[ocr errors][graphic][merged small]

THE following pages were written before I had seen Professor

Calderwood's excellent paper on the “Relations of Physical Science to Mental Philosophy," in the last number of the Contemporary Review. My object, like his, is to show the co-existence but distinctness of mind and matter.

It has been said that the excellence of men over the lower animals only implies that the brain of man is more perfect or more highly developed than theirs, and that our consciousness may be, and so far as we can prove, is no more than a function of the brain, or a result of the sum total of the brain and its functions; or in other words, that it does not prove or even imply the existence of a soul distinct from the organism of man; or again, that it proves only that matter can think and be conscious of itself.

1. Now, my purpose is to give reasons for believing that even if matter can think, there is still another faculty, and more than this, another agent, distinct from the thinking brain. With a view to this, we must ascertain what is thought, and what is the faculty we call the will : and then what the relation between them.

By thought I understand an intellectual act and the permanent intellectual state consequent upon it, whereby any given object is apprehended, and consequently so far known.

[ocr errors]

By will I understand a faculty whereby we are able to choose and to act either in accordance with or in opposition to our sensitive or our rational appetite.*

But both thought and will are actions or faculties of an agent, that is, of a thinker and a willer.

When we talk of sensations and perceptions, we always tacitly understand and presuppose a sentient and a percipient, a seer and a hearer of whom sense, perception, thought, and will are actions and attributes.

We call this subject “self” or “I;" and here we have reached the last analysis of our internal consciousness. We may try to go further; but in doing so we shall only destroy our perception of the ultimate certainties of all moral knowledge, just as we may gaze upon the noon-day sun until we go blind, by destroying the eye against its light.

That we are conscious of thought and will is a fact of our internal experience. It is also a fact in the universal experience of all men; this is an immediate and intuitive truth of absolute certainty.

Dr. Carpenter, in an able discussion, “On the Unconscious Activity of the Brain,” or “Unconscious Cerebration,” lays down as an axiomatic truth “that the common-sense decision of mankind, in regard to the existence of the external world, is practically worth more than all the arguments of all the logicians who have discussed the basis of our belief in it.” The reason of this is evident. The logical arguments are discursive, analytical, and subsequent upon the decision of common-sense, by which is formed the premiss "that the external world exists;" anterior to any reflex action of discourse or argument upon it.

What is true in this case of a judgment formed upon the report of sense, by the interpretation of the intellect, is still more evidently true of the decisions of our consciousness on such interior facts as thought and will, and of the existence of an internal world which is our living personality, or of the agent who thinks and wills. I may therefore lay down as another axiom, side by side with that of Dr. Carpenter, " that the decision of mankind derived from consciousness of the existence of our living self or personality, whereby we think, will, and act, is practically worth more than all the arguments of all the logicians who have discussed the basis of our belief in it.” 2. We may begin, then, with the fact that all men, except

“There are three things in the soul which influence moral action and truth-sense, intellect, and desire : but of these, sense is not the principle of any moral action; and this is clear from the fact that beasts possess sense, but do not partake of moral action."

“Deliberate preference is desire with deliberation.” (õpešis Buodevtiku.)

“Deliberate preference (at poaipeous) is either intellect moved by desire, or desire guided by intellect: for such a principle is man.”Aristotle's Ethics, Book vi., c. 2.

abnormal individuals, who as exceptions prove the law of their species, are conscious of the power of thinking, willing, and acting.

But the word "conscious" declares that we know something “ with ourselves." It is a reflex action of the thinking agent upon himself, whereby he knows that he is thinking, or of the willing agent, that he is exerting the power of will.

Now, the consciousness of mankind of the distinction between this living agent and the material organization through which, in hoc stadio mortalitatis, he energizes, is so articulate and emphatic that the soul and the body, which, though distinct, are one, have been, and popularly are still regarded, as two separate and independent entities.

3. It will, perhaps, be answered that this consciousness does not prove that itself is anything more than the sum of the brain, and of its functions, or in other words, that it is the brain that thinks and the brain that is conscious.

We have, then, to show that this consciousness is the function, not of the brain without a personal self or agent, but of a personal self or agent who in this state of mortality energizes through the brain as his instrument, but is independent of and anterior to its operations.

It has been shown by Dr. Carpenter that there is a large array of phenomena which prove that the brain in a state of unconsciousness can remember, create, and understand. It can also do two things at once, the one consciously, the other unconsciously; that is, while consciously engaged on one thing, it can direct the body in walking, the hands in playing on musical instruments or in manual works, and the like. It is not only that the mind “velox sine corpore currit,” but the brain seems to govern the hands, feet, and whole body, while the mind is absent. These phenomena certainly suffice to show that there is a separation between our conscious selves and the habitual action of the brain, and that to many of our thoughts the will is not proximately related at all; so that between our non-volitional thoughts, as in dreams, and our conscious selves, there is not only a mental distinction, but a difference of nature, and therefore a separation as between two distinct things. The phenomena of the unconscious brain are not subjected to time, or space, or the actuality of our lot, or to the government of the moral conscience, there are no proper or normal acts either of the reason or of the will in the unconscious brain. The unconscious brain has an activity, but it is not a moral agent. All this abundantly proves that there is somewhat beyond the brain of which these phenomena render no adequate account. They pre-suppose an Agent without revealing him ; they show that there is a Thinker and a Willer on whom they depend, even when he is unconscious.

