A. The Cognitive Relation
Cognition as an instance of compresence. Problem I.
The first and simplest relation between finite existences, under which name are included not merely things in the ordinary sense but components of them or aspects or parts of them, is their compresence within the one Space—Time of which all alike are differentiations. The behaviour of finites to one another in this relation of compresence is determined by the character of the finites. The plant lives, grows, and breathes, and twines around a stick. The material body resists, or falls, or sounds when struck, or emits light when touched by the sun. The mind knows. Mind is for us the highest order of finite empirical existent. A mind is the substantial continuum of certain processes which have the conscious quality. These processes are experienced in their continuity with one another, and are acts of the mind which is the substantial totality of them. They are identical with certain neural processes which the quality of consciousness or mind marks off from less highly fashioned vital processes; and while they therefore have a distinctive rank of their own, and are experienced by the mind as mental processes and not immediately or directly as vital or physical ones, they constitute through their basis in life and matter, and ultimately in Space-Time itself, one set of existents in the general matrix. Whenever a mental process exists in compresence with some existent of a lower order, it is aware of that existent which is its object. It experiences itself as an enjoyment, and it is compresent with its object which is contemplated. Let knowing stand for all kinds of apprehension or objects, whether sensation, or thought, or memory, or imagination, or any other. In the compresence of a mind with a lower finite, that is, a piece of Space-Time of a lower grade of quality, the mind in virtue of its conscious quality is aware or conscious of that object. It knows or has cognition of it. A and B are any two finites, which are therefore compresent with one another. Let A be a mind and B another finite, distinct from that mind and lower in order. Then A's compresence with B means that A is conscious of B. Cognition then, instead of being a unique relation, is nothing but an instance of the simplest and most universal of all relations.
The object contemplated, unlike the enjoyment, is some existent which is non-mental, some part of the whole world of Space-Time, but distinct and separate from the mind A or its act of apprehension. But according to circumstances the apprehension of the object takes different forms. The case of easiest comprehension is sensation. Let B be a patch or point of red and A, as before, the mind. B acts causally on the body of A and excites a mental process a, a process of vision, which for the present we may describe as a process appropriate to B; which means that the process would be different if B were a patch of blue or a hard surface or a sound. That is to say, while the processes in the different cases would have the identical quality of consciousness, they would differ in respect of their categorial features, in a manner to be considered hereafter. The two compresents are B and the mental process a, which may be called by anticipation an act of the mind A because it is continuous with the other mental processes which are united in the mental substance or thing A. B is here the sensum and a the act of sensing. The name sensation is unfortunately used sometimes for the sensing, sometimes for the sensum, and sometimes for the total situation, outside of which they never do as sensum and sensing exist. I cannot hope to avoid following the bad example of common usage, but I shall endeavour not to do so except when the context leaves no room for misconception. Now such a relation as exists in sensing a sensum is strictly comparable with the relation of two compresent physical finites, like the floor and the table, which are in causal relation. The difference is that one of the finites here is not merely physical but mental as well, or rather it is mental for itself and physical as well.
Images and memory.
But the compresent object does not always evoke the mental act by a causal action. When I imagine a red patch the mental act is evoked by some precedent mental act or perhaps merely by some stimulant of the brain, a pressure of blood or some chemical affection. Still an object B is now before the mind or compresent with it, that is to say, an object not compresent in sense so as to act causally upon A's sense organ but resembling one which has so acted on A in the past. When I have memory there is, as before explained,1 the additional modification in the mental process and its compresent object which makes the object not simply a red patch but a red patch I have experienced before, that is, which belongs to my past. Thus the object compresent with my mental act being the object appropriate to it may be absent from my senses. Still it is distinct and separate from the mental act of imagining and the image or ideatum belongs somewhere in the—world of Space-Time.
There is nothing in the relation of two material finites comparable with this situation. But a material thing is not alive and still less conscious. On the vital level and certainly before we have imagination or memory we have acts on the part of the living being which are anticipations of some external thing which is to complete or fulfil them. The plant grows towards the light. The hungry animal goes in pursuit of prey, without any forecast in consciousness, so far as we can judge, of what it wants. Its movements through the jungle are prompted by internal causes but are adapted or appropriate to the real prey which is there to be found. The currents which lowly organisms create in the water with their cilia bring food into the mouth, but without it would seem even the vaguest consciousness of any object, if we are even justified in attributing to a paramoecium consciousness at all. Thus on the one hand when the tiger sees and is conscious of the antelope, he jumps, but he also makes the preparatory movements appropriate to the finding of an antelope and then when one comes he jumps. The organism is so adapted to the world in which it lives that it not only is affected causally by it but from internal causes initiates actions adapted to the external reality. Even in ourselves we can detect these uneasy or restless movements which have no definite object (or at most we are conscious only of ‘something or other’ to which our movement is directed) but which yet are adapted to attain their real fulfilment, like strugglings to get rid of oppression in the lungs into a freer air, or the unquiet movements which attend adolescence.
To understand the significance of the objects of ideation we must refer to such movements as these, which are pre-adapted to real objects in the external world. Let the movements issue from mental acts, and the object to which that act is appropriate and of which we are conscious as an idea or ideatum is a non-mental one distinct from the mind. It may take many different forms: it may be a bare something or other; it may be an object ‘such as’ has been experienced in sensation before, like an imagination of breakfast; it may be a memory, that is an object of the past as it presents itself after the lapse of time, ready to be identified with a present percept of the same thing, as when we say this is the man I met yesterday. On the other hand, the object may have no actual existence, just as the tiger may be disappointed and find no food; or if he ‘misjudge’ the distance or be old, he may miss his kill like Akela in the Jungle Book; or it may not occur to sense in the same form as it exists to imagination, may be a sheer illusion, a mere imagination. Yet, however unreal it may be, all the materials are in the non-mental world out of which it is built, or, to put the matter otherwise, reality provides the basis of the imaginary object. This will become clearer when we deal with illusion and error in detail. Always the mental movement is correlated with and adapted to some non-mental object, which has the characters of sensible experience (is spatio-temporal, has colour or life, etc.), as those characters appear in the image. There may be no golden mountain in reality but at least there are mountains and gold. It is the combination of mountain and gold which is fictitious, and yet a mountain must be of some rock or other, only perhaps not wholly of gold. Thus on the one hand a mental act has compresent with it the non-mental object, distinct from mind, which is appropriate to it. And on the other hand all our images are taken to be not only external but real or true until further experience shows us that there is no thing or substance to which they belong in the form they assume for us. From our side, all our objects, sensible or imaginary, claim to be real. Ideas are, in short, the aspects which things removed from our senses by distance of Space or Time wear to our mind owing to its capacity of dispensing with sensible presence; and this capacity carries with it the liability to create combinations which have no counterpart in that form in the real world.
