§ 1. Looking back now to the commencement of our inquiry, let us attempt to measure how far it has advanced. Logic, we found, is the Theory of Proof. But proof supposes something provable, which must be a Proposition or Assertion; since nothing but a Proposition can be an object of belief, or therefore of proof. A Proposition is, discourse which affirms or denies something of some other thing. This is one step: there must, it seems, be two things concerned in every act of belief. But what are these Things? They can be no other than those signified by the two names, which being joined together by a copula constitute the Proposition. If, therefore, we knew what all names signify, we should know every thing which, in the existing state of human knowledge, is capable either of being made a subject of affirmation or denial, or of being itself affirmed or denied of a subject. We have accordingly, in the preceding chapter, reviewed the various kinds of Names, in order to ascertain what is signified by each of them. And we have now carried this survey far enough to be able to take an account of its results, and to exhibit an enumeration of all kinds of Things which are capable of being made predicates, or of having any thing predicated of them: after which to determine the import of Predication, that is, of Propositions, can be no arduous task.
The necessity of an enumeration of Existences, as the basis of Logic, did not escape the attention of the schoolmen, and of their master Aristotle, the most comprehensive, if not also the most sagacious, of the ancient philosophers. The Categories, or Predicaments — the former a Greek word, the latter its literal translation in the Latin language — were believed to be an enumeration of all things capable of being named; an enumeration by the summa genera, i.e., the most extensive classes into which things could be distributed; which, therefore, were so many highest Predicates, one or other of which was supposed capable of being affirmed with truth of every namable thing whatsoever. The following are the classes into which, according to this school of philosophy, Things in general might be reduced:
Οὐσία, Substantia. Ποσὸν, Quantitas. Ποιόν, Qualitas. Πρός τι, Relatio. Ποιεῖν, Actio. Πάσχειν, Passio. Ποῦ, Ubi. Πότε, Quando. Κεῖσθακ, Situs. Ἔχειν, Habitus.
The imperfections of this classification are too obvious to require, and its merits are not sufficient to reward, a minute examination. It is a mere catalogue of the distinctions rudely marked out by the language of familiar life, with little or no attempt to penetrate, by philosophic analysis, to the rationale even of those common distinctions. Such an analysis, however superficially conducted, would have shown the enumeration to be both redundant and defective. Some objects are omitted, and others repeated several times under different heads. It is like a division of animals into men, quadrupeds, horses, asses, and ponies. That, for instance, could not be a very comprehensive view of the nature of Relation which could exclude action, passivity, and local situation from that category. The same observation applies to the categories Quando (or position in time), and Ubi (or position in space); while the distinction between the latter and Situs is merely verbal. The incongruity of erecting into a summum genus the class which forms the tenth category is manifest. On the other hand, the enumeration takes no notice of any thing besides substances and attributes. In what category are we to place sensations, or any other feelings and states of mind; as hope, joy, fear; sound, smell, taste; pain, pleasure; thought, judgment, conception, and the like? Probably all these would have been placed by the Aristotelian school in the categories of actio and passio; and the relation of such of them as are active, to their objects, and of such of them as are passive, to their causes, would rightly be so placed; but the things themselves, the feelings or states of mind, wrongly. Feelings, or states of consciousness, are assuredly to be accounted among realities, but they can not be reckoned either among substances or attributes.17
§ 2. Before recommencing, under better auspices, the attempt made with such imperfect success by the early logicians, we must take notice of an unfortunate ambiguity in all the concrete names which correspond to the most general of all abstract terms, the word Existence. When we have occasion for a name which shall be capable of denoting whatever exists, as contradistinguished from non-entity or Nothing, there is hardly a word applicable to the purpose which is not also, and even more familiarly, taken in a sense in which it denotes only substances. But substances are not all that exists; attributes, if such things are to be spoken of, must be said to exist; feelings certainly exist. Yet when we speak of an object, or of a thing, we are almost always supposed to mean a substance. There seems a kind of contradiction in using such an expression as that one thing is merely an attribute of another thing. And the announcement of a Classification of Things would, I believe, prepare most readers for an enumeration like those in natural history, beginning with the great divisions of animal, vegetable, and mineral, and subdividing them into classes and orders. If, rejecting the word Thing, we endeavor to find another of a more general import, or at least more exclusively confined to that general import, a word denoting all that exists, and connoting only simple existence; no word might be presumed fitter for such a purpose than being: originally the present participle of a verb which in one of its meanings is exactly equivalent to the verb exists; and therefore suitable, even by its grammatical formation, to be the concrete of the abstract existence. But this word, strange as the fact may appear, is still more completely spoiled for the purpose which it seemed expressly made for, than the word Thing. Being is, by custom, exactly synonymous with substance; except that it is free from a slight taint of a second ambiguity; being implied impartially to matter and to mind, while substance, though originally and in strictness applicable to both, is apt to suggest in preference the idea of matter. Attributes are never called Beings; nor are feelings. A Being is that which excites feelings, and which possesses attributes. The soul is called a Being; God and angels are called Beings; but if we were to say, extension, color, wisdom, virtue, are beings, we should perhaps be suspected of thinking with some of the ancients, that the cardinal virtues are animals; or, at the least, of holding with the Platonic school the doctrine of self-existent Ideas, or with the followers of Epicurus that of Sensible Forms, which detach themselves in every direction from bodies, and by coming in contact with our organs, cause our perceptions. We should be supposed, in short, to believe that Attributes are Substances.
In consequence of this perversion of the word Being, philosophers looking about for something to supply its place, laid their hands upon the word Entity, a piece of barbarous Latin, invented by the schoolmen to be used as an abstract name, in which class its grammatical form would seem to place it: but being seized by logicians in distress to stop a leak in their terminology, it has ever since been used as a concrete name. The kindred word essence, born at the same time and of the same parents, scarcely underwent a more complete transformation when, from being the abstract of the verb to be, it came to denote something sufficiently concrete to be inclosed in a glass bottle. The word Entity, since it settled down into a concrete name, has retained its universality of signification somewhat less impaired than any of the names before mentioned. Yet the same gradual decay to which, after a certain age, all the language of psychology seems liable, has been at work even here. If you call virtue an entity, you are indeed somewhat less strongly suspected of believing it to be a substance than if you called it a being; but you are by no means free from the suspicion. Every word which was originally intended to connote mere existence, seems, after a time, to enlarge its connotation to separate existence, or existence freed from the condition of belonging to a substance; which condition being precisely what constitutes an attribute, attributes are gradually shut out; and along with them feelings, which in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred have no other name than that of the attribute which is grounded on them. Strange that when the greatest embarrassment felt by all who have any considerable number of thoughts to express, is to find a sufficient variety of precise words fitted to express them, there should be no practice to which even scientific thinkers are more addicted than that of taking valuable words to express ideas which are sufficiently expressed by other words already appropriated to them.
When it is impossible to obtain good tools, the next best thing is to understand thoroughly the defects of those we have. I have therefore warned the reader of the ambiguity of the names which, for want of better, I am necessitated to employ. It must now be the writer’s endeavor so to employ them as in no case to leave the meaning doubtful or obscure. No one of the above terms being altogether unambiguous, I shall not confine myself to any one, but shall employ on each occasion the word which seems least likely in the particular case to lead to misunderstanding; nor do I pretend to use either these or any other words with a rigorous adherence to one single sense. To do so would often leave us without a word to express what is signified by a known word in some one or other of its senses: unless authors had an unlimited license to coin new words, together with (what it would be more difficult to assume) unlimited power of making readers understand them. Nor would it be wise in a writer, on a subject involving so much of abstraction, to deny himself the advantage derived from even an improper use of a term, when, by means of it, some familiar association is called up which brings the meaning home to the mind, as it were by a flash.
