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material substances whatever, the only It is impossible to conceive of anything difference being that the energies by happening without a cause. Even if which their molecules are held together we could conceive the utter destruction are so held under conditions which are or annihilation of any particular force or more stable-conditions which it is much form of force, we cannot conceive of 'more difficult to change-and condi- this very destruction happening except tions, therefore, which conceal from us as the effect of some cause. All atthe universal prevalence and power of tempts to reduce this idea of causation force in the constitution of the material to other and lower terms have been universe. It is, therefore, distinctly the worse than futile. They have uniformly tendency of science more and more to left out something which is of the very impress us with the idea of the unlimited essence of the idea. The notion of duration and indestructible nature both “uniform antecedence” is not equivaof matter and of the energies which lent. “Necessary antecedence” is more work in and upon it.
near the mark. These words do indeed One of the scientific forms under indicate the essential element in the idea which this idea is expressed is the con- with tolerable clearness. But, like all servation of energy.
It affirms that other simple fundamental conceptions, though we often see moving bodies the idea of causation defies analysis. stopped in their course, and the energy As, however, we cannot dissociate the with which they move apparently extin- idea of causation from the idea of force guished, no such extinction is really or energy, it may, perhaps, be said that effected. It affirms that this energy is the indestructibility or eternal duration inerely transformed into other kinds of of force is a physical doctrine which :notion which may or may not be visible, gives strength and substance to the but which, whether visible or not, do metaphysical concept of causation. Scialways really survive the motion which
ence may discover, and indeed has has been arrested. It affirms, in short, already discovered, that as regards our that energy, like matter, cannot be application of the idea of cause, and of destroyed or lessened in quantity, but the correlative idea of effect, to particucan only be redistributed.
lar cases of sequence, there is often As, however, the whole existing order some apparent confusion arising from the of nature depends on very special distri- fact that the relative positions of cause butions and concentrations of force, this and effect inay be interchangeable, so doctrine affords no ground for presum- that A, which at one moment appears as ing on the permanence, or even on the the cause of B, becomes at another moprolonged continuance, of that order. ment the consequence of B, and not its Quite the contrary ; for another general cause, Thus heat is very often the conception has been attained from sci- cause of visible motion, and visible moence which at first sight appears to be tion is again the cause of heat. And so a contradiction of the doctrine of " Con- of the whole cycle of physical forces, servation of Energy” — namely, the which Sir W. Grove and others have " Dissipation of Energy.' This doc- proved to be “ correlated”--that is, to trine, however, does not affirm that be so intimately related that each may in energy can be dissipated in the sense turn produce or pass into all the others. of being wholly lost or finally extin- •But this does not really obscure or cast guished. It only affirms that all the any doubt upon the truth of our idea of existing concentrations of force are being causation. On the contrary, that idea radually exhausted, and that the forces is confirmed in receiving a new interconcerned in them are being diffused pretation, and in the disclosure of physigenerally in the form of heat, more and cal facts involving the same conception. more equally over the infinitudes of The necessity of the connection between matter and of space.
an effect and its cause receives an unClosely connected with, if indeed it be expected confirmation when it comes to not a necessary part and consequence be regarded as simply the necessary passof, these conceptions of the infinity of ing of an energy which is universal and space and time, of matter and of force, indestructible from one form of action is the more general concept of causation. into another. Heat becomes the cause
of light because it is the same energy ever invented in the schools. There is working in a special medium. Con
a common superstition that this so-called versely light becomes the cause of heat, law negatives the possibility, for exambecause again the same energy passes ple, of the sudden appearance of new into another medium and there produces forms of life. What it does negative, a different effect. And so all the so- however, is not appearances which are called “ correlated forces" may be in- sudden, but only appearances which terchangeably the cause or the conse- have been unprepared. Innumerable quence of each other, according to the things may come to bemin a momentorder of time in which the changes of in the twinkling of an eye. But nothing form are seen. This, however, does not can come to be without a long, even if confound, but only illustrates the in- it be a secret, history. The Law of eradicable conviction that for all such Continuity" is, therefore, a phrase of changes there must be a cause. It may ambiguous meaning ; but at the bottom be perfectly true that all these correlated of it there lies the true and invincible forces can be ideally reduced to different conviction that for every change, how“ forms of motion;"' but motion itself ever sudden-for every “leap, howis inconceivable except as existing in ever wide-there has always been a long matter, and as the result of some moving chain of predetermining causes, and that orce. Every difference of direction in even the most tremendous bursts of motion or of form in matter implies a energy and the most sudden exhibitions change, and we can conceive no change of force have all been slowly and silently without a cause that is to say, apart prepared. In this sense the law of confrom the operation of some condition tinuity is nothing but the idea of causawithout which that change would not tion. It is founded on the necessary have been.
