schools. In the Berlin Institution, the simple 
Lutheran service a prayer, the gospel for the day, and a 
sermon is acted every Sunday morning for the children in 
the school and the deaf-and-dumb inhabitants of the city, 
and it is a very remarkable sight. No one could see the 
parable of the man who left the ninety and nine sheep in the 
wilderness, and went after that which was lost, or of the 
woman who lost the one piece of silver, performed in ex- 
pressive pantomime by a master in the art, without ac- 
knowledging that for telling a simple story, and making 
simple comments on it, spoken language stands far behind 
acting. The spoken narrative must lose the sudden anxiety 
of the shepherd when he counts his flock and finds a sheep 
wanting, his hurried penning up of the rest, his running up 
hill and down dale, and spying backwards and forwards, his 
face lighting up when he catches sight of the missing sheep 
in the distance, his carrying it home in his arms, hugging it 
as he goes. We hear these stories read as though they were 
lists of generations of antediluvian patriarchs. The deaf-and- 
dumb pantomime calls to mind the ' action, action, action ! ' 
of Demosthenes." 

The connection between thought and language constitutes 
the best possible lesson in psychology. In ancient Greece, 
deaf-mutes were thought to be speechless on account of a 
deficiency of intellect : we, who take the opposite view, 
namely, that their deficiency of intellect is due to inability 
to speak and thus to develop the mind, are still apt to 



2O6 THE SCOPE OF LANGUAGE. 

neglect the fact that there are all degrees of intellectual inca- 
pacity expressed in imperfections of speech. Thought and 
the power of uttering thoughts are not only interdependent 
activities, but they are different views of the same activity. 
" Thinking is talking to one's self" ; " Language shapes itself 
in mind, and mind in language." 

In the gesture-language, we are told, it is impossible to dis- 
tinguish between the verb and the noun, or the adjective and 
the adverb. This is because a noun represents the activity 
or appearance produced by an object, and this appearance is 
represented by actions or gestures corresponding to it, which 
really makes every noun a certain kind of action or a verb. 
" To say, for instance, * The pear is green,' the deaf-and- 
dumb child first eats an imaginary pear, and then, using the 
back of the flat left hand as a ground, he makes the fingers 
of the right hand grow up on the edge of it like blades 
of grass. We might translate the signs as ' pear-grass,' but 
they have quite as good a right to be classed as verbs, 
for they are signs of eating in a peculiar way, and growing." 

Again : since substantives and verbs are thus indistinguish- 
able, the adjectives and adverbs which qualify them are 
equally so ; for gestures bear the same relation to phonetic 
symbols or spoken words that picture-writing bears to alpha- 
betical writing. In gestures or pictures, the action expressed 
is conveyed to the mind directly, in its original or concrete 
form ; in spoken or written words, it passes through a meta- 
morphosis of sound and form, a sort of digestion, or reduc- 
tion to its simpler elements, which adjusts the action to the 
special senses, or the conditions of perception. 

Developed language is susceptible of a vastly greater ex- 
tension and definiteness, because what might be called the 
atoms of thought are so much more subdivided, and there- 
fore capable of higher complexities in their redistribution. 
We cannot make a mould with gravel ; we must use the finest 
clay, so that every detail of the model may be reproduced 
by the particles employed. To reproduce our thoughts, we 
must dissolve them into minute particles of sound and form, 



CLOSE OF THE ARGUMENT. 

called letters ; and with this simple medium we reconstruct 
the most delicate mental delineations. Behind this picture 
we can clearly see the irreducible fact of Motion, which in a 
complex form constitutes both the object and subject of 
thought, approached in its simpler conditions of form and 
sound through the medium of language. 

Hence language is an activity which extends the range of 
sentiency, relating for us the particular and the general, the 
complex and the simple, or the human and the divine. 



PART II. 
THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 



209 



PART II. 
THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 



CHAPTER IX. 

HERBERT SPENCER. 

The Relation of Perception to Universal Activity The Definitions of Evolu- 
tion and of Life The " Unknowable." 

HUMAN knowledge consists of the elaboration of per- 
ceptions, the organization of facts. The principle of per- 
ception, therefore, underlies and must explain the whole 
fabric of ontological science. Notwithstanding the vast pro- 
portions to which the writings upon this science have grown, 
there is probably no department of knowledge which, in the 
future, will require less space to record its truths than the 
science of Metaphysics. 

The imposing number of works upon ontology have not, 
however, appeared in vain. It was necessary that every pos- 
sible construction of the questions involved should be made 
before the mind could choose between them. Hence bodies 
of co-ordinated beliefs have sprung up in all directions ; these 
have coalesced into orders or schools named after the char- 
acteristics of each, such as ideal, spiritual, rational, natural, 
and positive. These schools have been subdivided into 
varieties which bear the names of their principal advocates, 
forming a long list and representing practically every possible 
shade of opinion. This is not only the history of metaphysi- 
cal science, but of all sciences ; it is, in fact, the only way in 
which opinion grows into settled belief. The test of truth 
in the majority of the sciences, although precisely the same 

211 



212 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

in nature, is much simpler than in philosophy, because the 
means of verification are so much nearer at hand. There is 
a horizon, however, to every science which eludes the special 
methods of each, and requires the combined logic of all to 
survey it. It is this outlying region of experience which 
constitutes the field of philosophy. Zeller tells us that " the 
term Philosophy, as in use among the Greeks, varied greatly 
in its meaning. Originally it denoted all mental culture, and 
all effort in the direction of culture. The word aocpia from 
which it is derived was applied to every art and every kind 
of knowledge. A more restricted significance seems first to 
have been given to it in the time of the Sophists, when it 
became usual to seek after a wider knowledge by means of 
more special and adequate instruction than ordinary educa- 
tion and the unmethodical routine of practical life could of 
themselves afford." Since the time of Plato this word has 
assumed a more and more special meaning, until to-day it is 
widely understood to designate not merely a development of 
knowledge, but a different kind of knowledge from that to 
which the particular sciences belong. The term mental 
science, again, has had, if any thing, a more restricted mean- 
ing than the more general term philosophy. The activities 
of the mind have been regarded as of another source and 
kind than other activities. This idea has grown until the 
different mental faculties, such as memory, will, reason, and 
perception, have come to be considered as separate princi- 
ples, the interdependencies of which are inscrutable. The 
confusion which these superstitions have engendered is only 
just beginning to give way before the new science of psy- 
chology, which studies the mind as an organ and its activity 
as part of organic life. 

Perception has always been conceded to be the chief men- 
tal faculty, partaking in its nature of all the others. The 
-theories concerning the nature of this faculty, which we find 
in the different systems of mental science, form the truest 
index to their comparative logical merit. A careful analysis, 
therefore, of the theory of perception which is presented in 



HERBERT SPENCER. 



213 



any system of philosophy, will serve to bring us by the 
shortest route to a comprehension of its scope, and the 
position it holds in the great hierarchy of Knowledge. 

The philosophy of Herbert Spencer has made an impres- 
sion in America : it is a system which has especially com- 
mended itself to the inquiring minds of our people. The 
Americans resemble the Greeks in their intellectual economy ; 
they have not buried themselves in the karning of the past, 
and are therefore keenly alive to the progress, and propor- 
tionately less attentive to the history, of thought. This 
fact has given Spencer's system, as a whole, an importance 
which it could not have attained in an older country. In 
England, and on the continent, Spencer's writings are esti- 
mated according to their individual merit, philosophical 
culture there being too general to admit of the concrete 
conception which we have formed of them. 

In reviewing a great and new system, such as the Syn- 
thetic Philosophy of Herbert Spencer, it is a certain dis- 
advantage to have studied it only at first hand. The 
enormous reach of its investigations, and the vast co-ordinat- 
ing power which has made this system one of the greatest 
achievements of modern thought, are such as to place all 
who study it, deeply in the author's debt. A new system, 
scarcely completed, has no subsequent expository l to illu- 
minate it, to help us to distinguish between what is really 
original with the author and what is imbibed from contem- 
poraneous thought. In a mind like Spencer's the rays of 
contemporaneous thought converge, and it is necessary to 
view it from a distance in time, in order to separate the re- 
flected from the individual light. Mr. Fiske says: " When 
Von Baer discovered that the evolution of a living organism 
from the germ-cell is a progressive change from homogeneity 
of structure to heterogeneity of structure, he discovered a 
scientific truth. But when Herbert Spencer applied Von 
Baer's formula to the evolution of the solar system, of the 

1 1 am not unmindful of the excellent works of John Fiske and Malcolm 

Guthrie. 



214 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

earth, of the totality of life upon its surface, of society, of 
conscious intelligence, and the products of conscious intelli- 
gence, then he discovered a truth in philosophy, a truth 
applicable not merely to one order of phenomena, but to all 
orders." * If this claim for originality in Mr. Spencer's be- 
half could be sustained, we should indeed have in him a 
Columbus of philosophy, for this vast discovery could be 
compared to a new continent of thought. That this new 
continent of thought, known as evolution, has been dis- 
covered, no one will deny ; but we should hesitate to give 
the credit to any individual, or even to any century. While 
we plume ourselves upon the discoveries of our century, we 
are continually forgetting that we are, in the strictest sense, 
but a consequence of the past ; that by reason of this ines- 
timable debt knowledge is, for the most part, but erudition, 
and philosophy but Eclecticism. In distributing the honors, 
therefore, to the originators of this great theory of Evo- 
lution, which our race is but beginning to appreciate, our 
encomiums become a hymn of praise to the thinkers of 
all ages. 

Spencer's philosophic system is an application of the 
principle of evolution to every conceivable aspect of life 
and of the universe. It begins with a work entitled " First 
Principles," which is in effect an epitome of the whole. The 
immediate purpose of this volume is to demonstrate the 
interdependence of all phenomena, and thereby to define 
the term evolution. 

Little by little as his argument progresses Mr. Spencer 
adds to the meaning of this word evolution, or rather he re- 
moves one restriction after another to its meaning until its 
generality alarms the metaphysician, and the inquiry arises, 
Is it not a universal term ? The position here taken with 
regard to the meaning of ultimate terms is already familiar 
to the reader. There can be but one ultimate fact, give it 
what name or names we please ; for ultimate means final, 
and a final fact is only distinguished from other facts by its 

1 John Fiske : " Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy," vol. I., p. 40. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 21$ 

simplicity. If it were complex, it could be separated into 
more general facts. If it is simple, resisting all further analy- 
sis, if it is a common property of every fact, if it remains 
after every analysis has been pushed to its farthest limits, 
and if it is the foundation of every inference or synthesis, 
it is unity itself. That Mr. Spencer employs the term evolu- 
tion as an ultimate fact will be manifest to any one who will 
patiently examine his treatment of the subject in " First 
Principles." 

In closing the second chapter on the Law of Evolution, 
Spencer says : " As we now understand it, Evolution is de- 
finable as a change from an incoherent homogeneity to a co- 
herent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion 
and integration of matter." * In a chapter entitled " The 
Interpretation of Evolution," and referring to the above 
described law of evolution, we find the following : "Is this 
law ultimate or derivative ? Must we rest satisfied with the 
conclusion that throughout all classes of concrete phenomena 
such is the course of transformation ? Or is it possible for us 
to ascertain why such is the course of transformation ? May 
we seek for some all-pervading principle that underlies this 
all-pervading process ? * * * It may be that this mode of 
manifestation is reducible to a simpler mode, from which 
these many complex effects follow. * * * Unless we suc- 
ceed in finding a rationale of this universal metamorphosis, 
we obviously fall short of that completely unified knowledge 
constituting Philosophy. As they at present stand, the 
several conclusions we have lately reached appear to be 
independent, there is no demonstrated connection between 
increasing definiteness and increasing heterogeneity, or be- 
tween both and increasing integration. Still less evidence is 
there that these laws of the redistribution of matter and 
motion are necessarily correlated with those laws of the direc- 
tion of motion and the rhythm of motion previously set forth. 
But until we see these now separate truths to be implications of 
one truth, our knowledge remains imperfectly 2 coherent. * * * 

1 Spencer's " First Principles," p. 360. The italics are the author's. 
1 The italics are the author's. 



2l6 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

It has to be shown that the redistribution of matter and motion 
must everywhere take place in those ways, and produce 
those traits, which celestial bodies, organisms, societies, alike 
display. And it has to be shown that this universality of pro- 
cess results from the same necessity which determines eacJi sim- 
plest movement around us, down to the accelerated fall of 
a stone or the recurrent beat of a harp-string. In other 
words, the phenomena of Evolution have to be deduced 
from the Persistence of Force. As before said, f to this an 
ultimate analysis brings us down, and on this a rational syn- 
thesis must build up.' This being the ultimate truth which 
transcends experience by underlying it, so furnishing a com- 
mon basis on which the widest generalizations stand, these 
widest generalizations are to be unified by referring them 
to this common basis." 

If the widest generalizations result in the conception 
of evolution, and if the only common basis for these 
generalizations, as is admitted by Mr. Spencer, is the 
universal principle which he calls the " persistence of force," 
surely evolution in its widest sense is a universal principle. 
Nothing could simplify philosophy more than this identifi- 
cation of evolution as a universal principle. 

So serious are the consequences, however, so grand are the 
results, and withal so simple is the explanation, that the 
conventional thinker, entrenched behind his dogmatic dis- 
tinctions without differences, will make many objections. 
From this conventional reasoner the first objection would 
be that evolution is a process, not a principle. But a prin- 
ciple is merely a prominent or general fact, and it is clear 
that the fact or process of evolution is the most general 
in life. Where under the new light of biology and organic 
chemistry are we to find the limits of life? Is not the 
most prominent fact in " all phenomena " a universal fact ? 

Again it will be objected that the correlative or anti- 
thetical term of evolution is dissolution, and that all phe- 
nomena have these contrasted aspects, which remands the 

1 " First Principles," pp. 397, 398. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 21 J 

term evolution to a more subordinate position in the scale of 
generality than "the persistence of force." This is an objec- 
tion which needs careful scrutiny, as it seems to mean more 
than it does. It is impossible to conceive of evolution 
in the philosophical sense in which the word is used without 
including the idea of dissolution, in the same way that it is 
impossible to conceive of the universal principle which we 
call life without including the idea of death. 

Again, the senses in which the word evolution is employed 
in mathematics and dynamics are entirely distinct from the 
broad philosophical sense, where it is the equivalent of the 
serial development of all things, " the evolution of ages." 

To say that evolution is not used by Spencer as a universal 
principle because its reverse process is involution, would be 
as sensible as to make the same assertion because dissolution, 
in a certain restricted sense, is the antithesis or correlative of 
evolution. 

Mr. Spencer may not be conscious of the fact that he has 
defined evolution as a universal principle, but when he builds 
up a system of philosophy in order to apply the process to 
all phenomena, that it is in its widest sense a universal fact 
is an irresistible inference from his words; and the distinc- 
tion between process and principle when both are facts of 
universal application becomes invidious. If, as Mr. Spencer 
says, " evolution is the redistribution of matter and motion," 
what event in time and space is independent of this cause ? 

A candid study of the manner in which Mr. Spencer em- 
ploys and defines the word will convince us that it stands in 
his mind for the highest generalization of life or existence, 
and that, as there are no absolute demarcations to life in the 
universe, evolution is a universal generalization or principle. 

And here we come to the theory of perception, which we 
hold to be the chief feature of every system of philosophy, 
determining its merit as an original production, its impor- 
tance as a contribution to knowledge ; for it is in the respect 
of learning the true nature of perception that real progress 
in philosophy has been made. We see from the above that 



218 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

the formula of Evolution suggested by Mr. Spencer, which 
in its simplest expression is " the redistribution of matter and 
motion" is acknowledged by him to be but a derived law, or, 
in other words, a complex expression of a simple law or ulti- 
mate fact, which he denominates " the persistence of force" 
and which we submit can find a still more simple expression 
in the word Motion. Motion is the ultimate term in all the 
sciences, as well as in philosophy. 

When we remember the great principle that facts express 
themselves, it is apparent that the attempts to form such ab- 
stract generalizations as "concentration of matter" and "dis- 
sipation of motion" or " Evolution is an integration of matter 
and concomitant dissipation of motion, during which the matter 
passes from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, 
coherent heterogeneity ; and during which the retained motion 
undergoes a parallel transformation" 1 are useless, for the 
ultimate fact of motion is so obtrusive throughout that 
nothing is gained by the definition. 

As will be evident to any one who follows out Spencer's 
whole system, these involved formulas of the ultimate pro- 
cess of evolution are, for the most part, but vain attempts to 
define motion. These definitions depend for the terms in 
which they are expressed upon the aspects of the ultimate 
fact, Motion, or upon different names for the fact itself; 
such as co-existence and sequence, the equivalent terms 
space and time, or the frequently recurring motion and 
matter, which is the fact itself and one of its aspects (matter, 
the equivalent of space). To speak, therefore, of the redis- 
tribution of matter and motion as an ultimate law is simply 
to define motion in terms of its aspects, for the word motion 
gives us at once the idea of redistribution. I submit that it 
leads to no advance in knowledge to say that motion redis- 
tributes itself and one of its aspects. 

To familiarize ourselves with the procedures of nature is 
the province of science, but scientific analysis, so far as it is 
successful, stops with the ultimate fact, or divine unity. 

1 " First Principles," p. 396. 




HERBERT SPENCER. 

In so far as Mathematics has tried to analyze this ultimate 
principle, it has failed, for there are no laws of motion which 
are not expressed by the term itself. 1 

Where Physics has tried to analyze motion, it has failed. 
The cabalistics, which purport to convey a deeper knowledge 
of this fact than is given in the simple conception itself, are 
vanities and deceptions. All knowledge is expressed in 
terms of the 'aspects of motion, i. e. places and times. All 
knowledge consists in expressions of motion. The only way 
in which we can enlarge our horizon of facts is by assimilating 
new experiences with old ones ; the only way in which we 
can reveal to others these newly discovered facts is by ex- 
pressing them in terms of more familiar ones. 

This Spencer has done throughout his system. We are 
indebted to his powerful and effective method for some of 
the clearest and most commanding views of the interde- 
pendences of phenomena which the age affords ; but this very 
power which he has exerted so happily in revealing hidden 
truths has carried him to the excess, not of attempting 
impossibilities, for we admit no impossibilities to knowledge, 
but of creating impossibilities where none exist. This is 

1 Solidity, in the sense in which it is attributed to the atom, is not a fact, but 
the hypostasis of an abstraction. As M. Cournot observes, an absolutely solid 
body is unknown to experience. The consistency of the bodies which present 
themselves to the experimental physicist depends upon the preponderance or bal- 
ance of forces, such as the forces of cohesion, crystallization, and heat ; and the 
assumption of the absolute solidity of matter results from that superficial and 
imperfect apprehension of the data of sense (in conjunction with the disregard 
of the essential relativity of all the properties of things; which is reflected in all 
the early notions of mankind. * * * Euler states that without the assumption 
of absolute space and motion there could be no laws of motion, so that all the 
phenomena of physical action would become uncertain and indeterminable. If 
this argument were well founded, the same consequence would follow a fortiori, 
from his repeated admissions in the first chapter of his book, to the effect that 
we have no actual knowledge of rest and motion, except that derived from bodies 
at rest or in motion in reference to other bodies. Euler's proposition can have 
no other meaning than this, that the laws of motion cannot be established or 
verified unless we know its absolute direction and its absolute rate. But such 
knowledge is by his own showing unattainable. It follows, therefore, that the 
establishment and verification of the laws of motion are impossible. Stallo : 
"Modern Physics," pp. 180, 202. 



220 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

what all thinkers do who divide when they should multiply, 
who subtract when they should add, who, having found 
unity, are not content with it, but turn in quest of other uni- 
ties, or seek in unity itself variety. These futile attempts, 
which will never cease until the world at large learns to 
recognize them as useless, are the outgrowth of a misappre- 
hension of the nature of perception. This we hope duly to 
demonstrate. 

The celebrated definition of life which Spencer offers is 
without doubt a masterpiece of classification, but by reason 
of its unnecessary complexity it accomplishes less than 
it purports to do. It is as follows : " Life is the definite 
combination of heterogeneous changes, both simultaneous and 
successive, in correspondence with external co-existences and 
sequences'' 

Now if the terms employed in this definition are examined, 
it will be found that the equation which it constitutes can be 
greatly simplified. To express the conditions of life is to 
tell the story of the universe ; to study different kinds of life 
is to pursue certain branches of science. The principle of 
life is activity. All definitions of life, therefore, other than 
the mere citing of its principle, must be more or less special 
or limited ; they must denote the principle and connote cer- 
tain manifestations. The above definition denotes the prin- 
ciple of activity, or universal life, and connotes the char- 
acteristics of organic life. But the terms in which the 
connotations are made, when viewed in their full signifi- 
cance, amount to the assertion that organic life consists of 
motions or activities within an organism, co-ordinated with 
or adjusted to, or still better, acting and reacting with mo- 
tions without. The only inference, therefore, in this defini- 
tion, which has so imposing a sound, is that of an organism. 
If this inference is dropped, the sense of the definition is lost 
among the echoes and re-echoes of universal change. 

Although it is true that Mr. Spencer traces, practically, all 
phenomena to an ultimate cause or principle, he fails to es- 
tablish that harmony in the significance of ultimate terms 



HERBERT SPENCER. 221 

which should be the aim of a true philosophy. With the 
means now at hand, is it not evident that in dealing with the 
great principles, such as Space, Time, Matter, Motion, and 
Force, and the " Persistence of Force " (a term made up of 
one of these principles and a word meaning virtually the 
same thing), we should be able to point out their correlation, 
interdependence, or relative significance ? In Chapter III., 
of the same work, 1 entitled " Space, Time, Matter, Motion, 
and Force," and in Chapters XIV., XV., and XVI., of the sec- 
ond volume of " Psychology," Spencer vigorously deals with 
this metaphysical problem. Indeed, so dependent upon this 
problem is the theory of perception, that it is scarcely pos- 
sible to discuss the two subjects separately. Thus, in 
Chapter III., of " First Principles," and in the chapters on 
Psychology above referred to, treating respectively of the Per- 
ception of Space, Time, and Motion, we find the same argu- 
ments, and the same failure to seize what we conceive to be 
the simplest solution of the two great allied questions of the 
nature of perception and the unification of the categories 
of thought. This solution, as I conceive it, is as follows: 

If a weight falls to the ground a fact is expressed, for the 
reason that facts express themselves ; wherever a fact is ex- 
pressed, there is a perception. Perception and expression, 
using these words in their widest possible sense, are obverse 
aspects of every fact. Every given change is a response to 
other changes, and in seeking the ultimate nature of percep- 
tion we are obliged to recognize this response as equivalent 
to a perception of the external change. This reduction of the 
meaning of the word perception to that of change, or motion, 
is the greatest achievement of psychology. To those who 
have not familiarized themselves with psychological analysis 
this proposition, that the deepest meaning in the idea of per- 
ception is found in the universal fact of motion, will hardly 
prove intelligible. This is because perception is generally 
considered to be exclusively a mental faculty. Many persons 
are incapable of following the meaning of perception beyond 

1 "First Principles." 



222 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

its anthropomorphic limits ; few have ever followed it be- 
yond its sentient limits. No psychological work known to 
me, not even that of Lewes, has attempted to follow the 
principle of perception beyond the limits of organic life; 
and yet I affirm that this principle is plainly to be seen 
in every phenomenon or change. Every activity is a response 
to other activities ; there is no final difference between the 
response of the simplest object to its simplest conditions, and 
the response of the highest mind to the farthest influences. 

The manner in which Mr. Spencer deals with these ques- 
tions can be readily seen by glancing at Chapters IV., V., 
and VI., of " First Principles." The indestructibility of matter 
and the continuity of motion are said to be necessary infer- 
ences from the Persistence of Force, which he declares to be 
" the sole truth which transcends experience by underlying 
it, * * * the cause which transcends our knowledge and 
conception, * * * that unknowable which is the neces- 
sary correlative of the knowable." l These are Spencer's 
explanations of the persistence of force, and from them we 
must derive his explanation of perception. They postulate 
a fact which is supposed to be the most general of all facts, 
the source of reality for both the mind and the universe ; a 
fact to which all physical phenomena can be reduced, the 
fact with which consciousness itself begins ; and yet he says 
that it is unknowable, that it transcends consciousness. 

It will not do to call this language loose or vague. It is 
Mr. Spencer who employs it. We must content ourselves 
with trying to glean from it the truth which is intended to be 
expressed. If by any chance we could suggest definitions of 
the categories of thought which would do away with the 
absurdities involved in " an unknowable fact, * * * a principle 
of consciousness which transcends both conception and experience, 
* * * an unknowable which is the necessary correlative of the 
knowable" we must perforce suppress them, because there 
are many very estimable persons who "cannot understand 
the universe without an unknowable." Their understanding 

1 " First Principles," p. 192. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 22$. 

must be exceedingly delicate to be affected by that of which 
they know nothing. But perhaps they do know something 
of the unknowable. 

If the nature of perception were not involved in this ulti- 
mate fact, the contradiction in declaring the fundamental 
principle of life and mind unknowable might be less glaring. 
The philosopher could then baffle his readers by expanding 
upon a latent consciousness which is anterior to perception. 
An a priori mmd that employs the unknowable as a principle, 
but which does not know it this and other extravagances of 
expression might be employed to cover up the preposterous 
assertion that an apprehended fact, the most prominent of all 
facts, is unknowable. But when the issue of the nature of 
perception is forced, all subterfuges must be laid aside, and 
we may confront one another upon the simple and honest 
meaning of words. The believer in the unknowable, for 
instance, will hardly venture to say that we can perceive the 
unknowable, or that the unknowable is a factor in perception, 
and yet Mr. Spencer would deduce perception itself from 
this mystery. 

The indestructibility of matter is now generally admitted 
to be an axiom, or necessary truth. Of this truth Mr. 
Spencer says : " Our inability to conceive matter becoming 
non-existent is immediately consequent on the nature of 
thought. Thought consists in the establishment of rela- 
tions. There can be no relation established, and therefore 
no thought framed, when one of the related terms is absent 
from consciousness. * * * It most concerns us to observe the 
nature of the perceptions by which the permanence of Mat- 
ter is perpetually illustrated to us. These perceptions, un- 
der all their forms, amount simply to this that the force 
which a given quantity of matter exercises remains always 
the same. This is the proof upon which common-sense and 
exact science alike rely. * * * Thus we see that force is our 
ultimate measure of Matter ; * * * by the indestructibility of 
matter, we really mean the indestructibility of the force with 
which matter affects us. * * * This truth is made manifest 



224 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

not only by analysis of the a posteriori cognition, but equally 
so by analysis of the a priori one. 1 And yet before and after 
these words, the truth, the principle, the fact, which is made 
manifest to us in so many ways, is declared to be unknow- 
able. 

Respecting this same truth we are told in the chapter 
following, entitled the " Continuity of Motion," that " This 
existence may cease to display itself as translation ; but it 
can do so only by displaying itself as strain. And the prin- 
ciple of activity, now shown by translation, now by strain, 
and often by the two together, is alone that which in Motion 
we can call continuous. * * * Hence the principle of activity 
as known by sight is inferential ; visible translation suggests 
by association the presence of a principle of activity which 
would be appreciable by our skin and muscles, did we lay 
hold of the body. Evidently, then, this principle of activ- 
ity which Motion shows us, is the objective correlate of our 
subjective sense of effort. By pushing and pulling we get 
feelings which, generalized and abstracted, yield our ideas of 
resistance and tension. Now displayed by changing posi- 
tion and now by unchanging strain, this principle of activity 
is ultimately conceived by us under the single form of its 
equivalent muscular effort. So that the continuity of 
Motion, as well as the indestructibility of Matter, is really 
known to us in terms of Force." ' 

And yet these terms of Force which are so clearly affiliated 
with all our physical and psychical perceptions, which terms, 
to use Mr. Spencer's language, are " displayed" and "shown " 
to us, which are " inferential" " appreciable" and "conceiv- 
able" are still unknowable. This principle of activity from 
which, Spencer tells us, our perceptions are built up, which 
discloses itself to us by the most general and familiar facts 
of life, is unknown to us. Or perhaps this is saying too 
much, it may be termed the unknowable and still be known 
to us. The term unknowable may have nothing to do with 

1 " First Principles," pp. 177, 178. a Ibid., pp. 187, 188. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 22$ 

our perception, or knowledge, or appreciation of the prin- 
ciple. It may be simply a name which the old-school phi- 
losophers insist upon giving this principle in order to conform 
to the ancient canons of skepticism, or the modern rules of 
agnosticism, which systems of belief would be completely 
subverted were there no unknowable. 

It will be my purpose as we proceed to show that this 
term unknowable cannot be made to harmonize with a true 
psychology. All will agree that the analysis of every pos- 
sible perception discloses what are known as the ultimate 
realities, or the commonly conceded elements of thought. 
If the elements of thought are also the elements of all 
reality, is it not clear that the principle which these ele- 
ments disclose, namely, Motion, must explain all thought 
and all perception ? 

In analyzing any phenomenon or change, such as a weight 
falling to the ground, the conventional result, found in all 
current systems of philosophy, is to discover in the change 
these elements, Space, Time, Matter, Force, and Motion. 
Thus far philosophy has gone, and no farther ; and we find 
Spencer no exception to the general rule, for how are we to 
deduce from his definitions of these categories the one fact 
which he calls the Persistence of Force, and to show how the 
phenomenon of perception arises from this one fact ? What 
are the definitions which Mr. Spencer offers of these elements, 
and what is the relation which he establishes between them 
and the central fact in the phenomenon of perception? 
"Our conception of Matter," says Mr. Spencer, "reduced to 
its simplest shape, is that of co-existent positions that offer 
resistance ; as contrasted with our conception of Space, 
in which the co-existent positions offer no resistance. * * * 
Hence the necessity we are under of representing to our- 
selves the ultimate elements of Matter as being at once 
extended and resistent : this, being the universal form of 
our sensible experiences of Matter, becomes the form which 
our conception of it cannot transcend, however minute the 
fragments which imaginary subdivisions produce. Of these 



226 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

two inseparable elements the resistance l is primary, and the 
extension secondary. Occupied extension, or Body, being* 
distinguished in consciousness from unoccupied extension, 
or Space, by its resistance, this attribute must clearly have 
precedence in the genesis of the idea. Such a conclusion is, 
indeed, an qbvious corollary from that at which we arrived 
in the foregoing section. If, as was there contended, our 
consciousness of Space is a product of accumulated expe- 
riences, partly our own but chiefly ancestral, if, as was 
pointed out, the experience from which our consciousness of 
Space is abstracted can be received only through impres- 
sions of resistance made upon the organism, the necessary 
inference is, that experiences of resistance being those from 
which the conception of Space is generated, the resistance- 
attribute of Matter must be regarded as primordial and the 
space-attribute as derivative. Whence it becomes manifest 
that our experience of force is that out of which the idea of 
Matter is built. Matter as opposing our muscular energies, 
being immediately present to consciousness in terms of force ; 
and its occupancy of Space being known by an abstract of 
experiences originally given in terms of force, it follows that 
forces, standing in certain correlations, form the whole content 
of our idea of Matter." a 

Space is admitted to be but an inference from Matter, or 
an aspect of it ; Force is admitted to be the source of our 
idea of Matter, which means the same thing as that Matter 
is an inference from Force, or an aspect of it. Now substi- 
tute the word motion for force and we have our definition of 
Space an aspect of Motion ; and our definition of Matter, 
i. e. that Matter and Space are the same thing. 

To get at Spencer's definition of Time and Space we quote 
from a previous part of the same work : 

" That relation is the universal form of thought, is a truth which all kinds of 
demonstration unite in proving. * * * Now, relations are of two orders rela- 
tions of sequence and relations of co-existence, of which the one is original and. 

'The italics are the author's. a " First Principles," pp. 166, 167. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 22? 

the other derivative. The relation of sequence is given in every change of con- 
sciousness. The relation of co-existence, which cannot be originally given in a 
consciousness of which the states are serial, becomes distinguished only when it 
is found that certain relations of sequence have their terms presented in con- 
sciousness in either order with equal facility ; while the others are presented only 
in one order. Relations of which the terms are not reversible become recognized 
as sequences proper, while relations of which the terms occur indifferently in 
both directions become recognized as co-existences. Endless experiences, which 
from moment to moment present both orders of these relations, render the dis- 
tinction between them perfectly definite, and at the same time generate an ab- 
stract conception of each. The abstract of all sequences is Time ; the abstract 
of all co-existences is Space. From the fact that in thought Time is inseparable 
from sequence, and Space from co-existence, we do not here infer that Time 
and Space are original conditions of consciousness under which sequences and 
co-existences are known ; but we infer that our conceptions of Time and Space 
are generated, as other abstracts are generated from other concretes ; the only 
difference being that the organization of experiences has, in these cases, been, 
going on throughout the entire evolution of Intelligence. * * * It remains only 
to point out, as a thing which we must not forget, that the experiences from which 
the consciousness of Space arises, are experiences of force. A certain correla- 
tion of the muscular forces which we ourselves exercise is the index of each posi- 
tion as originally disclosed to us ; and the resistance which makes us aware of 
something existing in that position is an equivalent of the pressure which 
we consciously exert. Thus experiences of forces variously correlated are those 
from which our consciousness of Space is abstracted. " l 

In reading the above, it is difficult to believe that Spencer 
was not fully aware of the existence of an ultimate Reality, 
of which all other facts are but more or less remote aspects. 
It is hard to understand how so penetrating a mind could 
declare that Force is the origin of all ideas and all facts : 
"that Relation is the universal form of thought," "that 
Relations are of two orders, relations of sequence and rela- 
tions of co-existence," without seeing that the ultimate 
relation is the universal fact of motion, having for its terms, 
or aspects, the primordial inferences known as Space and 
Time. 

A little farther on we find the following, which is a very 
clear portrayal of the difference between the simple solution 
of the metaphysical problem which we offer and that offered 
by Mr. Spencer : " Is Space in itself a form or condition of 

1 First Principles," pp. 163, 165. 



228 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION". 

absolute existence, 1 producing in our minds a corresponding 
form or condition of relative existence ? This is an unan- 
swerable question. Our conception of Space is produced by 
some mode of the Unknowable ; and the complete unchange- 
ableness of our conception of it simply implies a complete uni- 
formity in the effects wrought by this mode of the Unknowable 
upon us? But therefore to call it a necessary mode of the 
Unknowable is illegitimate. All we can assert is, that 
Space is a relative reality ; that our consciousness of this 
unchanging relative reality implies an absolute reality 
equally unchanging, in so far as we are concerned; and 
that the relative reality may be unhesitatingly accepted 
in thought as a valid basis for our reasonings ; which, when 
rightly carried on, will bring us to truths that have a like 
relative reality, the only truths which concern us or can 
possibly be known to us. Concerning Time, relative and 
absolute, a parallel argument leads to parallel conclusions. 
These are too obvious to need specifying in detail." 5 

Again, in contrast with the above notion of Space, as an 
" unchangeable," " fixed form," mark the following, taken 
from the chapter on the Perception of Space, in which it is 
distinctly denied that Space is a fixed form or unchangeable 
conception : " And now mark that while these several 
peculiarities in our space-perceptions harmonize with, and 
receive their interpretations from, the experience-hypothesis, 
taken in that expanded form implied by the doctrine of 
Evolution, they are not interpretable by, and are quite in- 
congruous with, the Kantian hypothesis. Without insisting 
on the fact that our sensations of sound and odor do not 
originally carry with them the consciousness of space at all, 
there is the fact that, along with those sensations of taste, 
touch, and sight, which do carry this consciousness with 
them, it is carried in extremely different degrees, a fact 
quite unaccountable if space is given before all experience 
as a form of intuition. That our consciousness of adjacent 

1 The term Absolute Existence is a contradiction in terms. 
a The italics are the author's. 8 " First Principles," p. 165. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 22g 

space is far more complete than our consciousness of remote 
space, is also at variance with the hypothesis ; which, for 
aught that appears to the contrary, implies homogeneity. 
Similarly with that variation in the distinctness of surround- 
ing parts of space which occurs as we turn our eyes now to 
one point and now to another : were space a subjective form 
not derived from experience, there should be no such varia- 
tion. Again: the contrast between the spontaneous con- 
sciousness of space within a room and the consciousness of 
the space beyond its walls, which does not come spon- 
taneously, is a contrast for which there seems no reason 
if space is a fixed form." 1 This hardly harmonizes with 
" the complete unchangeableness of our conception of Space 
produced by some mode of the unknowable upon us," but 
if we remove the theory of the unknowable the incongruity 
between the two conceptions of Space at once disappears. 

In making these close comparisons of passages occurring 
widely apart in a great system, and written at considerable 
intervals of time and study, every allowance should be made. 
I would especially disclaim any intent of captious criticism. 
It is my desire only to show the futility of all attempts to 
account for Space and Time in any other way than as as- 
pects of Motion ; to show how the greatest minds become 
lost in the labyrinth of error which lies outside of this simple 
and direct solution. The above contrasted passages also 
help to show the intimate connection between the metaphy- 
sical problem and the problem of perception which we are 
studying. 

To return to the first of the above quotations, we would 
simply repeat that the term unknowable is self-contradictory ; 
nothing can be unknowable. If we know the universal 
principle, we could know any form of it, were it presented to 
us. In its nature, at least, the field of knowledge is infinite. 
Our knowledge is limited by our lives that is to say, there 
is, and always will be, to limited beings, a vast unknown; 
but the antithesis of known is unknown, not unknowable. 

1 " Psychology," vol. II., pp. 200, 2OI. 



23O THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

Life is a universal principle with which knowledge in its 
widest sense can be identified, therefore knowable has no 
meaning, and unknowable has none. If life is a universal 
principle, what sense would there be in the word livable ? 
If knowledge is a universal principle, what sense is there in 
the word knowable ? There are no unanswerable questions, 
there are only unanswered questions. 

In the note 1 below will be found a transcript of the best 

1 SPENCER'S ANALYSIS OF THE PERCEPTION OF SPACE AND TIME. 

" Whether visual or tactual, every perception of the space-attributes of body is 
decomposable into perceptions of relative position ; that all perceptions of relative 
position are decomposable into perceptions of the relative position of subject and 
object ; and that these relations of position are knowable only through motion. 
Such being now our data, the first question that arises is, How, through experi- 
ences of occupied extension, or body, can we ever gain the notion of unoccu- 
pied extension, or space ? How, from the perception of a relation between 
resistant positions, do we progress to the perception of a relation between non- 
resistant positions ? If all the space-attributes of a body are resolvable into 
relations of position between subject and object, disclosed in the act of touch 
if originally, relative position is only thus knowable if, therefore, position is, 
to the nascent intelligence, incognizable except as the position of something 
that produces an impression on the organism, how is it possible for the idea of 
position ever to be dissociated from that of body ? 

" This problem, difficult of solution as it appears, is really a very easy one. 
If, after some particular motion of a limb, there invariably came a sensation 
of softness ; after some other, one of roughness ; after some other, one of 
hardness or if, after those movements of the eye needed for some special act 
of vision, there always came a sensation of redness ; after some others, a sen- 
sation of blueness ; and so on ; it is manifest that, in conformity with the 
laws of association, there would be established constant relations between such 
motions and such sensations. If positions were conceived at all, they would be 
conceived as invariably occupied by things producing special impressions ; and 
it would be impossible to dissociate the positions from the things. But as we 
find that a certain movement of the hand, which once brought it in contact with 
something hot, now brings it in contact with something sharp, and now with 
nothing at all ; and as we find that a certain movement of the eye, which once 
was followed by the sight of a black object, is now followed by the sight of a 
white object, and now by the sight of no object ; it results that the idea of the 
particular position accompanying each one of these movements is, by accumu- 
lated experiences, dissociated from objects and impressions. It results, too, 
that as there are endless such movements, there come to be endless such posi- 
tions conceived as existing apart from body. And it results, further, that as in 
the first and in every subsequent act of perception, each position is known as 



HERBERT SPENCER. 

analysis of the perception of Space and Time which occurs 
in the work of Mr. Spencer. This analysis is given to 
show that his study of the perception of these categories 
from the physical or organic side has been most successful. 
It is the manner in which he deals with the relations be- 
tween the categories themselves that we find so confusing 
and unsatisfactory. To the habitual student of these subjects 
this analysis will be a pleasant and profitable review, and to 

co-existent with the subject, there arises a consciousness of countless such co- 
existent positions ; that is of Space. This is not offered as an ultimate inter- 
pretation ; for, as before admitted, the difficulty is to account for our notion of 
relative position. All that is here attempted is, partially to explain how, from 
that primitive notion, our consciousness of Space in its totality is built up. 

" Carrying with us this idea, calling to mind the structure of the retina, and 
remembering the mode in which the relations among its elements are estab- 
lished, it will, I think, become possible to conceive how that wonderful percep- 
tion we have of visible space is generated. It is a peculiarity of sight that 
makes us partially conscious of many things at once. On now raising my 
head, I take in at a glance, desk, papers, table, books, chairs, walls, carpet, 
window, and sundry objects outside : all of them simultaneously impressing me 
with various details of color, suggesting surface and structure. True, I am not 
equally conscious of all these things at the same time. I find that some one 
object at which I am looking is more distinctly present to my mind than any 
other, and that the one point in this object on which the visual axes converge is 
more vividly perceived than the rest. In fact, I have a perfect perception of 
scarcely more than an infinitesimal portion of the whole visual area. Neverthe- 
less, even while concentrating my attention on this infinitesimal portion, I am 
in some degree aware of the whole. My complete consciousness of a particu- 
lar letter on the back of a book does not exclude a consciousness that there are 
accompanying letters does not exclude a consciousness of the book does not 
exclude a consciousness of the table on which the book lies, nay, does not 
occlude even a consciousness of the wall against which the table stands. All 
these things are present to me in different degrees of intensity degrees that 
become less, partly in proportion as the things are unobtrusive in color and 
size, and partly in proportion as they recede from the centre of the visual field. 
Not that these many surrounding things are definitely known as such or such ; 
for, while keeping my eyes fixed on one object, I cannot make that assertory 
judgment respecting any adjacent object which a real cognition of it implies, 
without becoming, for the moment, imperfectly conscious of the object on 
which my eyes are fixed. But notwithstanding all this, it remains true that these 
various objects are in some sense present to my mind are incipiently perceived 
are* severally tending to fill the consciousness are each of them partially 
exciting the mental states that would arise were it to be distinctly perceived. 



232 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

those to whom it may be new we recommend it as a 
specimen of Spencer's best work, an example of that care- 
ful and exhaustive study of obscure phenomena which has 
given to his writings so high a place in the estimation of 
scholars. 

In this analysis is illustrated our complete dependence 
upon the primordial fact of Motion for our ideas of Space 
and Time ; for it is the same thing to say that we derive our 

" This peculiarity in the faculty of sight (to which there is nothing analogous 
in the faculties of taste and smell ; which, in the faculty of hearing, is vaguely 
represented by our appreciation of harmony ; and which is but very imperfectly 
paralleled in the tactual faculty by the ability we have to discern irregularities 
in a surface on which the hand is laid) is clearly due to the structure of the 
retina. Consisting of multitudinous sensitive elements, each capable of inde- 
pendent stimulation, it results that when an image is received by the retina, each 
of those sensitive elements on which the variously-modified rays of light fall, is 
thrown into a state of greater or less excitement. Each of them as it were 
totiches some particular part of the image, and sends inwards to the central 
nervous system the impressions produced by the touch. But now observe that, 
as before explained, each retinal element has come to have a known relation to 
every one of those around it a relation such that their synchronous excitation 
serves to represent their serial excitation. Lest this symbolism should not have 
been fully understood, I will endeavor further to elucidate it. Suppose a 
minute dot to be looked at a dot so small that its image, cast on the retina, 
covers only one of the sensitive elements, A. Now suppose the eye to be so 
slightly moved that the image of this dot falls on the adjacent element B. 
What results ? Two slight changes of consciousness : the one proceeding from 
the new retinal element affected ; the other, from the muscles producing the 
motion. Let there be another motion, such as will transfer the image of the 
dot to the next element,' C. Two other changes of consciousness result. And 
so on continuously ; the consequence being that the relative positions in con- 
sciousness of A and B, A and C, A and D, A and E, etc., are known by the 
number of intervening states. Imagine now that, instead of these small mo- 
tions separately made, the eye is moved with ordinary rapidity ; so that the 
image of the dot sweeps over the whole series A to Z in an extremely short 
time. What results ? It is a familiar fact that all impressions on the senses, 
and visual ones among the number, continue for a certain brief period after 
they are made. Hence, when the retinal elements forming the series A to Z 
are excited in rapid succession, the excitation of Z commences before that of A 
has ceased ; and for a moment the whole series A to Z remains in a state of 
excitement together. This being understood, suppose the eye is turned upon 
a line of such length that its image covers the whole series A to Z. What 
results ? There is a simultaneous excitation of the series A to Z, differing from 



HERBERT SPENCER. 233 

ideas of Space and Time from Motion as to say that Space 
and Time are inferences from, or aspects of, this fact. The 
analysis of sensible perception given below also illustrates 
how far beyond us, whatever may be our penetration into 
the intricacies of phenomena, is this principle of activity, 
and how it eludes all efforts at division or classification. 
Now that we have followed out Mr. Spencer's analysis of 
our conception of Space and Time, it will be interesting to 

the last in this that it is persistent, and that it is unaccompanied by sensations 
of motion. But does it not follow from the known laws of association, that as 
the simultaneous excitation is common to both cases, it will, in the last case, 
tend to arouse in consciousness that series of states which accompanied it in the 
first ? Will it not tend to consolidate the entire series of such states into one 
state ? And will it not thus come to be taken as the equivalent of such series ? 
There cannot, I think, be a doubt of it. And if not, then we may see how an 
excitement of consciousness, by the coexistent positions constituting a line, 
serves as the representative of that serial excitement of it which accompanies 
motion along that line. Let us return now to the above-described state of the 
retina as occupied by an image or by a cluster of images. Relations of coexist- 
ent position, like those we have here considered in respect to a particular linear 
series, are established throughout countless such series in all directions over 
the retina ; so putting each element in relation with every other. Further, by 
a process analogous to that described, the state of consciousness produced by 
the focal adjustment and convergence of the eyes to each particular point, has 
been made a symbol of the series of coexistent positions between the eyes and 
that point. After dwelling awhile on these facts, the genesis of our visual per- 
ception of space will begin to be comprehensible. Every one of the retinal 
elements simultaneously thrown into a state of partial excitement, arousing as 
it does not only a partial consciousness of the sensation answering to its own 
excitement, but also a partial consciousness of the many relations of coexistent 
position established between it and the rest, which are all of them similarly ex- 
cited and similarly suggestive, there results a consciousness of a whole area of 
coexistent positions. Meanwhile the particular consciousness that accompanies 
adjustment of the eyes, calling up as it does the line of coexistent positions 
lying between the subject and the object specially contemplated ; and each of 
the things, and parts of things, not in the centre of the field, exciting by its 
more or less definite image an incipient consciousness of its distance, that is, of 
the coexistent positions lying between the eye and it ; there is awakened a con- 
sciousness of a whole volume of coexistent positions of Space in three dimen- 
sions. Along with a complete consciousness of the one position to which the 
visual axes converge, arises a nascent consciousness of an infinity of other posi- 
tions a consciousness that is nascent in the same sense that our conscious- 
ness of the various objects out of the centre of the visual field is nascent. One 



234 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

note the propositions in regard to the " ultimate realities " 
with which he originally sets out. These propositions de- 
clare him to be an agnostic or, in better language, a skep- 
tic, or a disbeliever in the integrity of human knowledge. 
For what faith can we have in a knowledge which has its 
-deepest foundations in impenetrable mysteries? If we can- 
not understand the first principles of knowledge, how are we 
'really to know any thing ? If we cannot grasp the deepest 

-addition must be made. As the innumerable relations subsisting among these 
coexistent positions were originally established by motion ; as each of these rela- 
tions came by habit to stand for the series of mental states accompanying the 
motion which measured IT ; as every one of such relations must, when presented 
to consciousness ', still tend to call up in an indistinct way that train of feelings 
accompanying motion, which it represents y and as the simultaneous presentation 
of an infinity of such relations will tend to suggest an infinity of such experi- 
ences of motion, which, as being in all directions, must so neutralize one another 
as to prevent any particular motion from being thought of ; there will arise, as 
their common resultant, that sense of ability to move, that sense of freedom for 
MOTION, which forms the remaining constituent in our notion of Space. 

1 ' Any one who finds it difficult to conceive how, by so elaborate a pro- 
cess as this, there should be reached a notion apparently so simple, so homo- 
geneous, as that which we have of Space, will feel the difficulty diminished on 
recalling these several facts : First, that the experiences out of which the no- 
tion is framed and consolidated are in their essentials the same for ourselves and 
for the ancestral races of creatures from which we inherit our organizations, and 
that these uniform ancestral experiences, potentially present in the nervous 
structures bequeathed to us, constitute a partially-innate preparedness for the 
notion ; second, that the individual experiences which repeat these ancestral 
experiences commence at birth, and serve to aid the development of the cor- 
relative structures while they give them their ultimate definiteness ; third, that 
every day throughout our lives, and throughout the whole of each day, we are 
repeating our experiences of these innumerable coexistences of position and 
their several equivalences to the serial states of feeling accompanying motions ; 
and fourth, that after development is complete these experiences invariably 
agree that these relations of coexistent positions are unchangeable are ever 
the same toward each other and the subject are ever equivalent to the same 
motions. On bearing in mind this inheritance of latent experiences, this early 
commencement of the experiences that verify and complete them, this infinite 
repetition of them, and their absolute uniformity ; and on further remembering 
the power which, in virtue of its structure, the eye possesses of partially suggest- 
ing to the mind countless such experiences at the same moment ; it will become 
possible to conceive how we acquire that consolidated idea of Space in its totality, 
which at first seems so inexplicable." 



HERBERT SPENCER. 235 

meaning of life, how are we really to live ? We would not be 
understood to infer that this demoralizing skepticism, known 
as the belief in the unknowable, is not thrown off in the bet- 
ter portions of Mr. Spencer's teachings. No one who care- 
fully examines his analysis of our conceptions of Space and 
Time given below can fail to see that Mr. Spencer at times 

Upon the Perception of Time. " The reciprocity between our cognitions of 
Space and Time, alike in their primitive and most developed forms, being un- 
derstood ; and the consequent impossibility of considering either of them 
-entirely alone, being inferred ; let us go on to deal more particularly with Time. 
As the notions of Space and Coexistence are inseparable, so are the notions of 
Time and Sequence. It is impossible to think of Time without thinking of 
some succession ; and it is equally impossible to think of any succession without 
thinking of Time. * * * The doctrine that Time is knowable only by the suc- 
cession of our mental states calls for little exposition, it is so well established a 
doctrine. All that seems here necessary is to restate it in a way which will 
bring out its harmony with the foregoing doctrine. * * * As any relation of co- 
existent positions any portion of space is conceived by us as such or such, 
-according to the number of other positions that intervene ; so any relation of 
sequent positions any portion of time is conceived by us as such or such, ac- 
cording to the number of other positions that intervene. Thus, a particular 
time is a relation of position between some two states in the series of states 
of consciousness. And Time in general, as known to us, is the abstract of 
all relations of position among successive states of consciousness. Or, using 
other words, we may say that it is the blank form in which these successive 
states are presented and represented; and which, serving alike for each, is not 
dependent on any. * * * The consciousness of Time must vary with size, with 
structure, and with functional activity ; since the scale of time proper to each 
creature is composed primarily of the marks made in its consciousness by the 
rhythms of its vital functions, and secondarily of the marks made in its con- 
sciousness by the rhythms of its locomotive functions : both which sets of 
rhythms are immensely different in different species. Consequently the consti- 
tution derived from ancestry settles the general character of the consciousness 
within approximate limits. In our own case, for example, it is clear that there 
are certain extremes within which our units of measure for time must fall. 
The heart-beats and respiratory actions, serving as primitive measures, can 
have their rates varied within moderate ranges only. The alternating move- 
ments of the legs have a certain degree of slowness below which we cannot be 
conscious of them, and a certain degree of rapidity beyond which we cannot 
push them. Similarly with measures of time furnished by sensible motions 
outside of us. There are motions too rapid for our perceptions, as well as 
motions too slow for our perceptions ; and such consciousness of Time as 
we get from watching objective motions must fall between these extremes." 
"Psychology," vol. II., ch. xv. 



236 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

completely rises above the level of agnosticism. But this 
fact only renders more confusing the system as a whole. 

For instance, when we find such plain declarations of our 
utter inability to understand the principles of knowledge as 
occur in Spencer's opening volume we naturally look with 
distrust upon all subsequent attempts to explain these prin- 
ciples. In a word, why should Mr. Spencer expect us to 
put faith in his analysis of those facts which in the very 
outset of his work he tells us it is impossible to understand ? 
Thus in the Chapter on Ultimate Scientific Ideas we have 
the following declarations : 

" It results, therefore, that Space and Time are wholly 
incomprehensible. The immediate knowledge which we 
seem to have of them proves, when examined, to be total 
ignorance. While our belief in their objective reality is in- 
surmountable, we are unable to give any rational account of 
it. And to posit the alternative belief (possible to state but 
impossible to realize) is merely to multiply irrationalities." 

" Matter, then, in its ultimate nature, is as absolutely in- 
comprehensible as Space and Time. Frame what supposi- 
tions we may, we find, on tracing out their implications, 
that they leave us nothing but a choice between opposite 
absurdities." 

" Thus neither when considered in connection with Space, 
nor when considered in connection with Matter, nor when 
considered in connection with Rest, do we find that Motion 
is truly cognizable. All efforts to understand its essential 
nature do but bring us to alternative impossibilities of 
thought." 

" While, then, it is impossible to form any idea of Force 
in itself, it is equally impossible to comprehend its mode of 
exercise." 

And lastly : " Hence, while we are unable either to be- 
lieve or to conceive that the duration of consciousness is in- 
finite, we are equally unable either to know it as finite, or to 
conceive it as finite." 

1 " First Principles," ch. iii. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 237 

Here is, indeed, a cheerful prospect at the beginning of a 
study of perception ! All those principles which are ac- 
knowledged by writers upon metaphysics to be " ultimate 
realities," or fundamental ideas, are declared to be utterly 
incomprehensible ; and, in way of reassurance, we are told 
that to try to understand consciousness itself can but lead 
to " absurdities." If agnosticism is an aggravated form of 
skepticism, surely this is a high type of agnosticism ! 

The first requisite in forming a true conception of Knowl- 
edge is to understand that the word, in its widest applica- 
tion, means the same thing as life ; and that life is coexten- 
sive in fact, and therefore in meaning, with the universal 
principle, Motion. All activities are expressions of this 
principle, whether they display the structure and function 
of consciousness (the subjective world) or the statical and 
dynamical aspects of nature (the objective world). Structure 
and function are but the obverse aspects of every activity ; 
they correspond to the more abstract or general terms Mat- 
ter and Force, using the word force, as is so often done, to 
signify motion considered apart from its space-aspect. The 
more acceptable terms Space and Time are also the equiva- 
lents of structure and function. Bearing these truths in 
mind, the difficulty of forming a rational theory of percep- 
tion, or thought, disappears. 

If thought is an activity, to comprehend it we have but to 
state its conditions. The theory that thought is the expres- 
sion of an absolute or unconditioned principle has but to be 
reduced to its simplest terms in order to expose its ab- 
surdity. The word absolute, or unconditioned, is a much- 
abused term in metaphysical writings ; it is an outgrowth of 
our conception of Time, which, when regarded as a prin- 
ciple in itself, certainly seems to move, independently of 
any imaginable conditions. If whenever the word absolute 
occurs its equivalent Time is understood, we cannot be 
misled. To call thought an entity, or an absolute principle 
in itself, is but to block the progress of analysis by clinging 
to one of the aspects of the phenomenon and disregarding 



238 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

the other. If thought is an activity, it must have struc- 
ture as well as function ; it must have a space-aspect as 
well as a time-aspect ; it must be an expression of the 
universal principle, Motion. If there are two great oppo- 
site spheres of existence, known as the subjective and the 
objective, the ego and the non-ego, the conscious and the 
unconscious, they are not absolutely different spheres, but 
are interdependent, or related ; they act and react upon 
each other, and are expressions of a fundamental fact which 
underlies them both. What becomes of the charge that 
such a theory as this is materialistic, when we remember 
that the attributes of this principle are those which are 
universally ascribed to God? This, however, is but an 
ultimate analysis, it is not the living synthesis, of life. 

The theory of Evolution is, that every phenomenon or 
change is the product, or function, of its conditions. Every 
phenomenon is a relation, or the joint expression of its terms. 
The ultimate relation is Motion, and its terms are Space and 
Time. The relation or fact called consciousness has for its 
terms the objective and the subjective worlds. The study 
of consciousness or perception (they are, in their widest 
sense, equivalent terms) is the study of the conditions of 
mental life, which are only relatively separable from the 
conditions, of general life, or the universe. If we would 
single out from this plexus of relations an ultimate relation, 
or from this vast array of conditions ultimate conditions, we 
have for result the ultimate relation, Motion ; the ultimate 
conditions, Space and Time. 



CHAPTER X. 

HERBERT SPENCER (CONTINUED). 

An Independent Study of the Relation of Perception to Organic Life The 
Interdependence of Thought, Feeling, and Action. 