Thus as no finite existent can affect our minds directly without evoking its appropriate conscious act, so no conscious act can exist without its appropriate external object in the spatio-temporal world.2 Imagining an object is comparable to the physical act of turning round to see something behind our backs. Difficulties are left over to interpret in respect of mere imagination and error.3 But we dare not take the difficult cases as our guide, and, because we may err, declare that our objects alike in imagination and sensation are mental. We must begin with the plainer cases, those of sensation, where the non-mental object acts on the mind, and of veridical imagination, where we need only observe that the world is in Time as well as Space and we may be compresent therefore with objects removed from us in time or absent from our senses.
The link of connection between sensible and ideal non-mental existence which enables us to see that in both cases the object is equally a non-mental or physical reality is found in perception. There the mental process is part sensing, part ideation, and the object part sensed; part ideated. In the familiar phrase, half of our percepts are seen, half comes out of our heads. Yet the percept is one external object. The shifting phases of perception itself demonstrate this truth. I have seen and felt and smelt an orange at one and the same time. Later I see the orange, and its feel and fragrance are ideal; or I feel and smell it in the dark and its colour is compresent in idea. What was before a sensum has become ideatum, and what was before ideatum is now a sensum. Ideata and sensa declare themselves equally non-mental existences, with the same right to be recognised as such, by thus taking one another's places.
The cognition of objects is therefore a case of the compresence of two finites when one of these finites is a mind and the other one at a lower level of quality. A mind in any mental act or process is conscious of the appropriate object in so far as the act and the object which are appropriate to each other are in compresence, no matter how they are brought into this relation. The act of mind is the cognition, the object is the cognitum, the cognitive relation is the compresence between them. It is therefore only an ambiguity like that noticed in the case of sensation by which cognition itself, the mental act, is sometimes described as a relation. The relation is indicated in speech by the word of, which is the ‘of’ of reference in distinction from the ‘of’ of apposition used when we describe an enjoyment as the consciousness of the mental process or act.4 Such consciousness is identical with the act of mind, which is or constitutes the consciousness and is not its object. The object is some existent distinct from the act of mind. Moreover, while there can be no act of mind without its object, any more than a body can breathe without air, it remains to be seen whether the object does not exist in the absence of the mental act. Clearly it cannot be an object to a mind in the absence of mind, but does it owe its existence to the act of mind? The answer we shall see is that it does not; it exists or rather it may exist, as for example a sensum, in the absence of mind. These and other questions are deferred for the moment.
Comparison of this result with direct experience.
But, waiving further details, we have reached a broad general result. On the hypothesis that mind is one finite among others, albeit the highest in its empirical level of quality, we have found that the relation of cognition is what in the Introduction was declared to be the deliverance of direct experience; that in every act of cognition there are two separate entities or finites in compresence with each other, the one an enjoyment, the other what in relation to that enjoyment is a contemplated object. The enjoyment of the mind's self is at the same time the contemplation of an object distinct from it and non-mental. To know anything is to be along with it in Space-Time. Consciousness is indeed empirically unique, as being confined to a determinate order of empirical existents. But to be conscious of something else is not unique. It is the one term of the relation which has the unique flavour and not the relation itself. What direct experience, interpreted without the prejudice derived from some supposed singularity or privilege of mind, exhibits to the unprejudiced inquirer, has now been exhibited as a corollary from the simple proposition that all finites are related to one another by compresence The mind does not stand above things and itself; but in being itself—enjoying itself in certain ways—it is conscious of or aware of or knows non-mental entities appropriate to its enjoyment. No one will, I trust, suppose that I imagine myself to have in this way demonstrated a proposition which was otherwise an unsupported statement of observation. I have only exhibited the same fact in its place in a scheme of interpretation, and this is the only demonstration of its truth which the circumstances admit. On the contrary, to pretend that it had been demonstrated would be manifestly circular. For the hypothesis that mind is one thing amongst other things in the empirical world of finites, though it does not presuppose the actual result that cognition is the compresence of a knowing enjoyment with a contemplated finite, does presuppose that there is no mind above both empirical mental acts and physical things to which they are both alike objects or, in the Lockeian language, ideas. The interpretation of knowledge is therefore but an item in the system constructed on that hypothesis. Knowing is accounted for as the work of a purely empirical mind. The result of a theory confirms a simple result of inspection.
At the same time the outcome is more significant than this admission implies. For suppose we had assumed that there was something called mind which could survey things and its own acts, so that in a non empirical sense not only mental acts but physical things were mind-dependent, a candid examination of these mental objects or ideas would have exhibited all the features we have described in the world of things. They would still be differentiations of Space-Time. The empirical mental acts as connected in the substance, mind, would still do all the work of what we are familiar with as knowing, and thus in the end the all-observing unique mind would be seen to be otiose. All which makes us thinking beings, all which gives colour and richness to our world of things, would be there as much in the absence of this supposed unique mind as in its presence.
Mind never an object to itself.
The consilience of the result of our hypothesis as applied to knowing with what we may learn by direct inspection of the cognitive experience at once indicates certain problems and helps us to shorten the inquiry by reference to the Introduction. Thus it follows at once that since the object is distinct from the enjoying mind, the mind can never be an object to itself in the same sense as physical things are objects to it. It experiences itself differently from them. It is itself and refers to them. All appearances to the contrary rest upon a mistake of analysis. Thus I may at this moment have in my mind the memory of how I felt on some past occasion. But I do not make that memory of myself an object. It is a partial enjoyment linked up with my present enjoyment (also partial) of myself. Just as I contemplate some aspect of a physical object, say its past condition, as a portion of its whole history, so I enjoy a partial condition of my enjoyed substance, my mind, along with the rest of the enjoyments which as linked together and contained within my own enjoyed space-time constitute myself as enjoyed. The arrival of reinforcements was the reason why the enemy was overpowered; here is a fact of the external world included in a larger complex of external fact. Seeing my friend reminds me of how I used in former years to rejoice in his society; here is an enjoyed fact included in a more comprehensive enjoyed fact.
Introspection has already been discussed.5 I do not in introspection turn my mind upon itself and convert a part of myself into an object. I do but report more distinctly my condition of enjoyment. A mind which broods over itself in dangerous practical introspection abandons itself to the enjoyment of itself because of the subjective interest of that employment. Introspection for psychological purposes is enjoyment lived through with a scientific interest, and introspective psychology is the more accurate report of our mental acts than we need for the practical purposes of life. Most introspection is indeed retrospection and has been thought therefore to be obviously a case of self-objectifying. But it is in fact as just before observed, enjoying or re-living our past. The reason why we use retrospection so much is that in memory the enjoyed condition is free from those practical urgencies of the present moment which take our attention from ourselves and turn it on to the object with which we are concerned and make the accurate record of what we are enjoying difficult or impossible. On the other hand it is a sheer mistake to suppose that it is by introspection that we know the images with which we are conversant in imagination or the objects which we remember as the objects of our remembered mental acts. The image of a tree is no more examined by introspection than the perceived tree. Both are objects of extrospection. It is only the act of imagining which we can introspect. Still less do we introspect when we observe our bodily condition in the organic or kinaesthetic sensations. These sensa are objects to the mind, not enjoyments, and, as will be seen hereafter, are non-mental like colours or figures in external space. Thus introspection may be called observation but observation is not necessarily the observation of external objects.6
The selectiveness of mind. Problem III.
