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Reasons for these Theories. Among the reasons given for these theories, the most important, and all that I now need to notice, are the following :
1. They explain the possibility of knowledge. Of all things real to us, as objects of knowledge, we have a direct and immediate Consciousness. All objects of knowledge, therefore, are brought within the sphere of direct mental vision. The possibility of perception is thus fully demonstrated.
2. These theories render the reality and certainty of knowledge self-evident. If nothing exists in the object, but what our Intelligence has put there, our knowledge of the object must be real, certain, and absolute. If, for example, nothing exists in a contribution box but what I have put there, and I know what I have put into it, then my knowledge of what the box contains is real and absolute. So when I contemplate an object which my Intelligence has postulated as external to myself, if that object is in reality nothing but a pure creation of my Intelligence, and contains nothing but what the same Intelligence has put into it, how demonstrably manifest it is, that my knowledge of the object is real and absolute.
Objections to these Theories. But while these theories apparently, at first thought, commend themselves to our minds, as explaining things which would otherwise be wholly inexplicable to us, they are at once, in our Intelligence, met with difficulties perfectly in, surinountable.
1. They leave totally unexplained the same mystery hanging over the subject which they profess to explain, that hung over it before, to wit, the possibility of knowledge. The distance between the subject and object of knowledge is, to be sure, greatly abridged ; inasmuch as all things are brought under the immediate vision of Consciousness itself. A theory, however, which is valid as an explication of the possisibility of knowledge, must explain the possibility, not of one, but of all kinds of knowledge. Now ihe theories under consideration, explain, in a certain form, the possibility of what is called external perception. But they leave wholly unexplained the possibility of knowledge of another kind, the
possibility of which needs to be explained, just as much as that of the former, to wit, the possibility of knowledge by Consciousness. Suppose an explication of the possibility of a knowledge of our own mental states be demanded, what answer can be given, but that which is rejected as valid, in regard to the possibility of external perception-to wit, that Consciousness, relatively to mental states, is a faculty, and the states themselves are objects of perception, or knowledge ? Now this explication, the only one possible, in the case under consideration, and indeed in any case whatever, is equally valid, as an explanation of the possibility of external perception. We have only to postulate the Intelligence as a faculty, and external substances as objects of perception, and the possibility of such knowledge is just as manifest as knowledge by Consciousness, or through any other function of the Intelligence.
2. These theories leave another mystery, still more inexplicable, hanging over the question in respect to the possibilily of knowledge, to wit, how can the Intelligence postulate a purely mental affection as exclusively the quality of an external object? In other words, how can the Intelligence give a phenomenon as pertaining, an object wholly distinct from and independent of the precipient subject, which, after all, is nothing but a phenomenon of that subject? Above all, how can the Intelligence first give an affection purely subjective, as a quality exclusively objective, and afterwards give the same quality as exclusively subjective, and that without the possibility, as Colerigde acknowledges, of considering it, as anything but objective ? All these contradictions take place in the interior of our Intelligence, in respect to external perception, according to the theories under considerationcontradictions perfectly equivalent to the declaration, that the same thing, at the same time, is, and is not. Should it be said, that this process is possible to the Intelligence, because, that such is its nature, the same explanation renders equally explicable, the possibility of external perception as maintained in this Treatise, a fact denied exclusively on the ground of its inexplicability.
3. The explication which these theories give of the fact of perception, is, in reality, the destruction of the fact, and not its explication at all. In the Intelligence, there appears à perception of an external object. Philosophy is called upon for an explanation of the fact. The fact to be explained is that of the perception of such objects. As such exclusively, it is to be explained, and not as something different from a real perception of something external. This is what philosophy is bound to do, if she speaks at all. Now what is the explication given by the theories under consideration ? The perception of an object external to the mind, is explained by a profound demonstration, that no such object, nor perception of such object, exists in the Intelligence, and that such perception is an inexplicable impossibility. Now this is not the explanation of a fact, but its destruction, the most unphilosophical procedure—a procedure very much like the Frenchman's definition of the flea, to wit, an animal upon which, if you put your finger, he is not under it.
4. These theories involve an explication equally sophistical and unphilosophical of the question, in respect to the certainty and reality of knowledge. An apprehension of an object exists in the Intelligence. Philosophy is called upon to answer the question, whether this apprehension is valid, in respect to the object? If it is so, our knowledge is real, certain. What answer do these theories give to this question ? This. Our knowledge is certain and absolute, for the obvious reason, that the object has no existence at all; that the perception itself is the only thing real, and as it contains nothing but what the Intelligence has put into it, therefore our knowledge is real and absolute. What a strange answer this to the question, the only question submitted to philosophy, to wit, the validity of the perception relatively to its object.