The difficulty both to the writer and reader, of the attempt which must be made to use vague words so as to convey a precise meaning, is not wholly a matter of regret. It is not unfitting that logical treatises should afford an example of that, to facilitate which is among the most important uses of logic. Philosophical language will for a long time, and popular language still longer, retain so much of vagueness and ambiguity, that logic would be of little value if it did not, among its other advantages, exercise the understanding in doing its work neatly and correctly with these imperfect tools.
After this preamble it is time to proceed to our enumeration. We shall commence with Feelings, the simplest class of namable things; the term Feeling being of course understood in its most enlarged sense.
I. Feelings, Or States of Consciousness.
§ 3. A Feeling and a State of consciousness are, in the language of philosophy, equivalent expressions: every thing is a feeling of which the mind is conscious; every thing which it feels, or, in other words, which forms a part of its own sentient existence. In popular language Feeling is not always synonymous with State of Consciousness; being often taken more peculiarly for those states which are conceived as belonging to the sensitive, or to the emotional, phasis of our nature, and sometimes, with a still narrower restriction, to the emotional alone, as distinguished from what are conceived as belonging to the percipient or to the intellectual phasis. But this is an admitted departure from correctness of language; just as, by a popular perversion the exact converse of this, the word Mind is withdrawn from its rightful generality of signification, and restricted to the intellect. The still greater perversion by which Feeling is sometimes confined not only to bodily sensations, but to the sensations of a single sense, that of touch, needs not be more particularly adverted to.
Feeling, in the proper sense of the term, is a genus, of which Sensation, Emotion, and Thought, are subordinate species. Under the word Thought is here to be included whatever we are internally conscious of when we are said to think; from the consciousness we have when we think of a red color without having it before our eyes, to the most recondite thoughts of a philosopher or poet. Be it remembered, however, that by a thought is to be understood what passes in the mind itself, and not any object external to the mind, which the person is commonly said to be thinking of. He may be thinking of the sun, or of God, but the sun and God are not thoughts; his mental image, however, of the sun, and his idea of God, are thoughts; states of his mind, not of the objects themselves; and so also is his belief of the existence of the sun, or of God; or his disbelief, if the case be so. Even imaginary objects (which are said to exist only in our ideas) are to be distinguished from our ideas of them. I may think of a hobgoblin, as I may think of the loaf which was eaten yesterday, or of the flower which will bloom to-morrow. But the hobgoblin which never existed is not the same thing with my idea of a hobgoblin, any more than the loaf which once existed is the same thing with my idea of a loaf, or the flower which does not yet exist, but which will exist, is the same with my idea of a flower. They are all, not thoughts, but objects of thought; though at the present time all the objects are alike non-existent.
In like manner, a Sensation is to be carefully distinguished from the object which causes the sensation; our sensation of white from a white object: nor is it less to be distinguished from the attribute whiteness, which we ascribe to the object in consequence of its exciting the sensation. Unfortunately for clearness and due discrimination in considering these subjects, our sensations seldom receive separate names. We have a name for the objects which produce in us a certain sensation: the word white. We have a name for the quality in those objects, to which we ascribe the sensation: the name whiteness. But when we speak of the sensation itself (as we have not occasion to do this often except in our scientific speculations), language, which adapts itself for the most part only to the common uses of life, has provided us with no single-worded or immediate designation; we must employ a circumlocution, and say, The sensation of white, or The sensation of whiteness; we must denominate the sensation either from the object, or from the attribute, by which it is excited. Yet the sensation, though it never does, might very well be conceived to exist, without any thing whatever to excite it. We can conceive it as arising spontaneously in the mind. But if it so arose, we should have no name to denote it which would not be a misnomer. In the case of our sensations of hearing we are better provided; we have the word Sound, and a whole vocabulary of words to denote the various kinds of sounds. For as we are often conscious of these sensations in the absence of any perceptible object, we can more easily conceive having them in the absence of any object whatever. We need only shut our eyes and listen to music, to have a conception of a universe with nothing in it except sounds, and ourselves hearing them: and what is easily conceived separately, easily obtains a separate name. But in general our names of sensations denote indiscriminately the sensation and the attribute. Thus, color stands for the sensations of white, red, etc., but also for the quality in the colored object. We talk of the colors of things as among their properties.
§ 4. In the case of sensations, another distinction has also to be kept in view, which is often confounded, and never without mischievous consequences. This is, the distinction between the sensation itself, and the state of the bodily organs which precedes the sensation, and which constitutes the physical agency by which it is produced. One of the sources of confusion on this subject is the division commonly made of feelings into Bodily and Mental. Philosophically speaking, there is no foundation at all for this distinction: even sensations are states of the sentient mind, not states of the body, as distinguished from it. What I am conscious of when I see the color blue, is a feeling of blue color, which is one thing; the picture on my retina, or the phenomenon of hitherto mysterious nature which takes place in my optic nerve or in my brain, is another thing, of which I am not at all conscious, and which scientific investigation alone could have apprised me of. These are states of my body; but the sensation of blue, which is the consequence of these states of body, is not a state of body: that which perceives and is conscious is called Mind. When sensations are called bodily feelings, it is only as being the class of feelings which are immediately occasioned by bodily states; whereas the other kinds of feelings, thoughts, for instance, or emotions, are immediately excited not by any thing acting upon the bodily organs, but by sensations, or by previous thoughts. This, however, is a distinction not in our feelings, but in the agency which produces our feelings: all of them when actually produced are states of mind.
Besides the affection of our bodily organs from without, and the sensation thereby produced in our minds, many writers admit a third link in the chain of phenomena, which they call a Perception, and which consists in the recognition of an external object as the exciting cause of the sensation. This perception, they say, is an act of the mind, proceeding from its own spontaneous activity; while in a sensation the mind is passive, being merely acted upon by the outward object. And according to some metaphysicians, it is by an act of the mind, similar to perception, except in not being preceded by any sensation, that the existence of God, the soul, and other hyperphysical objects, is recognized.
These acts of what is termed perception, whatever be the conclusion ultimately come to respecting their nature, must, I conceive, take their place among the varieties of feelings or states of mind. In so classing them, I have not the smallest intention of declaring or insinuating any theory as to the law of mind in which these mental processes may be supposed to originate, or the conditions under which they may be legitimate or the reverse. Far less do I mean (as Dr. Whewell seems to suppose must be meant in an analogous case18) to indicate that as they are “merely states of mind,” it is superfluous to inquire into their distinguishing peculiarities. I abstain from the inquiry as irrelevant to the science of logic. In these so-called perceptions, or direct recognitions by the mind, of objects, whether physical or spiritual, which are external to itself, I can see only cases of belief; but of belief which claims to be intuitive, or independent of external evidence. When a stone lies before me, I am conscious of certain sensations which I receive from it; but if I say that these sensations come to me from an external object which I perceive, the meaning of these words is, that receiving the sensations, I intuitively believe that an external cause of those sensations exists. The laws of intuitive belief, and the conditions under which it is legitimate, are a subject which, as we have already so often remarked, belongs not to logic, but to the science of the ultimate laws of the human mind.
