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Title: Mind and Motion and Monism
Author: Romanes, George John, 1848-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    =DARWIN, AND AFTER DARWIN=: an Exposition of the Darwinian Theory,
    and a Discussion on Post-Darwinian Questions.

    PART I. THE DARWINIAN THEORY. With Portrait of Darwin and 125
    Illustrations. _Crown 8vo_, 10s. 6d.



    =MIND AND MOTION AND MONISM.= _Crown 8vo_.

    =THOUGHTS ON RELIGION=. Edited, with a Preface, by CHARLES GORE,
    M.A., Canon of Westminster. _Crown 8vo_, 4s. 6d.



Of the contents of this little volume the section on _Mind and Motion_
which forms, in accordance with a suggestion of the author's, a general
introduction, was delivered at Cambridge as the Rede Lecture in 1885,
and was printed in the _Contemporary Review_ for June in that year. The
chapter on The _World as an Eject_ was published, almost as it now
stands, in the _Contemporary Review_ for July, 1886. A paper on _The
Fallacy of Materialism_, of which Mr. Romanes incorporated the more
important parts in the Essay on Monism, was contributed to the
_Nineteenth Century_ for December, 1882. The rest was left in MS. and
was probably written in 1889 or 1890.

The subjects here discussed frequently occupied Mr. Romanes' keen and
versatile mind. Had not the hand of death fallen upon him while so much
of the ripening grain of his thought still remained to be finally
garnered, some modifications and extensions of the views set forth in
the Essay on Monism would probably have been introduced. Attention may
be drawn, for example, to the sentence on p. 139, italicized by the
author himself, in which it is contended that the will as agent _must be
identified with the principle of Causality_. I have reason to believe
that the chapter on _The World as an Eject_ would, in a final revision
of the Essay as a whole, have been modified so as to lay stress on this
identification of the human will with the principle of Causality in the
world at large--a doctrine the relation of which to the teachings of
Schopenhauer will be evident to students of philosophy.

But the hand of death closed on the thinker ere his thought had received
its full and ultimate expression. When in July, 1893, I received from
Mr. Romanes instructions with regard to the publication of that which
now goes forth to the world in his name, his end seemed very near; and
he said with faltering voice, in tones the pathos of which lingers with
me still, that this and much besides must, he feared, be left
unfinished. He suggested that perhaps I might revise the parts in the
light of the whole. But I have thought it best to leave what he had
written as he wrote it, save for quite unimportant emendations, lest in
revising I should cast over it the shadow of my own opinions.

It only remains to add that the conclusions reached in this Essay should
be studied in connection with the later _Thoughts on Religion_ which
Canon Gore has recently edited.
                                                C. LL. M.
  _May, 1895._


  MIND AND MOTION                                                        1

  MONISM                                                                39

  INTRODUCTION                                                          41

  CHAPTER     I. SPIRITUALISM                                           47

     "       II. MATERIALISM                                            55

     "      III. MONISM                                                 79

     "       IV. THE WORLD AS AN EJECT                                  88


     "       VI. THE WILL IN RELATION TO MONISM                        129



The earliest writer who deserves to be called a psychologist is Hobbes;
and if we consider the time when he wrote, we cannot fail to be
surprised at what I may term his prevision of the most important results
which have now been established by science. He was the first clearly to
sound the note which has ever since constituted the bass, or fundamental
tone, of scientific thought. Let us listen to it through the clear
instrumentality of his own language:--

     'All the qualities called sensible are, in the object which causeth
     them, but so many motions of the matter by which it presseth on our
     organs diversely. Neither in us that are pressed are they anything
     else but divers motions; for motion produceth nothing but
     motion.... The cause of sense is the external body or object, which
     presseth the organ proper to each sense, either immediately, as in
     taste and touch, or mediately, as in hearing, seeing, and smelling;
     which pressure, by the mediation of the nerves, and other strings
     and membranes of the body, continued inwards to the brain and
     heart, causeth there a resistance, or counter-pressure, or
     endeavour.... And because _going_, _speaking_, and the like
     voluntary motions, depend always upon a precedent thought of
     _whither_, _which way_, and _what_; it is evident that the
     imagination [or idea] is the first internal beginning of all
     voluntary motion. And although unstudied men do not conceive any
     motion at all to be there, where the thing moved is invisible; or
     the space it is moved in is, for the shortness of it, insensible;
     yet that doth not hinder, but that such motions are. These small
     beginnings of motion, within the body of man, before they appear in
     walking, speaking, striking, and other visible actions, are
     commonly called ENDEAVOUR[1].'

These quotations are sufficient to show that the system of Hobbes was
prophetic of a revelation afterwards declared by two centuries of
scientific research. For they show how plainly he taught that all our
knowledge of the external world is a knowledge of motion; and, again,
that all our acquisitions of knowledge and other acts of mind themselves
imply, as he elsewhere says, some kind of 'motion, agitation, or
alteration, which worketh in the brain.' That he conceived such motion,
agitation, or alteration to be, from its extreme minuteness, 'invisible'
and 'insensible,' or, as we should now say, molecular, is likewise
evident. I can therefore imagine the delight with which he would hear me
speak when I say, that it is no longer a matter of keen-sighted
speculation, but a matter of carefully demonstrated fact, that all our
knowledge of the external world is nothing more than a knowledge of
motion. For all the forms of energy have now been proved to be but modes
of motion; and even matter, if not in its ultimate constitution vortical
motion, at all events is known to us only as changes of motion: all that
we perceive in what we call matter is change in modes of motion. We do
not even know what it is that moves; we only know that when some modes
of motion pass into other modes, we perceive what we understand by
matter. It would take me too long to justify this general statement so
that it should be intelligible to every one; but I am confident that all
persons who understand such subjects will, when they think about it,
accept this general statement as one which is universally true. And, if
so, they will agree with Hobbes that all our knowledge of the external
world is a knowledge of motion.

Now, if it would have been thus a joy to Hobbes to have heard to-day how
thoroughly he has been justified in his views touching the external
world, with no less joy would he have heard that he has been equally
justified in his views touching the internal world. For it has now been
proved, beyond the possibility of dispute, that it is only in virtue of
those invisible movements which he inferred that the nervous system is
enabled to perform its varied functions.

To many among the different kinds of movement going on in the external
world, the animal body is adapted to respond by its own movements as
best suits its own welfare; and the mechanism whereby this is effected
is the neuro-muscular system. Those kinds of movement going on in the
external world which are competent to evoke responsive movements in the
animal body are called by physiologists stimuli. When a stimulus falls
upon the appropriate sensory surface, a wave of molecular movement is
sent up the attached sensory nerve to a nerve-centre, which thereupon
issues another wave of molecular movement down a motor nerve to the
group of muscles over whose action it presides; and when the muscles
receive this wave of nervous influence they contract. This kind of
response to stimuli is purely mechanical, or non-mental, and is
ordinarily termed reflex action. The whole of the spinal cord and lower
part of the brain are made up of nerve-centres of reflex action; and, in
the result, we have a wonderfully perfect machine in the animal body
considered as a whole. For while the various sensory surfaces are
severally adapted to respond to different kinds of external
movement--the eye to light, the ear to sound, and so on--any of these
surfaces may be brought into suitable relation with any of the muscles
of the body by means of the cerebro-spinal nerve-centres and their

So much, then, for the machinery of the body. We must now turn to
consider the corporeal seat of the mind, or the only part of the nervous
system wherein the agitation of nervous matter is accompanied with
consciousness. This is composed of a double nerve-centre, which occurs
in all vertebrated animals, and the two parts of which are called the
cerebral hemispheres. In man this double nerve-centre is so large that
it completely fills the arch of the skull, as far down as the level of
the eyebrows. The two hemispheres of which it consists meet face to face
in the middle line of the skull, from the top of the nose backwards.
Each hemisphere is composed of two conspicuously distinct parts, called
respectively the grey matter and the white matter. The grey matter is
external, enveloping the white matter like a skull-cap, and is composed
of an inconceivable number of nerve-cells connected together by
nerve-fibres. It is computed that in a human brain there cannot be less
than a thousand millions of cells, and five thousand millions of fibres.
The white matter is composed only of nerve-fibres, which pass downwards
in great strands of conducting tissue to the lower centres of the brain
and spinal cord. So that the whole constitutes one system, with the grey
matter of the cerebral hemispheres at the apex or crown.

That the grey matter of the cerebral hemispheres is the exclusive seat
of mind is proved in two ways. In the first place, if we look to the
animal kingdom as a whole, we find that, speaking generally, the
intelligence of species varies with the mass of this grey matter. Or, in
other words, we find that the process of mental evolution, on its
physical side, has consisted in the progressive development of this
grey matter superimposed upon the pre-existing nervous machinery, until
it has attained its latest and maximum growth in man.

In the second place, we find that when the grey matter is experimentally
removed from the brain of animals, the animals continue to live; but are
completely deprived of intelligence. All the lower nerve-centres
continue to perform their mechanical adjustments in response to suitable
stimulation; but they are no longer under the government of the mind.
Thus, for instance, when a bird is mutilated in this way, it will
continue to perform all its reflex adjustments--such as sitting on a
perch, using its wings when thrown into the air, and so forth; but it no
longer remembers its nest or its young, and will starve to death in the
midst of its food, unless it be fed artificially.

Again, if the grey matter of only one hemisphere be removed, the mind is
taken away from the corresponding (i. e. the opposite) side of the body,
while it remains intact on the other side. For example, if a dog be
deprived of one hemisphere, the eye which was supplied from it with
nerve-fibres continues able to see, or to transmit impressions to the
lower nerve-centre called the optic ganglion; for this eye will then
mechanically follow the hand waved in front of it. But if the hand
should hold a piece of meat, the dog will show no mental recognition of
the meat, which of course it will immediately seize if exposed to the
view of its other eye. The same thing is found to happen in the case of
birds: on the injured side _sensation_, or the power of responding to a
stimulus, remains intact; while _perception_, or the power of mental
recognition, is destroyed.

This description applies to the grey matter of the cerebral hemispheres
as a whole. But of course the question next arises whether it only acts
as a whole, or whether there is any localization of different
intellectual faculties in different parts of it. Now, in answer to this
question, it has long been known that the faculty of speech is
definitely localized in a part of the grey matter lying just behind the
forehead; for, when this part is injured, a man loses all power of
expressing even the most simple ideas in words, while the ideas
themselves remain as clear as ever. It is remarkable that in each
individual only this part of one hemisphere appears to be used; and
there is some evidence to show that left-handed persons use the opposite
side from right-handed. Moreover, when the side which is habitually in
use is destroyed, the corresponding part of the other hemisphere begins
to learn its work, so that the patient may in time recover his use of

Within the last few years the important discovery has been made, that by
stimulating with electricity the surface of the grey matter of the
hemispheres, muscular movements are evoked; and that certain patches of
the grey matter, when thus stimulated, always throw into action the same
groups of muscles. In other words, there are definite local areas of
grey matter, which, when stimulated, throw into action definite groups
of muscles. The surface of the cerebral hemispheres has now been in
large measure explored and mapped out with reference to these so-called
motor-centres; and thus our knowledge of the neuro-muscular machinery of
the higher animals (including man) has been very greatly furthered. Here
I may observe parenthetically that, as the brain is insentient to
injuries inflicted upon its own substance, none of the experiments to
which I have alluded entail any suffering to the animals experimented
upon; and it is evident that the important information which has thus
been gained could not have been gained by any other method. I may also
observe that as these motor-centres occur in the grey matter of the
hemispheres, a strong probability arises that they are not only the
motor-centres, but also the volitional centres which originate the
intellectual commands for the contraction of this and that group of
muscles. Unfortunately we cannot interrogate an animal whether, when we
stimulate a motor-centre, we arouse in the animal's mind an act of will
to throw the corresponding group of muscles into action; but that these
motor-centres are really centres of volition is pointed to by the fact,
that electrical stimuli have no longer any effect upon them when the
mental faculties of the animal are suspended by anæsthetics, nor in the
case of young animals where the mental faculties have not yet been
sufficiently developed to admit of voluntary co-ordination among the
muscles which are concerned. On the whole, then, it is not improbable
that on stimulating artificially these motor-centres of the brain, a
physiologist is actually playing from without, and at his own pleasure,
upon the volitions of the animal.

Turning, now, from this brief description of the structure and leading
functions of the principal parts of the nervous system, I propose to
consider what we know about the molecular movements which go on in
different parts of this system, and which are concerned in all the
processes of reflex adjustment, sensation, perception, emotion,
instinct, thought, and volition.

First of all, the rate at which these molecular movements travel through
a nerve has been measured, and found to be about 100 feet per second, or
somewhat more than a mile a minute, in the nerves of a frog. In the
nerves of a mammal it is just about twice as fast; so that if London
were connected with New York by means of a mammalian nerve instead of an
electric cable, it would require nearly a whole day for a message to

Next, the time has also been measured which is required by a
nerve-centre to perform its part in a reflex action, where no thought or
consciousness is involved. This time, in the case of the winking reflex,
and apart from the time required for the passage of the molecular waves
up and down the sensory and motor nerves, is about 1/20 of a second.
Such is the rate at which a nerve-centre conducts its operations when no
consciousness or volition is involved. But when consciousness and
volition are involved, or when the cerebral hemispheres are called into
play, the time required is considerably greater. For the operations on
the part of the hemispheres which are comprised in perceiving a simple
sensation (such as an electrical shock) and the volitional act of
signalling the perception, cannot be performed in less than 1/12 of a
second, which is nearly twice as long as the time required by the lower
nerve-centres for the performance of a reflex action. Other experiments
prove that the more complex an act of perception, the more time is
required for its performance. Thus, when the experiment is made to
consist, not merely in signalling a perception, but in signalling one of
two or more perceptions (such as an electrical shock on one or other of
the two hands, which of five letters is suddenly exposed to view, &c.),
a longer time is required for the more complex process of distinguishing
which of the two or more expected stimuli is perceived, and in
determining which of the appropriate signals to make in response. The
time consumed by the cerebral hemispheres in meeting a 'dilemma' of this
kind is from 1/5 to 1/20 of a second longer than that which they consume
in the case of a simpler perception. Therefore, whenever mental
operations are concerned, a relatively much greater time is required for
a nerve-centre to perform its adjustments than when a merely mechanical
or non-mental response is needed; and the more complex the mental
operation the more time is necessary. Such may be termed the physiology
of deliberation.

So much, then, for the rate at which molecular movements travel through
nerves, and the times which nerve-centres consume in performing their
molecular adjustments. We may next consider the researches which have
been made within the last few months upon the rates of these movements
themselves, or the number of vibrations per second with which the
particles of nervous matter oscillate.

If, by means of a suitable apparatus, a muscle is made to record its own
contraction, we find that during all the time it is in contraction, it
is under-going a vibratory movement at the rate of about nine pulsations
per second. What is the meaning of this movement? The meaning is that
the act of will in the brain, which serves as a stimulus to the
contraction of the muscle, is accompanied by a vibratory movement in the
grey matter of the brain; that this movement is going on at the rate of
nine pulsations per second; and that the muscle is giving a separate or
distinct contraction in response to every one of these nervous
pulsations. That such is the true explanation of the rhythm in the
muscle is proved by the fact that if, instead of contracting a muscle by
an act of the will, it be contracted by means of a rapid series of
electrical shocks playing upon its attached nerve, the record then
furnished shows a similar trembling going on in the muscle as in the
previous case; but the tremors of contraction are now no longer at the
rate of nine per second: they correspond beat for beat with the
interruptions of the electrical current. That is to say, the muscle is
responding separately to every separate stimulus which it receives
through the nerve; and further experiment shows that it is able thus to
keep time with the separate shocks, even though these be made to follow
one another so rapidly as 1,000 per second. Therefore we can have no
doubt that the slow rhythm of nine per second under the influence of
volitional stimulation, represents the rate at which the muscle is
receiving so many separate impulses from the brain: the muscle is
keeping time with the molecular vibrations going on in the cerebral
hemispheres at the rate of nine beats per second. Careful tracings show
that this rate cannot be increased by increasing the strength of the
volitional stimulus; but some individuals--and those usually who are of
quickest intelligence--display a somewhat quicker rate of rhythm, which
may be as high as eleven per second. Moreover, it is found that by
stimulating with strychnine any of the centres of reflex action, pretty
nearly the same rate of rhythm is exhibited by the muscles thus thrown
into contraction; so that all the nerve-cells in the body are thus shown
to have in their vibrations pretty nearly the same period, and not to be
able to vibrate with any other. For no matter how rapidly the electrical
shocks are allowed to play upon the grey matter of the cerebral
hemispheres, as distinguished from the nerve-trunks proceeding from them
to the muscles, the muscles always show the same rhythm of about nine
beats per second: the nerve-cells, unlike the nerve-fibres, refuse to
keep time with the electric shocks, and will only respond to them by
vibrating at their own intrinsic rate of nine beats per second.

Thus much, then, for the rate of molecular vibration which goes on in
nerve-centres. But the rate of such vibration which goes on in sensory
and motor nerves may be very much more rapid. For while a nerve-centre
is only able to _originate_ a vibration at the rate of about nine beats
per second, a motor-nerve, as we have already seen, is able to
_transmit_ a vibration of at least 1,000 beats per second; and a sensory
nerve which at the surface of its expansion is able to respond
differently to differences of musical pitch, of temperature, and even of
colour, is probably able to vibrate very much more rapidly even than
this. We are not, indeed, entitled to conclude that the nerves of
special sense vibrate in actual unison, or synchronize, with these
external sources of stimulation; but we are, I think, bound to conclude
that they must vibrate in some numerical proportion to them (else we
should not perceive objective differences in sound, temperature, or
colour); and even this implies that they are probably able to vibrate at
some enormous rate.

With further reference to these molecular movements in sensory nerves,
the following important observation has been made--viz. that there is a
constant ratio between the amount of agitation produced in a sensory
nerve, and the intensity of the corresponding sensation. This ratio is
not a direct one. As Fechner states it, 'Sensation varies, not as the
stimulus, but as the logarithm of the stimulus.' Thus, for instance, if
1,000 candles are all throwing their light upon the same screen, we
should require ten more candles to be added before our eyes could
perceive any difference in the amount of illumination. But if we begin
with only 100 candles shining upon the screen, we should perceive an
increase in the illumination by adding a single candle. And what is true
of sight is equally true of all the other senses: if any stimulus is
increased, the smallest increase of sensation first occurs when the
stimulus rises one per cent, above its original intensity. Such being
the law on the side of sensation, suppose that we place upon the optic
nerve of an animal the wires proceeding from a delicate galvanometer, we
find that every time we stimulate the eye with light, the needle of the
galvanometer moves, showing electrical changes going on in the nerve,
caused by the molecular agitations. Now these electrical changes are
found to vary in intensity with the intensity of the light used as a
stimulus, and they do so very nearly in accordance with the law of
sensation just mentioned. So we say that in sensation the cerebral
hemispheres are, as it were, acting the part of galvanometers in
appreciating the amount of molecular change which is going on in sensory
nerves; and that they record their readings in the mind as faithfully as
a galvanometer records its readings on the dial.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hitherto we have been considering certain features in the physiology of
nervous action, so far as this can be appreciated by means of
physiological instruments. But we have just seen that the cerebral
hemispheres may themselves be regarded as such instruments, which record
in our minds their readings of changes going on in our nerves. Hence,
when other physiological instruments fail us, we may gain much
additional insight touching the movements of nervous matter by attending
to the thoughts and feelings of our own minds; for these are so many
indices of what is going on in the cerebral hemispheres. I therefore
propose next to contemplate the mind, considered thus as a physiological

The same scientific instinct which led Hobbes so truly to anticipate the
progress of physiology, led him not less truly to anticipate the
progress of psychology. For just as he was the first to enunciate the
fundamental principle of nerve-action in the vibration of molecules, so
was he likewise the first to enunciate the fundamental principle of
psychology in the association of ideas. And the great advance of
knowledge which has been made since his day with respect to both these
principles, entitles us to be much more confident than even he was that
they are in some way intimately united. Moreover, the manner in which
they are so united we have begun clearly to understand. For we know from
our study of nerve-action in general, that when once a wave of invisible
or molecular movement passes through any line of nerve-structure, it
leaves behind it a change in the structure such that it is afterwards
more easy for a similar wave, when started from the same point, to
pursue the same course. Or, to adopt a simile from Hobbes, just as water
upon a table flows most readily in the lines which have been wetted by a
previous flow, so the invisible waves of nerve-action pass most readily
in the lines of a previous passage. This is the reason why in any
exercise requiring muscular co-ordination, or dexterity, 'practice makes
perfect:' the nerve-centres concerned learn to perform their work by
frequently repeating it, because in this way the needful lines of
wave-movement in the structure of the nerve-centre are rendered more and
more permeable by use. Now we have seen that in the nerve-centres called
the cerebral hemispheres, wave-movement of this kind is accompanied with
feeling. Changes of consciousness follow step by step these waves of
movement in the brain, and therefore when on two successive occasions
the waves of movement pursue the same pathway in the brain, they are
attended with a succession of the same ideas in the mind. Thus we see
that the tendency of ideas to _re_cur in the same order as that in
which they have previously _oc_curred, is merely an obverse expression
of the fact that lines of wave-movement in the brain become more and
more permeable by use. So it comes that a child can learn its lessons by
frequently repeating them; so it is that all our knowledge is
accumulated; and so it is that all our thinking is conducted.

A wholly new field of inquiry is thus opened up. By using our own
consciousness as a physiological instrument of the greatest delicacy, we
are able to learn a great deal about the dynamics of brain-action
concerning which we should otherwise remain in total ignorance. But the
field of inquiry thus opened up is too large for me to enter upon
to-day. I will therefore merely observe, in general terms, that although
we are still very far from understanding the operations of the brain in
thought, there can be no longer any question that in these operations of
the brain we have what I may term the objective machinery of thought.
'Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently,' said
Hobbes. Starting from this fact, modern physiology has clearly shown why
it is a fact; and looking to the astonishing rate at which the science
of physiology is now advancing, I think we may fairly expect that within
a time less remote than the two centuries which now separate us from
Hobbes, the course of ideas in a given train of thought will admit of
having its footsteps tracked in the corresponding pathways of the brain.
Be this, however, as it may, even now we know enough to say that,
whether or not these footsteps will ever admit of being thus tracked in
detail, they are all certainly present in the cerebral structures of
each one of us. What we know on the side of mind as logical sequence, is
on the side of the nervous system nothing more than a passage of nervous
energy through one series of cells and fibres rather than through
another: what we recognize as truth is merely the fact of the brain
vibrating in tune with Nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such being the intimate relation between nerve-action and mind-action,
it has become the scientifically orthodox teaching that the two stand to
one another in the relation of cause to effect. One of the most
distinguished of my predecessors in this place, the President of the
Royal Society, has said in one of the most celebrated of his
lectures:--'We have as much reason for regarding the mode of motion of
the nervous system as the cause of the state of consciousness, as we
have for regarding any event as the cause of another.' And, by way of
perfectly logical deduction from this statement, Professor Huxley argues
that thought and feeling have nothing whatever to do with determining
action: they are merely the bye-products of cerebration, or, as he
expresses it, the indices of changes which are going on in the brain.
Under this view we are all what he terms conscious automata, or machines
which happen, as it were by chance, to be conscious of some of their own
movements. But the consciousness is altogether adventitious, and bears
the same ineffectual relation to the activity of the brain as a
steam-whistle bears to the activity of a locomotive, or the striking of
a clock to the time-keeping adjustments of the clock-work. Here, again,
we meet with an echo of Hobbes, who opens his work on the Commonwealth
with these words:--

     'Nature, the art whereby God hath made and governs the world, is by
     the _art_ of man, as in many other things, in this also imitated,
     that it can make an artificial animal. For seeing life is but a
     motion of limbs, the beginning whereof is in the principal part
     within; why may we not say, that all _automata_ (engines that move
     themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch), have an
     artificial life? For what is the _heart_, but a _spring_; and the
     _nerves_, but so many _strings_; and the _joints_, but so many
     _wheels_, giving motion to the whole body, such as was intended by
     the artificer[2]?'