THE study of psychology is fast becoming a definite 
science. Little by little its ontological superstitions are 
giving way to the more rational method of approaching the 
mind through the medium of its functions and structures. 
The old system of taking for granted the existence of a 
psychical principle as the only means of explaining thought, 
is yielding to the belief in a universal principle in which all 
lines of cause and effect converge, whether they describe 
physical, mental, or moral phenomena. Speaking on this 
subject, Lewes says : " Psychology investigates the Human 
Mind, not an individual's thoughts and feelings ; and has to 
consider it as the product of the Human Organism, not only 
in relation to the Cosmos, but also in relation to Society. 
For man is distinctively a social being ; his animal impulses 
are profoundly modified by social influences, and his higher 
faculties are evolved through social needs. By this recogni- 
tion of the social factor as the complement to the biological 
factor, this recognition of the Mind as an expression of 
organic and social conditions, the first step is taken toward 
the constitution of our science. * * * An organism when in 
action is only to be understood by understanding both it and 
the medium from which it draws its materials, and on which 
it reacts. Its conditions of existence are, first, the structural 
mechanism, and, secondly, the medium in which it is placed. 
When we know the part played by the mechanism, and the- 
part played by the medium, we have gone as far as analysis 

239 



240 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

can help us ; we have scientifically explained the actions of 
the organism. This, which is so obvious in reference to vital 
-actions that it is a physiological commonplace, is so little 
understood in reference to the mental class of vital actions 
that it may appear a psychological paradox, and a paradox 
which no explanation can make acceptable so long as the Mind 
is thought to be an entity inhabiting the organism, using 
it as an instrument ; and so long as Society is thought to be 
an artificial product of man's mind, in which case it cannot 
be one of the conditions of mental evolution." 1 

What is known, then, as the social factor in the study of 
psychology is that feature of the science which is by far the 
most difficult to comprehend. A theory of perception which 
neglects the influence of this factor is thereby apparently sim- 
plified, but it is incomplete ; for it is from the relations of man 
to society that the bewildering complexities of mental phe- 
nomena arise. The rudimentary communications of sentient 
beings gave birth to intelligence, or the representative faculty, 
and by the continued development of this faculty language 
came into existence. Language, which is the condensing or 
grouping of thoughts into symbols, has attained to such 
perfection that a climax in its development has been reached 
in the creation of a single word to express the interdepen- 
dencies of the universe. In studying mental phenomena, in 
tracing the connections of cause and effect throughout the 
labyrinths of sentiency, we have to view human intelligence, 
as a whole, in the light of an achievement or superstructure 
of organic evolution. This is what is meant by taking into 
account the social factor, the combined influences of life upon 
life, of mind upon mind. The simplest definition of organic life 
is the adjustment of the organism to its environment. Society, 
as a whole, is an important part of the environment of each 
human organism, for the response of each organism to 
humanity marks the degree of development the quality of 
life. The counterpart of this view of the social factor is 
what might be called the individual factor, the other term of 

1 Lewes : " The Study of Psychology," ch. i. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 241 

the relation known as psychical life. In every perception, 
however simple, the perceiving individual, as a whole, has a 
determining influence. This view of the individual factor of 
psychical life, the part played by the whole personality of 
the perceiving individual in the phenomena of perception, is 
if any thing more obscure than the influence of the social 
factor. Perhaps the most direct way of explaining it is to 
recite a passage, quoted in the foregoing chapter, from 
Spencer's explanation of the genesis of our idea of time. 
Time is a fundamental element of perception. If the indi- 
vidual, as a whole, is shown to be a prominent factor in the 
formation of our conception of time, it will follow that the 
individual, as a whole, is an important factor in perception. 

" The consciousness of Time must vary with size, with 
structure, and with functional activity ; since the scale of 
time proper to each creature is composed primarily of the 
marks made in its consciousness by the rhythms of its vital 
functions, and secondarily of the marks made in its con- 
sciousness by the rhythms of its locomotive functions, both 
which sets of rhythms are immensely different in different 
species. Consequently, the constitution derived from an- 
cestry settles the general character of the consciousness 
within approximate limits. In our own case, for example, 
it is clear that there are certain extremes within which our 
units of measure for time must fall. The heart-beats and 
respiratory actions, serving as primitive measures, can have 
their rates varied within moderate ranges only. The alter- 
nating movements of the legs have a certain degree of slow- 
ness below which we cannot be conscious of them, and a 
certain degree of rapidity beyond which we cannot push 
them. Similarly with measures of time furnished by sensible 
motions outside of us. There are motions too rapid for our 
perceptions, as well as motions too slow for our perceptions ; 
and such consciousness of time as we get from watching ob- 
jective motions must fall between these extremes." 

It is clear that the same argument applies to the genesis 

1 lt Psychology," vol. II., pp. 213, 214. 



242 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

of our idea of space, namely, that consciousness of space is 
generated by the experiences of the perceiving organism, 
and is plainly governed by its size. Our ideas of the large 
and the small, the infinite and the infinitesimal, the near and 
the distant, have our individual space relationships as ever- 
present factors. In a word, we have no absolute unit of 
space or time, but depend upon the space and time aspects 
of our own organisms for our estimates and conceptions of 
these elements of all existence. Now, if we remember that 
the word element is used in the sense of phase or appear- 
ance, and that the indivisible fact which presents to us these 
phases, both of our own existence and of external existence, 
is motion, we shall perceive the significance of the familiar 
dictum that life, both mental and physical, is an adjustment 
of inner to outer relations. 

These primordial inferences of existence called space and 
time, which are so fundamental in their nature as to have 
beguiled many into supposing them inscrutable, are plainly 
functions or products of our individuality. Our ideas of 
these two elements of thought are fashioned by our experi- 
ences ; our estimates of quantity or size, and of durations, are 
measured by ourselves; and we can never escape from these 
personal units, as they are factors in the conceptions them- 
selves. Thus we have in the study of psychology what 
might be called a personal relation, the two terms of which 
are the individual and humanity ; and it is in the elabora- 
tions of this relation that we have all those perceptions 
known as the world of thought. To get at the true mean- 
ing of perception, however, it will be necessary to dis- 
pense, for a time, with the use of this word thought. If 
it be admitted that to think is to act, the difficulty is at 
once removed ; but the manifest difference between what are 
known as actions and thoughts must be explained before we 
can hope to make clear the community of meaning between 
these two words, which is the chief aim of modern psy- 
chology. 

In the restricted sense in which the word feeling- is used 



HERBERT SPENCER. 243 

we have another difficulty. There are no absolute demarca- 
tions between the meanings of the words feelings, thoughts, 
and actions. Let us examine the first and last of these 
terms, with a view to discovering the true meaning of the 
word thought. 

Feelings and thoughts are what we know of our own lives ; 
actions are what we know of the lives of others. For the sake 
of convenience, let the word feeling represent all the changes 
that take place within us, which are, of course, without num- 
ber ; they include all thoughts and dreams, all emotions of 
every degree of intensity to say nothing of that vast com- 
plexity of internal changes making up the sum of our physi- 
cal existence, of which we are for the most part unconscious. 
Only a very small proportion of the changes which take place 
within us ever occupy the attention. Our bodies and minds 
are teeming with energies which we do not even suspect, 
and which never cease from the beginning to the end of our 
lives. 1 Whenever we move a muscle or experience a thought, 
there are disturbances which disperse throughout the whole 
system. These disturbances or changes, which have their 
expressions in heat and sound, and other forms of motion, 
only attract the attention when they are sufficiently abrupt 
to shock us in some degree ; thus every form of feeling or 
consciousness is an excitement. In fact, attention consists of 
the ebb and flow of these internal changes. Attention or 
consciousness is itself a disturbance or change, but it is an 
aggregate or co-ordination of changes, a moving equilibrium 
with certain well-defined conditions, as is illustrated by the 
severe limits to which consciousness is subjected by the 
laws of health, and the degrees of activity and inactivity of 
the sensorium. 

Thus we see that the word feeling has a much wider 
meaning than is generally given to it, and it is only by a 
recent feat of science that we are enabled to classify feel- 
ings, thoughts, and actions under the one great heading of 

1 This incessant internal activity is said, by a great physiologist, to produce a 
tone of which we are unconscious. 



244 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

internal or subjective changes of the same fundamental na- 
ture but differing widely in their processes. Perception, 
therefore, does not necessitate a belief in a psychical prin- 
ciple or any ultimate fact, other than that which is disclosed 
through the study of the structures and the functions of 
the human organism, and the faculties which arise from the 
actions and reactions ever going on between the individual 
and its physical and social environment. 

Now that we have agreed upon a word to stand for that 
great class of changes called internal or subjective, what 
shall we call those changes which occur around us, or exter- 
nally to us, known as objective? It is understood that the 
word feeling shall represent all subjective changes or phe- 
nomena, and that these changes viewed from without, or by 
others, are actions. It will not do to separate feelings from 
actions, excepting in a logical sense, as they are only names 
respectively for the internal and external aspects of the same 
thing. This fact becomes clearer when we remember that in 
trying to find a name for all changes external to us we are 
obliged to include in objective or external phenomena the ac- 
tions of others ; for these actions are a very important part of 
our surroundings. Using the word feeling in its broadest 
sense (as signifying all those changes which take place within 
us), it is clear that what are feelings to us are viewed as actions 
by others, or what are feelings subjectively are actions ob- 
jectively. In a word, we are compelled to classify the feel- 
ings of humanity, or society, among the activities which 
constitute the environment of each individual. 

When light strikes the eye and produces within us the 
phenomenon called sight, the sensorium, or the most active 
part of our organism, is said to react in response to the 
stimulus. The same term is used with regard to all the re- 
sponses which we make to stimulations from without ; such 
as in the cases of hearing to sound, sensitiveness to tempera- 
ture, and resistance to strains. Again : when a bar of iron 
is struck with force sufficient to produce perceptible heat, 
the heat is said to be a reaction of the iron to the blow. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 24$ 

When we place certain chemical substances, in definite pro- 
portions and temperatures, in juxtaposition, the changes we 
observe are called reactions ; and in a wider but not less exact 
sense all the changes which we observe around us, from the 
subtle relations called electric and magnetic to cosmical evo- 
lutions ; from the energy which we call vegetable and animal 
life to the great panorama of social and moral phenomena 
known as human history ; from the convulsions which are 
registered in the physical structure of our planet, and which 
are repeated upon so much grander scales in the sun and in 
distant stars, to the comparatively gentle changes of the 
seasons and daily variations in temperature ; all are expres- 
sions of the fundamental law or fact of action and reaction. 
This law has many names : it is known in philosophy as evo- 
lution ; physicists write about it as the conservation and 
correlation, or the equivalence, of forces ; mathematicians 
portray it as motion ; but of one thing we may be sure, that 
the word action brings its essential nature truly before us, 
and what we know as actions constitute its universal expres- 
sion. This law means that every change is the exact result 
of its circumstances ; otherwise expressed, that every phe- 
nomenon is the function of its conditions. Cause and effect 
are simply the opposite appearances of each event, changes 
viewed from different standpoints in their succession ; and 
these two factors, cause and effect, can never be more than 
logically separated from each other ; they are merely phases 
of the event. This law means that the universe is a plenum 
of interdependent changes; each change we perceive being 
the consequence of other changes, and that the great pro- 
cession of events in which our lives appear and disappear is 
the expression of one universal principle, law, or relation. 
Is it not apparent, therefore, that it is alone in viewing 
humanity as an active aggregate that its influence upon the 
individual can be distinguished from that of nature in gen- 
eral ? For if the actions of men and of nature are funda- 
mentally the same, if the one is the product of the other, 
and they are both the expression of one fact, is not the en- 



246 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

vironment of each individual both cosmical and social, an 
empire of interdependent activities united in allegiance to a 
single power ? 

But we have said that psychical life or thought is a relation 
having for its terms the individual, on the one hand, and the 
"social factor" otherwise known as the aggregate intelli- 
gence of the race, on the other. What, then, is it that 
separates mind from nature, that gives human intelligence 
an existence of its own, distinguished from general exist- 
ence ? What forms intelligence into a whole, demarcating 
the conscious from the unconscious world ? Is it not Lan- 
guage ? Each human organism, by slow progressions of 
development, actions and reactions between itself and its 
surroundings, beginning with the rude comparisons of a rude 
life, and growing into the complex relations which we call 
social life, has slowly developed that vast organon of tran- 
scribed thought which we call language or literature. The 
individual organism has become gradually modified until we 
find ourselves in possession of the faculty of responding to 
the meaning of words. Through this delicate medium of 
intelligence the comprehensive adjustments of human life 
are made possible. The structural aspect of this intelli- 
gence is language ; its functional aspect is thought. View- 
ing thought from within, we classify it as internal change (or 
feeling used in its widest sense) ; viewing it from without, it 
is action ; and its community of nature with universal 
change thus becomes apparent. 

And now we are confronted with the profoundest question 
of philosophy, the initial inquiry of psychology, the stum- 
bling block of metaphysics. This is the vexed question of 
subject and object ; this is where the idealist and the nomi- 
nalist disagree, where the spiritualist and the materialist part 
company. Upon the solution of this question depends the 
success of psychology, the understanding of the true nature 
of thought. If motion is the universal principle, having for 
its aspects space and time, it is important to know what 
constitutes this ever-present difference between space and 



HERBERT SPENCER. 247 

time ? Why are we powerless to merge these ideas in one ? 
Why are we compelled to oscillate between these two terms 
of the deepest of all differences, in order to form the con- 
ception of motion or universality ? 

The reply is this : that as our existence is individual, all 
our knowledge is the function or consequence of this indi- 
viduality. The difference, or relation, between ourselves and 
our surroundings, between subject and object, self and not- 
self, viewed in all its phases, gives us the sum of our exist- 
ence. Time is the most abstract view possible of general 
existence ; it is the consciousness of existence separated 
from the events which fill it ; it is the subjective view of life. 
Space is the objective or external view of general life, 
separated from all particulars. Thus the aspects of motion, 
space and time, are merely the natural products of the dif- 
ference between subject and object ; and in this fundamen- 
tal difference we have the explanation of psychical life, or 
thought traced to the relatively simple adjustments of primi- 
tive organisms to their environment. 

Now it may be objected that this fundamental difference, 
or relation, between self and not-self, between the creature 
and its environment, is precisely the mystery of life and 
thought, and that it is none the less a mystery because of 
the simplification of its terms. 

The reply to this is, that if by the term mystery is meant 
a point or principle which defies analysis, I cordially 
consent that life is a mystery ; but I deny that life is one 
mystery and that thought is another, or that human life 
presents us with a different mystery from that of universal 
life, or that organic changes are either more or less mys- 
terious than cosmical or inorganic changes. 

If that unity in all things can be established which cul- 
minates in the conception of God, a universal principle 
whose aspects or attributes are the infinite and the absolute, 
or space and time, philosophy will be fully satisfied. No 
theory of providence which is built upon so commanding a 
view of nature as this will shock the finest logical sensibilities. 



248 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

No teleology which can spring from such a conception as 
this will appear narrow or anthropomorphic, or suffer by 
comparison with the most dignified and resplendent achieve- 
ments of thought. 

To recapitulate, we have the following important results. 
The first or primordial difference, or relation, 1 from which 
the great phenomenon called thought is evolved, is the dif- 
ference between subject and object, self and not-self. This 
difference is the same as that which exists between time and 
space. 

Thinking is relationing, multiplying, or grouping differ- 
ences. Every thought is expressed in terms of time and 
space, and declares an action of which these are the aspects. 
When we compare two existences, or become conscious of 
external coexistences, we contrast the objective terms of two 
distinct relations by dropping, or not attending to, the sub- 
jective terms. When we estimate durations, or become con- 
scious of abstract sequences or time, we contrast the subjec- 
tive terms of two or more distinct relations by dropping, or 
not attending to, the objective terms. Hence we have space 
or coexistences considered as objective conceptions, relatively 

1 In case any objection should be raised to the use of the words relation and 
difference as synonyms, we quote the following as one of many authorities for the 
statement that these words are practically identical in meaning : " Suppose an 
incipient intelligence to receive two equal impressions of the color red. No 
other experiences having been received, the relation between these two impres- 
sions cannot be thought of in any way ; because there exists no other relation 
with which it can be classed, or from which it can be distinguished. Suppose 
two other equal impressions of red are received. There can still exist no idea 
of the relation between them. For though there is a repetition of the pre- 
viously-experienced relation, yet since no thing can be cognized save as of some 
kind ; and since, by its very nature, kind implies the establishment of difference ; 
there cannot, while only one order of relation has been experienced, be any 
knowledge of it any thought about it. Now suppose that two unequal impres- 
sions of red are received. There is experienced a second species of relation. 
And if there are afterward presented many such pairs of impressions, the mem- 
bers of which are severally equal and unequal, it becomes possible for the 
constituents of each new pair to be vaguely thought of as like or unlike, 
and as standing in relations like or unlike previous ones." Spencer's " Psy- 
chology," vol. II., p. 212. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 249 

distinguished from time or abstract sequences considered as 
subjective conceptions. From these personal relations, or 
differences, the great organon of thought is constructed. 
From the primordial adjustments of an organism to its en- 
vironment are evolved the adjustments of the organism of 
humanity to the universe, through the co-ordinations of lan- 
guage which give to the individual the social factor, or its 
intellectual environment, enlarging the terms of this relation 
by insensible progressions from those of an individual and 
its species to those of a species and its cosmical surround- 
ings. From this simple theory of perception we are enabled 
to deduce the inestimable truth that morality, which is 
simply the vastly extended sympathy of an individual for 
its race, is made possible by intelligence, and that it is the 
natural result of human progress. 

The chief point of divergence between this theory of per- 
ception and that taught by such writers as Lewes and Spen- 
cer, is, that it stigmatizes the unknowable as involving a 
contradiction in terms. Since knowledge is the product or 
expression of a universal principle, from which perception is 
seen to spring, to postulate an unknowable is to deny the 
source of knowledge. But there is a deeper incongruity in 
this term unknowable than can be deduced by comparing it 
with any group of facts. As has already been explained, 
every possible conception is an elaboration of the difference 
between subject and object, self and not-self ; to postulate a 
deeper existence than that of which life and knowledge are 
the expression is to say that a relation is not the expression 
of its terms, that thought is possible in the absence of its 
factors. 

In the light of the preceding argument, it is unnecessary 
to say that metaphysical discussions are merely comparisons 
of the meanings of words ; once in possession of the funda- 
mental fact of the universe, or the ultimate analysis, no pos- 
sible combination of terms can disturb us. Amid the fiercest 
conflicts of opinion this truth remains secure. It is in the 
possession of a multitude of minds who feel its power and 



250 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

express its meaning in their lives. Its language is action ; 
its law is morality ; its sentiment is the sympathy which we 
call humanity. Far from being an innovation, its light has 
burned through the long ages of the beginnings of our race ; 
no human life has been without its influence. The bright- 
est promise which the future offers is, that this truth shall 
gain universal sway ; that the actions of men shall express 
that principle of harmony which the mind naturally imbibes 
from nature. 

In the widest meaning of the word thought, therefore, we 
find a reconciliation between the contrasted terms feeling 
and action, a contrast which springs from the first condition 
of organic life, the difference between self and not-self, the 
subjective and the objective, the creature and its environ- 
ment. These are the factors of the phenomenon which 
we call thought. This reconciliation gives us a complete 
psychology without a psychical principle, a religion without 
a revelation, a philosophy without an unknowable. 

Let us now consider the advantages which accrue from an 
understanding of the nature of Perception. 

In the opening of the chapter entitled " Function," in 
the first volume of Mr. Spencer's work on " Biology," we 
find this extraordinary problem : " Does Structure originate 
Function, or does Function originate Structure ? is a ques- 
tion about which there has been disagreement. Using the 
word Function in its widest signification, as the totality of 
all vital actions, the question amounts to this : Does Life 
produce Organization, or does Organization produce Life ? " 
And Mr. Spencer seriously applies himself to solving this 
problem. The fundamental error of Mr. Spencer's system 
of philosophy, as we have before pointed out, is in the in- 
completeness of its ultimate analysis. An ultimate analysis 
leads us to a single fact. This fact we do not find clearly 
stated : the relationships between its many names and 
the many names of its aspects are not explained, and 
the student is left in doubt as to what this fact really 
fs. Spencer's philosophy is termed by its author syn- 



HERBERT SPENCER. 2$i 

thetic. It purports to give us a synthesis of life, a com- 
manding view of reality. This word synthesis springs 
from a fact of perception. The physical or objective side 
of the phenomenon of perception, it will be remembered, 
is in itself a vast synthesis, or building up of parts into a 
whole. The outposts of the understanding, known as the 
senses, are merely channels of agitation leading to the great 
central structure of the nervous system, called the brain. 
Light, heat, the effluences known as odors, the relative 
rigidities called resistances, are simply different kinds of agi- 
tations of the nervous system centring in the brain. Mr. 
Du Bois-Reymond tells us that the chief distinction between 
the two substances known as the muscles and the nerves, 
and hence between body and mind, lies in the amount of 
activity of which each is capable. Again Lewes, in a 
study of the relations of physiology to psychology, and 
the incidental examination of the nervous system, has re- 
moved many of the superstitions which have crept into 
these sciences under the guise of the arbitrary localiza- 
tion of functions, and has demonstrated the inseparable 
nature of the two aspects of physiological phenomena 
known as structure and function. From the simple organic 
substance known as protoplasm, which, under analysis, dis- 
closes a very high molecular multiplicity, to the synthesis of 
organic life instanced in the individual of our own species, 
structure and function are shown to be but obverse aspects 
of each group of facts, which again are merged in the larger 
fact of organic life. Hence the co-ordination of activities is 
another name for organic life. When we use the word life 
in a wider sense than that indicated by this co-ordination or 
organization, it becomes applicable to that wider range of 
activities known as mechanical or chemical, usually regarded 
as distinct from vital. 

Again : the science of organic chemistry, which is yet in 
its infancy, has placed beyond dispute the great fact that the 
distinction between vital and chemical activities is but super- 
ficial. This discovery points to the conclusion, illustrated 



THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

by Lewes, that the structures or substances of the human 
organism, as of all organisms, are directly accountable for 
the type of activity which each organism displays. This 
gives us the startling fact that the four organic elements, 
oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, simply assert their 
natures in all the phenomena of organic life ; jn other words, 
that the affinities or activities of these and allied elements 
account for all vital functions, from the primordial assimila- 
tion, growth, and reproduction observed in the structureless 
speck of protoplasm to the moral sentiments and the most 
extended perceptions of man. 

It is in the light of this fact that I object to Spencer's 
definition of Life. For if organic life is accounted for by 
those activities which outside of the vital sphere we call 
chemical and mechanical, then the word life, in its broadest 
sense, means activity ; organic life means organized activity ; 
and no definition of organization, however extended, can 
illuminate the meaning of the general principle which we call 
Life. To say, therefore, that " Life is the definite combina- 
tion of heterogeneous changes, both simultaneous and suc- 
cessive, in correspondence with external coexistences and 
sequences," is to say that an organism is an instance of the 
adjustment of its internal activities to its external related 
activities, and that organic life is organic life. Again : to 
ask the question, Does life produce organization, or does 
organization produce life ? is equivalent to asking whether 
cause produces effect, or whether effect produces cause. 
The only answer that can be given is to be found in the 
nature of perception, which proceeds inevitably from sim- 
plicity to complexity, from unity to variety, from the one 
to the many, from cause to effect, from the principle of 
activity, or motion, to the facts or realities of life. 

That this metaphysical incompleteness of Spencer's phi- 
losophy vitiates his whole system, is true only in a limited 
sense. When so vast a body of data is organized into a 
picture of life and its surroundings, the failure to strike 
the key-note of the nature of perception is certainly pro- 



HERBERT SPENCER. 253 

ductive of minor discords, of unnecessarily involved expla- 
nations which lead to no useful results. But these lesser 
defects are overwhelmed by the comprehensive plan, the 
consummate skill, the tireless research, and the earnestness 
and noble purpose, of the work. Spencer's philosophy con- 
stitutes an education in itself. No one can really study it 
without feeling its elevating influence, and being benefited 
by the splendid intellectual discipline which it imparts. But 
it is further to be remarked : The tenor of Spencer's system 
is sociological ; his illustrations are continually rising to the 
level of social phenomena, and his originality is to be found 
almost exclusively in this field. 

Before looking on this bright side, however, it is incum- 
bent upon us to examine the psychological department of his 
work, which, we are compelled to admit, has the disadvan- 
tage of demanding the most study and yielding the least 
in return of any of his writings. The scope of this subject 
of psychology has been outlined, from an independent stand- 
point, in the preceding part of this chapter, and in the one 
which follows we propose to examine carefully the method 
of treatment which it receives at the hands of our author. 



CHAPTER XI. 

HERBERT SPENCER (CONTINUED). 

The Analysis of Reason The Fundamental Intuition The Contrasted 
Theories of Perception. 

IN the second volume of Spencer's " Principles of Psychol- 
ogy," the author apologizes for the abstruseness of the opening 
portions of the work, and explains that the method which 
he adopts, namely, that of a systematic analysis, requires 
that it should begin with the most complex and special 
forms of intellectual activity, and progress in stages to the 
simplest or most general. He further says that this method 
will tax the powers of even the habitual student ; and to 
those who are unaccustomed to introspection (or the study 
of the operations of the mind) he recommends patience, and 
holds out the reward of an ultimate comprehension of the 
subject if they will but persevere. 

The first words of the second chapter are these : " Of 
intellectual acts, the highest are those which constitute 
Conscious Reasoning [or] called conscious to distinguish it 
from the unconscious or automatic reasoning that forms so 
large an element in ordinary perception. Of conscious 
reasoning, the kind containing the greatest number of compo- 
nents definitely combined is Quantitative Reasoning. And 
of this, again, there is a division, more highly involved than 
the rest, which we may class apart as Compound Quantitative 
Reasoning. * * * Even in Compound Quantitative Reasoning 
itself there are degrees of composition, and to initiate our 
analysis rightly we must take first the most composite type. 
Let us contemplate an example." 

The example given is the method of reasoning pursued 

254 



HERBERT SPENCER. 2$ $ 

by an engineer in estimating the comparative strength of 
bridges of different sizes. The vast amount of experience, 
or special knowledge, concerning the comparative strength 
of different materials, which the ability to solve such a prob- 
lem would pre-suppose, is reduced to a minimum by taking, 
for example, an iron bridge, and the problems of strain are 
simplified by limiting the example to the tubular class of 
bridges. By these means the whole bearing of the example, 
which is made to represent, as the foregoing quotation shows, 
the most complex form of " Compound Quantitative Reason- 
ing" '. is the joint application of two problems in mechanics 
to the building of bridges. The first of the propositions can 
be stated as follows : The bulks of similar masses of matter 
are to each other as the cubes of their linear dimensions, and 
consequently when the masses are of the same material 
their weights are also to each other as the cubes of their 
linear dimensions. This proposition, stated and explained 
in language familiar to all, is this : to determine the differ- 
ences between masses, agree upon a unit of mass, the most 
convenient form of which has been found to be a cube, or a 
solid of equal linear dimensions. Since the length, breadth, 
and thickness of this unit of mass are equal, its edges or lines 
are equal, so that a comparison between the total number of 
the cubic-shaped units in each mass can be made by compar- 
ing the linear dimensions, providing the number of linear 
units in the linear dimensions is first made to agree with the 
number of cubic units in the respective masses. The prob- 
lem states that the number of linear units in the three 
dimensions multiplied together (or cubed in case the dimen- 
sions are equal) will equal the number of cubic units in the 
respective masses, or that the masses are to each other as 
the cubes of the linear dimensions. The stages, therefore, 
in this first of the two problems, the joint use of which is 
cited as furnishing an example of the most complex order of 
" Compound Quantitative Reasoning," are progressions of 
equations, or equalities. All mathematical progressions are 
steps from one equality to another, beginning always with 



.256 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

those simple equalities which are evident to the senses, or 
sensible equations. Some savages who are unable to count, 
form very good ideas of the comparative bulks of masses ; but 
until they learn to count and measure they cannot understand 
that numbers can be made to represent bulk. It requires no 
mathematical mind, however, to see that they can ; and the 
foregoing problem, stated in terms which the unmathematical 
reader can at once understand, would be simply this : By mul- 
tiplying together the length, breadth, and thickness of a mass, 
we get a number which expresses the volume of the mass in 
any desired units. This is the extent of the question ; for it 
goes without saying, that if numbers are made to express the 
exact volumes of masses, variations in volume imply varia- 
tions in numbers, and comparisons of numbers are compari- 
sons of masses. 

The second problem is not so easy to reduce to its steps 
of equivalence, or the equations by which its conclusions are 
reached. It is stated as follows : In similar masses of mat- 
ter which are subject to compression or tension, or, as in 
this case, to the transverse strain, the power of resistance 
varies as the squares of the (like) linear dimensions. Here 
we have two things made to represent each other, or equal- 
ized, or brought to an equation, which are widely different 
in nature, namely, the power of resistance in a mass and a 
superficial measurement. For if things vary with other 
things, they must represent them, or be equal to them, at 
least in the property which forms the base of the compari- 
son. In this case, the squares of the linear dimensions of 
two masses are said to vary with the power of resistance of 
the masses. Therefore the squares of the linear dimensions 
must in some way be made equal to the power of resistance 
of the respective masses. How is this done ? There is a 
law in mechanics, called the law of least resistance, which 
locates the greatest strain in a structure in a plane. This law 
or rule reduced to its simplest form is, that if a tube of iron of 
uniform size and strength be subjected to the transverse 
strain of (say) its own weight, the place at which it would 



HERBERT SPENCER. 

break, if the strain exceeded its strength, would be a trans- 
verse section of the tube, or the plane of fracture. This 
transverse section, or plane of fracture, is naturally two of 
the linear dimensions of the tube, or mass, multiplied to- 
gether, and in the case of transverse strains it would be 
the two transverse linear dimensions which would be multi- 
plied together to represent this transverse section in units 
of squares. Here, then, the equality of nature is established 
between the results of the two problems. In the first a 
number was made to represent the bulk and also the weight 
of compared masses. Since every mass has three linear di- 
mensions, if it is desired to express these masses in com- 
mon multiples, or divisions of their masses, of course these 
divisions of mass, or units, must have three linear dimensions ; 
and if we would compare the aggregates of units in each 
mass, the calculations, or process by which these aggregates 
are arrived at, must be compared. Now the calculations 
in cases of solids or masses are cubic, or three lines multi- 
plied together, and in cases of surfaces they are squares, 
or two lines multiplied together. The power of resistance 
of a structure to a transverse strain has been simulated 
in the foregoing problem by a surface, and the weight 
of masses by solids, so that the final comparison between the 
results of the two problems is simply a comparison between 
the methods of estimating the number of superficial units 
in a surface and the number of solid units in a solid : one 
is done by multiplying together the linear units contained 
in two straight lines, and the other is done by multiplying 
together the linear units contained in three straight lines. 
Now if a certain operation is performed twice to accomplish 
a certain purpose, and the same operation is performed three 
times to accomplish another purpose, it is plain that the 
result of the operation in the latter case will be larger than 
that in the former, in proportion to the size of the original 
operation. In other words, three times a given quantity will 
be more than twice the same quantity, and the difference 
between the results will increase in exact proportion to the 



258 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

size or power of the unit employed. This is equivalent to* 
saying that the difference between three feet and two feet is 
greater than the difference between three inches and two 
inches, or simpler still, that three is greater than two. From 
this simple difference, the perception of which is not an in- 
tuition, because it is a sensible fact which can be demonstrated 
mechanically, we can build up, by retracing the steps of the 
above analysis, the complex problems that homogeneous 
masses, and therefore their weights, are to each other as 
the cubes of their linear dimensions, and that the power 
of homogeneous masses of like proportional dimensions to 
resist transverse strains varies as the square of the like linear 
dimensions. The whole comparison grows out of the fact 
that the operation by which the weight is estimated is per- 
formed three times, and in the case of estimating the power 
it is performed but twice ; and this gives us the startling 
result that three is greater than two ! 

Speaking of the above problems, Mr. Spencer says : 
" But now, leaving out of sight the various acts by which 
the premises are reached and the final inference is drawn, 
let us consider the nature of the cognition that the ratio 
between the sustaining forces in the two tubes must differ 
from the ratio between the destroying forces ; for this cog- 
nition it is which here concerns us, as exemplifying the 
most complex ratiocination. There is, be it observed, no 
direct comparison between these two ratios. How, then, 
are they known to be unlike ? Their unlikeness is known, 
through the intermediation of two other ratios to which they 
are severally equal. 

" The ratio between the sustaining forces equals the ratio 
I 2 : 2 2 . The ratio between the destroying forces equals the 
ratio i 3 : 2 3 . And, as it is seen that the ratio I 2 : 2 s is un- 
equal to the ratio I 3 : 2 s , it is by implication seen that the 
ratio between the sustaining forces is unequal to the ratio 
between the destroying forces. What is the nature of this 
implication ? or, rather, What is the mental act by which this 
implication is perceived? It is manifestly not decomposable 



HERBERT SPENCER. 259 

into steps. Though involving many elements, it is a single 
intuition, 1 and, if expressed in an abstract form, amounts to 
the axiom : Ratios which are severally equal to certain 
other ratios that are unequal to each other are themselves 
unequal." 5 

We submit that there is a direct comparison between two 
simple quantities to which the compared ratios are reduced 
by analysis. This perception of difference, which is so simple 
and mechanical in its nature that it can be viewed as a sensa- 
tion, is the fundamental activity of every perception, and to it 
every mathematical problem can be reduced. Its origin can 
be shown to be in the difference between self and not-self, 
between the consciousness of a single serial existence, or 
time, and of many existences, coexistences, or space. The 
statement that this final difference is only relative, ex- 
pressing the obverse terms of the ultimate relation which 
we call motion, is merely the completion of the conception, 
the illumination of the principle, of perception. 

That this principle is not taught by Mr. Spencer, those 
who will carefully study the first ten chapters of the second 
volume of " Psychology " will have good reason to believe ; 
and yet a deep study of these chapters reveals abundant 
materials from which this principle can be drawn. 

Following the problems of weight and resistance, Propo- 
sition XI. of the fifth book of Euclid is cited. After the 
demonstration of this problem, the following remarks 
occur: 

" What are here the premises and inference ? It is 
argued that the first relation being like the second in a. 
certain particular (the superiority of its first magnitude) ; 
and the third relation being also like the second in this, 
particular; the first relation must be like the third in this, 
particular. The same argument is applicable to any other 
particular, and therefore to all particulars. Whence the 
implication is, that relations that are like the same rela- 

1 Intuition according to Spencer is an undecomposable cognition. 
* " Principles of Psychology," vol. II., ch. ii. 



260 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

tion in all particulars, or are equal to it, are like each other 
in all particulars, or are equal. 

" Thus the general truth that relations which are equal to 
the same relation are equal to each other a truth of which 
the foregoing proposition concerning ratios is simply one of 
the more concrete forms must be regarded as an axiom. 
Like its analogue things that are equal to the same thing 
are equal to each other it is incapable of proof. Seeing 
how closely, indeed, the two are allied, some may contend 
that the one is but a particular form of the other, and should 
be included under it. They may say that a relation consid- 
ered quantitatively is a species of thing ; and that what is 
true of all things is, by implication, true of relations. Even 
were this satisfactorily shown, however, it would be needful, 
as will presently be seen, to enunciate this general law in 
respect to relations. * * * 

" The truth, relations that are equal to the same relation 
are equal to each other which we thus find is known by 
an intuition (an undecomposable mental act), and can only 
so be known, underlies important parts of geometry. An 
examination of the first proposition in the sixth book of 
Euclid, and of the deductions made from it in succeeding 
propositions, will show that many theorems have this axiom 
for their basis. But on this axiom are built far wider and 
far more important conclusions. It is the foundation of 
all mathematical analysis. * Alike in working out the sim- 
plest algebraical question and in performing those higher 
analytical processes of which algebra is the root, it is the 
one thing taken for granted at every step. The successive 
transformations of an equation are linked together by acts 
of thought of which this axiom expresses the most general 
form" ' 

This citation is given for the purpose of showing the great 
importance which Spencer attaches to this complex rule or 
axiom that " Relations which are equal to the same relation 
are equal to each other" ; also, how he clings to the word 

1 " Principles of Psychology," vol. II., ch. II. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 26 1 

relation as preferable to thing or fact ; although it is the 
more abstruse term, and how decided he is in saying that this 
rule is an intuition, a word which he interprets as " cognition 
reached by an undecomposable mental act." : It is manifestly 
a part of our theory of perception to deny the existence of 
intuitions when the term is used in the above sense ; for that 
sense presupposes an unknowable. " Intuition " is a very 
useful word in describing mental procedures, but it can 
never have a deeper meaning than that of a rapid percep- 
tion, so rapid as to appear to be undecomposable. But the 
principle of perception explains every possible intuition. 
Notwithstanding that the mental organism of man has 
reached such perfection that thought is able to cover vast 
areas as by a flash of light, the operation is composite, and 
can be traced step by step to the primordial difference 
between subject and object, the primeval inference from 
which all thought is elaborated. Far from this rule, "that 
relations which are equal to the same relation are equal to 
each other," being an undecomposable intuition, it is a 
manifest complexity of the perception of difference which 
is involved in every mathematical equation. 

The reason for using the word relations instead of things 
in the so-called axiomatic intuition is thus given by Mr. 
Spencer : " It should be noted that the relations thus far 
dealt with are relations of magnitudes, and, properly speak- 
ing, relations of homogeneous magnitudes ; or in other 
words, ratios. In the geometrical reasoning quoted from 
the fifth book of Euclid this fact is definitely expressed. In 
the algebraical reasoning, homogeneity of the magnitudes 
dealt with seems, at first, not implied ; since the same equa- 
tion often includes at once magnitudes of space, time, force, 
value. But on remembering that these magnitudes can be 
treated algebraically only by reducing them to the common 
denomination of number, and considering them as abstract 
magnitudes of the same order, we see that the relations 
dealt with are really those between homogeneous magni- 

1 " Psychology," vol. II, p. 12, foot-note. 



262 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

tudes are really ratios. The motive for constantly speak- 
ing of them under the general name relations, of which ratios 
are but one species, is that only when they are so classed can 
the intellectual processes by which they are co-ordinated be 
brought under the same category with other acts of reason- 
ing." ' The word ratio means proportion, the comparison 
of numbers or quantities. The terms of the comparison 
may be things, or other ratios, or relations indifferently, for 
things are merely complexities of numbers and quantities. 

The fact that all acts of reasoning spring from or can be 
explained by a perception, or sensation, of difference, is 
opposed to the statement that it is necessary to speak of the 
terms of an equation as Relations, in order to bring the in- 
tellectual process represented " under the same category 
with other acts of reasoning " ; for equations are merely 
comparisons. The sign of equality does not mean identity, 
but equivalence. There is always a difference implied in 
every statement of equality. The primordial difference, 
which is to be found between the conceptions of time and 
space, or between the facts known as subject and object, the 
self and the not-self, the creature and its surroundings, 
accounts for this difference, which is implied in the most 
complete possible equations. If "quantitative reasoning" 
is the most exact, quantitative equalities express the finest 
possible shade of difference ; and this difference is that of 
position or space, which means the same thing as quantity, 
for the word quantity never signifies more than an aspect of 
any phenomenon. To equalize homogeneous things in their 
quantitative aspect is to reduce their difference to that of 
position, or only space ; but this difference of position re- 
mains so long as comparison is possible. 

Straight lines are generated by points in motion. The 
most abstract terms of comparison possible are two straight 
lines, because their difference can be expressed in the sim- 
plest imaginable motion. Two equal straight lines give us the 
ideal equation. If these straight lines are merged in one, 

1 " Psychology," vol. II., ch. ii. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 263 

equality disappears in identity, and we have remaining the 
fact known as the simplest possible motion a straight line. 

But, it will be asked, if the primordial or simplest differ- 
ence is that between object and subject (the function of 
individuality), if this simplest difference has its source in the 
contracted aspects of motion, known as time and space, why 
is it said that the faintest possible shade of difference, which 
is detected at the bottom of every equation, is that of 
position, or space? Why does not the other factor of the 
ultimate relation, known as time, stand for an equally fine 
shade of difference ? Why does not the factor of time also 
appear in the ultimate analysis of equations? It has been 
said above that the ideal equation was to be found in two 
equal straight lines : " Two equal mathematical lines placed 
one upon the other merge into identity, and alone exhibit 
that species of coexistence which can lapse into single exist- 
ence." A straight line is generated by a point in motion. 
Two equal straight lines compared exhibit the simplest of 
all possible relations, excepting the ultimate relation, which 
is motion. A glance at the genesis of the conception of an 
equation of two equal straight lines shows how absolutely 
dependent we are, for every step of reasoning composing it, 
upon the fundamental fact of motion. But in this fact of 
motion is not the element of time always implied ? Can we 
generate a straight line without employing the factor time ? 
Can we form an equation without acknowledging the pres- 
ence of time in the synthesis? 

The first coexistence of which the mind becomes con- 
scious, namely, the ego and the non-ego, employs the con- 
sciousness of self as a factor. The conception of time is the 
subjective aspect of that synthesis of motion known to us as 
personal existence, and springs from the consciousness of 
serial life considered apart from all conditions. The con. 
sciousness of self, therefore, gives rise to our conception of 
time ; and as the subjective is a factor in every coexistence, 
no equation can be formed without employing time. But 
we are continually forgetting, or dropping, the subjective 



264 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

factor of every coexistence. When we observe objects in 
space, we form the idea of objective coexistence ; but it is 
done by recognizing the relation, or fact, of coexistence 
between ourselves and each object, and then forgetting, or 
dropping, the subjective term. In this sense, and only in 
this sense, is the axiom that things which are equal to the 
same thing are equal to each other a primordial form of 
inference. It is the method of all comparisons, but it is 
manifestly composite and is the union of two distinct com- 
parisons, the establishment of two distinct relations, or facts 
of equality. In comparisons, or equations which rise above 
the simple relation of coexistence, the presence of the sub- 
jective factor becomes more and more obscure. If, for 
instance, we would establish equality of magnitude between 
three objects, we measure them all by one and declare that 
each of the remaining two, being equal to the one first 
measured, or selected as a measure, is equal to each other. 
If the objects were increased to four instead of three, the 
process would only be repeated, and the axiom would read, 
All things which are equal to the same thing are equal to 
one another, or the relation of equality is constant between 
like terms. 

Among homogeneous objects this relation of equality 
amounts to a declaration that the compared objects are 
alike excepting in position ; or, in other words, the primor- 
dial difference of space lasts as long as comparison remains 
possible, and is the last to give way before identity. In all 
this, however, the element of time is present, for the very 
act of reasoning, or comparing, or ratiocination, implies the 
lapse of time, and the first step beyond the conception of 
time implies space, or not-self. 

But it may be objected, if the faintest possible shade of 
difference between facts is to be found in the comparison of 
two equal straight lines, and the source of difference itself, 
or the primordial or simplest of all differences, is to be found 
in the comparison of time and space, or subject and object, 
what is the difference between these differences ? The reply 



HERBERT SPENCER. 26$ 

is, that when we compare two straight lines we compare two 
motions, or two separate facts ; and in comparing time and 
space, we have that contrast between the aspects of motion, 
as an indivisible fact, which is the function of our individu- 
ality, the germ of intelligence, the beginning of life and of 
perception. Thus we see our utter inability to escape from 
the primordial fact of motion, which gives birth to every 
conception, for in the contrasted aspects of this fact we 
have the source of every inference. 

In the sixth and seventh chapters of the same work we 
find a labored argument, the purpose of which is to review 
the subject of " perfect " and " imperfect quantitative reason- 
ing," thereby bringing the subject down to the subsequent 
chapter entitled " Reasoning in General." All through this 
argument a persistent effort is made to prove that the propo- 
sition, " Relations which are equal to the same relation are 
equal to each other," is what might be termed an irreducible 
axiom, the initial act of reasoning. 

In the chapter entitled " The Final Question," second 
division of the same volume, Mr. Spencer endeavors to prove 
that a complete theory of knowledge is impossible at the 
present stage of human culture. By a complete theory of 
knowledge he seems to mean a comprehension of the princi- 
ples of life and mind, the determination of which is the aim 
of all philosophy. This assertion is thus set forth : " But 
while a true theory of knowledge is impossible without a 
true theory of the thing knowing and a theory of the thing 
known, which is true as far as it goes; and while it follows 
that advance toward a true theory of any one depends on 
advances toward true theories of the others ; it is, I think, 
manifest that, since a true theory of knowledge implies a 
true co-ordination of that which knows with that which is 
known, the ultimate form of such a theory can be reached 
only after the theories of that which knows and of that which 
is known have reached their ultimate forms. * * * That the 
theories of the known and of the knowing have assumed 
their finished shapes, and that a finished theory of Knowledge 



266 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

is now possible, would, of course, be an absurd assumption." 
Here we have two distinct assertions ; the first is, that a true 
theory of Knowledge can be formed, providing we can form 
-a " true theory of the thing knowing and a theory of the 
thing known, which is true as far as it goes." The second 
is, that a true theory of knowledge is impossible as yet, be- 
cause " the ultimate form of such a theory can be reached 
only after the theories of that which knows and of that which 
is known have reached their ultimate forms "; and the 
assumption that this ultimate form of theory has been 
reached is declared to be an absurdity. This, of course, is 
equivalent to saying that a true theory of Knowledge (using 
the word in its true sense, to include the knowing and the 
known) has not been arrived at, and cannot be arrived at 
in the present state of human culture. 

The theory of Knowledge, therefore, which Mr. Spencer 
offers is admitted by himself to be imperfect, incomplete, 
less than true. Is not this a rather discouraging admission, 
when we consider the vast amount of introspective study 
which his system contains ? The degree of this necessary 
incompleteness of our conception of knowledge is not de- 
fined, but it seems to be measured by the incompleteness of 
our understanding of the principles of knowledge, or the 
categories of thought. Thus we are told that " Developed 
intelligence is framed upon certain organized and consoli- 
dated conceptions of which it cannot divest itself ; and which 
it can no more stir without using than the body can stir 
without help of its limbs." 1 This asserts that these " organ- 
ized and consolidated conceptions " are absolutely essential 
to the activity of the intelligence. We are not told what 
kind of activity it is which organizes and consolidates these 
conceptions, without which the mind is said to be incapable 
of procedure of any kind. It will be remembered that these 
conceptions are five in number ; they are enumerated in the 
chapter on " Ultimate Scientific Ideas," in " First Principles," 
as follows : Space, Time, Matter, Motion, and Force. These 

1 " Principles of Psychology," vol. II., p. 309. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 267 

conceptions were declared to be utterly incomprehensible ; 
any attempt to understand them was said to lead to absurd- 
ities. Again : they were aggravated in a sixth conception, 
called consciousness. This combination of incomprehensi- 
bles was also declared to be utterly incomprehensible, which, 
it must be admitted, was but a fair inference. Now is it 
surprising, with this combination of inconceivable concep- 
tions aggregated into an incomprehensible consciousness, all 
being manifestations of the unknowable, to set out with, 
that we should have a theory of knowledge in some degree 
incomplete ? As a further illustration of the incompleteness 
of Mr. Spencer's theory of knowledge, we would call atten- 
tion to his belief in the existence of " organized and consoli- 
dated conceptions," which are absolutely essential to intel- 
lectual activity. 

Conceptions are surely the fruit of intellectual activity, 
and to postulate conceptions already " organized and con- 
solidated," as a primary condition to intellectual procedures, 
is correct only in a very limited sense ; in a broad sense it is 
equivalent to saying that the mind can act without acting. 
Here we have the vital fault of Mr. Spencer's psychology. 
It teaches distinctly that " reason is absolutely incapable of 
justifying its assumption. An assumption it is at the outset. 
An assumption it must remain to the last." From a less 
careful writer than Spencer these words might be passed 
over as an inadvertence, but they are too consistent with the 
rest of his psychological reasoning, and too prominent in 
themselves, to fail to impress us. It is clearly admitted that 
all intellectual activity is included under the broadest mean- 
ing of the word reasoning. 

By following out Mr. Spencer's idea of reasoning, there- 
fore, in which it is said that the activity of reasoning extends 
in an unbroken chain from those automatic procedures 
known as reflex action to the highest efforts of the mind, we 
shall perceive that it is hardly consistent with that theory of 
knowledge which declares that the activities of the mind 



1 " Principles of Psychology," vol. II., p. 317. 



268 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

depend absolutely upon organized consolidated conceptions 
which are utterly incomprehensible. " Reasoning, however," 
says Mr. Spencer, " is nothing more than re-coordinating 
states of consciousness already co-ordinated in certain simpler 
ways. * * * Men of science, now as in all past times, subor- 
dinate the deliverances of consciousness reached through 
mediate processes to the deliverances of consciousness 
reached through immediate processes ; or, to speak strictly, 
they subordinate those deliverances reached through pro- 
longed and conscious reasoning to those deliverances reached 
through reasoning that has become so nearly automatic as 
no longer to be called reasoning." ] In a word, the highest 
achievements of the mind are submitted to the arbitration 
of the senses, or those automatic co-ordinations which may 
be regarded as the natural activities of the physical organ- 
ism, because so simple that they cannot be classed as mental. 

If reasoning is thus traced from the simplest organic co-or- 
dinations or activities to those involved efforts of the mind 
commonly classed as reasoning, and if it is admitted that the 
re-coordinations (or higher reasonings) cannot give to the 
results reached a validity independent of that possessed by 
the previously co-ordinated states, where is the break in a 
chain of reasoning reaching from the simplest organic fact to 
the most complex, or from the first co-ordinations to the 
most involved co-ordinations ? Deductions when correct 
are but natural effects of certain causes given in the 
premises from which the deductions are made. Logical de- 
ductions are the natural consequences of the meaning of 
words, the symbolic representations of organic activities. 

When Spencer teaches, therefore, that all the activities of 
the mind can be included under the broadest meaning of the 
word reasoning, and in the same chapter asserts that 
" Reasoning is absolutely incapable of justifying its assump- 
tion, an assumption it is at the outset, an assumption it 
must remain to the last," the contradiction is evident ; for 
after identifying reasoning with all organic activity, it would 

1 " Principles of Psychology," vol. II., p. 315. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 269 

be just as sensible to say that cause and effect, which are the 
obverse appearances of every fact, are arbitrary appear- 
ances, assumptions which cannot justify themselves, as to say 
that reasoning cannot justify itself. Facts express and jus- 
tify themselves, and the 'deepest fact is the end of analysis 
and the beginning of synthesis, the principle of perception, 
or life. 

If it is possible to find a rank superstition involved in a 
flagrant contradiction in terms, it is this theory which as- 
sumes that reason is an unjustifiable assumption, that the 
elements of thought are impenetrable mysteries, that knowl- 
edge springs from the unknowable, that perception is the 
function of the imperceptible, that conceptions are mani- 
festations of the inconceivable, and that they spring armed 
cap-a-pie into the world of consciousness, the manifest fruits 
of thought, but denying their origin. Intellectual activity 
is akin to universal activity, a form of motion. Conscious- 
ness, thought, reason, perception, knowledge, are but differ- 
ent names for different aspects of this activity. The prime 
factors in this activity are the subject and the object, the 
creature and its environment ; and in this dual aspect of the 
phenomenon of knowledge (for knowledge we hold to be its 
most comprehensive term) we have that contrast, comparison, 
expression of difference, or primordial relation, from which 
the great structure of mind is built up, to which contrast 
we trace the origin of all thought, and by which we explain 
Perception. The very word unknowable involves an absurd- 
ity. To name a thing is to recognize its existence, to 
classify it, and therefore to reason about it, and hence, 
in some degree, to know it. In what degree do we know 
the " unknowable " ? Hear w r hat Mr. Spencer says, in 
another part of the same volume, in support of this 
position : " The general community of nature, thus shown 
in mental acts, called by different names, may be cited 
as so much confirmation of the several analyses. * * * All 
orders of Reasoning Deductive and Inductive, Necessary 
and Contingent, Quantitative and Qualitative, Axiomatic 



270 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

and Analogical come under one general form. Here we 
see both that classification, naming, and recognition are 
nearly allied to one another, and that they, too, are sev- 
erally modifications of that same fundamental intuition out 
of which all orders of reasoning arise. Nor are classifica- 
tion and naming allied only as being both of inferential 
nature ; for they are otherwise allied as different sides of the 
same thing. Naming presupposes classification ; and classi- 
fication cannot be carried to any extent without naming. 
Similarly with recognition and classification, which are also 
otherwise allied than through their common kinship to ratio- 
cination. They often merge into each other, either from the 
extreme likeness of different objects, or the changed aspect 
of the same object ; and while recognition is a classing of a 
present impression with] past impressions, classification is a 
recognition of a particular object as one of a special group 
of objects. This weakening of conventional distinctions, 
this reduction of these several operations of the mind, in 
common with all those hitherto considered, to variations of 
one operation, is to be expected as the result of analysis." 1 
This analysis shows all the operations of mind to be of the 
same order, from the simplest to the highest co-ordinations, 
and yet all orders of reasoning are said to be but modifications 
of that fundamental intuition which is elsewhere referred to 
as the function of the " unknowable," a group of " concrete 
organized conceptions," which are in themselves incompre- 
hensible, a group of intellectual " entities," " manifestations 
of the unknowable." In case the reader should suspect that 
Mr. Spencer makes a difference between the operations of 
the mind in general and those operations which we call 
reasoning, we have but to revert to the chapter on " Reason- 
ing in General," where we find it admitted that knowledge 
gained through the senses, or, as Mr. Spencer terms it, by per- 
ception, differs from that gained by the reasoning faculties, 
not in nature, but only in the directness of the apprehen- 
sion. If the cognitions gained through sensuous percep- 

1 " Principles of Psychology," vol. II., p. 129. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 2? I 

tions are the same in nature as the cognitions gained through 
the reasoning faculties, at what stage in the development of 
mind does the " irreducible intuition " make its appearance? 

" Let us consider," says Mr. Spencer, " what is the more 
specific definition of Reasoning. Not only does the kind of 
proposition called an inference assert a relation ; but every 
proposition, whether expressing mediate or immediate 
knowledge, asserts a relation. How, then, does knowing 
a relation by Reason differ from knowing it by Perception ? 
It differs by its indirectness. A cognition is distinguishable 
as of one or the other kind, according as the relation it em- 
bodies is disclosed to the mind directly or indirectly. If its 
terms are so presented that the relation between them is im- 
mediately cognized if their coexistence, or succession, or 
juxtaposition, is knowable through the senses, we have a per- 
ception. If their coexistence, or sequence, or juxtaposition, 
is not knowable through the senses, if the relation between 
them is mediately cognized, we have a ratiocinative act. Rea- 
soning, then, is the indirect establishment of a definite relation 
between two things. But now the question arises, By what 
process can the indirect establishment of a definite relation 
be effected ? There is one process, and only one. If a re- 
lation between two things is not directly knowable, it can be 
disclosed only through the intermediation of relations that 
are directly knowable, or are already known." 

Reasoning, then, which is admitted to signify, in its 
widest sense, all intellectual activity, is declared to be the 
indirect establishment of a definite relation between two 
things. " If this relation between two things is not directly 
knowable, it can be disclosed only through the intermediation 
of relations that are directly knowable ', or are already known." 
Does not the above show conclusively that the genesis of 
thought is from facts to facts, from definite known relations 
to definite known relations, and that, in this admission, 
there is no room for the unknowable ? Does it not appear 
as though, in the analysis above quoted, our author had 

1 "Principles of Psychology," vol. II., p. 115. 



272 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

penetrated so near the truth as to forget that error which, 
in other parts of his system, is shown to be at the bottom of 
his theory of perception? Is it not clear, from the position 
we now hold in this attempt at a Synthesis of Knowledge, 
that the departure from the true course of reasoning in Mr. 
Spencer's psychology is caused by the difficulty of account- 
ing, not for the general procedures of the mind, but for our 
conceptions of those principles known as space, time, matter, 
force, and motion, and his consequent failure to perform an 
analysis of perception? 

Involved as are the operations of the mind in tracing them 
out, we encounter no mysteries, no irreducible intuitions, no 
facts which are not fully comprehensible or which do not 
justify themselves. If reasoning is an institution of compari- 
sons varying in complexity from the primordial comparison of 
the subjective and the objective, which gives us the conscious- 
ness of personal existence, to the vaguest and most remote 
analogies, it is manifest that the process is constant in nature, 
and varies in complexity with the terms compared. In estimat- 
ing the likeness between homogeneous objects, we establish 
equality of quantity by a comparison of measurements, or by 
measuring all by one. We unconsciously employ the subjec- 
tive factor in each relation of equality established, for we 
virtually affirm that each object impresses us as the same in 
all respects excepting position. When quantitative com- 
parisons cease and more complex attributes or qualities are 
compared, the use of the subjective factor becomes more 
and more obscured, and we imagine that we are comparing 
purely objective facts directly together, whereas we are al- 
ways comparing the impressions which the facts make upon 
us together ; or, in other words, we are comparing relations ; 
but what are these relations between ourselves and objects 
but facts themselves ? They are facts of consciousness hav- 
ing for their terms objective and subjective activities. If 
mind, then, is made up of these simple comparisons, perfectly 
simple in nature but becoming more and more intricate as 
-they ascend in thought, what becomes of that involved intui- 



HERBERT SPENCER. 273 

tion which we are told is so fundamental that it cannot be 
reduced to any simpler terms ? But here we come upon the 
difference between sensation and thought, between facts of 
consciousness which have objective factors, and facts of con- 
sciousness which are purely subjective. A train of thought 
is set going within us, and the great machinery of the mind 
continues to work out its comparisons with apparent inde- 
pendence of the environment. These trains of thought some- 
times occupy years in their course, and are silently progressing 
during waking and sleeping, during all sorts of distracting 
occupations, and at last complete themselves, in some cases, 
with scarcely any conscious effort on the part of the thinker. 
This is certainly a conspicuous instance of the difference be- 
tween sensation and thought. Sensation has one factor with- 
out, thought proceeds within. This distinction, however, is 
only relative. The sensorium responds to impressions from 
without, and each impression produces its modification of the 
sensorium, its memory : impressions repeated become deeper, 
the modifications become more and more marked. Each 
modification of structure implies a modification of function. 
The physical adjustments which correspond to those compari- 
sons constituting thought are thus far inscrutable, but we have 
the results in the clearer perceptions which accrue from 
thinking, or, in other words, the more ready adjustment of 
the organism to its environment. The difference, therefore, 
between sensation and thought is, that sensation is the ac- 
tivity of the sensorium which is the more nearly connected 
with the external causes of excitement, and thought is the 
activity of the sensorium which is farthest removed from 
external causes of excitement ; and between these two ex- 
tremes there are all degrees of combinations, varying from 
what is known as reflex action to the most abstract and 
involved achievements of reason. The subjective factor 
in each comparison is ever present throughout all these 
progressions, and the intuition by which Mr. Spencer places 
so much store is simply a logical formula in which the 
repetition of the subjective term in perception, although per- 



2/4 T HE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

fectly discernible, is elided or neglected. In fact, in the 
light of the above analysis, it is far more difficult to see how 
the objective factor remains present in abstract thought, for 
it is clear that in those mental activities which have no direct 
connection with the environment, which, in other words, draw 
the terms of their comparisons from the memory, the objec- 
tive factor is only present through such representation as it 
has secured by modifications of the sensorium. 