To the same region of speculation belongs all that can be said respecting the distinction which the German metaphysicians and their French and English followers so elaborately draw between the acts of the mind and its merely passive states; between what it receives from, and what it gives to, the crude materials of its experience. I am aware that with reference to the view which those writers take of the primary elements of thought and knowledge, this distinction is fundamental. But for the present purpose, which is to examine, not the original groundwork of our knowledge, but how we come by that portion of it which is not original; the difference between active and passive states of mind is of secondary importance. For us, they all are states of mind, they all are feelings; by which, let it be said once more, I mean to imply nothing of passivity, but simply that they are psychological facts, facts which take place in the mind, and are to be carefully distinguished from the external or physical facts with which they may be connected either as effects or as causes.
§ 5. Among active states of mind, there is, however, one species which merits particular attention, because it forms a principal part of the connotation of some important classes of names. I mean volitions, or acts of the will. When we speak of sentient beings by relative names, a large portion of the connotation of the name usually consists of the actions of those beings; actions past, present, and possible or probable future. Take, for instance, the words Sovereign and Subject. What meaning do these words convey, but that of innumerable actions, done or to be done by the sovereign and the subjects, to or in regard to one another reciprocally? So with the words physician and patient, leader and follower, tutor and pupil. In many cases the words also connote actions which would be done under certain contingencies by persons other than those denoted: as the words mortgagor and mortgagee, obligor and obligee, and many other words expressive of legal relation, which connote what a court of justice would do to enforce the legal obligation if not fulfilled. There are also words which connote actions previously done by persons other than those denoted either by the name itself or by its correlative; as the word brother. From these instances, it may be seen how large a portion of the connotation of names consists of actions. Now what is an action? Not one thing, but a series of two things: the state of mind called a volition, followed by an effect. The volition or intention to produce the effect, is one thing; the effect produced in consequence of the intention, is another thing; the two together constitute the action. I form the purpose of instantly moving my arm; that is a state of my mind: my arm (not being tied or paralytic) moves in obedience to my purpose; that is a physical fact, consequent on a state of mind. The intention, followed by the fact, or (if we prefer the expression) the fact when preceded and caused by the intention, is called the action of moving my arm.
§ 6. Of the first leading division of namable things, viz., Feelings or States of Consciousness, we began by recognizing three subdivisions; Sensations, Thoughts, and Emotions. The first two of these we have illustrated at considerable length; the third, Emotions, not being perplexed by similar ambiguities, does not require similar exemplification. And, finally, we have found it necessary to add to these three a fourth species, commonly known by the name Volitions. We shall now proceed to the two remaining classes of namable things; all things which are regarded as external to the mind being considered as belonging either to the class of Substances or to that of Attributes.
Logicians have endeavored to define Substance and Attribute; but their definitions are not so much attempts to draw a distinction between the things themselves, as instructions what difference it is customary to make in the grammatical structure of the sentence, according as we are speaking of substances or of attributes. Such definitions are rather lessons of English, or of Greek, Latin, or German, than of mental philosophy. An attribute, say the school logicians, must be the attribute of something; color, for example, must be the color of something; goodness must be the goodness of something; and if this something should cease to exist, or should cease to be connected with the attribute, the existence of the attribute would be at an end. A substance, on the contrary, is self-existent; in speaking about it, we need not put of after its name. A stone is not the stone of any thing; the moon is not the moon of any thing, but simply the moon. Unless, indeed, the name which we choose to give to the substance be a relative name; if so, it must be followed either by of, or by some other particle, implying, as that preposition does, a reference to something else: but then the other characteristic peculiarity of an attribute would fail; the something might be destroyed, and the substance might still subsist. Thus, a father must be the father of something, and so far resembles an attribute, in being referred to something besides himself: if there were no child, there would be no father: but this, when we look into the matter, only means that we should not call him father. The man called father might still exist though there were no child, as he existed before there was a child; and there would be no contradiction in supposing him to exist, though the whole universe except himself were destroyed. But destroy all white substances, and where would be the attribute whiteness? Whiteness, without any white thing, is a contradiction in terms.
This is the nearest approach to a solution of the difficulty, that will be found in the common treatises on logic. It will scarcely be thought to be a satisfactory one. If an attribute is distinguished from a substance by being the attribute of something, it seems highly necessary to understand what is meant by of; a particle which needs explanation too much itself, to be placed in front of the explanation of any thing else. And as for the self-existence of substance, it is very true that a substance may be conceived to exist without any other substance, but so also may an attribute without any other attribute: and we can no more imagine a substance without attributes than we can imagine attributes without a substance.
Metaphysicians, however, have probed the question deeper, and given an account of Substance considerably more satisfactory than this. Substances are usually distinguished as Bodies or Minds. Of each of these, philosophers have at length provided us with a definition which seems unexceptionable.
§ 7. A body, according to the received doctrine of modern metaphysicians, may be defined, the external cause to which we ascribe our sensations. When I see and touch a piece of gold, I am conscious of a sensation of yellow color, and sensations of hardness and weight; and by varying the mode of handling, I may add to these sensations many others completely distinct from them. The sensations are all of which I am directly conscious; but I consider them as produced by something not only existing independently of my will, but external to my bodily organs and to my mind. This external something I call a body.
It may be asked, how come we to ascribe our sensations to any external cause? And is there sufficient ground for so ascribing them? It is known, that there are metaphysicians who have raised a controversy on the point; maintaining that we are not warranted in referring our sensations to a cause such as we understand by the word Body, or to any external cause whatever. Though we have no concern here with this controversy, nor with the metaphysical niceties on which it turns, one of the best ways of showing what is meant by Substance is, to consider what position it is necessary to take up, in order to maintain its existence against opponents.
It is certain, then, that a part of our notion of a body consists of the notion of a number of sensations of our own, or of other sentient beings, habitually occurring simultaneously. My conception of the table at which I am writing is compounded of its visible form and size, which are complex sensations of sight; its tangible form and size, which are complex sensations of our organs of touch and of our muscles; its weight, which is also a sensation of touch and of the muscles; its color, which is a sensation of sight; its hardness, which is a sensation of the muscles; its composition, which is another word for all the varieties of sensation which we receive under various circumstances from the wood of which it is made, and so forth. All or most of these various sensations frequently are, and, as we learn by experience, always might be, experienced simultaneously, or in many different orders of succession at our own choice: and hence the thought of any one of them makes us think of the others, and the whole becomes mentally amalgamated into one mixed state of consciousness, which, in the language of the school of Locke and Hartley, is termed a Complex Idea.
Now, there are philosophers who have argued as follows: If we conceive an orange to be divested of its natural color without acquiring any new one; to lose its softness without becoming hard, its roundness without becoming square or pentagonal, or of any other regular or irregular figure whatever; to be deprived of size, of weight, of taste, of smell; to lose all its mechanical and all its chemical properties, and acquire no new ones; to become, in short, invisible, intangible, imperceptible not only by all our senses, but by the senses of all other sentient beings, real or possible; nothing, say these thinkers, would remain. For of what nature, they ask, could be the residuum? and by what token could it manifest its presence? To the unreflecting its existence seems to rest on the evidence of the senses. But to the senses nothing is apparent except the sensations. We know, indeed, that these sensations are bound together by some law; they do not come together at random, but according to a systematic order, which is part of the order established in the universe. When we experience one of these sensations, we usually experience the others also, or know that we have it in our power to experience them. But a fixed law of connection, making the sensations occur together, does not, say these philosophers, necessarily require what is called a substratum to support them. The conception of a substratum is but one of many possible forms in which that connection presents itself to our imagination; a mode of, as it were, realizing the idea. If there be such a substratum, suppose it at this instant miraculously annihilated, and let the sensations continue to occur in the same order, and how would the substratum be missed? By what signs should we be able to discover that its existence had terminated? Should we not have as much reason to believe that it still existed as we now have? And if we should not then be warranted in believing it, how can we be so now? A body, therefore, according to these metaphysicians, is not any thing intrinsically different from the sensations which the body is said to produce in us; it is, in short, a set of sensations, or rather, of possibilities of sensation, joined together according to a fixed law.