Now, this theory of conscious automatism is not merely a legitimate
outcome of the theory that nervous changes are the causes of mental
changes, but it is logically the only possible outcome. Nor do I see any
way in which this theory can be fought on grounds of physiology. If we
persist in regarding the association between brain and thought
exclusively from a physiological point of view, we must of necessity be
materialists. Further, so far as we are physiologists our materialism
can do us no harm. On the contrary, it is to us of the utmost service,
as at once the simplest physiological explanation of facts already
known, and the best working hypothesis to guide us in our further
researches. But it does not follow from this that the theory of
materialism is true. The bells of St. Mary's over the way always ring
for a quarter of an hour before the University sermon; yet the ringing
of the bells is not the cause of the sermon, although, as long as the
association remains constant, there would be no harm in assuming, for
any practical purposes, that it is so. But just as we should be wrong in
concluding, if we did not happen to know so much about the matter as we
do, that the University sermon is produced by the vibration of bells in
the tower of St. Mary's Church, so we may be similarly wrong if we were
definitely to conclude that the sermon is produced by the vibration of a
number of little nerve-cells in the brain of the preacher.

Now, if time permitted, and if I supposed that you would all care to go
with me into matters of some abstruseness, I could certainly prove that
whatever the connexion between body and mind may be, we have the best
possible reasons for concluding that it is not a causal connexion. These
reasons are, of course, extra-physiological; but they are not on this
account less conclusive. Within the limits of a lecture, however, I can
only undertake to give an outline sketch of what I take to be the
overwhelming argument against materialism.

We have first the general fact that all our knowledge of motion, and so
of matter, is merely a knowledge of the modifications of mind. That is
to say, all our knowledge of the external world--including the knowledge
of our own brains--is merely a knowledge of our own mental states. Let
it be observed that we do not even require to go so far as the
irrefutable position of Berkeley, that the existence of an external
world without the medium of mind, or of being without knowing, is
inconceivable. It is enough to take our stand on a lower level of
abstraction, and to say that whether or not an external world can exist
apart from mind in any absolute or inconceivable sense, at any rate it
cannot do so _for us_. We cannot think any of the facts of external
nature without presupposing the existence of a mind which thinks them;
and therefore, so far at least as we are concerned, mind is necessarily
prior to everything else. It is for us the only mode of existence which
is real in its own right; and to it, as to a standard, all other modes
of existence which may be _in_ferred must be _re_ferred. Therefore, if
we say that mind is a function of motion, we are only saying, in
somewhat confused terminology, that mind is a function of itself.

Such, then, I take to be a general refutation of materialism. To use but
a mild epithet, we must conclude that the theory is unphilosophical,
seeing that it assumes one thing to be produced by another thing, in
spite of an obvious demonstration that the alleged effect is necessarily
prior to its cause. Such, I say, is a general refutation of
materialism. But this is far from being all. 'Motion,' says Hobbes,
'produceth nothing but motion;' and yet he immediately proceeds to
assume that in the case of the brain it produces, not only motion, but
mind. He was perfectly right in saying that with respect to its
movements the animal body resembles an engine or a watch; and if he had
been acquainted with the products of higher evolution in watch-making,
he might with full propriety have argued, for instance, that in the
compensating balance, whereby a watch adjusts its own movements in
adaptation to external changes of temperature, a watch is exhibiting the
mechanical aspect of volition. And, similarly, it is perhaps possible to
conceive that the principles of mechanism might be more and more
extended in their effects, until, in so marvellously perfected a
structure as the human brain, all the voluntary movements of the body
might be originated in the same mechanical manner as are the
compensating movements of a watch; for this, indeed, as we have seen, is
no more than happens in the case of all the nerve-centres other than the
cerebral hemispheres. If this were so, motion would be producing nothing
but motion, and upon the subject of brain-action there would be nothing
further to say. Without consciousness I should be delivering this
lecture; without consciousness you would be hearing it; and all the busy
brains in this University would be conducting their researches, or
preparing for their examinations, mindlessly. Strange as such a state
of things might be, still motion would be producing nothing but motion;
and, therefore, if there were any mind to contemplate the facts, it
would encounter no philosophical paradox: it would merely have to
conclude that such were the astonishing possibilities of mechanism. But,
as the facts actually stand, we find that this is not the case. We find,
indeed, that up to a certain level of complexity mechanism alone is able
to perform all the compensations or adjustments which are performed by
the animal body; but we also find that beyond this level such
compensations or adjustments are never performed without the
intervention of consciousness. Therefore, the theory of automatism has
to meet the unanswerable question--How is it that in the machinery of
the brain motion produces this something which is not motion? Science
has now definitely proved the correlation of all the forces; and this
means that if any kind of motion could produce anything else that is not
motion, it would be producing that which science would be bound to
regard as in the strictest sense of the word a miracle. Therefore, if we
are to take our stand upon science--and this is what materialism
professes to do--we are logically bound to conclude, not merely that the
evidence of causation from body to mind is not so cogent as that of
causation in any other case, but that in this particular case causation
may be proved, again in the strictest sense of the term, a physical

To adduce only one other consideration. Apart from all that I have said,
is it not in itself a strikingly suggestive fact that consciousness
only, yet always, appears upon the scene when the adjustive actions of
any animal body rise above the certain level of intricacy to which I
have alluded? Surely this large and general fact points with
irresistible force to the conclusion, that in the performance of these
more complex adjustments, consciousness--or the power of feeling and the
power of willing--is of some _use_. Assuredly on the principles of
evolution, which materialists at all events cannot afford to disregard,
it would be a wholly anomalous fact that so wide and important a class
of faculties as those of mind should have become developed in constantly
ascending degrees throughout the animal kingdom, if they were entirely
without use to animals. And, be it observed, this consideration holds
good whatever views we may happen to entertain upon the special theory
of natural selection. For the consideration stands upon the general fact
that all the organs and functions of animals are of use to animals: we
never meet, on any large or general scale, with organs and functions
which are wholly adventitious. Is it to be supposed that this general
principle fails just where its presence is most required, and that the
highest functions of the highest organs of the highest animals stand out
of analogy with all other functions in being themselves functionless? To
this question I, for one, can only answer, and answer unequivocally,
No. As a rational being who waits to take a wider view of the facts than
that which is open to the one line of research pursued by the
physiologist, I am forced to conclude that not without a reason does
mind exist in the frame of things; and that apart from the activity of
mind, whereby motion is related to that which is not motion, this planet
could never have held the wonderful being, who in multiplying has
replenished the earth and subdued it--holding dominion over the fish of
the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that

What, then, shall we say touching this mysterious union of mind and
motion? Having found it physically impossible that there should be a
causal connexion proceeding from motion to mind, shall we try to reverse
the terms, and suppose a causal connexion proceeding from mind to
motion? This is the oldest and still the most popular theory--the theory
of spiritualism. And, no doubt, in one important respect it is less
unphilosophical than the opposite theory of materialism. For
spiritualism supposes the causation to proceed from that which is the
source of our idea of causality--the mind: not from that into which this
idea has been read--the brain. Therefore, if causation were to be
accepted as a possibility either way, it would be less unreasonable to
suppose mental changes the causes of material changes than _vice versâ_;
for we should then at least be starting from the basis of immediate
knowledge, instead of from the reflection of that knowledge in what we
call the external world. Seeing that the external world is known to us
only as motion, it is logically impossible for the mind to infer its own
causation from the external world; for this would be to infer that it is
an effect of motion, which would be the same as saying that it is an
effect of its own knowledge; and this would be absurd. But, on the other
hand, it is not thus logically impossible for the mind to infer that it
may be the cause of some of its own knowledge, or, in other words, that
it may have in some measure the power of producing what it knows as
motion. And when the mind does infer this, no logic on earth is able to
touch the inference; the position of pure idealism is beyond the reach
of argument. Nevertheless, it is opposed to the whole momentum of
science. For if mind is supposed, on no matter how small a scale, to be
a cause of motion, the fundamental axiom of science is impugned. This
fundamental axiom is that energy can neither be created nor
destroyed--that just as motion can produce nothing but motion, so,
conversely, motion can be produced by nothing but motion. Regarded,
therefore, from the stand-point of physical science, the theory of
spiritualism is in precisely the same case as the theory of materialism:
that is to say, if the supposed causation takes place, it can only be
supposed to do so by way of miracle.

And this is a conclusion which the more clear-sighted of the idealists
have expressly recognized. That subtle and most entertaining thinker,
for example, the late Professor Green of Oxford, has said that the
self-conscious volition of man 'does not consist in a series of natural
events, ... is not natural in the ordinary sense of that term; not
natural at any rate in any sense in which naturalness would imply its
determination by antecedent events, or by conditions of which it is not
itself the source.'

Thus the theory of spiritualism, although not directly refutable by any
process of logic, is certainly enfeebled by its collision with the
instincts of physical science. In necessarily holding the facts of
consciousness and volition super-natural, extra-natural, or non-natural,
the theory is opposed to the principle of continuity.

Spiritualism being thus unsatisfactory, and materialism impossible, is
there yet any third hypothesis in which we may hope to find intellectual
rest? In my opinion there is. If we unite in a higher synthesis the
elements both of spiritualism and of materialism, we obtain a product
which satisfies every fact of feeling on the one hand, and of
observation on the other. The manner in which this synthesis may be
effected is perfectly simple. We have only to suppose that the
antithesis between mind and motion--subject and object--is itself
phenomenal or apparent: not absolute or real. We have only to suppose
that the seeming duality is relative to our modes of apprehension; and,
therefore, that any change taking place in the mind, and any
corresponding change taking place in the brain, are really not two
changes, but one change. When a violin is played upon we hear a musical
sound, and at the same time we see a vibration of the strings.
Relatively to our consciousness, therefore, we have here two sets of
changes, which appear to be very different in kind; yet we know that in
an absolute sense they are one and the same: we know that the diversity
in consciousness is created only by the difference in our modes of
perceiving the same event--whether we see or whether we hear the
vibration of the strings. Similarly, we may suppose that a vibration of
nerve-strings and a process of thought are really one and the same
event, which is dual or diverse only in relation to our modes of
perceiving it.

The great advantage of this theory is that it supposes only one stream
of causation, in which both mind and motion are simultaneously
concerned. The theory, therefore, escapes all the difficulties and
contradictions with which both spiritualism and materialism are beset.
Thus, motion is supposed to be producing nothing but motion;
mind-changes nothing but mind-changes: both producing both
simultaneously, neither could be what it is without the other, because
without the other neither could be the cause which in fact it is.
Impossible, therefore, is the supposition of the materialist that
consciousness is adventitious, or that in the absence of mind changes
of brain could be what they are; for it belongs to the very causation of
these changes that they should have a mental side. The use of mind to
animals is thus rendered apparent; for intelligent volition is thus
shown to be a true cause of adjustive movement, in that the cerebration
which it involves could not otherwise be possible: the causation would
not otherwise be complete.

A simple illustration may serve at once to render this doctrine more
easily intelligible, and to show that, if accepted, the doctrine, as it
appears to me, terminates the otherwise interminable controversy on the
freedom of the will.

In an Edison lamp the light which is emitted from the burner may be said
indifferently to be caused by the number of vibrations per second going
on in the carbon, or by the temperature of the carbon; for this rate of
vibration could not take place in the carbon without constituting that
degree of temperature which affects our eyes as luminous. Similarly, a
train of thought may be said indifferently to be caused by brain-action
or by mind-action; for, _ex hypothesi_, the one could not take place
without the other. Now, when we contemplate the phenomena of volition by
themselves, it is as though we were contemplating the phenomena of light
by themselves: volition is produced by mind in brain, just as light is
produced by temperature in carbon. And just as we may correctly speak of
light as the cause, say, of a photograph, so we may correctly speak of
volition as the cause of bodily movement. That particular kind of
physical activity which takes place in the carbon could not take place
without the light which causes a photograph; and, similarly, that
particular kind of physical activity which takes place in the brain
could not take place without the volition which causes a bodily
movement. So that volition is as truly a cause of bodily movement as is
the physical activity of the brain; seeing that, in an absolute sense,
the cause is one and the same. But if we once clearly perceive that what
in a relative sense we know as volition is, in a similar sense, the
cause of bodily movement, we terminate the question touching the freedom
of the will. For this question in its last resort--and apart from the
ambiguity which has been thrown around it by some of our
metaphysicians--is merely the question whether the will is to be
regarded as a cause of Nature. And the theory which we have now before
us sanctions the doctrine that it may be so regarded, if only we
remember that its causal activity depends upon its identity with the
obverse aspect known as cerebration, without which identity in apparent
duality neither volition nor cerebration could be the cause which in
fact they are. It thus becomes a mere matter of phraseology whether we
speak of the will determining, or being determined by, changes going on
in the external world; just as it is but a matter of phraseology whether
we speak of temperature determining, or being determined by, molecular
vibration. All the requirements alike of the free-will and of the
bond-will hypotheses are thus satisfied by a synthesis which comprises
them both. On the one hand, it would be as impossible for an
_un_conscious automaton to do the work or to perform the adjustments of
a conscious agent, as it would be for an Edison lamp to give out light
and cause a photograph when not heated by an electric current. On the
other hand, it would be as impossible for the will to originate bodily
movement without the occurrence of a strictly physical process of
cerebration, as it would be for light to shine in an Edison lamp which
had been deprived of its carbon-burner.

It may be said of this theory that it is highly speculative, not
verifiable by any possible experiment, and therefore at best is but a
mere guess. All which is, no doubt, perfectly true; but, on the other
hand, we must remember that this theory comes to us as the only one
which is logically possible, and at the same time competent to satisfy
the facts alike of the outer and of the inner world. It is a speculation
in the sense of not being verifiable by experiment; but it has much more
value than ordinarily attaches to an unverifiable speculation, in that
there is really no alternative hypothesis to be considered: if we choose
to call it a guess, we must at the same time remember it is a guess
where it does not appear that any other is open. Once more to quote
Hobbes, who, as we have seen, was himself a remarkable instance of what
he here says: 'The best prophet naturally is the best guesser; and the
best guesser, he that is most versed and studied in the matters he
guesses at.' In this case, therefore, the best prophet is not the
physiologist, whose guess ends in materialism; nor the purely mental
philosopher, whose guess ends in spiritualism; but rather the man who,
being 'versed and studied' in all the facts appertaining to both sides
of the matter, ends in the only alternative guess which remains open.
And if that most troublesome individual, the 'plain man' of Locke,
should say it seems at least opposed to common sense to suppose that
there is anything in a burning candle or a rolling billiard-ball
substantially the same as mind, the answer is that if he could look into
my brain at this moment he would see nothing there but motion of
molecules, or motion of masses; and apart from the accident of my being
able to tell him so, his 'common sense' could never have divined that
these motions in my brain are concerned in the genesis of my spoken

       *       *       *       *       *

It is obvious that from this hypothesis as to the substantial identity
of mind and motion, two important questions arise; and I feel that some
reference to these questions is in present circumstances forced upon me,
because they have both been considered in precisely the same connexion
by one of the most powerful intellects that was ever sent out into the
world by this University. I mean the late Professor Clifford. As my
intimate and valued friend, I desire to mention his name in this place
with all the affection, as well as with all the admiration, to which I
well know it is so fully entitled; and if I appear to mention him only
in order to disagree with him, this is only because I know equally well
that in his large and magnanimous thought differences of philosophical
opinion were never felt to weaken the bonds of friendship.

In his well-known lecture on Body and Mind, Professor Clifford adopted
the hypothesis of identity which we are now considering, and from it was
led to the conclusion that if in the case of cerebral processes motion
is one with mind, the same must be true of motion wherever it occurs;
or, as he expressed it subsequently, the whole universe must be made of
mind-stuff. But in his view, although matter in motion presents what may
be termed the raw material of mind, it is only in the highly elaborated
constitution of the human brain that this raw material is sufficiently
wrought up to yield a self-conscious personality. Hence the dissolution
of a human brain implies the dissolution of a human mind; and hence also
the universe, although entirely composed of mind-stuff, is itself
mindless. Now, all I have to say about these two deductions is
this--they do not necessarily follow from the theory which is before us.
In holding that the mind of man perishes with his body, and that above
the mind of man there is no other, Clifford may have been right, or may
have been wrong. I am not here to discuss at length any questions of
such supreme importance. But I feel that I am here to insist upon the
one point which is immediately connected with my subject; and this is,
that whether or not Clifford was right in his conclusions, these
conclusions certainly did not follow by way of any logical sequence from
his premises. Because within the limits of human experience mind is only
known as associated with brain, it clearly does not follow that mind
cannot exist in any other mode. It does not even follow that any
probability upon this matter can be thus established. The basis of
analogy on which Clifford sought to rear an inference of cosmical
extent, was restricted to the one instance of mind as known upon one
planet; and, therefore, it is hard to imagine a more precarious use of
that precarious method which is called by logicians simple enumeration.
Indeed, even for what it is worth, the inference may be pointed with
quite as much effect in precisely the opposite direction. For we have
seen how little it is that we understand of the one mode in which we
certainly know that mind does exist; and if from this little we feel
impelled to conclude that there is a mode of mind which is not
restricted to brain, but co-extensive with motion, is consubstantial and
co-eternal with all that was, and is, and is to come; have we not at
least a suggestion, that high as the heavens are above the earth, so
high above our thoughts may be the thoughts of such a mind as this? I
offer no opinion upon the question whether the general order of Nature
does not require some one explanatory cause; nor upon the question
whether the mind of man itself does not point to something kindred in
the self-existing origin of things. I am not concerned to argue any
point upon which I feel that opinions may legitimately differ. I am only
concerned to show that, in so far as any deductions can be drawn from
the theory which is before us, they make at least as much against as in
favour of the cosmical conclusions arrived at by Clifford.

On February 17, in the year 1600, when the streets of Rome were thronged
with pilgrims from all the quarters of Christendom, while no less than
fifty cardinals were congregated for the Jubilee; into the densely
crowded Campo di Fiori a man was led to the stake, where, 'silent and
self-sustained,' before the eyes of all nations, he perished in the
flames. That death was the death of a martyr: it was met voluntarily in
attestation of truth. But most noble of all the noble army to which he
belonged, the name of that man is written large in history, as the name
of one who had fortitude to die, not in the cause of religious belief,
but in that of scientific conviction. For why did Bruno suffer? He
suffered, as we all know, because he refused to recant his persuasion of
the truth of the Copernican theory. Why, then, do I adduce the name of
Bruno at the close of this lecture? I do so because, as far as I have
been able to ascertain, he was the first clearly to enunciate the
monistic theory of things to which the consideration of my subject has
conducted us. This theory--or that as to the substantial identity of
mind and motion--was afterwards espoused, in different guises, by sundry
other writers; but to Bruno belongs the merit of its original
publication, and it was partly for his adherence to this publication
that he died. To this day Bruno is ordinarily termed a pantheist, and
his theory, which in the light of much fuller knowledge I am advocating,
Pantheism. I do not care to consider a difference of terms, where the
only distinction resides in so unintelligible an idea as that of the
creation of substance. It is more to the purpose to observe that in the
mind of its first originator--and this a mind which was sufficiently
clear in its thought to die for its perception of astronomical
truth--the theory of Pantheism was but a sublime extension of the then
contracted views of Theism. And I think that we of to-day, when we look
to the teaching of this martyr of science, will find that in his theory
alone do we meet with what I may term a philosophically adequate
conception of Deity. If the advance of natural science is now steadily
leading us to the conclusion that there is no motion without mind, must
we not see how the independent conclusion of mental science is thus
independently confirmed--the conclusion, I mean, that there is no being
without knowing? To me, at least, it does appear that the time has come
when we may begin, as it were in a dawning light, to see that the study
of Nature and the study of Mind are meeting upon this greatest of
possible truths. And if this is the case--if there is no motion without
mind, no being without knowing--shall we infer, with Clifford, that
universal being is mindless, or answer with a dogmatic negative that
most stupendous of questions--Is there knowledge with the Most High? If
there is no motion without mind, no being without knowing, may we not
rather infer, with Bruno, that it is in the medium of mind, and in the
medium of knowledge, we live, and move, and have our being?

This, I think, is the direction in which the inference points, if we are
careful to set the logical conditions with complete impartiality. But
the ulterior question remains, whether, so far as science is concerned,
it is here possible to point any inference at all: the whole orbit of
human knowledge may be too narrow to afford a parallax for measurements
so vast. Yet even here, if it be true that the voice of science must
thus of necessity speak the language of agnosticism, at least let us see
to it that the language is pure; let us not tolerate any barbarisms
introduced from the side of aggressive dogma. So shall we find that this
new grammar of thought does not admit of any constructions radically
opposed to more venerable ways of thinking; even if we do not find that
the often-quoted words of its earliest formulator apply with special
force to its latest dialects--that if a little knowledge of physiology
and a little knowledge of psychology dispose men to atheism, a deeper
knowledge of both, and, still more, a deeper thought upon their
relations to one another, will lead men back to some form of religion,
which, if it be more vague, may also be more worthy than that of earlier

    'It is a beauteous evening, calm and free;
    The holy time is quiet as a nun,
    Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
    Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
    The gentleness of heaven is on the sea:
    Listen! the mighty being is awake,
    And doth with his eternal motion make
    A sound like thunder, everlastingly.'


[Footnote 1: _Leviathan_, pt. i. chaps, i. and vi.]

[Footnote 2: _Leviathan_, Introduction.]


     'Das Ich ist nicht aus Leib und Seele zusammengesetzt, sondern es
     ist eine bestimmte Entwicklungsstufe des Wesens, das von
     verschiedenem Standpunkt betrachtet in körperliches und geistiges
     Dasein auseinanderfällt.'--Wundt, _Vorlesungen über die
     Menschen-und Thierseele_, i. 293.


In no respect has the progress of physical science exercised a more
profound influence upon philosophical thought than it has by proving an
apparently quantitative relation between material changes and mental
changes. It has always been known that there is qualitative relation.
Even long before mankind suspected that the brain was in any way
connected with thought, it was well understood that alcohol and other
poisons exercised their sundry influences on the mind in virtue of
influences which they exercised upon the body; and even the lowest
savages must always have been aware that a blow on the head is followed
by insensibility. But it was not until the rise of Physiology that this
qualitative relation between corporeal changes and mental changes was
gradually found to be a quantitative one--or that every particular
change of mind had an exact and invariable counterpart in some
particular change of body. It is needless for me to detail the
successive steps in the long course of physiological discovery whereby
this great fact has been established; it is enough to say that the fact
_is_ established to the satisfaction of every physiologist.

Now, when once the relation between material changes and mental changes
has been thus recognized as quantitative--or, which is the same thing,
when once the association has been recognized as both invariable and
exact--there arises the question as to how this relation is to be
explained. Formally considered--or considered as a matter of logical
statement irrespective of the relative probabilities which they may
present, either to the minds of different individuals or to the general
intelligence of the race--it appears to me that the possible hypotheses
are here seven in number.

     I. The mental changes may cause the material changes.

     II. The material changes may cause the mental changes.

     III. There may be no causation either way, because the association
     may be only a phenomenal association--the two apparently diverse
     classes of phenomena being really one and the same.

     IV. There may be no causation either way, because the association
     may be due to a harmony pre-established by a superior mind.

     V. There may be no causation either way, because the association
     may always be due to chance.

     VI. There may be no causation either way, because the material
     order may not have any real existence at all, being merely an ideal
     creation of the mental order.

     VII. Whether or not there be any causation either way, the
     association may be one which it is necessarily beyond the power of
     the human mind to explain.

So far as I can see, this list of possible answers to the question
before us is exhaustive. I will next show why, in my opinion, the last
four of them may be excluded _in limine_.

