WHEN we pass from the phenomena of Matter to the phenomena of Mind we do not pass from under the Reign of Law. Here, too, facts do range themselves in an observed Order: here, too, there is a chain of cause and effect running throughout all events: here, too, we see around us, and feel within us, the work of Forces which have always a certain definite tendency to produce certain definite results: here, too, it is by combination and adjustment among these Forces that they are mutually held in check here, too, accordingly, special ends can only be accomplished by the use of special means.
But then the question immediately occurs to us-can we speak of Law, or of Force, or of "cause and effect," as applied to the phenomena of Mind, in the same sense in which we speak of [295/296] them as applied to the phenomena of Matter? Is it only by a distant analogy, or as expressing ideas really the same, that we use the same terms of both?
Undoubtedly the first thought which suggests itself to the mind is, that a material Force and a moral or intellectual Force are essentially different in kind,-not subject to conditions the same, or even similar. But are we sure of this? Are we sure that the Forces which we call material are not, after all, but manifestations of mental energy and Will? We have already seen that such evidence as we have is all tending the other way. The conclusions forced upon us have been these:-first, that the more we know of Nature the more certain it appears that a multiplicity of separate forces does not exist, but that all her forces pass into each other, and are but modifications of some One Force which is the source and centre of the rest: secondly, that all of them are governed in their mutual relations by principles of arrangement which are purely mental: thirdly, that of the ultimate seat of Force in any form we know nothing directly: and fourthly, [296/297] that the nearest conception we can ever have of Force is derived from our own consciousness of vital power.
If these conclusions be true, it follows that, Whether as regards that in which Force in itself consists, or as regards the conditions under which Force is used, it need not surprise us if in passing from the material world to the world of Mind, we see that Law, in the same sense, prevails in the phenomena of both. But as this is a subject of much difficulty, and of much importance, it may be well to examine it a little nearer.
The first and most palpable form in which we see that Mind is subject to Law, is in its connexion with the Body. And this connexion is so close that we know neither where it begins nor where it ends. The extent and nature of it can only be known by the same kind of reasoning and observation by which we attain to any knowledge of the external world. For indeed our Bodies seem part of the external world to us. We see their form as we see the form of other things, but we do not see their structure, neither do we feel it, nor can we arrive at it, except as a matter of obscure and difficult  research. It is literally true that some of the most distant objects in the Universe are more accessible to our observation, and in some respects more intelligible to our understanding, than the material frame in which we live. Man had discovered much concerning the circulation of the Planets before he had discovered anything concerning the circulation of his own blood.1 Yet, so near is the current of that blood to him, so much is it a part of himself, that when it stops, in an instant "all his thoughts perish." Nevertheless, the Mind is not conscious of its Own dependence on material organs. Even in respect to those exertions of the Will which are expressed in movements of the Body, we are conscious only of the Will, and of the Will being exerted with success; but we are entirely unconscious of the machinery which intervenes between the intention and the accomplishment of the act intended. Such movements of the Body appear to us as if they were direct acts of Will. Yet nothing can be more certain than that the communication is not [298/299] direct but indirect-and even elaborately circuitous. It is only when the ropes and pulleys are broken that we discover how that which we call our Will can only run in appointed channels which channels are material, and are laid down upon a plan, like conducting wires, as if for the conveyance of a material Force.
Nor do we here-this close connexion between force and Matter. So far from being less it seems to be only closer and closer when we pass to mental operations in which no apparent movements of the Body are concerned. In the exercise of pure Reason, in passing from one mental conception to another, when by an effort of our Will we turn our attention to a new question, and in the twinkling of an eye pursue a fresh train of thought, — above all, when our affections go forth towards those who are the objects of them — in all these operations, if anywhere, we feel as if we were free from mechanism — from "organs" — from Matter in any form. So it seems till we are brought face to face with the terrible phenomena of disease. Then our delusion is dispelled, and we know how frail we are. Then [299/300] we find that the same stroke which paralyses the movement of a limb, may paralyse, not less effectually, all the powers of Reason, of Memory, and of Will. And the Affections, what becomes of them? These too, which seem so purely spiritual, we find out to be dependent on material structure. Every physician knows that a frequent consequence of cerebral disease is a total change of character. There is no symptom of insanity more common than the growth of dislike and aversion to those who, in health, had been the most loved on earth. Change of every kind and degree in the character and structure of Mind is the immediate result of corresponding changes in the structure and substance of the Brain. The pure may become impure; the loving may become malignant; the simple-minded may become suspicious; the generous may become engrossed with self; the strong minded may become imbecile,-the whole man may be broken down, and may live for years without consciousness and without emotion. How painfully does the Brain sometimes indicate its functions! What is it in the aspect of Idiotcy, in many of its forms, which we instantly recognise, [300/301] and never can mistake? In that low, pinched, and retiring brow, we see instinctively that Reason cannot hold her seat. These facts do not stand alone. Not only are there some parallel facts, but all the living world is full of them. The whole range of animal creation, from Man down to the Reptile and the Fish, testifies to the universal law of an ascending scale of mental capacity, being coincident with an ascending degree of cerebral organisation. No series of facts, tending to the establishment of any physical truth, is more complete or more conclusive than the chain which connects the functions of the Brain with the phenomena of Mind.
But here, again, let us beware of the fallacies which may arise from a failure to recognise the exact import of the words we use. In the ears of many it sounds like Materialism to say that Thought is a function of the Brain. But it has been already shown in a previous chapter that Function is merely the word by which we describe that work which any given piece of mechanism has been adjusted to perform. The Power, or Force, which is developed through means of an "organ," is not identical with that [301/302] organ, nor with any of its parts, nor with the materials of which it is composed, nor even with its mechanism as a whole. It does not follow, for example, that Electricity is identical with the tissues of a fish, because it is developed out of the' battery of a Torpedo or a Gymnotus. Yet it is true that the development and discharge of Electricity is the "function" of those Fish-organs: that is to say, this is the work which they have been adjusted to perform. Still less do we confound Thought with Brain when we acknowledge the fact that Brain in our Organism is inseparably connected with the power of thinking.