The controversies to which these speculations have given rise, and the doctrines which have been developed in the attempt to find a conclusive answer to them, have been fruitful of important consequences to the Science of Mind. The sensations (it was answered) which we are conscious of, and which we receive, not at random, but joined together in a certain uniform manner, imply not only a law or laws of connection, but a cause external to our mind, which cause, by its own laws, determines the laws according to which the sensations are connected and experienced. The schoolmen used to call this external cause by the name we have already employed, a substratum; and its attributes (as they expressed themselves) inhered, literally stuck, in it. To this substratum the name Matter is usually given in philosophical discussions. It was soon, however, acknowledged by all who reflected on the subject, that the existence of matter can not be proved by extrinsic evidence. The answer, therefore, now usually made to Berkeley and his followers, is, that the belief is intuitive; that mankind, in all ages, have felt themselves compelled, by a necessity of their nature, to refer their sensations to an external cause: that even those who deny it in theory, yield to the necessity in practice, and both in speech, thought, and feeling, do, equally with the vulgar, acknowledge their sensations to be the effects of something external to them: this knowledge, therefore, it is affirmed, is as evidently intuitive as our knowledge of our sensations themselves is intuitive. And here the question merges in the fundamental problem of metaphysics properly so called: to which science we leave it.
But although the extreme doctrine of the Idealist metaphysicians, that objects are nothing but our sensations and the laws which connect them, has not been generally adopted by subsequent thinkers; the point of most real importance is one on which those metaphysicians are now very generally considered to have made out their case: viz., that all we know of objects is the sensations which they give us, and the order of the occurrence of those sensations. Kant himself, on this point, is as explicit as Berkeley or Locke. However firmly convinced that there exists a universe of “Things in themselves,” totally distinct from the universe of phenomena, or of things as they appear to our senses; and even when bringing into use a technical expression (Noumenon) to denote what the thing is in itself, as contrasted with the representation of it in our minds; he allows that this representation (the matter of which, he says, consists of our sensations, though the form is given by the laws of the mind itself) is all we know of the object: and that the real nature of the Thing is, and by the constitution of our faculties ever must remain, at least in the present state of existence, an impenetrable mystery to us. “Of things absolutely or in themselves,” says Sir William Hamilton,19 “be they external, be they internal, we know nothing, or know them only as incognizable; and become aware of their incomprehensible existence, only as this is indirectly and accidentally revealed to us, through certain qualities related to our faculties of knowledge, and which qualities, again, we can not think as unconditional, irrelative, existent in and of ourselves. All that we know is therefore phenomenal — phenomenal of the unknown.”20 The same doctrine is laid down in the clearest and strongest terms by M. Cousin, whose observations on the subject are the more worthy of attention, as, in consequence of the ultra-German and ontological character of his philosophy in other respects, they may be regarded as the admissions of an opponent.21
There is not the slightest reason for believing that what we call the sensible qualities of the object are a type of any thing inherent in itself, or bear any affinity to its own nature. A cause does not, as such, resemble its effects; an east wind is not like the feeling of cold, nor heat like the steam of boiling water. Why then should matter resemble our sensations? Why should the inmost nature of fire or water resemble the impressions made by those objects upon our senses?22 Or on what principle are we authorized to deduce from the effects, any thing concerning the cause, except that it is a cause adequate to produce those effects? It may, therefore, safely be laid down as a truth both obvious in itself, and admitted by all whom it is at present necessary to take into consideration, that, of the outward world, we know and can know absolutely nothing, except the sensations which we experience from it.23
§ 8. Body having now been defined the external cause, and (according to the more reasonable opinion) the unknown external cause, to which we refer our sensations; it remains to frame a definition of Mind. Nor, after the preceding observations, will this be difficult. For, as our conception of a body is that of an unknown exciting cause of sensations, so our conception of a mind is that of an unknown recipient or percipient, of them; and not of them alone, but of all our other feelings. As body is understood to be the mysterious something which excites the mind to feel, so mind is the mysterious something which feels and thinks. It is unnecessary to give in the case of mind, as we gave in the case of matter, a particular statement of the skeptical system by which its existence as a Thing in itself, distinct from the series of what are denominated its states, is called in question. But it is necessary to remark, that on the inmost nature (whatever be meant by inmost nature) of the thinking principle, as well as on the inmost nature of matter, we are, and with our faculties must always remain, entirely in the dark. All which we are aware of, even in our own minds, is (in the words of James Mill) a certain “thread of consciousness;” a series of feelings, that is, of sensations, thoughts, emotions, and volitions, more or less numerous and complicated. There is a something I call Myself, or, by another form of expression, my mind, which I consider as distinct from these sensations, thoughts, etc.; a something which I conceive to be not the thoughts, but the being that has the thoughts, and which I can conceive as existing forever in a state of quiescence, without any thoughts at all. But what this being is, though it is myself, I have no knowledge, other than the series of its states of consciousness. As bodies manifest themselves to me only through the sensations of which I regard them as the causes, so the thinking principle, or mind, in my own nature, makes itself known to me only by the feelings of which it is conscious. I know nothing about myself, save my capacities of feeling or being conscious (including, of course, thinking and willing): and were I to learn any thing new concerning my own nature, I can not with my present faculties conceive this new information to be any thing else, than that I have some additional capacities, as yet unknown to me, of feeling, thinking, or willing.
Thus, then, as body is the unsentient cause to which we are naturally prompted to refer a certain portion of our feelings, so mind may be described as the sentient subject (in the scholastic sense of the term) of all feelings; that which has or feels them. But of the nature of either body or mind, further than the feelings which the former excites, and which the latter experiences, we do not, according to the best existing doctrine, know any thing; and if any thing, logic has nothing to do with it, or with the manner in which the knowledge is acquired. With this result we may conclude this portion of our subject, and pass to the third and only remaining class or division of Namable Things.
III. Attributes: and, first, Qualities.
§ 9. From what has already been said of Substance, what is to be said of Attribute is easily deducible. For if we know not, and can not know, any thing of bodies but the sensations which they excite in us or in others, those sensations must be all that we can, at bottom, mean by their attributes; and the distinction which we verbally make between the properties of things and the sensations we receive from them, must originate in the convenience of discourse rather than in the nature of what is signified by the terms.
Attributes are usually distributed under the three heads of Quality, Quantity, and Relation. We shall come to the two latter presently: in the first place we shall confine ourselves to the former.
Let us take, then, as our example, one of what are termed the sensible qualities of objects, and let that example be whiteness. When we ascribe whiteness to any substance, as, for instance, snow; when we say that snow has the quality whiteness, what do we really assert? Simply, that when snow is present to our organs, we have a particular sensation, which we are accustomed to call the sensation of white. But how do I know that snow is present? Obviously by the sensations which I derive from it, and not otherwise. I infer that the object is present, because it gives me a certain assemblage or series of sensations. And when I ascribe to it the attribute whiteness, my meaning is only, that, of the sensations composing this group or series, that which I call the sensation of white color is one.