The mere compresence of a finite existent with the mind accounts for the mind's consciousness of that object. The object and the corresponding mental act vary together, and to every difference in the one there is a corresponding difference in the other, not in respect of the quality of consciousness but in respect of its categorial characters. But not only are finites compresent with each other but they are related to each other selectively. Applied to the special case of relation between physical finites and a mind, this proposition means that the objects of which the mind is conscious are partial revelations to the mind of things.7 This was also the deliverance of our inspection of experience when to simple inspection is added reflection on the results of many connected experiences.
Things are, on our hypothesis, pieces of Space-Time within which are contained those movements and that configuration or pattern of their combination, which are the phases of the history of the things and the universal character which the things possess. According to the condition of mind, into which it is thrown by a thing or in which for other reasons it happens to be in respect of the thing, the object of the mind will be a different partial aspect or feature of the thing. I may see an orange as a patch of colour but may be too far off to smell it. I may see a flower but may for lack of interest fail to count the number of its leaves. I may perceive it but at best I only perceive it partially. Or the thing may be compresent with me as that object which is the image of it, or the thought or general plan of its construction, or the memory of it as I saw it yesterday. The mind enjoys itself at any moment only partially; equally the things which it contemplates are contemplated selectively as partial objects. In common language, we are said to apprehend the thing of which we are aware only in the partial aspect or feature which the mind has selected. Thus we are said to see the orange and not merely the patch of yellow colour of a certain shape, which is, strictly speaking, all that we apprehend in vision. We do so because many experiences of the thing, called orange, are synthesised in our mind in the course of our experience, that is, we become aware of them as all contained within the volume of space-time which is the substance of the thing.
The object before our mind is nothing but the finite and distinct existent which we apprehend with the character which it bears upon its face—its face value—a coloured patch, a smell, an imaged orange, a thought orange, a colour qualified by a touch which is revived in idea. Experience enables us to connect all these objects together and be aware of them in their combination as belonging to the thing to which they all in some sense belong. We then say or can say that the orange reveals itself under the form of these different objects. The synthesis or combination spoken of is not to be understood as a creative procedure on the part of the mind except where the mind creates, as in imagination, a combination not presented in nature. The synthesis is the union in the thing cognised of the various special features of it which have been cognised piecemeal, and whose substantial coherence the mind comes in experience to recognise. The clearest instance of such contemplated synthesis is found in perception where sensa are contemplated by the mind as combined with ideal, elements. The act of perceiving is a synthetic enjoyment; the perceived object or thing, the perceptum, is a contemplated synthesis, which as will be seen is founded on the reference of the separate elements of sense and idea to the same bit of Space-Time.
Things and objects.
We have therefore to distinguish between objects which are the finite existents revealed to mind in any act of mind and those groupings of objects within a certain spatio-temporal contour which are known as things. Sometimes the distinction is called that of the contents of mind and the objects respectively, but, for certain reasons already touched on and to be explained more fully, this usage seems to me undesirable and entirely confusing. Now in the simpler cases, there is no difficulty in the proposition that a thing, described as the space—time which exhibits at any moment and from moment to. moment different features united in a substantial unity, contains these partial features, and that they are selected by the mind according to circumstances, the selection being understood not as necessarily an active one, as when it is prompted by a purpose, but as varying from passive acceptance or affection upwards to fully active selection. The orange contains its colour and smell and shape. Nor is there any real difficulty in maintaining that the sensum orange-colour being distinct from the sensation of it and being a movement within the thing with the yellow quality, exists in the absence of any percipient. When the percipient is there the orange is revealed to him as this patch of yellow colour. Nor in maintaining that the remembered orange, if only the remembering be free from falsification, is actually contained in the history of the orange, and is in the same sense the orange revealed to memory after the lapse of time.
But the selectiveness of mind extends further than these simple cases. For not only does the mind falsify by the introduction of objects which do not belong to the thing; that is to say, being in a certain condition it apprehends in the object elements corresponding to that condition, which it may thus be said to impute to the object; but according to the nature of the mind and its mere position in space and time, things wear to the mind varying appearances. The colours may look different with distance, or with colour blindness in the percipient. Even the spatial form varies, as in the varying appearances of the penny when it is seen from the front or sideways or end on. The question then arises, and it is a different one from the present, which of the varying appearances of things, which objects presented to the mind, belong really to the thing; the question, not of the non-mental character of objects but of their reality or truth. It is the misfortune of a systematic exposition that it cannot answer all things at once, and this question must be delayed till its proper place. We must, however, follow the safe rule of beginning with the simpler facts and accounting later for the complex ones. But while we can, if our hypothesis of the nature of things or substances be correct, affirm that a thing is a combination of certain objects which it reveals to mind, we can also safely at this stage affirm that it is the foundation of all of them. Later on we shall see that, like the bent staff apprehended in water, the variable appearances of things which seem not to be contained so obviously in them as the colour and smell in an orange, are appearances of the thing not taken by itself but along with some other thing or circumstance.
The partial revelation of a thing to mind in the form of objects which belong to the thing merely means in the end that no object, nor even a thing, is given alone, but because it is a part of Space-Time, coheres in varying degrees of closeness with other objects and groups of such objects connected together by the categorial relation of substance, that is, belonging to the same volume of space-time. The thing which is partially revealed in its objects, whether of sense or memory or thinking or imagination, is thus of the same kind of existence as the objects themselves. One object may suggest the others which participate with it in the one substance: that is, it means the others and may be said, though only loosely, to refer to them. Moreover, no object is apprehended except as being the whole or a part of the space-time which contains them all. Thus even the patch of yellow is seen extended over the space which is part of the orange. No object therefore is apprehended by itself but points to other finites as well. It is spread over the space which is apprehended with it.8 But the space and time in which it is contained and the other objects which it suggests in virtue of experience are all of them on the same footing as regards the mind which apprehends them. In the act of knowing the mind refers to its object as something non-mental, and it may and does refer to that object as part of a larger whole which is also included under the general name of object. There is thus no thing which lives as it were behind the objects which reveal it, no thing-in-itself which is itself unrevealed except through these partial objects. If the objects are physical, so is the thing.