Yet inferences as false as this, and very nearly related to it, have actually been drawn by eminent men from the facts of cerebral action. Thus it has been declared that a knowledge of Brain, under a name which is in itself a fallacy — Phrenology — is the only sure foundation of Mental Science. This is a mere confusion of thought, even if the phrenological mapping of the Brain were as certainly correct as it is really doubtful. That particular faculties of the Mind may be connected with particular portions of the Brain, is not in itself more [302/303] difficult to understand or to believe than that the Mind, as a whole, is connected with the Brain as a whole. Whether it be so or not is a question purely of observation and of fact. But this, at least, is certain,-that the different faculties and affections of the Mind must be discriminated from each other before it is possible to assign to them a local habitation. The Mind must be mapped first, and then its Organ. No additional knowledge is given to us of any one mental faculty by proving that it is connected with some special bit of the mysterious substance of which that organ is composed. Love is Love, and nothing else; Hatred is Hatred, and nothing else; Reverence is Reverence, and nothing else; the pure intellectual perception of a Logical Necessity is itself, and nothing else;-however clearly it may be proved that each of these is a function of some separate region of the Brain. When the Phrenologist, taking in his hand a human skull, and lifting its upper cover, tells us that the oval of convoluted matter which, is thus exposed to view "manifests the moral sentiments," what light does he throw on these? The moral sentiments! — what do these include? The power  of seeing Moral Beauty, and of loving Truth — the sense of justice, and the desire of serving in her cause — Conscience and Benevolence, Charity and Faith-all that is best and noblest in the human spirit-these are"manifested" in that bit of Matter! — What new information does this give us on the nature or the office of those glorious attributes which are the joy of Earth and Heaven? None at all. They are just what we knew them before to be.
Phrenology is no longer popular, as it once was, among Physiologists. Its mapping of the Brain is now generally admitted to be imaginary. But the fundamental error of the Phrenological School did not lie merely, or even mainly, on any mistake as to the mapping of the Brain.? It lay in the idea that a Science of Mind can be founded in any shape or form upon the discoveries of anatomy. Their error lay in the notion that Physiology can ever be the basis of Psychology. And this is an error, and a confusion of thought, which survives Phrenology. A profound interest indeed attaches to every new fact which connects together the parallel phenomena of Mind and of Organisation. But it is the [304/305] phenomena of Mind, and it is these alone, of which we are directly cognisant, and it is from these that we must start as the basis of all Psychological research. This is true even of those phenomena of the mind which are most purely animal. Sensation, for example, may be traced with absolute demonstration to certain nerves. This may throw a new light on the method by which Sensation is rendered possible; but it throws no new light whatever upon what Sensation is. It is that which we know and feel it to be, and it is neither more nor less since the knife of the anatomist has laid bare the channels along which it comes. Still more is this true of the Intellectual Powers. Yet there are Philosophers who appear to think that some new light is cast upon Sensation when they call it an affection of the "Sensory Ganglia;" that Thought is in some measure explained when it is called a "Cerebration," and that the Laws of Intellect are reduced to scientific expression when they are described as the working of the "Cerebral Ganglia." All this is a mere idle play on words. It is an attempt to put that first which must be last, and that last which must be first. The general [305/306] fact of the dependence of Mind on a Bodily organisation is a fact which contains within itself all the lesser facts of Physiological discovery. They are not, and they cannot be, new in kind. They do not even help us to conceive how, through any mechanism, the power of Thought can be evolved. Still less do they give us any new view of that which Thought, in itself, is.
This connexion, therefore, between Mind and Brain, although it is a universal "law" of our being, is a law recognised by us only in the sense in which Law is applied to "an observed Order of facts." But like every other Order of this kind, it implies a, Force or an arrangement of Forces out of which the Order comes. It implies, too, that this arrangement of Forces is necessary to the evolution and play of mental faculties in the form in which they are possessed by us. Consequently these faculties are seen taking their place among all the other phenomena of the world. They are seen to be under the Reign of Law in this largest and highest sense of all — that they depend upon Adjustment, and that adjustment so delicate that the slightest disturbance of it  deranges the whole resulting phenomena of Mind. Mind, as developed in us, has its very existence and working dependent on imperative physical conditions, which conditions are met only by elaborate contrivance.
We have no knowledge what the Forces are which demand this obedience, and which call for this contrivance. We have even an insuperable difficulty in conceiving what they can be. It almost seems as if there were a barrier in the very nature of our minds against the possibility of conceiving how any combination of material forces can either result in Mind, or can be necessary to the working of its powers, or can be concerned even in giving it an abode.2 "We cannot conceive," says Dr Andrew Combe, "even in the remotest manner, in what way the Brain-a compound of water, albumen, fat, and phosphate salts-operates in the generating of Thought." And yet there is one experience which brings the fact of this close connection.
This is true only in one sense. It is very far from being true, that the connexion between Mind and Matter is a necessity of thought. [307/308] nexion within the direct recognition of Consciousness. We know and feel that the act of severe thinking is attended with the expenditure of Force. The close, steady, continuous application of the mind to any subject requiring the exercise of our higher intellectual faculties, is well known to be "hard work." Without causing any bodily movement of which we are conscious, it produces, nevertheless, bodily exhaustion. It occasions the expenditure of a physical force, or at least of a force for which we have no other name. It is not uncommon for men of great age to be able to exert undiminished powers of mind for one or two hours, and then to lapse into comparative imbecility. (Thus the exertion of the Brain is like the exertion of a muscle, and is attended with the same effects. There is fatigue; and with excessive fatigue the power of motion stops.
