In the foregoing lecture the notion of a pyramid with ascending levels was put forward. Near its base is a swarm of atoms with relational structure and the quality we may call atomicity. Above this level atoms combine to form new units the distinguishing quality of which is molecularity; higher up on one line of advance are let us say crystals wherein atoms and molecules are grouped in new relations of which the expression is crystalline form; on another line of advance are organisms with a different kind of natural relations which give the quality of vitality; yet higher a new kind of natural relatedness supervenes and to its expression the word “mentality” may under safeguard from journalistic abuse be applied. Vitalism and animism are excluded if they imply the insertion of Entelechy. Now Mr. Alexander says that the new quality at each ascending level must be loyally accepted “with natural piety.” I accept the phrase. It is softer and less repellent than agnosticism.
Lecture II. Mental and Non-mental
VI. Minding and that which is Minded. VII. Presentation Perception and Contemplation. VIII. Projicient Reference. IX. Phenomenalism. X. Acknowledgment.
§ VI. Minding and that which is Minded.
For better or worse while I hold that the proper attitude of naturalism is strictly agnostic therewith I for one cannot rest content. For better or worse I acknowledge God as the Nisus through whose Activity emergents emerge and the whole course of emergent evolution is directed. Such is my philosophic creed supplementary to my scientific policy of interpretation. Beyond philosophy it is not my business to go. I shall have however to give some grounds for my creed. But that must come a little later when I have in some measure prepared the way thereto. We have first to tackle the vexed problem of knowledge.
One cannot discuss emergent evolution as a claimant for serious consideration at the bar of philosophy without facing this problem of knowledge—the relation of knowing to that which is thereby known. It is obvious that if we regard knowledge as a practical business transaction it can have no being in the absence of either contracting party. But does it follow that neither party can have being in other relations than this within the complex business transactions of the world? There is here a parting of the ways. Some say that it does follow—that being and being known are equivalent. This path leads up to objective idealism. “Excepting for knowledge” says Lord Haldane “nothing has any meaning and to have no meaning is to be nonexistent” (R. R. p. 30). Others say that it does not follow—that being and being known are equivalent only in respect of this special business transaction and that important as this is there are many others. This path leads up to some form of realism—let us say of current new realism. The issue is cardinal for philosophy. Both idealists and realists—Edward Caird on the one hand and Mr. Alexander on the other hand—may claim the support of evolution as they severally interpret it. What then is to be our attitude? It is clear that the issue turns on the status of mind in the progress of events.
We have seen that the word “mind” may be used in three senses: first as Mind or Spirit in reference to some Activity for us God; secondly as a quality emergent at a high level of evolutionary advance; and thirdly as a psychical attribute that pervades all natural events in universal correlation. In what here follows I use the word in the second of these senses i.e. as an emergent quality of correlates. I must here repeat that only in this sense is the word “emergent” in place or applicable; for Mind as directive of emergent evolution does not emerge; and mind as unrestricted and universal correlate is in Spinoza's terminology that “attribute” of the world from which the mind we are now to consider emerges at its level in the hierarchical order. What the criteria of mind in this sense are must be reserved for later discussion.
Let me lead up to the position for emergent evolution. Given a thing on the plane of matter. It may be interpreted as a group of events affording terms in intrinsic relations which give it its own proper qualities—let us say as a coherent physical entity. It is also in extrinsic relations to other such things which give it its physical properties—its weight for example. Similarly at a higher level an organism in virtue of a new kind of intrinsic relatedness hitherto not emergent has the quality of life; its life is within it and extends not beyond the confines of the group of events that it is. But having this quality it acts and re-acts differently in its extrinsic relations to other things. I speak of the outcome of this action and re-action to other things which function as terms in extrinsic relations to it as affording evidence of new properties. Pass now to a yet higher level. Human persons and some animals in virtue of a supervenient kind of intrinsic relatedness have under correlation the quality of consciousness. This consciousness is within the person or the animal and extends not beyond the confines of the entity thus “qualitied.” But that which has this quality acts and re-acts differently to other entities with which it is in extrinsic relations.