Thinking or calculating, therefore, without the aid of di- 
rect verification, or practical demonstration, is an intellectual 
activity which is carried on by a sort of proxy communica- 
tion with the outer world ; and keen indeed must be the 
memory, deep the impressions made by facts upon the mind, 
to secure the reliability of the results. 

We see, then, that there is an excuse, but not a justifica- 
tion, for the assertion of Mr. Spencer that the simplest type 
of mental activity is the complex axiom declaring equality 
between relations having one term in common and the other 
terms equal (relations which are equal to the same relation 
are equal to each other) ; for although it is impossible to 
compare objects without employing the subjective factor, or 
without comparing the impressions of the object on ourselves, 
or the relations between ourselves and each object, the com- 
parisons, or relations, are distinct and complete in them- 
selves, and the presence of a common term is only an 
abridged way of expressing the repetition of the same term. 
If the presence of the subjective factor is not the ground on 
which Mr. Spencer insists upon the above form of axiom, the 
futility of the argument is the more manifest ; for to say that 
two things are equal because they are each equal to a third 
is exactly the same as saying that three things are equal be- 
cause there is no distinguishable difference between them, 
which repeats the subjective factor in each comparison and 
makes three distinct assertions of equality. 

Should refutation appear unnecessarily elaborate, the ex- 
tent and intricacy of the argument of which it is a summary 
should be remembered. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 275 

The theory of Knowledge offered in this work, contrasted 
with that offered by Mr. Spencer, may be set forth as fol- 
lows : Knowledge is an activity coextensive with organic 
life ; life is an activity which is universal. The activity 
which we recognize as life in the monad is ultimately indis- 
tinguishable in its nature from those expressions of the 
physical forces known as chemical reactions or affinities 
acknowledged to be but forms of motion. The activities of 
organic life become more and more complex or special in 
their development toward the highest type, which we find in 
our own species. These co-ordinations still progress through 
what is known as superorganic, or social, phenomena, through 
the interactions of the individual and society expressed in 
language and intelligence, culminating in that most perfect 
activity known as morality. 

In the march of progress, which is the most complete view 
we can take of the universe, we are not passive spectators, 
but co-operants. Our perceptions are limited only by our- 
selves ; these limits are the expression of individuality. Now 
this individuality is so conspicuous an attribute, that even 
such minds as Descartes and Kant have mistaken it for the 
most general fact, the one immovable truth. But if we think 
a moment, we shall see that this truth is not absolute or im- 
movable, that it is moving with the current of events ; that 
it is a part of universal change. 

Viewed in their higher developments, thought and action 
appear entirely distinct ; but when we reduce the scale of 
development to its lowest point, their community of nature 
readily appears. There is nothing in the life of the monad, 
in its affinity or attraction for proximately like substances,, 
its consequent increase in size, and falling into pieces, which 
could suggest such names as assimilation, growth, and repro- 
duction ; but the fundamental activities of higher organic 
life, to which these names are applied, are traced in insen- 
sible gradations to this simple origin, and thus the differ- 
ence between universal activities and the special activities 
of organic life disappear. So the mental procedures, known 



276 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION'. 

as perception, or thought, are only higher developments 
of these organic activities, and are plainly traceable through 
natural sequences to the same simple source. Every 
movement of the microscopic speck of protoplasm is the 
direct function of its chemical constitution and its mechanical 
adjustment to the environment ; and these names, chemical 
and mechanical, are acknowledged to represent merely special 
aspects or forms of motion. When the monad acts, how- 
ever simply, that action expresses a law, or a truth, and con- 
stitutes the simplest imaginable form of perception. There 
is no structure to co-ordinate the action so that it can be re- 
produced in memory, adjusted in thought, and readjusted in 
action. The tiny cycle of change set up in this little being 
is too simple to receive any such classification ; but from its 
motions are built up the activities of the highest life, without 
the intervention of any new principle. Science having 
familiarized the mind with all these particulars of develop- 
ment, the seeker after incomprehensibles is forced into the nar- 
row limits of metaphysical terms. Space, time, matter, force, 
and motion, are found in consciousness, and they are 
found out of consciousness. One class of thinkers are 
puzzled with the question how they got into the mind ; 
the other, how they managed to get out of it. The 
former class reason that as they are unknowables they 
cannot get into the mind as they really are, so they must 
run the gantlet in the guise of " organized consolidated con- 
ceptions " ; and it is well understood after they do get in 
in this guise, they are to be utterly incomprehensible. The 
other class argue that these mystic principles are absolute 
entities, independent originals, that are found in the mind; 
and as they cannot in any way get out, they practically take 
every thing in with them. These two great classes of thinkers 
have, of course, displayed all degrees of ingenuity in expound- 
ing their theories. Some of them, in order to protect these 
precious fallacies, have built up intellectual fortifications 
which bid fair to last, at least as imposing ruins, throughout 
the existence of our race. No amount of subtility on the 



HERBERT SPENCER. 277 

part of these metaphysicians, however, seems to prevent the 
above simple classification of their systems, although, in the 
course of their arguments they have sounded the key-note of 
thought over and over again. The ultimate analysis declares 
these so-called incomprehensible principles to be but phases 
of a fact which is in the highest degree comprehensible ; for 
to this fact perception and thought are directly traceable. 

This is the distinguishing feature of the theory of Knowl- 
edge which I would here offer, and this it is which marks 
its contrast with all theories postulating an unknowable as 
taking part in any form, or through any manifestation, in the 
constitution of Knowledge. With regard to perception, the 
present theory teaches that the direction of perception is 
the direction of organic life, that its source and procedures 
are organic, and that the moving limits of individuality 
are its only circumscriptions. Thus mind has no proscrip- 
tions in nature. The vistas of consciousness are unlimited ; 
the universe holds nothing back from thought. Through- 
out the receding simplifications of analysis, or the advancing 
constructions of synthesis, we meet with no fact or prin- 
ciple, however general, which the individual cannot assimi- 
late, and which is not in itself an advancement and en- 
largement of our existence. 



CHAPTER XII. 

HERBERT SPENCER (CONCLUDED). 
Sociology an Instrument in Determining Ultimate Beliefs. 

WE have now before us the more grateful task of describ- 
ing the merits of Spencer's system of philosophy. In " First 
Principles," which is an epitome of the whole, and in the 
succeeding four volumes, two of " Biology " and two of " Psy- 
chology," we find a masterly picture of the related stages of 
progression from the simplest to the most complex type of 
organic life. In the first book of the above series, the changes 
expressed in this progressive organic development are more or 
less clearly affiliated to those changes broadly described as 
inorganic. In the last book we find an attempt to explain 
the organic side of mental life, and to apply to the highest 
of all phenomena the formula of evolution. The march 
from the simple to the complex is shown to be the direction 
of universal activity. This idea is further elaborated in a 
definition of life, to which we demurred because it merely 
adds to the conception of universal activity the characteris- 
tics of the activity of individual or organic life, and should, 
therefore, be called a definition, not of life in general, but of 
organic life. The principle so laboriously expounded, that 
"Function makes Structure," which has a fuller expression 
in the theory of " the direct adaptation of the creature to its 
environment," a prominent feature of Spencer's biological 
studies, was objected to on the ground that function and 
structure are but obverse sides of every phenomenon, and 
neither, therefore, can have precedence over the other as a 
cause. 

In constructing this system of thought, Mr. Spencer has 

278 



HERBERT SPENCER. 2?g 

presented to the world a philosophy admirably articulated 
and constituting an organon of scientific truth of inestimable 
value. His best original work does not appear, however, in 
the first five books of the system. Beneath the imposing 
array of scientific knowledge we find an undercurrent of 
ontological speculation, a persistent effort at an ultimate 
analysis, which produces as its result, from crisis to crisis 
throughout the work, the conception of the so-called " deepest 
knowable truth," denominated The Persistence of Force. It 
is true that at times this "deepest knowable truth " is de- 
clared to be unknowable, but for the most part, with remark- 
able consistency of purpose, he avoids placing this conception 
among the weird group of ultimates fully described in the 
last chapter, which are declared to be inconceivables ; but 
the logical difficulty which this omission might be supposed 
to avoid is only thereby enhanced, for Force, according to 
Mr. Spencer, is a prominent name among the "unknowobles" 
and how it is made to serve as the basis of " the deepest know- 
able truth " is not explained. We are left to infer, perhaps, 
that the depth attributed to this conception is solely a property 
of the attribute persistence ; since we are certainly safe in 
assuming that whatever property an unknowable conception 
may have, it can lay no claim to a third dimension. 

After this deep study of individual or organic life, which 
forms the principal theme of the first five books above 
mentioned, we come to the study of what Mr. Spencer de- 
nominates super-organic phenomena. This is the science 
of Sociology, for which he is so justly renowned. Its field is 
human life ; its plan is to view humanity as a great organ- 
ism, and to study the adjustments of this organism, as an 
aggregate, to its surroundings ; tracing, through the changes 
of history, the sequences of its existence. 

The purpose of this study, as can readily be seen, is to 
examine the different phases of conduct from the primitive 
family or tribe to the race viewed as a confederation of 
nations ; the object being to create a science of morality. 

Too much cannot be said in praise of such a work ; its 



280 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

very inception is an inspiration. The first volume of " Soci- 
ology " is one of the most interesting literary productions 
of our century. It is the romance of human life viewed 
from the most commanding position which thought affords. 
The subject of the Primitive Man is minutely studied ; his 
probable surroundings, and the influence of these surround- 
ings as the external factors of his existence, are estimated. 
The physical, emotional, and intellectual aspects of his 
nature are respectively considered, as the internal factors of 
his development, and this development is shown to be the 
establishment of those permanent relationships between 
individuals known as social organization. The different 
questions which the enormous periods of man's prehistoric 
existence give rise to are considered with the characteristic 
depth and thoroughness of the author ; and in his treatment 
of them we have a graphic picture of the long and painful 
struggle for existence which preceded the primitive forms of 
civilization. The great impetus which co-operation among 
men has given to human life is depicted, and it is shown that 
social progress and the perfection of conduct are but obverse 
aspects of the same development. 

In this book we have Mr. Spencer at his best. Sure of his 
subject and conclusions, his style is clear and comprehensive, 
his thought deep almost to the emotional. Persuaded by his 
earnestness, criticism gives way to conviction, and one is 
content to read and learn. An idea of the method can be 
gained from the following, which occurs in the chapter on 
" The Factors of Social Phenomena " : 

' ' There remains in the group of derived factors one more, the potency of 
which can scarcely be over-estimated. I mean that accumulation of super- 
organic products which we commonly distinguish as artificial, but which, philo- 
sophically considered, are no less natural than all others resulting from evolution. 
There are several orders of these. 

' ' First come the material appliances, which, beginning with roughly-chipped 
flints, end in the complex automatic tools of an engine-factory driven by steam ; 
which from boomerangs rise to thirty-five-ton guns ; which from huts of branches 
and grass grow to cities with their palaces and cathedrals. Then we have lan- 
guage, able at first only to eke out gestures in communicating simple ideas, but 



HERBERT SPENCER. 28 1 

eventually becoming capable of expressing highly- complex conceptions with 
precision. While from that stage in which it conveys thoughts only by sounds 
to one or a few other persons, we pass through picture-writing up to steam- 
printing : multiplying indefinitely the numbers communicated with, and making 
accessible in voluminous literatures the ideas and feelings of innumerable men 
in various places and times. Concomitantly there goes on the development of 
knowledge, ending in science. Counting on the fingers grows into far-reaching 
mathematics ; observation of the moon's changes leads at length to a theory of 
the solar system ; and at successive stages there arise sciences of which not 
even the germs can at first be detected. Meanwhile the once few and simple 
customs, becoming more numerous, definite, and fixed, end in systems of laws. 
From a few rude superstitions there grow up elaborate mythologies, theologies, 
cosmogonies. Opinion getting embodied in creeds, gets embodied, too, in 
accepted codes of propriety, good conduct, ceremony, and in established social 
sentiments. And then there gradually evolve also the products we call aesthetic ; 
which of themselves form a highly-complex group. From necklaces of fish- 
bones we advance to dresses, elaborate, gorgeous, and infinitely varied ; out of 
discordant war-chants come symphonies and operas ; cairns develop into mag- 
nificent temples ; in place of caves with rude markings there arise at length 
galleries of paintings ; and the recital of a chief's deeds with mimetic accom- 
paniment gives origin to epics, dramas, lyrics, and the vast mass of poetry, fic- 
tion, biography, and history. 

" All these various orders of super-organic products, each evolving within itself 
new genera and species while daily growing into a larger whole, and each acting 
upon the other orders while being reacted upon by them, form together an im- 
mensely voluminous, immensely complicated, and immensely powerful set of 
influences. During social evolution these influences are ever modifying indi- 
viduals and modifying society, while being modified by both. They gradually 
form what we may consider either as a non-vital part of the society itself, or else 
as an additional environment, which eventually becomes even more important 
than the original environments, so much more important that there arises the 
possibility of carrying on a high type of social life under inorganic and organic 
conditions which originally would have prevented it. * * * The influences which 
the society exerts on the natures of its units, and those which the units exert on 
the nature of the society, incessantly co-operate in creating new elements." 1 

To these immediate influences are added others more 
remote. The physical surroundings of the primitive man are 
all but impossible to imagine, so meagre are our means of 
estimating them. " Now that geologists and archaeologists 
are uniting to prove that human existence goes back to a date 
so remote that ' prehistoric ' scarcely expresses it now that 
imbedded traces of human handiwork show us that, not only 

J<< Sociology," vol. I., p. 14. 



282 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

sedimentary deposits of considerable depths and subsequent 
extensive denudations, but also immense changes in the dis- 
tribution of land and sea, have occurred since the rudest 
social groups were formed ; it is clear that the effects of 
external conditions on social evolution cannot be fully 
traced." ' 

In the second volume of "Biology" we find a series of 
studies on morphology, which trace the special forms of 
plants and animals to natural causes, and find in them an 
expression of that general law of activity revealed as well in 
the complex forces displayed in crystallization as in the sim- 
ple and omnipresent power of gravitation. As a sequel to the 
results of these studies, the theory of natural social develop- 
ment is unfolded. The origin of the physical contrasts 
giving rise to the classification of races is pointed out. The 
ebony skin of certain tribes of Central Africa and the 
blanched cheek of the Caucasian are made to tell their tales 
of slowly operating causes. The Yakut child seen to devour 
at one meal " three candles, several pounds of sour frozen 
butter, and a large piece of yellow soap," the adult of the same 
race who comfortably disposed of " forty pounds of meat in 
a day," and the brain-worker of our zone and civilization who 
subsists upon a modicum of highly concentrated nourish- 
ment, are made to depict contrasted habitats and types of 
social development. The theory that the life of an indi- 
vidual from childhood to maturity simulates the develop- 
ment of man from the savage to a higher social state, is 
explained, and some telling comparisons are drawn between 
the civilized baby and the primitive man. This theory is 
made to precede the more general one, that all social as well 
as individual development is an advance in the number, com- 
plexity, and delicacy of the adjustments of the creature 
to its environment, progressing toward the intellectual 
through the physical and the emotional. The complete 
dependence of mental upon social development is then 
dwelt upon. The remoteness of the higher orders of mental 

1 " Sociology," vol I., p. 17. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 283 

action from the relatively simple and automatic reflex action 
of organisms is explained. No stinted citations can give a 
just idea of the power and faithfulness of these analyses, 
or of the sweep of the thought which they describe. 

" The environment of the primitive man being such that 
his converse with things is relatively restricted in Space and 
Time, as well as in variety, it happens that the associations 
of ideas he forms are little liable to be changed. As experi- 
ences (multiplying in number, gathered from a wider area, 
added to by those which other men record) become more 
heterogeneous, the narrow notions first framed, fixed in the 
absence of conflicting experiences, are shaken and made 
more plastic there comes greater modifiability of belief. In 
the relative rigidity of belief characterizing undeveloped 
intelligence, we see less of that representativeness which 
simultaneously grasps and averages much evidence ; and we 
see a smaller divergence from those lowest mental actions in 
which impressions cause, irresistibly, the appropriate motions. 
While the experiences are few and but slightly varied, the 
concreteness of the corresponding ideas is but little qualified 
by the growth of abstract ideas. An abstract idea, being one 
drawn from many concrete ideas, becomes detachable from 
these concrete ideas only as fast as their multiplicity and 
variety lead to mutual cancellings of their differences, and 
leave outstanding that which they have in common. Obvi- 
ously an abstract idea so generated implies an increase of 
the correspondence in range and heterogeneity ; it implies 
increased representativeness in the consciousness of the 
many concretes whence the idea is abstracted ; and it implies 
greater remoteness from reflex action. It must be added 
that such abstract ideas as those of property and cause pre- 
suppose a still higher stage in this knowledge of objects and 
actions. For only after many special properties and many 
special causes have been thus abstracted can there arise 
the re-abstracted ideas of property in general and cause in 
general. The conception of uniformity in the order of phe- 
nomena develops along with this progress in generalization 



284 THE MATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

and abstraction. Not uniformity but multiformity is the 
dominant trait in the course of things as the primitive man 
witnesses it. No two places are alike, no two men, no two 
trees, rivers, stones, days, storms, quarrels. Only along with 
the use of measures, when social advance initiates it, does 
there grow up the means of ascertaining uniformity ; and 
only after a great accumulation of measured results does the 
idea of law become possible. In proportion as the mental 
development is low, the mind merely receives and repeats 
cannot initiate, has no originality. An imagination which 
invents shows us an extension of the correspondence from 
the region of the actual into that of the potential ; it shows 
us a representativeness not limited to combinations which 
have been or are in the environment, but including non- 
existing combinations thereafter made to exist ; and it ex- 
hibits the extremest remoteness from reflex action, since the 
stimulus issuing in movement is unlike any that ever before 
acted." ' 

No one can read this part of Spencer's philosophy without 
perceiving the great power of these sociological illustrations. 
Facts which it is practically impossible to discern in individ- 
ual life become clear when viewed through the vastly ex- 
tended scale of aggregated social life. This question there- 
fore naturally suggests itself : Cannot we employ sociology 
as an instrument for the discovery of the nature of percep- 
tion ? Cannot the growth of consciousness of the race, 
viewed as a whole, explain to us the genesis of consciousness 
in the individual ? 

Religion in its rudest forms, superstitious reasoning with 
regard to the causes of events, seems to have occupied the 
larger place among the ideas of primitive men. The study 
of sociology brings these beginnings of the social conscious- 
ness prominently into view. Primitive Ideas Ideas of the 
Animate and Inanimate of Death and Resurrection of 
Souls, Ghosts, Spirits, and Demons of Another Life of 
Another World of Supernatural Agents Sacred Places, 

1 "Principles of Sociology," vol. I., pp. 84-86. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 28$ 

Temples, Altars Praise Prayer Ancestor-Worship Idol- 
and Fetich-Worship Animal-, Plant-, and Nature-Worship 
Deities these are the titles of the principal chapters of the 
" Data of Sociology " ; they recite a long and interesting 
story of the development of the mind of primitive men. 

With no definite language or records of the observations 
and experiences of others, the primitive man groped in utter 
darkness. Hence, with regard to the natural order of 
things, as far as they were not appreciable in his simplest 
sensations he was without a guide. Thought had no mate- 
rials to work with and produced but vagaries and phantasms. 
Ideas of supernatural beings came into existence, and as a 
result we find the ruder forms of ancestor-worship the type 
of all the early religious beliefs. 

Thus the belief in a surviving duplicate, a soul separate 
from the body, is universal among savages, and was the be- 
ginning of our ideas of the supernatural. Those who are 
interested in the genesis of this belief can trace it step by 
step through the course of the chapters above referred to. 
Instead of this savage belief in a surviving duplicate being 
an authority for our belief in the immortality of the soul ; that 
higher understanding of life, which is the natural product of 
a developed language, discloses to us the ghost as the primi- 
tive type of supernatural being, and the belief in any form of 
ghostly existence as a primitive superstition. To the savage, 
who found his most powerful foe in his own species, it is easy 
to understand how the ghost-chief became the ideal of supreme 
power. Of course the ideal of supreme power is always the 
object of worship. The savage and the civilized man alike 
bow before what they conceive to be the greatest force. 
The point which we would here emphasize is, that the mind, 
or sentiency and language, is the instrument by which this 
power is invariably appreciated, and the degree of apprecia- 
tion depends entirely upon the quality of the mind. It may 
be said that all power must be appreciated by the mind, but 
this is only relatively true. In lower organisms the power 
which accounts for the life of the individual is only appreci- 



286 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

ated in the ebb and flow of physical existence. It is not 
co-ordinated into an ideal or conception which co-ordinates 
conduct. The apprehension of food, and the escape from 
danger, are certainly appreciations, and therefore percep- 
tions, of external powers or existences ; but there is a vast 
difference of degree between these humble reactions and the 
conception, for instance, of a personal God as the cause of all 
things. The conception of Motion, however, as the ultimate 
reality, or universal principle, is an effort of sentiency and 
language which is so much higher than that of a personal 
God, a militant ancestor, or a fetich, that the comparison 
can only be one of remote analogy. 

By viewing the human race, therefore, as a whole, or by 
employing the inductions of sociology, which show the de- 
pendence of human development upon its farthest surround- 
ings, we are enabled to trace the principles of perception 
from the simplest organic activities to the highest phases of 
life ; and we are enabled to recognize in the gradual growth 
of language and intellect the dawning of the moral nature 
of man. Social life increases the harmony and definiteness 
of ideas and actions, establishing language and conduct, and 
we perceive, by studying this phase of life, that mind and 
morality are concomitant developments. 

To harmonize conduct with a true conception of God, to 
perform an ultimate analysis of life or existence, and to 
rebuild a synthesis which shall include and explain morality, 
is the task of sociology. But how, then, can a sociology suc- 
ceed which does not begin with an understanding of ultimate 
terms? What have we to hope for from a treatment of this 
science which regards consciousness or perception as a mys- 
tery and the deepest principles of knowledge as unknowable? 

Turning from these philosophical inconsistencies to the 
same order of inconsistency in religious belief it will not do 
for us to conclude that by the type of ultimate beliefs the 
type of character or morality is declared. Categorical beliefs 
depend almost entirely upon the education, and education 
depends more upon fortuitous circumstances than upon char- 



HERBERT SPENCER. 287 

acter. But this argument is balanced by the fact that there 
is a kind of ultimate belief, an appreciation of divine unity, 
which is a true expression of character ; its language is that 
of actions more than of words ; it is the genius for truth, the 
natural integrity of life, which we call instinctive morality. 

But instinctive or unenlightened morality has a limited 
range ; it is too contracted, too feeble for a great social life. 

The horizon of the unenlightened mind, like that of the 
primitive man, is full of mysteries and portents ; it cannot 
respond to the more delicate influences of life. On the 
other hand, the mind which is sensitive to differences and 
likenesses, which is active in reasoning, naturally revolts 
against a narrow definition of God. This freedom of thought, 
however, often asserts itself without seriously interfering 
with settled religious beliefs, although these beliefs can be 
clearly identified with primitive superstitions. This is the 
latitude of belief which results from the vagueness of our 
conceptions of ultimate terms. Thus we find many seem- 
ingly educated persons, who would scorn to believe in a 
ghost, clinging with pathetic reverence to the archetype of 
ghosts the belief in a personal god. These same minds are 
in possession of scientific truths, classes of facts, which if co- 
ordinated, if followed out to their logical consequences, 
would utterly destroy this superstition ; still they not only 
cherish it but they regard it as in some way connected with 
the moral integrity of their lives. Hence, although we are 
able to trace our belief in a personal god to the savage faith 
in the existence of ancestral ghosts, and our belief in the im- 
mortality of the soul to the primitive belief in a surviving 
duplicate, we are confronted with the strange argument that 
to surrender these heirlooms of the unenlightened mind 
would be to endanger the moral order of society. Thus phi- 
losophy, whose aim it is to illuminate conduct, has to meet 
the serious charge that by teaching the true meaning of ulti- 
mate terms it attacks morality. 

Morality is generally conceded to be the consequence of 
pure conceptions of life. How, may it be asked, can pure 
conceptions of life perpetuate primitive belief ? 



288 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

To the student of sociology it is clear that our religious 
beliefs have been slowly evolved from the grossest supersti- 
tions. If we would form pure religious conceptions, these 
superstitions must be subjugated ; they must be recognized 
as methods of the primitive mind. 

The question, then, between philosophy and the represen- 
tatives among us of these earliest beliefs of man, concerns 
the degree of purification of which our religious beliefs are 
susceptible. 

A critic of undoubted ability, to whom these pages were sub- 
mitted, objects to the use of the word God for the universal 
principle Motion. He says that to the truly philosophic 
mind, to the mind deeply learned in the history of human 
culture, or the evolution of religious and philosophic be- 
liefs, the word God is an obsolete term ; that the divine 
unity of life and mind is symbolized by the principle Motion, 
and that the word God is too closely connected with 
idolatry to be used in the same sense. To this argument I 
would enter the most decided protest, for the reason that 
philosophy cannot afford to surrender the moral discipline 
which is the natural inheritance of long ages of religious life, 
however imperfect that life may have been. Religion, to the 
savage as to the civilized man, is the type of his most general 
ideas expressed in the best language that he commands. 

Through the aid of that synthesis of facts which we call 
the science of sociology, we recognize in our ideas of God 
the lineal descendants of the childish notions of deity to be 
found in the unformed mind. But on the other hand we see 
in this development the natural progression of general ideas, 
the development of the impersonal in thought and feeling, 
which culminates in an ultimate generalization. 

Philosophy would merely develop or purify our conception 
of God, and our interest in a future life, making the one a di- 
vine principle, the other an unselfish solicitude for others. 
During this transformation of spirit, this amalgamation of 
one culture with another, we cannot afford to surrender the 
word which has served in all languages and all ages as the 
symbol of an ultimate generalization. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 289 

In arguing that all worship springs from ancestor-worship, 
Mr. Spencer reminds us that Negroes, when suffering, go 
to the woods and cry for help to the spirits of their dead 
relatives, just as the Iranians in the Khorda-Avesta call upon 
the souls of their forefathers in prayer ; that the sacrifices 
of the ancient Egyptians, which were commemorated in 
the three festivals of the seasons, the twelve festivals of 
the month, and the twelve festivals of the half month, 
all in honor and propitiation of their dead, have their 
counterpart in the offerings which the Romans made to 
their Lares, on the calends, nones, and ides of every 
month ; that the Indian or Veddah asks the ghosts of his 
relatives for aid when he goes hunting, just as the Roman 
prayed to his Lares for a happy termination to a projected 
voyage ; and that the sanguinary Mexicans, Peruvians, 
Chibchas, Dahomans, Ashantis, and others who immolate 
victims at funerals, are but imitators of the Romans who 
offered up human sacrifices at tombs. It can be imagined 
with what terrible effect comparisons which bring such re- 
volting customs down to the immediate progenitors of our 
language and culture are used against us. 

By this study of religious evolution, beliefs which appear 
to us innocent, and even refined, on account of their famili- 
arity and associations, are unmasked and stand out in the 
hideous forms of savage life. Our very language is shown to 
be primitive, full of metaphors which lead inevitably to 
low orders of intelligence. Our puny generalizations, which 
appear so gorgeous to us dressed in the livery of heaven and 
hell and spiritual beings, are found to be but efforts of 
a childish imagination. This incompetence of thought and 
word naturally extends from the religious to the metaphysical 
sphere. A theology which is revolting for its inconsist- 
encies is given us for a philosophy, and the jargon of priests 
and rhapsodists is taken for the highest forms of human 
thought. The purity and simplicity of truth are profaned by 
these mummeries, these emotional drivellings, these ecstatic 
fantasies of the unformed life and mind, which are made to 



2QO THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

assume among us the functions of divine light. So long as 
we look to dealers in mysteries and portents and revelations 
for our highest generalizations, we shall indeed live in a savage 
age. 

Language is the mind of society, and in its accuracy and 
integrity are involved the amenities and possibilities of 
life. The philosophic student of the future will look upon 
our age as one of insuperable logical difficulties ; he will 
read, with mingled pity and disdain, of men who applied 
the word God indifferently to a vague idea of human form 
and feelings possessed of universal power, to a trinity of still 
more human characteristics, or again, to a universal prin- 
ciple. He will not wonder at the misgovernment, the un- 
necessary suffering, the general immorality of our age, when 
he examines the indefiniteness of our ideas, the natural 
accompaniment of our chaotic speech. 

We look upon ages which had no differential calculus, no 
algebra, no developed arithmetic, as unable to obtain any 
definite ideas of obscure or involved phenomena. The stu- 
dent of the future will regard the speculative thought of 
our age in the same light. He will find, in this indefiniteness 
in the use of ultimate terms, implied immorality, as well as 
ignorance. What will even the children of the future think 
of the way we employ such terms as Infinite and Absolute, 
Space and Time, Matter and Force ? I read in the confes- 
sion of faith of an eminent American divine, recently, these 
words : " We believe in Christ as infinite within infinite 
limits"; which, being translated, means, We believe in 
unlimited limits, or in limits that are not limits ! This is 
like those learned theologians of the middle ages who 
reasoned about the ultimate difference between material 
and spiritual substances, or, still worse, of existences which 
transcend Space and Time. What can be more immoral in 
its influence than such confusion of ideas as this? 

The philosophy of Herbert Spencer can be charged with a 
full share of these untruths. The theory of perception 
which it promulgates is but a modern form of mysticism. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 

And yet in its errors it is fathered by men who hold the 
highest position in English thought. Not only in it3 gene- 
ral form but in the minutest particulars can Spencer's theory 
of perception be traced to the philosophy of John Stuart 
Mill, and this in turn to the long line of mysticism and skep- 
ticism that gave it birth. 

In the introduction to John Stuart Mill's " System of 
Logic" we find a frank statement of the difficulties of the 
problem of perception. Such candor in a writer inspires a 
wish to agree with him. In this spirit let us consider Mill's 
assertion that there are certain ideas in the mind which be- 
long to it, and are of a different nature from those ideas 
which are known as inferences. The first class of ideas Mill 
calls intuitive, and says the inferential ideas are drawn from 
this original stock of the mind, and without this primordial 
store of (intuitive) truth we could build up no inferences, 
and could have no knowledge. 

" With the original data, or ultimate premises of our 
knowledge," says Mill, "with their number or nature, the 
mode in which they are obtained, or the tests by which they 
may be distinguished, logic, in a direct way at least, has, in 
the sense in which I conceive the science, nothing to do. 
These questions are partly not a subject of science at all, 
partly that of a very different science. * * * Of the science, 
therefore, which expounds the operations of the human un- 
derstanding in the pursuit of truth, one essential part is the 
inquiry, What are the facts which are the objects of in- 
tuition or consciousness, and what are those which we merely 
infer? But this inquiry has never been considered a portion 
of logic. Its place is in another and a perfectly distinct de- 
partment of science, to which the name metaphysics more 
particularly belongs : that portion of mental philosophy 
which attempts to determine what part of the furniture of 
the mind belongs to it originally, and what part is constructed 
out of materials furnished to it from without. To this 
science appertain the great and much debated questions of 
the existence of matter ; the existence of spirit, and of a 



THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

distinction between it and matter; the reality of time and 
space, as things without the mind, and distinguishable from 
the objects which are said to exist in them. For in the 
present state of the discussion on these topics, it is almost 
universally allowed that the existence of matter or of spirit, 
of space or of time, is, in its nature, unsusceptible of being 
proved ; and that if any thing is known of them, it must be 
by immediate intuition. To the same science belong the 
inquiries into the nature of Conception, Perception, Memory, 
and Belief ; all of which are operations of the understanding 
in the pursuit of truth ; but with which, as phenomena of the 
mind or with the possibility which may or may not exist of 
analyzing any of them into simpler phenomena, the logician 
as such has no concern." 3 

From the above it is clear that Mill thinks that there are 
certain principles of truth in the mind which are not suscep- 
tible of being examined by the reason ; that by some mys- 
terious and unknowable combination these principles are 
co-ordinated into certain primordial truths (called intuitive), 
and that these truths, which, be it observed, are independent 
of reason, form the major premise of every conclusion, the 
source of every fact. 

The theory of perception which we advocate as distin- 
guished from that of Mill and Spencer is simply that the 
ultimate fact is Motion ; that its aspects are Space and Time. 
It will be seen at a glance that the fact of Motion is ultimate, 
and that its aspects Space and Time are inferences drawn 
from this fact. To follow out the process of thought from 
these first inferences to the combinations of which all 
knowledge is built up, is to establish the nature of perception. 
The great simplicity of this undertaking is its greatest 
difficulty. 

Mill tells us that " to define is to select from among the 
properties of a thing those which shall be understood to 
be declared and designated by its name." A name is an 
abridged definition ; a definition is an enlarged name. The 

1 Mill's " System of Logic," vol. I., pp. 6, 7. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 293 

description, name, or definition, therefore, of any thing 
depends upon the functions, properties, or activities of the 
thing named. When we would define mind, we describe its 
properties, functions, or activities. The definition of the 
retentive part, or aspect, of mental action is condensed or 
abridged in the word memory ; the persistent and spontane- 
ous aspect of mind is called the will ; that aspect of the 
mental procedure which is a view of its reception of im- 
pressions is designated perception ; but there are no demar- 
cations in the activity of the mind which correspond to this 
classification of its different aspects that is to say, this 
enumeration of faculties is a superficial analysis or separation 
into parts of the fact of mind. To imagine that these intel- 
lectual faculties represent separate functional principles is 
the same order of belief as that there are certain primal 
intuitions, unknowable in their origin and nature, from which 
knowledge is made up ; for if the principles of thought are 
shrouded in impenetrable mysteries, what wonder that the 
faculties of the mind should assume the character of appa- 
ritions ? Apart from the limited and human sense in which 
the word knowledge is employed in this mysterious doctrine 
of the mind, there is an evident contradiction in saying that 
intelligence springs from the unintelligible, which is the 
initial error in the theory of perception offered alike by Mill 
and Spencer. This theory builds the whole fabric of knowl- 
edge upon principles which are said to be intuitional or 
subconscious, and at the same time unknowable. 

Every system of philosophy must offer an analysis of 
the nature of perception as the foundation of a Religious 
Synthesis. 

The. claims which Mr. Spencer can make to success in this 
particular have been carefully considered, his metaphysical 
beliefs have been followed out, and we are enabled to judge 
of the completeness of his ultimate analysis. 

We would now turn to the culminations of his philosophy. 

From the beginning of Spencer's system the promise is 
made to establish a scientific basis for morality, but before 



294 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

the realization of this promise, which has been partially 
fulfilled in the " Data of Ethics," our author builds up a 
gigantic theory of society. 

The plan of this sociology is to show the interdepend- 
encies of organic and superorganic phenomena and to trace 
their combined effects to the common principle which he 
denominates the persistence of force. The subject of Ethics 
is then introduced, the object still being to show that mo- 
rality is relative, and that its laws are to be found in the hu- 
man faculties, the submission of the individual to the general 
mind. Nothing can be more profound than this theory. 
In the persistency with which Mr. Spencer has labored to 
establish it, from the articles he wrote when a young man, 
now republished under the title of " Social Statics," a con- 
tinuous thread of reasoning can be traced, a single purpose 
recognized. 

We have seen that the intellectual faculties are merely 
names for the different phases of intellectual activity. A 
great memory, a great reason, or a great perception, means 
a mind that has acquired special powers by special cir- 
cumstances. Balanced circumstances lead to balanced 
faculties ; special circumstances, to special faculties. The 
needs of war produce heroes; the needs of society pro- 
duce special casts of mind. The decay of Greek manhood 
produced Socrates ; the irreligion of the Jews and the suf- 
ferings of humanity produced the prophets and Christ. The 
anarchy of European thought in the sixteenth century pro- 
duced Bacon and Descartes, and the popular longing to 
unite pure reason with the love of God produced Spinoza. 
The need of vindicating reason against skepticism produced 
Kant and the German idealists, and the reaction of sentiment 
and common-sense produced the French and English psy- 
chologists. What, then, are faculties but the leaven of 
human character working out social developments ? 

As no deeper incentive to morality can be found than the 
symmetrical activity of our whole natures, 1 the balancing of 

1 See argument on Morality, ch. xxiii. 



HERBERT SPENCER. 29$ 

human faculties which have their sources deep down in 
organic life, the principle of activity added to the fact of in- 
dividual life comes to us as the result of the most careful 
analysis of our existence. Every synthesis begins with this 
principle of universal activity and brings us to the facts of 
social life. What limit does this suggest to perception but 
the moving limits of personal existence ? 

Sociology teaches us that there is an aggregate human 
life and mind which springs from and is determined by the 
lives of individuals ; that the atmosphere of this life is lan- 
guage. The quality of language determines the quality of 
the general mind, and reflects its influences upon every 
individual. Thus the world at large has a direct interest in 
the meaning of words, and this interest is proportionate to 
the range of their significance. Metaphysics, therefore, is 
closely associated with the science of Sociology ; its object 
Is to familiarize the general mind with the meaning of 
ultimate terms. In the success of this science over the 
errors of agnosticism and idealism, morality is deeply con- 
cerned, and the future will wonder at our slowness in reach- 
ing so important a result. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 
Belief in the Unknowable Its Influence upon the Study of Psychology. 

THE philosophic system of George Henry Lewes has the 
general title of " Problems of Life and Mind." The first 
two volumes are entitled " Foundations of a Creed "; the 
third deals with the problem of " Mind as a Function of the 
Organism "; and the last two are posthumous publications, 
one being a comprehensive treatise on the " Physical 
Basis of Mind," and the other a comparatively short review 
of the author's favorite subject, " The Study of Psychol- 
ogy." In the preface to the opening volume Lewes says : 

" In 1862 I began the investigation of the physiological 
mechanism of Feeling and Thought, and from that time 
forward have sought assistance in a wide range of research. 
Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Insanity, and the Science 
of Language, have supplied facts and suggestions to enlarge 
and direct my own meditations, and to confirm and correct 
the many valuable indications furnished by previous psy- 
chological investigators. * * * When I began to organize 
these materials into a book, I intended it to be only a series 
of essays treating certain problems of Life and Mind ; but 
out of this arose two results little contemplated. The first 
result was such a mutual illumination from the various prin- 
ciples arrived at separately, that I began to feel confident of 
having something like a clear vision of the fundamental 
inductions necessary to the constitution of Psychology ; 
hence, although I do not propose to write a complete trea- 
tise, I hope to establish a firm groundwork for future labors. 
The second result, which was independent of the first, arose 

296 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 297 

thus : Finding the exposition obstructed by the existence of 
unsolved metaphysical problems, and by the too frequent 
employment of the metaphysical method, and knowing that 
there was no chance of general recognition of the scientific 
method and its inductions while the rival method was toler- 
ated, and the conceptions of Force, Cause, Matter, Mind, 
were vacillating and contradictory, I imagined that it would 
be practicable in an introductory chapter, not indeed to clear 
the path of these obstacles, but at least to give such precise 
indications of the principles adopted throughout the exposi- 
tion as would enable the reader to follow it untroubled by 
metaphysical difficulties." 1 Here, then, is the great meta- 
physical problem confronted at the very outset. 

In the beginning of the first chapter, we have this signifi- 
cant quotation from Mill : " England's thinkers are again 
beginning to see, what they had only temporarily forgotten, 
that the difficulties of Metaphysics lie at the root of all Sci- 
ence ; that those difficulties can be quieted only by being re- 
solved, and that until they are resolved, positively whenever 
possible, but at any rate negatively, we are never assured 
that any knowledge, even physical, stands on solid foun- 
dations." 

By this we are given in advance an idea of the direction 
of Lewes' thought : he is going to offer a negative, not 
a positive, solution of the Metaphysical problem ; he is going 
to acknowledge the " existence of an unknowable " (which, 
be it remembered, is a distinct contradiction in terms ; for 
to acknowledge an existence is to know it in some degree, 
and to know the unknowable in any degree is an absurdity). 
Notwithstanding this he is going to extend the known, the 
scope of definite knowledge, by means of a masterly physi- 
ological and psychological analysis, until it embraces the be- 
ginnings of organic life and shows a perfect interdependence 
between what are known as the physical and vital activities. 
His mind, however, is too sensitive to feel perfectly con- 
tented with this achievement ; he is still haunted with the 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., Preface. 



298 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

idea that there is something yet to be done to complete an 
ultimate analysis, to establish the divine unity ; and he 
expresses his unrest in these words : 

" Science itself is also in travail. Assuredly some mighty 
new birth is at hand. Solid as the ground appears, and fixed 
as are our present landmarks, we cannot but feel the strange 
tremors of subterranean agitation which must erelong be 
followed by upheavals disturbing those landmarks. Not only 
do we see Physics on the eve of a reconstruction through 
Molecular Dynamics, we also see Metaphysics strangely 
agitated, and showing symptoms of a reawakened life. 
After a long period of neglect and contempt, its problems 
are once more reasserting their claims. And whatever we 
may think of those claims, we have only to reflect on the 
important part played by Metaphysics in sustaining and 
developing religious conceptions, no less than in thwarting 
and misdirecting scientific conceptions, to feel assured that 
before Religion and Science can be reconciled by the reduc- 
tion of their principles to a common method, it will be 
necessary to transform Metaphysics or to stamp it out of 
existence. There is but this alternative. At present Meta- 
physics is an obstacle in our path : it must be crushed 
into dust and our chariot-wheels must pass over it ; or its 
forces of resistance must be converted into motive powers, 
and what is an obstacle become an impulse." 

This promised conversion of Metaphysics, as will afterward 
appear, is but partially effected ; the question is, whether, 
even as far as it goes, anything is accomplished by it. Lewes 
adopts the ingenious method of inventing another name for 
the science to which he attempts to attach all but the vital 
and reasonable part of Metaphysics, and thus effects for the 
old word Metaphysics a regeneration by freeing it from the 
superstitions which have so long been attached to it. 2 This 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 4. 

a " By way of preliminary, I will ask permission to coin a term that will 
clearly designate the aspect of Metaphysics which renders the inquiry objection- 
able to scientific thinkers, no less than to ordinary minds, because it implies a 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 299 

new name suggested by Lewes is Metempirics or beyond 
experience. That this term means identically the same thing 
as metaphysics or beyond the physical is manifest. For 
what is the physical world to us but the world of sensible 
experiences ? And what is beyond the world of sensible* 
experiences but the world of logical, mental, ideal, or spiritual 
experiences ? Spiritual or ideal can mean nothing more than 
logical or mental, and this is precisely the field of meta- 
physics. The merit of Lewes' philosophy is therefore to be 
found in his physiological and psychological studies. He 
does not solve the metaphysical problem, but he furnishes us 
with many valuable materials to be employed in its solution. 
He leaves undefined the great ultimate terms which haunt 
the pages of every philosophy and hover in the background 
of every religion ; but he has performed the great work of 
eliminating from this group of ultimates one term which all 
writers up to him, not even excepting Herbert Spencer, have 
included among them, namely, consciousness. Those who 
study Lewes' system carefully will have no difficulty in un- 
derstanding the genesis of mind, and will never have occa- 
sion to refer its origin to the unknowable. They will also 
find abundant reason to drop the term Cause from the 
list of ultimate realities, as that term is clearly shown to be 
but one face of every fact or phenomenon, the other or 
opposite face being Effect. By this achievement Lewes be- 
queaths to us a clearly defined list of ultimate realities, 
namely, Space, Time, Matter, Force, and Motion. He 
removes all confusion between these ultimates and such 
other terms as Consciousness and Cause, which we find in- 

disregard of experience ; by isolating this aspect in a technical term we may 
rescue the other aspect which is acceptable to all. The word Metaphysics is a 
very old one, and in the course of its history has indicated many very different 
things. To the vulgar it now stands for whatever is speculative, subtle, ab- 
stract, remote from ordinary apprehension ; and the pursuit of its inquiries 
is secretly regarded as an eccentricity, or even a mild form of insanity. To 
the cultivated it sometimes means Scholastic Ontology, sometimes Psychology, 
pursued independently of Biology, and sometimes, though more rarely, the 
highest generalizations of Physics." "Problems of Life and Mind, "vol. I., 
p. 14. 



300 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

eluded among the irreducible principles cited by other 
writers. The terms Consciousness and Cause, therefore, are 
affiliated with Knowledge, and the five ultimates supposed 
by Lewes to be irreducible principles, or " manifestations of 
'the unknowable" are boldly and clearly isolated from all 
other terms. Of Matter and Force, however, we are told 
over and over again that the one is utterly indistinguishable 
from Space, and that the other must mean Motion, or, if it 
mean any thing less, it is Motion considered apart from its 
material or space aspect ; or simply Time. 

These assertions are far from being made in distinct terms, 
but that they are fair inferences from his reasonings upon these 
subjects the reader will have a full opportunity of judging. 
An idea of the persistent longing which Lewes evinces all 
through his work for the repose of a successful ultimate 
analysis can be gained from these words : " Speculative 
minds cannot resist the fascination of Metaphysics, even 
when forced to admit that its inquiries are hopeless. * * * 
No array of argument, no accumulation of contempt, no his- 
torical exhibition of the fruitlessness of its effort, has sufficed 
to extirpate the tendency toward metaphysical speculation. 
Although its doctrines have become a scoff (except among 
the valiant few), its method still survives, still prompts to 
renewed research, and still misleads some men of science. In 
vain history points to the unequivocal failure of twenty cen- 
turies : the metaphysician admits the fact, but appeals to his- 
tory in proof of the persistent passion which no failure can 
dismay ; and hence draws confidence in ultimate success. A 
cause which is vigorous after centuries of defeat is a cause 
baffled but not hopeless, beaten but not subdued. * * * Few 
researches can be conducted in any one line of inquiry with- 
out sooner or later abutting on some metaphysical problem, 
were it only that of Force, Matter, or Cause ; and since Sci- 
ence will not and Metaphysics can not solve it, the result is a 
patchwork of demonstration and speculation very pitiable to 
contemplate. Look where we will, unless we choose to over- 
look all that we do not understand, we are mostly confronted 



' 

WNJ TY 

^ 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 3OI 

with a meshwork of fact and fiction, observation curiously 
precise beside traditions painfully absurd, a compound of 
sunlight and mist." ' 

The insistence of Lewes upon the necessity of a double 
name for Metaphysics is clearly traceable to his belief in an 
unknowable. The fault in this is, that it confuses the idea of 
unexplored phenomena, or the unknown, with the fiction 
called the unknowable. 

Bearing in mind that he employs the word Metempirical 
to signify the unknowable, let us carefully examine the 
following : *' Every physical problem involves metempirical 
elements beside those which are empirical ; but Physics sets 
them aside, and, dealing only with the empirical, reaches con- 
clusions which are exact, within that sphere. No disturbance 
in the accuracy of calculation follows from the existence, out- 
side the calculation, of elements which are incalculable. The 
law of gravitation, for example, is exact, although its tran- 
scendental aspect namely, what gravitation is in itself, 
whether Attraction, Undulation, or Pressure is not merely 
left undetermined, but by the majority of physicists is not 
even sought. The law of Association of Ideas is equally ex- 
act, although not quantitatively expressible. The depend- 
ence of Sensation upon Stimulus is not less so, and has 
received a quantitative expression. 3 The laws of Causation 
may be formulated with equal precision. And exact knowl- 
edge of Force, Cause, Matter, ought to be attainable, in spite 
of their transcendental elements, by the one procedure of 
eliminating these, and operating solely on the empirical. 
Hence the conclusion : The scientific canon of excluding 
from calculation all incalculable data places Metaphysics on 
the same level with Physics." ; 

What are these metempirical elements which are said to be 
involved in every problem ? A problem is simply a compari- 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., pp. 6-8. 

2 The ratio of the increase of a sensation to the increase of its stimulus is that 
of a logarithm to its number. (Fechner, " Psychophysik," Bd. II., p. II, 1860.) 

* *' Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 54. 



302 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

son of facts. A comparison of facts must be made with a 
view to arriving at other more obscure or involved facts. 
Now the ultimate fact is Motion, the last arrived at in every 
analysis, the first adopted in every synthesis. If by the in- 
calculable elements in every problem is meant Motion, or its 
aspects Space and Time, or Matter and Force, it is certainly 
incorrect to denominate them unknowable, for they are 
merely appearances of a principle of which knowledge is 
a consequence. It may be said that this word "metem- 
pirical " is used to denote an erroneous method of investiga- 
tion which has for its object impossibilities of perception. If 
so, why are metempirical elements said to be present in every 
proposition, or that there exist, outside of every calculation, 
elements which are " incalculable " ? The words incalculable 
and metempirical are used as equivalents, and here it is that 
the error slips in and appears plausible. Gravitation is said 
to have a " transcendental aspect " which is incalculable or 
unknowable ; but surely gravitation is simply a relation, a 
form of the ultimate relation, Motion. Here incalculable 
refers plainly to Motion, and as Lewes has not declared 
Motion to be the ultimate reality, in so many words, it is 
easy to see how he felt the need of a word to express this 
ultimate reality, and its unrecognized aspects, which form 
the burden of every metaphysical problem. 

He was therefore, in a measure, justified in trying to 
remove what he supposed to be the incalculable elements 
from metaphysics by consigning them to " met empirics" 

But what are we to say of the second illustration in our 
quotation, which declares that the quantitative expression 
of the law of Association of Ideas is incalculable ; and of the 
third, that the quantitative expression of the dependence of 
sensation on stimulus is incalculable? Is it not manifest 
that " incalculable " is here used in a different sense from 
" unknowable " ? For the association of ideas, and the relation 
between sensation and stimulus, are phenomena which are 
quite comprehensible, but not quantitatively expressible, 
because sufficiently exact explorations of mental phenomena 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 303 

have not yet been made to enable us to express these 
subtle changes in units of space and time. The whole 
course of Lewes' subsequent reasoning is against a belief in 
any transcendental aspect of physiological or psychological 
phenomena. If, on the other hand, it is claimed that the 
transcendental aspect of gravitation spoken of simply means 
the unexplored remainder in problems of celestial dynamics, 
which are quite possible to know, but are as yet undiscov- 
ered ; then the metempirical element in each of the three 
illustrations would be of the same nature, namely, the un- 
known quantity which is the occasion of every problem, and 
can be identified with the fact of individual existence. For 
individual life is simply the movement of an organism, the 
assimilation of the unknown by the known. If metaphysics 
is an exalted name for an exalted aspect of this assimilation, 
what kind of assimilation is designated by the term metem- 
pirics? Is it the assimilation of the inassimilable, the per- 
ception of the imperceptible, or the thinking of the unthink- 
able? 

If Lewes' object in bringing into the world this new term 
was to caricature the idea of such a science, and thereby to 
eliminate the superstitious element from metaphysics, it 
would be an involved way of accomplishing a good result ; 
but when he says that every physical problem involves 
metempirical elements, in other words, when he uses the 
word metempirical to denote something in which he be- 
lieves, it throws the question into hopeless confusion, from 
which it can only be extricated by removing the direct cause, 
which is this very term metempirics. 

The above shows what insuperable difficulties attend any 
form of belief in the unknowable, whether it be called the 
"metempirical," the " transcendental," the "essence," or the 
" thing-in-itself." To illustrate this, we will select a passage 
from Lewes in which he completely frees himself from this 
superstition, and consequently, for the moment, becomes per- 
fectly clear and rational. In trying to show that the same 
methods of investigation should be pursued in both physical 



304 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

science and metaphysics, he says: "The reproach, if it be a 
reproach, conveyed in the term ' ontological,' when applied 
to Metaphysics, is shared by Science. In both the search is 
after abstract Being, not after concrete individual fact. 
Rightly understood, there is truth in saying that a meta- 
physician may have a knowledge of Being as certain as 
the mathematician's knowledge of Magnitude, as the chem- 
ist's knowledge of Affinity, as the biologist's knowledge of 
Life, as the sociologist's knowledge of Society ; and this 
knowledge may be gained in the same way." 1 

Again : in pointing out the irrationality of that species of 
ontology which seeks entities or absolute essences, he says : 
" A traditional perversion makes the essence of a thing to 
consist in the relations of that thing to something unknown, 
unknowable, rather than in its relations to a known or 
knowable i. e. assumes that the thing cannot be what it is 
to us and other known things, but must be something ' in 
itself,' unrelated, or having quite other relations to other un- 
knowable things. In this contempt of the actual in favor of 
the vaguely imagined possible, this neglect of reality in favor 
of a supposed deeper reality, this disregard of light in the 
search for a light behind the light, metaphysicians have been 
led to seek the ' thing-in-itself ' beyond the region of Experi- 
ence. * * * But if such questions can receive no answer, be- 
cause not put in answerable terms, how much more so the 
questions which avowedly travel quite beyond all range of 
experience, and ask, What is the thing in its relations to 
something unknown? To know a thing is to know its rela- 
tions ; it is its relations." a And yet, after making these clear 
and unmistakable distinctions between a rational and an 
irrational ontology, between a common-sense method of 
thought and a foolish one, after taking the trouble to invent 
a special name (metempirics) for the irrational method, in 
order to purify the conception of metaphysics, he deliber- 
ately returns to his idols by avowing that every physical 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 60. 
" Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., pp. 58, 59. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 305 

problem involves metempirical elements besides those which 
are empirical. If he were to say that every physical prob- 
lem contained metaphysical elements as well as empirical 
ones, he would carry out the fine distinction he is endeavor- 
ing to make. Then the proposition would simply mean that 
there are involved in every possible question elements which 
are beyond the sphere of sensible experience, but are within 
the sphere of logical experience or perception. In other 
words, nothing can be unnatural to perception, as the prin- 
ciple of perception has for its aspects the Infinite and the 
Absolute, or Space and Time. But this would be far too 
much for Lewes to admit. Although he made a noble 
effort to throw off the contamination of the unknowable, the 
conception was too deeply rooted in his vocabulary and in 
his thought for the feat to be possible. For a man in the 
closing years of an active literary and scientific career, which 
had been largely employed in establishing the unknowable as 
a great philosophic tenet, a man who had formed the 
habit of reasoning continually in this direction, making the 
conception of the unknowable an accompaniment of every 
analysis, for such a man to throw off this habit would 
be equivalent to reforming his whole logical constitution. 
Had he begun earlier in life, or had he been less active 
in his reasoning by the old method, reform might have 
been possible. But he wrote the " Biographical History 
of Philosophy" in the interest of the unknowable; he de- 
voted an enormous amount of study to interpreting every 
known system of philosophy in this particular way ; and his 
very language, which, be it remembered, is a constitutional 
structure of the mind, was cast too firmly to be remodelled. 
Thus we find this accomplished and powerful thinker in- 
volved in the toils of a mistaken belief, and struggling vainly 
to free himself from the old entanglements. In the more 
tangible media of science, however, he rises superior to all 
difficulties and develops truths of the greatest importance. 

To further illustrate the belief of Lewes in the unknow- 
able, we quote from the chapter on the " Scientific Method 
in Metaphysics " : 



.306 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

" Kant asks : ' If Metaphysics is a science, how comes it 
that she cannot boast of the general and enduring approba- 
tion bestowed on other sciences ? If she is no science, how 
comes it that she wears this imposing aspect, and fascinates 
the human understanding with hopes inextinguishable yet 
never gratified ? We must either demonstrate the com- 
petency or incompetency ; for we cannot longer continue in 
our present uncertainty.' 

"The answers to these questions which Kant gave not 
having been satisfactory, a new attempt, under more favor- 
able conditions, is made in these pages. To render this at- 
tempt satisfactory, we must first clearly understand the con- 
ditions of metaphysical inquiry. The initial condition that 
of separating the insoluble from the soluble aspects of each 
problem would be accepted by all. But the question would 
everywhere arise : What is insoluble ? How is this ascertain- 
able ? There are problems which are recognized as insoluble 
because of their conditions. For example, it is impossible 
to extract the square root of a number which is not made by 
multiplication of any whole number or fraction by itself. To 
all eternity this must be impossible. Yet an approximation 
is possible which may be made near enough for any practical 
purpose. There are other problems, again, which do not 
admit of even approximative solutions. No one really tries 
to solve what he is already convinced is an insoluble prob- 
lem. But one man thinks the problem soluble which another 
pronounces not to be soluble. What, then, is our criterion? 
We say the metempirical elements must be thrown out of 
the construction. But what are the metempirical elements? 