Yet such facts as these only puzzle us — they do not help us to any clear idea of the nature or manner of a connexion which is indeed incomprehensible. We know of Mind only as itself, and as nothing else. The difference between it and all other things seems infinite and immeasurable. No doubt this [308/309] difficulty, or at least part of it, arises not from any misconception as to what Mind is, (for of this our knowledge is direct,) but from a misconception as to what Matter is — and what the Forces are which we call material. Close analysis of the phenomena of Nature, and of our own ideas in regard to them, has already prepared us to believe that these Forces which work in Matter and produce in us the impressions from which we derive our conceptions of it, are themselves immaterial, and can be traced running up into a region where they are lost in the light of Mind. The Christian doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body sanctions and involves the notion that there is some deep connexion between Spirit and Form which is essential, and which cannot be finally sundered even in the divorce of Death. The affections hold to this idea even more firmly than the intellect. Hence the noble and passionate exclamation of the Poet —
" Eternal Form shall still divide
The Eternal soul from all beside,
And I shall know him when we meet."3
But this first sense in which Mind is under [309/310] the Reign of Law — that is, its dependence on the Body, prepares us for yet other senses in which it lies under the same dominion. The very fact that the Mind is itself unconscious of its dependence upon Matter, and of the manner and conditions of its connexion with "organs," teaches us that there is a large class of phenomena connected with Mind of which we should be entirely ignorant if we trusted to the direct evidence of Consciousness alone. This ought not to inspire us with any distrust of Consciousness in those matters in which it is a competent and indeed the only witness. But there is a large class of phenomena of which Consciousness properly so called, that is the direct perception of the Mind of its own present workings, does not inform us. The Mind looking in upon. itself sees itself only, and does not see either the mechanism through which it is able to work at all, nor many of the forces which operate in it and upon it. These, some of them at least, can only be arrived at by the same processes of reasoning and observation which we apply to the external world, and by which we ascertain the action and reaction of involuntary agents. [310/311] There is nothing of which it is so difficult to persuade ourselves as of this, In the apprehension of Consciousness the sense of Will is so strong within us, that it blinds us to the insuperable conditions which limit both what we will and what we do. That our Wills, of whose freedom we are conscious, should often be determined by influences of which we have no consciousness at all; that our opinions should as often be the result of causes and not of reasons; that our actions should follow a course marked out by conditions which we fail to recognise as having any determining effect upon them-these are conclusions against which we are apt to rebel-as depriving us of a part of our free and intelligent agency. Hence the indignation with which men resent being told that they have been impelled by motives other than the motives which are avowed, and other than the motives which are consciously entertained. Yet the fact of their being so impelled is often perfectly plain to those around them. The reply, however, is always ready: "You seem to know my motives, and the causes of my conduct better than I know them myself," — as if [311/312] the proposition so stated were evidently absurd. But it is, on the contrary, a proposition which may well be true. Bystanders very often see the forces telling upon our Will much more clearly than we see them ourselves. It is possible, in deed, by a vigorous effort of self-analysis to see all that others see, and a great deal more. Those who are able really to look in upon themselves, can often detect the influences which have been acting on their minds, colouring their opinions, and determining their conduct in a degree which the higher faculties would be glad to disown and disavow. There is nothing more wonderful in the constitution of our minds than the power we have of standing aside, as it were, for a time from the ordinary channel of our own thoughts, and of looking back upon their currents coming down from the hills of Memory and Association to join their issues in our present life. But this sort of looking in upon ourselves, and treating ourselves as a subject of natural history, is to all men a difficult, and to most men an impossible, operation. They have neither time for it nor thought for it. The conscious energies [312/313] of the Will are so near us, and so ever present with us, that they shut out our view of the forces which lie behind. Yet there are some facts common in the experience of all men which may help us to a conception of the truth. One of these is the fact of Mind growing with the growth of years — a fact determined by the recollection of childhood, of youth, and of maturity. By comparing ourselves with ourselves at former periods of life — by the memory of feelings, and of opinions, and of methods of thought which we have outgrown and left behind us, we can detect the action of forces which have told upon our minds — traces, in short, of the laws to which they have been subject. Some of these laws have been nothing more than laws of physical growth — the conceptions of the Mind undergoing a development consequent on the growth of our material Organism.
Another fact bearing on the same question, but which is more easily observed in others than in ourselves, is the frequent determination of mental qualities by hereditary transmission. The famous question, as to the Origin of our Ideas, and how far they are due respectively to Experience, to [313/314] Association, or to Intuition, has been discussed by Metaphysicians with far too little reference to the organic phenomena which are so closely related to the phenomena of Mind. It is not true, indeed, that Psychology is subordinate to Physiology; but it is true that these two are so intimately connected, that neither is independent of the other. Man is not a disembodied Spirit, but a Being whose mental powers are subject to the laws of a material Organisation. And so it is that almost every fact in Physiology has an intimate bearing on some question or other in the Philosophy of Mind. No better illustration could be given than one which arises out of this question of the Origin of our Ideas. In one of the many formula of expression to which Mr J. S. Mill has reduced the assertion that Experience is the source and origin of all our thoughts and actions, he is obliged to except from the sweep of that assertion the voluntary movements of the Body. He says, "We bring about any fact, other than our own muscular contractions, by means of some other fact which experience has shown to be followed by it." 4.Now let us [314/315] observe the immense significance which attaches to this exception. Why is Mr Mill compelled to make it? Because he mixes up in one assertion two propositions which are totally distinct, one being true universally, and the other being true only partially. The first proposition is, that all facts which we can"bring about," must be so brought about by the use of means. This is true universally. The second proposition is, that we are guided to the knowledge of those means by Experience alone. Now, this last proposition is not true, as Mr Mill is obliged to confess, of the whole class of facts which are brought about by vital effort. But the muscular contractions of the Body are no exception whatever to the mere general affirmation that all actions must have a cause, or in other words, must be brought about by the use of means. Exceptions they are, however, to the affirmation that the nature of those means is made known to us by Experience. The sentence, in so far as it asserts the universal Law of causation, might have been so framed as to require no abatement or exception whatever." We bring about any fact by means of some [315/316] other fact which we know either by Experience or by Intuition to be followed by it." In this form the sentence is absolutely true, and applies to "our own muscular contractions," as well as to every other action. But philosophers who support the doctrine of Experience do not like the word "intuition;" and though they cannot do without it altogether, they use it as seldom as they can. They feel very naturally, and very truly, that if Intuition be admitted in regard to the ultimate phenomena of Volition, the idea will not easily be dispelled that Intuition may extend also to the ultimate phenomena of Thought. Now the muscular contractions of the Body stand at the very fount and origin of all we do; and it is more than probable that analogous movements of the Brain stand as near to the origin of all we think.