It is because the mind selects (actively or passively) from the total thing parts of it, which it contains or of which it is the foundation, that the objects of mind are thought to owe their esse to their percipi. All that they owe to the mind is their selection, that is their percipi. But their esse, their existence and their qualities, they have as being finite existences in Space-Time, and thus non-mental. Were it not for the selecting mind they would not be noticed, and would not be objects to a subject. But they do not owe to the subject their being but only their being apprehended by the subject. They exist apart from the subject before the subject can select them for contemplation, always under the proviso that the subject selects them truly without introducing extraneous material also non-mental. And so far as they are there, and in the form in which they are there, they are there whether they are contemplated by a mind or not.
Alleged reference in cognition to something behind presentation.
Agreeable as this result, derived from a consideration of the general relation of selectiveness of finites to one another, is to what we learn from simple inspection of experience helped out by reflection on the history and varieties of experience; it contradicts a doctrine supported by high authorities (like Mr. Stout and the late O. Külpe9), that objects or, as they are then called, presentations point beyond themselves to a source or ground, and are immediately apprehended as pointing or referring to that ground.
The presentations are our guide to the nature of the ground or condition of them. Thus, since the source or condition is given with the presentation or object, it must be said to be given in experience. But at any rate that experience is on this showing of a different order from the experience of the presentation or object. Sometimes it is said that it is thought which informs us or refers us to the thing (which may include the whole of reality) which conditions the presentation. Thus, to take a simple sense-datum, it is rightly held that if the mind is aware only of its own sensations, it could not transcend them so as to know independently existing things. Consequently, to quote Mr. Stout,10 “we must assume that the simplest datum of sense-perception from which the cognition of an external world can develop consists not merely in a sensuous presentation, but in a sensuous presentation apprehended as conditioned by something other than itself.” It is not easy to discuss this doctrine shortly with fairness especially apart from the consideration of the variability of sense-appearances which we have deferred. But I am more anxious to point out what is its relation to my own result, and what are the really true considerations which, as I think, it presents in a mistaken form.
In the first place, if we are said in sensuous presentation to be aware of or to refer to something not a presentation which conditions it, the thought in question is not the thinking which is concerned with universals or concepts. Strictly speaking, though I do not think this has always been admitted, concepts should be in the same class with presentations and should be like them real appearances of the source or thing which conditions presentations. Such they obviously are for me, since they are, as configurations of space-time, in pari materia with sensa or images or percepta. The difference of the two senses of thought is made clear by Mr. Külpe when he insists that the thoughts we think are to be distinguished from the things we think of, for we may think not only of universals but of particulars or even of a sensation.11 This statement is greatly to be welcomed, for it clears the way to an understanding of the real issue. The thought which tells us of a thing or condition or source different from the presentation but revealed by it is the experience in the mind of a reference to something not the mind. In the same way, to revert to a distinction indicated before, the meaning of a word may be either the ideas which it conveys, that is the facts which are contained in its logical intension, or it may be the actual things to which the word is applied—its extension. I may mean the prisoner, where meaning is the intellectual substitute for pointing to him; or meaning may be what is suggested by a word or a symbol or any part of a complex which leads on continuously to the rest of it, as the first words of a line mean for me the rest. Now, so far as thought is the act of reference to something not in the mind itself, undoubtedly we can have no act of mind without such reference. The experience that we have of referring to something non-mental is the experience (and I have shown before that it is experienced in enjoyment) that we are compresent with an object distinct from ourselves. If we call this experience an act of thought, every experience contains a thought-reference to something distinct from our enjoyment. This is the essence of our own result.
But for us the reference is to the object, that is to the presentation itself; for the theory under consideration the reference is to something beyond and behind it. For that theory the presentation is still psychical though it is the revelation of its underlying ground or condition. Though it is not subjective like the feeling of interest it is yet psychical. In a later paper Mr. Stout has compared the relation of the sensible to its condition with that of an image of a sensible like a black mark to the sensible itself. “In the very act of directly apprehending the image I think of or remember the sensible itself. I am not merely cognisant of the image but cognisant of it as standing in a peculiar relation to the previous existence of the primary sensible.”12 This analogy is very instructive for the purpose of understanding the theory, but it appears to me to be a misstatement of the experience of remembering the original sensible.13 What I have in my mind is the image of the black patch, that is, is a black patch more or less blurred in the way in which images differ from percepts, and along with that the note of pastness and that warmth or intimacy of connection with myself which assures me that it belongs to my past, This is all that I can find in the remembering act, and this is the experience of having had a thing before me in the past. The original sensible is not in my mind at all. But if I again see it I can identify the black mark as what I remembered a moment before. It is some such other experience which has been imported into the experience of the memory image when it is alleged that that image actually refers to the sensible. If the sensible had been in the mind at the time there would not have been a mere memory but a recognition. But if it was not how could it be referred to? We have therefore a mistaken description of memory in which something known about the object is imported into the actual object of acquaintance. It may be added that we may have an image of a black patch without any memory at all, and here it is still clearer that if we say we refer to a sensible of the same sort we are not construing our experience as we have it but importing something else into it which is known from a different experience.
I am compelled therefore to conclude that the doctrine is a misstatement of either of two things which are both true. Either it stands for the truth that every mental act does refer as such to a non-mental object, in which case the object ceases to be a mere presentation and the reference is to the object itself. Or it stands for the truth that any object of mind points to or means other objects combined with it in the spatio-temporal unity of the thing and that any mental object is from the beginning spatio-temporal and implies a piece of Space-Time within which it belongs and which is apprehended, as we shall see not by sensuous experience but by a simpler experience still. Even a sensum like blue is never mere blue but a patch of space-time filled with that quality. This space-time in which all the qualities are contained is the identifiable element in experience which is probably intended when presentations are said to imply a ground which is not mere presentation. But this space-time in which a colour is found is part of the presentation itself. There is thus no reason to look for grounds behind or beyond objects or presentations. The object is itself a space-time occupied with movements apprehended not as movements but in their qualities. All that we need to do is to distinguish between the apprehension of the quality as quality and the apprehension of the space-time which it occupies. This distinction is indeed of the last importance, but it is not the distinction of a presentation and its ground or condition.
Aspects of selsctivenes.
Certain features of the mind's selectiveness remain to be described. A minor aspect of it is the following. Every finite is compresent with all other finites, being part of the one Space-Time. But a finite A is not necessarily compresent with a percipient finite B in respect of the distinctive character of B. Thus let B be a mind. A is compresent with the mind B only so far as it can evoke an act of B as such, or in any way corresponds to such an act. Thus I do not see a thing behind my back; though if I have reason for doing so I may imagine it or think of it there. In the second case it is compresent with my mind; in the first it is not compresent with me as a mind. On the other hand it is still compresent with me, in so far as I have a body, for it tracts me, or at the very lowest it is compresent me as a portion of Space-Time. Behind my back it evokes no mental response, for I am not, under those conditions, susceptible to it. But since my mind is also a living material spatio-temporal thing, it never fails to be compresent with me in some capacity of me. Thus I may not be conscious of all the things which I have the means on appropriate occasions of perceiving. But the complementary proposition is also true that there may be qualities in the world of things below me in order of quality, which I may not be able to apprehend in that form at all (though I can apprehend them in their spatio-temporal character), because my body does not possess the appropriate organs. Thus our senses do not necessarily exhaust the sensible qualities of things. Colour is revealed to me because I have eyes, while it is not revealed to the plant as colour but only as something which affects the chlorophyll in the plant. Or I hear the sound of the tuning-fork, but the sound may be revealed to a tuning-fork which it sets in sympathetic vibration only as a vibratory material affection of the source of the sound.