4. Let us now dismiss this unconscious cerebration, which is not our present subject, and take another field of observation, far wider and more explicit in its evidence; that is, the Conscious Activity of the Brain.

In our unconscious state the will has no proximate relation to thought; in our conscious state, though there is an under-current both of thought and action to which the will does not direct itself, yet that which constitutes our normal consciousness, or true self, is that which we do with knowledge, consent, and advertence. Our unconscious acts are acts of man—that is, acts of which only man is capable; but only our conscious acts are human acts-that is, done under the normal conditions of rational action, or under the conditions of a moral and responsible agent. We

may make this clearer by a distinction of the schools. According to the scholastic philosophy, the Divine Mind is a pure act (actus purus)—that is, its whole perfection is full and actual; there is in it nothing latent, potential, or undeveloped. The powers of the human mind, on the contrary, are at first undeveloped, potential, and latent. It is by acts of the will that it is unfolded from the potential to the actual state. I do not stay to speak of the action of other intellects or other wills in calling out what is only potential in our minds, because the co-operation of our own will and its joint action on our own thought is essential to all processes of learning. It is certain, , however, that the most valuable part or period of man's education is what is called his self-education, or what he does for himself upon himself; and precisely for the same reason, because the will is exerted with greater energy upon the eliciting and cultivating of the power of thought.

1. This, then, is the first relation of the Will to the thought or the brain. It educates it. Now the action of the will upon our intellectual habits and acts is threefold :

First, every act of intention is an act of the will. The will determines to what the intellect shall be directed, as an archer aims at a mark. In the midst of the multiplicity of thoughts which are perpetually streaming through the mind, the selection of one as a fixed object of investigation or contemplation is an act of the will analogous to the distinction between seeing and looking. The waking eye is perpetually full of a multitude of objects, while it looks at one alone.

Secondly, the act of attention is a continuous act of the will, sustaining the first intention, and applying the mind fixedly to the object.

Lastly, the intentness or intensity of intellectual acts is eminently an energy

of the will. The languor of some minds and the ardour

of others in study or discovery, and the languor or ardour of the same mind at different times in life, or even at different times of the same day, comes from a different degree of volition which governs the application of the mind.

The intellect, then, or the thinking brain, if any be pleased so to call it, is distinctly directed, sustained, and urged onward by the will. The acts and habits of intention, attention, and intensity are imposed upon the brain by a faculty distinct from it in kind and in energy. The Willer, whatever he be, is distinct from the thinking brain.

A confirmation of this may be found in the fact already touched in passing, namely, that during the earlier period of our lives the potentiality of our intellectual and moral nature is elicited and educed, and thereby brought into act by the will of others. Parents and teachers supply to us the force of will on which intention and attention depend. Our “plagosus Orbilius" did for our brain in boyhood what our developed will, when we could wield the ferrule, did for it in after-life.

I affirm, then, that so far from our brain being commensurate with ourselves, or ourselves only the sum of our brains, we are the educator of our brain, and all our life long our will is calling its potentiality (of which neither any man, nor the whole race of man, has yet ascertained the limit) into act. Our mind, or our brain-potentiality, can have but three relations to Truth. It may be wholly undeveloped, which is a state of ignorance; or only partially developed, which is a state of doubt, or of knowledge mixed with ignorance; or lastly, of full conformity with any given truth, which is the state of knowledge, or of subjective Truth, defined by the Schoolmen as “ adæquatio rei et intellectûs."

Through the whole process whereby the potentiality of the mind or brain is being unfolded into actual conformity with truth, the will impels, directs, and sustains it; so that it may be affirmed that the brain derives its activity originally from the will ; and that the will is the educator of the brain. This, then, is one relation of the Will to thought.

2. A second relation is to be found in the fact that the will uses the brain as an instrument, as it uses the eye; both are organs of the will. I am not now discussing the acts of the intellect or reason on certain primary and intuitive truths which precede the acts of the will. The axiom “nihil volitum quin sit præcognitum ” is selfevident. The will never energizes in vain, or in the dark. It acts always “sub specie veri.” or “sub specie boni.” Again, prælucet voluntati.” Reason carries a light before the will. We must think before we will. If men could be said to worship an

66 ratio

« ElőzőTovább »