Thus far there is likeness in principle with regard to what goes on at these three ascending levels. But at the upper level there seems to be a quite new kind of extrinsic relation—that which we speak of as cognitive—that which we regard as one of the distinguishing features of mind. The situation seems to be unique. Consciousness as supervenient is a late product of emergent evolution. But when it comes—at any rate when it reaches the reflective level in us—we can contemplate what goes on at all lower levels. We can have “in mind” as we say chemical and physical events at the base of our pyramid. And unless they be in some fashion “in mind” how can we have knowledge of them as precedent stages of emergent evolution?
Now I take it that from the emergent standpoint with which we are concerned we must accept this situation with natural piety. Cognitive relatedness just emerges as something genuinely new at a critical stage of evolutionary advance. That however does not preclude—nay rather it imperatively demands from us as evolutionists a resolute attempt to analyse the situation and to trace if possible subsidiary stages of emergence on the understanding that in evolutionary progress there is never any breach of continuity in the sense of a gap or hiatus.
It is part of the business of analysis to distinguish factors which are inseparable. In a well-known passage (P. H. K. § 49) Berkeley distinguished that which is in mind “by way of attribute” from that which is in mind “by way of idea.” The former I shall speak of as minding; the latter as that which is minded. That which is minded always implies minding; and the more highly differentiated forms of minding imply something that is definitely minded. Thus perceiving implies something perceived; remembering something remembered; thinking something thought of; believing something believed; and so on through a long list.
I spoke of the more highly differentiated forms of minding. I must add parenthetically that this differentiation is subject to the fluency of mental process within which there are no hard-and-fast lines of division or partition. As will be seen in its due place I fully subscribe to M. Bergson's doctrine of mergency and interpenetration as applicable to mental process as such.
The distinction between what I call the -ing and the -ed may be put in another way. One may be said to be conscious in perceiving remembering and at large minding; that which is perceived remembered believed or minded is what we are conscious of. One is conscious in attending to the rhythm or the thought of a poem; one is conscious of that to which one so attends. I am well aware that the expression “conscious of” has not always this signification. It suffices to make clear the usage I accept.
Mr. Alexander emphasises the distinction by naming that which is or may be correlative to minding “non-mental” or at any rate as including a non-mental factor. I cannot here follow his lead because I shall need the word “non-mental” for use in what is for me a different sense. His meaning however is clear. When one sees a ruby seeing is a mental process in which one is conscious; the ruby that one sees is obviously not in like fashion a mental process. Mr. Alexander names it the non-mental thing of which as I put it one is then and there conscious in the business transaction of knowing. But if I picture the Corcovado rising steeply beyond the waters of Rio bay is that mental? The picturing in the mind's eye is a mental process but that which is pictured in imagery is not mental in the same sense. What is not mental in this sense he calls non-mental. I speak of it as objective.
A wider issue is thus raised. Are we to include “in mind” processes of minding only or also that which is objectively minded? So long as we are careful to distinguish the —ed from the —ing it is better I think to include both. This I shall do. On these terms what is given even in naïve perception is qua minded no less mental than is the process of minding. We have therefore at present no concern with anything non-mental if we take this to signify “having existence or subsistence independently of minding” on the part of some person.
§ VII. Presentation Perception and Contemplation.
Thus far we have distinguished minding and that which is objectively minded in the most comprehensive sense. We must now distinguish successive levels of that which is in mind either by way of attribute or by way of idea. It will be convenient to take the former for granted so as to lay stress on the latter i.e. the minded.
At or near the foundations of mental life in its cognitive regard is that which I shall speak of as “given in presentation.” By this I mean sensory presentation i.e. a pattern of sensory data. We are to take the expression “given in presentation” as naming what seems to be a distinguishable class of data. We are not considering what function a presentation performs in the mental life. And we are not as yet asking by what these data are given. Berkeley said that they are directly given by God. Mr. Alexander says that they are given by a non-mental world in which colours and scents and sounds too I suppose are emergent qualities. I may believe that all that is here given is so given by some purely physical influence advenient from some external material source. We are not yet concerned with any of these views. I am however concerned to state distinctly that a sense-datum is not for my interpretation a gift until it is received and that the person as recipient only has it when it reaches him.