There is a more important aspect of the matter. Mind is selective (like any other finite) in the sense that it singles out for its special reference the object it is compresent with. But every object is connected with other objects, with some more closely than others, and being a piece of Space-Time it always is surrounded by the rest. The object is but a salient feature in a mass of which the mind is conscious in various degrees of distinctness. Some of them are united with the object of attention within its piece of Space-Time. Some of them are qualified objects in the remainder of the medium, and always there is at the extreme margin the suggestion of a beyond, ‘something or other’ which is really there and which is present to us in the feeling we have of what we afterwards call, in the language of reflection, the finitude of all we distinctly apprehend. On the side of the enjoyment, too, we never have the single act appropriate to the object, but an act linked up with other acts, themselves distinct or indistinct as the case may be. To be aware of a thing and enjoy the contemplation of it is also to be aware of or enjoy ourselves as substantial, so that the Cartesian ‘I think therefore I am’ is true not in the sense of an I unlike in kind to its acts but of an I which is their substantial unity. The connected enjoyments may be as in ordinary perception distinct, but around our enjoyment of the largest tract of nature or of thought there is still the vague mental functioning, which is our apprehension of the infinitude of things not ourselves. Our definite and particularised enjoyment is a fragment from this larger mass, as its object is a fragment from the infinite world, which includes the external world and our enjoyment as well. It is indeed only so far as we recognise ourselves as part of the one whole, enjoyed in a smaller part, contemplated for the rest, that our vague sense arises of our finitude, our sense of stretching out in enjoyment beyond our own limited portion of Space-Time which we enjoy; only so far, that is, as our enjoyed space-time is realised as part of and continuous with the whole of contemplated Space-Time, that we realise what the vague sense of something beyond means, and can express in the language of thought the experience that things and ourselves do not merely make up by aggregation the infinite whole but are detached portions of it, which betray their dependence on and continuity with it by the feelers which they put out to grasp it. It is the consciousness of our finitude and of the finitude of things which has led some to declare that we see all things as in God; and it is one natural spring of the religious sentiment. At any rate it is as much a fact of our experience (and a fact of reality independent of our experiencing of it) as the more pungent and practical experiences of our daily intercourse with finite things, and ourselves, and one another. To leave these further speculations, it is doubtless this feature or our experience which makes some writers say, like Mr. Bosanquet,14 that mind envelops the whole world like an atmosphere. It is not true as these writers think that minds which are but one set of empirical finites are in a peculiar sense connected with the universe, they only know more of it and in greater wealth of colouring than inferior finites. But it is true that our enjoyments expand in correspondence with our objects, as we pass from a small room to a large one, to take a trivial illustration, and that our mind pursuing this process takes in the whole, summarising the indistinct fringes of its own enjoyments and of the world of external things in the thought of an infinite. The infinite then is, however apprehended, prior for the common mind to the finite as it was declared to be by Descartes and his successors.
Corollaries: (1) Various kinds of compresence.
Certain corollaries may be noted which confirm the results of simple inspection. One has been already described in the Introduction. Compresence is the most elementary of all relations, and all that knowing as such implies is the compresence of a mind and an object at a lower level. The mind and the object are but two existents amongst others, or if we designate the enjoyed by capital and the contemplated by small letters, it is the compresence of A and b. But the relation of compresence between A and b also obtains between two physical objects a and b and between two mental enjoyments A and B. It goes without saying that if ab is known or contemplated there is a corresponding enjoyment AB, and if AB is enjoyed there is a corresponding object ab.
This is no more than an elaboration of the central proposition. What we specially need to note is that a thing which is enjoyed and one which is contemplated may stand in the same categorial relation to each other as two things both of which are contemplated or both of which are enjoyed. An enjoyed existence is a real existence and its nature is not affected by its being enjoyed in relation to an object contemplated. In other words, the complexes Ab, ab, and AB are on precisely the same categorial footing. The only difference is in the character of the existences involved. When in a relation ab one of the terms is changed to A, the relation of causality between b and a may still be a relation of causality between b and A: A then is an existence which enjoys itself, being a mind, and it knows b. Thus the relation of the mind to its object b the table is precisely of the same order as that between the floor and the table. Only the floor is not conscious, and consequently is only affected by the table so far as it can be.
(2) Extension to lower levels.
From this we can pass back to consider lower levels of existence than mind, seeing that knowing is nothing but the empirical form which compresence assumes when one of the partners has the empirical quality of consciousness. The same relation as exists in knowing an object exists as between any existent and any other which is on a lower empirical level. Just as objects are to our mind revelations, partial revelations, of the thing from which the object is selected; so to life, to a living existence, things are revealed in their material characters, and to a material thing things are revealed in their primary characters. How much of what belongs to the lower level shall be revealed to the level above it depends on the ‘susceptibilities’ of the higher existent, on the machinery it possesses for accepting what is revealed, on its ‘organs.’ Thus the secondary qualities of matter are lower than life, but it does not follow that a plant must be aware of colour as colour. It has no sense-organ appropriate. Yet in so far as light affects the plant the plant has the revelation of light so far as that is possible, though in what form I find it difficult to say. In the same way a man may be partially colour-blind and see no difference between red and green; or totally colourblind and see no colours at all but greys; or tone deaf, and the like.
It is almost impossible to speak of the relations between lower levels of existence except in terms of mind, which though the highest empirical finite existent is only one finite amongst others and illustrates something in the relation of finites which is universal and not peculiar to mind. Let us then use ‘knowing’ in an extended sense for the relation between any finite and those of a lower empirical order, and let us describe the empirical quality of any kind of finite which performs to it the office of consciousness or mind as its ‘mind.’ Yet at the same time let us remember that the ‘mind’ of a living thing is not conscious mind but is life, and has not the empirical character of consciousness at all, and that life is not merely a lower degree of mind or consciousness, but something different. We are using ‘mind’ metaphorically by transference from real minds and applying it to the finites on each level in virtue of their distinctive quality; down to Space-Time itself whose existent complexes of bare space-time have for their mind bare time in its empirical variations.