duration which we cannot but attribule The same ultimate conceptions, and to the existence of force, and this apno other, appear to constitute all the pears to be the only truth which the law truth that is to be found in a favorite of continuity represents. doctrine among the cultivators of physi- When now we consider the place in cal science — the so-called “ Law of the whole system of our knowledge which Continuity.” This phrase is indeed is occupied by these great fundamental often used with such looseness of mean- conceptions of time and space, and of ing that it is extremely difficult to un- rnatter and of force, and when we conderstand the primary signification at- sider that we cannot even think of any tached to it. One common definition, one of these realities as capable of comor rather one common illustration, of ing to an end, we may well be assured this law is said to be that nature does that, whatever may be the limits of the nothing suddenly-nothing per sal- human mind, they certainly do not pretum.” Of course this can only be ac- vent us from apprehending infinity. On cepted under soine metaphorical or the contrary, it would rather appear that transcendental meaning. In nature this apprehension is the invariable and there is such a thing as a flash of light- necessary result of every investigation of ning, and this is generally recognized as nature. sufficiently sudden. A great many other It is indeed of the highest importance exertions of electric force are of similar to observe that some of these conceprapidity. The action of chemical af- tions, especially the indestructibility of finity is always rapid, and very often matter and of forcé, belong to the doeven instantaneous. Yet these are main of science. That is to say, the among the most common and the most systematic examination of natural phepowerful factors in the mechanism of nomena has given them distinctness and nature. They have the most intimate a consistency which they never possessed connection with the phenomena of life, before. As now accepted and defined, and in these the profoundest changes they are the result of direct experiment. are often determined in moments of And yet, strictly speaking, all that extime. For many purposes to which this periment can do is to prove that in all so-called “ Law of Continuity'' is often the cases in which either matter or force applied in argument no idler dogma was seems to be destroyed no such destruction has taken place. Here, then, we tween the time occupied in the observahave a very limited and imperfect tion of phenomena and the breadth or amount of experience” giving rise to sweep of the conclusions which may be an infinite conception. But it is an arrived at from them. A single glance, other of the suggestions of the Agnos- lasting not above a moment of time, may tic philosophy that this can never be a awaken the recognition of truths as legitimate result. Nevertheless, as a wide as the universe and as everlasting matter of fact, these conceptions have as time itself. Nay, it has often hapbeen reached. They are now universal- pened in the history of science that ly accepted and taught as truths lying such recognitions of general truths have at the foundation of every branch of been reached by no other kind of obsernatural science-at once the beginning vation than that of the mind becoming and the end of every physical investiga- conscious of its own innate perceptions. tion. They are not what are ordinarily Conceptions of this nature have perpetucalled “laws." They stand on much ally gone before experiment-have sughigher ground. They stand behind and gested it, guided it, and have received before every law, whether that word be nothing more thạn corroboration from taken to mean simply an observed order it. I do not say that these conceptions of facts, or some particular force to have been reached without any process. which that order is due, or some com- But the process has been to a large exbinations of force for the discharge of tent as unconscious as that by which we function, or some abstract definition of see the light. I do not say they have been observed phenomena such as the “ laws reached without “ experience," even in of motion.” All these, though they that narrow sense in which it means the may be “invariable” so far as we can observation of external things. But the see, carry with them no character of experience has been nothing more than universal or necessary truth-no con- the act of living in the world, and of viction that they are and must be true breathing in it, and of looking round in all places and for all time. There is upon it. These conceptions have come no existing order-no present combina
to man because he is a being in hartions of matter or of force-which we
mony with surrounding nature. The cannot conceive coming to an end. human mind has opened to them as a But when that end is come we cannot bud opens to the sun and air. So true conceive but that something inust re- is this that when reasons have been main, if it be nothing else than that by given for the conclusions thus arrived which the ending was brought about, at-these reasons have often been quite or, as it were, the raw materials of the · erroneous. Nothing in the history of creation which has passed away. That philosophy is more curious than the this conception, when once suggested close correspondence between many and clearly apprehended, cannot be ideas enunciated by the ancients as the eradicated, is one of the most indisputa- result of speculation, and some, at least, ble facts of instructed consciousness. of the ideas now prevalent as the result That no possible amount of mere ex- of science. It is true that the ancients ternal observation or experiment can expressed them vaguely, associated them cover the infinitude of the conclusion is with other conceptions which are wide also unquestionably true.