A second class of data which we can often distinguish from the first—though perhaps not always and sometimes with difficulty—comprises those which are “revived in memory” as we say. Of these again we do not now ask by what they are given though it may be as Mr. Bertrand Russell urges that they owe their distinctive character to the special manner of their causation (cf. § XLVII.). They seem to be somehow copies of those that are members of the first class. In crude analogy they are gifts which have been banked the equivalent value of which may be drawn on occasion. I shall speak of them as “given in re-presentation.” All imagery as such is re-presentative. These secondhand data come too in patterns. That which is given in re-presentation no less than that which is given in presentation is particular in the sense that it is given in some form or pattern then and there existent as actually minded.
But data of both classes may so combine as to constitute one pattern in which the constituents are some of them given in presentation and others given in re-presentation. I shall speak of such a pattern as “given in perception.”
Thus far then we have in analytic distinction:
(i) What is given in presentation;
(ii) What is given in re-presentation; and
(iii) What is given in perception
where presentative and re-presentative data are combined in some particular and existent pattern.
But in us at any rate universal plans no less than particular instances are sometimes minded and thus become objectively mental. How they come to be so minded is another question and one of considerable difficulty. I seek at present only to name and to classify what seems to be there and not to ask how it got there. I submit that plans of events of which particular events are conceived as instances are there and are frankly objective as minded. It seems that a pattern may acquire a new character as minded—that of being an instance of a plan that is universal in the sense that it is one of which there are (were and will be) other such instances. One may speak of that which is thus minded as “given in conception” and of the data as thereby conceptualised. Or one may speak of that which is thus minded as “given in contemplation.” I here use the word “contemplation” in a restricted sense as tacitly qualified by the word “reflective” and not in the much wider sense in which Mr. Alexander uses it.
Now with us human folk there is probably little that is cognitively minded which is not in some measure conceptualised. Any given presentation is not only incorporated in a partly re-presentative pattern and thus has meaning (perceptual) but is interpreted as an instance of some plan of which there are other instances and thus has significance (conceptual) for our thought—thus comes to be known in the reflective sense of the word. This is commonly so in daily life where nearly everything that we see is taken as an instance of a class built to a plan and commonly bearing a name. Hence for us in so far as we are reflective persons what we call an object is generally a conceptualised object.
I cannot stay to consider how far this is accordant with Professor Whitehead's very interesting and valuable doctrine of “objects” (C. N. ch. vii.). For him “objects are elements in Nature which do not pass” (p. 143)—instances of which can be “again” and hence can be “recognised” on their recurrence. Such recognition (recognising) is clearly on the plane of mind. Mr. Whitehead uses the word “ingression” to denote the relation of “objects” which do not pass to events which are in passage. He speaks however of “ingression into nature”—nature being for him as I understand distinctively non-mental. I confess that I do not clearly understand what this “into” implies on Mr. Whitehead's scheme of interpretation or whence the object is ingredient into nature as he defines nature. But this may be my fault. May I be allowed to use the word “ingredient” for the plan as such which is in my sense objective to contemplation as universal and timeless as contrasted with timeful events in passage; and to use it thus without prejudice to its being also constitutive of non-mental nature in its own right i.e. independently of contemplation?
To our data under (a) presentation and (b) perception we have now to add those afforded in (c) contemplation. It is unnecessary again to advert (cf. § III.) to the involution and dependence exemplified in these ascending stages of evolutionary progress. In what follows reflective contemplation (c) will be for the most part taken for granted so as to concentrate attention on (a) and (b).
§ VIII. Projicient Reference.
It is open to question whether what is given in presentation or gotten through bare sensory acquaintance should in strictness be regarded as cognitive or whether it does not only afford the requisite data on which subsequent cognition is founded. I take the latter view.
More to the purpose just now is the prior enquiry whether even in sensory presentation there are not distinguishable levels. Those who in their interpretation follow lines of emergent evolution urge that we must approach such an enquiry through a preliminary consideration of the processes that are involved at the level of life having regard also to the events which these processes involve on the plane of matter.