" Here we find ourselves fronting the great psychological 
problems of the Limitations of Knowledge, and the Prin- 
ciples of Certitude. To settle these it will be necessary to 
examine the pretensions of the a priori school. Our first 
labor, then, will be to examine the principles of positive and 
speculative research, and then to show that the principles of 
metempirical research must either be unconditionally re- 
jected, or, if accepted, must be isolated from all depart- 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 30? 

ments of Knowledge and restricted solely to the Unknow- 
able." ' 

With regard to the impossibility of extracting the square 
root of a number that is not made by multiplying any whole 
number or fraction by itself, which is cited as an insoluble 
problem, I would submit that this is an impossibility only by 
definition ; numbers are entirely arbitrary constructions, and 
therefore their manipulations are matters of arbitrary defini- 
tion. The square root of a given number is simply another 
name for a number which, being added to itself as many 
times as it contains the units of which it is composed, will 
equal the given number. The half of four, the third of nine, 
the fourth of sixteen, meet these requirements, because the 
process which determines the square root of four, nine, and 
sixteen can be abbreviated by these divisions ; but it is 
clearly to be seen that the success of the process itself is the 
cause of the selection of these numbers as examples ; and 
the impossibility of the process is the cause of selecting num- 
bers which will not yield to it, as examples of the impos- 
sibility of extracting the square root of certain numbers. If 
an object weighs one hundred pounds, the impossibility of 
its weighing two hundred pounds is a matter of definitions ; 
it is the function of its weight. No question can be ration- 
ally stated that is insoluble, for every question implies con- 
ditions or relations of which its solubility is the result or 
function ; but by changing these conditions and holding on 
to the result it is very easy to create an imaginary incon- 
gruity which may, to a predisposed mind, suggest an unknow- 
able. We would most emphatically assert, however, that an 
incalculable calculation, an insoluble problem, imply a forced 
juxtaposition of symbols, an incongruity of relations ; and 
the impossibility which they suggest is the direct function of 
an initial error. The conception of such problems is of the 
same order as the inconceivable conceptions, the impercep- 
tible perceptions, the unknowable objects of thought, super- 
stitions which have grown out of the incorrect use of words; 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 79. 



308 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

mythical conceptions which men have endeavored to clothe 
in the language of sense, producing the opposite of sense. 
This is the unknowable. 

If Lewes had not affirmed that there are metempirical 
elements in every problem, we should be encouraged to 
think that, by his assertion, " these elements must be thrown 
out of the construction " of problems, he was about to de- 
clare the unknowable a vain fiction, a self-destructive term. 
But we have only to read a few lines farther on to find that 
he is still dominated, in spite of all he can do, by this great 
infelicity. As he promises to deal further with the sub- 
ject in the realm of psychology, let us continue to watch the 
struggle he makes with facts. 

Following the foregoing metaphysical treatise, we find in 
the volume under consideration a set of so-called Rules of 
Philosophizing. These rules are fifteen in number, and form 
a sort of logical code full of 'merit. They are excellent 
suggestions, but the amount of training that would be needed 
to enable one to apply them could hardly be obtained with- 
out actually acquiring the knowledge to which they are 
intended to be a guide. Metaphysics, for instance, is the 
science of ultimate terms ; it deals with the meaning of 
those words which have the widest possible significance. 
To tell a student that "Any contradiction of fundamental 
experiences of sense or intuition is to be taken as evidence 
of some flaw either in the data or the calculation," * which is 
rule second, would be to give him excellent advice ; but to 
teach him how to apply this rule to the interpretation of 
(say) the word Matter, would necessitate his taking a course 
of study which would make him an expert judge of " flaws 
either in the data or the calculation " of any philosophical 
problem. To be more explicit, the surpassing difficulty in 
the application of the above rule would be to know in what 
a " contradiction of fundamental experiences of sense or 
intuition " consists. In our opinion, for instance, it is clear 
that the author of this rule fails to follow it in the interpre- 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 82. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 309 

tation of Matter and Space ; for is it not a " contradiction of 
fundamental experiences of sense or intuition " to say that 
Matter and Space are separately ultimate or irreducible facts; 
or, again, to postulate an unknowable object of thought. 
The author himself admits, somewhat naively, that " the ap- 
plication of this rule requires great tact and accurate knowl- 
edge " ; and the question very naturally arises whether the 
possession of this " tact and accurate knowledge " would not 
include that of the " rule for philosophizing." We doubt 
whether Lewes, if teaching philosophy, would begin with 
abstract rules. ' Considered as feats of abstract reasoning, 
these fifteen rules cannot but be admired ; but as it would 
be difficult to find two persons who would agree on the sig- 
nificance of the terms employed in them, they can hardly be 
considered as aids to the study of philosophy. 

In the treatise on Psychological Principles, which follows 
the Rules of Philosophizing, Lewes tells us that it would be 
premature to attempt a systematic treatise on Psychology, 
as there are important metaphysical and biological questions 
still open which it is essential first to have settled. In a 
word, Lewes, who at the time of this writing was perhaps 
one of the best-prepared men, if not the best, to deal with 
the science of Psychology, frankly admits that he lacks some 
of the most important materials for the undertaking. This 
is in contrast with some writers who have built up imposing 
and complicated systems of psychology in apparent inno- 
cence of the fundamental difficulty of the subject. 

It is, therefore, with renewed confidence and interest that 
we approach what Lewes calls a " sketch of the programme 
of Psychology." He begins with the now familiar assertion 
that Man is not simply an Animal Organism, he is also a 
unit in a Social Organism. Then comes a citation of the 
starting-point of psychology, namely, Consciousness. Psy- 
chology, we are told, occupies itself with the study of the 

1 " The supreme importance of an education is directed toward the develop- 
ment of aptitudes by their effective exercise rather than by the inculcation of 
rules." Lewes, " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 109. 



310 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

factors of Consciousness. Consciousness is a fact beyond 
which the psychologist is not obliged to look. It is the fact 
from which he elaborates his science and for which he is not 
obliged to account. 

As the biologist accepts Life as an ultimate fact, or the 
physicist builds his science on the principle of Force, neither 
being required to explain what these initial facts of their 
respective sciences are ; as the mathematician does not con- 
cern himself with what " Quantity, Space, and Time are " ; 
so the psychologist is not obliged to tell us what Conscious- 
ness is. Here in the very beginning is that metaphysical 
question the settlement of which Lewes so keenly felt the 
need of ; and here we must disagree with him in his assertion 
that the psychologist is not called upon to explain what 
Consciousness really is. We can easily imagine a mathema- 
tician content to follow the relations of numbers and quan- 
tities without being able to explain whence these' principles 
spring ; we can imagine a physicist dealing with problems 
of the correlations of forces without feeling the necessity of 
knowing the universal principle which these forces declare ; 
we can even understand a biologist spending a lifetime in 
the study of the interdependencies of organic life without 
being able to tell how these activities which he witnesses in 
every organism are affiliated with the same activities which he 
sees in other directions relatively unorganized ; but we cannot 
imagine a psychologist prosecuting the study of the functions 
and structure of the mind without feeling the necessity of 
knowing what Consciousness is, without feeling powerless to 
proceed in the absence of a knowledge of the nature of 
Perception. I do not mean to infer that great progress in 
psychology is not possible without this knowledge, for great 
progress in this science has already been made ; but I deny 
that any psychologist can make himself clearly understood 
in the principles of his science without first comprehending 
the relation of mental to universal activity, without being 
able to affiliate the principle involved in intelligence with 
other known principles, the relation of knowledge to organic 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 311 

life, and organic to universal life ; in a word, without solving, 
at the very outset of his exposition, the metaphysical prob- 
lem. How can a psychology be clearly understood which 
teaches that mind is a function of an organism, that the or- 
ganism is material, and still that matter is an ultimate fact ? 
If matter is an ultimate fact, what is the activity of matter 
which is called mind ? There can be but one ultimate fact, 
and it must be universal. If, on the contrary, activity, life, or 
motion, is acknowledged to be the ultimate fact, and matter 
subordinate to it, a phase or aspect of it, materialism van- 
ishes and life and mind become a living reality, an under- 
stood fact. With this simple theory the vexed question of 
Object and Subject is resolved. The relation called gravita- 
tion, suggesting activities which are infinite, those subtle 
chemical energies, the signatures of the still uncombined 
elements, the adjustments of the primitive organism to 
its environment, the evolution of sensibility, feeling, and 
thought, from these lower orders of activity, rises before us, 
an unbroken interdependence of cause and effect. Human 
intelligence, which is taxed to its utmost to comprehend the 
proportions of this truth, is recognized as an expression of 
individuality, of the moving limits of personal existence ; 
and a glimpse of the difference between the human and the 
divine, the anthropomorphic and the universal, is obtained. 

It will be interesting, therefore, to follow Lewes through 
his programme of Psychology, and to observe how he 
manages to meet the difficulties of his subject without the 
aid of that ultimate analysis so essential to an understanding 
of Mind. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

GEORGE HENRY LEWES (CONTINUED). 
The Principles of Psychology. 

WE now enter upon the most original and instructive 
portions of Lewes' philosophy. His deep study of the sen- 
sorium of animals and of man has enabled him to carry us 
dry-shod through that dismal swamp, the analysis of mind 
from its physical side. Timid and conventional thinkers 
have systematically avoided this route in their journeyings, 
they have looked at the map, heard of the difficulties and 
dangers of the way, and turned aside. On the whole, they 
are to be congratulated for their prudence ; although it can- 
not be denied that this prudence has led them to miss some 
of the deepest and most stirring truths of life. 

To explain the wonders of the intellect by a supernatural 
principle is convenient, but it is not, in the best sense, philo- 
sophical. This method may appear satisfying to our ideal 
nature, but it partakes more of sentiment than of thought; 
yet like many a sentiment, it has held in view exalted truths 
until the slow methods of science have reached and verified 
them. * 

The intellectual and moral life of man cannot be ex- 
plained by a biological analysis. The operations of the mind 
cannot be successfully described as simply the activities 
of a personal organism, for the meaning of the word organ- 
ism has to be vastly extended before it can account for 
the immeasurable difference between mere sentiency, and 
thought. The wonders of organic development, as the 
phrase is scientifically used, are utterly incapable of explain- 
ing a moral intuition, an intellectual conception, or a reli- 

312 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 313 

gious sentiment. To fill in this break, however, in the chain 
of cause and effect by the interposition of a " supernatural 
principle " is only a makeshift ; it lacks all the dignity that 
belongs to careful thought. 

Although analysis is the instrument by which this logical 
discrepancy has been removed, it has also been the indirect 
cause of the delay in arriving at a rational solution of the 
problem of Mind. Impressions, or simple perceptions, are 
by their nature composite. In ascending a mountain, we 
measure the distance into steps, but we are at the same 
time building up a synthesis which we will call an ascension. 
When we have reached the summit, we view the journey as 
a single fact ; but it was effected by an analysis, and the 
synthesis was accomplished as the analysis progressed. 
Thus analysis and synthesis are interdependent processes. 
The analyst or scientist, disdainfully refusing to be beguiled 
with the synthetic splendors of the mind, has steadfastly 
devoted himself to the physical procedures which have made 
these splendors possible. He has surveyed the route while 
others have enjoyed the scenery. The scientist has known 
all along that these intellectual wonders have been reached 
through sequences with which, in less extended vistas, he is 
perfectly familiar. He has known all along that sentiency 
is the activity of an organism, and that thought has depended 
absolutely upon this foundation for all its achievements. But 
in his laudable endeavors to extend definite knowledge so 
that it might encompass the ideal, he has neglected an obscure 
and involved factor in mental or spiritual development. It 
is this factor which explains the difference between human 
and merely animal life. As we accomplish distances by 
measuring off progressions which are determined by our pow- 
ers of locomotion, so we apprehend situations by combining 
partial views, which are determined by our perceptive 
faculties. The more thorough the analysis, the more truth- 
ful is the conception formed, providing we are careful to 
replace in the synthetic view all the products of the analysis. 
In proportion to the number of neglected factors our concep- 



314 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

tions are imperfect. We are no better off, therefore, in 
trusting those who insist upon viewing things in their 
entirety without studying the parts, than in trusting the 
analyst who clings to certain prominent factors and neglects 
others. The former class may supply us with more sym- 
metrical ideas, but they are largely only ideas instead of reali- 
ties. Life is not a dream-voyage. Our charts must be the 
result of actual soundings and observations ; and where they 
describe unexplored regions, they should be distinctly so 
marked. 

When we listen, therefore, to the panegyrics of idealists 
about such theories as " the miraculous inception of divine 
thought," we should remember that they are merely filling in 
the interstices in their education with generalities which they 
are unable to define. These generalities, beautiful as they 
may sound to the untrained ear, can never be made to take-the 
place of those substantial and hard-earned conceptions which 
can be obtained only by careful and patient investigation. To 
this class of careful thinkers Lewes pre-eminently belongs, and 
we may well listen to him when he insists upon a resolution 
of the great fact of consciousness into its factors or condi- 
tions, and upon the reunion of the isolated views thus ob- 
tained into a symmetrical whole. The biological factors of 
consciousness, we are reminded, afford but an incomplete 
explanation of Mind ; they supply us, however, with the 
fundamental conditions of its theory. These substructures 
of the intellect Lewes thus describes : " Theoretically taking 
the organism to pieces to understand its separate parts, 
we fall into the error of supposing that the organism is a 
mere assemblage of organs, like a machine which is put 
together by juxtaposition of different parts. But this is 
radically to misunderstand its essential nature and the uni- 
versal solidarity of its parts. The organism is not made, 
not put together, but evolved ; its parts are not juxtaposed, 
but differentiated ; its organs are groups of minor organ- 
isms, all sharing in a common life, i. e. all sharing in a com- 
mon substance constructed through a common process of 



GEORGE HENR Y LEWES. 315 

simultaneous and continuous molecular composition and 
decomposition ; precisely as the great Social Organism is a 
group of societies, each of which is a group of families, all 
sharing in a common life, every family having at once its 
individual independence and its social dependence through 
connection with every other. In a machine, the parts are 
all different, and have mechanical significance only in relation 
to the whole. In an organism, the parts are all identical in 
fundamental characters and diverse only in their superadded 
differentiations : each has its independence, although all co- 
operate. The synthetical point of view, which should never 
drop out of sight, however the necessities of investigation 
may throw us upon analysis, is well expressed by Aristotle 
somewhere to the effect that all collective life depends on 
the separation of offices and the concurrence of efforts. In 
a vital organism, every force is the resultant of #//the forces ; 
it is a disturbance of equilibrium, and equilibrium is the 
equivalence of convergent forces. When we speak of Intel- 
ligence as a force which determines actions, we ought always 
to bear in mind that the efficacy of Intelligence depends on 
the organs which co-operate and are determined : it is not 
pure Thought which moves a muscle, neither is it the ab- 
straction Contractility, but the muscle which moves a limb." 1 
This luminous exposition of the difference between 
mechanism and organism (a most important distinction in 
the study of the physiological basis of mind) is supplemented 
by an explanation of the metamorphosis which precedes 
physical assimilation, as a preparation to the understanding 
of the assimilation of ideas. 2 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., pp. 103-105. 

* ' ' Between the reception of external materials and the assimilation of them by 
the tissues (plant or animal) there is always an intermediate stage passed 
through, the inorganic, unvitalized material becoming there transformed into 
organizable, vitalized material. * * * Until this special change has taken place, 
the inorganic material is not assimilable ; it must enter as a constituent of the 
bioplasm to form part of what Claude Bernard calls the Physiological Medium 
before it can become a constituent of the tissues. The supposition that plants 
are nourished directly by inorganic substances drawn from the soil and atmos- 
phere is now proved to be erroneous : the nutrition of plants takes place 



316 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

The crisis of the argument then comes in these words: 
" That Life is Change, and that Consciousness is Change, 
has always been affirmed. We have only to add that the 
changes are serial, and convergent through a consensus deter- 
mined by essential community of structure, and we have char- 
acterized the speciality of organic change, demarcated Life 
and Mind from all inorganic change." 1 Movements not 
combined are /^organic. Serial and combined movements 
or activities are organic or vital. 

Now, rising above the difference between the most general 
or inorganic activities, and the special or organic activities 
known as vital, let us contemplate the difference between or- 
ganic and suflerorganic activities. Biology is the study of 

through processes similar to those in animals. The inorganic has in both to- 
pass through the organizable stage, and form proximate principles, before it 
can become organized into elements of tissue. * * * 

" Let us now pass from Life to Mind. The vital organism is evolved from 
the bioplasm, and we may now see how the psychical organism is evolved from 
what may be analogically called the psychoplasm. The bioplasm is character- 
ized by a continuous and simultaneous movement of molecular composition and 
decomposition ; and out of these arises the whole mechanism, which is also sus- 
tained and differentiated by them. If, instead of considering the whole vital 
organism, we consider solely its sensitive aspects, and confine ourselves to the 
Nervous System, we may represent the molecular movements of the bioplasm 
by the neural tremors of the psychoplasm ; these tremors are what I term 
neural units the raw material of Consciousness ; the several neural groups 
formed by these units represent the organized elements of tissues, the tissues, 
and the combination of tissues into organs, and of organs into apparatus. The 
movements of the bioplasm constitute Vitality ; the movements of the psycho- 
plasm constitute Sensibility. The forces of the cosmical medium which are 
transformed in the physiological build up the organic structure, which in the 
various stages of its evolution reacts according to its statical conditions, them- 
selves the results of preceding reactions. It is the same with what may be 
called the mental organism. Here also every phenomenon is the product of 
two factors, external and internal, impersonal and personal, objective and sub- 
jective. Viewing the internal factor solely in the light of Feeling, we may say 
that the sentient material out of which all the forms of Consciousness are 
evolved is the psychoplasm, incessantly fluctuating, incessantly renewed. 
Viewing this on the physiological side, it is the succession of neural tremors, 
variously combining into neural groups." " Problems of Life and Mind," voL 
I., pp. 107-109. 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. in. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 317 

the history of organic life ; it analyzes the organism, both as 
a fact and as a gradual development ; it follows the sequences 
of growth from primitive organisms to man, and from the 
germ to the adult in each type. Its field, however, is the 
organism and its physical environment. The spiritual me- 
dium or surrounding of each organism is beyond the sphere 
of biology. Psychology is the science which investigates 
this higher or mental environment. The distinction between 
these two sciences, therefore, can be broadly expressed as 
follows : Biology studies the relations between the organism 
and its physical medium ; Psychology studies the relations 
between the organism and its mental medium, or the rela- 
tions between subject and object. The primary law of 
biology is : " Every vital phenomenon is the product of the 
two factors, the Organism and its Medium." And the 
primary law of psychology is, that " Every psychical (mental 
or spiritual) phenomenon is the product of the two factors, 
the Subject and the Object." 

These two sciences, therefore, are clearly but studies of 
different aspects of the single fact of personal existence. 
Lewes tells us that this law of psychology " replaces the old 
Dualism, in which Subject and Object were two independent 
and unallied existences, by a Monism, in which only one 
existence, under different forms, is conceived. The old con- 
ception was of Life in conflict with the external ; the new 
conception recognizes their identity, and founds this recogni- 
tion on the demonstrable fact that, far from the external 
forces tending to destroy Life (according to Bichat's view), 
they are the very materials out of which Life emerges, and 
by which it is sustained and developed." 

It would be impossible in so short a sketch to give any 
thing like an adequate idea of the factors of psychical life 
(or mind), for such an undertaking would constitute a com- 
plete psychology. It will not do, however, to shirk the 
responsibility of the metaphysical position which this work 
has assumed. Lewes declares a true or complete psychology 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 113. 



31 8 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

" premature until there is something like a general agree- 
ment on many questions of fundamental importance, these 
being partly metaphysical and partly biological." 

Since we assume to have solved the metaphysical prob- 
lem, we should be able to clear up some of the psychologi- 
cal ambiguities of which Lewes complains. Does not the 
difference between the fundamental facts of physical and 
mental life, referred to above, give us the first opportunity to 
employ the ultimate analysis which constitutes the solution 
of the metaphysical problem ? When we consider that all 
psychical phenomena spring from a primary contrast, and the 
terms of that contrast are self and not-self, is not the fun- 
damental nature of Mind revealed by this initial contrast? 

When the banks of the southern Mississippi overflow, 
any object which remains above the water may become the 
common refuge of animals that are never found together 
under less trying circumstances. The timid hare or equally 
defenceless game, the dangerous snake and other reptiles, 
cling together to some stray raft, dismayed into peaceful and 
respectful behavior toward one another, and the traveller 
finds it difficult to realize that any thing could have devel- 
oped a dominant common nature in such opposite beings. 
Apparently the principles which are combined in the fact of 
personal existence, or perception, springing from the con- 
trast of subject and object, are as strange to one another as 
these frightened animals, and yet their unity of nature, the 
fact that they represent but one fact, is forced upon us 
when we view them in the plane of their widest significance. 
Under no provocation, short of an intellectual deluge, will the 
old-school metaphysician admit that Matter and Space are 
synonymous, and that they form but one term of a funda- 
mental contrast, of which Time is the other term ; or that, 
considered in an impersonal light, or objectively, this con- 
trast disappears in a single fact or principle. The ultimate 
difference between self and not-self, or subject and object, 
can only be found in the aspects of this single fact. 

If we persist in the analysis, even this difference disap- 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 319 

pears, and we are obliged to confess that there is no ultimate 
or absolute difference between subject and object ; that they 
are but phases or aspects of the indivisible fact of universal 
existence, or Motion. 

Intelligence, or perception, however, demands an explana- 
tion : it insists upon knowing and understanding itself. 
This intelligence or consciousness is not the ultimate fact, 
but simply a relative fact; it is the function of individu- 
ality, and therefore springs from the contrast of one life 
with all life, or of subject with object. The difficult part of 
this theory to understand is, how we identify Time with 
subject and Space with object. The subject occupies space, 
and therefore has space-relationships ; and the object occu- 
pies time, and therefore has time-relationships. The idea of 
space is generated by marking, or attending to, abstract 
existences, or other existences, considered simultaneously 
(or apart from time). The idea of time is generated by con- 
sidering abstract serial existence, or existence apart from 
other existences (space). Now it is clear that the only 
existence that we can consider apart from other existences 
is our own. Thus we get an idea of how these primordial 
ideas of Time and Space, or Subject and Object, are formed. 
But it is only an idea. To form a distinct conception, we 
shall have to make a complete analysis of the phenomena 
of thought. In trying to form this idea, we have been 
employing symbols, or language, and this is the very factor 
the bearings of which are so involved that it presents us 
with the most complex problem of psychology. 

Language springs from our attempts to communicate 
images of the mind. The attempts of the child to speak, or 
still better, of the savage, point to this fact. Upon this 
subject Lewes says : " It is in Imagination that must be 
sought the first impulse toward Explanation ; and therefore 
all primitive explanations are so markedly imaginative. 
Images being the ideal forms of Sensation, the Logic of 
Images is the first stage of intellectual activity ; and is 
therefore predominant in the early history of individual- 



320 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

and of nations. The first attempts to explain a phenomenon 
must be to combine the images of past sensations with the 
sensations now felt, so as to form a series. In the next 
stage, words, representative of abstractions, take the places 
both of images and objects. Thus the Logic of Signs (or 
language) replaces the Logic of Images, as the Logic of 
Images replaced the Logic of Sensation." 

If the first stages of intellectual activity are to be found 
in the " Logic of Images," and Language is the vehicle of 
these images, it is clear that thought and language are inter- 
dependent, and develop, or become more definite, together. 
But if this is the case, why is it that language has to reach 
an exceedingly high type of development before the cate- 
gories of thought, or the metaphysical problem, can be stated, 
as in Greece by Aristotle ; and a still higher development, 
before the ultimate reality can be announced or the problem 
solved ? And yet the aspects of this ultimate reality, name- 
ly, Space and Time, are said to be the primordial inference, 
the first comparison, from which all comparison, or thought, 
springs. The calculations and thoughts of a mind utterly 
ignorant of psychology or metaphysics are just as clearly 
traceable to this same beginning as those of a Spencer or 
a Lewes ; the difference being simply that the untrained 
mind is unconscious of the great unity or simplicity of 
thought. It is not necessary that we should understand the 
fundamental principles of a subject in order to act correctly 
in its sphere ; it is not necessary that we should perform a 
complete analysis of the mind in order to reason correctly 
within certain limits. The bank officer may know little or 
nothing of economics, and still pass upon credits successfully ; 
the priest or minister may know nothing of abstract ethics, 
and still judge matters of conduct correctly. 

In both of these cases intuitions or unconscious mental 
co-ordinations supply the place of the elaborate synthetic 
conceptions which result from much special study. The 
truths which analysis reveals, and which synthesis unites 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 155. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. $21 

into a whole, are abridged and vaguely represented in the 
mind by intuitions. For instance, the whole science of 
economics consists in the study of the production and dis- 
tribution of wealth. The bank officer may be unable to 
trace the generality, wealth, to its original factors, land, 
labor, and capital ; but he knows the most enduring forms 
of wealth, and the kinds of men and institutions to entrust 
it to, and therefore arrives at the practice of economics 
without performing an analysis of its principles. The hori- 
zon of this practical knowledge is occupied by uninvestigated 
truths, which would easily yield to analysis and assimilate 
with the truths already possessed ; but in the absence of 
this investigation, intuitions, or vague ideas, take the place 
of definite conceptions. Again : the priest or minister may 
not be able to reduce morality to its prime factors, indi- 
vidual, social, and general existence ; but pure habits of 
mind have endowed him with excellent moral intuitions, 
enabling him to decide correctly in delicate questions of 
conduct. His mind may be as far from grasping the funda- 
mental principles of conduct as the magnetic needle is from 
being conscious of the currents of energy which determine 
its movements ; but the needle, in responding to these rela- 
tions in the simplest possible sense, perceives them, and its 
tiny adjustments, viewed from another standpoint, are ex- 
pressions of certain relations or truths.. So the pure-minded 
ecclesiast allows a healthful moral nature to perceive for him 
the most obscure moral truths. These unconscious percep- 
tions, called intuitions, are the natural or spontaneous induc- 
tions, the irresistible, unwilled activities of our nature from 
which Consciousness itself springs. Would the needle make 
a better compass if it were conscious ; would the clergyman 
be better fitted for his duties were he more profound ? Un- 
questionably, yes. Given the natural truths which each 
possesses, higher complexity would insure wider and more 
delicate adjustments ; more knowledge would insure more 
influence for good. Could we complicate the structure of a 
mariner's compass so that it would not be deflected by the 



322 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

proximity of masses of metals, it would be more useful, 
more reliable, for the purposes of navigation. If we could 
convince the priest or minister that God is a principle, not a 
person, he would be made still purer by the conception of 
this divine unity ; his influence would be widened by giving 
to his teachings the power which comes from a greater 
command of facts. 

Thus we have gradually reviewed the whole field of psy- 
chology, the scope of language, and the nature of perception ; 
the difference between the real and the ideal, and the affilia- 
tion of the factors of mental with those of physical life, by 
the discovery of the social factor in psychical development. 
What is more manifest (if Time and Space are the first in- 
ferences, and at the same time the representatives of Subject 
and Object) than that the universal principle is only divisible 
into aspects, and that these aspects, or appearances, are dis- 
covered, or given, by the fact of individual life, the natural 
consequence of that isolation, or separation, from general ex- 
istence which is implied in a relative or personal existence ? 
What is more manifest than that thought is the complex 
activity of a sensorium which is a development of an organ- 
ism, and that language is the structural process of the social 
mind surrounding the individual mind ; the psychoplasm 
which bathes the tissues of the intellect and carries to 
them the common fund of ideas in an assimilable condi- 
tion? What is more manifest than that, as this intellec- 
tual medium called language is rendered more soluble, 
more interdependent in meaning, better co-ordinated by 
the perfection of higher generalities, it will bring a larger 
and larger number of minds into communication, and a 
greater and greater expanse of outlying truth within reach of 
each individual? 

When the highest generalization, the most powerful intel- 
lectual solvent, shall have permeated language and thought, 
the physical, mental, and moral development of the race will 
be simply a question of vitality, not of method, for the ways 
and means of this development will be universally under- 
stood. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 323 

It may be said that thus to bring the activities of a magnet 
and those of a man under the same category, to call the adjust- 
ments of the former to external influences a kind of percep- 
tion, and to view the manifestations of this adjustment as 
the expression of a fact or truth, is to give to the terms per- 
ception and expression a breadth of meaning which has 
no warrant in fact, and therefore proves nothing. This, 
however, is precisely the question in point. We name a 
fact of sentiency perception. Until we analyze perception 
we see no resemblance between it and facts immeasurably 
less complex, although of the same nature. The most 
successful and widely accepted analysis of psychical life 
discloses it to be the adjustments of an organism to its 
environment, or the adjustment of inner to outer activi- 
ties, which is also the best definition of physical life. The 
deepest biological studies teach us that the first principle, 
or condition, of the organism is a limiting membrane, some- 
thing to define, separate, or contrast it with the surroundings. 
The deepest psychological studies teach us that the first 
principle of psychical life, or perception, is a contrast, differ- 
ence, or demarcation, between two terms, the organism or 
subject, and its surroundings or object. 

" When it is said that animals, however intelligent, have 
no intellect, the meaning is that they have perceptions and 
judgments, but no conceptions, no general ideas, no sym- 
bols for logical operations. They are intelligent, for we 
see them guided to action by judgment; they adapt their 
actions by means of guiding sensations, and adapt things 
to their ends. Their mechanism is a sentient, intelligent 
mechanism. But they have not conception, or what we 
specially designate as Thought, i. e. that logical function 
which deals with generalities, ratios, symbols, as feeling 
deals with particulars and objects, a function sustained by 
and subservient to impersonal, social ends. Taking intelli- 
gence in general as the discrimination of means to ends, 
the guidance of the organism toward the satisfaction of its 
impulses, we particularize intelligence as a highly differen- 



324 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

tiated mode of this function, namely, as the discrimination 
of symbols. * * * Intellect is impossible until animal devel- 
opment has reached the human social stage ; and it is at all 
periods the index of that development ; its operations are 
likewise carried on by means of symbols (Language) which 
represent real objects, and can at any time be translated into 
feelings. 

" It is obvious that the biological data can only resolve 
one half of the psychological problem, only present one of 
the foci of the ellipse, since by no derivation from the 
purely statical considerations of man's animal organism can 
we reach the higher dynamical products. Isolate man from 
the social state, and we have an animal ; set going his 
organism simply in relation to the Cosmos, without involv- 
ing any relations to other men, and we can get no intellect, 
no conscience. * * * The language of symbols [is] at once the 
cause and effect of civilization." ' 

Thus we see that mind cannot be explained without a 
constant recognition of the relations of organism and social 
medium. So important is the operation of the social 
medium in the fact of mind, that the state of education to 
which the race has attained at any given time is a determi- 
nant of the individual mind. The subject must be adjusted 
to this medium in order to act and to be reacted upon by it. 

The absurdity of supposing that any ape, for instance, 
could, under any normal circumstances, " construct a scien- 
tific theory, analyze a fact into its component factors, frame 
to himself a picture of the life led by his ancestors, or con- 
sciously regulate his conduct with a view to the welfare of 
remote descendants, is so glaring that we need not wonder 
at profoundly meditative minds having been led to reject 
with scorn the hypothesis which seeks for an explanation 
of human intelligence in the functions of the bodily organ- 
ism common to man and animals, and having had recourse 
to the hypothesis of a spiritual agent superadded to the 
organism." 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., pp. 142, 143. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 325 

This spiritual hypothesis, however, is unscientific. It 
offers a name for a fact without explaining it without con- 
necting it with what we know. In a word, instead of solving 
the question of life and mind, it simply reiterates the old 
assertion that both of these facts are mysteries, giving us 
no clue to their hidden relations. 

It is these relations, however, that we are seeking, and in 
this reach of comparisons, the response of a magnetic 
needle to physical energies, the adjustment of a monad to 
its environment, the slow growth of sentiency in ascending 
organic types, the interposition of a social medium in the 
surroundings of the highest type, the development of this 
medium into a world of symbols radiating from a single 
fact, we have a serial development which expresses the 
interdependence, or mutual activity, of the subject and 
object, the organism and its environment. 

Mark, however, the vast difference between the signifi- 
cance of these two pairs of antithetical terms, subject and 
object, organism and environment. One is an expansion 
of the meaning of self and not-self into the two great aspects 
of the universe, Time and Space, the Eternal and the In- 
finite ; the other is the contrast of individual and general 
physical life. The distinction between the ideal and the 
real, or the mental and the physical, therefore, is seen to be 
but relative. The organism is great, not in itself, but in its 
connection, or joint existence, with the external world ; the 
subject derives its magnificent perspectives, not by drawing 
absolute boundary-lines between itself and the objective uni- 
verse, not by affirming that we are immaterial or spiritual, 
but from the fact that we are an expression of a universal 
principle. 



CHAPTER XV. 

GEORGE HENRY LEWES (CONTINUED). 

The Unity of the Whole Organism as a Factor of Mind Lewes' Definitions of 
Experience and Feeling. 

IN following Lewes' explanation of the difference between 
the metaphysical and the metempirical we have well-nigh 
exhausted the question of the categories of thought. By 
applying the solution of this problem to the principles of psy- 
chology as set forth by our author, we have obtained still 
more light upon the subject, and yet this metaphysical prob- 
lem continues to confront us with unabated vigor through- 
out the whole of the remaining portions of Lewes' philoso- 
phy, and the same power and skill continue to be fruitlessly 
exerted toward its determination. Such is the curse of 
agnosticism. Following psychological principles, we have in 
the same volume a long treatment of the " Limitations of 
Knowledge." One might naturally suppose that this subject 
would have been disposed of in a treatise on the Principles of 
Psychology ; for if the word knowledge is used in the limited 
sense of the product of mental activity (and it is in this 
sense alone that Lewes and Spencer employ the word), 
surely its limitations should be a part of the study of Psy- 
chology ; and the principle of the " Limitations of Knowl- 
edge " should be clearly laid down among psychological prin- 
ciples. But, on the contrary, the subject is begun with as 
much freshness as if nothing had been said in regard to it, 
or at least as if the problems which it suggests were entirely 
unsolved. 

In the light of the principle which this work would estab- 
lish, the question, What are the limitations of knowledge ? 

326 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 327 

can hardly be considered as rational ; for Knowledge to us 
means the same thing as Life or Progress ; it is universal. 
The absence of limits (the infinite) is one of the appearances 
of this principle by which we apprehend it. The " Limita- 
tions of Knowledge," therefore, is an impossible subject to 
us. The solution of the metaphysical problem enables us 
to regard human knowledge as a phase of human life. 
We admit no limits to human life excepting individual 
limits, which are purely relative. The limits of human 
knowledge are to be found in the functions and structures 
of the human and the social organism. We do not admit, 
therefore, to the discussion of the " Limitations of Knowl- 
edge " such questions as the contradistinctions of Mind and 
Matter, or the meanings of Cause, Force, and Motion. 
The solution of these questions depends upon an under- 
standing of the meaning of ultimate principles, the knowl- 
edge that they express but a single fact and certain clearly 
denned aspects of this fact. Hence the best that Lewes can 
do with these questions is to push them aside with vague 
generalities whenever they interfere with his explanations, 
this he is compelled to do throughout the whole course of 
his philosophy. 

We have before us a closely reasoned essay, forming the 
greater part of the first volume of " Problems of Life and 
Mind." Containing as it certainly does more advanced and 
more clearly expressed views on the subject of human knowl- 
edge than perhaps any other work of the kind, this essay 
nevertheless bears a title which implies a contradiction in 
terms, and so creates the difficulty which it is the purpose 
of the author to remove. 

One of the best sentences to be found in this essay is, 
" The certainty of knowledge is not affected by its circum- 
scription." It is immediately followed by one still more 
suggestive, " The principle of relativity furnishes a crite- 
rion which is coextensive with the domain of intelligence." 
In these two sentences we have what is in effect the chal- 
lenge and the defeat of agnosticism, the utter discomfi- 



328 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

ture of " The Unknowable "; but the author passes on, ap- 
parently unconscious of the significance of his own words; he 
passes on to endless repetitions of the same questions and 
the replies to them. In these sentences the question of Cer- 
titude, or ultimate Proof, is answered ; and yet the first 
hundred pages of the following volume of the same series 
(" Problems of Life and Mind ") are devoted to the discussion 
of the " Principles of Certitude " ; and even then the ques- 
tion is left undecided. 

In the above sentences we have two distinct assertions : 
the first is, that the circumscriptions of knowledge do not 
render knowledge itself less certain ; and the second, that the 
principle of relativity is coextensive with intelligence. The 
first simply affirms that human knowledge is subject to human 
conditions, and that this fact does not affect its integrity, or 
that knowledge, as we find it, is knowledge, and not illusion. 
The second assertion means that knowledge, or intelligence, 
has no absolute limits. For if the principle of relativity, or 
the ultimate relation, is coextensive with intelligence, and 
motion is the ultimate relation, the principle of intelligence 
is universal ; or, which is the same thing, there is no absolute 
distinction between Knowledge, Life, and Motion that is to 
say, the ideas which these words represent can be produced 
to a single logical focus. It follows from this that the prin- 
ciple of Relativity, or Motion, is the criterion of knowledge ; 
for a criterion is a fact by which other facts are measured, 
or compared. The ultimate fact must be the measure of all 
things, the criterion of knowledge. 

It may be objected that every generalization can be thus 
dissipated by reduction to the ultimate fact of motion. It 
is, however, this very admission which it is the aim of phi- 
losophy to obtain. As long as ultimate proofs are sought, 
they must be sought in the ultimate fact, for in the universal 
principle the proof and the fact merge in one. The prin- 
ciples of certitude, therefore, are to be found in the basis, or 
source, of all truth, the primordial fact ; and the principle of 
individual certitude, or, as Spencer denominates it, the Uni- 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 329 

versal Postulate, is to be found in the rule that facts express 
themselves ; which is the simplest way of saying that we be- 
lieve things when we are unable to disbelieve them ; ultimate 
proof, or " the universal postulate, consists in the inconceiva- 
bleness of the negation of a proposition." 

Human perception is not a condition of ultimate truth, 
but a product of it. We appreciate the universe through its 
motions, or activities ; the principle of intelligence is there- 
fore indistinguishable from universal activity. Isolated or 
individual facts are but the function of individual existence. 
The quality, or certitude, of an individual fact is but another 
name for the existence of which the fact is an expression. 
The idea of quality can be traced directly to the fact of 
personal existence, disclosing the source of all ethical concep- 
tions ; and the companion idea of quantity can be identified 
with the fact of general existence ; thus giving us the remote 
counterparts of subject and object, i. e. time and space, the 
two great aspects of life. 

Lewes, as will be seen from the following, freely acknowl- 
edged the disadvantage he was under in not having deter- 
mined the relation of subject and object. This occurs in 
the essay on the " Limitations of Knowledge " : 

" Metaphysics, in addition to its own obscurities, is over- 
shadowed by the uncertainties hovering around its data. We 
cannot, for instance, accept Force as the cause of Motion 
unless Cause and Motion have already been clearly defined ; 
and they are as obscure as the Force they are employed to 
render intelligible. We cannot stir a step in the exposition 
of the relation of Object and Subject without presupposing 
to be already settled fundamental points of Psychology 
which are still under discussion. No explanation can be 
given of Matter which does not involve a conception of 
Force. Thus the interconnections which are potent aids in 
physical inquiry are so many obstacles in metaphysical re- 
search." 

In passing on to the further consideration of this essay, 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., p. 188. 



330 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

it would be well to mark the clear explanation of the word 
Experience which Lewes offers, as it is so important in 
discussions concerning the nature of mind : 

" The main question must remain nebulous so long as 
we are without a precise definition of Experience. The 
term is very variously and very laxly used. I have defined 
it * the Registration of Feeling/ And what is Feeling ? 
It is the reaction of the sentient Organism under stimulus. 
Observe, it is not the reaction of an organ, but of the Organ- 
ism, a most important distinction, and rarely recognized. 
This reaction is a resultant of two factors, one factor being 
the Organism and the other being the Stimulus. We are 
not to accept every response of an organ as a feeling; nor 
every feeling as an experience. The secretion of a gland is 
a response physiologically similar to the response of the eye 
or ear ; but it is not a feeling, although entering as an ele- 
ment into the mass of Systemic Sensation. Nor will the 
response of a sensory organ, even when a feeling (through 
its combination with other sentient responses), be an experi- 
ence, unless it be registered in a modification of structure, 
and thus be revivable, because a statical condition is requisite 
for a dynamical manifestation. Rigorously speaking, of 
course there is no body that can be acted on without being 
modified : every sunbeam that beats against the wall alters 
the structure of that wall ; every breath of air that cools the 
brow alters the state of the organism. But such minute 
alterations are inappreciable for the most part by any means 
in our possession, and are not here taken into account, be- 
cause, being annulled by subsequent alterations, they do not 
become registered in the structure. We see many sights, 
read many books, hear many wise remarks ; but, although 
each of these has insensibly affected us, changed our mental 
structures, so that 'we are a part of all that we have met/ 
yet the registered result, the residuum, has perhaps been 
very small. While, therefore, no excitation of Feeling is 
really without some corresponding modification of Structure, 
it is only the excitations which produce permanent modifi- 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 331 

cations that can be included under Experience. A feeling 
passed away, and incapable of revival, would never be called 
an experience by any strict writer. But the feelings regis- 
tered are psycho-statical elements, so that henceforward 
when the Organism is stimulated it must react along these 
lines, and the product will be a feeling more or less resem- 
bling the feeling formerly excited." l * * * 

The value of Lewes' study of Mind is not to be lightly 
estimated. His command of the minutest details of the re- 
sults of introspection is wonderful. He seems to have sum- 
moned all his resources to the solution of the problem of 
Mind, and to have fairly overridden the enormous obstacle 
of an entangled metaphysical vocabulary. Thus throughout 
the succeeding " Problems," although great space is given to 
unsuccessful discussions of metaphysics, the theme of Life 
and Mind is developed with an accuracy and thoroughness 
which places the science of psychology upon a firm footing. 

The carelessness observed in the use of the word mind, 
even among the ostensibly learned, is thus dwelt upon : 

" Mind is commonly spoken of in oblivion of the fact that 
it is an abstract term expressing the sum of mental phe- 
nomena (with or without an unexplored remainder, according 
to the point of view) ; as an abstraction, it comes to be re- 
garded in the light of an entity, or separate source of the 
phenomena which constitute it. A thought, which as a prod- 
uct is simply an embodied process, comes to be regarded in 
the light of something distinct from the process ; and thus 
two aspects of one and the same phenomenon are held to be 
two distinct phenomena. Because we abstract the material 
of an object from its form, considering each apart, we get 
into the habit of treating form as if it were in reality sepa- 
rable from material. By a similar illusion we come to regard 
the process (of thinking) apart from the product (thought), 
and, generalizing the process, we call it Mind, or Intellect, 
which then means no longer the mental phenomena con- 
densed into a term, but the source of these phenomena. * * * 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., pp. 193, 195. 



332 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

It is reflection and experiment which convince us that the 
air is a material object capable of being weighed and meas- 
ured. It is reflection and experiment which convince us 
that Thought is an embodied process, which has its con- 
ditions in the history of the race no less than in that of the 
individual." ' 

With this clear definition of Mind, let us revert to the 
question of Experience. 

The following lines by George Eliot are a poetical expres- 
sion of the great psychological truth, that the experiences of 
the race as well as those of the individual become embodied 
in modifying the mental structure : 

" What ! shall the trick of nostrils and of lips 
Descend through generations, and the soul, 
That moves within our frame like God in worlds, 
Imprint no record, leave no documents 
Of her great history ? Shall men bequeath 
The fancies of their palates to their sons, 
And shall the shudder of restraining awe, 
The slow-wept tears of contrite memory, 
Faith's prayerful labor, and the food divine 
Of fasts ecstatic, shall these pass away 
Like wind upon the waters tracklessly ? " 

Shall the physical propensities be faithfully recorded and 
transmitted in the physical structure, and shall all the 
emotions and thoughts of life fail to modify and shape the 
mental or nervous structure? 

Nothing can be more radically opposed to generally ac- 
cepted teachings than Lewes' explanation of the interde- 
pendence of physical and mental activities. In the analysis 
of the terms feelings, thoughts, and actions given in the 
previous review, the artificial nature of the distinctions 
between the different orders of subjective activity was 
pointed out. So fixed, however, has become the idea that 
mind means something wholly separate from body, that too 
much emphasis cannot be laid upon facts which explain 
this error. In modern methods of teaching, every thing is 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. I., pp. 199, 202. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 333 

prepared for the student of physiology so that he will have 
no difficulty in becoming acquainted with the wonders and 
obscurities of the sensorium. The study of the physical 
activities is carefully demarcated from that of the mind ; 
this division is more than analytical, for the distinctions 
are made to appear ultimate ; they are never removed so 
as to afford a synthetic view of the whole subject. 

The cerebral hemispheres are believed to be the seat of 
combination for all the senses. In them sensations are said 
to be transformed into thoughts, emotions into sentiments. 
Lewes severely criticises this assumption of exclusive func- 
tions of the brain : 

" The cerebral hemispheres," he says, " considered as 
organs, are similar in structure and properties to the other 
nerve-centres ; the laws of sensibility are common to both ; 
[and] the processes are alike in both ; in a word, the Brain is 
only one organ [a supremely important organ !] in a complex 
of organs, whose united activities are necessary for the phe- 
nomena called mental. * * * The assignment of even Think- 
ing to the cerebral hemispheres is purely hypothetical. 
Whatever may be the evidence on which it rests, it must 
still be acknowledged to be an hypothesis awaiting verifica- 
tion. This may seem incredible to some readers, accustomed 
to expositions which do not suggest a doubt, expositions 
where the course of an impression is described from the sen- 
sitive surface along the sensory nerve to its ganglion, from 
thence to a particular spot in the Optic Thalamus [where the 
impression is said to become a sensation], from that spot to 
cells in the upper layer of the cerebral convolutions [where 
the sensation becomes an idea], from thence downward to a 
lower layer of cells [where the idea is changed into a volitional 
impulse], and from thence to the motor-ganglia in the 
spinal cord, where it is reflected on the motor-nerves and 
muscles. 

" Nothing is wanting to the precision of this description. 
Every thing is wanting to its proof. The reader might sup- 
pose that the course had been followed step by step, at least, 



334 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

as the trajectory of a cannon-ball or the path of a planet is 
followed ; and that where actual observation is at fault, cal- 
culation is ready to fill up the gap. Yet what is the fact ? It 
is that not a single step of this involved process has ever 
been observed ; the description is imaginary from beginning 
to end." l 

Lewes goes on to explain that although the imagination 
has had inductions to work on in constructing these theories, 
all that the evidence vouches for is, that the integrity of the 
nervous system is necessary for the manifestation of its mental 
phenomena. 

In the volume entitled " The Physical Basis of Mind " it is 
abundantly shown that sensations, emotions, volitions, and 
even instincts, may be manifested after the brain of an animal 
has been removed. Hence the assertion made by so many 
physiologists, that the brain is the exclusive organ of the 
mind, or intelligence, or the Sensorium, or place of feeling, 
cannot be sustained. 

Now when we reflect on the great disturbance to the gen- 
eral mechanism which must result from such an operation as 
removing the brain, and how easily a comparatively slight 
disturbance of a mechanism will abolish many of its manifes- 
tations, we see decisive proof that the brain can only be one 
factor however important in the production of mental 
manifestations. 

Thus, notwithstanding the endless proofs that Mind means 
nothing more than an ideal separation of a certain view of in- 
dividual life from the sum of individual existence, the analysis 
by which our conceptions of physical and mental phenomena 
are built up is made of itself an immovable fact, whereas it 
is but a method of mental procedure, and should be borne 
in mind as such. The great fact that unconscious states play 
by far the greater part in mental life forces the conviction that 
every activity of the body is a more or less remote factor in 
consciousness. The familiar instances of mental aberration 
directly traceable to physical disturbances, the frequent occur- 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," 3d series, p. 65. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 335 

rence of different degrees of moral degeneration resulting 
from different kinds of disease, are only prominent instances 
among the great mass of personal experiences which teach us 
that the operations of the mind are dependent from moment 
to moment upon physical conditions. 

Nothing, however, short of a close study of the sensoriunv 
from the most intelligent standpoint, can reveal the fact that 
thought, although the function of vastly more complex con- 
ditions than those of feeling, contains no ultimate principle 
which is not expressed in the simplest forms of life, and that 
there is no organ or tissue in the human body which has 
not a voice a direct influence in its mental and moral 
determinations. 

The brain therefore is not the sole organ of the mind, but 
only a very important part of the sensorium, and it is need- 
less to say that notwithstanding its vast importance in intel- 
lectual phenomena the co-operation of the rest of the nervous 
system, and indeed of the whole physical system, is at least 
equally essential to the activity known as thought. Hence 
we must no longer " isolate the cerebrum from the rest 
of the nervous system, assigning it as the exclusive seat of 
sensation, nor suppose that it has laws of grouping which. 
are not at work in the other centres. * * * The soul is a 
history, and its activities the products of that history. Each 
mental state is a state of the whole Sensorium ; one stroke 
sets the whole vibrating." ' 

The Sensorium, in the broadest sense, is the whole living 
organism. All attempts to localize the part of the organism 
which reacts upon a stimulus are vain, so interdependent are 
all parts of all organisms. Although nerve fibrils, fibres, and 
cells, forming in different combinations, nerves, and ganglia,, 
are easily distinguished, the nervous system has no exact 
demarcations from the other tissues. It is impossible to say 
exactly where the nerve ceases and the muscle begins, so- 
insensible are the structural gradations in the connection. 
The functions of the nervous system are even less sus- 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," 3d series, pp. 69, 71, 102. 



336 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

ceptible of a positive separation from those of the rest of 
the organism. 

" The method of composition remains the same through- 
out the entire fabric of Mind, from the formation of its 
simplest feelings up to the formation of those immense and 
complex aggregates of feelings which characterize its highest 
developments." 

The Sensorium, from a functional point of view, can be 
described in general terms as that part of the organism 
which is capable of the greatest molecular activity. This 
idea becomes irresistible when we study the development of 
nervous systems from their rudimentary forms in the sim- 
plest types of animal life to higher grades of complexity. 

Reflex action, or the isolation of the nervous arc from the 
nervous system, considering the reflex act apart from its 
preceding and succeeding states, is, therefore, but an ana- 
lytical distinction of organic activity. The discovery that 
the co-ordination of movements in the extremities and other 
parts of the body can take place after the removal of the 
brain, in certain animals, does not prove that were the brain 
present it would not take part in some degree in the move- 
ments. The central fact that " no single organ has a func- 
tion at all when isolated from the organism," differently 
expressed, is, that no activity can be separated (otherwise 
than ideally) from the complex of activities known as indi- 
vidual life. 

" The brain is simply one element in a complex mechan- 
ism, each element of which is a component of the Senso- 
rium, or Sentient Ego. We may consider the several 
elements as forming a plexus of sensibilities, the solidarity 
of which is such that while each may separately be stimu- 
lated in a particular way, no one of them can be active with- 
out involving the activity of all the others. * * * When, 
therefore, we reduce the abstract term Mind to its concretes, 
namely, states of the sentient mechanism, the ' power of the 
Mind ' simply means the stimulative and regulative processes 
which ensue on sentient excitation. 

1 Herbert Spencer : " Principles of Psychology," vol. I., p. 184. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 337 

" We may now formulate a conclusion : Sensibility is the 
special property of the nervous tissue. Every bit of that 
tissue is sensitive in so far that it is capable of entering as 
a sensible component into a group, the resultant of which is a 
feeling i. e. a change in the state of the sentient organism. 
The Sensorium is the wtwle which reacts on the stimulation of 
any particular portion of that whole" 

There is no doubt, therefore, that the aversion so generally 
manifested toward the proposition, that all intellectual or 
spiritual activities have mechanical principles, is simply the 
result of a cramped and inadequate idea of the scope of 
those laws or influences known as mechanical. 

The most devout person would not object to the assertion 
that all the activities of nature, from the evolutions of the 
heavenly bodies to the life of microscopic plants and ani- 
mals, are guided by the hand of God, and that this same 
guidance is manifested in every human thought and feeling. 
And yet these words, translated into more exact terms, 
simply mean that the universal principle known as Motion 
is the ultimate fact in all objective and subjective life, 
uniting, in a single system of interdependent activities, the 
body and the mind, or nature and consciousness. 

If any other point or principle than that of general exist- 
ence, and through it personal existence, be selected as the 
focus of thought, our logical perspectives become confused, 
and no effort can readjust them. It is in the failure to make 
this adjustment of the perspectives of Knowledge, and to 
thereby harmonize the principles which we call Knowledge, 
Life, and Progress, that we have the failures of philosophy. 
Thus it is easy to see how Lewes fixed upon feeling as the 
ultimate fact of our existence, for each individual can only 
appreciate general existence through the medium of the 
activities of his own life. 

We have already seen, in one of the psychological analyses 
of the preceding review, that feeling is a name which, in its 
broadest meaning, represents all internal changes ; or, what 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," 3d series, pp. 77, 82. 



338 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

is the same thing, the subjective side of life. To sensible 
experience is traced the origin of every thought ; thus the 
fact of personal existence is naturally in the line of our view 
of general existence. The fact that Lewes did not perform 
an ultimate analysis must explain to us the repetitions which 
we find in his works. But this we find in all philosophy. It 
is these repetitions which make philosophy so dull and un- 
interesting to the majority of readers. . In Lewes, however, 
the repetitions are merely repeated efforts, instituted from 
different starting-points, to reach a common goal of thought, 
and the union of these lines of investigation in a single point 
can only be made by a bold and independent inference from 
what he has written. 

The whole purpose of his Problems entitled the " Limita- 
tions of Knowledge," the " Principles of Certitude," and 
" From the Known to the Unknown," is to establish Feeling 
as the ultimate fact of life. 

Thus the scope of language and the nature of perception 
are revealed by the genesis of metaphor. Language and 
perception are purely synthetic. If we would retrace the 
course of their development to a first cause or ultimate prin- 
ciple, both become dissipated by the ideal analysis (for all 
analysis is an art, or an ideal procedure), and we come upon 
the logical or potential source of all things in God, Motion, 
or Life. Is it not clear that every perception and every 
thought must be less than this great fact, must be but a 
limited expression of it, the natural function of our indi- 
viduality ? 

When Lewes, therefore, affirms that Feeling is all in all 
to us, he simply assigns to humanity the middle term be- 
tween thought and the lowest forms of sentiency, and ex- 
tends its meaning in both directions to include all phases of 
life, from the simplest organic to the highest psychical ex- 
istence. From the objective side of feeling, which is action, 
he might have carried on the generalization until it became 
universal. 

That Lewes expresses the above ideas as clearly as it is 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 339 

possible to express them without employing the instrument 
of an ultimate analysis, can be seen from his argument on 
the " Principles of Certitude," where we have the unknow- 
able practically rejected in favor of the unknown. 

' ' I have repeatedly insisted on the memorable fact that Science is no transcript 
of Reality, but an ideal construction framed out of the analysis of the complex 
phenomena given synthetically in Feeling, and expressed in abstractions. In 
all analysis there is abstraction, which rejects much more than is expressed ; 
this rejected remainder may in turn be analyzed, but at each step there is an 
unexplored remainder. As, in the speculation of Laplace, there are dark stars 
scattered through space, but hidden from observation because they are dark ; so 
in every phenomenon there are numberless factors at work which are hidden 
from observation, and only speculatively postulated. Sometimes these specu- 
lative inferences, which always have some basis in observation or analogy, sug- 
gest the means of objective verification. Thus Newton inferred that bodies at 
the earth's surface gravitated toward each other ; it was an inference from 
analogy, but was then beyond experimental proof. 1 It has since been experi- 
mentally verified, and thus exhibited, not only as an ideal truth, but one having 
real application. 

" It is requisite to bear in mind that no general statement can be real, no 
ideal truth be a transcript of the actual order in its real complexity. ' Until we 
know thoroughly the nature of matter, and the forces which produce its motions, 
it will be utterly impossible to submit to mathematical reasoning the exact con- 
ditions of any physical question,' and even then it will only be mathematical 
relations which will be formulated. The approximate solutions which are 
reached ' are obtained by a species of abstraction, or rather limitation of the 
data,' and thus ' the infinite series of forces really acting may be left out of con- 
sideration ; so that the mathematical investigation deals with a finite (and gen- 
erally small) number of forces, instead of a practically infinite number.' a 

" If, then, Science is, in its nature, an ideal construction, and its truths are 
only symbols which approximate to realities, there is an internal necessity of 
movement in scientific thought which transforms existing theories according to 
ever-widening experience. We can never reach the finality of Existence, for 
we are always having fresh experiences, and fresh theories to express them. 
"We also need hypotheses to supplement the deficiencies of observation ; and 
that hypothesis is the best which introduces most congruity among our ascer- 
tained truths. Yet throughout this shifting of the limits there is a constant 
principle of Certitude, and the truth of yesterday is not proved false because it 
is included in the wider truth of to-day : the two truths express two limits of 
Experience. 

" In conclusion, we may say that various theories are ideal representations of 
the External Order, and are severally true, in so far as the import of their terms. 