This is one view which may be taken of the subject. But there is also another and a different view. It may be said, that it is true we know nothing of sensible objects, except the sensations they excite in us; that the fact of our receiving from snow the particular sensation which is called a sensation of white, is the ground on which we ascribe to that substance the quality whiteness; the sole proof of its possessing that quality. But because one thing may be the sole evidence of the existence of another thing, it does not follow that the two are one and the same. The attribute whiteness (it may be said) is not the fact of receiving the sensation, but something in the object itself; a power inherent in it; something in virtue of which the object produces the sensation. And when we affirm that snow possesses the attribute whiteness, we do not merely assert that the presence of snow produces in us that sensation, but that it does so through, and by reason of, that power or quality.
For the purposes of logic it is not of material importance which of these opinions we adopt. The full discussion of the subject belongs to the other department of scientific inquiry, so often alluded to under the name of metaphysics; but it may be said here, that for the doctrine of the existence of a peculiar species of entities called qualities, I can see no foundation except in a tendency of the human mind which is the cause of many delusions. I mean, the disposition, wherever we meet with two names which are not precisely synonymous, to suppose that they must be the names of two different things; whereas in reality they may be names of the same thing viewed in two different lights, or under different suppositions as to surrounding circumstances. Because quality and sensation can not be put indiscriminately one for the other, it is supposed that they can not both signify the same thing, namely, the impression or feeling with which we are affected through our senses by the presence of an object; though there is at least no absurdity in supposing that this identical impression or feeling may be called a sensation when considered merely in itself, and a quality when looked at in relation to any one of the numerous objects, the presence of which to our organs excites in our minds that among various other sensations or feelings. And if this be admissible as a supposition, it rests with those who contend for an entity per se called a quality, to show that their opinion is preferable, or is any thing in fact but a lingering remnant of the old doctrine of occult causes; the very absurdity which Molière so happily ridiculed when he made one of his pedantic physicians account for the fact that opium produces sleep by the maxim, Because it has a soporific virtue.
It is evident that when the physician stated that opium has a soporific virtue, he did not account for, but merely asserted over again, the fact that it produces sleep. In like manner, when we say that snow is white because it has the quality of whiteness, we are only re-asserting in more technical language the fact that it excites in us the sensation of white. If it be said that the sensation must have some cause, I answer, its cause is the presence of the assemblage of phenomena which is termed the object. When we have asserted that as often as the object is present, and our organs in their normal state, the sensation takes place, we have stated all that we know about the matter. There is no need, after assigning a certain and intelligible cause, to suppose an occult cause besides, for the purpose of enabling the real cause to produce its effect. If I am asked, why does the presence of the object cause this sensation in me, I can not tell: I can only say that such is my nature, and the nature of the object; that the fact forms a part of the constitution of things. And to this we must at last come, even after interpolating the imaginary entity. Whatever number of links the chain of causes and effects may consist of, how any one link produces the one which is next to it, remains equally inexplicable to us. It is as easy to comprehend that the object should produce the sensation directly and at once, as that it should produce the same sensation by the aid of something else called the power of producing it.
But, as the difficulties which may be felt in adopting this view of the subject can not be removed without discussions transcending the bounds of our science, I content myself with a passing indication, and shall, for the purposes of logic, adopt a language compatible with either view of the nature of qualities. I shall say — what at least admits of no dispute — that the quality of whiteness ascribed to the object snow, is grounded on its exciting in us the sensation of white; and adopting the language already used by the school logicians in the case of the kind of attributes called Relations, I shall term the sensation of white the foundation of the quality whiteness. For logical purposes the sensation is the only essential part of what is meant by the word; the only part which we ever can be concerned in proving. When that is proved, the quality is proved; if an object excites a sensation, it has, of course, the power of exciting it.
§ 10. The qualities of a body, we have said, are the attributes grounded on the sensations which the presence of that particular body to our organs excites in our minds. But when we ascribe to any object the kind of attribute called a Relation, the foundation of the attribute must be something in which other objects are concerned besides itself and the percipient.
As there may with propriety be said to be a relation between any two things to which two correlative names are or may be given, we may expect to discover what constitutes a relation in general, if we enumerate the principal cases in which mankind have imposed correlative names, and observe what these cases have in common.
What, then, is the character which is possessed in common by states of circumstances so heterogeneous and discordant as these: one thing like another; one thing unlike another; one thing near another; one thing far from another; one thing before, after, along with another; one thing greater, equal, less, than another; one thing the cause of another, the effect of another; one person the master, servant, child, parent, debtor, creditor, sovereign, subject, attorney, client, of another, and so on?
Omitting, for the present, the case of Resemblance, (a relation which requires to be considered separately,) there seems to be one thing common to all these cases, and only one; that in each of them there exists or occurs, or has existed or occurred, or may be expected to exist or occur, some fact or phenomenon, into which the two things which are said to be related to each other, both enter as parties concerned. This fact, or phenomenon, is what the Aristotelian logicians called the fundamentum relationis. Thus in the relation of greater and less between two magnitudes, the fundamentum relationis is the fact that one of the two magnitudes could, under certain conditions, be included in, without entirely filling, the space occupied by the other magnitude. In the relation of master and servant, the fundamentum relationis is the fact that the one has undertaken, or is compelled, to perform certain services for the benefit and at the bidding of the other. Examples might be indefinitely multiplied; but it is already obvious that whenever two things are said to be related, there is some fact, or series of facts, into which they both enter; and that whenever any two things are involved in some one fact, or series of facts, we may ascribe to those two things a mutual relation grounded on the fact. Even if they have nothing in common but what is common to all things, that they are members of the universe, we call that a relation, and denominate them fellow-creatures, fellow-beings, or fellow-denizens of the universe. But in proportion as the fact into which the two objects enter as parts is of a more special and peculiar, or of a more complicated nature, so also is the relation grounded upon it. And there are as many conceivable relations as there are conceivable kinds of fact in which two things can be jointly concerned.
In the same manner, therefore, as a quality is an attribute grounded on the fact that a certain sensation or sensations are produced in us by the object, so an attribute grounded on some fact into which the object enters jointly with another object, is a relation between it and that other object. But the fact in the latter case consists of the very same kind of elements as the fact in the former; namely, states of consciousness. In the case, for example, of any legal relation, as debtor and creditor, principal and agent, guardian and ward, the fundamentum relationis consists entirely of thoughts, feelings, and volitions (actual or contingent), either of the persons themselves or of other persons concerned in the same series of transactions; as, for instance, the intentions which would be formed by a judge, in case a complaint were made to his tribunal of the infringement of any of the legal obligations imposed by the relation; and the acts which the judge would perform in consequence; acts being (as we have already seen) another word for intentions followed by an effect, and that effect being but another word for sensations, or some other feelings, occasioned either to the agent himself or to somebody else. There is no part of what the names expressive of the relation imply, that is not resolvable into states of consciousness; outward objects being, no doubt, supposed throughout as the causes by which some of those states of consciousness are excited, and minds as the subjects by which all of them are experienced, but neither the external objects nor the minds making their existence known otherwise than by the states of consciousness.
Cases of relation are not always so complicated as those to which we last alluded. The simplest of all cases of relation are those expressed by the words antecedent and consequent, and by the word simultaneous. If we say, for instance, that dawn preceded sunrise, the fact in which the two things, dawn and sunrise, were jointly concerned, consisted only of the two things themselves; no third thing entered into the fact or phenomenon at all. Unless, indeed, we choose to call the succession of the two objects a third thing; but their succession is not something added to the things themselves; it is something involved in them. Dawn and sunrise announce themselves to our consciousness by two successive sensations. Our consciousness of the succession of these sensations is not a third sensation or feeling added to them; we have not first the two feelings, and then a feeling of their succession. To have two feelings at all, implies having them either successively, or else simultaneously. Sensations, or other feelings, being given, succession and simultaneousness are the two conditions, to the alternative of which they are subjected by the nature of our faculties; and no one has been able, or needs expect, to analyze the matter any further.