At the level of life in multicellular organisms where differentiation and integration have reached a fairly advanced stage sensory presentation involves the stimulation of a pattern of receptors. In relation to what we call the external world presumably the earliest receptor-patterns were those of relatively passive touch gotten (long prior to what we speak of as manipulation) through direct contact with the surface on which the organism rested or moved. I do not suggest that there was even then no stimulation through radiant influence. But as yet it gave only a vague and diffused presentation. Far later in evolutionary progress was there such differentiation of retinal receptors and of the requisite ancillary structures—the dioptric or instrumental parts of the eye—as to give rise to the definite receptor-patterns involved in vision—in us binocular. Visual presentation and the elaborate structural provision for its occurrence is from the evolutionary point of view very late in development. It involves what Sir Charles Sherrington names “distance-receptors” and a very complex “mechanism” for focussing an “image” of that physical thing which lies at a distance.
One can well understand how in pre-evolutionary days what seems to be so directly given in vision was taken as primary and typical. But an evolutionist finds it difficult to understand how some new-realists can as it seems regard as the chief exemplar of “direct apprehension” in the sense in which Dr. G. E. Moore uses this expression (P. A. S. 1913–4 p. 360) that which so late in time comes through vision the most highly elaborated of all our senses involving the most complex physiological and chemical changes giving to the world (or as they say taking from it) its wealth of colour and much else and yet perhaps of all avenues of perception the most liable to the illusions of appearance the very last whose delivery is safely to be taken at its face value.
This may seem to be a severe indictment of vision which if it be of all senses the most liable to illusion is also of all senses the richest the most delicate and the most refined. But may it not be both? The evolutionist must take the facts as he finds them. He finds that the objective world in which we live is qua minded the outcome of a prolonged evolutionary process in which vision has come to play the leading role. He finds that for all its richness delicacy and refinement it is conspicuously subject to error if it be not co-related with other modes of sensory experience especially that of contact-treatment founded on the more primitive data of touch supplemented by manipulation. He seeks to interpret what he finds. There is surely here no indictment of vision. If indictment there be it is that of the hypothesis that from the evolutionary point of view vision can adequately be interpreted in terms of “direct apprehension.”
Of course we adult folk have acquired quite unreflectively a serviceable acquaintance with objects of vision which common-sense may wisely take as if it were the outcome of an “intuitive act” of direct apprehension. But part of the business of philosophy is to criticise such naïve acceptance. And as I read the story a criticism based on detailed scientific research has conclusively shown that acquaintance with objects of vision so far from being something quite simple—something to be naïvely taken at its face value—is prodigiously complex the outcome of a prolonged evolutionary process and only attained in our own period of infancy by gradual steps of which as such no detailed trace remains in our personal memory.
It will however be said that no one questions the evolutionary history of the complex mechanism of vision. But this is wholly instrumental. It is analogous to some elaborate apparatus which enables us to apprehend; the apprehension itself is simple and direct. If this be said I must reply that this does not take the evolution of mind seriously. Nor as I think does it accord with the outcome of laboratory research. It comes pretty much to this: What is minded in vision can only be so minded when the bodily instrument reaches a certain stage of evolution. But the minding in direct apprehension has not been subject to a like evolutionary process. That I speak of as not taking the evolution of mind seriously. My contention is that what is objectively minded in vision is a product of mental evolution no less complex than—nay only the correlated aspect of—that which is involved in the bodily organs which are concerned in and subserve vision—including of course the whole retino-cerebral system. And this applies just as much to seeing as to that which is seen. In no sense is the mind merely a spectator viewing things as they are in themselves through a highly evolved instrument. It is a participator in accordance with its evolutionary status in making the objective world what it is. Here I am at one with idealists though my line of approach is different from theirs.
I have taken the contact-pattern of touch on the one hand and the distance-receptor-pattern of vision on the other hand as in their origin qua patterns exemplifying perhaps the lowest and perhaps the highest evolutionary provision on the plane of life for sensory presentations as correlates of certain physiological processes which are entailed by their stimulation. The biologist has taught us how much more is entailed under vision than under direct contact. Reference to an external world as common-sense folk are wont to regard it can hardly be said to have begun at any rate must have been at quite an incipient stage—before the differentiation of distance-receptors—those concerned in the reception of radiant influence (light and heat) of sound and of odours—had reached a comparatively high level; and the highest level attained is that in the life-processes concerned in vision. Sir Charles Sherrington has shown how around these distance-receptors the brain has been evolved (I. N. S. p. 325). And turning to the psychical aspect where as I put it consciousness is supervenient on life he urges that perceptual reference is always where distance-receptors are involved projicient.