The bearing of this question on the Philosophy of Mind cannot be mistaken. The muscular contractions of the Body are of two kinds-one kind is constant, automatic, and lasting with the duration of life itself. The other kind is intermittent, voluntary, and capable of being destroyed whilst the Consciousness, and the Intelligence, and the [316/317] Will are still in use. Both these kinds of action are rendered possible by the use of means: but it is only in the case of one of them that those means are placed at the bidding of the Will. Yet it is not Experience which teaches us how to use those means. It is purely Instinct or Intuition. We are not even conscious of the very existence of the means which we employ, and the profoundest researches of Science do not even yet give us the faintest notion what their ultimate nature is. No experience whatever is required to teach a child how to extend its limbs or how to exert its voice. Nevertheless, neither of these things can be done except through the use of means. The only difference between these actions and actions of a more complicated kind is, that the appropriate means are resorted to and employed by Intuition. The Will which moves the limbs, and moves them through the use of a complicated machinery, is born with the organism of which that machinery forms a part, and has an instinctive knowledge how to use it. Now, it is against the analogy of Nature to suppose that this great class of facts respecting the powers of the Body are [317/318] without some corresponding facts respecting the powers of Mind. Indeed, all vital phenomena of this kind are in themselves necessarily phenomena both of Body and of Mind. The close connexion which exists between the two, and the inseparable analogies which unite all their workings, render it therefore almost certain that the Mind is to be regarded as having both kinds of movement which the physical Organism possesses — that is, faculties which are automatic in their action-and other faculties which, though subject to direction by the Will, yet work upon the materials presented to them in a manner strictly intuitive and independent of all experience.
And as the abnormal phenomena of disease, or of malformation, often throw an important light on the structure of the Body, so do certain abnormal intellectual phenomena give us strange glimpses occasionally into the powers of Mind. Among those phenomena none are more curious than the intuitive powers of numerical computation which a few individuals have possessed. There are well attested cases of this power in virtue of which the mind reaches the result of difficult [318/319] calculation by a species of Intuition-that is to say, without any consciousness of the process by which that result is made apparent to the mind. This is not a proof that there is no process, but only that it is a process gone through as a machine goes through a process — that is, according to its own pre-adjusted laws of Motion. Perhaps, indeed, this process may not be different in kind from the process by which the average mind reaches the most elementary of arithmetical truths. The product of one and one, or of two and two, may be self-evident to all of us only in the same way in which the product of a long series of figures may be self-evident to minds with an abnormal gift of the arithmetical faculty. Thus the distinction breaks down between self-evident truths and truths which are not self-evident. A truth may be self-evident to one mind which is not self-evident to another, but may require, on the contrary, a laborious process of verification. And does not this, again, lead us to see how entirely dependent are the phenomena of Mind upon the power of special Faculties, and how this power is itself dependent on the Adjustments [319/320] of Organisation? In the world of Physics we know that we are surrounded by movements which never make themselves sensible to us-pulsations which excite in our eyes no sense of light — and others which excite in our ears no sense of sound, — and all this for want of adjusted organs. And so it would seem as if the Mind of Man were an Instrument attuned only to a certain range of knowledge, but as if within that range it were capable of finer and finer adjustments to the harmonies of Truth. These cannot make themselves heard where there is no organ to catch the sound. Nor can that organ translate them into Thought,-into that conscious apprehension of which an Idea essentially consists, had it not its own pre-adjusted relation to the Verities of the World.
It must be remembered, however, in the discussion of such questions as to the Origin of our Ideas, that there has been a great want of definition in the use of terms. Are fear, and love, and hatred, and anger, and jealousy, and remorse, and joy, are these "ideas," or are they only conditions or powers of mind? If by Ideas we mean those imaginings which, [320/321] as the very word implies, involve "images" of external things, it is certain that contact with external impressions, and in this sense Experience, is essential to the formation of them. But if by Ideas we mean the elementary passions, or if we mean even those peculiarities of thought-those special tendencies of mind which lead us to view things in some particular light rather than in others, and which constitute the essential distinction between the ideas of different men — if, in short, we include in the term anything which belongs to the Thinking Faculty itself, or anything of the method according to which it works up the raw materials of Thought -then it is equally certain that Ideas in this sense are born with all of us, and that Imitation, and Experience, and Association, do but pour their material into moulds already cast for their reception.
But in reality here, as in many other questions, the rival disputants have each had some portion of the truth. They have been both right and both wrong. An Idea is not a simple, but a composite thing. It has not one origin, but a plurality [321/322] of origins. An Idea is, as it were, a fabric of which the threads come from the spinner, and the weaving from the loom. Or it is, as it were, an organic growth, of which the materials are supplied from the external world, and the structure from the world within. There are many elements in every Idea which come, and can only come, from without. There are other elements, and among them the Formative Power, which come, and only can come, from within. The Mind stands in pre-established relations to the things around it — bound to them by the infinite adjustments which may be called External Correlations of Growth. Out of these relations it is not itself, nor does its powers possess the materials whereon to work. We cannot conceive a mind having no points of contact with the external world. From that world must come all the exciting causes of Thought and of Emotion. But the form into which these are cast — the tissue into which these are woven — the force by which Ideas become a Power — all, in short, that constitutes Thought as distinguished from the things about which we think-all this comes from, and belongs to, the Mind itself. [322/323] Among the lower animals, young ones, taker from the litter or the nest, and brought up under conditions wholly removed from the teaching of their parents, whether by imitation or otherwise, will reproduce exactly all those habits of their race which belong to their natural modes of life. Many of these habits, perhaps it may be safely said all of them, imply Ideas — that is to say, they imply instincts; and instincts are in the nature of ideas — that is to say, they belong to the phenomena of Mind. And of this there is another indication in a fact which at first sight may seem trivial or irrelevant. It has been often said that one great difficulty in reasoning on this subject, is the inaccessibility to observation of the mental condition of all infant creatures. But even if this were more true than it really is, there are some creatures, not low in the scale of creation, of which it may be said that, comparatively, they have no infancy at all. These are the Gallinaceous Birds in general, and some Species in particular. They come forth from the egg perfect miniatures of their parents, and with minds as fully equipped with parental instincts as their bodies are provided with feathers [323/324] or their wings with quills. Antecedent to all experience of injury, they exhibit fear, and not only fear, but fear of the proper objects. They will flee when they see a hawk, and they will carefully avoid a stinging insect. In Europe the young of the Woodgrouse or Gelinotte are able to fly from the moment they break the shell. In Australia, and the great group of islands which connect Australia with the Asiatic continent, there is a still more curious example of the same fact. There is a Family of Birds (Megapodiae) of which the young are hatched, not by the incubation of the parents, but by the heat of fermentation generated in earthen mounds, scraped together for the purpose. From the moment the young are hatched they feed themselves, and run, and fly, and roost on trees, as if the world on which they have just opened their eyes bad been long familiar. It is said, indeed, that the Parent Bird watches the Hatching Mound, and is ready to escort the chicks upon their first appearance in the surrounding scrub. But the recognition of the Parent by the young, and the answer to her call, are the most remarkable of all among these proofs of intuitive ideas. [324/325] As a moth emerges from a Chrysalis, dries its wings, and flies away, so the young Telegallus, when it leaves the egg, is sufficiently perfect to be able to act independently.5 Nor is this all; the curious instinct by which the Bird prepares an artificial Incubator for its young is an instinct born with it-an Innate Idea expressing itself in congenital habits of body. The chick of another Species of this singular family of Birds, the Megapode, was found in confinement to be incessantly scraping up sand and gravel into heaps, and the rapidity and power with which it effected this operation is described with astonishment by its captor.
