Imatges de pÓgina

the right direction. And since, to do this, nothing is really needed beyond a moderate amount of calm and sober reasoning, and a moderately comprehensive view of philosophy and human life, I do not consider myself presumptuous in my attempt to take a part in the work.

I have therefore taken the chief philosophical doctrines of the school in question, and compared them with the views set forth by its teachers as to the character and the conduct of life. I have done this in some detail, and with what accuracy I might. I have tried to be precise in my use of words, to banish all vague phrases, and to try our exact thinkers' by the rules of exact thought. I have taken their denials of God, of immortality, and in short of any supernatural order, and examined on what these denials are based; and I have applied the same tests to all human life as well. The result has been to show that faith and morals are of one and the same substance; and that the arguments that destroy the validity of the former, destroy the value of the latter. Our scientific philosophers have either established a great deal more than they imagine, or a great deal less. Their present position is at any rate untenable. It is both illogical and ludicrous.


In attempting to make this evident, a certain element of personality has entered into my writings; but this element has been as small as possible, and what there is of it has been there of necessity. The spread of modern unbelief, and the rational character it is supposed to have, are due largely to the personal character of its chief exponents their character as excellent men, and as clear and profound thinkers. That they are excellent and estimable men no one would deny; nor in any case would there be any call to do so. But there is a distinct call to reduce to their true dimensions the other qualities with which they are so largely credited. I have therefore not hesitated in my attempt to make it evident that the men who are presenting themselves to the world now, as types and organs of clear and exact thinking, and as masters of all the vital knowledge that is yet attainable, are men really whose province of knowledge is an extremely small and limited one, who outside that province are enlightened but by the merest smattering of an education, and whose thinking on general matters is that rather of a bewildered woman than a keen and collected man. They themselves have often made charges of just the same nature against their opponents; so that they

1 In making such observations as these, it is the English scientific school that I must be understood to allude to. Of the same school on the Continent I cannot speak with the same knowledge or confidence. But it is not too much to say, as a general statement, that the scientific materialism of the present century owes much of the rapidity and ease of its victories to the fact that none of its most eminent exponents have done anything openly, either by word or by example, to disturb or revolutionise the moral ideas and the moral ideals that are at present dominant.


VOL. V.-No. 23.

must admit that to make them is perfectly legitimate, and, if they can be substantiated, eminently useful. I am quite willing to agree that they have themselves often made them both with justice and utility. I have been trying to show only that they can be retorted back on the makers with greater justice, and with a far deeper meaning. I will take one example of the kind of charge I allude to. Let a man, says Dr. Tyndall, once get a real scientific grasp of the ways of nature, and he will see and feel what drivellers even men of strenuous intellect may become, through exclusively dwelling and dealing with theological chimeras.' To this I answer, let a man once get even a moderate grasp of the nature of human knowledge, the motives of human action, and the analysis of human emotion, and he will see what drivellers even men of strenuous intellect may become, when they confront the problems of life, through exclusively dwelling and dealing with the phenomenal conditions of it.

My attempt, in my previous essays, to make this position good, has been necessarily, from their form and the circumstances of their publication, a very incomplete one, and there is one omission which I wish to supply here in this my concluding paper. Hitherto I have criticised the scientific school as though they were express deniers of the supernatural. Most of them, however, I know, disavow such a position as this, and apparently lay much stress on their doing so. They do not deny, they say; they only refuse to affirm. They are not Atheists, they are Agnostics. I myself consider that absolute. doubt on such matters as these is practically equivalent to absolute denial; and have, in passing, several times said so. But such a mere expression of opinion is, of course, only provisional; of itself it goes. for nothing. And since the state of mind in question is the object, in the present day, of so much eloquent intellectual admiration, so much solemn intellectual ambition, and apparently, when attained to, is the source of such secure spiritual satisfaction, I propose to devote a few pages to a more detailed examination of it. Having done this, I shall pass on to a kindred question, or rather to the same question under a different aspect. Suspense of the religious judgment will be the subject in both cases; but what I shall deal first with will be its theoretical aspect, which is called Agnosticism; what I shall deal with secondly will be its practical aspect, which is called toleration. Both essentially are one and the same thing. Agnosticism is theoretical toleration; toleration is practical Agnosticism.