In adopting Sir Charles Sherrington's word “projicience” I take leave in some measure to adapt it to the purpose of my own interpretation and so far as that is concerned I have no right to claim the support of his authority. It should be distinctly understood therefore that I make no such claim.
The word “projection” is commonly used for outward reference of objects to positions along the line of vision. Such outward reference is implied in my use of the word “projicience.” But it is to imply far more than this. All the objective characters with which a thing is clothed—including but nowise restricted to its “out-thereness”—are projicient in so far as they are the outcome however indirect or mediate of the stimulation of the distance-receptors of the retina. The hardness coldness and slipperiness of a piece of ice; the taste and colour of a strawberry; the beauty of a landscape or of the rainbow which overarches part of it; these are projicient properties referred to the several objects of vision when we see them. Nay more; extravagant as it may seem even the name of an object may subject to suitable safeguards be said to be projicient. It is assuredly used in reference to the object—attaches to it as we say and as the child naïvely believes—though it is nowise an intrinsic quality of the thing. And if the name be not so referred our talk is in large measure aimless. All of these as minded are in mind. They are conscious correlates of what occurs on the plane of life within the person—within that entity which is both body and mind. But as minded they are projiciently referred to the objects of which we are conscious. Hence the importance of that “reference” which will be more fully considered in the fourth lecture.
My doctrine is that all that is minded is within us and founded primarily on the correlated outcome of receptor-patterns; that there are physical things existent in their own right outside us in a non-mental world; and that the properties which render them objective in mind are projiciently referred to these things.
On my view the mind is captain in the conning-tower of the bodily ship. It knows only such messages as come in from the world of battle around the ship. And the mind never gets outside its conning-tower of vision save through projicience. The person however acts on the basis of messages received within the mind; on such action—such practical behaviour—mental projicience is biologically founded. It works on the whole most admirably as the outcome of a long and searching discipline through trial and error where in the course of evolutionary history the penalty of grave error has been elimination.
Such in brief is my doctrine. For long I accepted the widely current view that direct apprehension is an inalienable prerogative of mind—something to be postulated ab initio. By slow degrees I came to realise that the genesis of apprehension is a problem—and a very difficult problem—which has to be solved. I could no longer accept—as I was bidden to do—direct apprehension as something that we must assume to be part of the very nature of mind from the outset—something which if it were not there from the first could never get there at last—and I therefore felt bound to tackle as best I could an evolutionary problem bristling with subtle difficulties. The concept of projicience is the result—to be tried out like any other hypothesis of the genetic order.
I can however at present barely indicate a method of treatment to be more fully developed at a later stage of my discussion of emergent evolution. I may perhaps so far anticipate now what will then be said (§ XXXVI.) as to distinguish (i) advenient physical influence from (ii) projicient reference and to add that between the one and the other there is (iii) a complexly integrated system of intervenient processes on the intermediate plane of life. These intervenient life-processes are involved in all projicient reference; they occur within the organism; they are the intrinsic physical and physiological attribute of events which in their psychical attribute have the quality of consciousness.
Within us (I repeat for the sake of emphasis) this consciousness is supervenient. It is a quality of the person as correlated mind and body. How then can it reach out spatially and “in time” to the world around? Does it reach out to grasp what is already there? Take colour for example—colour as such. Is it there in the strawberry or the ruby as a thing for our taking by “direct apprehension”; or is it there in the object through our giving by projicient reference? We are again at a parting of the ways. New realists take one way. I take the other. I shall try to maintain an old position and to support it perhaps in a new way. Admittedly advenient to us is electro-magnetic influence; but colour is referred to the thing through projicience.