1 Newton : " Principia," III., Prop. VII.. Corol. I. 
* Thomson and Tait : " Natural Philosophy," vol. I., p. 337. 



340 , THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

includes no more than has been verified by the reduction of Inference to Intui- 
tion or Sensation ; severally false, in so far as their terms include what is in- 
consistent with such verified import ; and severally dotibtful, in so far as the 
terms include what has not been thus verified. To express it in a more abstract 
phrase : Truth is the equivalence of the terms of a proposition ; and the equiva- 
lence is tested by the reduction of the terms to an identical proposition" J 

An identical proposition is only another name for the 
merging of difference in identity, the aspects of motion in 
the fact of motion, the subjective and the objective in the 
principle of life. Thus we see that the vexed question of 
the principles of certitude can alone be solved by an 
ultimate analysis, that nothing short of the reduction 
of the categories of thought to a single principle will 
remove its difficulties. Mr. Spencer says, the deepest test 
of truth is negative, i. e. ultimate proof to us is our ina- 
bility to believe a proposition untrue, or our inability to 
disbelieve the truth of a proposition. What does this mean 
but that truth itself is relative, and that our apprecia- 
tions of relative truths are but adjustments, more or less ex- 
tended, of individual to general existence ? The criterion or 
measure of these adjustments is the fact of equality, the 
balancing of forces, the establishment of equivalences ; 
doubt disappears when this balance is reached. Thus our 
test of truth is negative only in the sense that it is not 
absolute, for conviction is the result of conditions, the ad- 
justment of internal and external forces. Truth, then, is the 
equivalence of the terms of a proposition, the meeting of 
the individual with the general mind through the medium 
of language. What room is there in this definition of certi- 
tude for the unknowable ? Of what terms, of what proposi- 
tion, is the unknowable the equivalence ? The unknowable 
is not the unexplored remainder, for that is merely the out- 
lying region of experience, the background of fact, from 
which each apprehended truth stands out in relief. The 
unexplored remainder is the unknown, the unassimilated 
field of truth. The. unknown, therefore, is related to the 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. II., p. 77. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 341 

known, its influence is felt in the equilibrium, the balance of 
forces, which we call conviction. 

The unknowable has no influence in truth ; it has no voice 
in any proposition ; it is a term in no equivalence ; it has no 
existence in fact. 

Who can doubt that Lewes repudiates the unknowable 
after reading his criticism of Spencer's theory of certitude ? 
" I do not," says he, " quite go along with Mr. Spencer when 
he argues for the necessity of some unproved truth, as a 
fundamental postulate ; on the contrary, it seems to me that 
every proved truth is ultimate, requires no foundation, 
admits of none, though it may receive a logical justification 
by being thrown into the form of an identical proposition. 
The finality is Feeling, and a truth of Feeling needs no 
external support. The same is to be said when the truth of 
Feeling is expressed in Signs. Mr. Spencer's demand for 
some unattainable depth to be postulated, but not plumb- 
lined, may be compared with Hegel's position that Truth is 
always infinite, and cannot be expressed in finite terms. 
But leaving this and one or two minor points out of consid- 
eration, I think his arguments are conclusive, and only prefer 
the proposed formula of Equivalence because it is positive 
and unambiguous." Hence Lewes sees a resemblance be- 
tween Mr. Spencer's belief in the unknowable and the skep- 
ticism of Hegel, the want of faith in the integrity of human 
knowledge. To say that truth is infinite and cannot be 
expressed in finite terms, is the same thing as saying that 
knowledge springs from the unknowable, that truth or certi- 
tude springs from an unattainable fact, or as arguing that 
mathematical infinity cannot be expressed or discussed in 
finite terms. This introduces, unnecessarily, the element of 
mystery into our theory of consciousness, rendering vague 
and uncertain what should be the simplest and most definite 
of all solutions. 

Lewes says that " all knowledge begins with the discern- 
ment of resemblances and differences, it is necessarily polar, 
resemblance being impossible except on a background of 



342 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

difference, and difference also impossible except on a back- 
ground of resemblance. While knowledge begins here, it 
ends with equations. What are equations ? The resem- 
blances abstracted from all accompanying differences, and 
reduced to the identity of equivalence." 1 

What is this postulate of Nature's uniformity but the 
conception of Motion as the ultimate reality ? All the 
scholastic principles of logic, the logical principles expounded 
by Mill and Bain (i. e. the Uniformity of Nature), the Uni- 
versal Postulate of Spencer, the principles of Identity and 
Equivalence of Lewes, lead us to the same fact, compel the 
same conclusion. Our lives consist of the difference between 
subject and object, and their quality and extent are 
elaborations of this difference. 

Now we enter upon the great question of the nature of 
Matter. The philosophic literature of our age teems with 
discussions on this subject, as though it were our chief logical 
duty to come to an agreement about the nature of the 
statical aspect of the universe. Why the dynamical aspect 
should receive less attention is not clear, unless it is that 
men have given up trying to define Force and have taken 
up Matter for a change. The dynamical aspect of the 
universe can best be symbolized by the conception of Time. 
The moment we add the statical aspect, or space, to time, 
motion springs into thought. 

The chief wonder concerning Lewes' philosophy is, that 
he could have been so explicit with regard to the nature of 
matter and force, declaring them to be but phases or aspects 
of motion, and yet that he should never have hit upon the 
idea of identifying space with matter, and time with force, 
thus bringing all these disputed terms into interdependence 
and harmony. This wonder increases as we read such lumi- 
nous definitions of Motion as this : 

" Here arises a complication which will beset the whole 
discussion unless we form distinct ideas of the separation of 
Matter and Force as a purely analytical artifice. The two 

1 *' Problems of Life and Mind," vol. II., pp. 79, 81, 83. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 343 

abstractions are but two aspects of the same thing ; a separa- 
tion rendered inevitable by the polarity of Experience, which 
everywhere presents Existence under passive and active as- 
pects. Force is not something superadded to Matter, it is 
Reals viewed in their dynamic aspect ; Matter is not some- 
thing different from Force, but Reals viewed in their statical 
or passive aspect : either is unthinkable without the other. 
Force is immanent in Matter, and Matter is immanent in 
Force. The schoolmen called Matter potentia passiva, and 
Force virtus activa. Logically distinguished, they require to 
be considered apart ; and throughout the present problem 
we shall strive to keep up this separation ; it cannot be thor- 
oughly accomplished, but we shall endeavor to eliminate 
Force, as the geometer eliminates every thing but Exten- 
sion." * 

Here Lewes clearly recognizes the ultimate fact of Motion, 
the union of the dynamical and the statical aspects of the uni- 
verse, the one fact of which time and space are respectively the 
subjective and objective aspects. Our most advanced physi- 
cists recognize this principle, but are far from rendering it in 
simple and concise terms. Thus we read in the well-known 
work of Thomson and Tait : " We cannot, of course, give a 
definition of matter which will satisfy the metaphysician, but 
the naturalist may be content to know matter as that which 
can be perceived by the senses, or as tliat which can be acted upon 
by, or can exert, force. The latter, and indeed the former 
also, of these definitions involves the idea of Force." a 

In the treatise of Lewes on the Nature of Matter, in Prob- 
lem IV., we have an illustration of the lengths to which these 
discussions are brought. Here the extension, impenetra- 
bility, infinite divisibility, indestructibility, gravity, and inertia 
of matter are considered without coming to any definite re- 
sult. 

A comprehension of the nature of perception, an apprecia- 
tion of the ultimate analysis, shows the futility of treating Mat- 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. II., p. 206. 
* Thomson and Tait : " Natural Philosophy," vol. I., p. 161. 



344 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

ter as an ultimate fact. Lewes, without treating Matter as an 
ultimate fact, however, fails to identify it in explicit terms 
with Space ; and yet he considers it the symbol of all objec- 
tivity, which is equivalent to its identification with motion ; 
thus giving it alternately too little and too much meaning. 

The logical consolation which results from a knowledge of 
the merely relative significance of these terms, Matter and 
Force, can hardly be overestimated. 

Problems V. and VI. are respectively " Force and Cause/' 
and " The Absolute in the Correlations of Feeling and Mo- 
tion." The former explains conclusively that Cause and 
Effect are simply the different points of view from which 
we regard every phenomenon or event, and can therefore 
never be more than ideally separated from the events of 
which they are the expression. The question dear to so 
many, What is Cause in itself ? is shown to be an absurd- 
ity, and the enormous quantity of literature which has the 
solution of this question for its object is rendered useless. 

In closing Problem VI., we find Lewes again victorious 
over all disadvantages. He strikes the key-note of universal 
truth with a precision which enables us to forget the labored 
explanations of the preceding chapters concerning discon- 
nected ultimates. His deep knowledge of psychological 
principles triumphs, and, independently of metaphysics, he 
performs an ultimate analysis by a comparison of the fact of 
consciousness with general existence. But his long service 
in the unsettled disputes of metaphysics has made him the 
slave of a certain vocabulary, has rendered him powerless to 
rise above certain habits of expression and to restore order 
to this chaos of ultimate terms. By another route, however, 
namely, a scientific analysis of mind and nature, he reaches 
the coveted result. Witness the closing words of Problem 
VI.: 

" Existence the Absolute is known to us in Feeling, 
which in its most abstract expression is Change, external and 
internal. The external changes are symbolized as Motion, 
because that is the mode of Feeling into which all others are 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 345 

translated when objectively considered : objective considera- 
tion being the attitude of looking at the phenomena, whereas 
subjective consideration is the attitude of any other sensible 
response, so that the phenomena are different to the different 
senses. There is no real break in the continuity of Existence ; 
all its modes are but differentiations. We cannot suppose the 
physical organism and its functions to be other than integrant 
parts of the Cosmos from which it is formally differentiated ; 
nor can we suppose the psychical organism and its functions 
to be other than integrant parts of this physical organism 
from. which it is ideally separated. Out of the infinite modes 
of Existence a group is segregated, and a planet assumes 
individual form ; out of the infinite modes of this planetary 
existence smaller groups are segregated in crystals, organ- 
isms, societies, nations. Each group is a special system, 
having forces peculiar to it, although in unbroken continuity 
with the forces of all other systems. Out of the forces of 
the animal organism a special group is segregated in the 
nervous mechanism, which has its own laws. If ideally we 
contrast any two of these groups, a planet with an organ- 
ism, or an organism with a nervous mechanism, their great 
unlikeness seems to forbid identification. They are indeed 
different, but only because they have been differentiated. 
Yet they are identical, under a more general aspect. In 
like manner, if we contrast the world of Sensation and 
Appetites with the world of Conscience and its Moral Ideals, 
the unlikeness is striking. Yet we have every ground for 
believing that Conscience is evolved from Sensation, and 
that Moral Ideals are evolved from Appetites ; and thus we 
connect the highest mental phenomena with vital Sensibility, 
Sensibility with molecular changes in the organism, and 
these with changes in the Cosmos. 

"This unification of all the modes of Existence by no 
means obliterates the distinction of modes, nor the necessity 
of understanding the special characters of each. Mind 
remains Mind, and is essentially opposed to Matter, in spite 
of their identity in the Absolute ; just as Pain is not Pleas- 



346 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

ure, nor Color either Heat or Taste, in spite of their identity 
in Feeling. The logical distinctions represent real differen- 
tiations, but not distinct existents. If we recognize the One 
in the Many, we do not thereby refuse to admit the Many 
in the One." ' 

Here the term absolute (or time) is used in the place of 
motion or the ultimate reality, but the great unity of the 
argument rises above these verbal defects. It is evident that 
the idea which Lewes seeks to convey is that the most gen- 
eral terms of life and mind point to a single fact and bear a 
definite relation to it. 

For those who may feel inclined to examine deeply into 
the proposition that Matter and Space mean the same thing, 
or that the meanings of these two terms converge in a 
logical point, I insert an essay by Lewes entitled, "Action 
at a Distance," which is by far the most learned and com- 
pact treatment of the question which it has been my good 
fortune to meet. It occurs as an appendix to the volume 
under discussion. 

ACTION AT A DISTANCE. 

In spite of Newton's emphatic disclaimer, his opponents in old days, and 
many of his followers in our own, have been unable to banish the idea that the 
relation between bodies called Attraction is a mysterious something inherent in 
Matter, seated among the molecules, so to speak, and stretching forth its grasp 
to bind them into masses, and distant masses into systems. I do not pretend 
that this is what any one avows ; I only say that it is a paraphrase of \vhat many 
teach. Few doubt that there is a special Agent symbolized in the term attrac- 
tive force (" Ce monstre metaphysique si cher a une partie des philosophes 
modernes, si odieux a 1'autre," says Maupertuis), and that this Agent acts across 
empty space. 

" That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter," writes 
Newton to Bentley, ' ' so that one body may act upon another at a distance 
through a vacuum, and without the mediation of any thing else by and through 
which this action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so 
great an absurdity that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a 
competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it." Nevertheless, even his 
own editor, Roger Cotes, declares action at a distance to be one of the primary 
properties of matter ; and many mathematicians and metaphysicians have 
flouted the scholastic axiom, " A body cannot act where it is not," treating it as 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," vol. II., p. 449. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 347 

a vulgar error. They urge that astronomical phenomena prove bodies to act at 
enormous distances ; and moreover, that the molecules are never in actual con- 
tact even when they act on each other. 

The notion of action at a distance contradicts Rule II. It presupposes a 
body to be moving through the space in which it does not move, existing where 
it does not exist. Action is dynamic existence. The force or pressure by 
which, in which a body acts, is ideally, but not really, separable from the active 
matter, and the coexistent positions named space. Having thus ideally sepa- 
rated the Agency from the Agent, men find it easy to suppose the Force acting 
where the matter is not ; and some men materialize this Force, convert it into 
an Ether interposed between masses and molecules, so that the matter acts on 
this ethereal Force, and the Force transmits the action to Matter. 

Experience does indeed seem to suggest action at a distance, and thus to con- 
tradict the axiom. I am seated in my study, and can certainly act upon my 
servant, who is distant from me in the kitchen. I have only to touch the bell 
and she comes up-stairs. She is drawn toward me, as the apple is drawn toward 
the earth, across a distant space. But the scholastic axiom, "A thing cannot 
act where it is not," is undisturbed by such a fact, and only seems contradicted 
by it when we suppress in thought all the intermediate agents whose agency 
was indispensable. I acted directly on the bell-rope, which was continuous with 
the bell, and set it vibrating ; the vibrations of the bell acted on the air, the air 
on my servant's auditory organ, that on her intellectual organ, and that in turn 
upon her muscles. In the fall of an apple the case seems different, because we 
cannot so readily realize to ourselves all the co-operant conditions ; but the 
phrase by which we express these, when we say the earth attracts the apple, is 
not less elliptical than the phrase, ' ' I caused my servant to come up-stairs by 
ringing the bell." 

If bodies "attract" each other across empty space, we can only under- 
stand this attraction as a moving toward each other in the line of a resultant 
pressure, not as the dragging by immaterial grappling-irons thrown from 
one to the other. " Equidem existimo gravitatem," says Copernicus, "non 
aliud esse quam appetentiam quandam naturalem, partibus inditam a divina 
providentia opificis universoruin." * And Euler says : "In attempting to dive 
into the mysteries of nature, it is of importance to know if the heavenly bodies 
act upon each other by impulsion or by attraction ; if a certain subtile, invisible 
matter impels them toward each other, or if they are endowed with a secret 
occult quality by which they are mutually attracted. Those who hold the 
second view maintain that the quality of mutual attraction is proper to all 
bodies ; that it is as natural to them as magnitude. Had there been but two 
bodies in the universe, however remote from each other, they would have had 
from the first a tendency toward each other, by means of which they would in 
time have approached and united." 2 

This fiction respecting two bodies alone in the universe, and their inherent 
tendency to approach each other, is in open defiance of all experience. Let us 

1 Copernicus : " De Revolutionibus Orbium," I., ch. IX. 
* Euler : " Letters to a German Princess," vol. I., p. 211. 



348 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

grant the existence of only two bodies isolated in space : we must first declare 
that, according to all the inductions from experience, they would not tend to 
move toward each other, for they would not move at all ; some external motion 
or pressure would be requisite, since their own internal motions would be in 
equilibrium ; nor would an external force impel them to move toward each 
other, unless the direction of that force were in this line and no other. Sup- 
pose each body to be in motion, each would pursue its own direction, nor would 
they ever meet, unless some third body in motion redirected them. Of course, 
if the bodies are assumed to have an inherent tendency to rush together like two 
water-drops, but without the external pressures which blend the water-drops, 
they would inevitably meet ; but what evidence is there for such an assumption ? 

It is obvious that we cannot explain the- phenomena of attraction by the 
fiction of two isolated bodies in empty space, because that fiction presupposes 
conditions wholly unlike those of the known universe, which is not an universe 
of two isolated bodies, but of infinite and variously related bodies. 

Mr. Mill is very contemptuous in his notice of Hamilton's reliance on the 
axiom that one body cannot act directly on another without contact. " In one 
sense of the word," Mr. Mill says, " a thing is wherever its action is ; its power 
is there, though not its corporeal presence [a singular distinction in the writings 
of so positive a thinker !]. But to say that a thing can only act where its power 
is, would be the idlest of mere identical propositions. [An axiom is an identical 
proposition.] And where is the warrant for asserting that a thing cannot act 
when it is not locally contiguous to the thing it acts upon ? * * * What is the 
meaning of contiguity ? According to the best physical knowledge we possess, 
things are never actually contiguous. What we term contact between particles, 
only means that they are in the degree of proximity at which their mutual 
repulsions are in equilibrium with their attractions. [Are not these repulsions 
and attractions hypothetic phrases to express the fact that, however closely 
bodies may be pressed together, their molecules cannot be both made to occupy 
the same space, each unit, as an unit, having its limit ? a fact also expressed by 
impenetrability.^ If so, instead of never, things always act on one another at 
some, though it may be a very small, distance. The belief that a thing can only 
act where it is, is a common case of inseparable, though not ultimately indis- 
soluble, association. It is an unconscious generalization, of the roughest possi- 
ble description, from the most familiar cases of the mutual action of bodies 
superficially considered. The temporary difficulty felt in apprehending any 
action of body upon body unlike what people were accustomed to, created a 
natural prejudice which was long a serious impediment to the reception of the 
Newtonian theory : but it was hoped that the final triumph of that theory had 
extinguished it [Newton, as we have seen, would have repudiated this conclu- 
sion] ; that all educated persons were now aware that action at a distance is 
intrinsically quite as credible as action in contact ; and that there is no reason, 

1 " II paraitra par nos meditations," says Leibnitz, "que la substance cre'ee 
ne recoit pas d'une autre substance creee la puissance meme d'agir, mais seule- 
ment une limitation et determination de son propre effet pre-existant et de la 
vertu active." 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 349 

apart from specific experience, to regard the one as in any respect less probable 
than the other." 1 

The idea that a body like the sun, which is ninety-two millions of miles dis- 
tant from us, can act directly on us across this distance, assumed to be a vacuum, 
is absolutely inconceivable, since action involves motion, and the motion 
through this space must be either the motion of the body itself, or of some body 
to which it has been transferred. A mere crack in a glass extinguishes its 
sounding property ; that is to say, the waves of molecular motion are no longer 
propagated because of this solution of continuity ; and if between us and the 
sun there were any solution of material continuity, the waves of ether would not 
reach us from the molecular agitations of the sun ; or if we suppose them to 
pass across this gap it would still be the actual presence of the wave which at 
each point exerted its pressure. Action at a distance, unless understood in the 
sense -of action through unspecified intermediates, is both logically and physi- 
cally absurd. Logically, since action involves reaction, and is only conceivable 
as the combination of forces ; physically, since the attraction said to act across 
the distance is avowedly a function of the distance, which increases as the 
distance decreases ; and this implies that the distance is an Agent. Now, if we 
assume the space between two bodies to be empty, we make this nothing an 
effective Agent, which offers resistance to pressure, and causes a decrease of 
attraction. I therefore ask, with Professor Clerk Maxwell : " If something is 
transmitted from one particle to another at a distance, what is its condition 
after it has left the one particle and before it has reached the other ? If this 
something is the potential energy of the two particles, how are we to conceive 
this energy as existing in a point of space coinciding neither with the one parti- 
cle nor the other? In fact, whenever energy is transmitted from one body to 
another in time, there must be a medium or substance in which the energy 
exists," 3 otherwise there would be energy which was not the active state of 
matter, but an activity floating through the Nothing. 

It should be observed, and the observation is suggestive in many directions, 
that some of the most eminent physicists have not only adopted the idea of 
action at a distance, but have constructed on it elaborate and effective theories 
of electrical action. Gauss, Weber, Riemann, Neumann, and others, have in- 
terpreted electro-magnetic actions on this assumption ; and the success which 
has attended their efforts is another among the many examples of the truth we 
have previously enforced, that no amount of agreement between observed 
phenomena and an hypothesis is sufficient to prove the truth of the hypothesis. 
Contrasted with the labors of these mathematicians and physicists, we have the 
labors of Faraday, Thomson, Tait, Clerk Maxwell, and others, who start from 
the hypothesis of a material medium. Not only are they able to explain all 
the observed phenomena on this hypothesis, but they have the immense advan- 
tage of not invoking an agency which is without a warrant in experience. Where 
the mathematicians admitted only the abstraction pure Distance, and centres of 
force acting on each other across this Distance, Faraday and his followers have 

1 Mill: " Examination of Sir W. Hamilton," p. 531. 
* Clerk Maxwell : " Electricity and Magnetism," vol. II. p. 437. 



350 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

admitted with the Distance its concrete Medium, and with the centres of force, 
radii or lines of force ; where the one class sees the abstract power of action at 
a distance impressed upon the electric fluids, the other class sees the actions 
going on in the Medium, and these are the concrete phenomena. The supe- 
riority of the second point of view seems to me to consist in its speculative and 
its practical advantages. Although the two are mathematically equivalent, the 
second has the speculative superiority of conformity with Experience ; and ac- 
cording to Professor Maxwell it has the further practical advantage of leading 
us to inquire into the nature of the action in each part of the medium. 1 

The conception of a Plenum is simply the unavoidable conclusion from the 
conception of Existence as continuous ; and this continuity is itself the cor- 
relative of the impossibility of accepting the pure Nothing otherwise than as a 
generalization of our negative experiences. But if continuity of Existence is 
thus necessarily postulated, it does not interfere with the utmost variety in the 
modes of Existence ; and with every variation in mode there is superficial dis- 
continuity. When a feeling changes, it is because another feeling has replaced 
it. My hand passing over a surface has one mode of feeling until it reaches the 
boundary, and then a new mode arises to replace the former, the feeling of 
solid resistance gives place to one of fluid or aerial resistance. The new mode 
is unlike the old, discontinuous with it ; but it is nevertheless only a new form 
of the fundamental continuity of Feeling. 

The conception of a Plenum is further shown to be unavoidable when we 
come to inquire into the nature of that void which is supposed to exist in the 
interstices of molecules, and in the interplanetary spaces. Space is the abstract 
of coexistent positions ; its concretes are bodies in the various relations of posi- 
tion ; but in our abstraction we let drop the bodies, and retain only the relations 
of position ; although a moment's consideration suffices to show that were there 
no bodies, there could be no positions of bodies, consequently no relations of 
coexistent positions, in a word, no space. If, therefore, by interspaces be- 
tween molecules or planets we understand simply the relations of position of 
these bodies, we may indeed conveniently abstract these relations from their 
related terms, and treat of spaces irrespective of bodies ; but we may not from 
this artifice conclude that between these related terms there is a solution of the 
continuity of Existence, that between the bodies there is a void. 

It is held that, were our senses sufficiently magnified, we might see the mole- 
cules and atoms distributed throughout what now appears a mass, much as we 
see the constellations distributed among the vast spaces of the heavens. Per- 
haps ; but even then our magnified senses would discover no solution in the 
great continuum. Necessarily so, since by no possible exaltation of an organ 
of sense could the Suprasensible be reached. The void if it exist cannot 
be felt, and the only Existence knowable by us is the Felt. 

Hence the idea of action at a distance is absurd, if the distance be taken to 
represent any solution in the material continuity, which is the continuity of the 
Agent whose Agency is the action ; but the idea is intelligible and true if the 
distance be taken to represent simply the relative positions of the body from 
which the action is supposed to originate, and the body in which it is completed. 

1 See his " Electricity and Magnetism," vol. I., pp. 58, 65, and 123. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

GEORGE HENRY LEWES (CONCLUDED). 
The Relation of Universal to Organic Activities Lewes' Theory of Perception. 

To the reader who may have followed thus far the argu- 
ment here presented, perhaps it will not be too much to say 
that Metaphysics is a completed study. The problem of the 
Ultimate Reality, which has puzzled thoughtful humanity 
from Aristotle to the present day, has, owing to the vast 
logical movement of this age of Evolution, at last achieved 
its own solution, and we stand emancipated from the mys- 
teries of idealism and the discouragements of skepticism, 
with naught to fear for the integrity of human knowledge. 
The logical position which an ultimate analysis occupies is 
invulnerable. There is, perhaps, no keener pleasure than to 
observe the resistance which it offers to the attacks of 
trained men of science. If they reason from a statical basis, 
postulating matter as an ultimate fact, " a substance which 
remains after all properties have been accounted for," they 
fall into the error of neglecting the very property by which 
we appreciate facts, namely, their activity. If they postulate 
this activity and deny to it extension or position, they again 
involve themselves by first employing a symbol and then 
withdrawing its meaning ; for no fact can be expressed with- 
out conceding to it extension or position. The course to be 
pursued in such a controversy is to watch carefully for terms 
having the same meaning as Space, such as Infinite, Coex- 
istence, Matter, Substance, Status, Position, etc. ; or the 
equivalents of Time, such as Absolute, Abstract Sequence, 
Force considered as the cause of motion, or Motion consid- 

351 



352 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

ered apart from its space aspect; or the equivalents of 
Motion, such as Life, God, Power, First Cause ; and, when 
these terms are used, to insist upon giving them their full 
significance. Nothing can withstand the force of such an 
analysis. It is soon perceived that by employing abstrac- 
tions, we recede from the particulars of life to the first or 
simplest fact, the initial relation of personal and general 
existence. 

It is therefore with feelings of the utmost relief that we 
take leave of the abstractions of metaphysics and take up 
the remaining three volumes of Lewes' philosophic writings 
purely as a scientific study, neglecting any thing we may 
find in them pertaining to ontological questions. 

Indeed Lewes seems to have written these last volumes in 
much the same spirit as that in which we would review them, 
for we find in them, after all, but little that is strictly 
metaphysical. 

The first of these is entitled the " Physical Basis of Mind," 
and deals with the following problems : " The Nature of 
Life"; "The Nervous Mechanism"; "Animal Automa- 
tism," and " The Reflex Theory." The second contains the 
problems : " Mind as a Function of the Organism " ; " The 
Sphere of Sense and the Logic of Feeling " ; " The Sphere 
of Intellect and the Logic of Signs." The last is the brief 
work entitled " The Study of Psychology." 

It is our purpose merely to select from the above prob- 
lems the most striking lessons, so as to convey a general 
idea of the results to which Lewes has attained, and to 
define their relations to what has already been indicated as 
a complete philosophy. 

A minute study of the procedures of organic growth shows 
how difficult it is to avoid the theory of a design in nature. 
All human efforts are so intimately connected with design, 
that it is difficult for us to look upon natural sequences in 
any other light. The great masters in biological research 
have felt this difficulty, and, for the most part, yielded to it. 
Thus " Von Baer, in his great work, has a section entitled 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 353 

' The Nature of the Animal Determines its Development ' ; 
and he thus explains himself : ' Although every stage in de- 
velopment is only made possible by its pre-existing condition, 
nevertheless the entire development is ruled and guided by 
the nature of the animal which is about to be ; and it is not 
the momentary condition which alone absolutely determines 
the future, but more general and higher relations.' " The 
form that this superstition generally takes is the belief that 
an organism is determined by its type, or, " as the Germans 
say, its Idea." "All its parts take shape according to this 
ruling plan ; consequently, when any part is removed, it is 
reproduced according to the Idea of the whole of which it 
forms a part. Milne Edwards, in a very interesting and sug- 
gestive work, concludes his survey of organic phenomena in 
these words : ' In the organism every thing seems calculated 
with a view to a determinate result, and the harmony of 
the parts does not result from any influence which they can 
exert upon one another, but from their co-ordination under 
the empire of a common power, a preconceived plan, a pre- 
existing force.' ' " This," continues Lewes, " is eminently 
metaphysiological (superstitious). It refuses to acknowledge 
the operation of immanent properties, refuses to admit that 
the harmony of a complex structure results from the mutual 
relation of its parts, and seeks outside the organism for some 
mysterious force, some plan, not otherwise specified, which 
regulates and shapes the parts. * * * Let us note the logical 
inconsistencies of a position which, while assuming that every 
separate stage in development is the necessary sequence of its 
predecessor, declares the whole of the stages independent of 
such relations ! Such a position is indeed reconcilable on the 
assumption that animal forms are moulded ' like clay in the 
hands of the potter.' But this is a theological dogma which 
leads to very preposterous and impious conclusions ; and 
whether it leads to these conclusions or to others, positive 
Biology declines theological explanations altogether. * * * 
The type does not dominate the conditions, it emerges from 
them ; the animal organism is not cast in a mould, but the 



354 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

imaginary mould is the form which the polarities of the or- 
ganic substance assume. It would seem very absurd to sup- 
pose that crystals assumed their definite shapes (when the 
liquid which held their molecules in solution is evaporated) 
under the determining influence of phantom crystals or Ideas ; 
yet it has not been thought absurd to assume phantom forms 
of organisms. The conception of Type as a determining influ- 
ence arises from that fallacy of taking a resultant for a prin- 
ciple, which has played so conspicuous a part in the history 
of philosophy. * * * At first, the Type or Idea was regarded 
as an objective reality, external to the organism it was sup- 
posed to rule. Then this notion was replaced by an approach 
to the more rational interpretation, the Idea was made an 
internal, not an external, force, and was incorporated with 
the material elements of the organism, which were said to 
1 endeavor ' to arrange themselves according to the Type. 
Thus Treveranus declares that the seed ' dreams of the future 
flower ' ; and ' Henle, when he declares that hair and nails 
grow in virtue of the Idea, is forced to add that the parts en- 
deavor to arrange themselves according to this Idea.' Even 
Lotze, who has argued so victoriously against the vitalists, 
and has made it clear that an organism is a vital mechanism, 
cannot relinquish this conception of legislative Ideas, though 
he significantly adds : ' These have no power in themselves, 
but only in as far as they are grounded in mechanical con- 
ditions.' Why, then, superfluously add them to the condi- 
tions?" 1 

The imposing analysis which Lewes makes of organic 
existence stops not at the latest biological discoveries, but 
presses on to what, by comparison with the very best pre- 
vious work on the subject, is a new and vastly extended 
view of the origins of individual life. Not content with at- 
tacking the " superstition of the nerve-cell," upon which is 
built the theory of peculiar vital forces " wholly unallied with 
the primary energy of motion," which is in itself an impor- 
tant physiological reform, he addresses himself assiduously 

1 " Physical Basis of Mind," pp. 104-107. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 355 

to the task of widening the scientific understanding of the 
whole subject of organic life. Beginning with the analysis 
of Protoplasm, which discloses the exceedingly high molecu- 
lar complexity of this basic substance of organisms, he 
identifies the complex but definite activities which this sub- 
stance exhibits with the less complex but no less definite 
activities displayed by what we know as chemical substances, 
the difference in the activities of the two classes of sub- 
stances being purely one of degree of complexity, corre- 
sponding with their respective degrees of molecular (or 
structural) complexity. This generalization, the importance 
of which is not easily appreciated, so far-reaching are its con- 
sequences, is made to serve as a basis for the extension of 
Mr. Darwin's theory of the origin of species by Natural 
Selection. " The survival of the fittest " is shown to be a 
very anthropomorphic way of expressing the great truth 
which Darwin brought to light. The struggle for existence, 
or the competition and antagonism of organisms, is shown to 
extend to the " competition and antagonism " of tissues and 
organs for existence ; and for fear that the inconsistency im- 
plied in the application of such exclusively mental terms as 
competition and antagonism to the energies of organic sub- 
stances (which can only be thought of as contributing to 
consciousness as remote factors) should be overlooked, he 
follows up the interdependencies of tissues and organs with 
such remorseless vigor, that nothing is left but to acknowl- 
edge that their potentialities are inherent in their chemical 
composition. " When a crystalline solution takes shape, it 
always takes a definite shape, which represents what may be 
called the direction of its forces, the polarity of its constitu- 
ent molecules. In like manner, when an organic plasmode 
takes shape crystallizes, so to speak it always assumes a 
specific shape dependent on the polarity of its molecules. 
Crystallographers have determined the several forms possible 
to crystals ; histologists have recorded the several forms of 
Organites, Tissues, and Organs. Owing to the greater 
variety in elementary composition, there is in organic sub- 



356 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

stance a more various polar distribution than in crystals ; 
nevertheless there are sharply defined limits never over- 
stepped, and these constitute what may be called the specific 
forms of Organites, Tissues, Organs, Organisms. * * * Natu- 
ral selection is only the expression of the results of obscure 
physiological processes ; and for a satisfactory theory of such 
results we must understand the nature of the processes. In 
other words, to understand Natural Selection we must recog- 
nize not only the facts thus expressed, but the factors of 
these facts, we must analyze the ' conditions of existence.' 
As a preliminary analysis we find external conditions, among 
which are included not only the dependence of the organism 
on the inorganic medium, but also the dependence of one 
organism on another, the competition and antagonism of 
the whole organic world ; and internal conditions, among 
which are included not only the dependence of the organism 
on the laws of composition and decomposition whereby each 
organite and each tissue is formed, but also the dependence 
of one organite and one tissue on all the others, the compe- 
tition and antagonism of all the elements. The changes 
wrought in an organism by these two kinds of conditions 
determine Varieties and Species. Although many of the 
changes are due to the process of Natural Selection, brought 
about in the struggle with competitors and foes, many other 
changes have no such relation to the external struggle, but 
are simply the results of the organic affinities. They may 
or may not give the organism a greater stability, or a greater 
advantage over rivals : it is enough that they are no disad- 
vantage to the organism ; they will then survive by virtue 
of the forces which produced them." 1 

In criticising the theory of the generic development of all 
living things, which as held by the extreme school is, that all 
animal life has descended from a single organic point, all the 
subsequent differences being the result of modifications in 
the environment or differences in the history of the descend- 
ants of this first organism, the less extreme school holding 

1 " Physical Basis of Mind," pp. 101, 102, 124, 125. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 357 

that (to use Mr. Darwin's words) " animals have descended 
from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants 
from an equal or less number," Lewes pleads hard for 
a deeper and more thorough analysis of the facts than 
either of these schools offers. Notwithstanding an affec- 
tionate reverence for Mr. Darwin, whose great work he 
acknowledges to be invaluable as an explanation of that 
aspect of organic development called Natural Selection, 
Lewes clearly shows that the great theory accounts for but 
a part of the facts. In it there is no room for any thing ap- 
proaching an ultimate analysis of existence. The points of 
resemblance between plants and animals are dwelt upon at 
length ; and striking as these resemblances are, the differences 
are irreconcilable with a theory of common descent from a 
single cell at a single point upon the earth's surface. The 
common chemical conditions of the earth at all stages of its 
past metamorphosis suggest common organic conditions; 
and although the theory of evolution teaches that all devel- 
opment is rigidly serial, the simple leading to and making 
possible the complex, yet no good reason can be given for 
doubting that organic life was widespread and multifarious 
in its terrestrial beginnings. The kinship which unites the 
organic with the inorganic is quite as prominent a fact as the 
relationship of the plant and animal kingdoms, or the inter- 
dependence of organic and superorganic life. The law of 
organic evolution, which is broad enough to indicate, for in- 
stance, the history of the solar system, can surely account for 
the changes which have taken place upon a single planet ; in a 
word, if we will but take our stand at a sufficiently remote 
point of view, it will not be necessary to introduce a mys- 
terious beginning to organic life. " Upon what principle are 
we to pause at the cell or protoplasm? If by a successive 
elimination of differences we reduce all organisms to the cell, 
we must go on and reduce the cell itself to the chemical 
elements out of which it was constructed ; and inasmuch as 
these elements are all common to the inorganic world, the 
only difference being one of synthesis, we reach a result 



358 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

which is the stultification of all classification, namely, the 
assertion of a kinship which is universal." 

Passing from these generalizations of organic phenomena 
to the physical aspect of mind, Lewes exposes the super- 
stitions and unwarranted assumptions of many writers on 
mental physiology ; and so vital are the principles involved, 
that although the explanations are rather technical, for so 
general a review, we cite some of the most important. 

The most abridged expression we have of the action of 
the sensorium, in which the motor, the sensational, and the 
intellectual forms of activity are combined, is called the 
nervous arc. Anatomists observe that the motor nerves 
issue from the anterior side of the spinal cord (that which in 
animals is the under side), and that the sensory nerves issue 
from the posterior side (that which in animals is the upper 
side). The spinal cord, like the cerebrum, is a double organ, 
with the difference, however, that the gray structure is 
mainly external in the cerebrum while it is internal in the 
cord. Of the development of the nervous system from the 
embryo, Lewes says : " In the outermost layer of the germi- 
nal membrane of the embryo a groove appears, which deep- 
ens as its sides grow upward and finally close over and form 
a canal. Its foremost extremity soon bulges into three 
well-marked enlargements which are then called the primi- 
tive cerebral vesicles. The cavities of these vesicles are 
continuous. Except in position and size, there are no dis- 
cernible differences in these vesicles, which are known as the 
Fore-brain, Middle-brain, and Hind-brain. * * * It appears 
that the retina and optic nerve are primitive portions of the 
brain a detached segment of the general centre, identical 
in structure with the cerebral vesicle, and not unlike it in 
form. * * * It thus appears that the primitive membrane 
forms into a canal, which enlarges at one part into three 
vesicles, and from these are developed the encephalic (brain) 
structures. The continuity of the walls and cavities of these 
vesicles is never obliterated throughout the subsequent 
changes. It is also traceable throughout the medulla spi- 



GEORGE HENR Y LE WES. 359 

nalis ; and microscopic investigation reveals that underneath 
all the morphological changes the walls of the whole cerebro- 
spinal axis are composed of similar elements on a similar plan. 
The conclusions which directly follow from the above are, 
first, that since the structure of the great axis is everywhere 
similar, tJie properties must be similar ; secondly, that since 
there is structural continuity, no one part can be called into 
activity without at the same time more or less exciting that of 
all the rest." 

Lewes bitterly complains of the analytical tendency in the 
study of the activities of the sensorium. This tendency, he 
says, is to disregard the elements which provisionally had 
been set aside, and not restore them in the reconstruction of 
a synthetical explanation. Such familiar experiences as that 
when a stimulus is applied to the skin it is followed by a 
muscular movement or a glandular secretion (accompanied 
by all degrees of consciousness as the case may be), are inter- 
preted by the neurologist as exclusively neural processes ; 
all the other processes are provisionally left out of account. 
But even in the neural process the organs are neglected for 
the sake of the nervous tissue, and the nervous tissue for the 
sake of the nerve-cell. 

The most abridged statement of the activity of the sen- 
sorium, therefore, whether it be a muscular movement, a 
glandular secretion, an emotion, or a thought, is to be found 
in the theory of the nervous arc. Of the general form 
which this theory takes, the conventional description would 
be about as follows : " The nerve-cell is the supreme ele- 
ment, the origin of the nerve-fibre, and the fountain of 
nerve-force. The cells are connected one with another by 
means of fibres, and with muscles, glands, and centres, also 
by means of fibres, which are merely channels for the nerve- 
force. A stimulus at the surface is carried by a sensory 
fibre to a cell in the centre ; from that point it is carried by 
another fibre to another cell ; and from that by a third fibre 
to a muscle ; a reflex action results ; this is the elementary 
nervous arc." The passage of an excitation, therefore, into 



360 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

the labyrinths of the sensorium and out again (until it 
emerges in action) is said to describe the nervous arc. It is 
well known that at some stage in this process, or at some 
point in this arc, the phenomenon called consciousness min- 
gles in some degree with the excitation ; for the structure of 
the whole nervous system, including the brain, being not 
only continuous but of the same substances, a wave of ex- 
citement set up in any part of it must influence the whole, 
however imperceptibly. All that we know of the reflex pro- 
cess pictured in the above description of the nervous arc, 
which pretends to trace the fibre from cell to cell, is, " that 
one fibre passes into the spinal cord, and that another passes 
out of it, and that a movement is produced usually preceded 
by a sensation and sometimes by a thought." The con- 
tinuity of the nerve-fibre, therefore, from cell to cell, through 
the spinal cord, which is supposed to demarcate the simpler 
reflexes from the realm of consciousness, is purely imagina- 
tive. Hence, whether the action of the sensorium which 
we observe be the effort of a frog, whose brain has been re- 
moved, to repel the irritating point of the scalpel from one 
leg by pushing it away with the other, or whether the des- 
tinies of a race are being worked out in the mind of some 
political or moral autocrat through the slow adjustments of 
a lifetime, the same order of organic structures acts and reacts 
with the same order of environment, the same potentialities 
are called into play, and there is nothing to distinguish the 
two events but the degrees of their complexity, which can be 
expressed in terms of Space and Time. 

The better informed among physiologists and neurologists 
are beginning to acknowledge the impossibility of absolutely 
separating the simplest reflex actions from sensibility and, in 
turn, from thought. 

Assuming that consciousness has its seat in the brain, sen- 
sation in the base of the brain, or the medulla oblongata, and 
the simpler reflexes in the spinal cord, which is a very me- 
chanical way of subdividing the interdependent activities of 
the sensorium, the manner in which the simpler movements 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 361 

and sensations mingle with consciousness is thus explained. 
The most widely accepted theory is, that the wave of excita- 
tion must pass onward to the central convolutions of the 
brain, and that there, in the excitation of the cells, it first be- 
comes sensation, consciousness is first aroused. This theory 
regards consciousness and sensation as nearly identical, and 
locates them both in the brain. In all these theories sensa- 
tion is made the middle term between the most unconscious 
or simplest reflex actions, and thought, and the theories differ 
only in the distance said to intervene between the central 
convolutions of the brain and the supposed seat of sensation. 
The following diagram and explanation will illustrate that 
theory which locates both sensation and consciousness in 
presumably the same neural tract in the brain. " The stimu- 
lus wave from the sensitive surface 
S is carried to the spinal centre S 

1, which may either transmit it di- 
rectly to M 3, and thus reach the 
muscle M, or transmit indirectly 
through S 2, M 2, in the subcere- 
bral centre; or, finally, it may pass 

upward through S I, S 2, S 3, and downward through M I, M 

2, M 3. The reflex of S I, M 3, is purely physical', that of S I, 
S 2, M 2, M 3, is psycho-physical, there being a sentient state 
accompanying the mechanical process ; while that of S I, S 2, 
S 3, M i, M 2, M 3, is a reflex accompanied by consciousness. 
The initial stage is a peripheral stimulation ; but the same 
reflex may be excited by central stimulation. That is to say, 
the impulse may originate in S 3, and pass through M i, M 2, 
M 3, or pass through S 2, M 2, M 3. This is when an idea 
is said to originate a movement. Again : the stimulus may 
be some state of the subcerebral centres and pass from S 2, 
M2, M3." 1 

All processes are therefore Reflex processes, the degree of 
centralization, or dependence on the brain, determining the 
degree of consciousness or volition which accompanies them. 

1 " Problems of Life and Mind," 3d series, vol. II., pp. 431, 432. 




362 THE NATURE OF PERCEPTION. 

Physiologists, however, would distinguish the relatively in- 
voluntary as reflex, and are therefore obliged to invent a 
special mechanism for this class. If physiologists could only 
agree upon the facts by which they support the Reflex theory, 
the path of the student would be smoothed. " Van Deen, 
for instance, considers that Reflexion takes place without 
Volition but not without Sensation ; and Budge, that it takes 
place without Perception (Vorstellung)." "According to 
Marshall Hall, who originated the modern form of this theory, 
actions are divisible into four distinct classes : the voluntary, 
dependent on the brain ; the involuntary, dependent on the 
irritability of the muscular fibre ; the respiratory, wherein 
'the motive influence passes in a direct line from one point 
of the nervous system to certain muscles ' ; and the reflex, 
dependent on the ' true spinal system' of incident -excitor 
nerves, and of reflex motor nerves. These last-named actions 
are produced when an impression on the sensitive surface is 
conveyed by an excitor nerve to the spinal cord and is there 
reflected back on the muscles by a corresponding motor 
nerve. In this process no sensation whatever occurs. The 
action is purely reflex, purely excito-motor, like the action of 
an ordinary mechanism." ' Miiller also shares this view of 
the Reflex theory with Hall. 2 Of all of which Lewes says : 
" It is needless nowadays to point out that the existence 
of a distinct system of excito-motor nerves belongs to im- 
aginary anatomy ; but it is not needless to point out that the 
Imaginary Physiology founded on it still survives. * * * We 
have already seen that what anatomy positively teaches is 
totally unlike the Reflex mechanism popularly imagined. 
The sensory nerve is not seen to enter the spinal cord at one 
point and pass over to a corresponding point of exit ; it is 
seen to enter the gray substance, which is continuous 
throughout the spinal cord ; it is there lost to view, its 
course being untraceable." : 

1 Marshall Hall, in " Phys. Trans.," 1883 ; " Lectures on the Nervous Sys- 
tem and its Diseases," 1836 ; " New Memoir on the Nervous System," 1843. 
2 Miiller : " Physiology," vol. I., p. 721. 
8 " Physical Basis of Mind," pp. 480, 481. 



GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 363 

With this hasty glance at these brilliant inductions of 
Lewes, we must close our review of his system. Is it too 
much to say that to Lewes we owe the most commanding 
view of organic Perception that has thus far been offered to 
the world ? But perception has a wider base than organic 
life. It is the function of conditions which are universal. 
Lewes sought to establish the harmony of the organic and 
inorganic worlds by the manipulation of ultimate principles, 
but, as I have already said, his mind had become biassed by 
a conventional metaphysics which he was unable to over- 
come, This metaphysics postulated an unknowable, and 
Lewes never quite discovered that it was the subtle con- 
tradiction implied in this term which vitiated his whole 
system of introspection. He then turned to the study of 
the functions and structures of organisms, in the hope of 
leading up to Mind through its organic processes, of estab- 
lishing a true psychology. This he has done. The achieve- 
ment can be expressed in his striking dictum : " Motor 
perceptions are condensed in intuitions and generalized in 
conceptions." 

This is the pivotal truth of the Nature of Perception, for it 
discloses the Physical Basis of Mind. 



PART III. 
THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 



365 



PART III. 
THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY, 



CHAPTER XVII. 

SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 

Resemblance between Primitive and Modern Religious Beliefs Superstition 
the Negative, Morality the Positive Form of Religion. 

RELIGIOUS criticism is wholly a modern art. As language 
reached a high state of perfection before the manner of its 
growth was discovered, so the higher human sentiments 
have grown into bonds of universal sympathy before the 
race has been able to form any adequate idea of the laws 
of thought and feeling. 

It is the study of the development of language which 
makes possible an intelligent view of the great subject of 
Religion. The races of the world have unconsciously writ- 
ten their emotional and moral history in the formation of 
their speech. The comparative study of languages gives us 
an insight into the origin of nations, so that we are enabled 
to classify the races of mankind with far greater accuracy 
than before the advent of this science. 

The different races of men represent different classes of 
ideas ; representative types of thought and feeling which 
have their expression in certain forms of social organization 
or Morality, and certain forms of the higher sentiments or 
Religion. The morals and the religions of the world as we 
find them are the products of the slow evolution of human- 

367 



368 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

ity, the results of past conditions, and they can only be ac- 
counted for by studying the phases of development through 
which they have passed. 

The foregoing divisions of this work have been devoted 
to establishing a clear understanding of the fundamental 
principles of life, to building up a true conception of 
knowledge. We have dealt, not with the circumstances 
of social life, not with human history, but with the nature 
of man himself, the interaction of his physical and psychical 
nature, with a view to explaining the wonderful phenomena 
of language and perception. We are now, in a measure, 
prepared to deal with that highest aspect of human exist- 
ence which we call Morality, and that vast emotional struc- 
ture known as Religion. As the greatest logical achievements 
have resulted from the ceaseless energies of metaphysical 
investigation, notwithstanding the apparent hopelessness and 
unreality of the pursuit, so our best conceptions of duty 
and life have sprung from the emotions of religion, notwith- 
standing the various degrees of degradation and misery to 
which mistaken religious beliefs have subjected all races and 
civilizations. 

Where the tenets of logic are concerned, men have always 
been comparatively free to contend without interference or 
reproach ; the populace has taken but little interest in these 
wars of abstractions ; but with the contentions of religious 
faiths it has been very different, and it is natural that it 
should have been so. To wantonly assail a religious faith is 
a very serious matter : it may cause inestimable harm, and it 
seldom if ever has a good influence. 

As will afterward appear, religion and morality are but 
the obverse aspects of the higher phases of human character. 
To disturb the one is to disturb the other. 

If there is one opinion with regard to the criticism of re- 
ligion which is universal, it is that we have no right to destroy 
a faith unless to supplant it with a better one. Proselytism 
has never been condemned as immoral, however much it 
has been resisted, for the missionary believes that he is im- 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 369 

parting a better religion than the one which he opposes. 
The iconoclast, on the contrary, has always been a dreaded 
destroyer : he offers nothing to replace the objects of worship 
which he ruins. 

The Religion of Philosophy is the purest of all faiths, the 
highest of all moralities. Its creed is the ever-brightening 
zenith of human knowledge ; its precepts spring from the 
deepest principles of our existence ; its understanding of 
human life and destiny has nothing to yield to any existing 
faith ; and its conception of God is so much purer and bet- 
ter than that of any other religion, that a comparison be- 
comes ungenerous. It requires no consecrated temples for 
its worship, no priests or sacraments, no ritual for its dead. 
Its followers can worship in any temple, learn of any priest, 
and, as they honor all forms of religion, none of its cere- 
monies can be inappropriate to their memory. 

Each religion represents the highest or most general con- 
ceptions of its believers ; for this reason the conventional 
classification of faiths can give but the merest outline of the 
actual religious convictions of individuals. Creeds are only 
partially acquiesced in ; the same formulas of belief are in- 
terpreted in widely different ways ; and there is, after all, 
an innate independence in religious belief which only gives 
formal acquiescence to the established forms of faith. The 
spirit of organization, therefore, which pervades the whole 
practical world, that strong sense of the necessity of har- 
mony and co-operation as conditions of success, gives to 
organized religion a dominion which in a logical sense it 
does not possess. 

The difference between the passive believer in any special 
faith and the conscientious critic of religion may be thus de- 
scribed : The believer holds that there are divine truths which 
the simple and the learned can alike appreciate ; the careful 
critic holds that all truths are divine in the sense that 
they are related to universal truth, but that the quality 
of each mind determines the degree of appreciation of that 
truth. They both admit the existence of divine truth, but 



370 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

one believes that it belongs exclusively to a religion, while 
the other believes it to be coextensive with all existence. 
The chances for disagreement are infinite ; for there is clearly 
no possibility of limiting the scope of a religion so that it may 
not include all existence, or of limiting existence so that it 
may not include all religion. The only possible chance for an 
agreement is to fix, once for all, upon the meaning of divine, 
and all words signifying God. This being accomplished, 
the whole question becomes clear. Divine means the high- 
est or most general ; God means the Universal Principle, 
which is the same thing. To say, therefore, that all truths 
are related to the divine is simply to admit that the universe 
is an interdependent organon suggesting neither absolute 
limits nor separations. With this understanding it becomes 
possible to form some idea of the degree in which each type 
of mind, from the most simple to the most complex, can ap- 
preciate general truths. 

It is only by a study of the facts of religious and moral 
history that we can succeed in the logical attempt which is 
here announced. Upon nothing less tangible than the frame- 
work of these facts can the argument take form and avoid 
those extreme attenuations which are more apt to confuse 
than enlighten. 

Our first assumption is, that religion and morality are not 
only interdependent activities, but are the obverse aspects of 
a single fact of development. The quality of life is but an- 
other name for morality. The quality of the mind deter- 
mines the quality of the religion. Superstitions are but the 
negative side of religion, while right thinking, feeling, and 
doing, or morality, constitute all that is real in religious life. 

Worship is universally conceded to be a lifting up of the 
heart to God. When we find the idea of God undeveloped, 
therefore, we must expect to find no worship, or worship in 
its most degraded forms. The term atheist (godless one) 
has a purely relative meaning. If God is the universal fact, 
if the conception of God is an appreciation of divine unity, 
what life can be godless ? Tylor tells how ancient invading 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 371 

Aryans described the aboriginal tribes of India as adeva, i. e. 
" godless," and the Greeks fixed the corresponding term 
aSsoi on the early Christians as unbelievers in the classic 
gods ; also how, in later days, disbelievers in witchcraft 
and apostolic succession were denounced as atheists ; and in 
our own time, controversalists infer that naturalists who 
support a theory of development of species are therefore 
supposed to hold atheistic opinions. 

In the same way the great term Religion is narrowed in 
its meaning by numberless writers until the assertion that 
such and such tribes and communities " have absolutely no 
religion," is not to be trusted till we discover what the re- 
ligion of the writer happens to be. From the dogmatist, 
who " seems hardly to recognize any thing short of the 
organized and established theology of the higher races as 
religion," to such liberal writers as Herbert Spencer, who 
defines religion as an a priori theory of the universe held 
alike by savages and civilized men, and springing from 
the need of understanding life, 1 we find a tendency to 
make all worship the consecration of a fundamental 
mystery. 

If we would trace religious sentiment to its simplest be- 
ginnings, we must identify religious with general knowledge, 
and deny that either is the function of the unknowable. In 
this investigation we should not allow ourselves to be over- 
awed by the vast complexities of organized faiths, for as the 
great developments known as language and perception ex- 
press but the single fact of motion, so all religions, depend- 
ing as they do entirely upon language and perception, 
express but the attitude of man to the Universal Principle, 
or God. In the dark mind of the savage, where undeveloped 

1 " Leaving out the accompanying moral code, which is in all cases a supple- 
mentary growth, a religious creed is definable as an a priori theory of the uni- 
verse. * * * Religions diametrically opposed in their overt dogmas are yet 
perfectly at one in their conviction that the existence of the world with all it 
contains and all that surrounds it is a mystery ever pressing for interpretation. 
On this point, if on no other, there is entire unanimity." HERBERT SPENCER L 
" First Principles," pp. 43, 44. 



372 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

language permits of no extended thought, there is no visible 
approach to the idea of the divine unity of life. Objects 
and sensations fill the mind, instead of sentiments and 
thoughts. 

No race seems too degraded to escape, no language too 
inadequate to express, the belief in a divine mystery. In all 
the length and breadth of human culture, from the poor 
Fuegians and Andamans to the philosophers of England, the 
idea of " an all-pervading mystery " seems to be a constant 
principle ; yet, instead of admitting that this belief is a posi- 
tive religious principle, we affirm that it is a purely negative 
phenomenon, or, in other words, the measure of the inca- 
pacity alike of the primitive and the civilized man, to form a 
true conception of God. There can be no safer measure of 
intellectual and moral development than the extent to which 
the play of the mind in forming generalizations is interfered 
with by the belief in mystery. Thus from the Andamans, 
who alone among the lowest tribes are said to be so degrad- 
ed as to have scarcely any superstitions, to such intellects 
as Mill and Spencer, whose only superstition is a belief 
that the mind is a mystery, we have the greatest ex- 
tremes of mental development, and also the striking 
fact that what is commonly called religion has not yet 
appeared in the former and has practically disappeared in 
the latter. The intermediate conditions of mind, viewed 
from our standpoint, are simply different degrees of super- 
stition. 

In defining belief with a view to tracing out its beginnings 
in the race, Mr. C. F. Keary says : " Belief is something 
besides the recognition of what exists in outward sensation. 
It is the answering voice of human consciousness, or con- 
science, to the call of something behind [nature]. * * * For 
what I have only called the recognition of something behind 
the physical object is, in reality, a worship of the something 
(or Some One) behind it. * * * Perhaps, therefore, if we were 
pressed for a single and concise definition of that human 
faculty called belief, which we have taken for our study here, 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 373 

we could hardly find a better one than this, that it is the 
1 capacity for worship.' For if you will consider the nature 
of man you will find that with him it always has been and 
still is true, that that thing in all his inward or outward 
world which he sees worthy of worship is essentially the 
thing in which he believes." : 

According to this, belief is capacity for worship, and is at 
the same time a faith in a mystery, or " something behind 
nature." When in this connection we recall the well-known 
agnosticism of Mr. Spencer, we have no choice but to con- 
clude that both he and Mr. Keary agree in believing that all 
worship and therefore all religion, all belief and therefore all 
knowledge, depend upon a superstition. 

The religion of philosophy acknowledges no mystery ; it 
advances a conception of God which declares all mystery to 
be a species of immorality, an impediment to the apprecia- 
tion of divine unity. It ranks the superstitions of the lowest 
races with the belief in an unknowable entertained by so 
many enlightened minds of the present day, and finds in 
both conceptions the same principle of irreligion. 

When we find that the poor Fuegians believed in " powers 
of sorcery, in demons, and in dreams"; that their notion of 
a future life was confined to an aversion to mentioning the 
dead ; that they had a notion of an actively malevolent 
power identified probably with " a great black man," sup- 
posed to influence the weather according to men's conduct ; 
we deny that these mysterious beliefs constituted their 
religion any more than the same beliefs which are so general 
among modern Christians if we will substitute for the 
" great black man " a personal God can be called in the 
true sense of the word the religion of Christians. For the 
religion of all men, whatever their condition, is the form 
which their most general conceptions assume. The question 
for us then to decide is whether such morality, such right 
thought and action, as we find in any civilization is not a 
truer index of its spiritual development, of the growth of 

1 "Outlines of Primitive Belief." 



374 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

true and pure conceptions, than those superstitions which 
we are accustomed to classify as religious ? 

This assertion that Religion is the form which the most 
general conceptions of an individual or a race assume, has 
been objected to on the ground that by a large class of 
thinkers science or definite knowledge is the name given to 
the most general conceptions, and religious conceptions are 
considered too vague for classification under the head of 
knowledge. This objection brings up the important ques- 
tion : Can there be any ultimate difference between religious 
and scientific knowledge ? 