But if “ex- of the truth, and quoted in support of perience" is to be upheld as in any them illustrations which are often childsense the ground and basis of all our
ish. Nevertheless, the fact remains that knowledge, it must be understood as they had attained to some central embracing that most important of all truths, however obscured the perception kinds of experience in the study of na- may have been by ignorance of the ture--the experience we have of the laws more precise and accurate analogies by of mind. It is one of the most certain which they can be best explained, and of those laws that in proportion as the which only the process of observation powers of the understanding are well has revealed. “They had in some way developed, and are prepared by previous grasped,” says Mr. Balfour Stewart, training for the interpretation of natural facts, there is no relation whatever be- * “Conservation of rgy," p. 135.
“the idea of the essential unrest and quences to which it will some day lead energy of things. They had also the his children or descendants. So in like idea of small particles or atoms; and manner when the savage designs, as he finally of a medium of some sort, so often does, most ingenious traps for the that they were not wholly ignorant of capture of his prey, and so baits them the most profound and deeply-seated of as to attract the animals he desires to the principles of the material universe.” catch, he is counting first on the conThere is but one explanation of this, but stancy and uniformity of physical causait is all-sufficient: It is that the mind tion, and, secondly, on the profoundly of man is a part, and one at least of the different action of the motives which highest parts, of the system of the uni- determine the conduct of creatures havverse--the result of mechanism mosting life and will. But of neither of these suited to the purpose of catching and as general truths does he know anytranslating into thought the light of thing, and of one of them at least not truth as embodied in surrounding even the greatest philosophers have nature.
reached the full depth or meaning. We have seen that the foundations of Nevertheless, it would be a great error all conscious reasoning are to be found to suppose that the savage, because he in certain propositions which we call has no conception of the general truth self-evident. That is to say, in propo- involved in his conduct, has been guided sitions the truth of which is intuitively in that conduct by any thing in the nature perceived. We have seen, too, as a of chance or accident. His intuitions general law affecting all manifestations have been right, and have involved so of life or mind, even in its very lowest much perception of truth as is necessary forms, that instinctive or intuitional per- to carry him along the little way he receptions are the guide and index of quires to travel, because the mind in other and larger truths which lie en- which those intuitions lie is a product tirely beyond the range of the percep- and a part of nature-a product and tion or intuition which is immediately part of that great system of things which concerned. This law holds good quite is held together by laws intelligible to as much of the higher intuitions which mind-laws which the human mind has are peculiar to man as of the mere intui- been constructed to feel even when it tions of sensation which are common to cannot clearly see. Moreover, when him and to the animals beneath him. these laws come to be clearly seen, they The lowest savage does many things by are seen only because the mind has mere instinct which contain implicitly organs adjusted to the perception of truths of a very abstract nature-truths them, and because it finds in its own of which, as such, he has not the re- mechanism corresponding sequences of motest conception, and which in the thought. present undeveloped condition of his It was the work of a great German faculties it would be impossible to ex- metaphysician toward the close of the plain to him. Thus, when he goes into last century to discriminate and define the forest to cut a branch fit for being more systematically than had been done made into a bow, or when he goes to before some at least of those higher elethe marsh to cut a reed fit for being ments of thought which, over and above made into an arrow, and when in doing the mere perception of external things, so he cuts them off the proper length by the mind thus contributes out of its own ineasuring them by the bows and ar- structure to the fabric of knowledge. rows which he already has, in this sim- In doing this he did immortal service-ple operation he is acting on the ab- proving that when men talked of " exstract and most fruitful truth that perience” being the source of knowledge "things equal to the same thing are they forgot that the whole process of exequal