The suggestion of pre-established harmony (IV) merely postpones the
question: it _assumes_ a higher _mind_ as adjusting correspondencies
between known minds and animal bodies with respect to the activities of
each; and, therefore, it either leaves untouched the ultimate question
concerning the relation of mind (as such) to matter, or else it answers
this question in terms of spiritualism (I).

The suggestion of chance (V) is effectually excluded by the doctrine of
chances: even in any one individual mind, the association between mental
changes and material changes is much too intimate, constant, and
detailed to admit of any one reasonably supposing that it can be due
only to chance.

The suggestion of pure idealism (VI) ultimately implies that the
thinking Ego is itself the sole existence--a position which cannot,
indeed, be turned by any assault of logic; but one which is
nevertheless too obviously opposed to common sense to admit of any
serious defence; its immunity from direct attack arises only from the
gratuitous nature of its challenge to prove a negative (namely, that the
thinking Ego is _not_ the sole existence), and this a negative which is
necessarily beyond the region of proof.

Lastly, the suggestion that the problem is necessarily insoluble (VII)
does not deserve to be regarded as an hypothesis at all; for to suppose
that the problem is necessarily insoluble is merely to exclude the
supposition of there being any hypothesis available.

In view of these several considerations, it appears to me that, although
in a formal sense we may say there are altogether seven possible answers
to the question before us, in reality, or for the purposes of practical
discussion, there are nowadays but three--namely those which head the
above list, and which I will now proceed to consider.

I have named these three hypotheses in the order of their appearance
during the history of philosophical thought. The earliest is the
spiritualistic. As far back as we can trace the conceptions of primitive
man, we meet with an unquestioning belief that it is his spirit which
_animates_ his body; and, starting from this belief as explanatory of
the movements of his own body, he readily attributes movements elsewhere
to analogous agencies--the theory of _animism_ in Nature thus becoming
the universal theory in all early stages of culture. It also appears to
be the theory most natural to our own children during the early years of
their dawning intelligence, and would doubtless continue through life in
the case of every individual human being, were he not subsequently
instructed in the reasons which have led to its rejection by many other
members of his race. These reasons, as already observed, have been
furnished in their entirety only within comparatively recent times; not
until Physiology was able to prove how intimate is the association
between cerebral processes and mental processes did it become possible
for materialism to turn the tables upon spiritualism, by simply
inverting the hypothesis. Lastly, although the theory of Monism (III)
may be traced back at least as far as the pantheistic thought of
Buddhism, it there had reference to theology as distinguished from
psychology. And even as presented in the writings of Bruno, Spinoza, and
other so-called monists prior to the present century, the hypothesis
necessarily lacked completeness on account of the absence of knowledge
afterwards supplied by physiology. For Monism, in the sense of this term
as I shall use it, may be metaphorically regarded as the child of the
two pre-existing theories, Spiritualism and Materialism. The birth of
this child was necessarily impossible before both its parents had
reached mature age. On the one hand it was necessary that the theory of
Spiritualism should have outgrown its infancy as Animism, its childhood
as Polytheism, before it entered upon its youth as Monotheism--or before
it was able to supply material for the conception of Monism as a theory
of cosmical extent. On the other hand, Materialism required to grow into
the fullness of manhood, under the nursing influence of Science, before
it was possible to engender this new-born offspring; for this offspring
is new-born. The theory of Monism, as we are about to consider it, is a
creature of our own generation; and it is only as such that I desire to
call attention to the child. In order, however, to do this, I must
follow the example of biographers in general, and begin by giving a
brief sketch of both the parents.



In proceeding to consider the opposite theories of Spiritualism and
Materialism, it is before all else desirable to be perfectly clear upon
the point of theory whereby they are essentially distinguished. This
point is that which is raised by the question whether mind is the cause
or the effect of motion. Both theories are dualistic, and therefore
agree in holding that there is causation as between mind and motion:
they differ only in their teaching as to the direction in which the
causation proceeds. Of course, out of this fundamental difference there
arise many secondary differences. The most important of these secondary
differences has reference to the nature of the eternal or self-existing
substance. Both theories agree that there is such a substance; but on
the question whether this substance be mental or material, the two
theories give contradictory answers, and logically so. For, if mind as
we directly know it (namely, in ourselves) is taken to be a cause of
motion, within our experience mind is accredited with priority; and
hence the inference that elsewhere, or universally, mind is prior to
motion. Furthermore, as motion cannot take place without something which
moves, this something is likewise supposed to have been the result of
mind: hence the doctrine of the creation by mind both of matter and of
energy. On the other hand, the theory of materialism, by refusing to
assign priority to mind as known directly in ourselves, naturally
concludes that mind is elsewhere, or universally, the result of matter
in motion--in other words, that matter in motion is the eternal or
self-existing substance, and, as such, the cause of mind wherever mind

I may observe, in passing, that although this cosmical deduction from
the theory of materialism is, as I have said, natural, it is not (as is
the case with the corresponding deduction from the theory of
spiritualism) inevitable. For it is logically possible that even though
all known minds be the results of matter in motion, matter in motion may
nevertheless itself be the result of an unknown mind. This, indeed, is
the position virtually adopted by Locke in his celebrated controversy
with the Bishop of Worcester. Having been taken to task by this divine
for the materialistic tendency of his writings, Locke defends himself by
denying the necessary character of the deduction which we are now
considering. For example, he insists, 'I see no contradiction in it that
the first eternal thinking being should, if he pleased, give to certain
systems of created senseless matter, put together as he thinks fit, some
degrees of sense, perception, and thought: though, as I think, I have
proved (lib. IV, ch. 10 and 14 &c.), it is no less than a contradiction
to suppose matter (which is evidently in its own nature void of sense
and thought) should be that eternal first thinking being.' Under this
view, it will be observed, mind is supposed to have the ultimate
priority, and thus to have been the original or creating cause of matter
in motion, which, in turn, becomes the cause (or, at least, the
conditional condition) of mind of a lower order. This view, however,
need not detain us, inasmuch as it can only be held by those who, on
grounds independent of philosophical thinking, already believe in mind
as the First Cause or Eternal Being: this belief granted, there is, of
course, an end of any question as between Spiritualism and Materialism.
I have, therefore, only mentioned this possible phase of spiritualistic
theory, in order to show that the theory of Materialism as applied to a
human being does not _necessarily_ involve an extension of that theory
to the cosmos. But I hold this distinction as of no practical value: it
merely indicates a logical possibility which no one would be likely to
entertain except on grounds independent of those upon which the
philosophical dispute between Spiritualism and Materialism must be

Of more practical importance is the remark already made, namely, that
the fundamental or diagnostic distinction between these two species of
theory consists _only_ in the views which they severally take on the
question of causality. This remark is of practical importance, because
in the debate between spiritualists and materialists it is often lost
sight of: nay, in some cases, it is even expressly ignored. Obviously,
when it is either intentionally or unintentionally disregarded, the
debate ceases to be directed to the question under discussion, and may
then wander aimlessly over the whole field of collateral speculation.
Throughout the present essay, therefore, the discussion will be
restricted to the only topic which we have to discuss--namely, whether
mind is the cause of motion, motion the cause of mind, or neither the
cause of the other.

The view to be first considered--namely, that mind is the cause of
motion--obviously has one great advantage over the opposite view: it
supposes the causality to proceed from that which is the source of our
idea of causality (the mind); not from that into which this idea has
been read by the mind. Hence, it is so far less difficult to imagine
that mental changes are the cause of bodily changes than _vice versa_;
for upon this hypothesis we are starting at least from the substance of
immediate knowledge, and not from the reflection of that knowledge in
what we call the external world.

On the other hand, the theory of Spiritualism labours under certain
speculative difficulties which appear to me overwhelming. The most
formidable of these difficulties arises from the inevitable collision of
the theory with the scientific doctrine of the conservation of energy.
Whether or not we adopt the view that all causation of a physical kind
is ultimately an expression of the fact that matter and energy are
indestructible[3], it is equally certain that this indestructibility is
a necessary condition to the occurrence of causation as natural.
Therefore, if the mind of man is capable of breaking in as an
independent cause upon the otherwise uniform system of natural
causation, the only way in which it could do so would be by either
destroying or creating certain _quanta_ of either matter or energy or
both. But to suppose the mind capable of doing any of these things would
be to suppose that the mind is a cause in some other sense than a
physical or a natural cause; it would be to suppose that the mind is a
super-natural cause, or, more plainly, that all mental activity, so far
as it is an efficient cause of bodily movement, is of the nature of a

This conclusion, which appears to me unavoidably implicated in the
spiritualistic hypothesis, is not merely improbable _per se_, but admits
of being shown virtually impossible if we proceed to consider the
consequences to which it necessarily leads. A sportsman, for example,
pulls the trigger of a gun, thereby initiating a long train of physical
causes, which we may take up at the point where the powder is
discharged, the shot propelled, and the bird dropped. Here the man's
volition is supposed to have broken in upon the otherwise continuous
stream of physical causes--first by modifying the molecular movements of
his brain, so as to produce the particular co-ordination of
neuro-muscular movement required to take accurate aim and to fire at the
right moment; next by converting a quantity of gunpowder into gas,
propelling a quantity of lead through the air; and finally, by killing a
bird. Now, without tracing the matter further than this, let us consider
how enormous a change the will of the man has introduced, even by so
trivial an exercise of its activity. No doubt the first change in the
material world was exceedingly slight: the molecular movement in the
cortex of his brain was probably not more than might be dynamically
represented by some small fraction of a foot-pound. But so intricate is
the _nexus_ of physical causality throughout the whole domain of Nature,
that the intervention of even so minute a disturbance _ab extra_ is
obviously bound to continue to assert an influence of ever-widening
extent as well as of everlasting duration. The heat generated by the
explosion of the powder, the changed disposition of the shot, the death
of the bird--leading to innumerable physical changes as to stoppage of
many mechanical processes previously going on in the bird's body, loss
of animal heat, &c., and also to innumerable vital changes, leading to
a stoppage of all the mechanical changes which the bird would have
helped to condition had it lived to die some other death, to propagate
its kind, and thus indirectly condition an incalculable number of future
changes that would have been brought about by the ever increasing number
of its descendants--these and an indefinite number of other physical
changes must all be held to have followed as a direct consequence of the
man's volition thus suddenly breaking in as an independent cause upon
the otherwise uniform course of Nature. Now, I say that, apart from some
system of pre-established harmony, it appears simply inconceivable that
the order of Nature could be maintained at all, if it were thus liable
to be interfered with at any moment in any number of points. And if the
spiritualist takes refuge in the further hypothesis of a pre-established
harmony between acts of human (not to add brute) volition and causes of
a natural kind, we have only to observe that he thus lands himself in a
speculative position which is practically identical with that occupied
by the materialist. For the only difference between the two positions
then is that the necessity which the materialist takes to be imposed on
human volition by the system of natural causation, is now taken by the
spiritualist to be equally imposed by a super-natural volition. The
necessity which binds the human volition must be equally rigid in
either case; and therefore it can make no practical difference whether
the source of it be regarded as natural or super-natural, material or
mental: so that a man be fated to will only in certain ways--and this
with all the rigour which belongs to causation as physical--it is
scarcely worth while to dispute whether the predestination is of God or
of Nature. There can be no question, however, that in this matter the
possibility which I have supposed to be suggested by the spiritualist is
more far-fetched than that which obviously lies to the hand of the
materialist; and, moreover, that it too plainly wears the appearance of
a desperate device to save a hollow theory.

It remains to add that this great difficulty against the spiritualistic
theory has been revealed in all its force only during the present
generation. Since the days of fetishism, indeed, the difficulty has
always been an increasing one--growing with the growth of the perception
of uniformity on the one hand, and of mechanical as distinguished from
volitional agency on the other. But it was not until the correlation of
all the physical forces had been proved by actual experiment, and the
scientific doctrine of the conservation of energy became as a
consequence firmly established, that the difficulty in question assumed
the importance of a logical barrier to the theory of mental changes
acting as efficient causes of material changes.


[Footnote 3: In the opinion of some modern writers the indestructibility
of matter and the conservation of energy are alone sufficient to explain
all the facts of natural causation. 'For,' it is urged, 'if in any case
similar antecedents did not determine similar consequents, on one or
other of these occasions some _quantum_ of force, or of matter, or of
both, must have disappeared--or, which is the same thing, the law of
causation cannot have been constant.' In a future chapter I shall have
to recur to this view. Meanwhile I have only to observe that whether or
not the law of causation is nothing more than a re-statement of the fact
that matter and energy are indestructible, it is equally true that this
fact is at least a necessary _condition_ to the operation of that law.]



This is the theory which presents great fascination to the student of
physical science. By laborious investigation physiology has established
the fact beyond the reach of rational dispute, that there is a constant
relation of concomitancy between cerebral action and thought. Within
experience mind is found in constant and definite association with that
highly complex and peculiar disposition of matter called a living brain.
The size and elaboration of this peculiar structure throughout the
animal kingdom stand in conspicuous proportion to the degree of
intelligence displayed; while the impairment of this structure, whether
by congenital defect, mutilation, anaemia, decay, or appropriate poison,
entails corresponding impairment of mental processes. Thus much being
established, no reasonable man can hesitate in believing the relation
between neurosis and psychosis to be a constant and concomitant
relation, so that the step between this, and regarding it as a causal
relation, seems indeed a small one. For, in all matters of physical
inquiry, whenever we have proved a constant relation of concomitancy in
a sequence _A B_, we call _A_ the cause of _B_; and, therefore, it has
been frequently said that the evidence of causation between neurosis and
psychosis is recognized causation. Lastly, to fortify this hypothesis,
materialists point to the doctrine of the conservation of energy, which
is supplied by the science of physics as a sort of buttress in this
matter to the teachings of physiology. For, as this doctrine compels us
to believe that the chain of physical causation involved in cerebral
processes can nowhere be broken or deflected _ab extra_, we are
compelled to believe that the mental processes, which are correlatively
associated with these cerebral processes, can nowhere escape from 'the
charmed circle of the forces,' so that whether we look to the detailed
teachings of physiology, or to the more general teachings of physics, we
alike perceive that natural science appears to leave no locus for mind
other than as a something which is in some way a result of motion.

The position of Materialism being thus at first sight so naturally
strong, and having been in recent years so fortified by the labours of
physiology, it is not surprising that in the present generation
Materialism should be in the ascendant. It is the simple truth, as a
learned and temperate author, speaking from the side of theology, has
recently said, that

     'Materialism is a danger to which individuals and societies will
     always be more or less exposed. The present generation, however,
     and especially the generation which is growing up, will obviously
     be very especially exposed to it; as much so, perhaps, as any
     generation in the history of the world. Within the last thirty
     years the great wave of spiritualistic or idealistic thought ...
     has been receding and decreasing; and another, which is in the main
     driven by materialistic forces, has been gradually rising behind,
     vast and threatening. It is but its crest that we at present see;
     it is but a certain vague shaking produced by it that we at present
     feel; but we shall probably soon enough fail not both to see and
     feel it fully and distinctly[4].'

Such being the present importance of Materialism, I shall devote the
present chapter to a consideration of this theory. Each of the points in
the argument for Materialism which I have mentioned above admits, of
course, of elaboration; but I think that their enumeration contains all
that is essential to the theory in question. It now devolves upon us to
inquire whether this theory is adequate to meet the facts.

And here I may as well at once give it as my own opinion that, of
however much service the theory of Materialism may be, up to a certain
point, it can never be accepted by any competent mind as a final
explanation of the facts with which it has to deal. Unquestionable as
its use may be as a fundamental hypothesis in physiology and medicine,
it is wholly inadequate as a hypothesis in philosophy. That is to say,
so long as there is a constant relation of concomitancy found by
experience to obtain between neural processes and mental processes, so
long no harm can accrue to physical science by assuming, for its own
purposes, that this relation is a causal one. But as soon as the
question concerning the validity of this assumption is raised into the
region of philosophy, it receives the answer that the assumption cannot
be allowed to pass. For where the question becomes one not as to the
_fact_ of the association but as to its _nature_, philosophy, which must
have regard to the facts of mind no less than to those of matter, must
pronounce that the hypothesis is untenable; for the hypothesis of this
association being one of causality acting from neurosis to psychosis,
cannot be accepted without doing violence, not merely to our faculty of
reason, but to our very idea of causation itself.

A very small amount of thinking is enough to show that what I call my
knowledge of the external world, is merely a knowledge of my own mental
modifications. A step further and I find that my idea of causation as a
principle in the external world is derived from my knowledge of this
principle in the internal world. For I find that my idea of force and
energy in the external world is a mere projection of the idea which I
have of effort within the region of my own consciousness; and therefore
my only idea of causation is that which is originally derived from the
experience which I have of this principle as obtaining among my own
mental modifications.

If once we see plainly that the idea of causation is derived from
within, and that what we call the evidence of physical causation is
really the evidence of mental modifications following one another in a
definite sequence, we shall then clearly see, not merely that we have no
evidence, but that we _can have_ no evidence of causation as proceeding
from object to subject. However cogent the evidence may appear at first
sight to be, it is found to vanish like a cloud as soon as it is exposed
to the light of adequate contemplation. In the very act of thinking the
evidence, we are virtually denying its possibility as evidence; for as
evidence it appeals only to the mind, and since the mind can only know
its own sequences, the evidence must be presenting to the mind an
account of its own modifications; from the mere fact, therefore, of its
being accepted as thinkable, the evidence is proved to be illusory.

To uneducated men it appears an indisputable fact of 'common sense' that
the colour of a flower exists as perceived in the flower, apart from any
relation to the percipient mind. A physiologist has gone further into
the thicket of things, and finds that the way is not so simple as this.
He regards the quality of colour as necessarily related to the faculty
of visual perception; does not suppose that the colour exists _as such_
in the flower, but thinks of the something there as a certain order of
vibrations which, when brought into relation with consciousness through
the medium of certain nerves, gives rise to the perception experienced;
and in order to account for the translation into visual feeling of an
event so unlike that feeling as is the process taking place in the
flower, physiologists have recourse to an elaborate theory, such as that
of Helmholtz or Hering. In other words, physiologists here fully
recognize that colour, or any other thing perceived, only exists _as
perceived_ in virtue of a subjective element blending with an objective;
the thing _as perceived_ is recognized as having no existence apart from
its relation to a percipient mind. Now, although physiologists are at
one with the philosophers thus far, it is to be feared that very
frequently they are in the same position as the above-mentioned
'uneducated men,' when it becomes needful to press still further into
the thicket. For after having distinguished the necessity of recognizing
a mind-element in any possible theory of perception, they forthwith
proceed to disregard this element when passing from the ground of
perception to that of thought. Although the ideas of matter, motion,
causation, and so on, are themselves as much the offspring of a thinking
mind, with its environment, as the perception of colour is a conceiving
of the percipient mind, with _its_ environment, these ideas are
inconsistently supposed to stand for equivalent realities of the
external world--to truly represent things that are virtually independent
of any necessary relation to mind. Or, as the case has recently been
well put by Principal Caird:

     'You cannot get mind as an ultimate product of matter, for in the
     very attempt to do so you have already begun with mind. The
     easiest step of any such inquiry involves categories of thought,
     and it is in terms of thought that the very problem you are
     investigating can be so much as stated. You cannot start in your
     investigations with a bare, self-identical, objective fact,
     stripped of every ideal element or contribution from thought. The
     least and lowest part of outward observation is not an independent
     entity--fact _minus_ mind, and out of which mind may, somewhere or
     other, be seen to emerge; but it is fact or object as it appears to
     an observing mind, in the medium of thought, having mind or thought
     as an inseparable factor of it. Whether there be such a thing as an
     absolute world outside of thought, whether there be such things as
     matter and material atoms existing in themselves before any mind
     begins to perceive or think about them, is not the question before
     us. If it were possible to conceive of such atoms, at any rate you,
     before you begin to make anything of them, must think them; and you
     can never, by thinking about atoms, prove that there is no such
     thing as thought other than as an ultimate product of atoms. Before
     you could reach thought or mind as a last result you must needs
     eliminate from it the data of the problem with which you start, and
     that you can never do, any more than you can stand on your own
     shoulders or outstrip your own shadow.... In one word, to
     constitute the reality of the outward world--to make possible the
     minimum of knowledge, nay, the very existence for us of molecules
     and atoms--you must needs presuppose that thought or thinking self,
     which some would persuade us is to be educed or evolved from
     them.... To make thought a function of matter is thus, simply, to
     make thought a function of itself[5].'

From this reasoning there can be no escape; and it is more rational for
a man to believe that colour exists as such in a flower than, after
having plainly seen that such cannot be the case, forthwith to
disregard the teaching of this analogy, and to imagine that any apparent
evidence of mind as a result of matter or motion can possibly be
entertained as real evidence.

Remembering, then, that from the nature of this particular case it is as
impossible for mind to prove its own causation as it is for water to
rise above its source, it may still be well, for the sake of further
argument, to sink this general consideration, and to regard such
spurious evidence of causation as is presented by Materialism, without
prejudice arising from its being _primâ facie_ inadmissible.

Materialists, as already observed, are fond of saying that the evidence
of causation from neurosis to psychosis is as good as such evidence can
be proved to be in any other case. Now, quite apart from the general
considerations just adduced to show that from the peculiar nature of
this case there can here be no such evidence at all--quite apart from
this, and treating the problem on the lower ground of the supposed
analogy, it may be clearly shown that the statement is untrue. For a
little thought will show that in point of fact the only resemblance
between this supposed case of causation and all other cases of
recognized causation, consists in the invariability of the correlation
between cerebral processes and mental processes; in all other points the
analogy fails. For in all cases of recognized causation there is a
perceived _connexion_ between the cause and the effect; the antecedents
are physical, and the consequents are physical. But in the case before
us there is no perceived, or even conceivable, connexion between the
cause and the effect; for the causes are supposed to be physical and the
effects mental. And the antithesis thus posited is alone sufficient to
separate _toto coelo_ the case of causation supposed from that of all
cases of causation recognized. From the singularly clear and
well-balanced statement of this subject given by Professor Allman in his
Presidential Address before the British Association, I may here fitly
quote the following:--

     'If we could see any analogy between thought and any one of the
     admitted phenomena of matter, we should be justified in the first
     of these conclusions (i. e. that of Materialism) as the simplest,
     and as affording a hypothesis most in accordance with the
     comprehensiveness of natural laws; but between thought and the
     physical phenomena of matter there is not only no analogy, but no
     conceivable analogy; and the obvious and continuous path which we
     have hitherto followed up in our reasonings from the phenomena of
     lifeless matter through those of living matter here comes suddenly
     to an end. The chasm between unconscious life and thought is deep
     and impassable, and no transitional phenomena can be found by
     which, as by a bridge, we may span it over[6].'

And, not unduly to multiply quotations, I shall only adduce one more
from another of the few eminent men of science who have seen their way
clearly in this matter, and have expressed what they have seen in
language as clear as their vision. Professor Tyndall writes:--

     'The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding
     facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite
     thought and a definite molecular action in the brain occur
     simultaneously, we do not possess the intellectual organ, nor
     apparently any rudiment of the organ, which would enable us to
     pass, by a process of reasoning, from the one phenomenon to the
     other. They appear together but we do not know why. Were our minds
     and senses so expanded, strengthened, and illuminated, as to enable
     us to see and feel the very molecules of the brain; were we capable
     of following all their motions, all their groupings, all their
     electrical discharges, if such there be; and were we intimately
     acquainted with the corresponding states of thought and feeling, we
     should be as far as ever from the solution of the problem. How are
     these physical processes connected with the facts of consciousness?
     The chasm between the two classes of phenomena would still remain
     intellectually impassable[7].'