§ 11. In a somewhat similar position are two other sorts of relations, Likeness and Unlikeness. I have two sensations; we will suppose them to be simple ones; two sensations of white, or one sensation of white and another of black. I call the first two sensations like; the last two unlike. What is the fact or phenomenon constituting the fundamentum of this relation? The two sensations first, and then what we call a feeling of resemblance, or of want of resemblance. Let us confine ourselves to the former case. Resemblance is evidently a feeling; a state of the consciousness of the observer. Whether the feeling of the resemblance of the two colors be a third state of consciousness, which I have after having the two sensations of color, or whether (like the feeling of their succession) it is involved in the sensations themselves, may be a matter of discussion. But in either case, these feelings of resemblance, and of its opposite dissimilarity, are parts of our nature; and parts so far from being capable of analysis, that they are presupposed in every attempt to analyze any of our other feelings. Likeness and unlikeness, therefore, as well as antecedence, sequence, and simultaneousness, must stand apart among relations, as things sui generis. They are attributes grounded on facts, that is, on states of consciousness, but on states which are peculiar, unresolvable, and inexplicable.
But, though likeness or unlikeness can not be resolved into any thing else, complex cases of likeness or unlikeness can be resolved into simpler ones. When we say of two things which consist of parts, that they are like one another, the likeness of the wholes does admit of analysis; it is compounded of likenesses between the various parts respectively, and of likeness in their arrangement. Of how vast a variety of resemblances of parts must that resemblance be composed, which induces us to say that a portrait, or a landscape, is like its original. If one person mimics another with any success, of how many simple likenesses must the general or complex likeness be compounded: likeness in a succession of bodily postures; likeness in voice, or in the accents and intonations of the voice; likeness in the choice of words, and in the thoughts or sentiments expressed, whether by word, countenance, or gesture.
All likeness and unlikeness of which we have any cognizance, resolve themselves into likeness and unlikeness between states of our own, or some other, mind. When we say that one body is like another, (since we know nothing of bodies but the sensations which they excite,) we mean really that there is a resemblance between the sensations excited by the two bodies, or between some portions at least of those sensations. If we say that two attributes are like one another (since we know nothing of attributes except the sensations or states of feeling on which they are grounded), we mean really that those sensations, or states of feeling, resemble each other. We may also say that two relations are alike. The fact of resemblance between relations is sometimes called analogy, forming one of the numerous meanings of that word. The relation in which Priam stood to Hector, namely, that of father and son, resembles the relation in which Philip stood to Alexander; resembles it so closely that they are called the same relation. The relation in which Cromwell stood to England resembles the relation in which Napoleon stood to France, though not so closely as to be called the same relation. The meaning in both these instances must be, that a resemblance existed between the facts which constituted the fundamentum relationis.
This resemblance may exist in all conceivable gradations, from perfect undistinguishableness to something extremely slight. When we say, that a thought suggested to the mind of a person of genius is like a seed cast into the ground, because the former produces a multitude of other thoughts, and the latter a multitude of other seeds, this is saying that between the relation of an inventive mind to a thought contained in it, and the relation of a fertile soil to a seed contained in it, there exists a resemblance: the real resemblance being in the two fundamenta relationis, in each of which there occurs a germ, producing by its development a multitude of other things similar to itself. And as, whenever two objects are jointly concerned in a phenomenon, this constitutes a relation between those objects, so, if we suppose a second pair of objects concerned in a second phenomenon, the slightest resemblance between the two phenomena is sufficient to admit of its being said that the two relations resemble; provided, of course, the points of resemblance are found in those portions of the two phenomena respectively which are connoted by the relative names.
While speaking of resemblance, it is necessary to take notice of an ambiguity of language, against which scarcely any one is sufficiently on his guard. Resemblance, when it exists in the highest degree of all, amounting to undistinguishableness, is often called identity, and the two similar things are said to be the same. I say often, not always; for we do not say that two visible objects, two persons, for instance, are the same, because they are so much alike that one might be mistaken for the other: but we constantly use this mode of expression when speaking of feelings; as when I say that the sight of any object gives me the same sensation or emotion to-day that it did yesterday, or the same which it gives to some other person. This is evidently an incorrect application of the word same; for the feeling which I had yesterday is gone, never to return; what I have to-day is another feeling, exactly like the former, perhaps, but distinct from it; and it is evident that two different persons can not be experiencing the same feeling, in the sense in which we say that they are both sitting at the same table. By a similar ambiguity we say, that two persons are ill of the same disease; that two persons hold the same office; not in the sense in which we say that they are engaged in the same adventure, or sailing in the same ship, but in the sense that they fill offices exactly similar, though, perhaps, in distant places. Great confusion of ideas is often produced, and many fallacies engendered, in otherwise enlightened understandings, by not being sufficiently alive to the fact (in itself not always to be avoided), that they use the same name to express ideas so different as those of identity and undistinguishable resemblance. Among modern writers, Archbishop Whately stands almost alone in having drawn attention to this distinction, and to the ambiguity connected with it.
Several relations, generally called by other names, are really cases of resemblance. As, for example, equality; which is but another word for the exact resemblance commonly called identity, considered as subsisting between things in respect of their quantity. And this example forms a suitable transition to the third and last of the three heads under which, as already remarked, Attributes are commonly arranged.
§ 12. Let us imagine two things, between which there is no difference (that is, no dissimilarity), except in quantity alone; for instance, a gallon of water, and more than a gallon of water. A gallon of water, like any other external object, makes its presence known to us by a set of sensations which it excites. Ten gallons of water are also an external object, making its presence known to us in a similar manner; and as we do not mistake ten gallons of water for a gallon of water, it is plain that the set of sensations is more or less different in the two cases. In like manner, a gallon of water, and a gallon of wine, are two external objects, making their presence known by two sets of sensations, which sensations are different from each other. In the first case, however, we say that the difference is in quantity; in the last there is a difference in quality, while the quantity of the water and of the wine is the same. What is the real distinction between the two cases? It is not within the province of Logic to analyze it; nor to decide whether it is susceptible of analysis or not. For us the following considerations are sufficient: It is evident that the sensations I receive from the gallon of water, and those I receive from the gallon of wine, are not the same, that is, not precisely alike; neither are they altogether unlike: they are partly similar, partly dissimilar; and that in which they resemble is precisely that in which alone the gallon of water and the ten gallons do not resemble. That in which the gallon of water and the gallon of wine are like each other, and in which the gallon and the ten gallons of water are unlike each other, is called their quantity. This likeness and unlikeness I do not pretend to explain, no more than any other kind of likeness or unlikeness. But my object is to show, that when we say of two things that they differ in quantity, just as when we say that they differ in quality, the assertion is always grounded on a difference in the sensations which they excite. Nobody, I presume, will say, that to see, or to lift, or to drink, ten gallons of water, does not include in itself a different set of sensations from those of seeing, lifting, or drinking one gallon; or that to see or handle a foot-rule, and to see or handle a yard-measure made exactly like it, are the same sensations. I do not undertake to say what the difference in the sensations is. Every body knows, and nobody can tell; no more than any one could tell what white is to a person who had never had the sensation. But the difference, so far as cognizable by our faculties, lies in the sensations. Whatever difference we say there is in the things themselves, is, in this as in all other cases, grounded, and grounded exclusively, on a difference in the sensations excited by them.