Knowledge in its broadest sense means life. Human 
knowledge means human life. There are many who suppose 
that divine knowledge is entirely distinct from human knowl- 
edge, whereas we protest that divine means most general, 
and that divine knowledge means our most extended gener- 
alizations or conceptions. If the man of science denomi- 
nates all his superstitions, all his vague ideas of origin and 
destiny, Religion ; and all clear and definite conceptions, 
those of human duty as well as those of other classes of 
facts, Science ; he will, no doubt, object to the statement 
that Religion is the form which our most general concep- 
tions assume. In fact, he will lose all respect for the word 
religion ; and would, no doubt, define it as the science of 
mystery, or the unknowable. 

But religion, to us, represents something so real, so prac- 
tical, so elevating, that we would rescue the word from its 
connection with the supernatural, the mysterious, the un- 
real ; we would have it represent what it really is, the high- 
est phase of human knowledge. 

A true philosophy must show that all phases of life and 
mind are but parts of a whole, it must establish the unifica- 
tion of knowledge. 

The zenith of human knowledge is our religion (using the 
word in its true sense) ; it is our appreciation of the divine, 
or the most general. 

What we wish to prove, therefore, is that the thoughts 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 375 

and emotions which accompany right conduct are higher and 
more general than those conceptions which we call super- 
stitions ; that, in a word, a just conception of God is ap- 
proached more nearly through right action than through 
the undisciplined efforts of the imagination, however legiti- 
mate custom may have made them appear. 

We find nothing in the superstitions of the lower races, 
such as the Fuegians, Andamans, Veddahs, and Australians, 
which can justify the name of religion, although almost all 
Christian superstitions have their counterpart in the beliefs 
of these most degraded of human beings. We see much, 
however, in the virtues ascribed to these savages, that sug- 
gests religious life. Are not the emotions which accompany 
the chastity, the honesty, and the kindliness found among 
the lowest savages higher than those emotions which accom- 
pany their ignorant dreads ? If superstition, or belief in 
mystery, is but the negative side of religion, is it not in its 
gradual disappearance that we find true religious develop- 
ment ? Has not real religion more to do with conduct than 
with merely formal beliefs, if a choice must be made ? If, 
as can be demonstrated, Morality increases as superstition 
disappears, why should we not define religion as morality in 
its widest sense (i. e. right thought as well as right action), 
and seek the dawning of religious sentiment in the dawn- 
ing of moral life ? 

We have a wealth of data to support the assertion that 
the religion of each nation is to be estimated by the rectitude 
of its action and thought. Let us begin with the relation of 
language to morality. " Philologists may continue long to 
dispute over the precise origin of language ; but philology 
has brought us so far that there can be now no question 
that the primitive speech of mankind was of the rudest char- 
acter, devoid almost utterly of abstract words, unfit for the 
use of any kind of men save such as were in the earliest 
stage of thought. It is probably true that the mental and 
moral attainment of any people, all that shows their progress 
along the path of civilization, is (in mathematical phrase) in 



376 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

a direct ratio with the number of their abstract words. If, 
therefore, the history of language points back to a time 
when man had no abstractions, what could have been his 
mental condition then ? * * * It belongs to our mental con- 
stitution that, without any distinct names for them, we can 
entertain no clear ideas. Without language to give it form, 
we can have at the best only the rudiments of thought." * 

Again, it is a well-understood principle in ethics, that our 
conceptions of right and wrong are limited by the scope of 
human life ; that right means in its deepest sense human, 
and wrong inhuman. No generalization, however extended, 
can relieve us from this limitation of duty. Thus our 
ideals of Justice and Mercy have no appeal from humanity. 
When an issue arises between the good of our race and any 
other order of creation, our inability to form ethical concep- 
tions which are independent of humanity becomes apparent. 

The scope of language brings us inevitably to the same 
conclusion ; for words all spring at first from physical facts 
or sensations, and the process of sublimation by which they 
become abstractions is merely the addition to their original 
simple meaning of larger and larger applications of the same 
fact. The word Right, for instance, which is one of our 
highest abstractions, " had once its place in the physical 
body, and without the need of any deep philological knowl- 
edge we can see what its first meaning was. We at once 
connect the Latin rectus with porrectus, meaning stretched 
out or straight. This brings us back to the German recken, 
to stretch. We therefore get upon the scent of right as 
meaning first straight, and earlier still stretched, stretched 
and straight being originally really the same words, the 
straight string being the stretched string. We have further 
proof, if further proof were wanted, a Greek root, opzy 
opeyrvaiy opeyei, with the same significance of stretched or 
straight ; and, finally, we find that all these words are con- 
nected with a Sanskrit arf, which means ' to stretch/ What 
is stretched, then, is straight, and the straight way is the 

1 Keary : " Outlines of Primitive Belief," pp. 6, 9. 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 3/7 

right way. (Again) Will (Latin volo, voluntas) is a word 
which seems remote enough from any physical thing ; yet 
this, too, may be shown to be grounded in sensation. In 
the first place, will is only the more instantaneous wish, and 
is connected with the German wdhlen, to choose, and ulti- 
mately with the Sanskrit var, to choose, ' to place, or draw 
out first.' With this root we must connect the Latin verus, 
veritas, the Lithuanian and Sclavonic ve'pa, vera, ' belief.' 
Verus, or veritas, is, therefore, what is credible, or, earlier 
still, the thing chosen ; and the old Latin proverb, reduced 
to its simplest terms, stands thus : ' Great is the thing 
chosen ; it will prevail.' ' 

In thus tracing to the simplest physical experiences the 
origin of moral ideas, the favorite theory of a mysterious 
and inexplicable conscience or moral intuition is removed ; 
and the interdependent development of language and 
thought is shown to be the first condition of true relig- 
ious life. 

We must, of course, choose, at the very outset of the in- 
quiry, between ceremony and right conduct as the measure 
of religion, or we shall have no criterion to go by. 

We are told that the ancient Mexicans were " most de- 
voted to their religion and persistent in their superstitions." 
They had numberless deities and a complicated mythology. 
There were " gods of provinces, classes, trades, vices, etc. 
* * * The chief gods of the main tribes of Mexico appear 
to be deified men. * * * With the Zapotecs, worship of a 
dead chief is positively ascertained." Worship of animals, 
elements, and objects in nature, was common, as well as a 
belief in three distinct heavens and four previous worlds 
and mankinds. These most elaborate beliefs were accompa- 
nied by a vast ecclesiastical organization. " The number of 
priests among the Mexicans corresponded with the multitude 
of gods and temples." The priests in the great temple, 
some historians estimate, were over five thousand, and 
" there could not have been less than a million priests in the 

1 Keary : " Outlines of Primitive Belief," p. n. 



378 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Mexican Empire." As a counterpart to this vast religio- 
ceremonial life, in which human sacrifice was one of the 
principal features, we find a low grade of morality and mind, 
an undeveloped language, no thought, no literature. The 
people were abjectly submissive and very indolent. " They 
had been accustomed to act only from fear of punishment." 
They were cruel in war and practised cannibalism (though 
upon members of other tribes only). " The influence of 
religion (?) upon their life seems, on the whole, notwith- 
standing many moral injunctions, to have been a pernicious 
one, on account of human sacrifices, confessions, and fatal- 
istic doctrines ; while apart from religion, the wish to have 
the good opinion of the tribe was productive of noble 
deeds." ' 

The Veddahs of Ceylon, supposed to be the descendants 
of the aboriginal inhabitants of that island, and who are said 
to have preserved the same mode of life for thousands of 
years, are thus described : " They have no idols, offer no 
sacrifices, pour no libations." They have no knowledge of 
God, no temples, prayers, or charms; in short, no instinct of 
worship, except, it is reported, some addiction to ceremonies 
in order to avert storms and lightning. The only evidence 
of worship among them is the vague belief in the guardian- 
ship of the spirits of the dead. " Every near relative be- 
comes a spirit after death and watches over the welfare of 
those who are left behind." This belief seems to be univer- 
sal among savages, and has by no means disappeared among 
civilized men. 

The only religious ceremony which the Veddah performs 
is to invoke the " shade of the departed." The spirits of 
children are most frequently called upon. " The most common 
form of this ceremony is to fix an arrow upright in the 
ground and dance slowly around it chanting the following 
invocation, which is almost musical in its rhythm : 

" * Ma miya, ma miy, ma deya' ! 

Topang koyihetti mittigan yanda'h ? ' 

1 How much more nearly correct it would be to use the word superstition 
.instead of religion ! 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 379 

' My departed one, my departed one, my God ! 
Where art thou wandering ?' " 

And yet these benighted wild men are said to be temperate, 
fond of their children, gentle, mild, and affectionate to one 
another, rarely guilty of grave crimes. Their conjugal fideli- 
ty is remarkable (the more so as their neighbors, the Sin- 
ghalese, are very loose in this respect) ; they resent with 
indignation any reflection on the honor of their women. 
They are proverbially truthful and honest, and grateful for 
favors. Murder is almost unknown among them. But we 
are told they have no language properly so called. " Their 
communications with one another are made by signs, 
grimaces, and guttural sounds which be"ar little or no resem- 
blance to distinct words or systematical language. * * * As 
may be supposed, the vocabulary of such a barbarous race is 
very limited. It contains only such phrases as are required 
to describe the most striking objects of nature, and those 
which enter into the daily life of the people themselves. So 
rude and primitive is their dialect, that the most ordinary 
objects and actions of life are described by quaint para- 
phrases. As, for example, to walk is 'to beat the ground 
with hammers ' ; a child is ' a bud ' ; the grains of rice are 
1 round things ' ; an elephant is not inappropriately termed 
*a beast like a mountain.' " 1 

Thus we are warned against forming any hasty gen- 
eralizations concerning the interdependence of moral and 
intellectual development ; for we find many savage tribes 
singularly virtuous and yet entirely without definite speech. 
But as virtue cannot exist without at least some definiteness 
of ideas, it would be interesting to know what amount of 
reasoning is necessary to fix such principles as conjugal 
fidelity, truthfulness, and honesty in the mind. It is plain 
that the most primitive language admits of the necessary 
amount of reasoning, for none of the savage dialects are 
adequate to express with accuracy any ideas beyond the 
monotonous details of daily life, and few of them are equal 

1 Spencer's " Descriptive Sociology," Chart No. 3. 



380 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

even to this. Of the language of the Dyaks it is said : " At 
a village of the Ida'an, North Borneo, we found the villagers 
very careless of their pronunciation ; for instance, the word 
* heavy ' was at different times written down magat, bagat, 
wagat, and ogat ; for ' rice/ wagas and ogas ; for ' to bathe,' 
fadshu, padsiu, and madsiu, and indifferently pronounced in 
these various ways by the same people." And yet the 
fundamental moral sentiments of this tribe seem to be quite 
definite. The Dyaks " are mainly hospitable, honest, kindly, 
humane to a degree which well might shame ourselves." 
Chastity and private morality stand high among them ; 
" infidelity to marriage is an almost unheard-of crime." 
" Adultery is a crime unknown, and no Dyak (Land) ever 
recollected an instance of its occurrence." : 

We may read the history of the Christian nations in vain 
for such an assertion ; and yet how can we compare the com- 
plexity, the definiteness, and the beauty of the languages of 
Europe with the dialects of the Malays or the lowest races? 

Guizot tells us that the great distinguishing feature of 
European civilization is its vast complexity of motives, its 
juxtaposition of many and different types of a political, 
social, moral, and religious character ; and that this cauldron 
of conflicting activities has been seething and bubbling 
through the dark ages, the crusades, the revival of learning, 
the wars of the Reformation, and the French and the 
English revolutions, until something morally great will yet 
result from it. 

Does the present attitude which the nations of Europe 
preserve toward one another warrant this prediction ? Is 
there any thing in the relations of the great Christian 
nations which promises a cessation of the discords of our 
civilization, which promises that equanimity, that balance of 
forces, which alone can secure human happiness ? Let it be 
our aim to discover in what degree the imperfections of 
language account for the confusion in beliefs and sentiments 
which we see about us. We cannot consider ourselves 

1 See Boyle's " Borneo." * Low's " Sarawak." 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 381 

much above savages until we put aside savage imperfections 
of thought and feeling, and at least agree upon a definition 
of Life and of God. 

No one can read the chapters on Animism in Tylor's 
" Primitive Culture " without being convinced that all sav- 
ages and almost all civilized men believe in some form of 
spiritual apparition or ghostly existence. From the negroes 
of South Guinea, who are such dreamers and believers in 
dreams that they have no control over their imaginations, 
uttering falsehoods without intention and being unable to 
distinguish the real from the ideal, to the German philoso- 
pher who declares that the real is the ideal ; from the Tagals 
of Luzon, who object to waking a sleeper on account of the 
absence of his soul during sleep, to the Christian Father 
St. Augustine, who devoutly believed in the reality of the 
phantastic images of his dreams ; we have in our habits of 
thought and in our language a clear inheritance of this 
childish and savage belief in the existence of another self. 
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is but another 
form of this same belief, and it so clings to us that those 
who reject it on the highest philosophical and moral grounds 
are regarded as unable to appreciate the full importance and 
significance of life: as though to postulate a supernatural 
existence could magnify or ennoble in any degree the facts 
of actual life. 

The savage belief in ghosts or shades is carefully taught 
in all our theological seminaries, not excepting the Unitarian 
seats of learning. It takes the form of a faith in the reality 
of the hosts of heaven, which, as nearly as we can learn, are 
supposed to be the surviving spirits of mortals of diverse 
ages and civilizations who dwell in the cosmical vicinity of 
a personal God. 

To revert to other nations for a counterpart of this super- 
stition about the impossible subdivisions of personality, we 
have " the distinction which the ancient Egyptians seem to 
have made in the Ritual of the Dead between the man's ba, 
akh y ka, khaba, translated by Mr. Birch as his ' soul/ ' mind,' 



382 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

* existence/ ' shade ' ; or the Rabbinical division into what 
may be roughly described as the bodily, spiritual, and celes- 
tial souls ; or the distinction between the emanative and ge- 
netic souls in Hindu philosophy ; or the distribution of life, 
apparition, ancestral spirit, among the three souls of the 
Chinese ; or the demarcations of the nous, psyche, andflneuma, 
or of the anima and animus ; or the famous classic and 
mediaeval theories of the vegetal, sensitive, and rational 
souls." ' 

We notice in the Sociological Charts containing the com- 
pilations of facts of this order, classified by Herbert Spencer, 
that the columns devoted to what are commonly called the 
religious ideas of the lower races, the Malayo-Polynesian, the 
North and the South American, the African, and the Asiatic 
races, are all headed by the word " Superstitions," while the 
columns of similar data belonging to the ancient Mexicans, 
the Central Americans, the Peruvians, the Hebrews, the 
Phoenicians, the English, and the French races are dignified 
by the name of " Religious Ideas." In this distinction we 
see the universal tendency to call those superstitions religious 
which most resemble our own religion. 

The writing of these lines was interrupted by a visit to a 
Unitarian church, whose pastor is famed for his scientific 
acquirements. He is widely acknowledged to be a man of 
liberal attainments and fine moral perceptions. He preaches 
from a pulpit which is supposed to be entirely untrammelled 
by dogma of any kind. His discourse was upon the parentage 
and life 'of Jesus. He declared his belief that the great 
moral reformer of Galilee was born naturally ; and enlarged 
beautifully upon the sanctity and purity of the marital rela- 
tion, against which all the asceticism of Christianity is a 
direct attack. He then spoke of the interest that the heavenly 
hosts took in the birth of Jesus; and continued fluently to 
discourse about the angels, who, he said, take an interest in 
our lives and actually rejoice when we do right and weep 
when we sin. He spoke of God as hearing and seeing us 

1 Tylor's " Primitive Culture," vol. I., p. 435. 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 383 

and enjoying all the advantages of the human senses and 
emotions. He said, Jesus was not asleep in Nazareth, but 
looking upon us with open eyes and taking an active inter- 
est in our daily existence. 

In listening to this sermon I could not help wondering what 
sort of immortals the poor Veddahs and Dyaks were, and 
whether their uncultivated morality was appreciated in para- 
dise ; whether the twenty thousand human victims sacrificed 
in the ancient Mexican Empire in a single year had, by vir- 
tue of their death, any privileges in heaven ; and above all, 
whether the knowledge of God which the angels enjoy 
depended upon an earthly or a seraphic dialect for its devel- 
opment. I could not help thinking that if, in America, in 
this century, cultivated and liberal people are satisfied with 
such logical co-ordinations as a discourse upon angels and a 
distinctly human God, our language, with all its resources, is 
little better than the drivelling speech of the Veddahs and 
the Dyaks, and that little more can be expected from its use 
in the way of morality than from the inarticulate mumblings 
of these degraded races. Should not a reform in the higher 
functions of language, or the use of general terms, which 
would be sufficiently deep to insure any visible moral im- 
provement in our nation, be of necessity so widespread that 
our little children would be able to classify a discourse on 
angels and a personal God with the stories of giants and 
invisible princes with which they are so harmlessly enter- 
tained ? 

How is truth to be acted until it is more perfectly 
thought ? How can logical crimes be detected while our 
speech is so slovenly that such distinct principles as general 
and individual existence can be hopelessly entangled with- 
out exciting the attention of minds that rank far above the 



average ? 



The " Religious Ideas " of the Hebrews of the pre-Egyp- 
tian and Egyptian periods are described as follows : " They 
believed in revelations by way of dreams. The dead were 
supposed to meet their kindred in the grave. A plural form 



384 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

'(Elohim) indicates a polytheistic belief. El Shadai (' the 
powerful ') revealed himself to Abraham." There were 
" sacred stones, trees, and groves. Teraphim (' the enrich- 
ing ones ') were a sort of household gods. Many gods 
(probably those of the several Semitic tribes assembled in 
Goshen) were worshipped. Yahveh (a name of doubtful 
etymological meaning) revealed himself as the God of Israel 
to Moses. * * * In the period of wanderings, a motley variety 
of religious phenomena prevailed. There were tribes, but no 
nation. The names of tribal deities are perhaps preserved 
in the names of some tribes. Moses conceived Yahveh in a 
moral spirit ; he objected to the bull worship, yet he made a 
brazen serpent (nehushtan). * * * After the establishment in 
Palestine the Israelitish tribes adopted Canaanitish ideas and 
practices (Baal, Ashera). Yet Yahveh was regarded as the 
God of Israel and Israel as the people of Yahveh (i. e. he 
was supposed to be one of many gods)." 

It was during the period of the Two Kingdoms that the 
belief in hosts of angels seems to have grown up in Israel ; 
and, strange to say, it was about this time that the notion of 
Satan, " a special evil spirit set apart," " the accuser of man- 
kind," gained possession of the popular mind. The belief in 
ghosts, spectres, and powerful men, and the worship of an- 
cestors, are abundantly instanced in the Hebrew Scriptures, 
and show us how faithfully all the lower orders of super- 
stition were reproduced in the Hebrew mind. " Down to 
the exile it evidently was quite common to conjure the dead 
chiefs, and to imitate by ventriloquistic tricks the chirping 
voice of the dwellers of the air, and the groaning one of those 
^residing in the underworld." 

"And when they say unto you, ' Consult the ghost-seers and 
the wizards, that chirp and that mutter; should not people 
consult their gods, even the dead (mSttm), on behalf of the 
living ? * Hearken not unto them." 

" Nor did the Hebrews remain strangers to the belief in 
demons and spectres ; they professed their faith in the exist- 
ence of Shedim, that is, lords or masters, implying various 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 385 

kinds of foreign deities or evil spirits ; and to them they 
not only offered sacrifices (Deut. xxxii., 17), but slaughtered 
their children (Ps. cvi., 37) ; they attributed reality to the 
Lilith, a night-spectre, dwelling in desolate ruins (Isa. xxxiv., 
14), and, according to Eastern legends, rushing forth in the 
dead of the night, in the form of a beautiful woman, to seize 
children and to tear them to pieces." ] 

We have no difficulty, therefore, in tracing back to the 
Hebrews many of the absurd superstitions which lurk in the 
Christian faith. But we have good reason to feel discour- 
aged when we find a prominent minister of the only Chris- 
tian sect which makes any pretensions to a true literary 
spirit (a true appreciation of human history), discoursing 
about the angels in heaven and a personal God, and actually 
worshipping the shade of a Hebrew prophet. 

We are also at a loss to know why the " Religious Ideas " 
of the Hebrews should not be classed with the " Supersti- 
tions " of other nations, unless it be that their accompany- 
ing ecclesiastical organization entitles them to rank with the 
established religions of the Asiatics, the Egyptians, and the 
ancient Mexicans. 

We look in vain among the superstitions of the Asiatic 
tribes for any thing more gross than the religious ideas of 
the Hebrews contained. That universal ancestor-worship 
unconsciously carried on by Christians is everywhere ap- 
parent. The dead chief has given way to the personal God 
of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, or the Yahveh of Moses ; 
fetich worship has risen from the familiar earth to heaven, 
where our dead ancestors and children live praising the 
Lord of Hosts. We do not lay food and arms on the 
graves of the departed, but we preserve the generic descend- 
ant of this ceremony in the Eucharist. Instead of sacri- 
ficing upon tombs we build altars in churches, and bury our 
dead around the sacred edifice. Hardly a bell tolls in the 
Christian world but we simulate to ourselves a human sacri- 

1 For above quotations see Spencer's " Descriptive Sociology," book VII. t 
part 2, B, Hebrews and Phoenicians. 



386 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

fice, " Christ shedding his blood for the redemption of man- 
kind " ; and we wonder at the ancient Mexicans, who merely 
carried the same idea into practice. 

We teach our children all sorts of distorted ideas about 
nature, which would be childish if they were not criminal; 
we pervert their natural intuitions of justice and humanity 
by absurd doctrines of mystical retribution, unnatural par- 
don and cancellation of sin ; the most savage notions of a 
great spirit are perpetuated in the doctrine of a special 
providence whose purposes are past judgment. Then we 
classify the idolatrous and blood-thirsty Hebrews and our- 
selves as religious ; we extend the courtesy of the same clas- 
sification, with certain reservations, to the ancient Mexicans, 
and to some of the Asiatics and the Egyptians; but all the 
other ancestor-worshippers, to whom we owe almost every 
religious notion which we possess, we relegate to the baser 
level of superstition. 

With all our railroads, steamships, and telegraphs, our 
schools and universities, our halls of justice and legislation, 
to say nothing of our priests and churches, we do not 
possess the average morality of the Dyaks or the humanity 
of the Veddahs. With all our boasted intelligence, language, 
and religion, we are unable to bring the individual up to as 
high a level of chastity, of honesty, and of general virtue, 
as that occupied by these pitiable tribes of primitive men 
and women. The reason is, that we are unwilling to believe 
that there can be any real progress which does not rest 
upon morality, any justice which does not point to the 
divine unity of life, any humanity or religion which does 
not rise above the conception of a personal God. 

We are puzzled to define the term civilization, because 
we find in the midst of our vaunted progress the lowest 
orders of superstition, the most primitive conceptions of 
life and duty; and we are thus unable to distinguish that re- 
ligion which should be our most glorious achievement from 
the childish beliefs of savages. Until we have so developed 
our language as to place beyond the pale of possibility a re- 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 387 

turn to these barbarisms of thought and feeling, are we not 
in danger of handing down the vast structures of our civiliza- 
tion as mere monuments of failure to the races to come ? 

Thus we see that the darkness in which the primitive man 
groped yields nothing to modern research excepting the 
picture of his feeble generalizations, his first efforts to un- 
derstand himself and nature, which are given in his rude 
virtues and his ruder superstitions. 

Upon the supposition that the religion of a people is the 
portrayal of their most general conceptions can be built up a 
complete theory of Knowledge ; but it is important to re- 
member that language is the mind of society, and that in 
relatively advanced nations there can be found what might 
be called a high-water mark of induction, a highest logical 
achievement, to which the tides of humanity make but a 
distant approach. Until the researches of Sir William Jones, 
in the year 1783, and of those who followed him in the study 
of Sanskrit, the religious thought of ancient India was a 
blank to the modern world. Through the insensible growth 
of language the venerable philosophy, the best thought and 
feeling, of an ancient people has been safely conveyed over 
the boundaries of race and language into the very heart of 
our era. The translations of Sanskrit seemed like a flood of 
new light to Christendom, but it was only the uncovering of 
an old mine which humanity had worked out ages before, 
and whose glittering gems have been worn ever since, 
descending as heirlooms through long generations. A great 
truth, a refined sentiment, can be expressed in any civilized 
tongue ; languages may be forgotten and rediscovered ; but 
these facts of existence live on through the changes of race 
and speech, each age reproducing them with unfailing accu- 
racy. Observe, in proof of this, the dreadful monotony of 
metaphysics. Read Plato, the writings of the Alexandrians, 
the Christian theologians from the time of the Scholastics to 
the present day, decipher Kant and Hegel ; then turn to the 
oldest Indian philosophy, the oldest Egyptian speculations, 
as they appear in the religions of these countries ; and we 



388 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

find the same struggle over being and non-being, spiritual 
essence and material form ; the same attempted difference 
between time and eternity ; the same divine unity, one and 
eternal, contrasted with the changing variety of the senses. 
The communication of these thoughts from one nation to 
another has been an insensible process, which has in nowise 
waited for the rediscovery of languages or the new literary 
criticism of our day. But if language has preserved all these 
truths and subjected them to that development which can 
alone come from the general progress of knowledge, or the 
growth of morality, how are we to account for the apparently 
fixed and unyielding form which the higher speculations have 
assumed ? Why is it that German, French, and English 
speculations have not surpassed in metaphysical insight the 
best thought of Egypt, India, and Greece ? Are the people 
who embody the teachings of Kant, Descartes, and Spencer 
to be compared to those who designed the pyramids, wrote 
the Vedas, or questioned the Delphic Oracle ? How are 
these nations to be compared ? 

The difference between civilizations is best portrayed by 
a comparison of the KNOWLEDGE of the respective races ; 
but when the term knowledge is identified with life, the 
comparison is lost in receding equations. When, however, 
we put the proposition in a religious form, it will readily 
gain acceptance ; for the assertion that races and civilizations 
are to be measured by the spread of the divine spirit among 
them, by the quality and extent of their knowledge of God, 
is a truism for all devout minds. 

Our proposition, then, is, that the completeness and sym- 
metry with which a nation has performed that great induc- 
tion which leads from particulars to generals, from the 
lowest forms of sentiency to the highest generalizations, is 
the only true measure of its life. 

If we would rise above the past, therefore, if we would 
place a permanent distinction between our civilization and 
that of the lowest savages, or the great intermediate races, 
we must improve our language so that its most general 



SUPERSTITION AND MYSTERY. 389 

terms will cease to be employed as the vehicle of supersti- 
tion and mysteries. The question then arises : Can such an 
understanding of language be made to harmonize with any 
existing religion? Will not such light as this prove fatal to 
Christianity? In order to answer this question, it will be 
necessary to glance at the most prominent facts of general 
religious history with a view to ascertaining the immediate 
origin of our religious beliefs. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 

In Egypt the Belief in Immortality Reached its Highest Development Mysti- 
cism and Idealism. 

THE Egyptians were the most pious people of antiquity. 
They seem to have expended more time and energy in 
religious observances, and to have had a more realistic con- 
ception of a future life, than any other race. Their writings, 
says M. Maury, " are full of sacred symbols and allusions to 
divine myths, perfectly useless apart from the Egyptian 
religion. Literature and the sciences were only branches of 
the theology, while its books formed a sacred code, supposed 
to be the work of the god Thoth, likened by the Greeks to 
their Hermes. The arts were only practised to add to the 
worship and glorification of the gods or deified kings. 

" The religious observances were so numerous and so im- 
perative that it was impossible to practise a profession, to 
prepare food, or to attend to the simplest daily needs with- 
out constantly calling to mind the rules established by the 
priests. Each province had its special gods, its particular 
rights, its sacred animals. Neither the dominion of the Per- 
sians, nor that of the Ptolemies, nor that of the Romans, was 
able to change this antique religion of the Pharaohs ; of all 
polytheisms, it opposed the most obstinate resistance to 
Christianity, and continued to live on up to the sixth century 
of our era. It is because the Egyptian religion had pene- 
trated so deeply into the mind of the people and the customs 
of the country, that it became, so to speak, a part of the in- 
tellectual and physical organization of the race." * 

1 Alfred Maury : Revue des Deux Mondes, Sept., 1867. 
3QO 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 391 

The animal-worship of the Egyptians, which is the term 
generally applied to their religion, was, of course, a form of 
idolatry, but a far less materialistic form than is generally 
supposed. The priests of the early dynasties taught (before 
the practice of image-worship had grown up) that their con- 
ception of the God of the universe could not be expressed by 
any image made by hands, and that they therefore preferred 
to take a living creature to symbolize the power and wisdom 
of the Creator, a singularly pure and beautiful idea. The 
conception of God as a person having human form and feel- 
ings, exercising a divine will in his government of all nature, 
and loving, punishing, forgiving, and caring for his children, 
is surely as near an approach to making an image of God as 
was the practice of setting up living creatures as symbols of 
certain divine attributes. Where, after all, shall we find a 
religion without idolatry ? Our very words and thoughts are 
symbols. Even to say that God is the universal principle, is 
to symbolize the most general fact, to create a sign that will 
call up this conception in the minds of others. 

Speaking of the innumerable gods of the Egyptians and of 
the vast machinery of worship which they carried on, Mr. 
Clarke says : " Every day has its festival, every town its god 
and temple. Sacrifices, prayers, incense, processions, begin 
and close the year. The deities, we discover, are innumer- 
able. Great triads of gods, superior to the rest, are wor- 
shipped under different names in the different provinces. 
Every year the festivals of Osiris and Isis renew the mourn- 
ing for the Divine Sufferer, and joy at his resurrection. The 
tombs are resplendent with mosaics and brilliantly colored 
paintings. The dead are more cared for than the living ; 
their resting-places are carved out of solid rock and filled with 
rich furniture and ornaments. One supreme being, above all 
other deities, is worshipped as the maker and preserver of all 
things." ' 

So vast a subject as the morality of a nation whose exist- 
ence can be traced back for seven thousand years would be 

1 " Ten Great Religions," vol. II., p. 7. 



392 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

hazardous to deal with in any but the most general manner. 
After the fifth dynasty a great calamity seems to have fallen 
upon the people which destroyed for a time their civiliza- 
tion. This calamity was probably a nomadic invasion, and 
must have revolutionized the whole national life. It is diffi- 
cult, therefore, to select moral characteristics which survive 
throughout such sweeping changes in a nation's existence. 

All authors agree that the notions of divine existence, the 
ideas of the lives of the gods, and the general tenor of 
prayer or the manner of addressing the gods, indicate a 
singular purity of life in ancient Egypt. 

Bonwick says : " An entire confidence in the goodness 
and integrity of their deities is the most pleasing attribute 
of the Egyptian mind. No Greek could trust his lying, 
treacherous, unstable, and immoral gods. 

" On a tomb of the eleventh dynasty, B.C. 3000, the de- 
ceased is made to say : ' I have ever kept from sin, I have 
been truth itself on the earth. Make me luminous in the 
skies ! Make me justified ! May my soul prosper ! ' Upon, 
a papyrus we read this touching appeal : ' My god ! My 
god ! O that thou wouldst show me the true god ! ' * * * 

" A prophet of Osiris says : ' I have venerated my father. 
I have respected my mother. I have loved my brothers. I 
have done nothing evil against them during my life on earth. 
I have protected the poor against the powerful. I have 
given hospitality to every one. I have been benevolent, and 
loving the (?) gods. I have cherished my friends, and my 
hand has been open to him who had nothing. I have 
loved truth, and hated a lie/ * * * 

" A prayer from their Scriptures the Ritual for the Dead 
gives a part of the confession the soul must make after 
death. * * * The I25th chapter of the Ritual contains this: 
1 Homage to thee, great god, lord of truth and justice ! I 
am come to thee, O my master. I present myself to thee, 
and contemplate thy perfecting. I know you, lord of truth 
and justice. I have brought you the truth. I have committed 
no fraud against men. I have not tormented the widow. I 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 393, 

have not lied in the tribunal. I know not lies. I have not 
done any prohibited thing. I have not commanded my 
workman to do more than he could do. I have not been 
idle. I have not made others weep. I have not made 
fraudulent gains. I have not altered the grain-measure. I 
have not falsified the equilibrium of the balance. I have 
not taken away the milk from the foster-child. I have not 
driven sacred beasts from the pastures. I am pure. I am 
pure.' " 1 

Again Mr. Clarke thus testifies to the morality of the 
Egyptians : " Many of the virtues which we are apt to 
suppose a monopoly of Christian culture appear as the 
ideal of these old Egyptians. Brugsch says a thousand 
voices from the tombs of Egypt declare this. One inscrip- 
tion in Upper Egypt says : ' He loved his father, he 
honored his mother, he loved his brethren, and never went 
from his home in bad temper. He never preferred the 
great man to the low one.' Another says: 'I was a 
wise man, my soul loved God. I was a brother to the 
great men and a father to the humble ones, and never was 
a mischief-maker.' An inscription at Sais, on the tomb of 
a priest who lived in the sad days of Cambyses, says : ' I 
honored my father, I esteemed my mother, I loved my 
brothers. I found graves for the unburied dead. I instructed 
little children. I took care of orphans as though they were 
my own children. For great misfortunes were on Egypt in 
my time, and on this city of Sais.' * * * The following 
inscription is from the tombs of Ben-Hassen, over a Nomad 
Prince : ' What I have done I will say. My goodness and 
my kindness were ample. I never oppressed the fatherless 
nor the widow. I did not treat cruelly the fishermen, the 
shepherds, or the poor laborers. There was nowhere in my 
time hunger or want ; for I cultivated all my fields, far and 
near, in order that their inhabitants might have food. I 
never preferred the great and powerful to the humble and 
poor, but did equal justice to all.' A king's tomb at Thebes 

1 '* Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought." 



394 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

gives us in few words the religious creed of a Pharaoh, which 
Moses seems hardly to have appreciated : ' I lived in truth, 
and fed my soul with justice. What I did to men was done 
in peace, and how I loved God, God and my heart well know. 
I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, 
clothes to the naked, and a shelter to the stranger. I 
honored the gods with sacrifices, and the dead with offer- 
ings. A rock at Lycopolis pleads for an ancient ruler 
in the same unmistakable tones. Hundreds of stones 
in Egypt announce, as the best gifts which the gods can 
bestow on their favorites, ' the respect of men and the love 
of women.' ' 

Thus we see that the morality of the Egyptians had the 
same direct and simple source as that of other races, namely, 
those perceptions of justice and purity which are engendered 
by measuring the feelings of others by our own. 

The daily life of the Egyptian people seems to have been 
a physical expression of their theology. Certain days in the 
year were set apart for observances which corresponded to 
events in the lives of their gods. " In an old papyrus 
described by De Rouge it is said : ' On the twelfth of 
Chorak no one is to go out of doors, for on that day the 
transformation of Osiris into the bird Wennu took place. 
On the fourteenth of Toby no voluptuous songs must be 
listened to, for Isis and Nepthys bewail Osiris on that day. 
On the third of Mechir no one can go on a journey, because 
Set then began a war.' ' 

The theology of Egypt indicates a great depth of thought. 
The whole nation seemed to be physically employed in illus- 
trating its conceptions ; but the vast majority were as 
unconscious of the meaning of their religion as the physio- 
logical units in a human organism are unconscious of the 
genius of the life in which they take part. A great system 
of myths and superstitions had grown up during an im- 
measurable past. The best minds, no doubt, were able to 
decipher in all this a great thought, a commanding general- 

1 See " Ten Great Religions," pp. 221, 222. 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 395 

ization ; but the majority of the priests and the people, as 
in our day, were content with the symbols, and never went 
beyond them. The mysteries which the priests so carefully 
guarded were connected with their scientific knowledge, 
and were not unmixed with the art of magic, hence the 
awe with which the people regarded them. 

In the Egyptian theology there were two branches or de- 
partments, the esoteric or internal, and the exoteric or ex- 
ternal. The former was an interpretation of nature and life 
which the priests built up among themselves ; it exhibited 
remarkable knowledge and philosophic insight ; but, probably 
for the want of a better language, it was for the most part 
expressed in the form of deities and their attributes. We 
can judge of the penetration of these inquiries from the fact 
that they included among others the theory that " Matter is 
but the rotating portions of something which fills the whole of 
space" The latter was the more concrete and fabulous form 
of religion taught to the people, and which was suited to their 
understanding. There must have been a great disparity of 
intelligence even among the priests themselves. In witness 
of which mark the incongruity between their best inductions 
and the clumsy symbolism in which we find them expressed. 

Not to dwell too long on the complex subject of Egyptian 
theology, suffice it to say that there were three orders of 
gods, which corresponded to three orders of interpretation 
of nature. The first dealt with general principles, and mani- 
fested a remarkable power of analysis. The second and third 
orders of gods descended from general principles to particu- 
lars, and became thoroughly anthropomorphic, assuming the 
minutest details of human life. 

Looking at the history of Egypt from a distance, the 
most striking features are the pyramid-building age, chiefly 
confined to the fourth dynasty, and the reign of Rameses II., 
the most brilliant epoch of the Empire. Since Champollion 
(1822) deciphered the hieroglyphic inscriptions, the greatest 
archaeological discovery of modern times, the history of 
Egypt has gradually unfolded itself until a dim outline is 



396 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

discerned ; but scarcely more than this can yet be claimed. 
The fact that the most ancient writers of the Egyptians re- 
garded time in the cyclical light, fixing no era from which to 
reckon events, makes it almost impossible to arrive at any 
definite dates until the historical age is fairly begun by other 
nations. It is generally conceded that at least four thousand 
years would have been necessary for the development of the 
civilization which appeared in Egypt at the beginning of the 
fourth dynasty, when the Great Pyramid was built by 
Cheops. Ages before this, Menes emerges from the mytho- 
logical period, the age of divine reigns which precedes the 
beginning of Egyptian history. It is agreed by all Egyp- 
tologists, however, that Menes is no legendary personage, 
but that he founded the Egyptian state by uniting its many 
parts into one nation, and that he began the building of 
the city of Memphis. 

The first dynasty, beginning with the reign of Menes, is 
estimated by Mariette Bey as 5004 B.C., and by Professor 
Lepsius as 3892 B.C. The reign of twenty-six dynasties, or 
families of kings, is counted from Menes to the conquest of 
Egypt by the Persians ; but owing to the division of the na- 
tion into as many as five kingdoms, these dynasties were not 
consecutive, several royal families during certain periods 
reigning at the same time. When the Assyrian Empire fell, 
the Egyptians regained their independence under the Theban 
Amenophis, who became king of the whole country, and 
founded the eighteenth dynasty. But the nation was soon 
again conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, and paid tribute to the 
Babylonians until Egypt was absorbed by the Persian Em- 
pire. Previous to this the separate kingdoms had been 
overcome one by one by the invasion of a race of nomads, 
which resulted in the rule of the Shepherd Kings, during 
which Egyptian civilization suffered a long decline. It is 
in the reign of the last shepherd king that Joseph, who is 
acknowledged to be an historical character, is supposed to 
have been in power. 

It is almost impossible to obtain reliable details of the 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 397 

sojourn and oppression of the Hebrews in Egypt and their 
subsequent exodus. The legend, as it appears in the sacred 
writings of the Jews, is one side of the story, which is gener- 
ally admitted by scholars to be highly colored and largely 
fanciful ; while from the detached references to the event 
gathered from Egyptian inscriptions and other sources, it is 
difficult to give to it any thing like the co'herency and rela- 
tive historical importance which it assumes in the Hebrew 
chronicles. 

The theology of Egypt centres about the myth of Osiris, 
which seems to be the oldest religious story in the world. 
Five thousand years before the beginning of our era, Osiris, 
a mythological king of Egypt, was worshipped after reigning 
upon the earth, where he left such a remembrance of his 
beneficence that he became the type of goodness, the chief 
moral ideal of the Egyptians. He was betrayed, suffered 
temporary death, ascended into heaven, where he became 
the judge of the quick and the dead. The Greek author 
Athenagoras " laughed gaily at the Egyptian absurdity of 
weeping for the death of their god, then rejoicing at his 
resurrection, and afterward sacrificing to him as a divinity." 
Bonwick says, in speaking of Osiris : " It is idle for us, at this 
distance of time, to talk of him as a solar myth, or a refined 
intellectualism of the Egyptians ; he was a person who had 
lived and died. They had no manner of doubt abo^t it. 
Did they not know his birthplace ? Did they not celebrate 
his birth by the most elaborate ceremonies, with cradle, 
lights, etc. ? Did they not hold his tomb at Abydos ? Did 
they not annually celebrate at the Holy Sepulchre his resur- 
rection? Did they not commemorate his death by the 
Eucharist, eating the Sacred Cake, after it had been conse- 
crated by the priests, and become veritable flesh of his 
flesh ? " The solemn strains of the Roman Miserere are but 
the echoes of the Egyptian dirges representing the grief of 
Isis. This devoted wife of Osiris, the chief maternal goddess 
of Egypt, seeks her lost husband round the world and 

1 " Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought," p. 162. 



398 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

through the regions of death. When she has at last recov- 
ered his remains, her tears and prayers revive him, and the 
faithful wife miraculously conceives a son. Then she flees 
with her unborn babe from pursuing enemies. Some say 
that she was caught up by the sun, others that she bore and 
suckled the babe Horus in loneliness. Thus Horus, begotten 
and born after death through tears and prayers, is but the 
living incarnation of Osiris. Horus was the Egyptian saviour 
of humanity. He was born in winter, and the annual 
festivals in celebration of his birth were the beginning of 
our Christmas rejoicings. This beloved god was the last 
of the long line of divine rulers, and he was followed by 
Menes, the first historical king. 

Isis, the mother of Horus, who was worshipped six thou- 
sand years ago, was styled by the Egyptians, " ' Our Lady,' 
the ' Queen of Heaven/ ' Star of the Sea/ ' Governess/ 
1 Earth Mother/ ' Rose/ ' Tower/ ' Mother of God/ 
1 Saviour of Souls/ t Intercessor/ ' Sanctifier/ ' Immaculate 
Virgin/ etc. * * * In the story of her love and devotion to 
Osiris there is a pathos and a tenderness that speak well for 
the domestic virtues of the Egyptian people who invented 
and cherished the myth. Only those who believed in faith- 
ful wives and honored women could have exhibited so noble 
a specimen of female goodness as seen in their chief divinity. 
* * * In an ancient Christian work, called the ' Chronicle of 
Alexandria/ occurs the following : ' Watch how Egypt has 
consecrated the childbirth of a virgin, and the birth of her 
son, who was exposed in a crib to the adoration of the 
people. King Ptolemy having asked the reason of this usage, 
the Egyptians answered him that it was a mystery taught 
to their fathers/ " ' 

It is generally conceded by Egyptologists that Isis is the 
Virgo of the zodiac. " One sees," says the Arabian writer, 
Abulmazar, " in the first Decan of the sign of the Virgin, 
according to the most ancient traditions of the Persians, 
Chaldeans, Egyptians, of Hermes, and of Esculapius, a 

1 " Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought," pp. 141, 143. 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 399 

chaste, pure, immaculate virgin, of a beautiful figure and 
an agreeable face, having an air of modesty, holding in her 
hand two ears of corn, seated on a throne, nourishing and 
suckling a young child." 

Thus, as most of the original Christian theology was for- 
mulated in Alexandria, we see in its symbols but a repro- 
duction of the mythology of Egypt. As Isis was carried to 
heaven by her son Horus, so " the virgin Mary was declared 
to have been carried there by her glorified son." The im- 
maculate conception, the symbols of the cradle and the 
cross, the ceremony of the last supper, the death, the res- 
urrection, the ascension, and in fact the whole scheme of 
Christian salvation, have counterparts in the superstitions of 
ancient Egypt. As the Egyptians were undoubtedly the 
first historic people, in the mythologies of all other nations 
we trace a likeness to their beliefs ; just such a likeness as it 
is natural to suppose was disseminated by the slow inter- 
course of the earliest races of the world. All superstitions 
are merely exaggerations of human experiences, consisting 
for the most part of the incidents of family life. This is the 
reason why religion is said to be an emotional government, 
as its beliefs spring from the childhood of our race, in which 
the emotions have ascendancy over thought. 

The only emotions which we can trust are moral emo- 
tions ; and if we deprive our sacred beliefs of every thing 
that thought cannot approve of and morality can dispense 
with, superstitions disappear and the religion of Philosophy 
alone remains. Could a greater service be rendered to 
humanity than to relieve it of the slavery of its hoary 
superstitions ? 

The monuments of Egypt teach the same lesson of myste- 
rious beliefs. Notwithstanding the incalculable amount of 
toil which they represent, they are almost wholly the work of 
superstition, and therefore have contributed little or nothing 
to the well-being of the race that built them. Such vast 
structures as the pyramids of Ghizeh or the temples at 
Karnac must have been national undertakings ; and so far 



400 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

removed were they from the useful, that their construction 
must have meant the practical enslavement of large classes 
of the population. It is difficult to imagine a state of society 
in which labor could have been sufficiently redundant to 
explain these enormous ideal enterprises in any other way. 
The great public works of China and the Roman Empire 
were national movements, but they were for the public good : 
the building of the pyramids and temples of Egypt, and the 
vast religious industry of the nation, on the contrary, must 
have inflicted grievous burdens upon the people ; illustrat- 
ing in a striking manner what superstition has cost the 
world. 

The literary monuments of this people only repeat the same 
evidence. The antiquity of the Egyptian Bible is perhaps 
the most wonderful fact connected with this oldest of nations. 
Portions of these sacred writings are said to have been 
written seven thousand years ago. As now collected, they 
consist chiefly of a ritual of worship for the guidance of 
the priests, and a " code of existence in the other world." 
Deveria says : " Not only under the reign of Men-ka-ra, the 
builder of the Third Pyramid, but even under the fifth king 
of the first dynasty, certain parts of the sacred book were 
already discovered, as antiquities, of which the tradition had 
-been lost" At the Turin Museum is a copy of this wonder- 
ful prehistoric " Book of the Dead." " It covers one side of 
the wall. Though in four pieces, it may altogether measure 
nearly three hundred feet in length. The breadth of the 
papyrus is from twelve to fifteen inches. Parts are, how- 
ever, incomplete or obscured by age. * * * Thereon one 
seems to have the whole Egyptian theology at a glance. 
Though there is every reason to believe the greater part of 
the people were at least as well educated in reading as Euro- 
peans at the beginning of this century, yet the perpetual 
pictorial display could not fail to be instructive to those un- 
able to make out the text. The Scriptures must have been 
well known, as copies of chapters are found by the thousand 
on the persons of mummies themselves, and on the walls of 



Ot 



ffn 

*& 

THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 40! 

the thousands of tombs, which would not have been the case 
were the living majority unable to read." 

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is supposed to 
have been first elaborated in Egypt. The whole religion of 
this first civilization is but a mystic reflection of actual life 
in the form of a resurrected existence, and yet, there is not a 
single fact of life or mind that can lend reality to this vast 
dream of futurity. The belief in the immortality of the soul 
has the combined authority of almost every religion the 
world has ever known, and yet it is not only a mistaken belief, 
but in common with all other superstitions it has a demoraliz- 
ing influence upon life. 

But how can we hope to overcome such religious supersti- 
tions, which rest upon mysteries, while even science and phi- 
losophy cling to the belief that all facts centre in an ultimate 
mystery or the great unknowable? It would be difficult to 
find in this century of intellectual progress a scientist or a 
thinker who does not believe the First Cause to be an 
unfathomable mystery ; and yet belief in any order of ulti- 
mate mystery is a self-contradiction just as flagrant as that 
which is implied in the word unknowable. It disregards the 
limits of language and the nature of perception, and denies 
the possibility of the unification of knowledge. 

Almost every form of mystery can be traced to Egypt. 
The solemn symbolisms of Freemasonry, which are but 
efforts to give expression to divine truths, the art of 
magic, which has been almost wholly associated with re- 
ligion, and the mystery of immortality upon which all 
religious superstitions depend, have all apparently come to 
life in Egypt. Although a belief in magic is widely con- 
ceded, in our time, to be not only false but vulgar, Chris- 
tianity has been closely associated with the "mystic art." 
The rite of baptism, the different degrees of superstition 
connected with the Lord's Supper, the belief in the power 
of prayer to convert souls, to cure sickness, and to obtain 
forgiveness of sins ; the consecration of priests and churches, 

li4 Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought," pp. 188, 189. 



402 THE RELIGION' OF PHILOSOPHY. 

and even the ceremony of benediction, are all forms of be- 
lief in the magical or the supernatural. The life of Jesus is 
full of instances of the same order of belief. It is true that 
the more recent development of the black art known as 
Demonology had an Eastern origin and was unknown on 
the Nile, but the one hundred thousand witches " said to 
have been destroyed in Protestant churches alone " show 
that Christianity was not inhospitable even to this innova- 
tion. 

In a word, the belief in any form of mystery, from the 
metaphysical tenet of " an unknowable " to all manner of 
religious superstition, is diametrically opposed to the higher 
appreciations of human life. To overcome this insidious 
error is the first condition to the establishment of a true con- 
ception of God. The foregoing glance at the beliefs of 
Egypt, therefore, is intended but to give an idea of the 
form which this error assumed in the earliest civilization, so 
that we may recognize it as it reappears in the religions of 
other nations. 

We may now turn to another but almost equally ancient 
faith. 

The study of the civilizations of India, China, and Japan 
is excluded from the range of what is generally termed 
ancient history, because these nations were but little known 
to the Greeks, who originated history for us. It is prin- 
cipally through modern research that such knowledge as 
we have of the life of these nations has been obtained. The 
study of Sanskrit, begun by the English scholars at Calcutta 
during the early part of this century, has developed so rap- 
idly that now nearly all the important universities of the 
world have established professorships *of this language. 
It is through the efforts of these students of oriental 
languages that we are enabled to trace out the history of 
India and the East, which a short time ago was a blank to 
the outer world. The literature of India, although very 
voluminous, is utterly devoid of historical data. Consisting- 
of poems, mythology, and sacred books, " no piece of 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 403 

chronicle, no list of kings," breaks the monotony of these 
emotional and abstract writings, and we are left to discern 
the moral character of the people of India, to judge of 
the thoughts and feelings of this great race, through the 
agency of fable. These fables consist of a philosophy sus- 
ceptible of the deepest interpretations, strangely mixed with 
the most elaborate, grotesque, and even brutal idolatry, and 
a vast mythology, the joint fruit of widespread religious sen- 
timent and a gorgeous and unrestrained imagination. 

It is by a recent movement in science, that the origin of the 
Hindoo people, which was of late supposed to be undiscover- 
able, has been made familiar to the reading world. As early 
as the sixteenth century, Renan tells us, it was discovered that 
the Hebrews, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Syrians, 
Babylon, from a certain period at least, the Arabs, the Abys- 
sinians, spoke languages wholly cognate. " Eichhorn, in the 
last century, proposed to call these languages Semitic, and 
this name, inexact as it is, may as well be retained. * * * The 
philologists of Germany, Bopp in particular, laid down sure 
principles, by means of which it was demonstrated that the 
ancient idioms of Brahmanic India, the different dialects of 
Persia, the Armenian, many dialects of the Caucasus, the 
Greek and Latin languages, with their derivatives, the Sclavic 
languages, the Germanic, the Celtic, formed a vast whole 
radically distinct from the Semitic group, and this they 
called Indo-Germanic, or Indo-European." 

This division of the principal nations of the world into two 
great groups? however, relies upon more than the generic 
development of languages; the same division is disclosed by 
a comparison of their respective literatures, customs, institu- 
tions, governments and religions. Thus we see that the 
philosophy of history, great as are its achievements, has 
scarcely begun the work of portraying the conditions which, 
are to explain human development. 

The Aryans, to which name the modern Ivan for Persia 
and the ancient Ariana for the region about the Indus are 
traced, occupied those vast plains in Asia lying east of the 



404 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Caspian Sea. The division of this primitive race of warlike 
shepherds into the family of Indo-European nations must 
have been very gradual, as the results of their early migra- 
tions are to be seen in the first dynasties of Egypt, a period 
varying from one to two thousand years before the time at 
which the Aryans are supposed to have lost their identity in 
the formation of other nations. 

The castes into which the Hindoo nation has been so 
firmly crystallized are, first and highest, the Brahmans, or 
priestly class, a spiritual aristocracy, which, viewed from 
every standpoint, is beyond question the most wonderful so- 
cial phenomenon presented by our race. Beneath them are 
graded the landed military class, the commercial and agricul- 
tural, and the servile classes, and the social status of each is 
minutely provided for in the Vedic law, forming a civilization 
entirely unique. 

The oldest works in the Hindoo literature are the Vedas, 
which, like all the earliest writings of the world, are religious 
in character. They were composed and preserved by priests, 
and it is through them alone that we are able to study 
Hindoo history, as the two great epics are so legendary and 
fanciful that they give but the vaguest idea of events. 

" The last hymns of the Vedas were written (says St. 
Martin) when the Aryans arrived from the Indus at the 
Ganges and were building their oldest city, at the confluence 
of that river with the Jumna. Their complexion was then 
white, and they call the race whom they conquered, and 
who afterward were made Soudras, or lowest caste, blacks. 
The chief gods of the Vedic age were Indra, Varuna, Agni, 
Savitri, Soma. The first was the god of the atmosphere ; 
the second, of the Ocean of Light, or Heaven ; the third, of 
Fire ; the fourth, of the Sun ; and the fifth, of the Moon. 
Yama was the god of Death. All the powers of nature 
were personified in turn, as earth, food, wine, months, 
seasons, day, night, and dawn. Among all these divinities 
Indra and Agni were the chief. But behind this incipient 
polytheism lurks the original monotheism, for each of 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 405 

these gods, in turn, becomes the Supreme Being. The 
universal Deity seems to become apparent first in one form 
of nature and then in another. Such is the opinion of Cole- 
brooke, who says that ' the ancient Hindoo religion recog- 
nizes but one God, not yet sufficiently discriminating the 
creature from the Creator.' And Max Miiller says : ' The 
hymns celebrate Varuna, Indra, Agni, etc., and each in turn 
is called supreme. The whole mythology is fluent. The 
powers of nature become moral beings. It would be easy 
to find, in the numerous hymns of the Veda, passages in 
which almost every single god is represented as supreme 
and absolute. Agni is called * Ruler of the Universe ' ; 
Indra is celebrated as the Strongest god, and in one hymn 
it is said, ' Indra is stronger than all.' It is said of Soma 
that ' he conquers every one.' ' 

To give an idea of the purity of thought and grandeur of 
expression which these ancient Hindoos commanded, to say 
nothing of their monotheism, we give a translation by Max 
Miiller of one of the oldest Vedic hymns in which their idea 
of the creation is set forth. 

" RlG-VEDA x, 121. 

" In the beginning there arose the Source of golden light. 
He was the only born Lord of all that is. He established 
the earth, and this sky. Who is the God to whom we shall 
offer our sacrifice ? 

" He who gives life. He who gives strength ; whose 
blessing all the bright gods desire ; whose shadow is immor- 
tality, whose shadow is death. Who is the God to whom 
we shall offer our sacrifice ? 

" He who through his power is the only king of the 
breathing and awakening world. He who governs all, man and 
beast. Who is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice ? 

" He whose power these snowy mountains, whose power 
the sea proclaims, with the distant river. He whose these 
regions are as it were his two arms. Who is the God to 
whom we shall offer our sacrifice ? 



406 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

"He through whom the sky is bright and the earth firm. 
He through whom heaven was stablished ; nay, the highest 
heaven. He who measured out the light in the air. Who 
is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice ? 

" He to whom heaven and earth, standing firm by his will, 
look up, trembling inwardly. He over whom the rising sun 
shines forth. Who is the God to whom we shall offer our 
sacrifice ? 

" Wherever the mighty water-clouds went, where they 
placed the seed and lit the fire, thence arose he who is the 
only life of the bright gods. Who is the God to whom we 
shall offer our sacrifice ? 

" He who by his might looked even over the water-clouds, 
the clouds which gave strength and lit the sacrifice ; he who 
is God above all gods. Who is the God to whom we shall 
offer our sacrifice ? 

" May he not destroy us, he the creator of the earth, 
or he, the righteous, who created heaven : he who also 
created the bright and mighty waters. Who is the God to 
whom we shall offer our sacrifice? " 

The Vedic literature begins with the hymns called the 
Rig-Veda; these are divided by Mu'ller into the Chhandas 
and the Mantras periods. These writings are liturgic in 
character. The earliest theological writings of India are the 
Brahmanas. Later on, the philosophic writings called the 
Upanishads make their appearance ; these are almost the 
only Vedic writings which are read at the present day ; and 
if the antiquity claimed for them can be substantiated, i. e. 
800 to 600 years B.C., they show clearly that the speculations 
of the earliest Greeks were anticipated in India. When we 
think how Egyptian and Babylonian history, also, gives 
evidence of philosophic thought vastly older than any thing 
connected with Greece, it would seem possible that the 
Aryans were not only the progenitors of the language, but 
the thought, of the Indo-European nations. It may seem 
venturesome, however, to attribute much philosophic insight 

1 Mtiller's "Ancient Sanskrit Literature," p. 569. 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 407 

to the warlike shepherds who occupied the regions east of 
the Caspian Sea, before the earliest dates of even legendary 
history, and of whom nothing more definite is known than 
what is suggested by the words traced through convergent 
languages to them ; but is it more venturesome than to 
suppose that all the details of metaphysical speculation 
should be faithfully reproduced in different countries, at great 
distances in time, without any generic connection ? This is 
the same question with regard to psychology as that which 
is presented by the contrasted theories of Darwin and Lewes 
in biology. Darwin says that organic life began in not 
more than four or five different points on the earth's surface, 
and that all subsequent development has been a generic 
divergence from these points of beginning. Lewes says that 
the conditions of organic life are far too general to admit of 
any such narrow beginnings. When we study the general 
subject of the beginnings of life, and see how clearly organic 
activities are affiliated with chemical and cosmical activities, 
are we not irresistibly carried to the larger of these views ? 