Next, in all cases of recognized causation there is a perceived
_equivalency_ between cause and effect, such equivalency belonging to
the very essence of that in which we conceive causation to consist. But
as between matter and motion on the one side, and feeling and thought on
the other, there can be no such equivalency conceivable. That no such
equivalency is conceivable may be rendered apparent on grounds of
Materialism itself. For Materialism is bound to accept the fundamental
doctrine of modern physics--that, viz. as to the conservation of
energy--and therefore it becomes evident that unless we assimilate
thought with energy, there is no possibility of a causal relation, or a
relation of equivalency, as obtaining between the one and the other.
For however little we may know about brain-dynamics, materialists, at
least, must take it for granted that in every process of cerebration the
matter and force concerned are indestructible quantities, and therefore
that all their possible equations are fully satisfied, could we but
follow them out. Howsoever complex we may suppose the flux and reflux of
forces to be within the structure of a living brain, it is no more
possible for any one of the forces concerned to escape from brain to
mind, than it would be for such an escape to occur in a steam-engine or
a watch; the doctrine of the conservation of energy forms an insuperable
bar to the supposition that any equation in the region of physics can be
left unsatisfied, in order to pass over and satisfy some other equation
in the region of psychics.

Of course in saying this I am aware that some of the more clear-sighted
of the materialists have plainly perceived this difficulty in all its
magnitude, and so have felt that unless it can be met, any theory of
Materialism must necessarily contain a radical contradiction of
principles. Some few materialists have therefore sought to meet the
difficulty in the only way it can be met, viz. by boldly asserting the
possibility of thought and energy being transmutable. On this view
thought becomes a mode of motion, and takes its rank among the forces as
identical in nature with heat, light, electricity, and the rest. But
this view is also inherently impossible. For suppose, as a matter of
argument, that physiologists should discover a mechanical equivalent of
thought, so that we might estimate the value of a calculation in thermal
units, or the 'labour of love' in foot-pounds: still we should not be
out of our difficulties; we should only have to cut a twist of flax to
find a lock of iron. For by thus assimilating thought with energy, we
should in no wise have explained the fundamental antithesis between
subject and object. The fact would remain, if possible, more
unaccountable than ever, that mind should present absolutely no point of
real analogy with motion. Involved with the essential idea of motion is
the idea of extension; suppress the latter and the former must
necessarily vanish, for motion only means transition in space of
something itself extended. But thought, as far as we can possibly know
it, is known and distinguished by the very peculiarity of not having
extension. Therefore, even if we were to find a mechanical equivalent of
thought, thought would still not be proved a mode of motion. On the
contrary, what would be proved would be that, in becoming transformed
into thought, energy had ceased to be energy; in passing out of its
relation to space it would cease to exist as energy, and if it again
passed into that relation it would only be by starting _de novo_ on a
new course of history. Therefore the proof that thought has a mechanical
equivalent would simply amount to the proof, not that thought _is_
energy, but that thought _destroys_ energy. And if Materialism were to
prove this, Materialism would commit suicide. For if once it were
proved that the relation of energy to thought is such that thought is
able to absorb or temporarily to annihilate energy, the whole argument
of Materialism would be inverted, and whatever evidence there is of
causation as between mind and matter would become available in all its
force on the side of Spiritualism. This seems plain, for if it even were
conceivable--which most distinctly it is not--that a motor could ever
become a motive, and so pass from the sphere of dynamics into the sphere
of consciousness, the fact would go to prove, not that the motor was the
cause of the motive, but rather that the motive was the cause of
destroying the motor; so that at that point the otherwise unbroken chain
of physical sequences was interrupted by the motive striking in upon it,
and in virtue of the mysterious power supposed to have been proved by
physiology, cancelling the motor, so allowing the nerve-centre to act as
determined by the motive.

Of course I wish it to be understood that I believe we are here dealing
with what I may call, in perhaps suitably contradictory terms,
inconceivable conceptions. But let it be remembered that I am not
responsible for this ambiguity; I am only showing what must be the
necessary outcome of analysis if we begin by endeavouring phenomenally
to unite the most antithetical of elements--mind and motion.
Materialism, at least, will not be the gainer should it ever be proved
that in the complex operations of the brain a unique exception occurs
to the otherwise universal law of the conservation of energy in space.

We may, therefore, quit the suggestion that the difficulty experienced
by Materialism of showing an equivalency between neurosis and psychosis
can ever be met by assuming that some day mental processes may admit of
being expressed in terms of physical. But before leaving this difficulty
with regard to equivalency, I may mention one other point that seems to
me of importance in connexion with it. I have already said that if we
suppose causation to proceed from brain to mind, we must suppose this
essential requirement of equivalency between the cerebral causes and the
mental effects to be satisfied somewhere.

But where are we to say that it is satisfied? Even if we suppose that
thought has a mechanical equivalent, and that causation proceeds in the
direction from energy to thought, still, when we have regard to the
supposed effects, we find that even yet they bear no kind of equivalency
to their supposed causes. The brain of a Shakespeare probably did not,
as a system, exhibit so much energy as does the brain of an elephant;
and the cerebral operations of a Darwin may not have had a very
perceptibly larger mechanical equivalent than those of a banker's clerk.
Yet in the world of thought the difference between our estimate of the
results, or 'work done,' in these cases is such as to drive all ideas of
equivalency to the winds. Doubtless, a materialist will answer that it
is not fair to take our estimate of 'work done' in the world of mind as
the real equivalent of the energy supposed to have passed over from the
world of motion, seeing that our estimate is based, not on the
quantitative amount of thought produced, but rather on its qualitative
character with reference to the social requirements of the race. But to
this it is enough to answer that we have no means of gauging the
quantity of thought produced other than by having regard to _its_
effects in the world of mind, and this we cannot do except by having
regard to its qualitative character. Many a man, for instance, must have
consumed more than a thousand times the brain-substance and brain-energy
that Shelley expended over his 'Ode to a Skylark,' and yet as a result
have produced an utterly worthless poem. Now, in what way are we to
estimate the 'work done' in two such cases, except by looking to the
relative effects produced in the only region where they are produced,
viz. in the region of mind? Yet, when we do so estimate them, what
becomes of the evidence of equivalency between the physical causes and
the psychical effects?

Now if thus, whether or not we try to form an estimate, it is impossible
to show any semblance of equivalency between the supposed causes and the
alleged effects, how can any one be found to say that the evidence of
causation is here as valid as it is in any other case? The truth rather
is that the alleged effects stand out of every relation to the supposed
causes, with the exception only of being associated in time.

There still remains one other enormous difficulty in the way of the
theory of Materialism; it necessarily embodies the theory of _conscious
automatism_, and is therefore called upon to explain why consciousness
and thought have ever appeared upon the scene of things at all. That
this is the necessary position of Materialism is easily proved as
follows. We have already seen that Materialism would commit suicide by
supposing that energy could be transmuted into thought, for this would
amount to nothing short of supposing the destruction of energy as such;
and to suppose energy thus destructible would be to open wide the door
of spiritualism. Materialism, therefore, is logically bound to argue in
this way: We cannot conceive of a conscious idea, or mental change, as
in any way affecting the course of a cerebral reflex, or material
change; while, on the other hand, our knowledge of the conservation of
energy teaches us as an axiom that the cerebral changes must determine
each other in their sequence as in a continuous series. Nowhere can we
suppose the physical process to be interrupted or diverted by the
psychical process; and therefore we must conclude that thought and
volition really play no part whatever in determining action. Thoughts
and feelings are but indices which show in the mirror of the mind
certain changes that are proceeding in the matter of the brain, and are
as inefficient in influencing those changes as the shadow of a cloud is
powerless to direct the movements of that of which it is the shadow.

But when Materialism reaches, in a clear and articulate manner, this
inference as a conclusion necessary from its premises, it becomes
opposed at once to common sense and to the requirements of methodical
reason. It becomes opposed to common sense because we all feel it is
practically impossible to believe that the world would now have been
exactly what it is even if consciousness, thought, and volition had
never appeared upon the scene--that railway trains would have been
running filled with mindless passengers, or that telephones would have
been invented by brains that could not think to speak to ears that could
not hear. And the conclusion is opposed to the requirements of
methodical reason, because reason to be methodical is bound to have an
answer to the question that immediately arises from the conclusion. This
question simply is, Why have consciousness, thought, and volition ever
been called into existence; and why are they related, as they are
related, to cerebral action? Materialism, by here undertaking to prove
that these things stand uselessly isolated from all other things, is
bound to show some reason why they ever came to be, and to be what they
are. For observe, it is not merely that these things exist in a supposed
unnecessary relation to all other things; the fact to be explained is
that they exist in a most intimately woven and invariable connexion with
certain highly complex forms of organic structure and certain highly
peculiar distributions of physical force. Yet these unique and
extraordinary things are supposed by automatism to be always results and
never causes; in the theatre of things they are supposed to be always
spectators and never actors; in the laboratory of life they are supposed
to be always by-products; and therefore in the order of nature they are
supposed to have no _raison d'être_. Such a state of matters would be
accountable enough if the stream of mental changes were but partly,
occasionally, and imperfectly associated with the stream of material
changes; but as the association is so minute, invariable, and precise,
the hypothesis of the association being merely accidental, or _not
requiring explanation_, becomes, at the bar of methodical reasoning,
self-convicted of absurdity.

The state of the case, then, simply is that two distinct facts stand to
be explained by the theory of conscious automatism--first, why psychosis
should ever have been developed as a mysterious appendage to neurosis;
and, secondly, why the association between these things should be so
intimate and precise. Assuredly, on the principles of evolution, which
materialists at least cannot afford to disregard, it would be a wholly
anomalous fact that so wide and general a class of phenomena as those of
mind should have become developed in constantly ascending degrees
throughout the animal kingdom, if they are entirely without use to
animals. If psychosis is, as supposed, a function of neurosis, the
doctrine of natural selection alone would forbid us to imagine that this
function differs from all other functions in being itself functionless.
If it would be detrimental to the theory of natural selection that any
one isolated structure--such as the tail of a rattlesnake--should be
adapted to perform a function useless to the animal possessing it, how
utterly destructive of that theory would be the fact that all the
phenomena of mind have been elaborated as functions of nerve-tissue
without any one of them ever having been of any use either to the
individual or to the species. And the difficulty that thus arises is
magnified without limit when we remember that the phenomena of mind are
invariable in their association with cerebral structure, grade for
grade, and process for process.

It is of no argumentative use to point to the fact that many adaptive
movements in animals are performed by nerve-centres apart from any
association with consciousness or volition, because all the facts on
this head go to prove that consciousness and volition come in most
suggestively just where adaptive movements begin to grow varied and
complex, and then continue to develop with a proportional reference to
the growing variety and complexity of these movements. The facts,
therefore, irresistibly lead to the conclusion (if we argue here as we
should in the case of any other function) that consciousness and
volition are functions of nerve-tissue super-added to its previous
functions, in order to meet new and more complex demands on its powers
of adaptation.

Neither is it of any argumentative use to point to the fact that
adaptive actions which originally are performed with conscious volition
may by practice come to be performed without conscious volition. For it
is certain that no adaptive action of quite a novel kind is ever
performed from the first without consciousness of its performance, and
therefore, although it is true that by repetition its performance may
become mechanical or unconscious, this does not prove that consciousness
was without use in producing the adaptive action. It only proves that
after a nervous mechanism has been elaborated by the help of
consciousness, consciousness may be withdrawn and leave the finished
mechanism to work alone; the structure having been completed, the
scaffolding necessary to its completion may be removed.

But passing over this difficulty which the theory of conscious
automatism seems bound to encounter in its collision with the theory of
natural selection, the most insuperable of all its difficulties arises
from the bare fact, which it cannot explain, that conscious intelligence
exists, and exists in the most intimate relation with one peculiar kind
of material structure. For automatists must concede that the evidence
of causation in the region of mind is at least as cogent as it is in the
region of matter, seeing that the whole science of psychology is only
rendered possible as a science by the fundamental fact of observation
that mental antecedents determine mental consequents. Therefore, if we
call a physical sequence _A, B, C_, and a mental sequence _a, b, c_
automatists have to explain, not merely why there should be such a thing
as a mental sequence at all, but also why the sequence _a, b, c_ should
always proceed, link for link, with the sequence _A, B, C_. It clearly
is no answer to say that the sequence _A, B, C_ implies the successive
activity of certain definite nerve-centres _A', B', C'_ which have for
their subjective effects the sequence _a, b, c_ so that whenever the
sequence _A, B, C_ occurs the sequence _a, b, c_ must likewise occur.
This is no answer, because it merely restates the hypothesis of
automatism, and begs the whole question to be discussed. What methodical
reason demands as an answer is simply why the sequence _A, B, C_ even
though we freely grant it due to the successive activity of certain
definite nerve-centres, should be attended by the sequence _a, b, c_.
Reason perceives clearly enough that the sequence _a, b, c_ belongs to a
wholly different category from the sequence _A, B, C_ the one being
immediately known as a process taking place in a something which is
without extension or physical properties of any kind, and the other
taking place in a something which when, translated by the previous
something, we recognize as having extension and the other antithetical
properties which we class together as physical. There would of course be
no difficulty if the sequence _A, B, C_ continued through any amount of
complexity in the same conceivable category of being; so that there
would be nothing actually inconceivable in cerebral sequence--changes
running through _D, E, F_, &c., to an extent sufficient to cause
unconscious automatism of any degree of complexity. But that which does
require explanation from automatists is why automatism should have
become associated with consciousness, and this so intimately that every
change in the sequence _A, B, C_, &c., is accompanied by a particular
and corresponding change in the sequence _a, b, c_, &c. Thus, to take a
definite illustration, if on seeing the sun I think of a paper on solar
physics, and from this pass to thinking of Mr. Norman Lockyer, and from
this to speculating on the probability of certain supposed elements
being really compounds, there is here a definite causal connexion in the
sequence of my _thoughts_. But it is the last extravagance of absurdity
to tell me that the accompanying causal sequences going on in my brain
happen to have exactly corresponded to the sequences which were taking
place in the mind, the two trains of sequences being each definite and
coherent in themselves, and yet each proceeding link for link in lines
parallel with the other. Without some theory of pre-established
harmony--which, of course, it is no part of automatism to entertain--it
would, on the doctrine of chances alone, be impossible to suppose that
the causal sequences in the brain always happen to be just those which,
by running link for link with another set of causal sequences taking
place in the mind, enable both the series to be definite and coherent in
themselves. Therefore, before reason can allow the theory of automatism
to pass, it must be told how this wonderful fact of parallelism is to be
explained. There must be _some_ connexion between the intrinsically
coherent series _A, B, C_ and the no less intrinsically coherent
sequence _a, b, c_, which may be taken as an explanation why they
coincide each to each. What is this connexion? We do not know; but we
have now seen that, whatever it is, it cannot be an ordinary causal
connexion--first, because the doctrine of the conservation of energy
makes it incumbent on us to believe that the procession of physical
cause and effect is complete within the region of brain--a closed
circle, as it were, from which no energy can, without argumentative
suicide, be supposed to escape into the region of mind; and next,
because, even were this difficulty disregarded, it is unaccountable that
the causative influence (whatever it is supposed to be), which passes
over from the region of physics into that of psychics, should be such as
to render the psychical series coherent in itself, when on the physical
side the series must be determined by purely physical conditions,
having no reference whatsoever to psychical requirements.

Thus it is argumentatively impossible for Materialism to elude the
necessity of explaining the kind of connexion which it supposes to
subsist between neurosis and psychosis; and forasmuch as the above
considerations clearly show this connexion cannot be accepted as one of
ordinary causality without some answer being given to the questions
which reason has to ask, Materialism must be ruled out of court if she
fails to respond to the demand. But it is no less clearly impossible
that she can respond to the demand, and therefore at the bar of
Philosophy Materialism must be pronounced, for this as well as for the
reasons previously cited, conspicuously inadequate to account for the


[Footnote 4: Professor Flint, _Antitheistic Theories_, p. 99.]

[Footnote 5: _Philosophy of Religion_, pp. 95, 99, and 101.]

[Footnote 6: British Association Report, 1879, p. 28.]

[Footnote 7: British Association Report, 1868. Trans. of Sections, p.



We have seen, then, that both the alternative theories of Spiritualism
and Materialism are found, when carefully examined, to be so beset with
difficulties of a necessary and fundamental kind, that it is impossible
to entertain either without closing our eyes to certain contradictions
which they severally and inherently present. We may, indeed, go even
further than this, and affirm that to suppose mind the cause of motion
or motion the cause of mind is equally to suppose that which in its very
nature as a supposition is neither true nor untrue, but nonsensical.
For, as Prof. Clifford has said in his essay on _Body and Mind_,--

     'It may be conceived that, at the same time with every exercise of
     volition, there is a disturbance of the physical laws; but this
     disturbance, being perceptible to me, would be a physical fact
     accompanying the volition, and could not be volition itself, which
     is not perceptible to me. Whether there is such a disturbance of
     the physical laws or no is a question of fact to which we have the
     best of reasons for giving a negative answer; but the assertion
     that another man's volition, a feeling in his consciousness which
     I cannot perceive, is part of the train of physical facts which I
     may perceive,--this is neither true nor untrue, but nonsense; it is
     a combination of words whose corresponding ideas will not go

And seeing that the correlatives are in each case the same, it is
similarly 'nonsense' to assert the converse proposition: or, in other
words, it is equally nonsense to speak of mental action causing cerebral
action, or of cerebral action causing mental action--nonsense of the
same kind as it would be to speak of the _Pickwick Papers_ causing a
storm at sea, or the eruption of a volcano causing the forty-seventh
proposition in the first book of Euclid.

We see, then, that two of the three possible theories of things contain
the elements of their own destruction: when carefully analyzed, both
these theories are found to present inherent contradictions. On this
account the third, or only alternative theory, comes to us with a large
antecedent presumption in its favour. For it comes to us, as it were, on
a clear field, or with the negative advantage of having no logical
rivals to contend with. The other two suggestions having been weighed in
the balance and found wanting, we are free to look to the new-comer as
quite unopposed. This new-comer must, indeed, be interrogated as
carefully as his predecessors, and, like them, must be judged upon his
own merits. But as he constitutes our last possible hope of solving the
question which he professes himself able to solve, the absolute failure
of his predecessors entitles him to a patient hearing. By the method of
exclusion his voice is now the only voice that remains to be heard, and
unless it can speak to better purpose than the others, we shall have no
alternative but to abandon the facts as inexplicable, or to confess that
it is necessarily impossible for the human mind ever to arrive at any
theory of things.

Before proceeding to state or to examine this third and last of the
suggested theories, it is desirable--in order still further to define
its _status a priori_--that I should exhibit the reason why the two
other suggestions have necessarily failed. For to my mind it is
perfectly obvious that this reason is to be found, and found only, in
the fact that they are both dualistic. The inherent, the fatal, and the
closely similar difficulties which attach to both the dualistic
theories, attach to them merely because they _are_ dualistic. The
'nonsense' of each of them is really identical, and arises only because
they both make the same irrational attempt to find more in the effect
than they have put into the cause. In other words, both the dualistic
theories suppose that the physical chains of causation is complete
within itself, and that the mental chain is also complete within itself:
yet they both proceed to the contradiction that one of these chains is
able to allow some of its causal influence to escape, as it were, in
order to constitute the other chain. It makes no difference, in point
of logic, whether such an escape is supposed to take place from the
physical chain (materialism) or from the mental chain (spiritualism): in
either case the fundamental principle of causality is alike
impugned--the principle, that is, of there being an equivalency between
cause and effect, such that you cannot get more out of your effect than
you have put into your cause. Both these dualistic theories, although
they take opposite views as to which of the two chains of causation is
the cause of the other, nevertheless agree in supposing that there _are_
two chains of causation, and that one of them _does_ act causally upon
the other: and it is in this matter of their common consent that they
both commit suicide. Every process in the physical sphere must be
supposed to have its equations satisfied within that sphere: else the
doctrine of the conservation of energy would be contravened, and thus
the causation contemplated could no longer be contemplated as physical.
Similarly, every process in the mental sphere must be supposed to have
its equations satisfied within that sphere: else the causation
contemplated could no longer be contemplated as mental: some of the
equations must be supposed not to have been satisfied within the mental
sphere, but to have been carried over into the physical sphere--thus to
have either created or destroyed certain quantities of energy within
that sphere, and thus, also, to have introduced elements of endless
confusion into the otherwise orderly system of Nature.

From this vice of radical contradiction, to which both the dualistic
theories are committed, the monistic theory is free. Moreover, as we
shall immediately find, it is free to combine the elements of truth
which severally belong to both the other theories. These other theories
are each concerned with what they see upon different sides of the same
shield. The facts which they severally receive they severally report,
and their reports appear to contradict each other. But truth can never
be really in contradiction with other truth; and it is reserved for
Monism, by taking a simultaneous view of both sides, to reconcile the
previously apparent contradictions. For these and other reasons, which
will unfold themselves as we proceed, I fully agree with the late
Professor Clifford where he says of this theory--'It is not merely a
speculation, but is a result to which all the greatest minds that have
studied this question (the relation between body and mind) in the right
way have gradually been approximating for a long time.' This theory is,
as we have already seen, that mental phenomena and physical phenomena,
although apparently diverse, are really identical.

If we thus unite in a higher synthesis the elements both of spiritualism
and of materialism, we obtain a product which satisfies every fact of
feeling on the one hand, and of observation on the other. We have only
to suppose that the antithesis between mind and motion--subject and
object--is itself phenomenal or apparent: not absolute or real. We have
only to suppose that the seeming duality is relative to our modes of
apprehension: and, therefore, that any change taking place in the mind,
and any corresponding change taking place in the brain, are really not
two changes, but one change. When a violin is played upon we hear a
musical sound, and at the same time we see a vibration of the strings.
Relatively to our consciousness, therefore, we have here two sets of
changes, which appear to be very different in kind; yet we know that in
an absolute sense they are one and the same: we know that the diversity
in consciousness is created only by the difference in our mode of
perceiving the same events--whether we see or whether we hear the
vibration of the strings. Similarly, we may suppose that a vibration of
nerve-strings and a process of thought are really one and the same
event, which is dual or diverse only in relation to our modes of
perceiving it.

Or, to take another and a better illustration, in an Edison lamp the
light which is emitted from the burner may be said indifferently to be
caused by the number of vibrations per second going on in the carbon, or
by the temperature of the carbon; for this rate of vibration could not
take place in the carbon without constituting that degree of temperature
which affects our eyes as luminous. Similarly, a train of thought may be
said indifferently to be caused by brain-action or by mind-action; for,
_ex hypothesi_, the one could not take place without the other. Now when
we contemplate the phenomena of volition by themselves, it is as though
we were contemplating the phenomena of light by themselves: volition is
produced by mind in brain, just as light is produced by temperature in
carbon. And just as we may correctly speak of light as the cause, say,
of a photograph, so we may correctly speak of volition as the cause of
bodily movement. That particular kind of physical activity which takes
place in the carbon could not take place without the light which causes
a photograph; and, similarly, that particular kind of physical activity
which takes place in the brain could not take place without the volition
which causes a bodily movement. So that volition is as truly a cause of
bodily movement as is the physical activity of the brain; seeing that,
in an absolute sense, the cause is one and the same. But if we once
clearly perceive that what in a relative sense we know as volition is,
in a similar sense, the cause of bodily movement, we terminate the
question touching the freedom of the will. It thus becomes a mere matter
of phraseology whether we speak of the will determining, or being
determined by, changes going on in the external world; just as it is but
a matter of phraseology whether we speak of temperature determining, or
being determined by, molecular vibration. All the requirements alike of
the free-will and of the bond-will hypotheses are thus satisfied by a
synthesis which comprises them both. On the one hand, it would be as
impossible for an _un_conscious automaton to do the work or to perform
the adjustments of a conscious agent, as it would be for an Edison lamp
to give out light and cause a photograph when not heated by an electric
current. On the other hand, it would be as impossible for the will to
originate bodily motion without the occurrence of a strictly physical
process of cerebration, as it would be for light to shine in an Edison
lamp which had been deprived of its carbon-burner.