VI. Attributes Concluded.
§ 13. Thus, then, all the attributes of bodies which are classed under Quality or Quantity, are grounded on the sensations which we receive from those bodies, and may be defined, the powers which the bodies have of exciting those sensations. And the same general explanation has been found to apply to most of the attributes usually classed under the head of Relation. They, too, are grounded on some fact or phenomenon into which the related objects enter as parts; that fact or phenomenon having no meaning and no existence to us, except the series of sensations or other states of consciousness by which it makes itself known; and the relation being simply the power or capacity which the object possesses of taking part along with the correlated object in the production of that series of sensations or states of consciousness. We have been obliged, indeed, to recognize a somewhat different character in certain peculiar relations, those of succession and simultaneity, of likeness and unlikeness. These, not being grounded on any fact or phenomenon distinct from the related objects themselves, do not admit of the same kind of analysis. But these relations, though not, like other relations, grounded on states of consciousness, are themselves states of consciousness: resemblance is nothing but our feeling of resemblance; succession is nothing but our feeling of succession. Or, if this be disputed (and we can not, without transgressing the bounds of our science, discuss it here), at least our knowledge of these relations, and even our possibility of knowledge, is confined to those which subsist between sensations, or other states of consciousness; for, though we ascribe resemblance, or succession, or simultaneity, to objects and to attributes, it is always in virtue of resemblance or succession or simultaneity in the sensations or states of consciousness which those objects excite, and on which those attributes are grounded.
§ 14. In the preceding investigation we have, for the sake of simplicity, considered bodies only, and omitted minds. But what we have said, is applicable, mutatis mutandis, to the latter. The attributes of minds, as well as those of bodies, are grounded on states of feeling or consciousness. But in the case of a mind, we have to consider its own states, as well as those which it produces in other minds. Every attribute of a mind consists either in being itself affected in a certain way, or affecting other minds in a certain way. Considered in itself, we can predicate nothing of it but the series of its own feelings. When we say of any mind, that it is devout, or superstitious, or meditative, or cheerful, we mean that the ideas, emotions, or volitions implied in those words, form a frequently recurring part of the series of feelings, or states of consciousness, which fill up the sentient existence of that mind.
In addition, however, to those attributes of a mind which are grounded on its own states of feeling, attributes may also be ascribed to it, in the same manner as to a body, grounded on the feelings which it excites in other minds. A mind does not, indeed, like a body, excite sensations, but it may excite thoughts or emotions. The most important example of attributes ascribed on this ground, is the employment of terms expressive of approbation or blame. When, for example, we say of any character, or (in other words) of any mind, that it is admirable, we mean that the contemplation of it excites the sentiment of admiration; and indeed somewhat more, for the word implies that we not only feel admiration, but approve that sentiment in ourselves. In some cases, under the semblance of a single attribute, two are really predicated: one of them, a state of the mind itself; the other, a state with which other minds are affected by thinking of it. As when we say of any one that he is generous. The word generosity expresses a certain state of mind, but being a term of praise, it also expresses that this state of mind excites in us another mental state, called approbation. The assertion made, therefore, is twofold, and of the following purport: Certain feelings form habitually a part of this person’s sentient existence; and the idea of those feelings of his, excites the sentiment of approbation in ourselves or others.
As we thus ascribe attributes to minds on the ground of ideas and emotions, so may we to bodies on similar grounds, and not solely on the ground of sensations: as in speaking of the beauty of a statue; since this attribute is grounded on the peculiar feeling of pleasure which the statue produces in our minds; which is not a sensation, but an emotion.
VII. General Results.
§ 15. Our survey of the varieties of Things which have been, or which are capable of being, named — which have been, or are capable of being, either predicated of other Things, or themselves made the subject of predications — is now concluded.
Our enumeration commenced with Feelings. These we scrupulously distinguished from the objects which excite them, and from the organs by which they are, or may be supposed to be, conveyed. Feelings are of four sorts: Sensations, Thoughts, Emotions, and Volitions. What are called Perceptions are merely a particular case of Belief, and Belief is a kind of thought. Actions are merely volitions followed by an effect.
After Feelings we proceeded to Substances. These are either Bodies or Minds. Without entering into the grounds of the metaphysical doubts which have been raised concerning the existence of Matter and Mind as objective realities, we stated as sufficient for us the conclusion in which the best thinkers are now for the most part agreed, that all we can know of Matter is the sensations which it gives us, and the order of occurrence of those sensations; and that while the substance Body is the unknown cause of our sensations, the substance Mind is the unknown recipient.
The only remaining class of Namable Things is Attributes; and these are of three kinds, Quality, Relation, and Quantity. Qualities, like substances, are known to us no otherwise than by the sensations or other states of consciousness which they excite: and while, in compliance with common usage, we have continued to speak of them as a distinct class of Things, we showed that in predicating them no one means to predicate any thing but those sensations or states of consciousness, on which they may be said to be grounded, and by which alone they can be defined or described. Relations, except the simple cases of likeness and unlikeness, succession and simultaneity, are similarly grounded on some fact or phenomenon, that is, on some series of sensations or states of consciousness, more or less complicated. The third species of Attribute, Quantity, is also manifestly grounded on something in our sensations or states of feeling, since there is an indubitable difference in the sensations excited by a larger and a smaller bulk, or by a greater or a less degree of intensity, in any object of sense or of consciousness. All attributes, therefore, are to us nothing but either our sensations and other states of feeling, or something inextricably involved therein; and to this even the peculiar and simple relations just adverted to are not exceptions. Those peculiar relations, however, are so important, and, even if they might in strictness be classed among states of consciousness, are so fundamentally distinct from any other of those states, that it would be a vain subtlety to bring them under that common description, and it is necessary that they should be classed apart.24
As the result, therefore, of our analysis, we obtain the following as an enumeration and classification of all Namable Things:
1st. Feelings, or States of Consciousness.
2d. The Minds which experience those feelings.
3d. The Bodies, or external objects which excite certain of those feelings, together with the powers or properties whereby they excite them; these latter (at least) being included rather in compliance with common opinion, and because their existence is taken for granted in the common language from which I can not prudently deviate, than because the recognition of such powers or properties as real existences appears to be warranted by a sound philosophy.
4th, and last. The Successions and Co-existences, the Likenesses and Unlikenesses, between feelings or states of consciousness. Those relations, when considered as subsisting between other things, exist in reality only between the states of consciousness which those things, if bodies, excite, if minds, either excite or experience.
This, until a better can be suggested, may serve as a substitute for the Categories of Aristotle considered as a classification of Existences. The practical application of it will appear when we commence the inquiry into the Import of Propositions; in other words, when we inquire what it is which the mind actually believes, when it gives what is called its assent to a proposition.
These four classes comprising, if the classification be correct, all Namable Things, these or some of them must of course compose the signification of all names: and of these, or some of them, is made up whatever we call a fact.
For distinction’s sake, every fact which is solely composed of feelings or states of consciousness considered as such, is often called a Psychological or Subjective fact; while every fact which is composed, either wholly or in part, of something different from these, that is, of substances and attributes, is called an Objective fact. We may say, then, that every objective fact is grounded on a corresponding subjective one; and has no meaning to us (apart from the subjective fact which corresponds to it), except as a name for the unknown and inscrutable process by which that subjective or psychological fact is brought to pass.