Using then the terms appropriate to mind in this metaphorical fashion we may say that any finite ‘enjoys’ itself and ‘contemplates’ lower finites or has ‘knowledge’ of them. They are revealed to it so far forth as it has organs for apprehending them. Hence properties which belong to the lower finite may be unrevealed in their distinctive quality, but they are revealed in the character which belongs to their equivalents on a lower level still. Thus in my example of the floor and table the floor certainly does not ‘know’ the table as exerting pressure, it does not even know it as material (I return to this presently), but in some lower equivalent form as a persisting set of motions, as, say, accelerated towards it according to the gravitational law. At the same time each finite is related towards other finites of the same level as minds are related to one another. The material floor is assured of the materiality of the table.
Thus each level has its specific ‘enjoyment,’ and what it ‘contemplates’ is what from the nature of the case can be revealed to it, and so far forth as it can be revealed. We might have started with a hypothesis as to lower levels in this fashion and then treated mind as a special case. But the hypothesis would have assumed the analysis for mental knowing and would have been pedantic and unprofitable.
(3) Higher existents than mind.
A third conclusion, which is of less importance in itself than as illustrating the meaning of the relation of knowing, is the following. A higher order of existent than mind, whether conceived as finite, what I have called an angel, or as an infinite God, would contemplate consciousness as consciousness contemplates qualities of lower order. Consciousness enjoys itself in us, but for the angel it would not be enjoyed but contemplated. For such a being there would be no doubt that the relation of mind to its object is only an example of the relation of any other finite to a second finite; and the notion that things depended on the mind except for the selection from them of the mental object would to him sound as extravagant, as it would sound to us if the tree should plead that the soil it lives in depended on the tree for its existence or its character. Just as the tree selects from the soil what it requires for its nutrition, and in growing reacts to the nutritive elements of its soil, so for the angel's contemplation mind selects what can feed it in the things which surround it and these are its objects to which it reacts in the conations whose purely speculative character is cognition. More precisely consciousness is contemplated by an angel in the way in which life which is next lower to us is contemplated by us; that is, it is known for him in the first instance as the consciousness which belongs to his, the angel's, own ‘body,’ whatever that body is. We also know life first in ourselves; and the further description of our knowledge of life outside our own body is left to a subsequent chapter.15
(4) The object not dependent on the mind.
This leads us to a final point which is of great importance. The plant selects from the soil; but the phosphates are already there, and it does not make them. Mind is equally a reaction to external things and what it selects for its object is present in the thing or in some other part of the universe. So far is the object from being dependent on the mind that, on the contrary, the mind is, at any rate for its original material, dependent on the object; just as the silver must exist before it can be used as a shilling and be impressed with the king's effigy. Thus the higher grade of finites grows out of the lower and enjoying itself contemplates the lower in turn. Hence although mind cannot be and act without things from which to select its objects, neither the things nor the objects are affected in themselves by the presence of mind except so far as the mental conation alters them. What they are before the practical and alterative action takes place does not depend on the mind. So far as it is purely cognitive such alterative action is suspended. It follows that though for mind things are a condition, the presence of mind is not a condition of the existence or quality of things. All that they owe to mind is their being known. It follows that even sensa exist in the absence of mine or any mind, much more things of which sensa are only passing acts. The actual things and their acts which are called sensa because we sense them are irrespective of our mind, since they were before there were minds. The gleam of colour and the act of pressure are not noticed in their quality till there are beings with the appropriate apprehensive machinery. But they exist in their native qualities, some of which possibly even we do not perceive. Nor would there be any difficulty in realising this truth were it not for the interference of our mind with its objects and the interference of one object with another, which have yet to be considered. That difficulty may then as I hope be removed.
B. Mind and Body
Experience of the body in knowing.
Consciousness has been treated in the above in accordance with a previous chapter as the quality of certain neural processes, and the conscious process as identical with the neural one. But neural processes or mental ones, being conations, issue in certain changes or movements of the muscles and viscera, by the first of which the organism reacts on the stimulating object. We have now to consider what part is played in the act of knowing by these ‘somatic’ reactions and generally by the body as distinguished from the central nervous system. The mental partner in the cognitive transaction enjoys itself as a conscious process, and consciousness is in fact the enjoyed innervation of the appropriate neural process. It is the enjoyed beginning of a process which terminates in somatic changes. It might be thought that such enjoyment introduces once more the alleged sense of innervation felt by us as a sense of discharge of nervous energy, when we will a bodily movement. The alleged sense of innervation so interpreted has been discredited. But the enjoyment of which I speak resembles it only superficially. For the ‘sense of innervation’ was believed to be a sensation, only a central not a peripheral one, and unlike all other forms of sensation. For us the enjoyment is not a sensation at all in that meaning of the term ‘sensation.’ In the sensation of colour there are two partners; one is the sensum colour, the other is the act of sensing it which is an enjoyment wherein we contemplate the colour. The sensing is the beginning of the process which issues in certain movements of the eyes or other movements, and may be said to be the enjoyed innervation of the neural process which ends thus. In a motor sensation, the sensum is the movement of the muscles, and the sensing is the enjoyed innervation, principally that which proceeds from the kinaesthetic centre, wherein we become conscious of a muscular movement when it has been performed. For it is agreed that muscular changes are sensed like visceral ones or objects of the special senses, as the stimuli which provoke the consciousness of them. Part of the difficulty in understanding the nature of knowing is this misunderstanding which confuses an enjoyment which is properly described as an enjoyed innervation with the so-called sense of innervation.
Bodily changes, whether visceral or muscular, are always contemplated ones or objects, and the awareness of them always accompanies the awareness of an external object. When I see a colour I have, besides the enjoyment of seeing and the colour itself com present with it, the contemplation also of movements in the eye, or other connected movements. It is in fact through such movements as those of the eyes when I turn to the light or fixate it that I become aware of my eyes and the colour as two physical objects in relation to one another in the physical world. I must have my eyes open to see at all, and accommodate them or converge them in order to see in certain places, and more than that, the colour is revealed to me in the act which issues in these or other movements. But the contemplation of the outward reaction of seeing is a different mental act from the consciousness of the colour and succeeds it. The movements of the eyes issue from the seeing conation, and then are apprehended in a motor or kinaesthetic conation whose neural process and equivalent enjoyment are distinct from that of seeing.
It is not only sensory processes which are thus accompanied by the added consciousness of motor and visceral changes. In all experiences, however much they involve ideas, we have these secondary acts of contemplation of the somatic issues of the primary consciousness. Imagining a man issues in certain movements which may be actual, or if only anticipated in idea always tend to be actual, that is to be such movements as would actually occur if the imagined object were present. Sometimes they are movements, say of the eyes, round the contour of the object, sometimes they may be movements of speech, and there are indeed psychologists who regard speech as the distinctive somatic issue of imaging. It is the same with remembering and thinking, thinking being in a special manner the beginning of speech. Whenever I am said to make myself an object of mind, it is never the self as subject, the mind, which I make an object—it can only be enjoyed; it is always the bodily part of the person which is thus made into an object, whether perceived or imagined. In remembering my past state of myself, what I contemplate in the past is my body as it was when the remembered event occurred; my remembered state of mind or enjoyment is not contemplated but enjoyed, and as we have seen enjoyed in the past.