These may seem far-fetched illustrations, and of slight value in so dark a subject; but let us remember that there are no solitary facts in Nature. There are indeed extreme cases, — extreme examples of universal laws,-that is to say, of laws whose operation is ordinarily restrained within narrower limits. But here is no fact standing really alone -not one which is not bound to the whole Order of Nature by deep analogies.? That any creatures should be ushered into life so [325/326] completely organised and furnished as the young of the Gallinaceous Birds and of the Megapodes, is a fact of immense significance in the phenomena of Organic Life.
In Man analogous facts appear, modified by his infinitely wider range of character, and the infinite degrees in which the different elements of Mind are capable of being mixed in him. But although these conditions greatly complicate the result, the general phenomena are the same. Orphans, who have never had any opportunities of acquiring, by imitation, the peculiarities of their parents, will often, nevertheless, reproduce these peculiarities with curious exactness. This is a familiar fact, but it is not always remembered what this fact implies. Even when the inheritance is merely some congenital habit of body, or some trick of manner, it may, probably, imply some resemblance deeper than appears. For the Body and the Mind are in such close relationship, that congenital habits of Body are sure to be connected with congenital habits of Mind. But the inheritance is very often, so far as we can see, [326/327] purely mental. How often do we recognise the tone, character, and the very turn of thought of dead friends, in the conversation and conduct of their children! The innate tendency to look at things in the same point of view, is evidenced in the reproduction of the same mental combinations, of the same images, of the same opinions, in short, of the same ideas. Cases, more remarkable than others of this kind, attract our attention, and we at once recognise ideas as innate which are so obviously determined by the forces of hereditary transmission. But we forget how often these laws of inheritance must be working invisibly where they never break ground upon the surface. And thus it is brought home to us how the Mind may be subject to laws of which it is unconscious-how its whole habit of thought, and the aspect in which different questions present themselves to its apprehension, are in a great measure determined by the mysterious forces of congenital constitution. And what is true in one measure of the individual mind, is true, also, in other measures, of whole families and of races of Men.
But the laws of Material Organisation are not the [327/328] only laws to which Mind is subject. Obscure as these laws are, there are others which are obscurer still. What we cannot see in detail, we can see in the gross. What we cannot recognise in ourselves we are able to recognise in others. We can see that the actions and opinions of men, which are the phenomena of Mind, do range themselves in an observed Order, upon which Order we can found, even as we do in the material world, very safe conclusions as to the phenomena which will follow upon definite conditions. And when we go back to former generations — to the history of nations, and the progress of the human race-we can detect still more clearly an orderly progress of events. In that order the operation of great general causes becomes at once apparent. On the recognition of such causes the Philosophy of History depends; and upon that recognition depends not less the possibility of applying to the exigencies of our own time, and of our own society, a wise and successful legislation.
But what are these causes, and what is the nature of those "laws" to which voluntary agents are unconsciously obedient? Is man's Voluntary Agency a delusion, or is it, on the contrary, just [328/329] what we feel it to be, and is it only from misconception of its nature that we puzzle over its relation to Law? We speak, and speak truly, of our Wills being free; but free from what? It seems to be forgotten that7Freedom is not an absolute but a relative term There is no such thing existing as absolute freedom-that is to say, there is nothing existing in the world, or possible even in thought, which is absolutely Alone — entirely free from inseparable relationship to some other thing or things. Freedom, therefore, is only intelligible as meaning the being free from some particular kind of restraint or of inducement to which other beings are subject. From what, then, is it that our Wills are free? Are they free from the influence of motives? Certainly not. And what are motives? A motive is that which moves, or tends to move, the mind in a particular direction. Like all other words which are used to describe the phenomena of Mind, it is taken from the language applicable to material things, and suggests the analogies which exist between them. It belongs to the profound but unconscious metaphysics of [329/330] Human Speech. That which moves the Mind in a particular direction is best conceived of as something which exerts a force upon it, and the aggregate of such forces may, in a general sense, be called the laws which determine human action and opinions.
But here we come upon the great difficulty which besets every attempt to reduce to system the laws or forces which operate on the Mind of Man. It is the immense, the almost boundless variety and number of them. This variety corresponds with the variety of powers with which his Mind is gifted. For pre-established relations are necessary to the effect of every force, whether in the material or in the moral world. Special forces operate upon special forms of matter, and except upon these, they exert no action whatever. For no force can operate except where there are pre-established relations between its energies and the things upon which its energies are to work. The Polar Force of magnetism acts on different metals in different degrees, and there is a large class of substances which are almost insensible to its power. In like manner there are a thousand things that [330/331] exercise an attractive power on the mind of a civilised man, which would exercise no power whatever upon the mind of a savage. And in this lies the only difference between the subjection to Law under which the lower animals are placed, and the subjection to Law which is equally the condition of Mankind. Free Will, in the only sense in which this expression is intelligible, has been erroneously represented as the peculiar prerogative of Man. But the Will of the lower animals is as free as ours. A man is not more free to go to the right hand or to the left than the Eagle, or the Wren, or the Mole, or the Bat. The only difference is, that the Will of the lower animals is acted upon by fewer and simpler motives. And the lower the Organisation of the animal, the fewer and simpler these motives are. Hence it is that the conduct and choice of animals — that is, the decision of their Will under given conditions — can be predicted with almost perfect certainty. Their faculties, few in number and limited in range, are open only to the small number of forces which are related to them; and in the absence of higher faculties accessible [331/332] to other motives, these few attractions exert a determining effect upon their Will.