17 On the preceding passage Professor Bain remarks (Logic, i., 265): “The Categories do not seem to have been intended as a classification of Namable Things, in the sense of ‘an enumeration of all kinds of Things which are capable of being made predicates, or of having any thing predicated of them.’ They seem to have been rather intended as a generalization of predicates; an analysis of the final import of predication. Viewed in this light, they are not open to the objections offered by Mr. Mill. The proper question to ask is not — In what Category are we to place sensations or other feelings or states of mind? but, Under what Categories can we predicate regarding states of mind? Take, for example, Hope. When we say that it is a state of mind, we predicate Substance: we may also describe how great it is (Quantity), what is the quality of it, pleasurable or painful (Quality), what it has reference to (Relation). Aristotle seems to have framed the Categories on the plan — Here is an individual; what is the final analysis of all that we can predicate about him?”
This is doubtless a true statement of the leading idea in the classification. The Category Οὐσία was certainly understood by Aristotle to be a general name for all possible answers to the question Quid sit? when asked respecting a concrete individual; as the other Categories are names comprehending all possible answers to the questions Quantum sit? Quale sit? etc. In Aristotle’s conception, therefore, the Categories may not have been a classification of Things; but they were soon converted into one by his Scholastic followers, who certainly regarded and treated them as a classification of Things, and carried them out as such, dividing down the Category Substance as a naturalist might do, into the different classes of physical or metaphysical objects as distinguished from attributes, and the other Categories into the principal varieties of quantity, quality, relation, etc. It is, therefore, a just subject of complaint against them, that they had no Category of Feeling. Feeling is assuredly predicable as a summum genus, of every particular kind of feeling, for instance, as in Mr. Bain’s example, of Hope: but it can not be brought within any of the Categories as interpreted either by Aristotle or by his followers.
18 Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, vol. i., p. 40.
19 Discussions on Philosophy, etc. Appendix I., pp. 643, 644.
20 It is to be regretted that Sir William Hamilton, though he often strenuously insists on this doctrine, and though, in the passage quoted, he states it with a comprehensiveness and force which leave nothing to be desired, did not consistently adhere to his own doctrine, but maintained along with it opinions with which it is utterly irreconcilable. See the third and other chapters of An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy.
21 “Nous savons qu’il existe quelque chose hors de nous, parceque nous ne pouvons expliquer nos perceptions sans les rattacher à des causes distinctes de nous mêmes; nous savons de plus que ces causes, dont nous ne connaissons pas d’ailleurs l’essence, produisent les effets les plus variables, les plus divers, et même les plus contraires, selon qu’elles rencontrent telle nature ou telle disposition du sujet. Mais savons-nous quelque chose de plus? et même, vu le caractère indéterminé des causes que nous concevons dans les corps, y a-t-il quelque chose de plus à savoir? Y a-t-il lieu de nous enquérir si nous percevons les choses telles qu’elles sont? Non évidemment. . . . Je ne dis pas que le problème est insoluble, je dis qu’il est absurde et enferme une contradiction. Nous ne savons pas ce que ces causes sont en elles-mêmes, et la raison nous défend de chercher à le connaître: mais il est bien évident à priori, qu’elles ne sont pas en elles-mêmes ce qu’elles sont par rapport à nous, puisque la présence du sujet modifie nécessairement leur action. Supprimez tout sujet sentant, il est certain que ces causes agiraient encore puisqu’elles continueraient d’exister; mais elles agiraient autrement; elles seraient encore des qualités et des propriétés, mais qui ne ressembleraient à rien de ce que nous connaissons. Le feu ne manifesterait plus aucune des propriétés que nous lui connaissons: que serait-il? C’est ce que nous ne saurons jamais. C’est d’ailleurs peut-être un problème qui ne répugne pas seulement à la nature de notre esprit, mais à l’essence même des choses. Quand même en effet on supprimerait par le pensée tous les sujets sentants, il faudrait encore admettre que nul corps ne manifesterait ses propriétés autrement qu’en relation avec un sujet quelconque, et dans ce cas ses propriétés ne seraient encore que relatives: en sorte qu’il me paraît fort raisonnable d’admettre que les propriétés déterminées des corps n’existent pas indépendamment d’un sujet quelconque, et que quand on demande si les propriétés de la matiere sont telles que nous les percevons, il faudrait voir auparavant si elles sont en tant que déterminées, et dans quel sens il est vrai de dire qu’elles sont.” — Cours d’Histoire de la Philosophie Morale au 18me siècle, 8me leçon.
22 An attempt, indeed, has been made by Reid and others, to establish that although some of the properties we ascribe to objects exist only in our sensations, others exist in the things themselves, being such as can not possibly be copies of any impression upon the senses; and they ask, from what sensations our notions of extension and figure have been derived? The gauntlet thrown down by Reid was taken up by Brown, who, applying greater powers of analysis than had previously been applied to the notions of extension and figure, pointed out that the sensations from which those notions are derived, are sensations of touch, combined with sensations of a class previously too little adverted to by metaphysicians, those which have their seat in our muscular frame. His analysis, which was adopted and followed up by James Mill, has been further and greatly improved upon in Professor Bain’s profound work, The Senses and the Intellect, and in the chapters on “Perception” of a work of eminent analytic power, Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Principles of Psychology.
On this point M. Cousin may again be cited in favor of the better doctrine. M. Cousin recognizes, in opposition to Reid, the essential subjectivity of our conceptions of what are called the primary qualities of matter, as extension, solidity, etc., equally with those of color, heat, and the remainder of the so-called secondary qualities. — Cours, ut supra, 9me leçon.
23 This doctrine, which is the most complete form of the philosophical theory known as the Relativity of Human Knowledge, has, since the recent revival in this country of an active interest in metaphysical speculation, been the subject of a greatly increased amount of discussion and controversy; and dissentients have manifested themselves in considerably greater number than I had any knowledge of when the passage in the text was written. The doctrine has been attacked from two sides. Some thinkers, among whom are the late Professor Ferrier, in his Institutes of Metaphysic, and Professor John Grote, in his Exploratio Philosophica, appear to deny altogether the reality of Noumena, or Things in themselves — of an unknowable substratum or support for the sensations which we experience, and which, according to the theory, constitute all our knowledge of an external world. It seems to me, however, that in Professor Grote’s case at least, the denial of Noumena is only apparent, and that he does not essentially differ from the other class of objectors, including Mr. Bailey in his valuable Letters on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, and (in spite of the striking passage quoted in the text) also Sir William Hamilton, who contend for a direct knowledge by the human mind of more than the sensations — of certain attributes or properties as they exist not in us, but in the Things themselves.
With the first of these opinions, that which denies Noumena, I have, as a metaphysician, no quarrel; but, whether it be true or false, it is irrelevant to Logic. And since all the forms of language are in contradiction to it, nothing but confusion could result from its unnecessary introduction into a treatise, every essential doctrine of which could stand equally well with the opposite and accredited opinion. The other and rival doctrine, that of a direct perception or intuitive knowledge of the outward object as it is in itself, considered as distinct from the sensations we receive from it, is of far greater practical moment. But even this question, depending on the nature and laws of Intuitive Knowledge, is not within the province of Logic. For the grounds of my own opinion concerning it, I must content myself with referring to a work already mentioned — An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy; several chapters of which are devoted to a full discussion of the questions and theories relating to the supposed direct perception of external objects.
24 Professor Bain (Logic, i., 49) defines attributes as “points of community among classes.” This definition expresses well one point of view, but is liable to the objection that it applies only to the attributes of classes; though an object, unique in its kind, may be said to have attributes. Moreover, the definition is not ultimate, since the points of community themselves admit of, and require, further analysis; and Mr. Bain does analyze them into resemblances in the sensations, or other states of consciousness excited by the object.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57