The treatment of the first question has proved far easier than I had dared to hope it would. I had hardly begun to prepare the present paper when there appeared one from the pen of Dr. Tyndall, in the November number of this Review, with the title of Virchow and Evolution.' Dr. Tyndall there takes occasion to give a fresh summary of his philosophic views in general; and he has presented me, in so doing, with an example unexpectedly perfect of the special position I am about to criticise. Nor is this all he has dore. He

has presented me at the same time with examples also of nearly all those confusions in thought, and defects in education, with which, as I said before, I have been charging the school he ornaments. I shall hope, therefore, that whilst I am supplementing my former criticisms, I may be able at the same time to illustrate and to justify them.

Dr. Tyndall's new paper-one might almost call it a manifestois a very comprehensive one. My purpose will be best served by an abstract of the more general part of it, which purports to be a brief epitome of both the position and the teaching of modern scientific philosophy, so far at least as Dr. Tyndall understands these; and that he supposes his understanding of them to be typical, and to have some general significance, is shown by the fact that he dwells at considerable length on his own autobiography, and the details of that scientific education to which the breadth and clearness of his

present insight are due. We shall evidently be dealing, therefore, with one who speaks with authority-with one who speaks not so much in his own name as in the name of modern science; and we will consider briefly what he has to tell us from the beginning.

Dr. Tyndall's first care is to distinguish the crude Materialism of the past from the advanced Materialism of the present; to explain where the difference lies between the two; and to show us that the Theistic arguments that were once so cogent against the first are really beside the mark when they are still applied to the second. Materialism in our day, he says, has been transmuted by an enlarged conception of matter. The matter of the traditional Materialist was of itself a dead quiescent thing. The ultimate particles to which analysis was supposed to reduce it were void of every attribute except shape and size. And hence,' says Dr. Tyndall, 'the obvious inference when matter was observed to move. It was the vehicle of an energy not its own. . . the purely passive recipient of the shock of the Divine.' But now all this is changed. Ultimate particles are for us quite other things than what they once were. They are things no longer of shape and size only. There is also in them a kind of inherent magnetism that is as much a part of their essence as size and shape are. In fact, it would be as accurate to say they are magnetisms with size and shape as to say they are sizes and shapes with magnetism. It is part, therefore, of their inalienable nature to be for ever attracting and for ever repelling one another; for ever to be grouping together into varying combinations; to be never at rest. Once let us grasp this notion, argues Dr. Tyndall, and the whole question will change its face for us. The matter we have to deal with, even when it seems inertest, is no longer dead, but sleeping. Since it lives, it is no longer inconceivable that it may be the parent of life; and therefore Dr. Tyndall says that he defines it 'as that mysterious something by which all [that we can have any knowledge of] has been accomplished.'