The great advantage of this theory is, that it supposes only one stream
of causation, in which both mind and motion are simultaneously
concerned. The theory, therefore, escapes all the difficulties and
contradictions with which both spiritualism and materialism are beset.
Thus, motion is supposed to be producing nothing but motion;
mind-changes nothing but mind-changes--both producing both
simultaneously: neither could be what it is without the other, because
without the other neither could be the cause which in fact it is.
Impossible, therefore, is the supposition of the materialist that
consciousness is adventitious, or that in the absence of mind the
changes of the brain could be what they are; for it belongs to the very
causation of these movements that they should have a mental side. And
equally impossible is the supposition of the spiritualist that the
cerebral processes are adventitious, or that in the absence of brain the
changes of the mind could be what they are; for it belongs to the very
causation of these changes that they should have a material side.
Furthermore, the use of mind to animals and to men is thus rendered
apparent; for intelligent volition is thus shown to be a true cause of
adjustive movement, in that the cerebration which it involves could not
otherwise be possible: the causation would not otherwise be complete.


[Footnote 8: _Lectures and Essays_, vol. ii. pp. 56-7.]



In the Introduction to this essay I have sought to show that there are,
for the purposes of practical discussion, but three theories of the
World of Being. There is, first, the theory of Materialism, which
supposes matter in motion to be the ultimate or self-existing Reality,
and, therefore, the cause of mind. Next, there is the theory of
Spiritualism, which supposes mind to be the ultimate Reality, and,
therefore, the cause of matter in motion. Lastly, there is the theory of
Monism which supposes matter in motion to be substantially identical
with mind, and, therefore, that as between mind and matter in motion
there is no causal relation either way. In the foregoing chapters I have
considered these three theories, and argued that of them the
last-mentioned is the only one which satisfies all the facts of feeling
on the one hand, and of observation on the other. The theory of Monism
alone is able to explain, without inherent contradiction, the phenomena
both of the subjective and objective spheres.

It is my present purpose to extend the considerations already presented.
Assuming the theory of Monism, I desire to ascertain the result to which
it will lead when applied to the question whether we ought to regard the
external world as of a character mental or non-mental. As observed in my
Rede Lecture (_supra_, p. 33), this question has already been considered
by the late Professor Clifford, who decided that on the monistic theory
the probability pointed towards the external world being of a character
non-mental; that, although the whole universe is composed of
'mind-stuff,' the universe as a whole is mindless. This decision I then
briefly criticized; it is now my object to contemplate the matter
somewhat more in detail.

I will assume, on account of reasons previously given, that when we
speak of matter in motion we do not at all know what it is that moves,
nor do we know at all what it is that we mean by motion. Therefore if,
as unknown quantities, we call matter _a_ and motion _b_, all we are
entitled to affirm is that _a + b = z_, where _z_ is a known quantity,
or mind. Obversely stated, we may say that the known quantity _z_ is
capable of being resolved into the unknown _a + b_. But, inasmuch as
both _a_ and _b_ are unknown, we may simplify matters by regarding their
sum as a single unknown quantity _x_, which we take to be substantially
identical with its obverse aspect known as _z_.

Here, then, are our data. The theory of Monism teaches that what we
perceive as matter in motion, _x_, is the obverse of what we know as
mind, _z_. What, then, do we know of _z_? In the first place, we well
know that this is the only entity with which we are acquainted, so to
speak, at first hand; all our knowledge of _x_ (which is the only other
knowledge we possess) is possible only in so far as we are able to
translate it into terms of _z_. In the next place, we know that _z_ is
itself an entity of the most enormous complexity. Standing as a symbol
of the whole range of individual subjectivity, it may be said to
constitute for each individual the symbol of his own personality--or the
sum total of his conscious life. Now each individual knows by direct
knowledge that his conscious life is, as I have said, of enormous
complexity, and that numberless ingredients of feeling, thought, and
volition are therein combined in numberless ways. Therefore the symbol
_z_ may be considered as the sum of innumerable constituent parts,
grouped _inter se_ in numberless systems of more or less complexity.

From these considerations we arrive at the following conclusions. The
theory of Monism teaches that all _z_ is _x_; but it does not,
therefore, necessarily teach that all _x_ is _z_. Nevertheless, it does
teach that if all _x_ is not _z_, this must be because _x_ is _z_,
_plus_ something more than _z_, as a little thought will be sufficient
to show. Thus, the four annexed diagrams exhaust the logical
possibilities of any case, where the question is as to the inclusion or
exclusion of one quantity by another. In Fig. 1 the two quantities are
coincident; in Fig 2 the one is wholly included by the other; in Fig. 3
it is partially included; and in Fig. 4 wholly excluded. Now in the
present case, and upon the data supplied, the logical possibilities are
exhausted by Figs. 1 and 2. For, upon these data, Figs. 3 and 4
obviously represent logical impossibilities; no part of Mind can,
according to these data, stand outside the limits of Matter and Motion.
Therefore, if the Ego is not coincident with the Non-ego (or if all _x_
is not _z_, as in Fig. 1), this can only be because the Ego is less
extensive than the Non-ego (or because _x_ is _z plus_ something more
than _z_, as in Fig. 2).

[Illustration: Fig. 1]

[Illustration: Fig. 2]

[Illustration: Fig. 3]

[Illustration: Fig. 4]

Of these two logical possibilities Idealism, in its most extreme form,
may adopt the first. For Idealism in this form may hold that apart from
the Ego there is no external world; that outside of _z_ there is no _x_;
that the only _esse_ is the _percipi_. But, as very few persons
nowadays are prepared to go the length of seriously maintaining that in
actual fact there is no external world save in so far as this is
perceived by the individual mind, I need not wait to consider this
possibility. We are thus practically shut up to a consideration of the
possibility marked 2.

[Illustration: Fig. 5]

[Illustration: Fig. 6]

[Illustration: Fig. 7]

The theory of Monism, then, teaches that _x_ is _z_ _plus_ something
more than _z_; and therefore it becomes a matter of great moment to
consider the probable nature of the overplus. For it obviously does not
follow that because _x_ is greater than _z_ in a logical sense,
therefore _x_ must be greater than _z_ in a psychological sense. Save
upon the theory of Idealism (with which Monism is not specially
concerned) the amount (whatever it may be) wherein _x_ is greater than
_z_, may not present any psychological signification at all. We may find
that the surface of our globe is considerably larger than that of the
dry land, and yet it may not follow that the mental-life to be met with
in the sea is psychologically superior to that which occurs on dry land.
If, therefore, we represent by comparative shading degrees of
psychological excellence, it is evident that the theory of Monism must
entertain the three possibilities indicated diagrammatically in Figs. 5,
6, and 7. It makes no difference what the comparative areas of _x_ and
_z_ may be, or whether _x_ be uniformly shaded throughout its extent.
All we have so far to notice is that the fact of logical inclusion does
not necessarily carry with it the implication of psychological

Next we must notice that besides our own subjectivities, we have
cognizance of being surrounded by many other inferred subjectivities
more or less like in kind (i. e. other human minds); and also yet many
other inferred subjectivities more or less unlike, but all inferior (i.
e. the minds of lower animals, young children, and idiots). Following
Clifford, I will call these inferred subjectivities by the name of
ejects, and assign to them the symbol _y_. Thus, in the following
discussion, _x_ = the objective world, _y_ = the ejective world, and _z_
= subjective world. Now, the theory of Monism supposes that _x_, _y_,
and _z_ are all alike in kind, but present no definite teaching as to
how far they may differ in degree. We may, however, at once allow that
between the psychological value of _z_ and that of _y_ there is a wide
difference of degree; and also that, while the value of _z_ is a fixed
quantity, that of _y_ varies greatly in the different parts of the area
_y_. Our scheme, therefore, will now adopt this form--


But the important question remains how we ought to shade _x_. According
to Clifford, this ought scarcely to be shaded at all, while according to
theologians (and theists generally) it ought to be shaded so much more
deeply than either _y_ or _z_, that the joint representation in one
diagram would only be possible by choosing for the shading of _x_ a
colour different from that employed for _y_ and _z_, and assigning to
that colour a representative value higher than that assigned to the
other in the ratio of one to infinity. It will be my object to estimate
the relative probability of these rival estimates of the psychological
value of _x_.

Starting from _z_ as our centre, we know that this is an isolated system
of subjectivity, and hence we infer that all _y_ is composed of
analogous systems, resembling one another as to their isolation, and
differing only in their degrees of psychological value. Now this,
translated into terms of _x_ (or into terms of objectivity) means that
_z_ is an isolated system of matter in motion, and that the same has to
be said of all the constituent parts of _y_. In other words, both
subjectivity and ejectivity are only known under the condition of being
isolated from objectivity; which, obversely considered, means that the
matter in motion here concerned is temporarily separated off from the
rest of the objective world, in such wise that it forms a distinct
system of its own. If any part of the objective world rudely forces its
way within the machinery of that system, it is at the risk of
disarranging the machinery and stopping its work--as is the case when a
bullet enters the brain. Such converse as the brain normally holds with
the external world, is held through the appointed channels of the
senses, whereby appropriate causation is supplied to keep the otherwise
isolated system at work. We know, from physiological evidence, that when
such external causation is withheld, the isolated system ceases to work;
therefore, the isolation, although complete under one point of view,
under another point of view is incomplete. It is complete only in the
sense in which the isolation of a machine is complete--i. e. it is in
itself a working system, yet its working is ultimately dependent upon
causation supplied from without in certain appropriate ways. This truth
is likewise testified to on the obverse aspect of psychology. For
analysis shows that all our mental processes (however complex they may
be internally) are ultimately dependent on impressions of the external
world gained through the senses. Whether regarded objectively or
subjectively, therefore, we find that it is the business of the isolated
system to elaborate, by its internal processes, the raw materials which
are supplied to it from without. Seeing, then, that the isolation of the
system is thus only partial, we may best apply to it the term
circumscribed. Such partial isolation or circumscription of matter in
motion--so that it shall in itself constitute a little working
microcosm--appears to be the first condition to the being of a
subjective personality. Why, then, does not the working of a machine
present a subjective side?

Our answer to this question is to be found in the following
considerations. We are going upon the hypothesis that all mind is matter
in motion, and that all matter in motion is mind--or, as Clifford
phrased it, that all the external world is composed of mind-stuff. No
matter how lightly we may shade _x_, we are assuming that it must be
shaded, and not left perfectly white. Now, both mind and matter in
motion admit of degrees: first as to quantity, next as to velocity, and
lastly as to complexity. But the degrees of matter in motion are found,
in point of observable fact, not to correspond with those of mind, save
in the last particular of complexity, where there is unquestionably an
evident correspondence. Therefore it is that a machine, although
conforming to the prime condition of subjectivity in being a
circumscribed system of matter in motion, nevertheless does not attain
to subjectivity: the _x_ does not rise to _z_ because the internal
processes of _x_ are not sufficiently intricate, or their intricacy is
not of the appropriate kind. From which it follows that although, as I
have said, all matter in motion is mind, merely as matter in motion (or
irrespective of the kinds and degrees of both) it may not necessarily be
mind in the elaborated form of consciousness: it may only be the raw
material of mind--or, as Clifford called it, mind-stuff. Thus, although
all conscious volition is matter in motion, it does not follow that all
matter in motion is conscious volition. Which serves to restate the
question as to how far it is probable, or improbable, that all matter in
motion is conscious volition--i.e. how deeply we ought to shade _x_.

Well, the first thing to be considered in answering this question is
that, according to the theory of Monism, we _know_ that it is within the
range of possibility for matter in motion to reach a level of intricacy
which shall yield conscious volition, and even self-conscious thought of
an extremely high order of development. Therefore, the only question is
as to whether it is possible, or in any way probable, that matter in
motion as occurring in _x_ resembles, in point of intricacy, matter in
motion as occurring in _z_. Professor Clifford perceived that this is
the core of the question, and staked the whole answer to it on an
extremely simple issue. He said that unless we can show in the
disposition of heavenly bodies some morphological resemblance to the
structure of a human brain, we are precluded from rationally
entertaining any probability that self-conscious volition belongs to the
universe. Obviously, this way of presenting the case is so grossly
illogical that even the exigencies of popular exposition cannot be held
to justify the presentation. For aught that we can know to the contrary,
not merely the highly specialized structure of the human brain, but even
that of nervous matter in general, may only be one of a thousand
possible ways in which the material and dynamical conditions required
for the apparition of self-consciousness can be secured. To imagine that
the human brain of necessity exhausts these possibilities is in the last
degree absurd. Therefore, we may suggest the following presentation of
Clifford's case as one that is less obviously inadequate:--if any
resemblance to the material and dynamical conditions of the microcosm
can be detected in the macrocosm, we should have good reason to ascribe
to the latter those attributes of subjectivity which we know as
belonging to the former; but if no such resemblance can be traced, we
shall have some reason to suppose that these attributes do not belong to
the universe. Even this, however, I should regard as much too wide a
statement of the case. To take the particular conditions under which
alone subjectivity is known to occur upon a single planet as exhausting
the possibilities of its occurrence elsewhere, is too flagrant a use of
the method of simple enumeration to admit of a moment's countenance.
Even the knowledge that we have of the two great conditions under which
terrestrial subjectivities occur--circumscription and complexity--is
only empirical. It may well be that elsewhere (or apart from the
conditions imposed by nervous tissue) subjectivity is possible
irrespective both of circumscription and of complexity. Therefore,
properly or logically regarded, the great use of the one exhibition of
subjectivity furnished to human experience, is the proof thus furnished
that subjectivity is possible under _some_ conditions; and the utmost
which on the grounds of such proof human experience is entitled to argue
is, that _probably_, if subjectivity is possible elsewhere, its
possibility is given by those conditions of circumscription and
complexity in the material and dynamical relations concerned, which we
find to be the invariable and quantitative concomitants of subjectivity
within experience. But this is a widely different thing from saying that
the only kind of such circumscription and complexity--or the only
disposition of these relations--which can present a subjective side is
that which is found in the structures and functions of a nervous system.

Now, if we fix our attention merely on this matter of complexity, and
refuse to be led astray by obviously false analogies of a more special
kind, I think there can be no question that the macrocosm does furnish
amply sufficient opportunity, as it were, for the presence of
subjectivity, even if it be assumed that subjectivity can only be
yielded by an order of complexity analogous to that of a nervous system.
For, considering the material and dynamical system of the universe as a
whole, it is obvious that the complexity presented is greater than that
of any of its parts. Not only is it true that all these parts are
included in the whole, and that even the visible sidereal system alone
presents movements of enormous intricacy[9], but we find, for instance,
that even within the limits of this small planet there is presented to
actual observation a peculiar form of circumscribed complex, fully
comparable with that of the individual brain, and yet external to each
individual brain. For the so-called 'social organism,' although composed
of innumerable individual personalities, is, with regard to each of its
constituent units, a part of the objective world--just as the human
brain would be, were each of its constituent cells of a construction
sufficiently complex to yield a separate personality.

If to this it be objected that, as a matter of fact, the social organism
does not possess a self-conscious personality, I will give a twofold
answer. In the first place, Who told the objector that it has not? For
aught that any one of its constituent personalities can prove to the
contrary, this social organism may possess self-conscious personality of
the most vivid character: its constituent human minds may be born into
it and die out of it as do the constituent cells of the human body: it
may feel the throes of war and famine, rejoice in the comforts of peace
and plenty: it may appreciate the growth of civilization as its passage
from childhood to maturity. If this at first sight appears a grotesque
supposition, we must remember that it would appear equally so to ascribe
such possibilities to the individual brain, were it not for the
irrelevant accident of this particular form of complex standing in such
relation to our own subjectivity that we are able to verify the fact of
its ejectivity. Thus, for aught that we can tell to the contrary, Comte
may have been even more justified than his followers suppose, in
teaching the personification of Humanity.

But, in the next place, if the social organism is not endowed with
personality, this may be for either one of two reasons. All the
conditions required for attaining so high a level of psychical
perfection may not be here present; or else the level of psychical
perfection may be higher than that which we know as personality. This
latter alternative will be considered in another relation by-and-by, so
I will not dwell upon it now. But with reference to all these possible
contingencies, I may observe that we are not without clear indications
of the great fact that the high order of complexity which has been
reached by the social organism _is_ accompanied by evidence of something
which we may least dimly define as resembling subjectivity. In
numberless ways, which I need not wait to enumerate, we perceive that
society exhibits the phenomena both of thought and conduct. And these
phenomena cannot always be explained by regarding them as the sum of the
thoughts and actions of its constituent individuals--or, at least, they
can only be so regarded by conceding that the thoughts and actions of
the constituent individuals, when thus _summated_, yield a different
product from that which would be obtained by a merely arithmetical
computation of the constituent parts: the composite product differs from
its component elements, as H_2O differs from 2H + O. The general truth
of this remark will, I believe, be appreciated by all historians.
Seeing that ideas are often, as it is said, 'in the air' before they are
condensed in the mind of individual genius, we habitually speak of the
'Zeit-geist' as the product of a kind of collective psychology, which is
something other than the mere sum of all the individual minds of a
generation. That is to say, we regard society as an eject, and the more
that a man studies the thought and conduct of society, the more does he
become convinced that we are right in so regarding it. Of course this
eject is manifestly unlike that which we form of another individual
mind: it is much more general, vague, and so far unlike the pattern of
our own subjectivity that even to ascribe to it the important attribute
of personality is felt, as we have just seen, to approach the grotesque.
Still, in this vague and general way we do ascribe to society ejective
existence: we habitually think of the whole world of human thought and
feeling as a psychological complex, which is other than, and more than,
a mere shorthand enumeration of all the thoughts and feelings of all
individual human beings.

The ejective existence thus ascribed to society serves as a
stepping-stone to the yet more vague and general ascription of such
existence to the Cosmos. At first, indeed, or during the earliest stages
of culture, the ascription of ejective existence to the external world
is neither vague nor general: on the contrary, it is most distinct and
specific. Beginning in the rudest forms of animism, where every natural
process admits of being immediately attributed to the volitional agency
of an unseen spirit, anthropomorphism sets out upon its long course of
development, which proceeds _pari passu_ with the development of
abstract thought. Man, as it has been truly said, universally makes God
in his own image; and it is difficult to see how the case could be
otherwise. Universally the eject must assume the pattern of the subject,
and it is only in the proportion that this pattern presents the features
of abstract thinking that the image which it throws becomes less and
less man-like. Hence, as Mr. Fiske has shown in detail, so soon as
anthropomorphism has assumed its highest state of development, it begins
to be replaced by a continuous growth of 'deanthropomorphism,' which,
passing through polytheism into monotheism, eventually ends in a
progressive 'purification' of theism--by which is meant a progressive
metamorphosis of the theistic conception, tending to remove from Deity
the attributes of Humanity. The last of these attributes to disappear is
that of personality, and when this final ecdysis has been performed, the
eject which remains is so unlike its original subject, that, as we shall
immediately find, it is extremely difficult to trace any points of
resemblance between them.

Now it is with this perfect, or imago condition of the world-eject, that
we have to do. Mr. Herbert Spencer, in what I consider the profoundest
reaches of his philosophic thought, has well shown, on the one hand,
how impossible it is to attribute to Deity any of the specific
attributes of mind as known to ourselves subjectively; and, on the other
hand, how it is possible to conceive 'symbolically' that the universe
may be instinct with a 'quasi-psychical' principle, as greatly
transcending personality as personality transcends mechanical
motion[10]. Accepting, then, the world-eject in this its highest
conceivable stage of evolution, I desire to contemplate it under the
light of the monistic theory.

We have seen that, whether we look upon the subjective or objective face
of personality, we find that personality arises from limitation--or, as
I have previously termed it, circumscription. Now, we have no evidence,
nor are we able to conceive, of the external world as limited;
consequently we are not able to conceive, of the world-eject as
personal. But, inasmuch as personality arises only from limitation, the
conclusion that the world-eject is impersonal does not tend to show that
it is of lower psychical value than conscious personality: on the
contrary, it tends to show that it is probably of higher psychical
value. True, we are not able to conceive actually of mind as impersonal;
but we can see that this merely arises from our only experience of mind
being given under conditions of personality; and, as just observed, it
is possible to conceive symbolically that there may be a form of mind as
greatly transcending personality as personality transcends mechanical

Now, although we cannot conceive of such a mind actually, we may most
probably make the nearest approach to conceiving of it truly, by
_provisionally_ ascribing to it the highest attributes of mind as known
to ourselves, or the attributes which belong to human personality. Just
as a thinking insect would derive a better, or more true, conception of
human personality by considering it ejectively than by considering it
objectively (or by considering the mind-processes as distinguished from
the brain-processes), so, if there is a form of mind immeasurably
superior to our own, we may probably gain a more faithful--howsoever
still inadequate--conception of it by contemplating its operations
ejectively than by doing so objectively. I will, therefore, speak of the
world-eject as presenting conscious volition, on the understanding that
if _x_ does not present either consciousness or volition, this must
be--according to the fundamental assumption of psychism on which we are
now proceeding--because _x_ presents attributes at least as much higher
than consciousness or volition as these are higher than mechanical
motion. For when we consider the utmost that our conscious volition is
able to accomplish in the way of contrivance--how limited its knowledge,
how short its duration, how restricted its range, and how imperfect its
adaptations--we can only conclude that _if_ the ultimate constitution of
all things is pyschical, the philosophy of the Cosmos becomes a
'philosophy of the Unconscious' only because it is a philosophy of the

Now, if once we feel ourselves able to transcend the preliminary--and
doubtless very considerable--difficulty of symbolically conceiving the
world-eject as super-conscious, and (because not limited) also
super-personal, I think there can be no question that the world-object
furnishes overwhelming proof of psychism. I candidly confess that I am
not myself able to overcome the preliminary difficulty in question. By
discharging the elements of personality and conscious volition from the
world-eject, I appear to be discharging from my conception of mind all
that most distinctively belongs to that conception; and thus I seem to
be brought back again to the point from which we started: the
world-eject appears to have again resolved itself into the unknown
quantity _x_. But here we must distinguish between actual conception and
symbolical conception. Although it is unquestionably true that I can
form no actual conception of Mind save as an eject of personality and
conscious volition, it is a question whether I am not able to form a
symbolical conception of Mind as thus extended. For I know that
consciousness, implying as it does continual change in serial order of
circumscribed mental processes, is not (symbolically considered) the
highest conceivable exhibition of Mind; and just as a mathematician is
able to deal symbolically with space of _n_ dimensions, while only able
really to conceive of space as limited to three dimensions, so I feel
that I ought not to limit the abstract possibilities of mental being by
what I may term the accidental conditions of my own being.

I need scarcely wait to show why it appears to me that if this position
is granted, the world-object furnishes, as I have said, overwhelming
proof of psychism; for this proof has been ably presented by many other
writers. There is first the antecedent improbability that the human mind
should be the highest manifestation of subjectivity in this universe of
infinite objectivity. There is next the fact that throughout this
universe of infinite objectivity--so far, at least, as human observation
can extend--there is unquestionable evidence of some one integrating
principle, whereby all its many and complex parts are correlated with
one another in such wise that the result is universal order. And if we
take any part of the whole system--such as that of organic nature on
this planet--to examine in more detail, we find that it appears to be
instinct with contrivance. So to speak, wherever we tap organic nature,
it seems to flow with purpose; and, as we shall presently see, upon the
monistic theory the evidence of purpose is here in no way attenuated by
a full acceptance of any of the 'mechanical' explanations furnished by
science. Now, these large and important facts of observation
unquestionably point, as just observed, to some one integrating
principle as pervading the Cosmos; and, if so, we can scarcely be wrong
in supposing that among all our conceptions it must hold nearest kinship
to that which is our highest conception of an integrating cause--viz.,
the conception of psychism. Assuredly no human mind could either have
devised or maintained the working of even a fragment of Nature; and,
therefore, it seems but reasonable to conclude that the integrating
principle of the whole--the Spirit, as it were, of the Universe--must be
something which, while as I have said holding nearest kinship with our
highest conception of disposing power, must yet be immeasurably superior
to the psychism of man. The world-eject thus becomes invested with a
psychical value as greatly transcending in magnitude that of the human
mind, as the material frame of the universe transcends in its magnitude
the material frame of the human body. Therefore, without in any way
straining the theory of Monism, we may provisionally shade _x_ more
deeply than _z_, and this in some immeasurable degree.