Accordingly we may see that, in proportion as there is an approach among the lower animals to the higher faculties of Mind, there is, in corresponding proportion, a difficulty in predicting their conduct. Perhaps the best illustration of this is a very homely one-it is the effect of baits and traps. Some animals can be trapped and caught with perfect certainty; whilst there are others upon which the motive presented by a bait is counteracted by the stronger motive of caution against danger, when a higher degree of intelligence enables the animal to detect its presence. Yet the Will of the cunning animal is not more free than the Will of the stupid animal, nor is the Will of the stupid animal more subject to Law than the Will of the cunning one. The Will of the young Rat, which yields to the temptation of a bait, and is caught, is not more subject to Law than the Will of the old Rat, who suspects stratagem, resists the temptation and escapes. They are both subject to Law in precisely the same sense and in precisely the same degree-that is to say, their [332/333] actions are alike determined by the forces to which their faculties are accessible. Where these are few and simple, the resulting action is simple also; where these are many and complicated, the resulting action has a corresponding variety. Thus the conduct of animals is less capable of being predicted in proportion as it is difficult or impossible to foresee the nature or number of the motive forces which are brought to bear upon the Will. Man's Will is free in the same sense, and in the same sense only. It is subject to Law in the same sense, and in the same sense alone. That is to say, it is subject to the influence of motives, and it can only choose among those which are presented to it, or which it has been given the power of presenting to itself.
But in this last power we touch the secret of that boundless difference which separates Man from the highest of the animals below him. There is such a gulf between the faculties of his mind and those of the lower animals, that the forces acting on the human spirit become, by comparison, innumerable, and involve motives belonging to a wholly different class and order. He [333/334] is exposed, indeed, to the lower motives in common with the beasts. But there are others which operate largely upon him which never can and never do operate upon them. Foremost among these are the motives which Man has the power of bringing to bear upon himself, arising out of his power of forming Abstract Ideas, out of his possession of Beliefs, and, above all, out of his Sense of Right and Wrong. So strong are these motives that they are able constantly to overpower, and sometimes almost to destroy the forces which are related to his lower faculties: Again, among the motives which operate upon him Man has a selecting power. He can, as it were, stand out from among them, — look down from above them, — compare them among each other, and bring them to the test of Conscience. Nay more, he can reason on his own character as he can on the character of another Being, estimating his own weakness with reference to this and the other motive, as he is conscious how each may be likely to tell upon him. When he knows that any given motive will be too strong for him if he allows himself to think of it, he can shut it out from his [334/335] mind by"keeping the door of his thoughts." He can, and he often does, refuse the thing he sees, and hold by another thing which he cannot see. He may, and he often does choose the Invisible in preference to the Visible. He may, and he often does, walk by Faith and not by Sight. It is true that in doing this he must be impelled by something which is itself only another motive, and so it is true that our Wills can never be free from motives, and in this sense can never be free from "Law." But this is only saying that we can never be free from the relations pre-established between the structure of our minds, and the system of things in which they are formed to move. From these it is true, indeed, that we never can be free. But as a matter of fact, we know that these relations do not involve compulsion. It is from compulsion that our Wills are free, and from nothing else; and for this freedom we have the only evidence we can ever have for any ultimate truth respecting the powers of Mind-the evidence of Consciousness — that is, the evidence of observation turned in upon ourselves.
The discussions of many centuries seem to [335/336] have resulted at last in some real progress upon this vexed question of Necessity and Free-will. That progress lies mainly in a clearer definition of terms. The most eminent living philosopher who represents the doctrine, commonly called the Doctrine of Necessity, repudiates that name as incorrect, expressly on the ground that the word Necessity, as commonly applied, signifies compulsion. Undoubtedly it does; and if this meaning be repudiated, then the word is not used in its ordinary and legitimate sense. This, indeed, Mr Mill confesses, whilst yet he casts upon his opponents the blame of a misunderstanding, which assuredly lies with those who do not employ ordinary words in the ordinary signification."The truth is," he says,"that the assailants of the doctrine (of Necessity) cannot do without the associations engendered by the double meaning of the word Necessity, which in this application signifies only invariability, but in its common employment, compulsion.6 He believes, therefore, in Necessity only in the sense of [336/337] Invariability. But if the doctrine which Mr Mill favours has suffered from one ambiguity, it seeks shelter itself under the protection of another ambiguity much more deceptive. If there is a double meaning in the word Necessity which has exposed the Necessitarian doctrine to unjust objections, it is equally true that there is a double meaning in the word Invariability which lends to that doctrine an undue advantage. For, as in the language of this philosophy, Necessity does not mean compulsion, so neither does Invariability mean the exclusion of variety. By Invariability, as applied to the phenomena of Mind, Mr Mill simply means that, in respect to mental action, there is an" abstract possibility of its being foreseen. "If," he says,"necessity means more than this abstract possibility of being foreseen; if it means any mysterious compulsion, apart from simple invariability of sequence, I deny it as strenuously as any one."7
But now let us insist, as in such subjects we are bound to do, on still clearer definitions. We shall then find that this favourite phrase," invariability of sequence," is as ambiguous as others of the same [337/338] class. It does not mean that any particular sequences are invariable, but only that there must always be some sequence-that it is invariably true that everything which happens has proceeded from something as a cause, and leads to something as a consequence. But this is a proposition which evidently, when reduced to its true dimensions, has no adverse bearing whatever on the doctrine of Free Will. The abstract possibility of foreseeing mental or physical action depends on the proposition, that where all the conditions of mental action are constant, the resulting action will be constant also. But surely this is not only true, but something very like a truism.8 There is nothing to object to or deny in the doctrine, that if we knew everything that determines the conduct of a man, I cannot help adding, however, on the other hand, that Mr Mill appears to me to have exposed with great force and clearness the verbal fallacies involved in Mr blansel's work on the" Limits of Religious Thought," and especially in the use he makes of such forms of expression as"The Absolute,""The Infinite," &c. See the chapter (vii.) on"The Philosophy of the Conditioned as applied by Mr Mansel to Religion," in the same work. [338/339] we should be able to know what that conduct will be. That is to say, if we knew all the motives which are brought by external things to bear upon his mind, and if we knew all the other motives which that mind evolves out of its own powers, and out of previously acquired materials, to bear upon itself; and if we knew the constitution of that mind so perfectly as to estimate exactly the weight it will allow to all the different motives operating upon it,-then we should be able to predict with certainty the resulting course of conduct.
