Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the characteristics of all our notions, a complete enumeration, in the present state of mental science, is hardly to be expected. We may hope, however, to make an approach somewhat near to that result.

Substance and Cause the fundamental elements of all Notions.

One fact, pertaining to this department of onr inquiries is quite evident. It is this : The fundamental elements which enter into all our notions, and which, as laws of thought, determine the character of such phenomena, are two, substance and cause. If we make inquiries respecting any object for the purpose of perfecting our notions or conceptions of it, it is as substance or cause, that such object is contemplated. All our inquiries are but different forms in which these two ideas evolve themselves in the Intelligence.

Evolution of these Laws not Arbitrary. A careful analysis will also convince us, that the forms in which these two laws of thought evolve themselves, are by no means arbitrary. On the other hand, their principles of evolution are perfectly fixed. Whenever we would make inquiries respecting substances or causes, for the purpose of perfecting our notions of them, we, on reflection, find that certain specific inquiries we do and must put, and that none others we can make. In the light of the answers obtained to such inquiries, are all our notions of substance and cause determined. An elucidation of these laws of thought, and as a consequence, an evolution of the direction of the Understanding in all legitimate inquiries after right notions of substances, constitutes one of the great problems in philosophy. A developement of these laws, in other words, of the Citegories of the Understanding, will now be attempted. Whether that development shall be complete or incomplete, the result will determine.

Time and Space. I begin with the categories of time and space. These are entirely distinct from each other. As the same remarks, however, are equally applicable to each, I shall consider them together.

Whenever any substances or phenomena are thought of, two inquiries arise in respect to them, When and where do, or did they exist or occur ? When we think of the world, for example, we naturally raise the inquiries, When was it created ? how long has it stood ? what place does it occupy in the universe ? So also when we think of any occurrence in, or on the earth, we raise inquiries precisely similar, to wit, When and where did they occur? The same holds true in respect to all objects of the Understanding. All substances, all causes, all phenomena are thought of in relation to time and space. The ideas of time and space, as laws of thought, enter into all our notions, or Understanding-conceptions.

ERRORS OF KANT.

1. In respect to the relation of Phenomena and Noumena to

Time and Space. Kant makes a distinction obviously correct, between the impressions which objects make upon us, and the calıses of these impressions, or the objects themselves. The former he denominates phenomena. The latter, that is, what he regards as the unknown objects which produce impressions in us, he calls noumena. Now phenomena, he says, we necessarily conceive of, as in time and space. Noumena, on the other hand, have no such relation, indeed, no relation whatever, to either time or space. Here a great mistake of this profound analyzer of the human mind presents itself. Reason atfirms absolutely, that noumena have as real a relation to time and space as phenomena do. Whatever is to us an object of thought, whether it be an object, as it exists in itself, or whether it be a phenomenon of such object, we do, and must, put the questions, When ?-how long ?-and where ?-in respect to it. Noumena, as well as phenomena, do and must have their locations in time and space. In the language of Dr. Murdoch, we may triumphantly ask, “ How can physical effects be limited to time and space, and not also the physical causes which produce them? Can a material thing operate or produce effects, where it is not present to produce them? Or can Reason any more conceive, a priori, of a necessity for phenomena to exist only in time and space, than for noumena to exist in the same manner ? If then, Reason decides a priori, or intuitively, that phenomena inust so exist, does she not equally decide a priori, or intuitively, that nouniena must so exist ?"? . The overlooking of this obvious and undeniable fact, led this great philosopher to accord to time and space a necessary reality, as laws of sensible intuition, that is, of external perception, and to deny all reality of them, as realities in themselves. 2. Relation of the Ideas of Time and Space to Phenomena.

Another error of this philosopher consists in representing the ideas of time and space as laws of sensible intuition, that is, of external perception, and not as categories of the Understanding. They are, Kant maintains, the “ forms of the phenomena of external Sense, or the aspects in which those phenomena present themselves to our Senses.” They not only determine the forms of phenomena, but alone render perception possible to us. Now a moment's reflection will convince us that these ideas have no relation whatever to perception, external or internal, but exist in us exclusively as laws of the Understanding, or notion-forming power.