       *       *       *       *       *

One other matter remains to be considered with reference to this
world-eject as sanctioned by Monism. It leaves us free to regard all
natural causation as a direct exhibition of psychism. The prejudice
against anything approaching a theistic interpretation of the Universe
nowadays arises chiefly from the advance of physical science having
practically revealed the ubiquity of natural causes. It is felt that
when a complete explanation of any given phenomenon has been furnished
in terms of these causes, there is no need to go further; the phenomenon
has been rendered intelligible on its mechanical side, and therefore it
is felt that we have no reason to suppose that it presents a mental
side--any supplementary causation of a mental kind being regarded as
superfluous. Even writers who expressly repudiate this reasoning prove
themselves to be habitually under its influence; for we constantly find
that such writers, after conceding the mechanical explanations as far as
these have been _proved_, take their stand upon the more intricate
phenomena of Nature where, as yet, the mechanical explanations are not
forthcoming. Whether it be at the origin of life, the origin of
sentiency, of instinct, of rationality, of morality, or of religion,
these writers habitually argue that here, at least, the purely
mechanical interpretations fail; and that here, consequently, there is
still room left for a psychical interpretation. Of course the pleading
for theism thus supplied is seen by others to be of an extremely feeble
quality; for while, on the one hand, it rests only upon ignorance of
natural causation (as distinguished from any knowledge of super-natural
causation), on the other hand, abundant historical analogies are
available to show that it is only a question of time when pleading of
this kind will become more and more restricted in its subject-matter,
till eventually it be altogether silenced. But the pleading which Monism
is here able to supply can never be silenced.

For, according to Monism, all matter in motion is mind; and, therefore,
matter in motion is merely the objective revelation, _to_ us and _for_
us, of that which in its subjective aspect--or in its ultimate
reality--is mind. Just as the operations of my friend's mind can only be
revealed to me through the mechanical operations of his body, so it may
very well be that the operations of the Supreme Mind (supposing such to
exist) can only be revealed to me through the mechanical operations of
Nature. The only difference between the two cases is that while I am
able, in the case of my friend's mind, to elicit responses of mechanical
movement having a definite and intended relation to the operations of my
own mind, similarly expressed to him; such is not the case with Nature.
With the friend-eject I am able to _converse_; but not so with the
world-eject[11]. This great difference, however, although obviously
depriving me of any such direct corroboration of psychism in the
world-eject as that which I thus derive of psychism in the friend-eject,
ought not to be regarded by me as amounting, in the smallest degree, to
_disproof_ of psychism in the world-eject. The fact that I am not able
to converse with the world-eject is merely a negative fact, and should
not be allowed to tell against any probability (otherwise derived) in
favour of psychism as belonging to that eject. There may be a thousand
very good reasons why I should be precluded from such converse--some of
which, indeed, I can myself very clearly perceive.

The importance of Monism in thus enabling us rationally to contemplate
all processes of physical causation as possibly immediate exhibitions
of psychism, is difficult to overrate. For it entirely discharges all
distinction between the mechanical and the mental; so that if physical
science were sufficiently advanced to yield a full natural explanation
of all the phenomena within human experience, mankind would be in a
position to gain as complete a knowledge as is theoretically possible of
the psychological character of the world-eject. Already we are able to
perceive the immense significance of being able to regard any sequence
of natural causation as the merely phenomenal aspect of the ontological
reality--the merely outward manifestation of an inward meaning. Thus,
for example, I am listening to a sonata of Beethoven's played by Madame
Schumann. Helmholtz tells me all that he knows about the physics and
physiology of the process, both beyond and within my brain. But I feel
that, even if Helmholtz were able to tell me very much more than he can,
so long as he is dealing with these objective explanations, he is at
work only upon the outer skin of the whole matter. The great reality is
the mind of Beethoven communicating to my mind through the complex
intervention of three different brains with their neuro-muscular
systems, and an endless variety of aërial vibrations proceeding from a
pianoforte. The method of communication has nothing more to do with the
reality communicated than have the paper and ink of this essay to do
with the ideas which they serve to convey. In each case a vehicle of
symbols is necessary in order that one mind should communicate with
another; but in both cases this is a vehicle of _symbols_, and nothing
more. Everywhere, therefore, the reality may be psychical, and the
physical symbolic; everywhere matter in motion may be the outward and
visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

Take again the case of morality and religion. Because science, by its
theory of evolution, appears to be in a fair way of explaining the
genesis of these things by natural causes, theists are taking alarm; it
is felt by them that if morality can be fully explained by utility, and
religion by superstition, the reality of both is destroyed. But Monism
teaches that such a view is entirely erroneous. For, according to
Monism, the natural causation of morality and religion has nothing
whatever to do with the ultimate truth of either. The natural causation
is merely a record of physical processes, serving to manifest the
psychical processes. Nor can it make any difference, as regards the
ultimate veracity of the moral and religious feelings, that they have
been developed slowly by natural causes; that they were at first grossly
selfish on the one hand, and hideously superstitious on the other; that
they afterwards went through a long series of changes, none of which
therefore can have fully corresponded with external truth; or that even
now they may be both extremely far from any such correspondence. All
that such considerations go to prove is, that it belongs to the natural
method of mental evolution in man that with advancing culture his
ejective interpretations of Nature should more and more nearly
_approximate_ the truth. The world-eject must necessarily vary with the
character of the human subject; but this does not prove that the
ejective interpretation has throughout been wrong in _method_: it only
proves that such interpretation has been imperfect--and necessarily
imperfect--in _application_.

Such, then, I conceive to be one of the most important consequences of
the monistic theory. Namely, that by regarding physical causation as
everywhere but the objective or phenomenal aspect of an ejective or
ontological reality, it furnishes a logical basis for a theory of things
which is at the same time natural and spiritual. On the objective
aspect, the explanations furnished by reason are of necessity physical,
while, on the ejective aspect, such explanations are of necessity
metaphysical--or rather, let us say, hyper-physical. But these two
orders of explanation are different only because their modes of
interpreting the same events are different. The objective explanation
which was given (as we supposed) by Helmholtz of the effects produced on
the human brain by hearing a sonata, was no doubt perfectly sound within
its own category; but the ejective explanation of these same effects
which is given by a musician is equally sound within _its_ category. And
similarly, if instead of the man-object we contemplate the world-object
physical causation becomes but the phenomenal aspect of psychical
causation; the invariability of its sequence becomes but the expression
of intentional order; the iron rigidity of natural law becomes the
sensuous manifestation of an unalterable consistency as belonging to the
Supreme Volition.

My object in this paper has been to show that the views of the late
Professor Clifford concerning the influence of Monism on Theism are
unsound. I am in full agreement with him in believing that Monism is
destined to become the generally accepted theory of things, seeing that
it is the only theory of things which can receive the sanction of
science on the one hand and of feeling on the other. But I disagree with
him in holding that this theory is fraught with implications of an
anti-theistic kind. In my opinion this theory leaves the question of
Theism very much where it was before. That is to say, while not
furnishing any independent proof of Theism, it likewise fails to furnish
any independent disproof. The reason why in Clifford's hands this theory
appeared to furnish independent disproof, was because he persisted in
regarding the world only as an object: he did not entertain the
possibility that the world might also be regarded as an eject. Yet, that
the world, under the theory of Monism, is at least as susceptible of an
ejective as it is of an objective interpretation, I trust that I have
now been able to show. And this is all that I have endeavoured to show.
As a matter of methodical reasoning it appears to me that Monism alone
can only lead to Agnosticism. That is to say, it leaves a clear field of
choice as between Theism and Atheism; and, therefore, to a carefully
reasoning Monist, there are three alternatives open. He may remain a
Monist, and nothing more; in which case he is an agnostic. He may
entertain what appears to him independent evidence in favour of Theism,
and thus he may become a theist. Or he may entertain what appears to him
independent evidence in favour of Atheism, and thus he may become an
atheist. But, in any case, so far as his Monism can carry him, he is
left perfectly free either to regard the world as an object alone, or to
regard the world as also an eject[12].


[Footnote 9: If we imagine the visible sidereal system compressed within
the limits of a human skull, so that all its movements which we now
recognize as molar should become molecular, the complexity of such
movement would probably be as great as that which takes place in a human
brain. Yet to this must be added all the molecular movements which are
now going on in the sidereal system, visible and invisible.]

[Footnote 10: _Principles of Psychology_, vol. i. pp. 159-61; _Essays_,
vol. iii. pp. 246-9; and _First Principles_, p. 26.]

[Footnote 11: It is, however, the belief of all religious persons that
even this distinction does not hold. If they are right in their belief,
the distinction would then become one as to the mode of converse. In
this case what is called communion with the Supreme Mind must be
supposed to be a communion _sui generis_: the converse of mind with mind
is here _direct_, or does not require to be translated into the language
of mechanical signs: it is subjective, not ejective. Still, even here we
must believe that the physical aspect accompanies the psychical,
although not necessarily observed. An act of prayer, for example, is, on
its physical aspect, an act of cerebration: so is the answer (supposing
it genuine), in as far as the worshipper is concerned. Thus prayer and
its answer (according to Monism) resemble all the other processes of
Nature in presenting an objective side of strictly physical causation.
Nor is it possible that the case could be otherwise, if _all_ mental
processes consist in physical process, and vice versa. It is obvious
that this consideration has important bearings on the question as to the
physical efficacy of prayer. From a monistic point of view both those
who affirm and those who deny such efficacy are equally in the right,
and equally in the wrong; they are merely quarrelling upon different
sides of the same shield. For, according to Monism, if the theologians
are right in supposing that the Supreme Mind is the hearer of prayer in
any case, they are also right in supposing that the Mind must
necessarily be able to grant what is called physical answers, seeing
that in order to grant _any_ answer (even of the most apparently
spiritual kind) some physical change must be produced, if it be only in
the brain of the petitioner. On the other hand, the scientists are
equally right in maintaining that no physical answer to prayer can be of
the nature of a miracle, or produced independently of strictly physical
causation; for, if so, the physical and the psychical would no longer be
coincident. But, until the scientists are able to perform the hopeless
task of proving where the possibilities of physical causation end, as a
mere matter of abstract speculation and going upon the theory of Monism,
it is evident that the theologians may have any latitude they choose to
claim, both as regards this matter and that of so-called miracles.]

[Footnote 12: It may be explained that by Agnosticism I understand a
theory of things which abstains from either affirming or denying the
existence of God. It thus represents, with regard to Theism, a state of
suspended judgement; and all it undertakes to affirm is, that, upon
existing evidence, the being of God is unknown. But the term Agnosticism
is frequently used in a widely different sense, as implying belief that
the being of God is not merely now unknown, but must always remain
unknowable. It is therefore often represented that Mr. Herbert Spencer,
in virtue of his doctrine of the Unknowable, is a kind of apostle of
Agnosticism. This, however, I conceive to be a great mistake. The
distinctive features of Mr. Spencer's doctrine of the Unknowable are not
merely non-agnostic, but anti-agnostic. For the doctrine affirms that we
have this much knowledge of God--namely, that if He exists, He must for
ever be unknown. Without question, this would be a most important piece
of definite knowledge with regard to Deity, negative though it be; and,
therefore, any man who holds it has no right to be called an agnostic.

To me it has always seemed that the doctrine of the Unknowable, in so
far as it differs from the doctrine of the Unknown, is highly
unphilosophical. By what right can it be affirmed that Deity, if He
exists, may not reveal the fact of His existence to-morrow--and this to
the whole human race without the possibility of doubt? Or, if there be a
God, who is to say that there certainly cannot be a future life, in
which each individual man may have unquestionable proof of Theism? It is
a perfectly philosophical statement for any one to make that, as matters
now stand, he can see no evidence of Theism; but to say that he knows
the human race never can have such evidence, is a most unphilosophical
statement, seeing that it could only be justified by absolute knowledge.
And, on this account, I say that the doctrine of the Unknowable, in so
far as it differs from the doctrine of the Unknown, is the very reverse
of agnostic.

Now, the theory of Monism alone, as observed in the text, appears to be
purely agnostic in the sense just explained. If in some parts of the
foregoing essay I appear to have been arguing in favour of theistic
implications, this has only been in order to show (as against Clifford)
that the world does admit of being regarded as an eject. But inasmuch
as--religious faith apart--we are not able to verify any such ejective
interpretation, we are not able to estimate its value. Monism sanctions
the shading of _x_ as deeply as we choose; but the shading which it
sanctions is only provisional.]



In the foregoing chapters I have considered the theory of Monism, first
in contrast with the theories of Materialism and of Spiritualism, and
next in relation to the theory of Theism. In this chapter and that which
succeeds it I propose to consider Monism in relation to the Will. To do
this it is needful to begin by considering the problems which are
presented by the Will in relation to the older theories of Materialism
on the one hand and of Spiritualism on the other.

Although the phenomena of volition have occupied so large a province of
philosophical literature, the fundamental problems which arise in
connexion with them are only two in number, and both admit of being
stated in extremely simple terms. The historical order in which these
two problems have arisen is the inverse of their logical order. For
while in logical order the two problems would stand thus--Is the Will an
agent? If so, is it a free agent?--in actual discussion it was long
taken for granted that the Will is an agent, and hence the only
controversy gathered round the question whether the Will is a free
agent. Descartes, indeed, seems to have entertained the prior question
with regard to animals, and there are passages in the _Leviathan_ which
may be taken to imply that Hobbes entertained this question with regard
to man. But it was not until recent years that any such question could
stand upon a basis of science as distinguished from speculation; the
question did not admit of being so much as stated in terms of science
until physiology was in a position openly to challenge our right to
assume that the Will is an agent. Such a challenge physiology has now
given, and even declared that any assumption of volitional agency is, in
the presence of adequate physiological knowledge, impossible.

The two problems which I thus state separately are often, and indeed
generally, confused together; but for the purpose of clear analysis it
is of the first importance that they should be kept apart. In order to
show the wide distinction between them, we may best begin with a brief
consideration of what it is that the two problems severally involve; and
to do this we may best take the problems in what I have called their
logical order.

First, then, as regards the question whether the Will is an agent, the
rival theories of Materialism and Spiritualism stand to one another in a
relation of contradiction. For it is of the essence of Spiritualism to
regard the Will as an agent, or as an original cause of bodily movement,
and therefore as a true cause in Nature. On the other hand, it is of the
essence of Materialism to deny that the Will is an agent. Hitherto,
indeed, materialists as a body have not expressly recognized this
implication as necessarily belonging to their theory; but that this
implication does necessarily belong to their theory--or rather, I should
say, really constitutes its most distinctive feature--admits of being
easily shown. For the theory that material changes are the causes of
mental changes necessarily terminates in the so-called theory of
conscious automatism--or the theory that so far as the conditions to
bodily action are concerned, consciousness is adventitious, bearing the
same ineffectual relation to the activity of the brain as the striking
of a clock bears to the time-keeping adjustments of the clock-work. From
this conclusion there is no possibility of escape, if once we accept the
premises of Materialism; and therefore I say it belongs to the essence
of Materialism to deny the agency of Will.

Just as necessarily does it belong to the essence of Monism to affirm
the agency of Will. For, according to this theory, while motion is
producing nothing but motion, mind-change nothing but mind-change, both
are producing both simultaneously; neither could be what it is without
the other, for each is to the other a necessary counterpart or
supplement, in the absence of which the whole causation (whether
regarded from the physical or mental side) would not be complete.

Now, in my opinion the importance of the view thus presented by the
theory of Monism is, for all purposes of psychological analysis,
inestimable. It is impossible nowadays that such analysis can proceed
very far in any direction without confronting the facts presented by
physiology: hence it is impossible for such analysis to confine itself
exclusively to the spiritual or subjective side of psychology. On the
other hand, in so far as such analysis has regard to the material or
objective side, it has hitherto appeared to countenance--in however
disguised a form--the dogmatic denial of the Will as an agent. Hence the
supreme importance to psychology of reconciling the hitherto rival
theories of Spiritualism and Materialism in the higher synthesis which
is furnished by the theory of Monism. For, obviously, in the absence of
any philosophical justification of the Will as an agent, we are without
any guarantee that all psychological inquiry is not a vain beating of
the air. If, as Materialism necessarily implies, the Will is not a cause
in Nature, there would be no reason in Nature for the agency either of
feeling or of intelligence. Feeling and intelligence would, therefore,
stand as ciphers in the general constitution of things; and any inquiry
touching their internal system of causation could have no reference to
any scientific inquiry touching causation in general. I am aware that
this truth is habitually overlooked by psychologists; but it is none
the less a truth of fundamental importance to the whole superstructure
of this science. Or, in other words, unless psychologists will expressly
consent to rear their science on the basis provided by the philosophical
theory of Monism, there is nothing to save it from logical
disintegration; apart from this basis, the whole science is, so to
speak, built in the air, like an unsubstantial structure of clouds.
Psychologists, I repeat, habitually ignore this fact, and constantly
speak of feeling and intelligence as true causes of adjustive action;
but by so doing they merely beg from this contradictory theory of
Spiritualism a flat denial of the fundamental postulate on which they
elsewhere proceed--the postulate, namely, that mental changes are
determined by cerebral changes. Consider, for example, the following
passage from Mr. Spencer's _Principles of Psychology_ (§ 125), which
serves to show in brief compass the logical incoherency which in this
matter runs through his whole work:--

     'Those races of beings only can have survived in which, on the
     average, agreeable or desired feelings went along with activities
     conducive to the maintenance of life, while disagreeable and
     habitually-avoided feelings went along with activities directly or
     indirectly destructive of life; and there must ever have been,
     other things equal, the most numerous and long-continued survivals
     among races in which these adjustments of feelings to actions were
     the best, tending ever to bring about perfect adjustment.'

The argument here is that the 'adjustments of feelings to actions,' when
once attained, leads in turn to an adjustment of actions to
feelings--or, as I have myself stated the argument in my _Mental
Evolution in Animals_, 'the _raison d'étre_ of Pleasure and Pain has
been that of furnishing organisms with guides to adjustive action:
moreover, as in the case of direct sensation dictating any simple
adjustment for the sake of securing an immediate good, so in the case of
instinct dictating a more intricate action for the sake of eventually
securing a more remote good (whether for self, progeny, or community);
and so, likewise, in the case of reason dictating a still more intricate
adjustment for the sake of securing a good still more remote--in all
cases, that is, where volition is concerned, pleasures and pains are the
guides of action.' But thus to affirm that pleasures and pains are the
guides of action is merely another way of affirming that the Will is an
agent--a cause of bodily movement, and, as such, a cause in Nature. Now,
as we have seen, Mr. Spencer not only affirms this--or rather assumes
it--but proceeds to render an _a priori_ explanation of the accuracy of
the guidance. Yet he nowhere considers the fundamental question--Why
should we suppose that the Will is an agent at all? Assuredly the answer
given by physiology to this question is a simple denial that we have any
justification so to regard the Will: in view of her demonstration of
conscious automatism, she can see no reason why there should be any
connexion at all between a subjective feeling of pleasure or pain
and an objective fact of 'agreement or disagreement with the
environment'--nay, one of the most eminent of her priesthood has
declared that there _is_ no more connexion between the ambition of a
Napoleon and a general commotion of Europe, than there is between the
puff of a steam-whistle and the locomotion of a train. And, as I have
now repeatedly insisted, on grounds of physiology alone this is the only
logical conclusion at which it is possible to arrive. Yet Mr. Spencer,
while elsewhere proceeding on the lines of physiology, whenever he
encounters the question of the agency of Will, habitually jumps the
whole gulf that separates Materialism from Spiritualism. And this
wonderful feat of intellectual athletics is likewise performed, so far
at least as I am aware, by every other psychologist who has proceeded on
the lines of physiology. Indeed, the logical incoherency is not so
serious in Mr. Spencer's case as it is in that of many other writers
whom I need not wait to name. For Mr. Spencer does not seek to found his
system on a basis of avowed Materialism, and, therefore, he may be said
to have left this fundamental question of volitional agency in abeyance.
But all those writers who have reared their systems of psychology on a
basis of avowed Materialism--or, which is the same thing, on a basis of
physiology alone--lay themselves open to the charge of grossest
inconsistency when they thus assume that the Will is an agent. It is
impossible that these writers can both have their cake and eat it.
Either they must forego their Materialism, or else they must cease to
speak of 'motives determining action,' 'conduct being governed by
pleasures and pains,' 'voluntary movements in their last resort being
all due to bodily feelings,' 'the highest morality and the lowest vice
being alike the result of a pursuit of happiness,' &c. &c. And, so far
as I can see, it is only in the way above indicated, or on the theory of
Monism, that it is possible, without ignoring the facts of physiology on
the one hand or those of psychology on the other, philosophically to
save the agency of Will.

From this brief exposition it may be gathered that on the materialistic
theory it is impossible that the Will can be, in any sense of the term,
an agent; that on the spiritualistic theory the Will is regarded as an
agent, but only in the sense of a non-natural or miraculous cause; and,
lastly, that on the monistic theory the Will is saved as an agent, or
may be properly regarded and as properly denominated a true cause, in
the ordinary sense of that term. For this, as well as for other reasons
which need not here be specified, I accept in philosophy the theory of
Monism; and am thus entitled in psychology to proceed upon the doctrine
that the Will is an agent. We have next to consider the ulterior
question whether upon this theory the Will may be properly regarded as a
free agent.

By a free agent is understood an agent that is able to act without
restraint, or spontaneously. The word 'free,' therefore, bears a very
different meaning when applied exclusively to the Will, and when
applied more generally to the living organism. For we may properly say
that a man, or an animal, is free when he, or it, is at liberty to act
in accordance with desire. Touching the fact of freedom in this sense
there is, of course, no question. We have not to consider the possible
freedom of man, but the possible freedom of Will; we have not to
contemplate whether a man may be free to do what he wills, but whether
he can be free to will what he wills. Such being the question, we have
to consider it in relation to the three philosophical theories already
stated--Materialism, Spiritualism, and Monism.

For the theory of Materialism the present question has no existence. If
this announcement appears startling, it can only be because no
materialist has ever taken the trouble to formulate his own theory with
distinctness. For, as previously shown, Materialism necessarily involves
the doctrine of conscious automatism; but, if so, the Will is concluded
not to be an agent at all, and therefore it becomes idle to discuss
whether, in any impossible exercise of its agency, it is free or subject
to restraint. The most that in this connexion could logically stand to
be considered by the advocates of Materialism would be whether or not
the adventitious and inefficacious feelings of subjectivity which are
associated with cerebral activity are determinate or free; but this
would probably be regarded on all hands as a somewhat useless topic of
discussion, and certainly in any case would have no reference to the
question of free _agency_. The point to be clearly understood is that,
according to the materialistic theory, a motor is distinct from a
motive, although in some unaccountable manner the motor is able to cause
the motive. But the motive, when thus caused, is not supposed to exert
any causal influence on bodily action; it is supposed to begin and end
as a motive, or never itself to become a motor. In other words, as
before stated, the Will is not supposed to be an agent; and, therefore,
to this theory the doctrine of free-will and of determinism are alike
irrelevant. We need not wait to prove that this important fact is
habitually overlooked by materialists themselves, or that whenever a
materialist espouses the cause of determinism, he is thereby and for the
time being vacating his position as a materialist; for if, according to
his theory, the Will is not an agent, he is merely impugning his own
doctrines by consenting to discuss the conditions of its agency.