So with regard to the origin of philosophy. If thought is 
the function of conditions, it is natural to suppose that cer- 
tain civilizations produce inevitably certain types of thought. 
The only question is, what constitutes the intellectual germ, 
or logical type, upon which the social conditions of each age 
have acted as merely a developing medium. Will not the 
psychology of the future demonstrate that this logical germ 
is as deeply seated in every sentient organism as the proper- 
ties of its physiological units, and is in fact indistinguishable 
from them ? Our inductions are as natural as the swinging 
of the pendulum, or the response of the organic compounds 
to light and heat. There is no break in development 
between the cosmical and the organic activities expressed in 
our race and its highest logical genius. An analysis, there- 
fore, which seeks to discover some ultimate principle as the 
basis of mind will have to relinquish one special fact after 
another until it comes face to face with the ultimate reality, 
the first principle of life. 



408 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

/ 

In the light of this induction, the thought of Aryan shep- 
herds, Hindoo priests, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the 
most modern European metaphysicians, will assume a level 
which, in an unphilosophical view of history, would seem im- 
possible. The thought of the human race, from its earliest 
beginnings to its best attainments, forms but the base-line in a 
sentient parallax of infinite proportions. With our compli- 
cated vocabularies we imagine that we have risen far above 
the level of those early inductions which mingled dim intui- 
tions of divine unity with all manner of superstition ; but alas ! 
after seventy centuries of reform, we find the inarticulate 
gesture of the primitive man declaring the scope of language 
and the nature of perception as unerringly as our most 
scholarly analyses of mind ; and thus the fact of sentiency, 
viewed through the long avenues of organic development 
which lead up to it, presents a level scarcely broken by the 
highest waves of civilization. In a word, so deep-seated in 
nature are the facts of consciousness, that the difference 
between the intelligence of races is rendered insignificant 
when this intelligence is viewed in the true perspectives of its 
development. It is only in that more complete view of knowl- 
edge which identifies action with thought, morality with re- 
ligion, practical with theoretical happiness, that our notions 
of progress are justified. It is only by subjecting the " tran- 
scendental properties of the modern intellect " to the disci- 
pline of actual existence, by denying to the imagination all 
the extravagances of mystery and superstition, that we are 
enabled to really distinguish ourselves intellectually or 
morally from the primitive types of man. The question 
which presses upon us therefore is, Have we accomplished 
this distinguishing logical feat ? 

Following the Brahmana period in Hindoo literature, we 
have the Sutras, coming from a word meaning string, and 
consisting of a string of sentences concise and epigrammatic 
in style, representing the thought of the Brahmans reduced 
to the simplest form. These writings are supposed to have 
appeared from 600 to 200 years B.C. The Brahmanas, which 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 409* 

precede in order of time the Sutras and the philosophic 
Upanishads, are very numerous. " M Ciller gives stories from 
them and legends. They relate to sacrifices, to the story of 
the deluge, and other legends. They substituted these 
legends for the simple poetry of the ancient Vedas. They 
must have extended over at least two hundred years, and 
contain long lists of teachers." But when we call them 
Vedic writings, we use a form of speech which is inconsist- 
ent with fact, for the Vedas were not reduced to writing 
until long after they appeared. They were memorized by 
the priests and thus transmitted through many centuries. 

The antiquity of the original Vedic hymns or Rig-Veda 
cannot be determined with any certainty, although all au- 
thorities agree in placing them as early as 1200 to 1500 
years B.C., while Dr. Haug believes that the oldest hymns 
were composed B.C. 2400. In the damp climate of India 
no manuscript will last more than a few centuries, which 
accounts for the fact that there are few Sanskrit MSS. more 
than four or five hundred years old. 

" Miiller supposes that writing was unknown when the 
Rig-Veda was composed. The thousand and ten hymns 
of the Vedas contain no mention of writing or books, 
any more than the Homeric poems. There is no allusion 
to writing during the whole of the Brahmana period, nor 
even through the Sutra period. This seems incredible 
to us only because our memory has been systematically 
debilitated by newspapers and the like during many 
generations. It was the business of every Brahman to 
learn by heart the Vedas during the twelve years of his 
student life. The Guru, or teacher, pronounces a group of 
words, and the pupils repeat after him. After writing was 
introduced, the Brahmans were strictly forbidden to read 
the Vedas, or to write them. Caesar says the same of the 
Druids. Even Panini never alludes to written words or 
letters. None of the ordinary modern words for book, 
paper, ink, or writing, have been found in any ancient Sans- 
krit work, no such words as volumen, volume ; liber, or 



410 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

inner bark of a tree ; byblos, inner bark of papyrus ; or book, 
that is, beech-wood. But Buddha had learned to write, as 
we find by a book translated into Chinese, A.D. 76. In this 
book Buddha instructs his teacher ; as in the ' Gospel of the 
Infancy' Jesus explains to his teacher the meaning of the 
Hebrew alphabet. So Buddha tells his teacher the names 
of sixty-four alphabets. The first authentic inscription in 
India is of Buddhist origin, belonging to the third century 
before Christ." 

The type of religion depicted in the Vedas has long since 
passed away. At the present day, in India, there is a poly- 
theism among the people very different from the written 
religion of the priestly caste. The Brahmans acknowledge 
the equal divinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, known as 
the Hindoo triad ; but the great mass of the people worship 
different gods according to the multitude of sects into which 
they are divided. There is a large class of unbelievers in 
India who doubt the inspiration of the Vedas, and even 
deride the sacred books. The widespread religious feeling 
of the people may be judged of from the fact that two thirds 
of all the books sold in that country, according to a recent 
report from Calcutta, are of a religious character. 

There is a sect which corresponds to the Quakers of 
England and America, the Kabirs, a part of whose creed it 
is to oppose all worship ; there are Hindoo monks, Ramavats, 
who live in monasteries ; and there is a prototype of the 
polygamous Mormons, the Maharajas, whose religious ob- 
servances are mingled with licentiousness. When these facts 
are considered, it is difficult to determine to what extent the 
great typical religion of India known as Brahmanism, which 
succeeded the age of the elder Vedas, was ever observed by 
priests or people. The text-book of Brahmanism is known 
as the Laws of Manu. This is a very ancient religious code 
supposed to have originated about 1000 to 900 B.C. Manu, 
in the Vedas, is spoken of as the father of mankind and the 
hero of a legend resembling somewhat that of Noah in the 
Hebrew Scriptures ; the Brahmans regard him as the author 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 411 

of their code. The laws of Manu, in their present form, are 
a synopsis of a legendary poem, or metrical composition, of 
one hundred thousand couplets, which represented the laws 
and customs of the ancient Brahmans. These laws "may 
possibly have been reduced to the form of a written code 
with a view to securing the system of a caste against a 
popular movement of Buddhism, and thus give a rigid fixity 
to the privileges of the Brahmans." 

The Brahmans represent the early Aryan civilization of 
India. They have always been the great literary caste. 
Their priestly power has often been assailed, and sometimes 
overcome. On account of their comparative monopoly of 
learning, however, they have been, until recent times, both 
the counsellors of princes and the instructors of the people. 
The whole history of India seems to be made up of the 
resistance of this caste to religious and political innovations 
from the early invasions of non-Brahmanic tribes to the 
great religious movement which culminated in the establish- 
ment of the Buddhist kingdoms. So determined was the 
resistance of the Brahmans, that Buddhism was at last 
dethroned and driven out of India. Some writers think 
that the manner in which this victory over Buddhism was 
achieved was by joining the worship of the two gods Vishnu 
and Siva to Brahmanism. The worship of these gods had 
gradually grown up in India as a sort of dissent from Brah- 
manism long before the time of Buddha. These worships 
were founded upon the ancient Vedas, and were simply the 
forms which the popular religious ideals of two different 
sections of the country assumed. In the valley of the 
Ganges the Vedic god Vishnu was promoted to the chief 
rank in the Hindoo Pantheon. He was given "the character 
of a Friend and Protector, .gifted with mild attributes, and 
worshipped as the life of Nature." In the west of India the 
god selected was Siva, supposed to be derived from the god 
Rudra of the Rig- Veda, who, " fierce and beneficent at once," 
is the Storm-god and presides over medicinal plants. The 
worship of this god gradually spread until under the name 



412 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

of Siva, the Destroyer, he became one of the most prominent 
deities of India. In harmonizing the worship of these two 
popular gods with their own religion, the Brahmans were 
able to unite India and successfully oppose Buddhism. 

The origin of the Hindoo triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and 
Siva, like all other divine trinities, 1 is probably a dim reflec- 
tion of the three elements of thought, the ultimate reality 
Motion and its subjective and objective aspects Time and 
Space. There is, of course, no resemblance between the 
deities composing the Egyptian, Persian, Hindoo, or Chris- 
tian trinities and the principles known as Space, Time, and 
Motion ; but the conditions of thought are common to all 
humanity, and it is more natural to believe that the religions 
of the world offer this distant reflection of an ultimate 
analysis than that they bear no trace of it. 

We will make no attempt to follow out the elaborate be- 
liefs of this great race, whose distinct languages, states, and 
peoples exceed in number those of all Europe, and whose 
civilization was seemingly greater than now before writing 
as we use the word was invented in any part of the world ; 
suffice it to say that the illogical and extreme part of 
Brahmanism is its mysticism. In the imagination of India 
mysticism has had a high development. Its alluring prom- 
ises have fascinated while its innate deceit has corrupted the 
heart of man. Such morality, and hence such true religion, 
as the world has seen, has come not from mystery, not from 
impossible images of life and purity, but from generaliza- 
tions of experiences, the healthful and natural extension of 
human sympathies. 

Plato derived his ecstasies of perception from the East, 
and all subsequent idealism has been but an outgrowth of 
these intellectual mysteries. Christianity has assiduously 
fostered the mysticism of India ; witness her doctrine of 

1 Egypt has Osiris, the Creator ; Typhon, the Destroyer ; and Horus, the 
Preserver. Persia has Ormazd, the Creator ; Ahriman, the Destroyer ; and 
Mithras, the Restorer. Buddhism has Buddha, the Divine Man ; Dharma, 
the Word ; and Sangha, the Communion of Saints. Christianity has God, the 
Father ; Christ, the Divine Man ; and the Word, or the Holy Ghost. 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 413 

<l Purification, of Illumination, and of ecstatic union with 
God and absorption in divine contemplation." 

Mysticism, in its various forms, constitutes the illogical 
part of every religion and of every philosophy. In Chris- 
tianity and other Catholic religions, this principle takes the 
name of Spiritualism, as in philosophy it is called idealism. 
The chief tenet of mysticism, as it appears in the ethnic re- 
ligions, is contempt for human energy ; which is the belittle- 
ment of the present life upon the supposition that there is 
another and more important one hereafter. If it is admitted 
that morality is the science of human conduct, then mysti- 
cism, which in its most familiar form is a belief in immor- 
tality, leads away from morality. It is upon this issue 
concerning the relative importance of the present and the 
future life that all religions must stand or fall. For the 
influence of beliefs upon actual life is the measure to which 
all systems of faith must sooner or later submit ; and it is 
by this comparison that the Religion of Philosophy will 
triumph. 

The magnificence of the religious monuments of India has 
been celebrated in every tongue. Her emblazoned grotto- 
temples and matchless mosques tell us how universal her 
worship has been, and how art has slowly refined it. The 
most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal at Agra, 
is a memorial temple raised by a bereaved husband to a 
princess of India. The most imposing column in the world, 
the Kootub Minar, towers above the desolate site of ancient 
Delhi, unequalled in design. But the most lasting monu- 
ment which India has raised is her Mysticism. Who can 
estimate the extent of its influence ? 

Even in America, among the cultivated classes who have 
become relatively independent of superstition, who have 
given some heed to the recent achievements of historical 
criticism, the deep roots of mysticism are still to be found. 
When Dr. David Strauss published his " Life of Jesus," the 
opposition which it encountered from the orthodox world 
was not greater than that experienced, from the same 



41 4 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

source, by a small group of literati in this country known as the 
Transcendentalists of New England. The critics of Strauss 
were, for the most part, blind to the fact that he was an emi- 
nent theologian, who distinctly taught a belief in a personal 
God, and who, in dealing with the story of Christ as it is 
found in the Christian Scriptures, merely tried to separate 
the truly historical portions from what was unhistorical, and 
therefore mystical. He brought to this labor a vast erudi- 
tion, besides a minute conscientiousness with regard to judg- 
ing historical data which is almost painful to those who 
follow his work. The New England Transcendentalists were 
the first people in this country who evinced, on any consid- 
erable scale, a truly literary spirit, a disposition to study all 
literatures from a comprehensive standpoint. They took the 
liberty of casting " a free and bold regard upon the beauties 
of the pagan classics and upon the deformities of books 
hitherto held as above human estimate." But Strauss and 
his followers in Germany, Renan and his school in France, 
and the Transcendentalists in this country, have all griev- 
ously sinned against philosophy. They one and all perpetu- 
ate the mysticism of India. From the ideal mystic, who, 
according to the Hindoo conception, passes his life on the 
top of a column, abnegating all human relations, or earthly 
feelings, so that he may come face to face with God, to the 
Transcendentalist, who advocates " a philosophy which con- 
tinually reminds us of our intimate relations to the spiritual 
world," which aims to approach " the mysteries of man's 
higher life," and affirms " the existence of spiritual elements 
in his nature," 1 we have but degrees in subserviency to the 
same doctrine of the unknowable. Nothing can be more 
seductive than the language in which this doctrine finds ex- 
pression. It is a worship of man's higher nature on the sup- 
position that it has a counterpart in a divine nature. It is 
an exceedingly refined anthropomorphism, so refined that 
some of the best minds freely use the idioms and technical 
terms which have become identified with this faith with- 

1 See article in Atlantic Monthly of July, 1883, by O. B. Frothingham. 



THE RELIGIONS OF EGYPT AND INDIA. 41$ 

out a suspicion that they are transgressing the laws of 
reason. 

Until the sin of idealism shall be laid aside, the idolatry 
which we call orthodoxy will have a permanent excuse, and 
materialism will be a natural reaction from the religions of 
faith. For, strange as it may seem, materialism is the logical 
accompaniment of Transcendentalism ; both rest upon the 
acknowledgment of a fundamental mystery in life. 

The Transcendentalist and the Materialist are both agnos- 
tics : one represents the optimistic, the other the pessimistic 
form of skepticism. One says life is material; let us reach 
after the divine or spiritual, a mysterious type of virtue 
which is above and beyond this life : the other says life is 
material, and we cannot make it any thing else. The Tran- 
scendentalist would make a mystery of a natural propensity 
of human life. We have sympathies, or breadth and depth 
of feeling ; we have aspirations for a wider and purer sphere 
of existence, feelings perfectly natural and no more and na 
less difficult to explain than the simplest sensation ; and 
because these feelings are grand in their objects, taking in 
the whole sweep of our existence, it is taken for granted that 
they are mysteries, and represent " our intimate relations to 
a spiritual world." 

There is no absolute spirit, there is no mystery in life. 
Every thing to which the word spirit can be applied means 
also body. Every thing that has ever appeared mysterious 
springs from and is indissolubly connected with the familiar. 
The principle of perception, the dignity of life, are both 
assailed by these substantializations of aspects of our exist- 
ence, this confusion of relative facts with the universal prin- 
ciple. What, in a word, will it avail us to reason about 
divine unity unless we apply the principle to the laws of 
perception or individual life ? 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE RELIGIONS OF CONFUCIUS, ZOROASTER, AND BUDDHA. 

All the Higher Ideals of Christian Morality Firmly Established Principles 
throughout the World Ages Before our Era The Resemblance between 

Christian Worship and The Worship of Earlier Faiths. 

t 

THE Chinese Empire is twice as large as the United States, 
and contains a third of the population of the globe. Its 
antiquity, by comparison, makes ancient Greece a modern 
state, and the first centuries of our era familiar times. For 
thirty centuries its oral language has remained the same, and 
its writing dates from a far earlier period. 

In China we have the only nation which has a purely 
literary aristocracy, where office is obtained solely through 
competitive examinations, and where there is no rank or 
nobility apart from office. The Emperor has theoretically 
absolute power, but is in turn rigorously governed by an 
unwritten law of usage which defines his duties to his people 
as those of a father to his family. So strong is this ideal of 
government with the people that its open neglect is inevita- 
bly followed by revolution, so that, as a means of retaining 
their power, rulers have found it necessary to simulate the 
higher virtues. 

In the language of China we have a singularly truthful 
portrayal of the national mind and character. It is mono- 
syllabic, and therefore inflexible, incapable of that syn- 
tactical motion which gives power and grace to expression. 
The literature is unimaginative, and were it not for its pure 
moral tone and philosophic spirit it might be called common- 
place. 

The Chinese nation has far excelled the West, until quite 

416 



THE RELIGION OF CONFUCIUS. 417 

recently, in the extent of its public works, 1 in mechanical skill, 
in the refinement of the industrial arts, and in popular edu- 
cation. With regard to some phases of social morality and 
civil government, China is unapproached by any modern 
nation. Religion with this nation is more ethical than theo- 
logical ; philosophy more practical than metaphysical. 

The classics of China are the sacred books and writings 
upon law and history. All education consists in memorizing 
the classics, and the whole national mind, as a consequence, 
has fallen into a servile literary imitation. In exalted con- 
servatism, in veneration for custom, China is without a peer ; 
but in the competition of human genius, the struggle for 
those new combinations of thought and feeling which consti- 
tute progress, in short, in imagination, she is far behind many 
of the younger nations. The civilization of China, like that 
of Egypt, has a significance of which her people are apparently 
unconscious. The design of her social and political life con- 
stitutes a beautiful system of ethics, and yet abuses and in- 
consistencies are admitted, which, when compared with this 
design, appear grotesque. In a word, the individual has 
become so highly disciplined that he is but a silent factor 
in the spirit of his race ; he has become bewildered by the 
proportions of his own civilization. 

The religion of China centres around the life and teach- 
ings of Confucius, one of the greatest moral teachers the 
world has known. What is most admirable in the Chinese 
faith is the absence of fable and superstition concerning this 
man, who, judged by accepted standards, was holy and 
inspired, and fully as worthy of being canonized or deified 
as any of the great prophets. It is instructive to see, after 
all, how little moral influence, or power for doing good, 
depends upon belief in the supernatural. All that appeals 

1 China was intersected with canals long before there were any in Europe. 
The great wall was built for defence against the fierce tribes of the North, two 
hundred years before Christ ; it crosses mountains, descends into valleys, and 
is carried over rivers on arches ; it is twelve hundred and forty miles long, 
twenty feet high, and has towers every hundred yards. In this country beauti- 
ful books were printed five hundred years before the invention of Gutenberg. 



41 8 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

to the hearts and consciences of mankind, however express- 
ed, must be human. Hence the extravagances of faith are 
unnatural, inartistic, irreligious. 

Confucius was born, 551 B.C., in the province or state of 
Loo, now called Shan-tung, during the reign of Ling-wang, 
23d emperor of the Teheou. His parents were of high 
dignity, but were poor, and the untimely death of the father 
early subjected the son to the discipline of toil. He was 
passionately attached to his mother ; and when she died, he 
gave up a state office which he held, to mourn her. This, 
however, was not without precedent in the customs of his 
country. His character early attracted the attention of the 
Prince of his State, who offered him the revenues of an office 
without the duties, which he declined from a sense of honor. 

Confucius was at length given the charge of a city, and 
immediately applied himself to the institution of reforms. 
" He punished false dealing, suppressed licentiousness, and 
reduced brigandage and baronial ambition." Troops of 
dancing-girls and fine horses were sent as bribes to the 
Prince by those who were inconvenienced by these reforms 
of the minister, which at last had the effect of securing his 
dismissal. For thirteen years he was an exile, and wandered 
from court to court teaching his principles of peace, national 
unity, and self-improvement. Some of the friends whom 
his principles had attracted followed him in these wanderings 
and were known as his disciples. Among them was Men- 
cius, himself a very able and profound teacher, although 
entirely devoted to Confucius. 

The incessant theme of Confucius, says Johnson, is the 
balance of character, the danger of one-sidedness, the mutual 
dependence of study and original thought, of sound sense 
and fine taste ; that due observance of limits in which the 
virtue of any quality consists. Being asked by one of his 
disciples what constituted the perfect man, he drew no 
impossible picture of virtue, but simply responded : " Seek- 
ing to be established, the true man establishes others; 
wishing enlargement, he enlarges others." 



THE RELIGION OF CONFUCIUS. 419 

Confucius was renowned for his reverence and sympathy. 
While receiving in high office he would rise when approached 
by a person in trouble. Even at his time, which seems so 
early to us, there were annals of a vast antiquity belonging 
to his nation, filled with the lives of pure men. These 
annals he assiduously studied, and constantly referred to 
them as the source of his principles and knowledge. He 
disclaimed all originality ; and it is probably due to this 
marked honesty and unselfishness that he is regarded by his 
nation as a man, not as a god. 

Those who' study the social history of China cannot fail 
to be impressed with the immeasurable advantage which 
this simple and unassuming method of teaching morality 
has over the more highly colored and imaginative systems 
of other countries. The beauty of moral truth is more effec- 
tual when unadorned by superstition. In morality as in all 
else the best teacher is example ; hence the sublimity of 
human nature is in no wise enhanced by the fanciful and 
grotesque impersonations of it which we find in the mytholo- 
gies and theologies of the world. 

Confucius affirms that knowledge and belief should be the 
same thing : " When you know a thing, to hold that you 
know it ; and when you do not know a thing, to allow 
that you do not know it ; this is knowledge." To this he 
adds : " To see what is right and not to do it is want of 
courage." Nor was Confucius unacquainted with the quali- 
ties of the heart, for he says : " It is only the truly virtuous 
man who can love or who can hate others. * * * Virtue is 
not left to stand alone ; he who practises it will have 
neighbors." Again he says : " It is not easy to find a man 
who has learned for three years without coming to be good." 

In his ethics we. find the golden rule : " What I do not 
wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men." The 
Brahmans, says Miiller, expressed the same truth in the 
Hitopadesa " Good people show mercy unto all beings, con- 
sidering how like they are to themselves." 

Confucius also seems to have been conscious of the limits 



420 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

of language. " Ke Loo asked about serving the spirits 
of the dead. The Master said : ' While you are not able 
to serve men, how can you serve their spirits ? ' Ke Loo 
added : * I venture to ask about death.' He was answered : 
'While you do not know life, how can you know about 
death ? ' ' And again, concerning the same question, " The 
Master said : ' I would prefer not speaking.' Tsze-Kung 
said : ' If you, Master, do not speak, what shall we, your 
disciples, have to record ? ' The Master said : ' Does Heaven 
speak? The four seasons pursue their courses, all things 
are continually being produced ; but does Heaven say any 
thing?'" 

Do not the ideas of virtue which Confucius promulgated 
compare favorably with our best ethical conceptions ? " Vir- 
tue is inquiring with earnestness and inwardly making appli- 
cation." " Is virtue from a man's own force or from another's ? 
How can a man conceal his character ? The superior man sees 
the heart of the mean one. Of what use is disguise ? There- 
fore the wise will be watchful when alone. * * * Distinction 
is not in being heard of far and wide, but in being solid, 
straightforward, and loving the right. * * * Filial piety is 
supposed to mean the support of one's parents ; but brutes 
can do that : without reverence, what difference between 
these kinds? * * * Learning is fulfilment of the great rela- 
tions of life (a luminous definition of culture). Manners 
consist in behaving to each other as if receiving a guest, in 
causing no murmurings, and in not treating others as you 
would not be treated by them. * * * Propriety is that rule 
by which tendencies are saved from excess. If one be 
without virtue, what has he to do with the rights of pro- 
priety, or with music ? " A quaint way of arguing that 
morality is the expression of the highest harmonies of life. 
" Language is not mere utterance, but keeping words to 
the meaning of things." Hence the virtue of a wise reticence 
with regard to what we do not know. 

To one who said : " I believe in your doctrine, but am not 
equal to it," Confucius said : " That would be a case of 



THE RELIGION OF CONFUCIUS. 42! 

weakness, but you are limiting yourself. * * * Progress 
must be gradual. Conceit and complacency are inexcusable 
and fatal." 

Confucius, says Johnson, demurs at repaying injuries with 
the kindness with which we return benefits ; he taught rather 
to " Recompense injuries with justice." 

To the ideal character Confucius ascribes unlimited 
powers : " It is everywhere appreciated." " It will subdue 
barbarians." " Its appeal will do more than punishments 
to reform the bad." "It settles strife with a word." It 
finds " all men brothers." "Thus founded, a ruler's virtue is 
irresistible." What chance have these poor Chinese, educated 
under such high principles of morality, in dealing with the 
less scrupulous Christian nations? 

It is needless to dwell upon the purity of these ethics, or 
to attest that they equal any thing to be found in modern 
literature or example. They were imbibed from the oldest 
writings of China, called the Kings, to which Confucius gave 
much study, and which he spent the last years of his life in 
revising and editing. 

The religions of China are three in number : first and 
oldest, the Tao ; then the great revival and reform of this 
religion, known as the faith of Confucius ; and lastly, the 
innovation of Buddhism. 

The philosophy of the Tao religion is found in the great 
work of the Tse-Lao, or the old teacher. It is a remarkably 
good system of metaphysics, considering its antiquity, and 
its morals, as above indicated, are of singular purity. In 
the philosophy of Confucius the idea of Heaven and 
God seems to be one. The word Teen, so frequently em- 
ployed in the sense of the ultimate principle, seems to re- 
semble our word divine. The devotions of Confucius do not 
imply a belief in a personal god. " They were (says Clarke) 
the prayer of reverence addressed to some sacred, mysterious 
power above and behind all visible things. What that 
power was, he, with his supreme candor, did not venture to 
intimate. In the She-King, however, a personal God is 



422 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

addressed. The oldest books recognize a Divine person. 
They teach that there is one Supreme Being, \vho is 
omnipresent, who sees all things, and wishes men to 
live together in peace and brotherhood. In these ancient 
writings the Supreme Being commands not only right 
actions, but pure desires and thoughts, that we should watch 
all our behavior, and maintain a grave and majestic demeanor, 
' which is like a palace in which virtue resides ' ; but espe- 
cially that we should guard the tongue. ' For a blemish 
may be taken out of a diamond by carefully polishing it ; 
but if your words have the least blemish, there is no way to 
efface that.' ' Humility is the solid foundation of all the 
virtues.' ' To acknowledge one's incapacity is the way to be 
soon prepared to teach others ; for from the moment that a 
man is no longer full of himself, nor puffed up with empty 
pride, whatever good he learns in the morning he practises 
before night.' ' Heaven penetrates to the bottom of our 
hearts, like light into a dark chamber. We must conform 
ourselves to it, till we are like two instruments of music 
tuned to the same pitch. We must join ourselves with it, 
like two tablets which appear but one. We must receive its 
gifts the very moment its hand is open to bestow. Our 
irregular passions shut up the door of our souls against 
God.' ' Thus we see that the old Chinese idea of God was 
that of a perfect man the union of all ideals of conduct in 
one person. 

Confucius instituted an advance upon these older teach- 
ings. He separated the human from the divine, the particu- 
lar from the general. He saw that idealized conduct was 
but the natural forecast of a pure spirit, and that to worship 
this human form, this creation of the mind, was idolatry 
a kneeling before symbols. 

The " Kings," which are among the earliest productions of 
the human mind, resemble in their primitive character the 
Hebrew Scriptures, although they are of a higher ethical 
order. In the time of Confucius these ancient writings were 
almost forgotten by the people and their precepts neglected. 



THE RELIGION OF ZOROASTER. 423 

Confucius revived them and brought about a religious and 
moral reform which is still the chief impulse of his people. 

The religion of Confucius has often been compared to 
Christianity, which it resembles in the purity and sweetness 
of its sentiments, and the vast influence for good which it 
has exerted. But the idea of human sacrifice for the 
expiation of sin, upon which Christianity is built, has no 
counterpart in the faith of China. The savage custom 
which this idea commemorates seems to be further removed 
from the Chinese than from ourselves. At all events, the 
bloody sacrifice as a means of salvation is not one of the 
superstitions of this people, whereas it is our greatest super- 
stition. Confucius was a literary man, an indefatigable 
student, as well as a moral reformer. In his teachings the 
mysticism and the mythology of Taoism, the old religion of 
his people, were left out. Having re-edited the ancient 
writings, with explanations and comments, " as one of the 
last acts of his life, [he] called his disciples around him and 
made a solemn dedication of these books to heaven." 

The Buddhists of China are very numerous. To the 
student of religion, the introduction of this religion into 
China will ever be a question of interest. The inability of Chris- 
tianity, notwithstanding its many and persistent attempts, 
to gain a footing in the Celestial Kingdom, makes the success 
of Buddhism the more remarkable. 

What chiefly interests us in the religion of the Chinese, as 
above shown, is the simplicity and purity of its moral percep- 
tions. It is true that superstition abounds among this people-, 
and that in this respect their religion has deteriorated ; but 
if Christianity were added to their other faiths, the question 
naturally arises, would their morals be exalted, or would 
they simply have another prophet to worship, and another 
and more complicated scheme of salvation to learn ? 

The great prophet of the Persian faith, Zoroaster, is 
believed to be among the earliest of religious teachers. 
Although it is very difficult to fix any definite date, the 
best authorities agree that he must have lived before the 



424 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Assyrian conquest of Bactria, 1200 B.C. This, however, 
gives but little idea of the remoteness of the age to which 
he probably belongs. The uncertainty of the whole question 
of the date of (Jpitama Zoroaster (says Johnson) is indicated 
by the differences between the almost equally valuable esti- 
mates of Haug, Rapp, Duncker, and Harlez, which cover a 
period of four hundred years between the eleventh and 
fifteenth centuries before Christ. The first great struggle 
for empire, of which detailed and authentic accounts have 
reached us (says Prof. Spiegel), is the contest between the 
Greeks and the Persians, B.C. 490, more than twenty-three 
centuries ago ; and even at this early date the religion of 
Zarathustra was already so old that the language in which it 
was originally composed differed essentially from the lan- 
guage spoken by Darius. This much we have learned from 
the Cuneiform Inscriptions; but when we attempt to go 
farther and fix the date of the Iranian Prophet, we are met 
by difficulties, at present insuperable, and we can neither 
deny nor confirm the statement of Aristotle, who places 
Zoroaster six thousand years before his own time, or rather 
that of Plato (about 360 B.C.). 1 

The sacred writings of the ancient Persians are still read 
and reverenced, and the faith which they represent still sur- 
vives among scanty communities of Parsis in modern Persia 
and India, the largest being at Surat. These sacred writings 
are called the Avesta, which has been written in the literary 
form of the oldest Iranian language, known as the Zend. 2 
Hence, the Zend-Avesta is among the most ancient writings 
remaining to us of the early history and religion of the Indo- 
European family. 

One portion of these writings is in the form of a revela- 
tion from Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd), the Supreme Being, to 

1 See Introduction to Avesta. 

3 " The Zend idiom, in its widest sense, embraces two so-called ' Bactrian ' 
dialects, which, together with the ' West Iranian ' languages, i. e. those of 
ancient Media and Persia, form the stock of Iranian tongues. These tongues 
were once spoken in what the Zend-Avesta calls the 'Aryan countries ' (Airyao 
danh&ro)" 



THE RELIGION OF ZOROASTER. 425 

Zoroaster (Zarathustra), and through him to mankind. " It 
is in great part a prescriptive, a moral and ceremonial code, 
teaching the means of avoiding or of expiating sin and 
impurity." The remainder of the Avesta is liturgic in char- 
acter, being made up of prayers and praises to the 
Divinity and to other beings ; these are principally metrical, 
and give evidences of being by far the oldest portion of the 
work, which is thought by Dr. Haug to go back to the time 
of Zoroaster himself. The Avesta is clearly an assemblage 
of fragments of a much more extended literature. The 
Parsis hold that the writings of Zoroaster filled twenty-one 
volumes, but were lost and destroyed during the conquest 
of Alexander, and the consequent ruin of the Persian Empire 
and religion. The present form of the Avesta is probably 
what was recovered and preserved from the original writings 
during the reign of the first Sassanian monarch. 

It is to the devoted and intrepid French Orientalist 
Anquetil du Perron that we owe the discovery of the Avesta, 
which throws so much light upon the history and the religion 
of the Persians. This discovery was the result of the most 
determined enterprise in travel and research, efforts which 
were promptly recognized and encouraged by the French 
Government. He visited the Parsis at Surat, learned their 
language, and brought back to Paris, in 1762, one hundred 
and eighty Oriental manuscripts, which resulted in the pub- 
lication, in 1771, of the Zend-Avesta, containing, besides the 
selections from the sacred writings of the Persians, a life of 
Zoroaster, and fragments of works ascribed to that sage. 

The following passages are from the oldest part of the 
Avesta, the Gathas, or Gahs, which are ancient hymns some- 
what resembling the Vedas : 

11 1 praise thee, O Asha, to whom belongs an imperish- 
able kingdom. May gifts come hither at my call." 

" I who have entrusted the soul to heaven with good dis- 
position. So long as I can and am able, will I teach accord- 
ing to the wish of the pure." 

" Teach thou me, Mazda-Ahura, from out Thyself. From 



.426 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

heaven, through Thy mouth, whereby the world first arose. 
Thee have I thought, O Mazda, as the first to praise with 
the soul." 

" In the beginning, the two Heavenly Ones spoke the 
Good to the Evil thus: 'Our souls, doctrines, words, 
works, do not unite together.' ' 

" Now give ear to me, and hear ! The Wise Ones have 
created all. Evil doctrine shall not again destroy the world." 

" Good is the thought, good the speech, good the work of 
the pure Zarathustra." 

" He who holds fast to wisdom asks after the heavenly 
abodes ; concerning this I ask Thee what may be the punish- 
ment (for him) who through evil deeds does not increase life 
even a little ? For the tormentors of the active, and those 
who do not torment men and cattle?" 

" Is he like Thee, O Mazda-Ahura, if he (resembles Thee) 
in deeds?" 

"Teach us, Mazda-Ahura, the tokens of good-mindedness. 
May there come brightness, enduring wisdom through the best 
spirit. Accomplishment of that whereby the souls cohere." 

" I praise Ahura-Mazda, who has created the cattle, created 
the water and good trees, the splendor of light, the earth 
and all good. We praise the Fravashis of the pure men and 
women, whatever is fairest, purest, immortal." 

" We honor the good spirit, the good kingdom, the good 
law, all that is good." 

The following is from the " Khordah (or little) Avesta," 
which consists chiefly of prayers and invocations intended 
for the use of the people : 

" Purity is the best good." " The immortal sun, brilliant 
with swift horses, we praise. Purify me, O God, give me 
strength to teach thy joy." 

" Ormazd ! Lord, Increaser of mankind, of all kinds, all 
species of men. May he let all blessings and knowledge, 
fast faith and blessings of the good Mazdaya^nian law come 
to me. So be it ! " 

"Thou art to be praised, may thou ever be provided with 
-offerings and praise in the dwellings of mankind." 



THE RELIGION OF ZOROASTER. 427 

" All good thoughts, words, and works are done with 
"knowledge." " All good thoughts, words, and works lead to 
Paradise. All evil thoughts, words, and works lead to hell." 

" In the name of God, the giver, forgiver, rich in love, 
praise be to the name of Ormazd, the God with the name 
' Who always was, always is, and always will be ' ; the heav- 
enly amongst the heavenly, with the name ' From whom 
alone is derived rule.' Ormazd is the greatest ruler, mighty, 
wise, creator, supporter, refuge, defender, completer of good 
works, overseer, pure, good, and just. 

" With all strength (bring I) thanks ; to the great among 
beings, who created and destroyed, and through his own 
determination of time, strength, wisdom, is higher than the 
six Amshaspands, the circumference of heaven, the shining 
sun, the brilliant moon, the wind, the water, the fire, the 
earth, the trees, the cattle, the metals, mankind. 

"All good do I accept at thy command, O God, and 
think, speak, and do it. I believe in the pure law ; by every 
good work seek I forgiveness of all sins. I keep pure for 
myself the serviceable work and abstinence from the un- 
profitable. I keep pure the six powers thought, speech, 
work, memory, mind, and understanding. According to thy 
will am I able to accomplish, O accomplisher of good, thy 
honor, with good thoughts, good words, good works. 

" I enter on the shining way to Paradise ; may the fearful 
terror of hell not overcome me ! May I step over the bridge 
Chinevat ; may I attain Paradise, with much perfume, and 
all enjoyments, and all brightness ! 

" Praise to the Overseer, the Lord, who rewards those 
who accomplish good deeds according to his own wish, puri- 
fies at last the obedient, and at last purifies even the wicked 
one of hell. All praise be to the creator Ormazd, the all- 
wise, mighty, rich in might ; to the seven Amshaspands 1 ; to 
Ized Bahrain, the victorious annihilator of foes." 

1 The seven Amshaspands were the chief among the guardian spirits, of 
whom Ormazd was first. The other six were King of heaven, King of fire, 
'King of metals, Queen of earth, King of vegetables, and King of water. 



428 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

The following are selections from a 

CONFESSION, OR PATET. 1 

1-2-3. " I praise all good thoughts, words, and works, 
through thought, word, and deed. * * * I dismiss all evil 
thoughts, words, and works. * * * I commit no sins. * * * 
I praise the best purity. * * * I am thankful for the good 
of the creator. * * * 

4. " I repent of the sins which can lay hold of the charac- 
ter of men, or which have laid hold of my character, small- 
and great, which are committed amongst men, the meanest 
sins as much as is (and) can be ; yet more than this, namely, 
all evil thoughts, words, and works which (I have com- 
mitted) for the sake of others, or others for my sake, or if 
the hard sin has seized the character of an evil-doer on my 
account, such sins, thoughts, words, and works, corporeal, 
mental, earthly, heavenly, I repent of with the three words : 
pardon, O Lord, I repent of the sins with Patet." 

6. " The sins against father, mother, sister, brother, wife; 
child, against spouses, against the superiors, against my own 
relations, against those living with me, against those who 
possess equal property, against the neighbors, against the 
inhabitants of the same town, against servants, every un- 
righteousness through which I have been amongst sinners, 
of these sins repent I with thoughts, words and works, 
corporeal as spiritual, earthly as heavenly, with the three 
words : pardon, O Lord, I repent of sins," etc. 

19. " Of pride, haughtiness, covetousness, slandering the 
dead, anger, envy, the evil eye, shamelessness, looking at with 
evil intent, looking at with evil concupiscence, stiff-necked- 
ness, discontent with the godly arrangements, self-willedness, 
sloth, despising others, mixing in strange matters, unbelief, 
opposing the Divine powers, false witness, false judgment, 
idol-worship, running naked, running with one shoe, the 
breaking of the low (midday) prayer, the omission of 
the (midday) prayer, theft, robbery, whoredom, witch- 

J See Spiegel's Avesta (trans. Bleeck), pp. 153155, 



THE RELIGION OF ZOROASTER. 429 

craft, worshipping with sorcerers, unchastity, tearing the 
hair, as well as all other kinds of sin which are enu- 
merated in this Patet, or not enumerated, which I am aware 
of, or not aware of, which are appointed, or not appointed, 
which I should have bewailed with obedience before the 
Lord, and have not bewailed, of these sins repent I with 
thoughts, words, and works, corporeal as spiritual, earthly as 
heavenly. O Lord, pardon, I repent." 

Is it not evident from these extracts that the spirit of the 
Avesta is pure, reverent, and hopeful ? The idea of a dual 
principle in nature, however, representing good and evil, which 
has its counterpart in the dual conception of God and Devil 
in the Christian religion, was a fundamental superstition with 
the Persians. 

Ahura and Ahriman are respectively the good and evil 
Spirits of the Avcsta. The Zoroastrians were known as the 
creatures of Ahura by their creed and conduct, while the 
children of Ahriman were recognized by their unbelief in the 
pure law. In showing this Iranian dualism to be of a purely 
ethical nature, a contrast of good and evil conduct, Samuel 
Johnson says : " This service of Ahura, this hate of Ahriman, 
is a living fire ; the symbol has mounted to the heavens 
of conduct. * * * The hosts of spiritual forces, good and 
evil, multiply around the central ideas of righteousness and 
iniquity." * 

As all moral influence springs from the force of example, 
we may be sure that the moral element in every religion 
emanates from the genius of some individual. In those re- 
ligions which do not worship an individual as a founder the 
moral element is inconspicuous. In such religions, theology 
displaces the study of human conduct, the conduct studied 
being chiefly that of a future or mystical life. The religions 
of China and ancient Egypt are examples of the opposite ex- 
tremes of this fact. Although between the indefinite and 
variously interpreted faiths of nations during long periods of 
their history it is difficult to make any clearly defined compari- 

1 " Persia/' pp. 56-57. 



430 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

sons, all doubt as to the historical reality of Zoroaster disap- 
pears. We see the stamp of a great life in the literature 
and the conscience of the race. 

From the establishment of the Persian Empire by Cyrus, 
and during his dynasty, which ended with the invasion of 
Alexander, there was one definite system of worship through- 
out Persia, which was simply an elaboration of the moral 
code of the Avesta as interpreted by Zoroaster. 

A peculiarity of this religion was its love of nature. Its 
sacraments were not made in temples, but on rude altars on 
hill-tops. Fire was regarded as the most powerful of the 
elements, and was held sacred. Hence the name of fire- 
worshippers so generally given to the Persians. 

Nothing can be more significant of the life of a race than 
the selection it makes of symbols of power. The fire sym- 
bol is common to all religions, although there is but one 
great instance of pure pyrolatry. The Christians have ex- 
alted water and blood as symbols of divine power in the 
treatment of sin, but the efficacy of fire, in the same con- 
nection, is also distinctly believed in by almost every Christian 
sect. The Persians were not baptists, nor did they believe in 
bloody sacrifices, nor even in those burnt-offerings which we 
are told in our sacred writings were so grateful to the God 
of Israel ; but, in " the holy health flame (Hestia), parent of 
the city, the homestead, the shrine, awful to gods and in- 
violable by men/' the most useful servant of humanity, they 
did believe. The name given to the Avestan priest (Athrava) 
means " provided with fire." The Parsis still preserve the 
fire altar (Atesh-gd/i), or "ever-burning naphtha-spring," as 
the central rite of their faith. The celestial impersonations 
of fire, which are celebrated in the solar mythologies, have 
been reduced to images dwelling in temples, but the simple 
fire altars of the Persians have always risen from mountain 
tops or in open spaces of light, tributes to the grandeur 
and simplicity of nature. 

So completely was Persia conquered by the Mohammedans, 
that its religion has almost disappeared. A recent account 



THE RELIGION OF ZOROASTER. 431 

estimates the Parsis of Persia, which with those of India are 
the chief remaining representatives of the ancient faith of 
Zoroaster, as but seven thousand. Many of these have fallen 
into poverty and ignorance, but, it is said, they maintain a 
reputation for industry, honesty, and chastity. Could a 
more eloquent tribute be paid to the value of their ancient 
faith ? 

In trying to console the Christian missionaries for their 
failure to convert the modern Parsis, Professor Muller says 
that Christianity is not a gift to be 'pressed upon the unwil- 
ling minds of natives by their conquerors ; it is the highest 
privilege which the conqueror can offer. These natives, 
would lose true caste, and consequently self-respect, by 
renouncing the ancient faith of their forefathers," that rests 
upon a foundation which ought never to be touched, namely, 
a faith in one God, the Creator, the Ruler, and the Judge of 
the World." However deplorable this conception of deity 
may seem to us, it certainly corresponds closely enough with 
the Christian idea of God to obtain from the most devoted 
missionary a certain acquiescence. Again, when we are 
told : " The morality of the Parsis consists in these words, 
' pure thoughts, pure words, pure deeds,' " we perceive at 
once that the moral ideals of their religion are identical with 
ours ; and that these ideals are the natural aspirations for 
purity of life and mind, common to mankind. Another reason 
that the Parsi has for preferring his religion to the Christian 
is that he is not troubled with any theological problems or 
difficulties. His faith in the inspiration of Zoroaster is not 
made contingent upon a belief in the stories incidentally 
mentioned in the Zend-Avesta. " If it is said in the Yasna 
that Zoroaster was once visited by Homa, who appeared 
before him in a brilliant supernatural body, no doctrine is 
laid down as to the exact nature of Homa." In a word, the 
Parsi trusts in the divine principles of his religion, and is 
quite indifferent to the fate of the " fables and endless gene- 
alogies " which occur in his sacred books. Another fact 
which attaches the Parsi to his religion is its remote antiquity 



.432 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

and former glory, pleas which are sometimes advanced in 
behalf of very much younger faiths. 

In thus comparing the Zoroastrian faith with Christianity 
we must not too readily conclude that all the advantages 
are on the side of the former religion. The pious Parsi has 
to say his prayers sixteen times at least every day. These 
prayers are all pronounced in the old Zend language, of which 
neither the priests nor the people, as a rule, understand a 
word. " Far from being the teachers of the true doctrines 
and duties of their religion, the priests are generally the most 
bigoted and superstitious, and exercise much injurious influ- 
ence over the women especially, who, until lately, received 
no education at all." For us, it is a truism to say that de- 
votions should be acts of intelligence ; and that superstition 
and ignorance are inexcusable in priests, since their teachings 
belong to the highest sphere of knowledge. It would be 
unreasonable for us to expect so high a standard of criticism 
to prevail among the poor Parsis. So deep-rooted, however, 
in the human heart are the forms of hereditary devotions, 
that notwithstanding the many infelicities of the Zoroastrian 
faith, we find it still professed by a handful of exiles 
" men of wealth, intelligence, and moral worth in Western 
India with an unhesitating fervor such as is seldom to be 
;found in larger religious communities." 3 

In Buddhism we find the most correct metaphysical 
induction which the history of religion presents. In this 
religion conduct is united with thought in defining knowl- 
edge, which is in effect to identify knowledge and life as one 
fact or principle. This is to suggest the real scope of lan- 
guage, by denying the absolute separation of body and 
spirit, and recognizing all thought as the interactivity of the 
individual and the social organisms. It also suggests the 
true nature of perception, by affirming that all insight springs 
from the natural procedures of life, and neither tends toward 
nor emanates from the supernatural. 

In making this great claim for Buddhism, we pay but a 

1 " Chips from a German Workshop," Mttller. Vol. I., p. 165. 
* " Chips from a German Workshop," Miiller. Vol. I., p. 161. 



THE RELIGION OF BUDDHA. 433 

just tribute to the astuteness and high moral perceptions of 
a Hindoo prince who lived at about the time of the earliest 
Greek philosophers, only in a far more advanced civilization. 
The father of this prince, the last of the line of Solar 
monarchs so celebrated in the great Indian epics, ruled over 
the kingdom of Oude at the foot of the mountains of Nepaul, 
in the latter part of the sixth century before Christ. The 
capital city, Kapilavastu, was the birthplace of Siddartha, 
who afterward assumed the title of the Buddha (the en- 
lightened). He was distinguished during early youth for 
his intellectual attainments, religious fervor, and a deep 
solicitude for his fellow-men. He criticised his age and felt 
the need of a better knowledge of life than it possessed. 
This conviction grew upon him until he decided to renounce 
his position and devote his life to the search for truth. 
Despite the entreaties of his father and wife, he determined 
to withdraw from the world. At Vaisali he attended the 
lectures of a famous Brahman teacher who had many pupils. 
Then visiting the capital of Magadha, one of the principal 
seats of learning in India, he studied under another Brahman 
teacher whose lectures attracted great numbers of students. 
Dissatisfied with these teachings, which did not contain the 
principles of reform that he felt stirring within him, he with- 
drew into a solitary hermitage, accompanied by five of his 
fellow-students. Here they dwelt (near the village of Uru- 
vilva) for six years, subjecting themselves to the severest 
penances preparatory to appearing in the world as teachers. 
But Siddartha at length became convinced that this manner 
of life did not lead to the discovery of truth, and suddenly 
resumed a more comfortable mode of living ; upon which 
his hitherto faithful disciples deserted him. 

The mind of this intense man at last grasped what he con- 
ceived to be the true principles of life, upon which he 
claimed the title of Buddha the one who has conquered 
knowledge. In his long hesitation whether he would com- 
municate to the world the great truths he had conceived, 
Max Muller sees the fate of millions of human beings 



434 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

trembling in the balance, but " compassion for the suffer- 
ings of man prevailed (says Miiller), and the young prince 
became the founder of a religion which, after more than 
two thousand years, is still professed by four hundred and 
fifty millions of people," or more than one third of the 
human race. 

In setting out upon his mission of teaching, Buddha first 
proceeded to Benares, the principal seat of learning in India. 
Here he gained for disciples the students who had passed 
with him the six years of asceticism. A deliberate crusade 
against Brahfnanism, which had become a great religious 
despotism throughout India, was then inaugurated. This was 
begun by denying the inspiration of the Vedas, and opposing 
the system of castes, by proclaiming that men differed from 
one another not by birth but by their own attainments 
and character. According to the accounts in the Buddhist 
canon, the prophet was invited by king Bimbisara to Magadha, 
the capital of one of the places at which he had studied after 
leaving home. Here he lectured for many years in the 
monastery of Kalantaka, which was built for him by his 
followers. After the death of Bimbisara, Buddha went 
to Sravasti, north of the Ganges, where a friend offered 
him and his disciples a magnificent residence. Here most 
of Buddha's lectures were delivered. After an absence of 
twelve years he visited his father, and converted to his faith 
all the Sakyas. His own wife and his foster-mother became 
the first female devotees to Buddhism, and founded the 
orders which have since grown into so vast a system. At 
the age of seventy, while still engaged in teaching, this great 
prophet peacefully died, or, as his followers would say, entered 
into Nirvana. 

Although much philosophical thought has become incor- 
porated into the faith of Buddhism, there is no evidence that 
its founder inclined much to metaphysical reasoning. His 
aim was rather to produce practical reforms, to benefit and 
enlighten the people, to remove the burdens of caste, and to 
harmonize the interests of all classes. Those who have 



THE RELIGION OF BUDDHA. 435 

written about this religion all alike pay tribute to the purity 
and beauty of the life and teachings of Buddha. The Rev. 
Spence Hardy, a Wesleyan missionary, author of " Eastern 
Monachism " and a "Manual of Buddhism," testifies to the 
purity of the Buddhist ethics. M. Laboulaye, one of the most 
distinguished members of the French Academy, remarks in 
the Debats of April 4, 1853: "It is difficult to comprehend 
how men not assisted by revelation could have soared 
so high and approached so near to the truth. * * * Be- 
sides the five great commandments not to kill, not to 
steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to get drunk, 
every shade of vice, hypocrisy, anger, pride, suspicion, greedi- 
ness, gossiping, cruelty to animals, is guarded against by 
special precepts. Among the virtues recommended, we find 
not only reverence of parents, care for children, submission 
to authority, gratitude, moderation in time of prosperity, 
submission in time of trial, equanimity at all times, but 
virtues unknown in any heathen system of morality, such as 
the duty of forgiving insults and not rewarding evil with evil. 
All virtues, we are told, spring from Maitri, and this Maitri 
can only be translated by charity and love." M. Barthelemy 
Saint-Hilaire is equally eloquent in his testimony to the 
same effect, that the moral teachings of Buddha are unsur- 
passed excepting by the revelations of Christianity ;* and as 
these three writers are devout believers in supernatural 
revelation in their own religion, the reservation which they 
make has but little effect. 

The meaning of Nirvana, the condition to which Buddhism 
looks forward as the future state of man, has been the sub- 
ject of much dispute. Max Miiller devotes an able letter to 
this question in the London Times (April, 1857), in which 
he sustains his opinion that Nirvana means " utter annihila- 
tion." This letter is in answer to one from Mr. Francis 
Barham maintaining that Nirvana means " union and com- 
munion with God, or absorption of the individual soul by 
the Divine essence," both of which interpretations of 
human destiny, from the metaphysical standpoint, at once. 



43 6 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY, 

appear as vain efforts to make an ultimate fact out of what 
never can be more than the relative fact of personal exist- 
ence. Buddha himself expressed the future state in terms 
as free as possible from contradiction when he defined Nir- 
vana as the cessation of change or life ; but observe how 
deep the contradiction is when he goes on to explain that 
the chief end of life is to pass into an existence of perfect in- 
action. In declaring, however, that knowledge consists not 
only of thought, but of action, he strikes the keynote of 
metaphysical truth. In all theologies, in that of Christianity 
as well as others, this logical helplessness in the use of ulti- 
mate terms appears. Thus it is that in religious writings we 
often find the deepest truths and the most absurd contradic- 
tions mingled in the same sentence. The task which every re- 
ligion sets itself is to solve the problem of existence, to unite 
the highest or most general with the simplest truths. And 
yet the method universally adopted is that of reaching after 
mysteries (which are declared to be unknowable). In this 
respect it must be admitted that philosophy, hitherto at 
least, has had but little advantage over religion ; for although 
the mystery of philosophy has been one instead of many, 
although it has resulted from a refinement of speculation 
instead of from gross and concrete superstitions, still the 
methods of the most superstitious religion and the most 
refined agnosticism are identical ; they both deny the unity 
of knowledge ; they would both build up a divine truth, not 
upon simpler truths, but upon a mystery which they call the 
unknowable. 

The speculations of Buddha, therefore, with regard to 
human destiny, compare favorably for accuracy with any 
thing to be found in other faiths. Seeing no perfect action 
about him, he imagined that perfection could alone be 
attained by reaching an existence which had no change. 
Absurd as this proposition may seem, is it farther from the 
truth than the modern theological reasonings concerning a 
life which transcends space and time, the aspects of motion 
or change ? 



THE RELIGION OF BUDDHA. 437 

It will be asked, if Buddha paid more attention to moral 
reform than to theology or metaphysics, how can the claim 
be made that his religion expresses a higher metaphysical 
induction than is found in any other faith? The reason 
is, that Buddha distinctly taught that the highest aim of life 
was to enhance knowledge, and that knowledge does not 
mean learning alone, but that it includes conduct ; that it 
consists of both moral and intellectual perceptions. Like 
all deep thinkers, he was impressed with the universal pres- 
ence of change, which made him feel that life was unreal. 
" He cried out from the depths of his soul for something 
stable, permanent, real," just as the Greek philosophers did ; 
but no metaphysical abstraction gave him rest. He made 
the discovery that personal existence is a relative fact point- 
ing to the one ultimate fact beyond it, which is general 
existence. He therefore strenuously denied the existence 
of a personal God. He saw in God a universal principle, 
not a subject of activity, not an object of worship, but the 
source of activity, the cause or inspiration of worship. He 
saw in personal life the only field of human activity, and in 
the perfection of this life the only means of salvation. He 
recognized no bargain with Deity .for salvation ; he recog- 
nized only the obligation of man to his fellow-men and to 
all surrounding life. It was in this recognition of duty, and 
only in this, that he perceived God and worshipped him. 
Does not a careful analysis of the principle of worship 
clearly show that this is the only virtue which it contains, 
the only practical idea which it represents? 

To trace the growth of Buddhism would be to write 
the religious history of the East from the sixth century 
before Christ. After gaining a great ascendency in India, it 
was practically driven from that country by the combined 
efforts of the Brahman caste whose privileges it assailed. 
Though expelled from India, it continued to exert a power- 
ful influence^ converting to its creed the majority of the 
Mongol nations. To-day it is the principal religion of China 
and Japan ; the state religion of Thibet, and of the Burmese 



438 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Empire; as well as the religion of Siam, Napaul, Assam, 
Ceylon ; in fact, of nearly the whole of Eastern Asia. 

The sacred books of Buddhism are of two classes, those of 
the Northern and those of the Southern Buddhists. The 
former are in Sanskrit ; the latter, which are considered by 
far the most important and reliable, are in the ancient Pali ; 
the relation of the Sanskrit writings to the Pali resem- 
bling, in many respects, that of the apocryphal gospels 
to the New Testament. These writings have been made the 
subject of several great conventions or councils of priests, 
with a view to deciding upon their authenticity. The Tripi- 
taka, which is the name gi^en to the Southern canon, was 
finally determined upon by the Council of Pataleputra on 
the Ganges, which was convened by the great Buddhist em- 
peror Asoka, B.C. 250. This work consists of three parts: 
the Sutras, or discourses on Buddha ; the Vinaya, or code 
of Morality; and the Abhidharma, or the system of Meta- 
physics. These three parts taken together are about twice 
the length of our Bible, and are regarded by the Buddhists 
with a superstitious reverence which Christians will readily 
understand. The exalted spirit of Buddhism is by no 
means appreciated by all its followers, the majority of whom 
look upon the faith as a holy institution which it is their 
duty to believe in and support, but not particularly to un- 
derstand. 

There is a sublime monotony in religion which lulls the mind 
to sleep ; its beauties are so grand, its truths so deep, that the 
intellect becomes dazed as by the contemplation of infinity. 
No such perspectives, however, are necessary to overcome 
the majority of minds to whom the unworthy appointments 
of superstition assume the same legitimacy as the permanent 
conditions of life upon which they have intruded. The 
droning cylinders turned by water and filled with inscrip- 
tions of the "holy sentence" are the Buddhist engines of 
prayer. In these curious devices, varying in size from the 
" rotary calabash " carried in the hand of the devotee, in his 
walk through the villages when engaged in the ordinary 



THE RELIGION OF BUDDHA. 439 

affairs of life, to the large cylinders used by lamas in the 
service of the great temples and those erected by the road- 
side to be turned by water or wind, we have what is, without 
doubt, the oldest religious symbol in the world, the sacred 
" wheel " which simulates the rotation of the seasons, the 
events of life, and the divine power. 

