According to the author, emergent evolution works upwards from matter, through life, to consciousness, which attains in humankind its highest reflective or supra-reflective level. It accepts the ‘more’ at each ascending stage as that which is given, and accepts it to the full. Emergent evolution urges that the ‘more’ of any given stage, even the highest, involves the ‘less’ of the stages which were precedent to it and continue to coexist with it. It does not interpret the higher in terms of the lower only, for that would imply denial of the emergence of those new modes of natural relatedness which characterize the higher and make it what it is. Nor does it interpret the lower in terms of the higher. It does not mean dependence on kinds of relatedness not yet emergent.
But, the author posits, if we may acknowledge on the one hand a physical world underlying the phenomenal appearances with which we are acquainted by sense, and, on the other hand, an immaterial Source of all changes therein; if, in other words, we may acknowledge physical events as ultimately involved, and God on whom all evolutionary process ultimately depends, then we may, with Kant, but on different grounds, accept both causation and Causality without shadow of contradiction. The author claims that such procedure is legitimate in philosophy, and it furnishes a consistent theme. He confesses his doubts, though, whether either acknowledgment is susceptible of strictly logical proof. But in neither is there, so far as he can see, anything discrepant with evidence. In regard to both, one can only ask: Does the postulate so work that we are prepared to adopt it and run the risk of being mistaken in doing so? In the author’s belief in God, on whom all things depend, he finds that he is not alone. He would be willing to stand alone and combine with this belief, and all that it entails, that full and frank acceptance of the naturalistic interpretation of the world which is offered by emergent evolution.
Next, Lloyd Morgan uses what he considers a ‘current philosophical expression of old standing’ to illustrate more clearly a salient feature of his position. He says, suppose we are dealing with some lowly plant as a natural system that has reached the level of life with its keynote of vita integration. There are physico-chemical events, and there is emergent vital relatedness. If then we deal with its materiality in abstraction from the supervenient life—or with its life apart from a physical basis—in either case, we are concerned not with the concrete whole in accordance with its level of emergence, but with a res incompleta. The res incompleta is the living organism, nothing less but nothing more. Similarly, a human being, the highest natural system that we know, is a res incompleta if considered in abstraction from those emergent qualities which give the person, in alliance with all that is involved, his or her status as res completa; and of these, the highest is what Mr. Alexander calls the emergent quality of deity.
Thus far, the author concludes that we then have an interpretation in accordance with emergent evolution. Next, he argues that the acknowledgment of dependence must be introduced. If this is accepted, then we may urge that apart from God—some Hegelians may prefer to substitute Reason, or Thought, or Knowledge—what Lloyd Morgan spoke of at the outset of his text as the pyramid of emergent evolution is still a res incompleta. A constructive philosophy, however, demands the Res Completa which is reality.
But if we acknowledge God, the author insists that we nowise supersede interpretation under emergent evolution; rather, we supplement it by accepting something more in a richer attitude of piety. We supplement, not supersede, immanent causation as unconditioned in the universe—for as a whole, it is subject to no extrinsic and transient conditions—by Causality in the Unconditioned. And the supplementary concept is not introduced at some higher state—that of life or of consciousness or of reflective thought in humankind; it is present throughout at all stages. Lloyd Morgan does not assert that at some given level there is not causation, but Causality. He urges no instance of Causation, subject to limitations of time and space, as the expression of Causality sub specie aeternitatis.
Hence, for the author, there can be no antagonism. There is not even the alternative, ‘this’ or ‘that’. The alternative is ‘this without that’ or ‘this with that also’; more comprehensively, the world without God or the world just as it is but nonetheless dependent on God. A de facto nisus towards deity. which we find running upwards along a special line of advance in the ascending levels, is fully accepted on the evidence. But his valid concept, under causation, is supplemented by the completing concept—no less valid at the bar of philosophy—of Nisus in Causality manifested in all natural events.
Finally, the author observes that in previous chapters/lectures, emphasis has been laid again and again on such expressions as ‘within the system’, ‘within the organism’, ‘within the mind’. For him, there is nothing in these expressions to preclude acknowledgement also of that which exists or subsists beyond us—acknowledgment of a physical world, of other minds and of God. The stress is on primary acquaintance with signs which have reference to that which, as signified, lies beyond us. We acknowledge God as above and beyond. But, Lloyd Morgan argues, unless we also intuitively enjoy his activity within us, feeling that we are in a measure one with him in substance, we can have no immediate knowledge of causality or of God as the source of our own existence and emergent evolution.