5. These theories annihilate wholly all distinctions between truth and error, all criteria of truth whatever. The reality, the certainty of knowledge, according to these theories, consists in this—that as our conceptions are the only realities existing, and as these contain nothing but what the Intelligence puts into them, therefore our knowledge is real, is absolute. Now, this condition of certainty holds, in respect to one conception, just as well as another; and if this is the condition of certainty, the wildest vagaries of the mauiac are just as true as the sublimest demonstrations of Newton.
6. Finally, all such theories give a totally false explication of the real procedure of the Intelligence in respect to knowledge of every kind. Let any one attempt to apply such theories, as elucidating the process of his own mind in
its perceptions and knowledges, and the effect cannot be better expressed, than in the following extract of a letter written to Coleridge by a friend, explaining to the philosopher the effect of a careful study of his theory of the Imagination:
“ As to myself, and stating, in the first place, the effect on my understanding, your opinions and method of argument were not only so new to me, but so directly the reverse of all I had ever been accustomed to consider as truth, that, even if I had comprehended your premises sufficiently to have admitted them, and had seen the necessity of your conclusions, I should still have been in that state of mind, which, in your note, p. 251, you have so ingeniously evolved, as the antithesis to that in which a man is when he makes a bull. In your own words, I should have felt as if I had been standing on my head.
66 The effect on my feelings, on the other hand, I cannot better represent, than by supposing myself to have known only our light, airy, modern chapels of ease, and then, for the first time, to have been placed, and left alorie, in one of our largest Gothic cathedrals, in a gusty moonlight night of autumn. Now in glimmer, now in gloom;' often in palpable darkness, not without a chilling sensation of terror; then suddenly emerging into broad, yet visionary light, with colored shadows of fantastic shapes, yet all decked with holy insignia and holy symbols ; and, ever and anon, coming out full upon pictures, and stone-work images, and great men, with whose names I was familiar, but which looked upon me with countenances, and an expression, the most dissiinilar to all I had been in the habit of connecting with those names. Those whom I had been taught to venerate as almost superhunian in magnitude of intellect, I found perched in little fret-work niches, as grotesque dwarfs; while the grotesques, in my hitherto belief, stood guarding the high altar with all the characters of apotheosis. In short, what I had supposed substances, were thinned away into shadows, while, everywhere, shadows were deepened into substances :
'If substance may be call'd what shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either!” Now, a theory which gives such an explanation of the process of the human Intelligence as this, does not give a true exposition of that process. There is surely no prea sumption in such an affirmation as this.
In the remarks above made upon the theories under consideration, I have anticipated some things which properly belong to a later department of mental science; no more, however, than was necessary to a distinct presentation of our present subject of investigation. DISTINCTION OF QUALITIES AS PRIMARY AND SECONDARY.
A few remarks upon the distinction commonly made with * regard to the qualities of material substances, will close this
Chapter. These qualities are distinguished as primary and secondary. The former are such as are essential to the substance as material, such, for example, as solidity and extension. The latter are not essential to the existence of the substance as matter, such, for example, as color, temperature, taste, and smell. Our knowledge of the former is direct; of the latter, it is only indirect and relative. As properties of external things we know such things, says Mr. Stewart, only as the unknown cause of a known sensation.” On these distinctions, I would simply present the following suggestions :
1. I would raise a query, whether color is properly ranked as a secondary quality ? Can we conceive of a material substance which is, to any being, an cbject of vision (and every such substance may be to some being, such an object), and is yet destitute of color ? For myself, I find it impossible to form such a conception of such a substance.
The principal argument which I present in favor of this position, however, is the fact, that all men believe it, even philosophers, in the very act of an attempted demonstration of the opposite opinion. “We know well,” says Dr. Brown (a strange assertion, that we know well, what he goes on to show we cannot believe even while attempting to prove it), 6 when we open our eyes, that whatever affects our eyes is within the small compass of their orbit ; and yet we cannot look for a single moment, without spreading what we thus visually feel over whole miles of landscape. Still, I must repeat, not the slightest doubt is philosophically entertained by those, who, when they open their eyes, yield like the vulgar to the temporary illusion--that the colors, thus supposed to be spread over the external objects, or rather the rays of light that come from them, are merely the unknown causes of certain sensations in ourselves. When questioned on the subject of vision, we state this opinion with