to one another.” This is one of perience presupposes the action of innate the axioms which lie at the basis of all laws of thought, without which experimathematical demonstration. But as a ence can neither gather its facts nor reach general, universal, and necessary truth their interpretation. “ Experience, the savage knows nothing of it-as little as Kant most truly said, is nothing but as he knows of the wonderful conse- a “synthesis of intuitions"--a building up or putting together of conceptions which it renders intelligible to itself all which the access of external nature finds the phenomena of the universe is not an ready to be awakened in the mind. The order which it invents, but an order whole of this process is determined by · which it simply feels and sees. And the mind's own laws-a process in which this “vision and faculty divine is a neceseven observation of outward fact must sary consequence of its congenital retake its place according to principles of lations with the whole system of naarrangement in which alone all explana- ture—from being bone of its bone-flesh tion of them consists, and out of which of its flesh—from breathing its atmosany understanding of them is impos- phere, from living in its light, and from sible.
having with it a thousand points of conAnd yet this great fact of a large part tact visible and invisible, more than we of our knowledge-and that the most can number or understand. important part-coming to us out of the And yet so subile are the suggestions very furniture and constitution of the of the human spirit in disparagement of mind itself, has been so expressed and its own powers -so near and ever-prespresented in the language of philosophy ent to us is that region which belongs to as rather to undermine than to establish he unsatisfied reserve of power--that our confidence in the certainty of knowl- the very fact of our knowledge arising edge. For if the mind is so spoken of out of our organic relations with the rest and represented as to suggest the idea of nature has been seized upon as only of something apart from the general sys- casting new discredit on all that we seem tem of nature, and if its laws of thought to know. Because all our knowledge are looked upon as “ forms" or moulds arises out of these relations, therefore, into which, by some artificial arrange- it is said all our knowledge of things ment or by some mechanical necessity, must be itself relative ; and relative everything from outside must be knowledge is not knowledge of "things squeezed and made to fit-then it will in themselves.” Such is the argument naturally occur to us to doubt whether of metaphysicians-an argument reconceptions cut out and manufactured peated with singular unanimity by phiunder such conditions can be any trust- losophers of almost every school of worthy representation of the truth. thought. By some it has been made the Such, unfortunately, has been the mode of basis of religious proof. By some it representation adopted by many philos- has been made the basis of a reasoned ophers-and such accordingly has been scepticism. By others it has been used the result of their teaching. This is the simply to foil attacks upon belief. The great source of error in every form of real truth is that it is an argument usethe idealistic philosophy, but it is a less for any purpose whatever, because source of error which can be perfectly it is not itself true. The distinction beeliminated, leaving untouched and un- tween knowledge of things in their redoubted the large body of truths which lations and knowledge of things "in has made that philosophy attractive to themselves” is a distinction without a so many powerful minds. We have meaning. In metaphysics the assertion only to take care that in expressing that we can never attain to any knowlthose truths we do not use metaphors edge of things in themselves does not which are misleading. We have only to mean simply that we know things only remember that we must regard the mind in a few relations out of many. It does and the laws of its operation in the light not mean even that there may be and of that most assured truth--the unity probably are a great many relations of nature. The mind has no “moulds" which we have not faculties enabling which have not themselves been moulded us to conceive.
All this is quite on the realities of the universe-no true, and most important truth. “ forms” which it did not receive as a But the metaphysical distinction is part and a consequence of a unity with quite different. It affirms that if we the rest of nature. Its conceptions are knew things in every one of the renot manufactured ; they are developed. lations that affect them we should still They are not made ; they simply grow. be no nearer than before to a knowlThe order of the laws of thought under edge of "things in themselves.” “ It is