The theory of Spiritualism and the theory of Monism agree in holding
that the Will is an agent; and, therefore, to both of these theories the
question whether the Will is a free agent is a real question. Here,
then, it devolves upon us to consider carefully the logical status of
the rival doctrines of so-called Liberty and Necessity. For convenience
of arrangement in what follows, we may best begin with the doctrine of
Necessity, or Determinism.



We have now seen that, according to Materialism, the Will is not an
agent, while according both to Spiritualism and to Monism the Will is an
agent. Touching the further question, whether the Will is a free agent,
we have seen that while the question does not exist for Materialism, it
appears to require a negative answer both from Spiritualism and from
Monism. For, as regards its relation to Spiritualism, when once the
ground is cleared of certain errors of statement and fallacies of
reasoning, we appear to find that unless the will is held to be
motiveless--which would be to destroy not only the doctrine of moral
responsibility, but likewise that of universal causation--it must be
regarded as subject to law, or as determined in its action by the nature
of its past history and present circumstances. Lastly, the theory of
Monism appears likewise to deny the possibility of freedom as an
attribute of Will; for, according to this theory, mental processes are
one and the same with physical processes, and hence it does not appear
that the doctrine of determinism could well be taught in a manner more

Thus far, then, the doctrine of determinism is seen to be victorious
over the doctrine of freedom all along the line. By Materialism the
question of freedom is excluded _ab initio_; by Spiritualism and by
Monism, so far as yet seen, it can be logically answered only in the
negative. From which it follows that the sense of moral responsibility
is of the nature of a vast illusion, the historical genesis of which
admits of being easily traced, and the authority of which is thus
destroyed. Although it may still serve to supply motives to conduct, it
seems that it can do so only in the way that belongs to
superstition--that Conscience, as I have before said, is the bogey of
mankind, and that belief in its authority is like belief in witchcraft,
destined to dwindle and to fade before the advance of a better or more
complete knowledge of natural causation.

But the discussion must not end here. Hitherto I have presented the case
Liberty _versus_ Necessity with all the impartiality of which I am
capable; but I have done so without travelling an inch beyond those
limits of discussion within which the question has been debated by
previous writers. I believe, indeed, that I have pointed out several
important oversights which have been made on both sides of the question;
but in doing this I have not gone further than the philosophical basis
upon which the question has been hitherto argued. My object, however,
in publishing these papers is not that of destructive criticism; and
what I have done in this direction has been done only in order to
prepare the way for what is now to follow. Having shown, as it appears
to me conclusively, that upon both the rival theories of Materialism and
Spiritualism--the doctrine of Liberty, and therefore of Moral
Responsibility--must logically fall, I now hope to show that this
doctrine admits of being re-established on a basis furnished by the
theory of Monism.

It often happens that an elaborate structure of argument, which is
perfectly sound and complete upon the basis furnished by a given
hypothesis, admits of being wholly disintegrated when the fundamental
hypothesis is shown to be either provisional or untrue. And such, I
believe, is the case with the issue now before us. For the issue Liberty
_versus_ Necessity has hitherto been argued on the common assumption
that natural causation is not merely the most ultimate principle which
the human mind can reach; but also a principle which is, in some way or
another, external to that mind. It has been taken for granted by both
sides in the controversy that if our volitions can be proved to depend
upon natural causation, as rigid in its sequences within the sphere of a
human mind as within that of a calculating machine, there must be an end
of the controversy; seeing that our volitions would be thus proved to be
rigidly determined by those same principles of fixed order, or 'natural
law,' which are external to, or independent of, the human mind--quite as
much as they are external to, or independent of, the calculating
machine. Now, it is this assumption which I challenge. The theory of
Monism entitles one to deny that when we have driven the question down
to the granite bed of natural causation, nothing more remains to be
done; according to this theory it still remains to be asked, What is the
nature of this natural causation? Is it indeed the ultimate datum of
experience, below which the human mind cannot go? And is it indeed so
far external to, or independent of, the human mind, that the latter
stands to it in the relation of a slave to a master--coerced as to
action by the conditions which that master has laid down?

Now these questions are all virtually answered in the affirmative by the
dualistic theory of Spiritualism. For the Will is here regarded as an
agent bound to act in accordance with those conditions of external
necessity which dualism recognizes as natural causation. Its internal
causation thus becomes but the reflex of external; and the reflection
becomes known internally as the consciousness of motive. Hence, the Will
cannot be philosophically liberated from the toils of this external
necessity, so long as dualism recognizes that necessity as existing
independently of the Will, and thus imposing its conditions on
volitional activity. But the theory of Monism, by identifying external
with internal causation--or physical processes with psychical
processes--philosophically saves the doctrine of freedom, and with it
the doctrine of moral responsibility. Moreover, it does so without
relying upon any precarious appeal to the direct testimony of
consciousness itself. As this view of the subject is one by no means
easy of apprehension, I will endeavour to unfold it part by part.

To begin with, Monism excludes the possibility of volition being
determined by cerebration. Let us suppose, for example, that a sequence
of ideas, _A, B, C, D_, occurs in the mind, which on its obverse or
cerebral aspect may be represented by the sequence _a, b, c, d_. Here
the parallelism is not due, as supposed by Materialism, to _a_
determining _Ab_, _b_ determining _Bc_, &c.; it is due to _Aa_
determining _Bb_, _Bb_ determining _Cc_, &c.--the two apparently diverse
causal sequences being really but one causal sequence. If the
determinist should rejoin that a causal sequence of some kind is all
that he demands--that the Will is equally proved to be unfree, whether
it be bound by the causal sequence _a, b, c, d_, or by the causal
sequence _Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd_--I answer that this is a point which we have
to consider by-and-by. Meanwhile I am only endeavouring to make clear
the essential distinction between the philosophical theories of Monism
and Materialism. And the effect of this distinction is to show that, for
the purposes of clear analysis, we may wholly neglect either side of the
double reality. If we happen to be engaged on any physiological
inquiry, we may altogether neglect the processes of ideation with which
any process of cerebration may be concerned; while, if we happen to be
engaged upon any psychological inquiry, we may similarly neglect the
processes of cerebration with which any process of ideation may be
concerned. Seeing that each is equally an index of a common sequence, it
can make no difference which of them we take as our guide, although for
purposes of practical inquiry it is of course expedient to take the
cerebral index when we are dealing with the objective side of the
problem, and the mental index when dealing with the subjective. In the
following pages, therefore, I shall altogether neglect the cerebral
index. The inquiry on which we are engaged belongs to the region of
mind, and, therefore, after what has just been said, it will be apparent
that I am entitled to adopt the standpoint of a spiritualist, to the
extent of fastening attention only upon the mental side of the problem.
For although the theory of Monism teaches, as against Spiritualism, that
no one of the mental sequences could take place without a corresponding
physical sequence, the theory also teaches the converse proposition; and
therefore it makes no difference which of the two phenomenal sequences
is taken as our index of the ontological.

Now, it clearly makes a great difference whether the mental changes
concerned in volition are regarded as effects or as causes. According
to Materialism, the mental changes are the effects of cerebral changes,
which were themselves the effects of precedent cerebral changes.
According to Spiritualism, these mental changes are the causes, not only
of the cerebral changes, but also of one another. According to Monism,
the mental changes may be regarded as the causes of the cerebral, or
_vice versa_, seeing that in neither case are we stating a real
truth--the real truth being that it is only a cerebro-mental change
which can cause any change either of cerebration or of mentation. Now it
is evident that if the mental processes were always the effects of
cerebral processes (Materialism), there could be no further question
with regard to Liberty and Necessity; while, if the mental processes are
the causes both of the cerebral processes and of one another
(Spiritualism), the question before us becomes raised to a higher level.
The causality in question being now regarded as purely mental, the will
is no longer regarded as a passive slave of the brain, and the only
thing to be considered is whether freedom is compatible with causation
of a purely mental kind. Now, at an earlier stage of our enquiry I have
argued that it is not; but this argument was based entirely upon
spiritualistic premises, or upon the assumption that the principle of
causality is everywhere external to, or independent of, the human
mind--under which assumption I cannot see that it makes much difference
whether the coercion comes from the brain alone, or from the whole
general system of things external to the human mind. And here it is that
I think the theory of Monism comes to the rescue.

For, if physical and mental processes are everywhere consubstantial, or
identical in kind, it can make no difference whether we regard their
sequences as objective or ejective, physical or spiritual. Hence, we are
free to regard all causation as of a character essentially psychical.
But, if so, it must be self-contained as psychical; it cannot be in any
way determined by anything from without, seeing that outside itself
there is nothing in the Universe. Now, if this is true of the
World-eject, it must also be true of the Man-eject, as well as of the
Man-subject, or Ego. If all causation is psychical, that portion of it
which belongs to, or is manifested by, my own personality is not laid
upon me by anything from without; it is merely the expression of my own
psychical activity, as this is taking place within the circumscribed
area of my own personality. And this activity is spontaneous, in the
sense that it is not coerced from without. All the sequences which that
activity displays within this region are self-determined, in the sense
that they are determined by the self, and not by any agency external to
it. The only influence which any external agency can here exert, is that
of insisting that bodily action--the physical outcome of my psychical
processes--shall be in accordance with the conditions imposed by the
internal system of causation; but this does not influence in any degree
those mental processes which do not express themselves in bodily action.
Hence, it may be perfectly true that my bodily action in the past might
have been different from what it actually was; for as this action was
the outcome of my mentation at the time (according to the spiritual
index, which is now our guide), and as this mentation was not coerced
from without, it might very well have been different from what it was.
Each of the mental sequences at that time was a result of those
preceding and a cause of those succeeding; but behind all this play of
mental causation there all the while stood that Self, which was at once
the condition of its occurrence, and the _First Cause_ of its action. It
is not true that that Self was nothing more than the result of all this
play of mental causation; it can only have been the First Cause of it.
For, otherwise, the mental causation must have been the cause of that
causation, which is absurd. Who or What it was that originally caused
this First Cause is, of course, another question, which I shall
presently hope to show is not merely unanswerable, but unmeaning. As a
matter of fact, however, we know that this Self is here, and that it can
thus be proved to be a substance, _standing under_ the whole of that
more superficial display of mental causation which it is able to look
upon introspectively--and this almost as _impersonally_ as if it were
regarding the display as narrated by another mind. I say, then, that
the theory of Monism entitles us to regard this Self as the _fons et
origo_ of our mental causation, and thus restores to us the doctrine of
Liberty with its attendant consequence of Moral Responsibility.

It may help to elucidate this matter if we regard it from another point
of view. According to Hobbes, 'Liberty is the absence of all impediments
to action that are not contained in the nature and intrinsical qualities
of the agent.' Now, if we accept this definition, it is easy to show
that the theory of Monism is really at one with the doctrine of Liberty.
For, in the first place, according to the theory of Monism, the neurosis
of the brain could not be what it is without the psychosis of the mind.
Consequently, as above shown, it would be equally incorrect to say that
the neurosis governs the psychosis, as it would be to say that the
psychosis governs the neurosis. But, if so, the Will is free in
accordance with Hobbes' definition of freedom. Suppose, for example,
that on seeing a bone I think of Professor Flower, then remember that a
long time ago I lent his book on Osteology to a friend, and forthwith
resolve to ask my friend what has become of it; here my ultimate
volition would be unfree if it were the effect of physical processes
going on in my brain. But the volition might be free if each of these
mental processes were the result of the preceding one, seeing that there
may then have been 'an absence of all impediments' to the occurrence of
these processes.

Of course it will be objected--as I have myself urged in the preceding
chapter--that causal action of any kind is incompatible with freedom of
volition--that if there be any such causal action, even though it be
wholly restricted within the sphere of mind, the Will is really
compelled to will as it does will, is determined to determine as it does
determine, and hence that its apparent freedom is illusory. Hobbes'
definition, it may be urged, when applied to the case of the Will, is
equivocal. No doubt a man is free as to his _action_, if there be an
'absence of all impediments' to his action--or, in other words, if he is
able to act as he wills to act. But it does not follow that he is free
as to his _will_, even though there be an absence of all impediments to
his willing as he wills to will. For here the very question is as to
whether there are any impediments to his willing otherwise than he does
will. The fact that he wills to will as he does will proves that there
are no impediments to his willing in that direction; but is there a
similar absence of impediments to his willing to will in any other
direction? If so, we are still within the lines of determinism. Thus
Hobbes' definition of freedom really applies only to freedom of bodily
action; not to freedom of volition, seeing that if my will is caused I
could not have willed to will otherwise than I did will. Now, the answer
which Monism supplies to this objection is that the will itself is here
the ultimate agent, and _therefore an agent which must be identified
with the principle of causality_. In other words, the very reason why we
feel that Hobbes' definition of liberty, while perfectly valid as
regards bodily action, seems to lack something when applied to volition,
is because volition belongs to the sphere of mind--belongs, therefore,
to that sphere which the theory of Monism regards as identical with
causality itself. Although it is true that volitions are caused by
motives, yet it is the mind which conditions the motives, and therefore
its own volitions. It is not true that the mind is always the passive
slave of causes, known to it as motives. The human mind is itself a
causal agent, having the same kind of priority within the microcosm as
the World-eject has in the macrocosm. Therefore its motives are in large
part matters of its own creation. In the intricate workings of its own
internal machinery innumerable patterns of thought are turned out, some
of which it selects as good, while others it rejects as bad; but no one
of which could have come into being at all without this causal agency of
the mind itself.

It will probably be objected that even though all this were granted, we
cannot thus save the doctrine of moral responsibility. For it may appear
that the liberty which is thus accorded to the Will is nothing better
than liberty to will at random, as argued in my previous essay. But here
we must observe that although we are thus shown free to will at random,
it does not follow that we are likewise free to act in accordance with
our volitions. And this is a most important distinction, which
libertarians have hitherto failed to notice. If we are free to will in
any direction, it follows, indeed, that we are free to will at random;
but it follows also, and for this very reason, that we are free to will
the _impossible_. True, when we will what is known to be impossible of
execution, we call the act an act of desire; but it is clearly the same
in kind as an act of will, and differs only in not admitting of being
translated into an act of body. Therefore I say that the restriction
which is imposed upon us by the conditions of causality, whether
external or internal, is not any restriction as to willing, but merely
as to doing. It is not in the subjective, but in the objective world
that we encounter the 'bondage of necessity.'

Now, the knowledge that we are thus restricted as to bodily action
imposes that kind of restraint upon volition which is termed rational.
There is nothing in the nature of things to prevent our willing anything
that we wish; but there is something in the nature of things to prevent
our doing everything that we will; and as the practical object of our
volition is that of determining bodily action, we find it expedient to
will only such things as we believe that we can do. To this extent,
therefore, the Will is bound--namely, by the executive capacity of the
body. But, strictly speaking, this is not a binding of the Will _qua_
Will. Even in such cases, as St. Paul says, to will may be present with
us, but how to perform that which is good we find not. I say then that
although the Will is free to will whatever it wills, nevertheless it
would fail in its essential use or object did it refuse to will in
accordance with the conditions which are imposed upon its executive
capacity. Again, to quote St. Paul, the Will might say, All things for
me are lawful; but all things are not expedient. Now, this consideration
of expediency is one of constant and far-reaching importance. For not
only, as already observed, does it lead to volition on the one hand as
rational; but it also leads to volition on the other hand as moral. Let
us take the two points separately.

Do we say that a man is not free to conduct a scientific research,
because in conducting it he must employ the needful apparatus? Or do we
say that a man is not free to marry, because in order to do so he must
go through a marriage ceremony? Obviously, to say such things would
sound very like talking nonsense. It is true that in neither case is a
man free to gain his object without adopting the means which are seen to
be necessary under the system of external causation in which he finds
himself; but this does not mean that he is not free to do as he wills,
unless it so happens that he wills to do the impossible. Thus, within
the limits that are set by the conditions of causation, a man is
understood to be free to act as he wills so long as he is not 'impeded'
by some of those conditions. To say that he is not free because he
cannot get beyond those conditions would be absurd, since, apart from
these conditions, action of any kind would be _a priori_ impossible,
and the man would have, as his only alternative, no-action.

Hence, in doing we must conform to the law of causation--which, indeed,
is all that can be meant by doing--and if in willing what we do we must
also conform to the law of causation, where is the difference with
respect to freedom? Such restraint as there may be is here a restraint
upon bodily action; not at all upon the mental action which we call
volition. The Will may will in any way that it wills to will; but the
body cannot act in every way that the Will may will it to act; therefore
the Will finds it expedient to will only in such ways as the body can
act--i. e. to conform in _its_ action to the external system of
causation. If this condition of all action is held to be compatible with
freedom in the one case, so in consistency must it be held in the other.
Equally in either case the agent can only be properly said to be unfree,
if he be subject to causal restraint from without. And in neither case
does the universal condition of acting under the law of causation
constitute bondage, in any other sense than that of furnishing the agent
with his conditions to acting in any way at all. Therefore, unless it be
said that a man is not free to do as he wills because he wills to do the
impossible, it cannot be denied that he is free to will as he wills
because he wills according to law. For no action of any kind is possible
contrary to law--a general fact which goes to constitute an argument _a
posteriori_ for the rationality of the World-eject--and if volition
constituted an exception to this general statement, it could only do so
by becoming no-action. Now, it is by thus willing according to law--or
with due reference to those external conditions of causality with which
the executive capacity has to do--that volition is rendered rational.
The restraint laid upon volition is not laid upon it _as_ volition, but
only in respect of execution. A man may will to marry as long and as
hard as he chooses; but only if he further wills to take the necessary
means can his volition become rational; it is irrational if he wills to
marry, and at the same time wills not to go through the marriage
ceremony. But although irrational, it is none the less free. Considered
merely as an act of volition it is equally free, whether it be rational
or irrational.

And, similarly, it is equally free whether it be moral or immoral. The
objection that an uncaused volition cannot be a responsible volition
depends for its validity on the meaning which we attach to the term
'uncaused.' If it be meant that the volition arises without any regard
at all to the surrounding conditions of life, and is carried into effect
without the agent being able to control it by means of any other
voluntary act; then, indeed, whatever else such an agent may be, he
certainly is not moral. But if it be meant that among a number of
uncompleted volitions drawing in different directions--and all
'uncaused' in the sense of belonging immediately to the Ego--one of
them gains an advantage by a conscious reference of the mind to it as
good or evil, then the agent who is capable of giving this advantage to
that member of the system may properly be called moral. The man who
willed to marry, and yet willed not to go through the marriage ceremony,
was, as we have seen, irrational. Similarly, if any agent wills an
action without being able to consider any of the consequences which it
may involve as either moral or immoral, such an agent is what we must
properly call unmoral. Even in such an agent, however, the Will may be
free; only it would act without reference to any moral environment, just
as the lunatic above supposed might endeavour to act without reference
to any social environment.

Let us look at the whole matter in yet another light. We have repeatedly
seen that the question of free-will, and therefore of moral
responsibility, depends upon the question as to whether a man's action
in the past might have been other than it was, notwithstanding that all
the conditions under which he was placed remained the same. Now, to this
question only one answer can be given by a dualistic theory of things,
whether materialistic or spiritualistic. For it belongs to the essence
of a dualistic theory to regard the principle of causation as a
principle external to, and independent of, the human mind; consequently,
all the conditions of mental causation being given, a certain result in
the way of volition is necessarily bound to ensue--or, in other words,
at any given time in a man's mental history, his action cannot have
been other than it was. But now, according to the monistic theory, all
causation has a psychical basis--being but the objective expression to
us of the psychical activity of the World-eject. Consequently, according
to this theory, the course of even strictly physical causation is
inevitable or necessary only in so far as the psychical activity of the
World-eject is held to be uniform, or consistent within itself. And
forasmuch as all our knowledge of physical causation is necessarily
empirical, we have but very inadequate means of judging how far this
empirical index is a true gauge of the reality. We can, indeed, predict
an eclipse centuries in advance; but we can only do so on the
supposition that such and such physical conditions remain constant, and
we have no right to affirm that such must be the case. Our knowledge of
physical causation, being but empirical, is probably but a very
inadequate translation of the psychical activity of the World-eject; and
hence, not only have we no right to predict a future eclipse with
certainty, but we have not so much as the right to affirm that even a
past eclipse must have taken place of necessity. For we have no right to
affirm that at any one period of cosmic history the action of the
World-eject must have been what it was, or could not have been other
than it was. Our knowledge of the obverse aspect of this action (in the
course of physical causation) is, as I have said, purely empirical; and
this is merely another way of saying that although we do know what the
action of the World-eject has been at such and such a period of cosmic
history, we can have no means of knowing what else it might have been.
For anything that we can tell to the contrary, the whole history of the
solar system, for example, might have been quite different from what it
has been; the course which it actually has run may have been but one out
of an innumerable number of possible alternatives, any other of which
might just as well have been adopted by the World-eject.

Now, if this is true of natural causation in the case of the macrocosm,
it would appear to be equally so of natural causation in the case of the
microcosm. Indeed, prediction in the case of human activity is so much
less certain than in the case of cosmic activity, that the attribute of
free-will is generally ascribed to the former, while rarely suggested as
possibly belonging to the latter. And similarly as regards past action.
If we are unable to say that at any period in the past history of the
solar system the World-eject might not have deflected the whole stream
of events into some other channel, how can we be able to say that at any
given period of his past history the Man-eject could not have performed
an analogous act? Obviously, the only reason why we are not accustomed
to entertain this supposition in either case, is because our judgements
are beset with the assumption that the principle of causality is prior
to that of mind--something of the nature of Fate superior even to the
gods. And, no less obviously, if once we see any reason to regard the
principle of causality as merely co-extensive with that of mind, the
whole question as between Necessity and Free-will lapses; there is
nothing to show that a man's action in the past might not have been
other than it was. The only outward restraint placed upon the exercise
of his Will is then seen to be imposed by the conditions of its
executive capacity, and this restraint it is that constitutes man a
rational agent. On the other hand, the structure of conscience--however
we may suppose this to have been formed--imposes that further and inward
restraint upon his Will, which constitutes man a moral agent. But
neither of these restraints can properly be said to constitute bondage
in the sense required by Necessitarianism, because neither of them
requires that the man's Will must will as it does will; they require
merely that his Will should act in certain ways if it is to accomplish
certain results; and to this extent only is it subject to law, or to the
incidence of those external influences which help to shape our motives.

But if this is so, is it not obvious that the sense of moral
responsibility is rationally justified? This sense goes upon the
supposition that a man's conduct in the past might have been different
from what it was. Clearly, therefore, no question of moral
responsibility can ever obtain in cases where the general system of
external causation, or natural law, rendered an alternative line of
action physically impossible. _The question of moral responsibility can
only obtain in cases where two or more lines of conduct were alike
possible, so far as the external system of causation is concerned--or
where the Will was equally free to choose between two or more courses of
bodily action._ In other words, the question of moral responsibility has
nothing to do with the only kind of bondage to which, according to our
present point of view, the Will is subject--namely the bondage of being
rationally obliged to will only what is capable of performance. The
question of moral responsibility has only to do with the system of
causation which is inherent in the mind itself; not with the system that
is external to the mind. And as the theory of Monism identifies the mind
with this its own inherent system of causation--or regards a man's Will
as the originator of a particular portion of general causality--it
follows from the theory that a man is justly liable to moral praise or
blame as the case may be: the moral sense no longer appears as a
gigantic illusion: conscience is justified at the bar of reason.