Assuming that one may be able to make good this position we have to combine in one synthesis the joint outcome of advenient physical influence from the thing and projicient psychical reference to the object. In what we commonly call an object of vision say a ruby both are in some way thus subtly combined. There is a centre from which there is advenient physical influence; but it is also for perceptual experience the centre to which there is projicient reference. I speak of the centre from which physical influence comes as the non-mental thing; and of the centre to which there is projicient reference as the object—meaning that which is objectively minded. In the daily life of animals and men at the level of perception the two centres normally coincide. On purely pragmatic grounds it is essential that they should approximately do so. For behaviour in large measure depends on projicient reference; and if such reference be not normally focussed on the thing from which physical influence comes action with regard thereto must go astray.
But the two centres may not coincide. Owing to atmospheric and other refraction or owing to reflection from some mirror-surface the place of projicient reference may differ more or less widely from that which is occupied by the physical thing. I shall call the place at which as I acknowledge a physical thing really is (its position in the non-mental world of such things) the assigned place; and I shall speak of the place to which the object given in perception is projiciently referred as the place of location. These two places need not and often do not coincide. Nor need the “real time” of occurrence be the same as the “apparent time” of projective reference (cf. § XLII.).
§ IX. Phenomenalism.
It is under the predominance of projicient reference that the object as minded takes form in the course of individual experience. Even contact-data in their re-presentative form under revival in perception are projiciently referred to the thing which as we say looks hard and rough. And since projicient reference predominantly visual is that on which the guidance of behaviour so largely depends it is around the data afforded by these distance-receptors that (long before the stage of logical treatment is reached under reflection) all other sensory data cluster in the process by which objects are progressively constructed.
Of this process a seemingly paradoxical feature is that what comes so late in evolutionary genesis in the animal kingdom comes first in the perceptual development of the child. At any rate what impressed Miss Milicent Shinn in the careful observations on which she founded “The Biography of a Baby” (and has no less impressed others) is that at the outset of mental development vision takes the lead. “Out of the new-born baby's dim life of passivity the first path was that of vision” (p. 58). “It is plain that the eyes led in the development of the psychic life” (p. 74). But it came in progressive stages indicated by Miss Shinn with I think substantial accuracy. Not till the child was eight weeks old was there presumptive evidence of adjustment of the mechanism of vision for binocular focussing of objects at different distances (p. 93). Whether we speak of “direct apprehension” or of “projicient reference” it is for all its seeming simplicity in later life a very complex business acquired piecemeal by successive steps which may analytically be distinguished subject throughout to prior integration involved on the plane of life.
Paradoxical as this visual lead may appear—with its seeming inversion of the order of racial and individual progress—should it on further consideration cause surprise? In what does vision take the lead? Not assuredly in sensory presentation as such. Retinal patterns certainly do not precede many other kinds of receptor-patterns—those of passive touch for example. In what then? In perception having reference to an external world. The lead of vision is a referential lead into a world of appearances to which behaviour must conform. And the provision for that lead is afforded by those distance-receptors which in the course of evolution have proved the fittest to subserve that end. If as Sir Charles Sherrington teaches the brain be moulded on the distance-receptors; if in correlation with this brain-development there be evolution of mind; if it be through projicience that the external world is rendered objective as minded; is it matter of surprise that the evolutionary outcome has been that the eye takes the lead in “the development of the psychic life” in the child—the psychic life of perception; and that around visual nuclei the experience of an external world gained through other senses progressively clusters in the process of object-construction?
On this clustering of sensory data primarily given piecemeal in presentation much stress is laid and as I think rightly laid by new-realists of the phenomenalist school. That entity they say which we speak of as directly apprehended through our several channels of sense is from the strictly logical point of view a construct—a word I ventured to use in this connection more than thirty years ago. The whole set of appearances which go together to form what we call a ruby may be regarded as actually being the ruby (cf. Russell A. M. p. 98). That is what the object is “known as” in Shadworth Hodgson's favourite phrase. What more do we require? What need is there for a so-called “real ruby” which is supposed to present the appearances if the set of appearances taken together as logical construct give us all that we want. We live in a world of phenomena and if we are to regard as they say we should the philosophy which deals comprehensively with that world as a branch of scientific enquiry we must steadily and consistently refuse to go beyond the evidence. Of physical things which our forefathers invented to support or present or give the appearances there is no shadow of evidence; and science can with suitable ingenuity get along perfectly well without them. “From the beginning” says Professor Nunn “new-realists would have nothing to do with the notion that sensations are mental events caused by ‘physical objects’ but (like Einstein) declared that physical objects are but syntheses of or constructs from sense-data... or ‘events’ belonging to a single historical series” (P. A. S. 1921–2 p. 128). The most that can be said for their independence is that these events as appearances do hang together in orderly ways. But that is just an inalienable character of these appearances; it is a feature of the phenomenal world with which we must reckon as we must reckon with all other features which are in the evidence.