In the first place, these ideas, instead of existing in the mind prior to, and thus determining the form of phenomena, are chronologically, as we have seen, developed in the Intelligence subsequent to. phenomena, external and internal. We must first perceive extension, for example, and thus form a notion of something extended, before we can conceive of space in which such objects exist. It is not, therefore, as this philosopher maintains, through the idea of space that objects present themselves to us, in perception, as extended. On the other hand, without the perception of extension, the idea of space, as the place of the object perceived, would not be developed at all. The same illustration holds equally in regard to time. This idea does not first exist in the mind, and then determiné our perception of events, as simultaneous or successive. The prior perception of succession, on the · other hand, developes the idea. Perception, in all forms and degrees, exists whɔlly independent of the ideas of time and space. The mistake of kant, in this case, consists in putting the antecedent for the consequent.

Equally manifest is it, on the other hand, that these ideas do not give form to perception, but, as laws of thought, determine the characteristics of perceptions or notions. When we perceive or think of phenomena, and of substances also, then, as the ideas of time and space are developed, we put the inquiries, Where? when ? how long ? &c., in respect to them. We do not perceive, but conceive or think

of objects, as in time and space. The ideas of time. and space are, therefore, categories, not of Sense, but of the Understanding.

II.-Identity and Diversity, Resemblance and Difference.

An essential element of our ideas of substance, is that of identity and diversity. As the relation between substances and their phenomena is that of necessity, a necessary law of conceptions, or of notions, is that substances are as their phenomena. Hence the two great necessary laws which determine our notions of substances, to wit, similar phenomena, suppose similar substances; dissimilar phenomena suppose dissimilar substances. Under the categories of Identity and Diversity, Resemblance and Difference, all classification, as we shall see, in a subsequent chapter, proceeds. The conception of the likeness or unlikeness of an object to something else, enters, as an essential element, into all our notions of it.. Perhaps some might be inclined to place the above ideas under a category hereafter to be considered that of Relation. They are no less distinct from it, however, than either of those next to be mentioned.

III.-The idea of a Whole, as including its Parts, or Parts

in reference to the Whole. Every notion pertains to its object as a whole, including parts, or as a part relatively to a whole. This is a universal and necessary law of all Understanding-conceptions, or notions. Thus, when we conceive of the Mind, we necessarily conceive of it as a whole, including the Intelligence, Sensibility, and Will; or we think of some department of mental operation relatively to the whole Mind. If we would form a notion of any material substance, any body, the same holds true in a more specific and special sense. Body, as given in all Understanding-conceptions, or notions, is a whole, a compound, constituted of simple parts.

KANT'S ANTINOMY OF PURE Reason. According to this philosopher, all transcendental ideas, that is, all the necessary elements of our notions of substances around us, involve palpable contradictions. Two distinct and opposite propositions are susceptible of equal and absolute demonstration from these ideas. For example, the two

following propositions, which are perfectly contradictory to each other, are equally susceptible of demonstration.

1. “Every compound substance in the world consists of simple parts, and there exists everywhere nothing but the simple, or that which is compounded of it.”

2. “No compound thing in the world consists of simple parts, and there exists not anywhere therein anything simple."

The amount of the proof of the first, which he denoininates the Thesis, is this : If the compound is not made up of siimple parts, then, if all composition were done away in thought, no compound part could remain ; and as there is, in that case, none simple, nothing would remain, and, consequently, no compound would be given.

His proof of the second, denominated Anti-Thesis, is, that the simple, whatever it may be, must occupy space, and therefore be made up of parts existing externally to each other, and consequently compounded. The conception of the simple, which is not a compound of something which is itself compounded, is a contradiction, and of course an impossible conception. No simple, therefore, does or can exist. From the contradictions necessarily involved in the Thesis and Anti-Thesis above given, each of which, from the nature of Understanding-conceptions, he affirms, is susceptible of equal and absolute demonstration, he infers, as demonstrably evident, the non-reality of all material existences, such as we conceive of them ; inasmuch as the supposition of their real existence involves contradictions perfectly synonymous with the affirmation, that the same thing, at the same time, may be and not be. In reply, I remark,

1. That the proposition, that that which is compounded must be made up of simple parts, is an intuition of Reason, and therefore incapable of demonstration, in the same sense that all other intuitions are. We may show, as in the Thesis above given, that the opposite proposition involves a contradiction, and that is all.

2. The conception of the simple is a pure idea of Reason, and not an Understanding-conception at all. The compound only is an object of perception, and consequently of Understanding-conceptions. All bodies, therefore, as the Underderstanding forms notions of them, must be compounded. Not so with the simple, as given by the Reason.

3. In his Anti-Thesis, Kant assumes the idea of the simple as an Understanding-conception, which, of course,

« AnteriorContinuar »