Thus in the transaction called knowing the partners are on the one side the neural act with its quality of consciousness or mind, on the other the object of which the mind is conscious in this act; the bodily or somatic element in the transaction is incidental or sustains the primary transaction; as the processes of fixation of attention sustain the attention. The mental response is what we have called an enjoyment, meaning by it that when we see a colour we are conscious of the colour or are aware of ourselves as seeing it. If, as observed already in the Introduction,16 in order to understand enjoyment we seek for something which can be an object to us like hunger or thirst, or even pleasure and pain, we can find nothing such in our experience, and because we do not look in the right direction we may declare that enjoyment, or an act of consciousness, is a fiction. Those who do so look at their mind from the outside and do not, as it were, put themselves into the place of their own minds.
The searchlight view of knowing.
But I have now to take account of a view of the transaction of knowing to which the present one is in general spirit closely allied, but which dispenses with or rejects the notion of consciousness as a quality carried by the neural responses to the outside world—a view which if it can be justified, is vastly simpler. It goes in psychology along with the method of ‘behaviourism’ which rejects introspection as a primary method. We are concerned with its metaphysical conceptions, which have been set out recently in their extreme form by Mr. E. B. Holt.17 According to this view we have the environing world of things provoking specific18 neural responses, and these responses select from the environment those portions or aspects of it to which they correspond. Whether the objects are sensations or memories or imaginations or thoughts or even volitions, the case is the same. These are all of them portions of a mass of objects selected by the neural response itself from the world. The neural response is therefore compared to a searchlight which illuminates a certain portion of the outside world; or with a variation of the metaphor it is said to determine a cross-section of the world, as though the neural response acted like a plane which should cut the world across and lay bare a certain surface. On the one side is the neural organism with its response, which is the cross-section of the organism by the plane; on the other the cross-section of its environment. The total cross-section of the environment is consciousness or the mind, and its parts are, in relation to the whole, sensations, memories, and the like. This is the transaction of knowing. There is no consciousness lodged, as I have supposed, in the organism as a quality of the neural response; consciousness belongs to the totality of objects, of what are commonly called the objects of consciousness or the field of consciousness. Consciousness is therefore “out there” where the objects are, by a new version of Berkeleyanism. The objects and the totality of them are, it may be added, determinations of a neutral stuff which is not Space-Time, but into the nature of which I need not enter. Obviously for this doctrine as for mine there is no mental object as distinct from a physical object: the image of a tree is a tree in an appropriate form.
The knower is thus the cross-section, of which the nervous system is the mere machinery. Strange as the doctrine may seem, it is in reality so simple as almost to compel assent. There is no need in it for enjoyment, and all the difficulties of that conception are avoided. Compared with its account of remembering and expecting, the account which I have given of the nature of remembering and how we enjoy ourselves in the past and future, seems to myself intolerably complex. No one who feels inclined to dismiss this searchlight doctrine as impossible and does not rather find it natural, or who differs from it without misgiving, can be said to have faced the real problem presented by knowing. Take the sight of a colour or a fire. Strip yourself of the notion that the colour is in any sense a creation of the mind though selected by it, realise that the red is just what it shows itself to be and that there is no such element as our consciousness which enters into its constitution; and then ask yourself whether in knowing red there is anything more or less than the fact that the neural response has selected red from the universe of things, and whether the sight of red means anything more than that this red is included in the whole cross-section of objects which is consciousness or mind itself.
If I am unable to accept a doctrine which goes beyond my own but is so simple and apparently so close to facts, and to which I find myself perpetually being drawn back and persuaded to adopt it, I am bound to state the reason why. It is that the doctrine fails to account for a vital feature in the cognitive situation, as we experience it, namely, that in being aware of the fire, the fire is before me, or it is I who see it, or it is in a sense my fire. This is easy to understand if the response to the fire is an act of consciousness, for then not only is there a fire, but the response is not merely something which is there alongside the fire which it selects as its object and so is for itself, but something which experiences itself. For every act of consciousness is then self-consciousness, not in the sense of containing a reflection on itself, for this is just what is denied by calling it an enjoyment, but in the sense that whenever we know, we know that we know, or that knowing and knowing that we know are one and the same thing. Now if consciousness belongs not to the neural response but to the cross-section itself which it makes, as a totality, how can any object be my object? And yet experience says that it is.
The only possible answer that I can see is that the self for which the fire is my fire is my body as presented to me in organic and motor and other sensations. This is always a part of the total cross-section at any moment, and it remains the permanent centre of reference, within the total which is consciousness, to which the other details of the cross-section may be said to belong. There is red, and there is a body, and both are contained within the mind or are parts of consciousness. Moreover, the colour depends on the eyes, for it appears when they are open, and disappears when they are shut. This means that consciousness possesses colour through the eyes, but not that I see the colour.19 We may learn also from physiology that red causes a specific movement in my nervous system; and since the cross-section is in time as well as space, I may introduce into it the thought of the neural response which I do not sense at the moment but only introduce by reflection. Even this does not account for my seeing red. It connects red with the neural response in the cross-section. But to say that the cross-section contains my seeing of red is to import into the cross-section itself the theory that seeing happens when there is a cross-section containing colour and there is a neural response outside that cross-section. We cannot say that the neural response as in the cross-section is equivalent to seeing the red in the cross-section. That would be to suppose that the neural response as in the cross-section not only is a seen or thought movement but itself sees. Or to put the matter otherwise, the neural response in the cross-section is a thought or image and the red is a sensum, but the first is not the consciousness of the second. It is only the cross-section as a whole which is consciousness. But it is not myself. On the other hand, my body which is myself is not conscious. On the view of the text there is no such difficulty, for from the first the colour is object to a conscious act of vision which is connected continuously by experience with the consciousness of open eyes as the condition of it, or of directing the eyes as the outcome of it.
The same thing may be put, perhaps more clearly, thus. Instead of myself, suppose I am observing another person. I should observe the red and his neural response to it. Now I should observe that he is alive, and is behaving like a superior kind of plant. But how should I say that he has a field of consciousness of which the red is a part? I cannot say that, because the totality of my objects is mind or consciousness, the totality of his objects is consciousness. For while I am aware of myself as a living thing with a field of consciousness, I am aware of him only as a living thing, making living responses which are indeed the same in kind as mine. We should be inventing once more the conception of a foreign consciousness. I could only attribute to him consciousness, if consciousness means not the field of objects known to me in my specific responses to it, but any field of objects to which anything responds specifically. The plant has consciousness in this sense equally with him or me; but so too has the material body. Consciousness then becomes the name of any field of objects to which any thing whatever responds specifically. It becomes a mere name for compresence. We are back at Leibniz, but without the soul; Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. The difference between creatures is that their consciousness is large or small, articulate and detailed, or inarticulate and blurred—Leibniz would say distinct or confused. The idea of consciousness becomes universal but otiose. And how do we arrive at such a conclusion, which is of course not that of the doctrine in question but is forced upon it? Only by starting with the idea of consciousness as the field of objects to which I make specific neural response and then eviscerating it of this specific relation to myself which it has in my original experience of what consciousness means.