This is true, not only as an abstract conception, but as a matter of experience in the little way towards perfect knowledge along which we can ever travel. We can predict conduct with almost perfect certainty when we know character with an equal measure of assurance, and when we know the influences to which that character will be exposed. In proportion as we are sure of character, in the same proportion we are sure of conduct. There is no certainty in the world of Physics more absolute than some certainties in the world of Mind. We know that a humane man will not do a uselessly cruel action, We [339/340] know that an honourable man will not do a base action. And if in such cases we are deceived in the result, we know that it is because we were ignorant of some weakness or of some corruption. That is to say, we were ignorant of some elements of character. But we never doubt that, if those had been known, we could have foreseen the resulting lapse. Perfect knowledge must therefore be perfect foreknowledge. To know the present perfectly, is to know the future certainly. To know all that is, is to know all that will be. To know the heart of Man completely, is to know his conduct completely also for "out of the heart are the issues of life." So far from this conclusion being dangerous or hostile to any part of the Christian system, it is a conclusion which enables us in a dim way, not merely to hold as a Belief, but to see, as a necessary truth, that there can be no chance in this world-and how it is, and must be, that to the All-seeing and Allknowing the Future is as open as the Present and the Past. But none of these ideas involve the idea of compulsion; and the absence of compulsion is all that can be meant by Freedom. [340/341] And as by Freedom, we do not mean freedom from motives, so neither do we mean that any of the phenomena of Mind, any more than any of the phenomena of Matter, can arise without "an antecedent." In this sense there is no contradiction between the doctrine of Free Will and the amended doctrine of Necessity. Man is subject to the law of Causation in this sense,"that his volitions are not self-caused, but determined by spiritual antecedents in such sort that when the antecedents are the same, the volitions will always be the same."'9 But this word "antecedent" is one of the many vague words in which metaphysicians delight. The highest antecedents which we can ever trace as determining conduct, are to be found in the constitution of the mind itself. Love is an antecedent, so is Reverence, so is Gratitude, so is the Hunger after Knowledge, so is the Desire of Truth. Higher than these-further up the chain of Cause and Effect we cannot go. And yet we need not conceive of these as "Final Causes," nor does the doctrine of our Free Will assign to the human Mind any self-originating power. Man has nothing [341/342] which he did not receive. Such freedom as his Will possesses has been given to him, and given him, too, as we have dimly seen, by the employment and by the device of means. It is a power belonging to his structure, and derived from Him by whom that structure has been devised.
"Our Wills are ours, we know not how."
The power which in health we possess of preferring one motive to all others, whilst yet the influence of those others may be strongly felt, is a power which, like every other, must have its own" antecedent" — that is to say, its own cause, and its own purpose. But these are to be found in the Adjustment from which the power arises,in the Mind by which that adjustment has been contrived, and in the Purposes which it reveals. The freedom of Man's Will is not more mysterious when it is exerted in directing the Mind to one motive, and averting it from another, than when it is exerted in turning the Body to the right hand rather than to the left.
The difficulty of reconciling in one clear Order of Thought, the idea of the Freedom of our own [333/334]
Will with the idea of Causation, is not really so great a difficulty as the use of ambitious and ambiguous language has made it appear to be. There are two sentences in Mr J. S. Mill's work, on the Philosophy of Comte, which afford the best possible illustration both of the true doctrine on the relation in which Will stands to Law, and of the false doctrine into which it may be merged by the ambiguous use of words. In one passage Mr Mill defines the Positive as distinguished from the Theological Mode of Thought to be — "that all phenomena, without exception, are governed by invariable laws, with which no volitions either natural or supernatural interfere."10 It is at least satisfactory to find in this sentence so clear an avowal that the idea of free Divine Volition in the region of the Supernatural, and the idea of free Human Volition in the region of the Natural, stand on the same ground, are exposed to the same intellectual difficulties, and are both equally denied by the new Philosophy. But as a definition of the Positive mode of thought it stands in curious contrast with another passage [343/344] of the same work, in which Mr Mill says that "the Theological mode of explaining phenomena was once universal, with the exception, doubtless, of the familiar facts which being even then seen to be controllable by human Will belonged already to the Positive Mode of Thought."11
These two sentences involve, on the face of them, contradictory positions. The one affirms that no volitions can interfere with the laws Which govern phenomena; and that tile recognition of this is the very essence of the Positive Philosophy. The other affirms that the Positive Mode of Thought is involved in the very idea of facts being controllable by human Will.
It is not, perhaps, very important to- ask which of these two sentences gives the most accurate description of the Positive Philosophy; but it is of much importance to ask which of these two positions is nearest to the truth? Beyond all doubt, it is the last. If the Positive Philosophy were content with the assertion that the power of Will over facts depends on the invariability of Laws-that is, on the constancy of [344/345] Natural Forces, it would be sound enough. And so, the second of the two sentences I have quoted sets forth the central idea of that Philosophy in its most favourable light. But in the first of those two sentences we have a concentration of all that is erroneous in Positivism, and at the same time a typical example of the ambiguities and obscurities of language on which the fallacies of that Philosophy depend. There is hardly a single word in that sentence which is not ambiguously used."Phenomena" and "facts,""govern" and"control," and "interfere with," are all used in ambiguous senses; whilst, as usual, the words" Law" and "Invariable" are used not only ambiguously, but unintelligibly. In order to test these ambiguities we have only to compare the two sentences together. " Phenomena" in the one sentence seems to correspond with "facts" in the other. Yet, we have this result, — that "phenomena" are governed by Invariable Law, whilst "facts" are controllable by human Will. It would appear, then, that the "phenomena" which are governed by Law cannot be the same with the" facts," which are controllable by Will:-or else, [345/346] if they be the same, then there must be some essential distinction between "controlling" and" governing." What is this distinction? It is not defined, or even suggested. Then, again, if no volitions can"interfere with" Laws, how can volitions"control" facts? If Will controls facts, and yet can't"interfere with" Laws, how is the control over facts exercised? What is the relation between the Laws which no volitions can "interfere with," and the "facts" which volitions do actually "control?" Can Will control facts, which again are governed by laws, without (in some sense or other) either interfering with those laws, or controlling them?