The gist of the contention is that the physical thing as an independent entity with its own space-time-event relatedness is an unwarrantable assumption not susceptible of proof and unnecessary since science can get along without it. The logical construct gives us all we want. A crucial question then is: “Does it give us all we want?” On purely pragmatic grounds Mr. Russell avowedly “yielding to prejudice” wants something more and accepts a belief in the existence of things outside his own biography (A. M. p. 133).
Outside his own biography. An odd thing about certain phenomena with which say half-a-dozen people may be directly acquainted in sensory fashion is that they are common to all of the half-dozen though no doubt with some difference in each case. They are public. “Confining ourselves for the present to sensations we find” says Mr. Russell “that there are different degrees of publicity attaching to different sorts of sensations. If you feel a toothache when other people in the room do not you are in no way surprised; but if you hear a clap of thunder when they do not you begin to be alarmed as to your mental condition. Sight and hearing are the most public of the senses; smell only a trifle less so; touch again a trifle less... But when we pass to bodily sensations—headache hunger fatigue and so on—we get quite away from publicity” (A. M. p. 118). Much here turns on definition. I think however that Mr. Russell might agree that in this context all the sensations belong (though they may not belong only) to a personal biography. They are his or mine or someone's. It is in what I speak of as their objective reference that they are differentiated as he suggests.
This reference may be public or common to a number of persons as in vision; it may be private i.e. to one's own body as in toothache; it may be either or both in touch. The evolutionary difference for the biologist lies in the kind of receptor-pattern involved in different kinds of sensory experience. Broadly speaking publicity is a function of projicient reference and involves distance receptors.
§ X. Acknowledgment.
David Hume prince of phenomenalists roundly asserted that we never really advance a step beyond ourselves nor can conceive any kind of existence but those perceptions which have appeared in that narrow compass (T. H. N. Bk. I. Part ii. § 6). Translate this into terms of personal biography. It may mean the history of events which Hume's predecessor spoke of as “in mind by way of attribute” i.e. it may in my usage be restricted to minding. Let us however include in the personal biography that of which as minded the person in question has experience—much of it in some way stored if you will. Let us include in other words all appearances given in sensory acquaintance with our external world. As I have insisted with perhaps wearisome reiteration all this is within the person; and what is involved on the plane of life is no less within the organism. They exist only within “that narrow compass.” That is where Hume was right.
Now Mr. Russell urges that “whatever lies outside my personal biography must be regarded theoretically as hypothesis... Belief in the existence of things outside my own biography exists antecedently to evidence and can only be destroyed if at all by a long course of philosophical doubt. For purposes of science it is justified practically by the simplification it introduces into the laws of physics. But from the standpoint of theoretical logic it must be regarded as a prejudice not as a well-grounded theory” (pp. 132–3).
Now for better or worse my notion of philosophy is that while it involves the contributions of science in all departments it should seek to express a constructive scheme of the world—a consistent scheme which is conceived at a level of reflective thought that supplements though it does not supersede science. There must be nothing in this scheme which is discrepant with science; but on this understanding there may be constitutive features which complete the otherwise incomplete delivery of strictly scientific thought. That I think has always been the aim of philosophy. It will I feel sure continue to be its aim. It seeks to develop a constructive creed and not only a working policy.
In any case I want to nail my colours to the mast. In credal terms I believe in a physical world and in systems of events from which there is what I have called advenient influence. But with Mr. Russell and Mr. Nunn I question whether the existence of such a physical world is susceptible of proof. I use therefore the word “acknowledgment” for the credal acceptance of a physical world existent in its own right independently of any sensory acquaintance therewith. This world or any “thing” therein is beyond appearance; it is that to which appearances are projiciently referred. It is the skeleton which we clothe with the flesh of objective experience. This clothing with which I endue it is part of my personal biography within me; but the skeleton is there to be clothed. That is not to be found “in this narrow compass.”