I am compelled then to agree with Mr. Santayana when he suggests20 that consciousness is in fact the searchlight itself. It is a quality of the creature which has it, as life is of the creature which has life, or materiality of matter; not of the objects which are illuminated by the light.21 That field of objects, as will later I hope be made evident, is a perspective or revelation of the real world of things; and whether the objects are percepts or ideas, whether connected or disconnected, whether the revelation is true or false, the scene unrolled before us is. the same in kind as the scene presented in sense. Yet the relation of these objects among themselves is one thing; their emergence into our view is another, and is differently experienced, and it is this order of their occurrence which is our mental history, and is enjoyed and not contemplated. It is ours, whether forced upon us or due to our initiative, and it consists of mental acts. To treat consciousness as the field of objects is like saying that breathing is the air, as altered in its chemical constitution by the breathing. Life exists in the intercourse of the living thing and its surroundings, and it is neither equivalent to its products nor exists without them. In like manner, consciousness exists in the intercourse of the conscious being and things, and is neither equivalent to the objects it selects, nor can exist without those objects.
Bk. I. ch. iv. vol. i. pp. 113 f.
In coming to recognise this principle I was much helped by a remark made by a speaker at a discussion in the Aristotelian Society.
Below, chs. vii. p. 193, and viii. p. 215.
Above, Introduction, vol. i. p. 12. The word consciousness is similarly ambiguous in ordinary language. I use it for the quality of the mental act or the mental act itself. But it often, perhaps most commonly, stands for the relation of the mind to its object. This usage is adopted by Mr. C. A. Strong in his recent Origin of Consciousness (London, 1918). It leads however to the inconvenient result, either that we are not conscious of our own minds, or else that our minds are objects to us.
Introduction, vol. i. pp. 17 ff.
In the above I am necessarily repeating in a shorter form the remarks of the Introduction.
The distinction of an object from a thing as being a partial apprehension of the thing is the same I believe as is drawn by Mr. H. Barker in his contribution to a symposium in Proc. Arist. Soc, 1912–13, N. S. vol. iii. ‘Can there be anything obscure or implicit in a mental state?’ p. 258.
The space it is apprehended as spread over is the perspective from the percipient's point of view of the space occupied by the thing. See later, ch. vii. pp. 192 ff.
Die Realisirung, Bd. i. (Leipzig, 1912).
Manual of Psychology (London, 1913, ed. 3), p. 432.
Loc. cit. pp. 82 ff.
Proc. Arist. Soc, 1913–14, N. S. vol. xiv. (Symposium: ‘The Status of Sense-Data’), p. 384.
Above, Bk. I. ch. iv. vol. i. pp. 113 ff. Based as it appears to be on some such misapprehension, the whole statement that in presentation we refer to its condition is open to the old objection brought against the Lockeian doctrine, which it resembles, that our ideas are copies of their originals. How can experience warrant a reference to this something conditioning presentation which we never have experienced and which is only a symbol for the non-mental? For this condition is not in the same case with the vague ‘something or other’ which we have often referred to as playing so large a part in our experience. That vague something is merely an object awaiting further definition. But the supposed condition of presentation cannot be further known for it is not known at all. I do not merely mean that it is not known explicitly; that is irrelevant. It stands not for anything experienced or any part of such but merely for a postulate that although the presentation is psychical it must be brought into relation with external reality.
B. Bosanquet, The Distinction between Mind and its Objects (Manchester, 1913, Adamson Lecture), p. 27. Compare the present writer's ‘Basis of Realism’ (Proc. British Academy, vol. vi.), section 7.
Below, ch. vi. pp. 174 ff.
Vol. i. p. 20.
E. B. Holt, The Concept of Consciousness (London, 1914).
What is meant by a specific response is best understood from an illustration which is Mr. Holt's own. A plant responds to the sun, but its specific response is not to the sun as sun but merely to his light.
We should learn also that the colour is related differently to my body and to the light, without which also it would not appear in consciousness. But still this would not mean that it is I (i.e. my body) which possesses the consciousness of the colour. On the contrary, my body is possessed by the consciousness. The consciousness which sees is not mine in the same sense of ‘mine’ as the body is mine.
In an article on Mr. Holt's book entitled ‘The Coming Philosophy’ in Journal of Phil. Psych. and Set. Methods, vol. xii., 1914, p. 457.
My purpose is anything but polemical, but to set my own less simple but as I think more faithful view of knowing for comparison against Mr. Holt's simpler but as I think too simple one. Still less is it to review Mr. Holt's book. But I fancy I discern in it the intercrossing of our two views. Thus the spirit of the theory requires us to say that life as in a plant is a particular sort of complexity of the ‘neutral’ elements and consciousness a still higher one. Now, one part of the conscious cross-section may be a living plant. But the life of the plant as in my cross-section is not the objects which are a cross-section to the plant, but a property of the plant as an organism; so that it would seem life belongs to that organism; why not then consciousness to the animal or human organism? On the other hand, in one place (pp. 20 5–6) the plant is said to be “conscious of that to which it specifically responds.” This is a different view, which would make consciousness not a character of a certain cross-section in a conscious being but would make life a sort of consciousness. We cannot stop with life, for everything responds specifically to its environment, and consciousness would be a name then for any cross-section of the objects of any being whatever, and then consciousness or mind would lose its place in the hierarchy. But in that case the differences between the members of the hierarchy—that is, in so far as they are material, or alive, or conscious—would seem to belong to the things themselves in so far as they are material or plants or animals.
Mr. Holt's doctrine that the hierarchy is a scale of complexity of elements made of neutral stuff is one with the general spirit of which I heartily agree. But my agreement does not go further. His neutral stuff is not spatio-temporal, but its elements are apparently first and fundamentally concepts of identity, difference, and number, and then secondary qualities. He constructs his world in the first instance out of categories. But I have said enough in Bk. II. to indicate how impossible I find this procedure, or to agree with Mr. Holt's fundamental doctrine that propositions are active, which I could only understand if they are taken to be relations of fact as in Space-Time and not as thoughts with which we can begin a deduction of the world. Hence it is that his ‘neutral mosaic’ seems to me unacceptable. Space-Time is neutral in the sense that is neither matter as such nor mind as such but these are complexes of it. But Space-Time is not a mere thought but really a stuff.