It appears to me impossible that any valid exception can be taken to the
above reasoning, if once the premiss is granted--namely, that the
principle of Causality admits of being regarded as identical with that
of Volition. For if Cause is but another name for Will--whether the Will
be subjective or ejective--it follows that my will is a first cause,
which is determined by other causes only in so far as the executive
capacity of my body is so determined. As the whole stress of any
objection to the present argument must thus be brought to bear upon the
validity of this its fundamental premiss, a few words may now be said to
show that the premiss is not wholly gratuitous. Of course the reason why
at first sight it is apt to appear, not only gratuitous, but even
grotesque, is because in these days of physical science the minds of
most of us are dominated by the unthinking persuasion that the principle
of causality is the most ultimate principle which our minds can reach.
Most of us accept this persuasion as almost of the nature of an axiom,
and hence the mere suggestion that our own volitions are really uncaused
appears to us of the nature of a self-evident absurdity. A little
thought, however, is enough to show that the only ground of reason which
this strong prepossession can rest upon, is the assumption that the
principle of causality is logically prior to that of mind. Therefore it
is the validity of this assumption that we have here to investigate.

In the first place, then, the assumption is _ipso facto_ irrational. For
it is evident that in order to make the assumption there must already be
a mind to make it. In other words, the very conception of the principle
of causality implies a thinking substance wherein that conception
arises, and therefore, as a mere matter of formal statement, it is
impossible to assign logical priority to this conception over the thing
whereby it is conceived.

In the next place, when we carefully analyze the nature of this
conception itself, we find that it arises immediately out of our
conception of Being as Being. This is shown by the idea of _equivalency_
between cause and effect, which is an essential feature of the
conception of causality as such. In other words, the statement of any
causal relation is merely a statement of the fact that both the matter
and the energy concerned in the event were of a permanent nature and
unalterable amount. Therefore, _if_ the ultimate Reality is mental,
Causation _must_ be ontologically identical with Volition. And that the
ultimate Reality is either mental, or something greater, seems to be
proved by the consideration that if it be supposed anything _less_,
there must be an end of the conception of equivalency as between cause
and effect, and so of the conception of causality itself; for, clearly,
if my mind has been caused by anything less than itself, there is an end
of any possible equivalency between the activity of that thing as a
cause, and the occurrence of my mind as an effect[13].

Lastly, the conception of causality essentially involves the idea of
finality as existing somewhere. Here I cannot do better than quote some
extracts from Canon Mozley's essay on 'The Principle of Causation,' as
he manages very tersely to convey the gist of previous philosophizing
upon this subject.

     'He (Clarke) brings out simply at bottom the meaning and
     significance of an idea in the human mind, that there is implied in
     the very idea itself of cause, firstly, that it causes something
     else; and secondly, that it is uncaused itself.... An infinite
     series of causes does not make a cause; ... an infinite succession
     of causes rests, by the very hypothesis, upon no cause; each
     particular one rests on the one which follows it, but the whole
     rests upon nothing.... If from one cause we have to go back to
     another, that which we go back from is not the cause, but that
     which we go back to is. The very idea of cause, as I have said,
     implies a stop; and wherever we stop is the cause.... A true cause
     is a First Cause.... The atheistic idea thus does not correspond to
     the idea of reason. The atheist appears to acknowledge the
     necessity of a cause, and appears to provide for it; but when we
     come to his scheme it fails exactly in that part of the idea which
     clenches it, and which is essential to its integrity; it fails in
     providing a stop; ... One might say to him, Why do you give
     yourself the trouble to supply causation at all? You do so because
     you consider yourself obliged in reason to do it, but if you supply
     causation at all, why not furnish such a cause as reason has
     impressed upon you, and which is inherent in your mind--a cause
     which stands still, an original cause? If you never intended to
     supply this, it must have been because you thought a real cause was
     not wanted; but if you thought a cause not wanted, why not have
     said from the first that causes were not wanted, and said from the
     first that events could take place without causes?'

Or, to quote a more recent authority, and one speaking from the side of
physical science, Prof. Huxley writes:--

     'The student of nature who starts from the axiom of the
     universality of the law of causation, cannot refuse to admit an
     eternal existence; if he admits the conservation of energy, he
     cannot deny the possibility of an eternal energy; if he admits the
     existence of immaterial phenomena in the form of consciousness, he
     must admit the possibility, at any rate, of an eternal series of
     such phenomena; and, if his studies have not been barren of the
     best fruit of the investigation of nature, he will have enough
     sense to see that, when Spinoza says, "Per Deum intelligo ens
     absolute infinitum, hoc est substantiam constantem infinitis
     attributis," the God so conceived is one that only a very great
     fool would deny, even in his heart. Physical science is as little
     Atheistic as it is Materialistic[14].'

Now, if it thus belongs to the essence of our idea of causation that
finality must be reached somewhere, I do not know where this is so
likely to be reached as at that principle wherein the idea itself takes
its rise--viz. Mind. But, if so, the statement that any particular acts
of mind are uncaused ceases to present any character of self-evident

And the argument need not end here. For Mr. Herbert Spencer has shown
that our idea of causation, not merely requires a mind for its
occurrence, but that in every mind where it does occur it has been
directly formed out of experiences of effort in acts of volition. So
that whether we analyze the idea of cause as we actually discover it in
our own minds, or investigate the history of its genesis, we alike find,
as we might have antecedently expected, that it is dependent on our more
ultimate idea of mind as mind; the conception of causality is not, as a
matter of fact, original or primal, but derivative or secondary.
Therefore, if this conception necessarily involves the postulation of a
first cause, there can be no doubt that such a cause can only be
conceived as of the nature of mind. From which it follows that each
individual mind requires to be regarded--if it is regarded at all--as of
the nature of a first cause.

From this, however, it does not follow that each individual mind
requires to be regarded as wholly independent of all other causes, or as
never subject to any causal influence which may be exercised by other
minds. Although each mind presents the feature of finality or
spontaneity, this does not hinder that it also presents the feature of
relation to other minds, which, therefore, are able to act upon it in
numberless ways. Now, whether these minds are the minds of other men, of
other intelligent beings, or of the whole World-eject, the causal
activity which is exerted upon my mind expresses itself in that mind as
a consciousness of motives. But although these motives may help to
determine my volitions, there is no reason to suppose that they are
themselves the volitions, or that without them my mind would cease to be
itself a causal agent. On the contrary, if this were supposed, the
supposition would amount to destroying the causal agency of my own mind,
which, as we have just seen, must either be original or not at all.

The way, therefore, that the matter stands is this. In so far as the
microcosm is a circumscribed system of being--a thinking substance, a
personality--it is of the nature of a first cause, free to act in any
direction as to its thinking and willing, even though its thinking
should be irrational as to truth, and its willing impossible as to
execution. But in so far as the microcosm enters into relation with the
macrocosm, the system of external causation which it encounters
determines the character of its volitions. For although these volitions
are themselves of the nature of first causes, it is no contradiction to
say that they are--at all events in large measure--determined by other
and external causes. This is no contradiction because, although they are
thus determined, it does not follow that they are thus determined
_necessarily_, and this makes all the difference between the theory of
will as bond or free. In any stream of secondary causation each member
of the series is understood to determine the next member of necessity;
and it is because this notion is imported into psychology that the
theory of determinism regards it as axiomatic that, if our volitions are
in any way caused at all, they can only be caused by way of necessity;
and hence that under the operation of any given set of motives the
action of the will can only take place in the direction of the
resultant. But any such axiom is valid only within the region of second
causes. On the hypothesis that volitions are first causes, the axiom is
irrelevant to them; for although it may be true that they are determined
by causes from without, it may not be true that they are thus determined
of necessity: their intrinsic character as themselves first causes,
although not isolating them from any possible contact with other causes,
nevertheless does protect them from being necessarily coerced by these
causes, and therefore from becoming but the mere effects of them. Such
influence, or determination, as is exerted upon the Will by these
external causes is exerted only because any individual mind is not
itself a macrocosm, but a microcosm in relation to a macrocosm. If it
were itself a macrocosm, standing out of relation to all other being,
its prime causation would, of course, be wholly uninfluenced by any
other causation; its volitions would then be concerned only with the
determination of its own thoughts in a constant stream of purely
subjective contemplation, such as that which the Hindoo philosophy
attributes to God. But as the human mind discovers itself as existing in
close and complex relations with an external world of an orderly
character, the human mind finds that it is, as before said, _expedient_
to adapt the course of its own causal activity so as to bring it into
harmony with the external order. For, although its own causal activity
is primal, it by no means follows that on this account it is almighty;
hence, even although it be primal, it is nevertheless under the
necessity of adopting means in order to secure its ends--or, in other
words, of adjusting its volitions (if they are to be practically
efficient) to the conditions which are imposed upon its activity by the
orderly system of the external world. Which is merely another way of
stating the conclusion previously reached--viz. that the only necessity
which can be proved to govern our volitions is the necessity which is
imposed by our own considerations of reason and morality. Although we
find that it is expedient to adapt our own causal activity to that
larger system of causal activity by which we are surrounded--seeing that
we must do so necessarily if we are to act at all--it by no means
follows that we are bound to will what is expedient. In other words, the
necessity laid upon us by the system of external causation is a
necessity to adopt means for the attainment of ends; not a necessity to
will the ends. And although in many cases this distinction may appear to
be practically unmeaning--seeing that no man wills what he knows to be
impossible of execution, and therefore that to say he is necessarily
prevented from doing a certain thing seems practically equivalent to
saying that he is necessarily prevented from willing that thing--in all
cases where any question of moral responsibility can possibly obtain,
the distinction is one of fundamental importance. For, as already shown,
any question of moral responsibility can only obtain where two or more
lines of action are alike possible, and therefore where no necessity is
laid upon the man in respect of carrying out his volitions, in whichever
direction they may eventually proceed. Although in any event he is
necessarily bound to adopt means in order to secure his ends, the moral
quality of his choice has reference only to the ends which he chooses;
not at all to the fact that he has to employ means for the purpose of
attaining them. And even though his choice be influenced by his physical
and social environment--as it must be if it be either rational on the
one hand or moral on the other--it does not follow that this influence
is of a kind to neutralize or destroy the causal nature of his own
volition. For the influence which is thus exerted cannot be exerted
necessarily, unless we suppose that the Will is not a first cause, which
is the possibility now under consideration. If the Will is a first
cause, the influences brought to bear upon it by its relation to other
causes--and in virtue of which it is constituted, not only a cause
primal, but also a cause rational and moral--these influences differ
_toto coelo_ from those which are exercised by any members in a series
of secondary causes upon the next succeeding causes. And the difference
consists in the absence of necessary or unconditional sequence in the
one case, and its presence in the other. However strong the determining
influence of a motive may be, if the Will is a first cause, the motive
must belong to a different order of causal relation from a motor; for,
no matter how strong the determining influence may be, _ex hypothesi_ it
can never attain to the strength of necessity; the Will must ever remain
free to overcome such influence by an adequate exercise of its own power
of spontaneous action, or of supplying _de novo_ an additional access of
strength to some other motive. Of course, as a general rule, the Will
allows itself to be influenced by motives supplied immediately by its
relations with the external world; but this is so only because the
thinking substance well knows that it is expedient so to fall in with
the general stream of external causation. Hence, as a general rule, it
is only in cases where the stream of external causation is drawing the
will in different directions that the causal activity of the Will itself
is called into play. Or rather, I should say, it is only in such cases
that we become conscious of the fact. In the case of every voluntary
movement the primal activity of Will must be concerned (and this even in
the case of the lower animals); but as the vast majority of such
movements are performed by way of response to frequently recurring
circumstances, the response which experience has shown to be most
expedient is given, as it were, automatically, or without the occurrence
of any adverse motive. But in cases where motives are drawing in
different directions, we become conscious of an effort of Will in
choosing one or other line of conduct, and, according to our present
hypothesis, this consciousness of effort is an expression of the work
which the Will is doing in the way of spontaneous causation.

Thus, upon the whole, if we identify the principle of causation with the
principle of mind--as we are bound to do by the theory of Monism--we
thereby draw a great and fundamental distinction between causation as
this occurs in the external world, and as it occurs within the limits of
our own subjectivity. And the distinction consists in the unconditional
nature of a causal sequence in the external world, as against the
conditional nature of it in the other case; the condition to the
effective operation of a motive--as distinguished from a motor--is the
acquiescence of the first cause upon which that motive is operating.

To the foregoing argument it may be objected that by expressly regarding
the human mind as a first cause of its own volitions, I imply that that
mind can itself have had no cause, which appears to be self-evidently
absurd. But here again the absurdity only arises from our inveterate
habit of regarding the principle of causation as logically prior to that
of mind. If we expressly refuse to do this, there is nothing absurd in
supposing the principle of mind wherever it occurs, as itself uncaused.
For if, as we are now supposing, this principle is identical with that
of causation, to say that any mind is caused would be to say that a
cause is the cause of itself, which would be really absurd. Under the
present point of view, therefore, it would be a meaningless question to
ask for the cause of a human mind, since, _ex hypothesi_, a human mind
is a part of the self-existing substance, although not on this account
self-existing as to its individual personality. As argued in a previous
chapter, the personality appears to arise on account of circumscription,
or the isolation of a constituent part of the World-eject. Therefore,
although it may be reasonable to ask for a cause of this
circumscription--or of the personality--it is not reasonable to ask for
a cause of the substance which is thus circumscribed, or of the quality
of spontaneity which that substance exhibits.

I will now state the whole case in another way. When we regard the facts
of volition from the stand-point of psychology, the only theory of them
which is open to us is, as we have before seen, that of determinism.
Moreover, within these limits that theory is perfectly true. Psychology,
as such, cannot recognize any principle more ultimate than natural
causation, seeing that, like any other of her sisters in the family of
sciences, her whole work and duty are confined to the investigation of
this principle. But, just as in the case of all the other sciences, when
her investigations have been pushed to the point where they encounter
the problem of explaining this principle itself, her investigations
must necessarily cease; this principle is for all the sciences the
ultimate datum, behind which they cannot go without ceasing to be
sciences. But it does not follow that because the area of science is
limited by that of causation, therefore we are precluded from asking any
questions as to the nature of this ultimate datum. Of course any
questions which we may thus ask cannot possibly be answered by science;
they are questions of philosophy, in the consideration of which science,
from her very nature and essential limitation of her office, can have no
voice. Now, if on taking up the principle of causation where this is
left by science--viz. as the ultimate or unanalyzable _datum_ of
experience, upon which all her investigations are founded, and by which
they are all limited--philosophy finds any reason to surmise that it is
resolvable into the principle of mind, philosophy is thus able to
suggest that any distinction between mental processes as determinate or
free, is really a meaningless distinction. For, according to this
suggestion, the issue is no longer as to whether these processes are
caused or uncaused; the very idea of cause has been abolished as one
which belongs only to that lower level of inquiry with which science, or
sensuous experience, is concerned. Here, no doubt, the question is a
thoroughly real one, and, as shown in previous chapters, can only be
answered in the way of determinism. But so soon as we ascend to the
philosophical theory of Monism, and so transcend the conditions of
sensuous experience, the question whether volitions are caused or
uncaused becomes, as I have said, a meaningless question, or a question
the terms of which are not correctly stated. If it be the case that all
causality is of a nature psychical, volition and causation are one and
the same thing, differing only in relation to our modes of apprehension.
It would therefore be equally meaningless to say that either is the
cause of the other--just as it would be equally meaningless to say that
neurosis is the cause of psychosis, or that psychosis is the cause of
neurosis. Or thus, if volition and causation are one and the same thing,
the only reason why they ever appear diverse is because the one is known
ontologically, while the other is known phenomenally. Were it possible
that the orbit of my own personality could be widened so as to include
within my own subjectivity the whole universe of causality, I should
find--according to Monism--that all causation would become transformed
into volition. Hence, the only reason why there now appears to be so
great an antithesis between these two principles, is because the
volition which is going on outside of my own consciousness can only be
known to me objectively,--or at most ejectively,--on which account the
principle of causality appears to me phenomenally as the most ultimate,
or most unanalyzable, principle in the phenomenal universe.

Upon the whole, then, I conclude that this is the teaching of Monism. If
we view the facts of human volition relatively, or within the four
corners of psychological science, there is no escape from the conclusion
that they are determined with all the rigour which belongs to natural
causation in general. For every sequence of mental changes and every
sequence of cerebral changes, although phenomenally so diverse, are
taken by this theory to be ontologically identical; and therefore the
sequence of mental changes must be determined with the same degree of
'necessity' as is that of the cerebral changes. In short, mental
causation is taken to be but the obverse aspect of physical causation,
and, as previously remarked, it is impossible that the doctrine of
determinism could be taught in a manner more emphatic. But, on the other
hand, the theory of Monism is bound to go further than this. From the
very fact of its having gone so far as to identify all physical
processes with psychical processes, it cannot refuse to take the further
and final step of identifying the most ultimate known principle of the
one with the most ultimate known principle of the other; it is bound to
recognize in natural causation the phenomenal aspect of that which is
known ontologically as volition. But if these two principles are thus
regarded as identical, it clearly becomes as unmeaning to ask whether
the one is the cause of the other, as it would be to ask whether the one
wills the other. For, _ex hypothesi_, the two things being one thing,
or but different modes of viewing the same thing, it becomes mere
nonsense to speak of either determining the other; they are both but
different expressions of the same ultimate fact, namely the fact of
Being as Being.

If this result should be deemed unsatisfactory on account of its
vagueness, let it be remembered that nothing is gained on the side of
clearness by the converse supposition--viz. that priority should be
assigned to the principle of causality. For, if we say it is
inconceivable that anything should come into existence without a
cause--not even excepting the principle of mind itself--then the
question immediately arises--If all volition is caused, what is the
cause of volition? What caused this cause? And so on till we arrive at
the question, What caused the principle of causality? which is absurd.
So that whether we regard mind as prior to cause, or cause as prior to
mind, or neither as prior to the other, we arrive at precisely the same
difficulty. And the difficulty is a hopeless one, because it concerns
the ultimate question of Being as Being, or the final mystery of things.

Or, to state the matter in another way. An explanation means the
reference of observed effects to known causes, or the inclusion of
previously unknown causes among causes better known. Hence it is
obvious, from the very meaning of what we call an explanation, that at
the base of all possible explanations there must lie a great
Inexplicable, which, just because more ultimate than any of our
possible explanations, does not itself require to be explained. To
suppose that it does require to be explained, would be to suppose, that
there is something still more ultimate into which, if known, this
Inexplicable could be merged. Hence, unless we postulate an infinite
series of possible explanations, there must be a basal mystery
somewhere, which, in virtue of its constituting the ground of all
possible explanations, cannot be, and does not require to be, itself
explained. What is this basal mystery? Materialism supposes it to be
lodged in Matter to the exclusion of Mind, while Idealism in its extreme
forms takes the converse view. Theism supposes that it is an intelligent
Person, who is held--and logically enough--not to be able to give any
explanation of his own existence; he is, as it is said, self-existent,
and, if asked to give any account of his being, would only be able to
restate the fact of his being in the words, 'I am that I am.' Lastly,
Pantheism, or Monism, supposes the ultimate mystery to be lodged in the
universe as a whole. Now, in the present connexion the question before
us is simply this--Are we to regard the principle of causality or the
principle of mind as the ultimate mystery? And to this question I answer
that to me it appears most reasonable to assign priority to mind. For,
on the one hand, our only knowledge of causation is empirical, while
even as such it is only possible in the same way as our knowledge of
objective existence in general is possible--namely, by way of inference
from our own mental modifications, which therefore must necessarily have
priority so far as we are ourselves concerned. Next, on the other hand,
even if we were to grant that the principle of causality is the prius,
or the ultimate and inexplicable mystery, I cannot see that it is really
available to explain the fact of personality. To me it appears that,
within the range of human observation, this is the fact that most wears
the appearance of finality, or of that unanalyzable and inexplicable
nature which we are bound to believe must belong to the ultimate mystery
of Being. But, be this as it may, the speculative difficulty of
assigning priority to mind is certainly no greater than that of
assigning it to causality; and this, as above remarked, is a sufficient
answer to the question before us. According to Monism, however, there is
no need to assign priority to either principle, seeing that one is but a
phenomenal expression of the other.

Only one further question remains to be considered. From what I have
just said on the subject of Personality, it will be apparent that the
theory of Monism is in conflict with that of Theism only in so far as
personality appears to imply limitation. This is a point which I have
previously considered in these pages (Chapter iv, p. 109), with the
result of appearing to show that the conflict is one which would
probably vanish could we rise above the necessary limitations of human
thought. Therefore, it here seems worth while to ask, What can be said
by the philosophical theory of Monism to the old theological dilemma
touching free-will and predestination? Or, even apart from any question
of Theism, what position does Monism suppose the psychical activity of
man to hold in relation to that of the universe? Of course the latter
statement of the question is included in the former; and, therefore, we
may present it thus;--If the human will is free, and the theory of
Theism substantially true, how are we to reconcile the fact with the

According to the theory of Theism as sanctioned by Monism, what we
apprehend as natural causation is the obverse of a part of a _summum
genus_--i.e. the part falling within human observation whose whole is
the Absolute Volition. This Volition, being absolute, can nowhere meet
with restraint; it is therefore absolutely free, and can never
contradict itself. Thus, those circumscribed portions of it which we
know as human minds--and which, on account of being so circumscribed,
are free within themselves--do not in their freedom conflict with the
Absolute Volition. The Absolute Volition and the Relative Volition are
always in unison. It is not that the Absolute Volition unconditionally
determines the Relative Volition--else the Relative Volition would not
be free; but it is that the Absolute Volition invariably assents to the
Relative Volition as to the activity of an integral part of itself. This
will be at once evident if we consider that our only idea of
determination--i.e. causation--is, upon the theistic theory, derived
from our observing the consistency of the Divine Will, whether as
revealed subjectively in the causal operations of our own minds, or
objectively in the causal operations of Nature. Therefore, the idea of
causation as between the Absolute Volition and the Relative Volition is
an idea destitute of meaning. One Relative Volition may act causally on
another. Relative Volition, because each is wholly external to each. But
all Relative Volitions are constituent parts of the Absolute Volition,
which, therefore, cannot act causally _on_ them, though it always acts
substantially _with_ them. Or, otherwise phrased, if the subject is a
constituent part of its own World-eject--the volition of which is always
self-consistent--it follows that the volition of the subject must always
be coincident with that of its World-eject; and this without being
determined in any other sense than the smaller size of a part can be
said to be determined by the larger size of its whole: i.e. the
determination--if we choose so to call it--is not a causal one, but
arises immediately from the inherent nature of the case. The Absolute
Volition within itself is free; the Relative Volition within itself is
free; but there can be no conflict between these two freedoms. For, if
there were a conflict, it must be caused; but where is the cause of this
conflict to come from? Not from the Absolute Volition, which is
everywhere self-consistent; not from the Relative Volition, which is
wholly contained within the Absolute. Thus, regarded from within its own
system, the Relative Volition is free; while, regarded from the system
of its World-eject, the Relative Volition is predestined. But the
freedom is not incompatible with the predestination, nor the
predestination with the freedom. They stand to each other in the
relation of complementary truths, the apparent contradiction of which
arises only from the apparently fundamental antithesis between mind and
cause which it is the privilege of Monism to abolish.


[Footnote 13: 'Whatsoever is first of all things must necessarily
contain it, and actually have, at least, all the perfections that can
ever after exist; nor can it ever give to another any perfection that it
hath not actually in itself, or at least in a higher degree' (Locke). To
this argument Mill answers, 'How vastly nobler and more precious, for
instance, are the vegetables and animals than the soil and manure out of
which, and by the properties of which, they are raised up! But this
stricture is not worthy of Mill. The soil and manure do not constitute
the whole cause of the plants and animals. We must trace these and many
other con-causes (conditions) back and back till we come to 'whatsoever
is first of all things': it is merely childish to choose some few of the
conditions, and arbitrarily to regard them as alone the efficient

[Footnote 14: _Collected Essays_, vol. ix. 'Evolution and Ethics,' p.

       *       *       *       *       *

|Transcriber's note: In this text this H_2O represents a subscript 2|

       *       *       *       *       *


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