that every thought and correlative-that is, is


This enlarged conception of matter may possibly be a quite legitimate one. We will, at any rate, take for granted that it is so, and go on to see what use, in the name of modern science, Dr. Tyndall makes of it. The scientific position, as he rightly says, is very largely changed by it. The doctrine of evolution has already made superfluous the conception of an outside Designer; and the conception of motion as itself inherent in matter now makes equally superfluous the conception of an outside Mover. And thus for the first time, beyond the reach of question, the entire sensible universe is brought within the scope of the physicist. The old dualism of animate and inanimate nature might at first seem to be remaining. But under a closer scrutiny (from one point of view, at least) it completely vanishes. Everything that is, is motion. Life is nothing but motion of an infinitely complex kind. It is matter in its finest ferment. We believe,' says Dr. Tyndall, every feeling has its definite mechanical accompanied by a certain breaking up and re-marshalling of the atoms of the brain.' To trace out in detail all the processes is of course, he admits, infinitely beyond our powers, but the quality,' he says, 'of the problem and of our powers, are, we believe, so related, that a mere expansion of the latter would enable them to cope with the former.' Nowhere is there any break in nature; and 'supposing,' says Dr. Tyndall, a planet carved from the sun, set spinning round an axis, and sent revolving round the sun at a distance equal to that of our earth,' science points to the conclusion that, as the mass cooled, it would flower out in places into such another race as ours— 'creatures of as large discourse,' and, like ourselves, 'looking before and after.' The result is obvious. Every existing thing we can ever know or hope to know the entire mental as well as the entire sensible world—the thoughts, the hopes, the knowledge, and the affections of man, as well as the animalculæ in a drop of water, are all equally, on at least one side of them, picturable—that is, capable, as Dr. Tyndall says, of 'distinct mental presentation.' All are connected with certain special figures and with certain mechanical forces; all have a certain bulk and a certain place in space, and can conceivably be gauged and detected by some scientific instrument. Faith, for instance, is a thing that from one side of it conceivably could be photographed; or sanctity is a thing that could be detected by a spectroscope. And thus Dr. Tyndall argues that the only valid test of truth is capacity for distinct mental presentation.' The nonpicturable equals the non-existent. As for all our thoughts and feelings, let them seem never so immaterial, each has had its counterpart in some 'purely physical process;' and of all such we can,' he says, 'form a coherent picture-the thrilling of the nerves, the discharging of the muscles, and all the subsequent motions of the

organism. We are here dealing with material problems which are mentally presentable.'

Our scheme of the universe would be thus complete and coherent if it were not for one thing-the unique phenomenon of consciousness. Here, says Dr. Tyndall, our former test fails us. Here, but here only, we are obliged to abandon it. Every fact of consciousness we know has a physical side to it in the movements of the body; 'but we can,' he says, 'form no picture of how [it] emerges, either as a necessary link or as an accidental by-product, of this series of



The mechanical philosopher, as such (he goes on) will never place a state of consciousness and a group of molecules in the relation of mover and moved. Observation proves them to interact; but, in passing from one to the other, we meet a blank, which the logic of deduction is unable to fill. This, the reader will remember, is the conclusion at which I arrived more than twenty years ago. I lay bare unsparingly the central difficulty of the materialist, and tell him that the facts of observation which he considers so simple are almost as difficult to be seized as the idea of a soul.' I go farther, and say in effect, 'If you abandon the interpretation of grosser minds, who image the soul as a Psyche which could be thrown out of the window-an entity which is usually occupied we know not how among the molecules of the brain, but which on due occasion, such as the intrusion of a bullet or the blow of a club, can fly away into other regions of space—if, abandoning this heathen notion, you approach the subject in the only way in which approach is possible—if you consent to make your soul a poetic rendering of a phenomenon, which—as I have taken more pains than any one else to show you— refuses the yoke of ordinary physical laws, then I, for one, would not object to this exercise of ideality.' I say it strongly, but with good temper, that the theologian who hacks and scourges me for putting the question in this light, is guilty of black ingratitude.

Thus far, then, according to Dr. Tyndall, the position that science has won for us is this. If it were not for this one fact of human consciousness, it might be fairly said that we should have solved the problem of existence. Matter as a rule (the following metaphor will, I think, be useful) is, as it were, silent. In so far as it remains silent, we can explain all its conduct. But,under a certain special combination, it suddenly becomes vocal. The brain is, as it were, a musical instrument, out of which a tune emerges. Why does the tune emerge, or how does the tune emerge? Here is the difficulty; and here are two questions, to both of which, says Dr. Tyndall, science can give no answer. Let us separate these two questions, and then treat them separately. What are they, then, and what is their exact bearing?

The first is, why does the tune emerge? Why should matter ever have a voice at all? As confronted by this question, the posi

I say human consciousness, because there is high scientific authority for the opinion that animals may, for aught we know to the contrary, be nothing more than automata, with no consciousness whatever implied in their lives and actions. But, whatever we may think on this point, the matter is made simpler, and no point is lost, by putting them-in this connection-out of the question.

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