The laxity of thought in religion, which is so prominent a 
feature in the Christian world, has its counterpart in this 
greatest religion of the East. " The Buddhist monks of 
Siam do not, as a rule, endeavor to make their sermons in- 
teresting. They are satisfied to monotonously chant or 
intone a number of verses in the dead language Pali, and to 
add an almost incomprehensible commentary in Siamese. 
Nor do their hearers care. Crouching on the ground in a 
reverential posture, they make merit by appearing to listen, 
and they do not believe that that merit would be one whit 
the greater if they understood the language of the preacher. 
They have been taught that ' blessed is he who heareth the 
law.' " * It certainly would not require much imagination 
to establish a resemblance between this kind of devotion 
and that which distinguishes so many Christian congrega- 
tions. 

The resemblances between Buddhism and Christianity are 
not confined to the unreasoning faith of the followers or the 
well-known Catholic spirit of both religions; the symbols, 
the ceremonies, the worship, are strikingly alike. As Bud- 
dhism preceded the Roman Church by some six centuries, 
It is not unlikely that a great many of the forms of Chris- 
tianity have been derived from it. " Father Bury, a 
Portuguese missionary, when he beheld the Chinese bonzes 
tonsured, using rosaries, praying in an unknown tongue, and 
kneeling before images, exclaimed in astonishment : ' There 
is not a piece of dress, not a sacerdotal function, not a 
ceremony of the court of Rome, which the Devil has not 
copied in this country ! ' Mr. Davis (' Translations of the 
Royal Asiatic Society/ ii., 491) speaks of ' the celibacy of the 

1 H. Alabaster : " Good Words," vol. XIII, p. 845. 



44 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Buddhist clergy, and the monastic life of the societies of 
both sexes ; to which might be added their strings of beads, 
their manner of chanting prayers, their incense and their 
candles.' Mr. Medhurst ('China,' London, 1857) mentions 
the image of a virgin, called the ' Queen of Heaven,' having 
an infant in her arms and holding a cross. 1 Confessions of 
sin are regularly practised. Father Hue, in his ' Recol- 
lections of a Journey in Tartary, Thibet, and China ' (Haz- 
litt's translation), says : ' The cross, 3 the mitre, the dalmatica, 
the cope, which the grand lamas wear on their journeys, or 
when they are performing some ceremony out of the temple, 
the service with double choirs, the psalmody, the exor- 
cisms, the censer suspended from five chains, and which you 
can open or close at pleasure, the benedictions given by 
the lamas by extending the right hand over the heads of the 
faithful, the chaplet, ecclesiastical celibacy, religious retire- 
ment, the worship of the saints, the fasts, the processions, 
the litanies, the holy water, in all these are analogies be- 
tween the Buddhists and ourselves.' And in Thibet there is 
also a Dalai Lama, who is a sort of Buddhist Pope. * * * 
The rock-cut temples of the Buddhists, many of which date 
back to two centuries before our era, resemble in form 
the earliest (Christian) churches. Excavated out of solid 
rock, they have a nave and side-aisles, terminating in an 
apse or semi-dome, around which the aisle is carried, * * * 
and Buddhist monks (centuries before our era, as now) took 
the same three vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience,, 
which are taken by the members of the Catholic orders." 

If the Phoenician navigators in the Mediterranean, eight 
hundred years before Christ, brought to the shores of Greece 
the knowledge of the arts of Egypt, the manufactures of 
Tyre, and the products of India and Africa, is it to be won- 

1 Thought to be derived from the still more ancient Egyptian myth of Isis 
and the miraculously conceived Horus. 

a The Cross is one of the oldest of religious symbols, found in Egypt and the 
East, thought to be derived from the ancient sex-worship. 

8 " Ten Great Religions," Clarke, vol. I., pp. 139-142. 



THE RELIGION OF BUDDHA. 441 

dered at that the religious forms and ceremonies of these 
early ages should have been gradually transplanted from 
one country to another ? It is true that there is no recog- 
nized historical movement which indicates the growth of 
Christianity out of Buddhism ; but is not the intercourse 
which is known to have existed between the ancient nations 
sufficient to account for the resemblance between their 
religions ? 



CHAPTER XX. 

THE RELIGIONS OF GREECE, ROME, SCANDINAVIA, AND ISLAM. 

"Widely Contrasted Types of Religious Belief Showing Constant Principles of 

Development. 

THE religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct. 
No living representative remains of the worshippers at the 
Acropolis and the Pantheon. The gods of these places are 
still an inspiration in art and poetry, but they have long 
since ceased to be regarded as divine. A just comprehension 
of the ancient mythologies, strange as it may seem, has been 
gained but recently. The difficulty in reaching the true sig- 
nificance of myths arises from the fact that the truths which 
they contain are so evanescent that they are injured by any 
thing short of the most delicate and sympathetic analysis. 
In mythology, analogy is strained to the uttermost, poetry is 
abused, symbolism overwrought, fiction overwhelms fact, and 
yet truth survives in the form of real thought and feeling 
throughout. To discover these truths, to discern the work- 
ings of the social heart and mind under these dense accre- 
tions of imagery, is the task of the student of mythology. 

The Greeks had a wonderfully poetic cosmogony. Their 
intellectual vigor is declared by the endless details with 
which they worked out their imaginary surroundings. 
Where other nations were content with a few abstrac- 
tions, concerning the origin of things beyond the reach 
of ordinary perception, the Greeks originated fable after 
fable to satisfy their inquiring minds, until they were sur- 
rounded with a world of semi-supernatural beings to which 
all phenomena were traced and by which every conceivable 

442 



THE RELIGION OF GREECE. 443 

experience was explained. " Love issued from the egg of 
Night, which floated in Chaos. By his arrows and torch he 
pierced and vivified all things, producing life and joy." 

Ophion and Eurynome ruled over Olympus until they were 
dethroned by Saturn and Rhea. Then the rebellion of Jupiter 
against his father Saturn and his brothers the Titans was suc- 
cessful. The penalties inflicted upon the vanquished Titans 
involved the imprisonment of some of their number in Tar- 
tarus. Atlas was condemned to bear up the world upon his 
shoulders, and Prometheus, the divine sufferer, is chained to 
the rocks and at length delivered by the self-sacrifice of 
Cheiron. Jupiter divided with his brothers his newly ac- 
quired dominions, retaining the heavens, giving Neptune 
the ocean, and Pluto the realms of the dead. Jupiter was 
king of gods and men, and the earth and Olympus were re- 
garded as common property. Juno (Hera), the wife of 
Jupiter, was queen of the gods, the stately peacock was her 
favorite bird, and Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, attended 
upon her. Jupiter bore the shield called ^Egis, which was 
the workmanship of Vulcan, and the eagle attended, carry- 
ing his thunderbolts. 

Vulcan (Hephaestos), the son of Jupiter, was born lame. 
Juno, displeased at his deformity, flung him out of heaven. 
A whole day in falling, he at last alighted upon the island 
of Lemnos, where, in the interior of his volcano, he com- 
manded the Cyclopes workmen at the forge. 

Aphrodite, the frail wife of Vulcan ; Mars, the god of 
war; Phoebus Apollo, the god of archery, prophecy, and 
music ; Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and Cupid, 
her son ; Minerva (Pallas Athene), the goddess of wisdom, 
who sprang in full armor from the head of Jupiter, Mercury, 
the god of eloquence, science, commerce, and theft ; these 
usher in the long list of Grecian deities, a marvellous im- 
aginative creation thronging with heroic personages the 
world of fancy in which this nation dwelt. Such explana- 
tions of the questions of existence are, no doubt, childlike; 
but none but the most intelligent children have such im- 
-aginations. 



THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

The active life of the ancient Greeks was insensibly 
blended with this vast mythology, giving it a freshness 
and warmth which, owing to the unreality of our religious 
conceptions, it is difficult for us to understand. 

The joyous Greek civilization, rich in art, poetry, and 
thought, formulated its theory of life, or its religion, under 
the inspiration of its artists, its poets, and its philosophers. 

Homer and Hesiod were the first Greek theologians ; they 
named the gods and assigned to them arts and honors. The 
great sculptors gave form to the gods and taught morality 
and humanity by idealizing human grandeur and beauty. 

The Jupiter of Phidias, occupying the Doric temple at 
Olympia, was an object of veneration to the whole nation. 
The games over which it presided "were a chronology, a 
constitution, and a church to the Pan-Hellenic race. * * * 
Here at Olympia, while the games continued, all Greece 
came together ; the poets and historians declaimed their 
compositions to the grand audience ; opinions were inter- 
changed, knowledge communicated, and the national life 
received both stimulus and unity. And here, over all, pre- 
sided the great Jupiter of Phidias, within a Doric temple, 
* * * covered with sculptures of Pentelic marble. The god 
was seated on his throne, made of gold, ebony, and ivory, 
studded with precious stones. He was so colossal that, 
though seated, his head nearly reached the roof, and it 
seemed as if he would bear it away if he rose. There sat 
the monarch, his head, neck, breast, and arms in massive pro- 
portions ; the lower part of the body veiled in a flowing 
mantle ; bearing in his hand a statue of Victory, * * * and 
on his face that marvellous expression of blended majesty 
and sweetness." ' Speaking of the great difficulty of form- 
ing a true idea of this wonderful statue, L. M. Mitchell 
writes in her admirable work on Greek art : " Gladly would 
we search the galleries of existing sculptures or ponder over 
coins to find a clearer reflex of this great Zeus. One beauti- 
ful Elis coin from Hadrian's time is thought to give the most 

1 "Ten Great Religions," vol. I., p. 288. 



THE RELIGION OF GREECE. 445 

faithful hint of the benignant head. * * * In the broad serene 
brow, strong eyebrows, firm but gentle mouth, power seems 
coupled with unspeakable mildness." ] An ancient writer 
says : " Phidias alone has seen likenesses of the gods, or he 
alone has made them visible." 

All Greece was filled with statues of the gods ; and each 
of these inspirations was an expression of the best sentiments 
of the best men. Chastity was taught by the attitude, ex- 
pression, and very nakedness of the human form. Thus Mil- 
man describes the Belvedere Apollo : 

" For mild he seemed, as in Elysian bowers, 
Wasting, in careless ease, the joyous hours ; 
Haughty, as bards have sung, with princely sway 
Curbing the fierce flame-breathing steeds of day ; 
Beauteous as vision seen in dreamy sleep 
By holy maid, on Delphi's haunted steep, 
Mid the dim twilight of the laurel grove, 
Too fair to worship, too divine to love. 
******** 

All, all divine : no struggling muscle glows, 
Through heaving vein no mantling life-blood flows, 
But, animate with Deity alone, 
In deathless glory lives the breathing stone. " * 

Another beautiful conception of Greek art is Diana the 
twin-sister of Apollo, otherwise known as Artemis, the un- 
touched one. In the celebrated statue of this goddess at 
Versailles we see a huntress in swift motion accompanied by 
a hind. She carries bow and quiver and reaches for an 
arrow as she runs. A short tunic gives freedom to the limbs. 
In this lovely guardian of the chase we have no difficulty in 
recognizing the goddess of chastity and marriage, the Greek 
ideal of womanhood. Of all the conceptions of Diana this 
seems to be the noblest and purest. 8 

Plato, the greatest theologian of Greece, reduced the 

1 " History of Greek Sculpture." 1883. ' Milman, vol. II., pp. 297-298. 

* Diana of Ephesus was only in rare instances accepted by the Greeks outside 
of Asia Minor. The Greek Artemis was usually represented as a huntress, with 
face like Apollo. 



446 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

many gods to one, and built a philosophy upon the idea of a. 
personal God, supplementing the great mythology of his 
country with a sublime theology, the purest and most con- 
sistent ever known. The growth of morality in Greece, as 
in all nations, took the form of a protest against the 
immoral aspects of its religion. As already mentioned in 
Part I., Xenophanes, the rhapsodist of Elea, protested 
against the immorality of the Homeric legends. Pindar 
taught that "Law was the ruler of gods and men " ; that "a 
man should always keep in view the bounds and limits of 
things." " The bitterest end awaits the pleasure that is 
contrary to right." Sophocles, who constantly enjoined in 
his tragedies a reverence for the gods, makes Antigone to 
say, when she is asked if she had disobeyed the laws of the 
country : " Yes, for they were not the laws of God. They 
did not proceed from Justice, who dwells with the Immor- 
tals. Nor dared I, in obeying the laws of mortal man, dis- 
obey those of the undying Gods. For the Gods live from 
eternity, and their beginning no man knows." 

Greek mythology, although a curious phenomenon min- 
gling the frivolous and the commonplace with things 
divine, to an extent which seems grotesque from our 
point of view, was yet full of grandeur and purity. It was 
a religion in the sense that it was an appeal, a sentiment, 
an inspiration. It was a religion because it expressed the 
highest and most general conceptions which Greece formed 
of her existence. It has passed away because the people who 
lived it have passed away ; and we can only understand this 
religion by putting ourselves in their position. It was not 
a system of belief which could be adopted by other nations ;. 
their gods were merely exaggerations of forms and qualities 
of Greek life. The chronology of these deities was inter- 
woven with Greek history ; their worship was an essential 
part of the national or political life. The deities were also 
largely local. Different parts of Greece had different pan- 
theons, and the interprovincial courtesies which existed! 
between the inhabitants were extended to their gods. 



THE RELIGION OF GREECE. 447 

The Greeks had no sacred books, no doctrinal system.- 
The works of their great poets, dramatists, and philosophers 
formed the public mind, perfected the language, and were 
revered, as were the works of their artists, on account of the 
high influence which they exerted. 

The most marked superstition which we find in Greece is 
connected with the diviners and soothsayers, who were much 
consulted. These oracles were often employed as a means 
of persuading and imposing upon the credulous and ignorant. 
Indeed, thepolitical intrigues connected with the great Delphic 
oracle are an important part of the history of the nation. 
The solemn and secret worship, known as the mysteries of 
Bacchus and Ceres, seems to have been a thing apart from the 
joyous and spontaneous religion of this people. The Bacchic 
mysteries were a form of wild nature-worship, varying from 
the intoxication, or nervous frenzy, which we find in some 
degree in almost all religions, to sensual excesses of the 
grossest kind. This savage worship was modified and 
reformed by Orpheus, but even in its improved state it was 
" distasteful to the best Greeks, suspected and disliked by 
the enlightened, proscribed by kings, and rejected by com- 
mimities." The mystery of Ceres, otherwise known as the 
Eleusinian mysteries, seems to have been derived from the 
Egyptian myth of Osiris and Isis. In Greece, it took the 
form of Ceres or Demeter in search of Persephone, a sym- 
bolism connected with the theory of the expiation of sin 
and the salvation of the soul hereafter (which was the central 
belief of the Egyptian religion), and never took any strong hold 
upon the Greek mind. To this doctrine of remorse for and 
expiation of sin, with a view to obtaining a future salvation, 
can be traced all the exclusive prerogatives of priesthood, 
from the unparalleled despotism of the Brahmans to the 
mildest form of ecclesiastical pretension. Sacerdotal privi- 
leges which are not derived from supremacy of knowledge 
and virtue rest upon the inculcation of belief in mysteries 
which accounts for the deep affection which all religions,, 
display for the unknowable. 



.448 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

The Greeks had no priestly class : kings, generals, and 
fathers of families offered sacrifices to the gods. There were 
priests, and sometimes the office was hereditary, but it was 
not confined to a class, nor did its sanctity attach to the indi- 
vidual, but belonged rather to the offices performed by them. 

The life of the Greeks was a succession of religious ceremo- 
nies spontaneously mingled with every thing that they did. 
All their festivals were religious ; they prayed for every thing 
that they wanted in a loud voice with their hands extended 
toward heaven, and they even threw kisses to the gods. Is 
it any wonder that humanity should love this wonderful 
nation, revere its peerless literature, copy its art, and never 
tire of the romance of its life? It has taught us the limits 
of an exclusively ethnic development, the highest point to 
which a nation can reach whose ideals do not express 
universal principles. 

The Roman nation, although coming from the same 
original Aryan stock as the Greeks, was chiefly derived from 
three secondary sources, the Sabines, Latins, and Etrus- 
cans. The gods of these peoples form the beginning of the 
Roman pantheon, and their worships that of the Roman 
Teligion. The most elaborate polytheism ever known, 
the most prosaic theology, was the religion of ancient Rome. 
As it developed it borrowed its form and ideas from Greece, 
but applied them in the Roman spirit, which made the 
resemblance between the religions of the two nations but 
superficial. As Rome was hospitable to all nations she was 
hospitable to all religions. She expected all foreigners to 
worship the gods of their own countries, and in the case of 
some conquered nations even admitted their gods to her 
pantheon, but the worship was to conform to the methods 
of the national or state religion. So preeminent in the 
Roman character, indeed, was this spirit of organization, or 
government, that the beauties of religion were lost sight of 
in the effort to reduce all worship to a public discipline. 

In the Roman religion the element of monotheism was 
jnanifested by the subordination of all gods to Jupiter 



THE RELIGION OF ROME. 449 

(Optimus Maximus); all other gods being declared but 
qualities or manifestations of this central deity ; yet they 
carried further than any other nation the multiplication of 
minor deities. It was the duty of the pontiffs to create 
gods as they were needed by the increasing diversities of 
life. For instance, there was the old deity Pecunia, money 
(from Pccus, cattle), dating from the time when cattle were 
a medium of exchange ; after this the gods ^Esculanus and 
Argentarius were added, as copper and silver came into use 
as coin. 

The worship of such gods as Fides (Faith), Concordia 
(Concord), Pudicitia (Modesty), and the gods of home gives 
us a picture of the Roman moral life. There was no plan 
of the universe, no creed, in the Roman religion ; it was a 
ceremonial or ritual ; a utilitarian faith, a faithful picture of 
the national character, practical, order-loving, unimaginative. 
Gibbon tells us that the Roman provincials had been trained 
by a uniform, artificial, foreign education, and were therefore 
engaged in a very unequal competition with those bold 
ancients who had gained honor by expressing their genuine 
feelings in their own tongue. " The sublime Longinus * * * 
who preserved the spirit of ancient Athens * * * laments this 
degeneracy of his contemporaries," who, he says, remained 
intellectual pygmies by the unnatural confinement of their 
minds in youth. " It was not until the revival of letters in 
Europe," continues Gibbon, "that the youthful vigor of the 
imagination, after a long repose, national emulation, a new 
religion, new languages, and a new world, called forth another 
era of genius. * * * The diminutive stature of mankind 
among the Romans was sinking daily below the old standard, 
when the fierce giants of the north broke in and mended the 
puny breed, restoring a manly spirit of freedom which in 
time became the happy parent of taste and science." 

It behooves us Americans to take warning of the con- 
sequences of a uniform, artificial, and foreign education. 
Whether our -moral and intellectual ideals are imported 
from Athens as with the Romans, or from Palestine as 



45 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

with the Europeans, we should see that they do not make 
intellectual pygmies of us by confining our minds in youth. 
Unhappily there are no fierce giants of the north who are 
able to swoop down upon us and release our minds by 
destroying our civilization. 

But it is not alone the religious ideals of the Europeans 
(who are in truth the once barbarous heirs of the Roman 
Empire) that are limiting us. Their political and social 
aspirations are a dangerous example. The nations of Europe 
have reproduced Roman characteristics with singular fidelity. 
As Christian Rome sought to govern the world with the 
sceptre of love through the spread of ecclesiastical dominion,, 
so did political Rome seek through the power of organiza- 
tion to make her empire universal. The horizon of the 
Roman mind was bounded by political aspirations, so that 
even its religious sentiment fell within the range of national 
aggrandizement and supremacy. National aggrandizement 
is the ruling passion of the European mind ; for what power 
is really worshipped by these nations but the spread of indi- 
vidual dominion? Do they not perpetually confront one 
another with the most brutal passions? Are not all their 
relations but feints in a struggle in which hate and jealousy, 
cupidity, distrust, and arrogance predominate ? Is not royalty 
the corner-stone of European society, and can any thing be 
more barbarous than royalty, any thing a greater crime 
against humanity? Is not the best thought of Europe 
locked in a death-struggle with the national religion, and is 
not the whole social and political power enlisted upon the 
side of the religion which countenances and sanctifies these 
barbarities ? 

The Romans of the early period had no statues of their 
gods ; the art of giving form to their deities they got from 
the Greeks, upon whom they depended even in the matter 
of augury, for they frequently sent to inquire of the 
Delphic Oracle. After the current of Greek influence had 
once set in, it was not long before the whole Roman religion 
was transformed into an outward imitation of the Greek* 



THE RELIGION OF ROME. 45 I 

notwithstanding that this tendency was strenuously resisted 
by the senate and priesthood. As in Greece, there were gods 
representing objects of nature, such as the sun, moon, ocean, 
and rivers, the dawn, the tempest, the day, and calm weather. 
There were deities representing faculties of the mind, senti- 
ments and occupations, such as intellect, reverence for 
parents, courage, fear and hope, the time of planting, the 
harvest, war and peace. To the chief of these deities tem- 
ples were dedicated ; and their worship studded the whole 
calendar with holy days, and mingled with almost every 
detail of private and public life. 

In Rome there was a strange liberty of unbelief and 
religious criticism. At the time of Catiline's conspiracy, 
Caesar openly opposed, in the senate, the execution of the 
conspirators, on the ground that death was the end of suffer- 
ing, meaning that he regarded as false what the state religion 
taught about suffering after death. And Caesar was at the 
time the chief religious dignitary of the state. Again : in 
Cicero's" De Natura Deorum," Cotta, the Pontifex Maximus, 
refutes the belief in a special providence ; explaining that, 
as a Pontifex, he believed in the gods on the authority and 
tradition of his ancestors, but as a philosopher he felt per- 
fectly free to deny them. These were merely instances of 
that general lack of deep religious conviction which the 
story of Roman life reveals. These people made a business 
of religious observances, but their conceptions of the general 
principles of existence were not sufficiently exalted to de- 
serve the name of a spiritual faith. 1 Notwithstanding her 
virtuous emperors, chief among whom was Marcus Aurelius, 
Rome produced no great moral reformer who attained suf- 
ficient preeminence to inspire any marked regeneration of 
life, which gives us the striking picture of a civilization 
unsurpassed for political power and internal discipline, but 

1 Among the cultivated English and French ecclesiasts of the present day 
we have many instances of such apostasy, the difference being that it is in 
society, and in converse with critical minds, that their admissions of unbelief 
are made, instead of in public tribunals. 



452 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

never reaching to the sublime height of the impersonal in 
thought and feeling. Hence Rome had no philosophers; 
and although she has been called the most religious nation 
in the world, in the deepest sense she had no religion. 

The most beautiful side of her religion was its worship 
of home, its reverence for the family. Much as the his- 
tory of Rome may cloud this sentiment, it was neverthe- 
less the central feature of the devotional life of the nation. 
From this veneration grew the institution of the Vestal 
Virgins who watched over the sacred flame of the national 
family life. 

The mythology of the Scandinavians, as is the case with 
that of all nations, was largely determined by their physical 
surroundings and mode of life. This race was the most im- 
portant branch of the Teutonic or German division of the 
Indo-European family. They settled in the northern part 
of Europe at a very remote period, and were numerous 
enough to organize the great Cimbric invasion which threat- 
ened the existence of the Roman Republic one hundred and 
eleven years before Christ. The invading host, numbering 
over three hundred thousand men, issuing from the Cimbric 
peninsula now known as Denmark, after overwhelming four 
successive armies of Romans, was. only repulsed at last by 
the military genius of Marius. 

In the fifth century these Scandinavians invaded and con- 
quered England as Saxons, in the ninth century as Danes ; 
and in the eleventh century, as Normans, they overran both 
England and France. 

Bishop Percy, in the preface to his translation of Mallet's 
" Northern Antiquities," gives many reasons for believing 
that the mythology of the Scandinavians had the same 
source as that of all the other branches of the Aryan race, 
and he sees traces of a pure monotheism behind the fabulous 
adventures of the northern gods. 

As, from our metaphysical standpoint, we know that a 
pure monotheism can only be a realization of the ultimate 
fact or principle of the universe, we, of course, cannot enter- 



THE SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION. 453 

tain any theory which supposes this state of mind to have 
existed among early and uncultivated peoples ; although we 
regard every religion as the best attempt each race and age 
have made toward this ultimate analysis. The Vedas and 
the Zend-Avesta certainly breathe a spirit of monotheism ; 
but it is a clouded monotheism obscured by many imper- 
fections, as was also that of the early Hebrews. The favorite 
doctrine, among so many modern writers, that there was a 
pure monotheism among the ancient Aryans and Jews, as 
will more fully appear hereafter, is not supported by facts, 
even supposing that these writers had clear ideas of what 
constitutes a pure monotheism. 

Of the northern gods the chief was Odin, who received in 
his palace Valhalla all the braves who were slain in battle. 
The heroes, says their sacred legend, who are received into 
the palace of Odin " have every day the pleasure of arming 
themselves, of passing in review, of arranging themselves in 
order of battle, and of cutting one another in pieces. But 
as soon as the hour of repast approaches, they return on 
horseback, all safe and sound, to the hall of Odin, and fall 
to eating and drinking. * * * A crowd of virgins wait upon 
the heroes at table and fill their cups as fast as they empty 
them. * * * Such was that happy state the bare hope of 
which rendered all the inhabitants of the north of Europe 
intrepid, and which made them not only to defy, but even 
to seek with ardor, the most cruel deaths. Accordingly, 
King Ragnor Lodbrok, when he was going to die, far from 
uttering groans or forming complaints, expressed his joy by 
these verses : ' We are cut to pieces with swords ; but this 
fills me with joy, when I think of the feast that is preparing 
for me in Odin's palace. Quickly, quickly, seated in the 
splendid habitation of the gods, we shall drink beer out of 
curved horns. A brave man fears not to die. I shall utter 
no timorous words as I enter the Hall of Odin.' This fanatic 
hope derived additional force from the ignominy affixed to 
every kind of death but such as was of a violent nature, and 
from the fear of being sent after such an exit into Niflheim. 



454 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

This was a palace consisting of nine worlds, reserved for 
those who died of disease or old age. Hela, or Death, there 
exercised her despotic power ; her palace was Anguish ; her 
table, Famine ; her waiters were Slowness and Delay ; the 
threshold of her door was Precipice ; her bed, Care ; she was 
livid and ghastly pale, and her very looks inspired horror." 

Odin seems to have been an historical as well as a mythical 
character. The chronicle of the Swedish kings begins by 
giving an account of a people who dwelt on the river Tana- 
quisl, who were governed by a pontiff-king named Odin. 
This king resided in the city Asgard, and is believed by 
some historians to have actually conquered Scandinavia at 
the head of an army of Asiatics. This invasion is supposed 
to have taken place about forty years before Christ. The 
historical character of Odin, however, soon disappears in the 
mythology of which he is the central figure. Although 
there are verbal traces to this day of the worship paid to 
Odin, in the name given by almost all the people of the 
North to the fourth day of the week, 1 which was formerly 
consecrated to him, nothing remains in Europe, either in 
literature, customs, or beliefs, which gives any definite idea 
of this ancient worship. The learned men of Scandinavia 
had reason to be surprised, therefore, when about the middle 
of the seventeenth century there was discovered in Iceland 
a most extraordinary production of the Odin period. The 
Eddas, or the sacred legends of the Scandinavians, had been 
reduced to writing, it is supposed, about the eleventh cen- 
tury. Iceland had been discovered and settled by the Scan- 
dinavians in 860 to 874 A.D. And thus while political and 
religious changes were sweeping away all traces of this 
ancient faith in the mother country, excepting such as linger 
in the sounds of our words, the literature of this distant 
island preserved the story in all its details. 

The Edda Rhythmica, or Edda of Saemund, was sent by 
Bishop Sveinsson from Iceland to the learned Torfseus in 

'Old Norse Odin's dagr ; Swedish and Danish Ons dag ; Ang.-Sax. 
Wodane's dag; Old Ger. Wuotane's tac ; Eng. Wednesday. 



THE SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION. 455 

1643 ; and soon after followed the prose Edda, supposed to 
have been collected by Snorro Sturleson, the Wise, in the 
eleventh century, from the lips of the Scalds. 

When Harold Harfager determined to subjugate Norway 
and reduce it to a feudal despotism, which he succeeded in 
doing after twelve years' hard fighting, many of the nobles 
of that country sought freedom in the Shetland and Orkney 
islands, and some went as far as Iceland. Encouraged, 
probably, by the long winters, which compelled in-door life, 
these Scandinavians developed almost immediately an oral 
literature, and Iceland became noted for her learning. An 
order of sages kno\v,n as Scalds became numerous and were 
sought after and honored by the courts of Europe. These 
men were " living libraries of history and of the maxims of 
experience," and passed as welcome guests from court to 
court, even while the governments were in the highest state 
of hostility. 

The discovery of Iceland led to that of Greenland, in 
982, and Mallet gives a description of several expeditions 
which penetrated as far as Massachusetts Bay, built houses, 
and traded with the natives on the southern coast of Cape 
Cod, from 1000 to 1008 A.D. The runic inscriptions and the 
numerous other vestiges of the early colonies scattered along 
the eastern shore of Baffin's Bay confirm the authenticity of 
the sagas of Iceland which relate the stories of the discovery 
of Greenland and the American continent. 

Not only did this race of Northmen first discover our con- 
tinent, but their influence upon us, difficult as it is to trace, 
has been very great. Almost all our popular nursery stories 
come directly from the Scandinavian mythology. Our names 
of days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, come 
from the names of their gods ; their popular assemblies, or 
Things, were the origin of our Parliament, Congress, and 
General Assemblies. Our trial by jury was immediately de- 
rived from Scandinavia, and our love of freedom, and vener- 
ation for woman, are clearly to be traced to the same source. 

The Elder or Saemund's Edda is the chief depository of the 



456 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Odin mythology, and also contains a cycle of poems on the 
demigods and mythic heroes of the North. Howitt says 
that they show us what the Greek legends would have been 
without a Homer to form them into one grand epic. These 
writings contain every degree of emotion from tempestuous 
passion to unselfish love ; they give evidence of deep wisdom 
wrought into maxims, but throughout runs an almost childish 
imagination strangely mixed with thought. An idea of the 
mythology of this Edda can be had from the following de- 
scription by the Howitts in their "Literature and Romance 
of Northern Europe " : 

" Amid the bright sunlight of a far-off time, surrounded by 
the dimmest shadows of forgotten ages, we come at once 
into the midst of gods and heroes, goddesses and fair women, 
giants and dwarfs, moving about in a world of wonderful 
construction. * * * The mysterious Vala, or prophetess, 
seated somewhere unseen in that marvellous heaven, sings 
an awful song of the birth of gods and men, of the great 
Yggdrasil, or Tree of Life, whose roots and branches run 
through all regions of space to which existence has extended ; 
and concludes her thrilling hymn with the terrible Ragnarok, 
or Twilight of the Gods, when the dynasty of Odin disap- 
pears in the fires which devour creation, and the new heaven 
and new earth come forth to receive the milder reign of 
Baldur. Odin himself sings his high song, and his ravens 
Hugin and Munin, or Mind and Will, bring him news from 
all the lower worlds, but he cannot divest his soul of the 
secret dread that the latter will one day fail to return, and 
the power which enabled him to shape the sky and all the 
nine regions of life beneath it shall fall from his hands. A 
strange mixture of simplicity and strength, of the little and 
the great, the sublime and the ludicrous, runs through this 
ancient production, or rather collection of productions, be- 
traying at once an age of primitive vigor and of almost infan- 
tine nawett. Odin fights daily with his hero-souls in the 
neighborhood of Valhalla, or goes forth on some curious 
mission among giants and men ; Thor thunders with his ham- 



THE SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION. 457- 

mer among the rocks ; Loki plays off his spiteful tricks on 
high and low ; the leaves of Yggdrasil rustle in the winds of 
heaven ; the waters of the ocean roll glitteringly between 
Midgard and Jotunheim, the outer regions of the Giants and 
of Frost ; the gods travel daily over the beautiful bridge 
Bifrost, the Rainbow ; and men, the descendants of Ask and 
Embla, claim kindred with the divine Asar, and doubt not to 
reach Valhalla by deeds of hardihood and endurance. 

" To the antiquity of some of these songs it would be vain 
to attempt to fix a limit. They bear all the traces of the re- 
motest age. They carry us back to the East, the original 
region of the Gothic race. They give a glimpse of the 
Gudaheim, or home of the gods, and of the sparkling waters 
of the original fountain of tradition. They bear us on in 
that direction toward the primal period of one tongue and 
one religion, and, in the words of the Edda, of that strange 
God 'whom no one dared to name.' " 

The Younger or prose Edda may be regarded as a sort of 
commentary on the poetic one, or as its translation into prose, 
mixed with many extravagances in accordance with the taste 
of the age. It is said to bear no comparison in literary and 
philosophical value to the poetical Edda, which preceded it 
by about one hundred and fifty years. 

The idea to be gained of the morality of this hardy race of 
Northmen from these sacred books, the only record which 
we have of their life, is of the vaguest kind. All opinions 
seem to concur in according to them a rude chastity, but 
their great love of conflict must have entailed an untold 
brutality. 

Even in so savage a faith as that of the Scandinavians the 
principles of religious development are seen to be constant. 
Vague ideas of life and nature take on fantastic forms. 
Every thing is reduced to imaginary personalities, around 
which cluster the most extravagant beliefs. As the mind 
advances, these personages range themselves with more or 
less order under the government of a single person, who at 
last gives way to a single principle. 



458 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Some sanguine modern writer, in attempting to voice 
the higher aspirations of his fellow-men, has said that " all 
earnest Christians desire a unity which rests upon the belief 
that ' the children of one Father may worship him under dif- 
ferent names/ that they may be influenced by one spirit 
even though they know it not, that they may all have one 
hope even if they have not one faith." This seems to be a 
worthy sentiment, but its author has " counted without his 
host," for Christians desire nothing of the kind. They desire 
rather that the children of one Father may worship him un- 
der one name, and that the world may have as soon as pos- 
sible one faith and one hope. The name of this God they 
insist is the Christian God, and the faith and hope which 
they wish the world to have are faith and hope in Christ. 
This is the real Christian spirit, and it is the better spirit of 
the two. A true religious spirit means singleness of purpose, 
steadfastness of belief, uncompromising loyalty to a certain 
God, a certain church, and a certain creed. This is the only 
spirit which accomplishes any thing in religion ; a spirit par- 
ticularly evident in the latest religion which the world has 
produced. 

In Islamism we have a religion, the earliest beginnings of 
which are within the broad light of history. We know from 
many sources the minutest details of its inception and growth, 
while the resemblance between it and the older faiths is so 
close as to illustrate in a striking manner the universality of 
religious sentiment and the uniformity of its development. 

The true Christian who studies the religion of Mohammed 
is unavoidably puzzled. It contains so much that the Chris- 
tian acknowledges to be holy, that the natural resistance to a 
rival faith is softened into a reluctant admiration. The puz- 
zle of Mohammedanism is not its marvellous growth and 
endurance, its near approach to universal truth, nor its doc- 
trinal contradictions, but the want of harmony which exists 
between its moral precepts and the life and methods of its 
founder. The wonder is, how so vast and comparatively 
pure a faith could have grown out of a career such as that of 




ISLAMISM. 

Mohammed. This wonder is only increased by closely ex- 
amining the events which immediately followed the death of 
its founder. Those of his successors who were in sympathy 
with his best aims, one after another fell victims to the hate 
of opposing factions, until the power of Islam actually re- 
sided with its enemies, who perpetuated the system solely 
for the temporal advantages which it secured them : and 
yet the faith arose from these spiritual ruins, surviving the 
crimes of both the prophet and his enemies, and has exerted 
a moral suasion over millions of lives for many centuries. 

For forty years Mohammed led an exceptionally upright 
life. During his youth having distinguished himself for 
probity, and intelligence in business affairs, he was put in 
charge of the property of a young widow of high character 
and position. He executed his trust so well that he gained 
her esteem, which afterward resulted in their marriage. He 
was thoughtful and observing, and as his people, the Arabians, 
were for centuries before his time a comparatively unorgan- 
ized race, living in detached tribes or communities without 
national unity, and suffering all the disadvantages of such a 
condition, he felt deeply the need of a general and funda- 
mental reform. The Arabs and Jews are not only related as 
branches of the Semitic race, speaking cognate languages, 
but Judaism, in an indistinct form, was the faith of the 
Arabian tribes. A vague monotheism, combined with the 
worship of local deities, and a reverence for the great Jewish 
teachers, were the chief characteristics of the Arabian faith at 
the time of Mohammed. Abraham was looked upon as their 
physical and spiritual father ; and although the customs and 
religious forms of the Jews were entirely distinct from Arabian 
life, the essential doctrines of Judaism were common to both 
nations. 

Against this disorderly state of things the nature of Mo- 
hammed rebelled. His thoughts gradually grew into the 
most vivid convictions; his feelings, encouraged by the 
examples of religious fervor so frequent among his race, be- 
came morbidly intense and assumed the form of ecstatic 



460 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

visions. He began by believing himself a great prophet, and 
his wife, impressed by his deep earnestness and the unques- 
tioned loftiness of his aims, became his first convert and 
encouraged him in his course. He then openly declared 
himself a prophet of God, bent upon the establishment of 
a universal religion, the substance of which was faith in one 
Supreme Being, submission to his will, trust in his providence, 
and good-will to his creatures. " A marvellous and mighty 
work," says Mr. Muir, " had been wrought by these few pre- 
cepts. From time beyond memory Mecca and the whole 
peninsula had been steeped in spiritual torpor. The influ- 
ences of Judaism, Christianity, and Philosophy had been 
feeble and transient. Dark superstitions prevailed, the 
mothers of darker vices. And now, in thirteen years of 
preaching, a body of men and women had risen who rejected 
idolatry ; worshipped the one great God ; lived lives of 
prayer; practised chastity, benevolence, and justice; and 
were ready to do and to bear every thing for the truth. All 
this came from the depth of conviction in the soul of this 
one man." 

This is one side of the picture, viewing the religion from its 
subsequent success. The other side, that which was pre- 
sented at the time of the occurrence of these events, gives us 
a view of the opposition and contempt which Mohammed 
met on every hand : the niggardly results of the first thirteen 
years of his preaching (only about two hundred converts, and 
those principally slaves), the indignities and the personal 
danger which his cause earned for him among the inhabitants 
of his native city of Mecca, and at last the flight from that 
place to Medina for safety, the Hegira, from which event 
the Mussulmans date the beginning of their era. The story 
of the thirteen years preceding this event contains all that is 
purely religious, all that is inspiring, in the career of Moham- 
med. From the Hegira, Mohammed became a great politi- 
cal leader, a statesman, a general, but gradually lost, as his 
ambition and success increased, all the dignity, simplicity, 
and purity of a great reformer. 



I SLA MI SM. 461 

During the early part of his religious life, the period of 
obscure efforts to establish a great truth, we find in Moham- 
med a commanding moral character. His thought and his 
methods were imbibed from Judaism and Christianity. His 
people were peculiarly ripe for such a religious movement as 
followed ; and no sooner had he established the nucleus of 
the faith than it grew with astonishing rapidity. This growth 
completely entangled the great prophet in its luxuriance, 
and he became in many ways a weak and worldly man ; 
stooping to subterfuges, showing cruelty and arrogance, and 
yielding to sensuality. His temptations, however, were 
great, and his education rendered him peculiarly liable to 
such weaknesses. Had he, for instance, known Christianity 
from its better side, he would have seen less to encourage 
him in his original undertaking. He would very likely have 
been the St. Paul of Arabia, and the strange phenomenon of 
a vast Semitic nation becoming Christianized might have 
taken place ; for there is scarcely a principle which Moham- 
med taught which has not its counterpart in the Christian 
religion. Philosophy, however, had mingled with Chris- 
tianity, and built up the complicated theory of the Trinity. 
It is from this metaphysical side that Mohammed had 
learned our religion ; and this side, as many devout Christians 
admit, being by far the less imposing and attractive, 
Mohammed was uninspired by the great faith, and never 
evinced more than a courteous respect for it. 

Before Mohammed had gained the political power which 
made the progress of his religion, for the most part, a military 
conquest, an incident occurred which throws light upon the 
difficulties of his undertaking, upon his character, and also 
upon that of the people with whom he had to deal. It is 
thus related by M. Renan : 

" There is a curious episode belonging to the first period of 
Mahomet's mission which very well explains the icy indiffer- 
ence which he encountered in all about him, and the extreme 
reserve which he was bidden to maintain in the use of the 
marvellous. He was seated in the square of the Caaba, at a 



462 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

short distance from a circle formed by a number of Koreisch 
chiefs, all opposed to his doctrine. One of them, Otba, son 
of Re"bia, approaches him, takes a place by his side, and, 
speaking in the name of the rest, says : 

" ' Son of my friend, thou art a man distinguished by thy 
qualities and thy birth. Although thou causest disturbance 
in thy country, divisions in families, although thou dost out- 
rage our gods, taxest our ancestors and sages with impiety 
and error, we would deal discreetly with thee. Hear the 
propositions I have to make to thee, and consider if it does 
not become thee to accept one of them.' 

" < Speak/ said Mahomet, ' I listen/ 

" ' Son of my friend,' resumed Otba, ' if thine object be to 
acquire riches, we will contribute to make thee a fortune 
larger than that of any of the Koreisch. If thou aspirest to 
honors, we will make thee our chief, and we will take no 
resolution without thine advice. If the spirit that haunts 
thee clings to thee and sways thee so that thou canst not 
withdraw thyself from its influence, we will call in skilful 
physicians and pay them to cure thee.' 

" ' I am neither greedy of property, nor ambitious of dig- 
nities, nor possessed by an evil spirit,' replies Mahomet. ' I 
am sent by Allah, who has revealed to me a book and has 
ordered me to announce to you the rewards and punishments 
that await you.' 

" ' Very well, Mahomet,' said the Koreisch to him, ' since 
thou dost not agree to our propositions, and pretendest to 
be sent by Allah, give us clear proofs of thy qualification. 
Our valley is narrow and sterile, prevail on God to enlarge 
it, to push back these mountain chains that shut us in, to 
cause rivers like those of Syria and of Irak to flow through 
it, or else to bring from the tomb some of our ancestors, and 
among them Cossay, son of Kilab, whose word had such 
authority ; let these illustrious dead, revived, acknowledge 
thee as a prophet, and we also will recognize thee.' 

" l God,' replies Mahomet, " has not sent me to you for 
that ; he has sent me merely to preach his law.' 



ISLAMISM. 463 

" ' At least,' resumed the Koreisch, ' ask thy Lord to cause 
one of his angels to appear, and avouch thy veracity and 
bid us believe thee. Ask him, likewise, to publicly ratify 
the choice he has made of thy person, by relieving thee of 
the necessity of seeking thy daily subsistence by trade, 
like the rest of thy fellow-countrymen.' 

"'No,' says Mahomet, 'I will make none of these re- 
quests ; my duty is only to preach.' 

" ' Very well ; your Lord may cause the sky to fall on us, 
as you pretend that he can ; for we will not believe thee.' 

" It is clear that a Buddha, a son of God, a high-flown 
magician, were too high for the temperament of this people. 
The extreme delicacy of the Arab mind, the frank, plain 
way in which he takes his stand on fact, the license of 
morals and of beliefs that prevailed at the epoch of Islam- 
ism, forbade grand airs to the new prophet. * * * Arabia, 
especially, had lost, perhaps never had, the gift of inventing 
the supernatural. In all the moallakdt? and in the vast re- 
pository of anti-Islamic poetry, we hardly find a religious 
thought. This people had no sense for holy things ; but as 
compensation it had a very lively sentiment of things finite, 
and of the passions of the human heart. This is the reason 
why the Mussulman legend outside of Persia has remained 
so poqr, and why the mythical element is so absolutely 
wanting in it." 

With regard to the difficulty that Mohammed had to 
create stories of miracles, the same author says : " The only 
time that Mahomet allowed himself to indulge in an imita- 
tion of the gorgeous fancies of other religions, in the night- 
ride to Jerusalem, on a fantastic beast, the affair turned out 
very ill ; the story was greeted with a storm of merriment. 
Many of his disciples swore off, and the prophet made haste 
to withdraw his troublesome idea by declaring that this mar- 
vellous journey, given out at first as real, was only a dream." 

1 They term moallakdt, or suspended, the pieces of verse which had taken the 
prize in the poetical tourneys, and were suspended by gold nails to the door of 
the Caaba. Seven of them are extant, to which two or three other poems of 
the same character are attached. 



464 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

Apart from a few miracles, about the details of which, as 
we have indicated, Mohammed was very particular, this great 
prophet really asked his friends to believe nothing which 
could not with perfect propriety be offered to the Christian 
world to-day as a valid faith. All the great principles of 
Christian belief are rigorously complied with in his appeal. 
Mohammed solemnly declared himself to be the true prophet 
of the one true God. He offered as credentials a book of 
revelations, the authenticity of which can hardly be disputed, 
since he wrote it himself. He gave up the greater part of 
his time to rewarding his adherents and providing punish- 
ments, both temporal and spiritual, for all who refused to be- 
lieve in him. He made the most complete arrangements in 
heaven to correspond with his plans upon earth, and he took 
all his friends into this arrangement and excluded from it 
all his enemies. He appointed his apostles, founded his 
church, formulated creed and ritual, and virtually created a 
bible. In fact, no man ever worked harder to establish a re- 
ligion, and few have succeeded any better. Mohammed was 
a good organizer ; he knew how to make the best of circum- 
stances. Finding that he had to deal largely with Jews and 
Christians, he proclaimed that the Jewish law and the Chris- 
tian gospels were all equally the Word of God, and he in- 
culcated belief in them all on pain of hell-fire. Any con- 
fusion which might arise in the minds of the faithful on 
account of the variety of beliefs set forth in these holy books 
he removed by the luminous doctrine that " as the Koran 
was the latest, in so far as it pleased the Almighty to modify 
his previous commands, it must be paramount." Moham- 
med lost no opportunity of affirming that his writings were 
concurrent with the Jewish and Christian scriptures, although 
of the latter he knew so little that he supposed the Gospel 
was a direct revelation from God to Jesus. No doubt he 
possessed a minute knowledge of the facility with which such 
a literary transaction could be arranged. 

" When his own work was condemned as a ' forgery ' and 
' an antiquated tale ' his most common retort was, ' Nay, but 



ISLAMISM. 465 

it is but a confirmation of the preceding Revelation and a 
warning in simple Arabic to the people of the land.' The 
number and confidence of these asseverations secured the con- 
fidence or at least the neutrality of both Jews and Christians." 1 
Thus we see that the analogy between the Christian and the 
Mohammedan religions is not accidental. " The New Reve- 
lation of Arabia " was persistently offered as the Arabian 
form of both Judaism and Christianity, the chief innovation 
being confined to the substitution of an Arabian fora Jewish 
prophet. 

The death of Mohammed was a severe shock to the faith 
of his followers, many of whom had gradually come to 
believe him immortal. This disaffection, added to the 
triumph of those who had refused to believe in him, or had 
only half believed, well-nigh caused a general apostasy. 
Rival prophets at once appeared all over Arabia. Numerous 
sects sprang into existence, some of them bordering on 
avowed infidelity. There had been a few proud families of 
Mecca, the Omeyyades, who had never made more than the 
merest semblance of belief in Mohammed. They by degrees 
came into possession of the chief administrative power of 
Islamism ; and we have the strange spectacle of the primi- 
tive and pure generation of Mohammedan leaders extermi- 
nated and replaced by a party who had never been in sym- 
pathy with the faith. Thus Islamism grew into the power 
and unity which later distinguished it, from a relative be- 
ginning of scarcely any religious faith. 

Mohammed was no more the founder of monotheism than 
of civilization or literature among the Arabs. M. Caussin 
de Perceval says that the worship of Allah the supreme 
(Allah taala) seems to have been always the basis of the 
Arab religion. " The Semitic race never conceived of the 
government of the universe otherwise than as an absolute 
monarchy. Its theodicy has made no progress since the 
Book of Job; the sublimities and the aberrations of poly- 
theism have always been foreign to it." 

Life of Mahomet," Muir., p. 154. 



466 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

The Mohammedan bible, the Koran, is entirely unique 
among the sacred books of the world, both in its form and 
in its manner of production. It is a collection of the preach- 
ings of Mohammed (not lacking in beauty of thought and 
expression), and the daily orders which he issued to his 
followers bearing the date of the places in which they ap- 
peared. " Each of these pieces was written, from the prophet's 
recitation, 1 on skins, on shoulder-blades of sheep, camels' 
bones, polished stones, palm-leaves ; or was kept in memory 
by the principal disciples, who were called Bearers of the 
Koran" These pieces were collected into a single book 
soon after the prophet's death, and copied in the order of 
the length of their contents without any regard to the sense 
or connection. This want of arrangement in the Koran is 
regarded by scholars as an evidence of its authenticity : a 
forgery would have had more method in it. 

The Moslem sects are as numerous as the Christian. Be- 
tween these sects, which are grouped in two principal 
branches, cruel wars and persecutions have long prevailed. 
The most zealous Moslems are the Turks, who observe the 
fasts and holy days with rigor, and have no desire to make 
proselytes, but cordially hate all outside of Islam. So many 
hard things have been said of the Turks of late years, that it 
is refreshing to meet with testimonials of their religious and 
moral character. 

Bishop Southgate says : " I have never known a Mussul- 
man, sincere in his faith, * * * in whom moral rectitude did 
not seem an active quality and a living principle. In sea- 
sons of plague the Turks appear perfectly fearless. They do 
not avoid customary intercourse and contact with friends. 
They remain with and minister to the sick with unshrinking 
assiduity. * * * In truth, there is something imposing in the. 
unaffected calmness of the Turks at such times. It is a 
spirit of resignation which becomes truly noble when exer- 
cised upon calamities which have already befallen them." 2 

1 The word Koran means recitation. 
11 Southgate's " Travels in Armenia," vol. I., p. 86. 



ISLAMISM. 467 

Allah is constantly on the lips of the Mohammedans, both 
men and women ; but it has become with them a mere form 
of speech. The incidents of their daily and religious life 
prove that they do not regard God as a person, but rather 
as a divine unity of will. 

The attempt, so often made by Christians, to account for 
all the imperfections of the Moslem governments by the 
error of the Mohammedan conception of God is an exalted 
method of criticism, but one which can hardly be consist- 
ently employed by believers in a personal deity. The con- 
ception which a civilization forms of God indicates the stage 
of its development, but this conception is the consequence 
or function of the whole civilization, not its cause. To 
improve it would be to remould the life of a race. As 
morality is shown to be a logical phenomenon only by first 
establishing the interdependence of thought and feeling, so 
the effect upon individual and national conduct of the belief 
in a personal God can alone be made clear by tracing knowl- 
edge and belief to their humblest beginnings, which is to 
take the widest possible view of religious development. 



CHAPTER XXL 

THE HEBREW RELIGION. 
Semitic Monotheism The Jewish Conception of God. 

WHAT can be more instructive than the diverse opinions of 
our great religious critics and historians concerning the origin 
of our ideas of God, especially when we remember that no 
two of them agree as to the nature of Deity ? If by the term 
God is meant the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, it 
would seem but natural to credit the Jews with the origin 
of the conception ; but we are by no means sure that it is 
the God of Israel that we are seeking. In the preface to the 
great work of Ewald on the history of Israel, Russell Marti- 
neau tells us that the author is a devout theologian, and that 
no one could have labored more sincerely than he did to 
defend the belief in a personal God, and a supernatural 
revelation coming from him to Israel, against the contrary 
evidence which an intelligent study of tradition would supply. 
A careless reader might understand this to mean that Ewald 
had not studied tradition intelligently; but had this been 
the meaning of Mr. Martineau, is it likely that he would 
have written an eloquent preface to Ewald's great work ? 
With regard to Ewald's treatment of tradition, Mr. Martineau 
says : " If we penetrate further back than the age of mythic 
heroes, we come only to a time when the gods themselves 
were imagined to people the earth with their kind. If this 
is true everywhere alike, we might expect to find it in Israel 
also, where, indeed, we do find the very same ideas and 
stories. We cannot treat the Assyrian, Persian, and Greek 
.deluges as mythical, and refuse the character to the Hebrew, 

468 



THE HEBREW RELIGION. 469 

Hence Ewald treats the Hebrew myths of Genesis in the 
same spirit as he would those of any other nation ; nor does 
he deem it necessary to justify such treatment any more 
than an historian of Rome would apologize for the myth of 
Romulus." 

If we would gain an idea of how Ewald really has treated 
the sacred traditions of Israel, we have but to look a little 
farther into the same preface. Here we are reminded of the 
difficulties which the conscientious historian has to contend 
with in deciphering the truths which lie hidden in those 
legends and myths that have until recently been treated as 
actual history. "The value of history does not depend upon 
the vividness of its colors, or, in other words, the positiveness 
of its assertions. * * * The earliest period of the lives of all 
nations is now acknowledged to be mythical, but the myths 
cover events or thoughts generally grander than themselves. 
* * * Dorus and ^Eolus were not single men, but represent 
the whole nation of Dorians and ^Eolians ; Shem and Ham, 
the whole population of their respective regions, the south- 
west of Asia, and the north of Africa. So when Ewald shows 
us Abraham as a ' representative man,' and his wanderings as 
those of a large tribe, the quarrels between Jacob and Esau 
as great international struggles between the Hebrews and 
the Arabian tribes, rather than the petty strife of a few 
herdsmen, the history assumes a grander scale than we had 
any idea of before. Stories which before amused us with 
their pettiness now tell of the fates of empires and the 
development of nations, and we see why they have been 
preserved from an antiquity so high that the deeds of indi- 
viduals have long been obliterated. The mythical system, 
therefore, as understood and wielded by the chief masters, 
is any thing but destructive of history; it rather makes 
history where before there was none." 

But the same careless reader might think that whatever 
fine distinctions the "devout theologian " Ewald may make, 
he has certainly forfeited the confidence of Christians by 
declaring the Bible, so far as it deals with early Jewish 



470 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

history, and the conceptions of God which it describes, not 
only uninspired but thoroughly unreliable, a mere mass of 
undigested tradition. We are naturally amazed, therefore, 
to find that such eminent Christian scholars as Dean Stanley 
and Dr. Rowland Williams concede Ewald's universal learn- 
ing and " spiritual insight," although differing with him on 
"general principles," with regard to the authorship of several 
of the books of the Old Testament. Dean Stanley testifies 
to " the intimate acquaintance which Ewald exhibits with 
every portion of the sacred writings, combined as it is with a 
loving and reverential appreciation of each individual char- 
acter and of the whole spirit and purpose of the Israelitish 
history." The same writer acknowledges the vast influence 
which the book has had, not only in the author's country, 
but in France and in England, and cites as an example the 
constant reference to it throughout the new " Dictionary of 
the Bible," "which is one of the greatest and best Christian 
books of reference of our time." 

To an unprejudiced reader it would seem but natural to 
place the sacred writings of the Jews, at least up to the 
Persian Period, say B.C. 538, in the category of barbaric 
lore. 

The reign of David (about rooo B.C.) is supposed to have 
been the zenith of Hebrew religious life, and yet what do we 
find this life to have been ? We are told that " the zeal for 
Yahveh being national, it manifested itself in persecution of 
the Canaanites. Samuel was believed to be a rain-maker. 
Saul put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards; 
yet in one instance he caused the dead to be called. David 
apparently believed Yahveh to dwell in the ark, to be confined 
to Canaan, to be appeased by the smell of sacrifices, and 
to admit of human sacrifices, though he conceived him to 
be a righteous God. In David's house teraphim were kept. 
Yet he fought the ' battles of Yahveh ' (Yahveh of Hosts 
Tzebaoth). David also believed in angels. Solomon did 
not recognize Yahveh as the only true God : he erected 
sanctuaries in honor of foreign gods. The brazen serpent 



THE HEBREW RELIGION. 4/1 

continued to be worshipped." 1 And still " Christian scholars " 
who are perfectly aware of these facts unblushingly teach 
that these people had a knowledge of the true God, and that 
theirs is the God we are to worship. But why should we 
complain of this, when we find even such liberal scholars as 
Renan clinging to the same superstition, that the Israelites 
had in some way been intrusted with a supernatural or 
special knowledge of God ? We must admit that the poor 
Christian scholars have a certain justification in standing 
upon the defensive and in admitting as 'little as possible, 
when the boldest investigators seem to quail before this 
common Israelitish myth. 

Philology tells us that each race has had its mythic age, 
and that from this primitive stage of development has come 
its language, its thought, and its religion. The characteris- 
tics of this age are the same the world over. The causes 
which have led to it, and the results attained, are governed 
by the conditions of social development, which are in the 
main constant. If among the younger nations, such as the 
present peoples of Europe, or among the Greeks and Romans, 
whose beginnings can be traced through the aid of history, 
we know that there was no period of greater illumination 
which preceded this age, why should we believe that such 
a period existed in Canaan or Judea ? And yet all the well- 
known theories of Semitic monotheism rest upon a belief in 
a " period of greater illumination " which, in some form, 
either preceded, or took the place of, the mythic age of 
Jewish history. It is true that some of the most enlight- 
ened of these theories confine this " illumination " to the 
minds of a few individuals, such as Abraham and Moses, 
not being willing, perhaps, to take the responsibility of 
asserting that the barbarous and idolatrous Hebrews enjoyed 
any especially exalted conception of God. 

The belief in the Hebrew knowledge of God, to which the 
Christian mind clings with such tenacity, appears in its worst 
light when we compare it with the conception of God as a 

'See Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology," book VII., table II. 



47 2 THE RELIGION OF PHILOSOPHY. 

principle; although the personality which the Jews gave to- 
the Deity must certainly be repulsive enough even to the 
modern Christian. 

This tendency of the Christian mind is aptly illustrated by 
the plaintive appeal of the Record, in speaking of Ewald's 
work : " We sincerely hope [says the Rec