If it were possible to get any definite meaning out of this confusion of words, perhaps it might be said that Will can "control" Law, but cannot "interfere with" it. There is at least a glimmering of the truth in this. But no man could gather from those two sentences of Mr Mill what the truth is, although, after all, the truth is plain enough, if only some care be taken to confine definite words to some sort of definite meaning. If by Laws are meant the elementary Forces of Nature, and if by [346/347] "interfering" with them is meant any power of altering their own essential energies-then it is true that no volitions of ours can interfere with them. But then it cannot be too often repeated that, in this sense, phenomena are NOT governed by Invariable Laws; because phenomena are never the result of individual Forces, but are always the result of the conditions under which several Forces are combined, and these conditions are always variable. If, again,"interference" means or includes the power of setting natural Forces (Laws) to work under new conditions, then it is the reverse of truth to affirm that they cannot be"interfered" with. Man controls facts only because (in this sense) he can, and he does, interfere with Laws. His volitions can, and do, govern those combinations of Force which are the immediate cause of all phenomena.
There is no fault in philosophical discussion more pestilent than that of using common words in some technical or artificial sense, without any warning to the reader, (often apparently without any consciousness on the part of the writer,) that ideas fundamentally involved in [347/348] the ordinary use of the word, are eliminated and set aside. We have seen one instance of this in the word "necessity," emptied of its meaning of compulsion. We have another example in the use made of such words as "changeable," and others of alike kind. Thus Mr Mill quotes, with approbation, a remark of Comte, that "our power of foreseeing phenomena, and of our power of controlling them, are the two things which destroy the belief of their being governed by changeable Wills."12 All through this sentence there run the same confusions which have been pointed out in the two sentences already quoted. But there is, in addition, another confusion which has a special bearing on the subject of this chapter. Phenomena which can be controlled are phenomena which can be changed. There is no other meaning in the words. The assertion, therefore, is, that the changeability of phenomena through human agency is a fact which must destroy our belief in the changeability of the human Will itself. The sentence thus rendered is, of course, either pure nonsense, or else must be dependent for a rational [348/349] sense upon some artificial meaning being attached to the word "changeable." A Will under the guidance of some settled principle-that is to say, following habitually some prevailing motives might, by a certain licence of language, be called an unchangeable Will. But this has nothing to do with that kind of changeability which can alone concern the power of altering and controlling material phenomena. Stability of character, whether moral or purely intellectual, is not only compatible with a variable Will, but it is inseparably connected with it. No man can pursue one rule of conduct under changing conditions unless he himself retains his own capacities of change. He cannot control phenomena without changing them, and he cannot change phenomena without changing his own course of action; and a change in the course of action is a change in the course of Will.
That which is really at the bottom of all this ambiguity of language, is a constant endeavour to get rid altogether of an essential element in the very idea of Will, — to reduce it to something different from that which we all know and feel it to be. The word Will is indeed retained in the [349/350] Positive vocabulary, but some other word is generally inserted before it, to prejudice the common understanding of it, or to impart some element of meaning which can with more plausibility be denounced. Thus the Will which is denied in Nature is often described as an "arbitrary" Will or a"capricious" Will. But surely these qualifying epithets do but add to the confusion. It is true, indeed, that the Will we see in Nature is not a capricious Will. But this is not the question. The question is, whether there is, or is not, such a thing possible as caprice in Will. If there be such a thing as caprice, then the existence of it, and the power of it "to control phenomena," cannot be denied. If there be no such thing, then" capricious" is of no meaning as an epithet applied to Will. Caprice implies not only changeableness, but, so to speak, a double degree of changeableness — a changeableness which has no rule or reason in its shiftings. It is a fact that there are human Wills of this character, and the mischief they have done in the world arises from the power they possess, in common with all other Wills, of changing phenomena after [350/351] their own unreasonable nature. The truth is, that if the human Will can be described as unchangeable, then there is no such thing as changeability even conceivable in thought. There is no contrast so absolute between any two different forms of Matter, as there is between two different states of the same Mind. There is no transition in Nature from one physical condition to another so absolute or so radical as the transition to which Human Character is subject when it passes under the power of new convictions. There is no change like the change from hatred to affection, from vice to virtue, from evil to good. And this change in Mind is the efficient cause of a whole cycle of other changes among the phenomena which the human Will can and does alter, regulate, and control.
There is, then, not much real difficulty after all in disengaging the great facts of our own Free Will from the verbal confusions of the Positive Philosophy. Nor will the same methods of solution fail us when we apply them to the further question, — How far, and in what sense, are our own volitions themselves subject to Law — that is, to the influence of Adjusted Forces? [351/352] For as one great consequence of the Reign of Law over material things is the necessity of resorting to the use of appropriate means for the accomplishment of Purpose, so does the same necessity arise out of the same conditions among the phenomena of Mind. If we wish to operate upon human action, we must go to work by presenting to the Will some motive tending to produce the action we desire. Above all, if we seek to operate not merely on individual actions, but upon that which mainly determines conduct, viz., human character, we must direct our efforts to place that character under outward conditions which we know to have a favourable effect upon it. In the material world we should be powerless to control any event if we did not know it to be subject to Laws-that is, to Forces which, though not liable to change in essence, are subject to endless change in combination and in use. The same impotency would affect us, if in the moral world also definite conditions had not always an invariable tendency to produce certain definite results. It is a mere confusion of thought and of language which confounds the [352/353] "invariability" of" Laws in either moral or material, with the denial of the power of Will to vary, alter, and modify in infinite degrees the course of things. It is the fixedness of all Forces in one sense which constitutes their infinite pliability in another. It is the unchanging relation which they bear to those mental faculties by which we discover them and recognise them, that renders them capable of becoming the supple instruments of those other faculties of Will, of Reason, and of Contrivance by which we can work them for altered and better purposes.
Last modified 10 December 2008