Working downwards then in our pyramid of emergent evolution the ultimate basis under such acknowledgment is a world of purely physical events (and their correlates) in changing spatial and temporal relatedness. On this all the emergent part of the pyramid is built up in an order of ascending levels each one of which involves those that lie below it. Here therefore the physical world that is acknowledged is frankly materialistic.
But as I contend the concept of involution must on the evidence be supplemented by a concept of dependence. At any given level the manner in which natural events run their course depends on the kind of relatedness supervenient at that level. Thus the way in which the constituents of that complex physical entity we call a crystal glide to their places without gain or loss of energy depends on that specific kind of relatedness which obtains in the specific kind of crystal. The changes which occur during karyokinesis while they involve physico-chemical processes depend on the presence of vital relatedness. In what is now called the “conditioned response” we seem to have the critical turning-point where the advent of the most primitive form of conscious guidance appears in the evidence. Where fully reflective consciousness is supervenient at a far higher emergent level we have the guidance of mind in human events. The development of the University of St. Andrews has been dependent on and still depends on those higher kinds of relatedness which are the outcome of mental evolution. If deity be an emergent quality how a man lives depends on its presence or its absence.
The question then arises: If we acknowledge a physical basis of so-called matter and energy as ultimately involved in all natural events may we not also acknowledge God as the directive Activity on whom the manner of going in all natural events ultimately depends? May we without taking it at the foot of the letter paraphrase Mr. Russell's statement and say that belief in the existence of God outside my own biography exists antecedently to evidence and can only be destroyed by a long course of philosophical doubt? May we say that for purposes of religion this is justified practically by its outcome in the conduct of life?
Again I want to nail my colours to the mast. This is part of the philosophic creed I seek to render acceptable. Within the pyramid of emergent evolution involution without dependence gives an incomplete account of the observed phenomena from what I hold to be a strictly scientific point of view. From the philosophic point of view I carry both to their ideal limits. I acknowledge a physical world which I admit is beyond proof. I acknowledge also God Who is I contend beyond disproof. And so far as I can judge both acknowledgments work. There is pragmatic endorsement of that which is offered for credal acceptance. Of the former Mr. Russell says that it is justified practically by the simplification it introduces into the laws for physics. Can it be denied that acknowledgment of God which is the heart and soul of Christianity has been profoundly influential in the practical guidance of conduct?
Universal correlation is also part of my creed—assuredly beyond proof. And here my cry is: Back to Spinoza. Should this also be accepted it annuls the “fatal gulf” between the material and the immaterial aspects of the world. But I must leave this for more detailed consideration in my second course of lectures.
Subject to correlation emergent evolution interprets from below accepting with natural piety the de facto nisus which according to Mr. Alexander is expressed in the supervenience of qualities in hierarchical order. For him as I understand it is the inherent go of time that pushes events onwards. A doctrine that acknowledges a directive Activity in evolution explains also from above accepting with its fitting form of piety God who draws all things and all men upwards.
If one may claim that acknowledgment of God on whom all natural events in their ascent notwithstanding lapses to lower levels are ultimately dependent is no less permissible at the bar of philosophy than that other acknowledgment of a physical world our current experience so largely infected by the relativity of appearance swings between the infra-vital beyond of materialism and the supra-personal Beyond of Immaterialism. Both as beyond are strictly speaking outside the realm of appearances in the body of our pyramid. But both are required for a constructive philosophy which purports to explain all occurrences therein. Spatio-temporal relatedness is carried up from below and is involved in all that happens within the pyramid. May one say that from above descend the logically timeless and spaceless universals which give “form” to the “matter of empirical knowledge”? May one say that those ideals that are of supreme value in the conduct of human life are not only “emergent” but also in some sense “ingredient”? May we say that material reality within us under involution is sub specie temporis and that Immateriality no less within us under ultimate Dependence is also subsistent sub specie aeternitatis? If so emphasis must I think be laid on the also. There should be no disjunctive antithesis between the timeful and the timeless. They are not to be regarded as incompatible contradictories. Difficult as the task may be they must in some way be combined in a higher synthesis.
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