Графични страници
PDF файл

life in the ordinary sense of the terms. at irrational thinkers : surely he might With death, the personal activity of leave such to the soft influences of time which the soul is the popular hypostasis and due medical treatment of their ' grey is put into commission among posterity, pulp'in Colney Hatch or elsewhere. and the future life is an immortality by On the other hand, Mr. Harrison candeputy.

not possibly be attacking those who hold Neither in these views, nor in the ar- that the feeling of devotion is the conguments by which they are supported, is comitant, or even the consequent, of a there much novelty. But that which ap- molecular change in the brain ; for he pears both novel and interesting to me is tells us, in language the explicitness of the author's evidently sincere and heart- which leaves nothing to be desired, that felt conviction that his powerful advoca- To positive methods, every fact of thinking cy of soulless spirituality and mortal im- reveals itself as having functional relation mortality is consistent with the intellect- with molecular change. Every fact of will or ual scorn and moral reprobation which of feeling is in similar relation with kindred

molecular facts. he freely pours forth upon the 'irrational and debasing physicism' of materialism On mature consideration I feel shut and materialists, and with the wrath with up to one of two alternative hypotheses. which he visits what he is pleased to call Either the corrupting doctrine' to which the intrusion of physical science, espe- Mr. Harrison refers is held by no rationcially of biology, into the domain of so- al thinker-in which case, surely neither cial phenomena.

he nor I need trouble ourselves about it Listen to the storm :

-or the phrase, ' Devotion is a definite We certainly do reject, as earnestly as any molecular change in this and that convoschool can, that which is most fairly called lution of grey pulp,' means that devotion Materialism, and we will second every word has a functional relation with such moof those who cry out that civilisation is in danger if the workings of the human spirit are

lecular change; in which case, it is Mr. to become questions of physiology, and if Harrison's own view, and therefore, let us death is the end of a man, as it is the end of a hope, cannot be a 'corrupting doctrine.' sparrow. We not only assent to such pro- I am not helped out of the difficulty I tests, but we see very pressing need for mak. have thus candidly stated, when I try to ing them. It is a corrupting doctrine to'open a brain, and to tell us that devotion is a de- get at the meaning of another hard sayfinite molecular change in this and that con- ing of Mr. Harrison's, which follows after volution of grey pulp, and that if man is the the corrupting doctrine' paragraph: first of living animals, he passes away after a * And all doctrines, more or less, do tend short space like the beasts that perish. And all doctrines, more or less, do tend to this,

to this [corrupting doctrine], which offer which offer physical theories as explaining physical theories as explaining moral moral phenomena, which deny man a spiritual phenomena.' in addition to a moral nature, which limit his Nevertheless, on pp. 626-7, Mr. Harmoral life to the span of his bodily organism, rison says with great force and tolerable. and which have no place for ‘religion' in the proper sense of the word.

accuracy: Now Mr. Harrison can hardly think it conscience, and he blushes. Check his cir

Man is one, however compound. Fire his worth while to attack imaginary oppo- culation, and he thinks wildly, or thinks not nents, so that I am led to believe that at all. Impair his secretions, and moral sense there must be somebody who holds the is dulled, discolored, or depraved ; his as* corrupting doctrine'.that devotion is a pirations flag, his hope, love, faith reel. Imdefinite molecular change in this and pair them still more, and he becomes a brute.

A cup of drink degrades his moral nature bethat convolution of grey pulp.' Never- low that of a swine. Again, a violent emo. theless, my conviction is shaken by a tion of pity or horror makes him vomit. A passage which occurs at p. 627 : 'No lancet will restore him from delirium to clear rational thinker now pretends that imag

thought. Excess of thought will waste his

sinews. Excess of muscular exercise will ination is simply the vibration of a par- deaden thought. An emotion will double the ticular fibre. If no rational thinker strength of his muscles. And at last the pretends this of imagination, why should prick of a needle or a grain of mineral will in any pretend it of devotion ? And yet I

an instant lay to rest for ever his body and its cannot bring myself to think that all Mr. unity, and all the spontaneous activities of inThese are the obvious and ancient observa- brought within the range of physiologitions about the human organism. But modern

telligence, feeling, and action, with which that Harrison's passionate rhetoric is hurled compound organism was charged.

cal inquiry. If impaired secretions dephilosophy and science have carried these hints into complete explanations. By a vast

prave the moral sense, it becomes an inaccumulation of proof positive thought at last teresting and important problem to ascerhas established a distinct correspondence be- tain what diseased viscus may have been tween every process of thought or of feeling

responsible for the Priest in Absolution; and some corporeal phenomenon.

and what condition of the grey pulp I cry with Shylock :

may have conferred on it such a patho'Tis very true, O wise and upright judge.

logical steadiness of faith as to create the

hope of personal immortality, which Mr. But if the establishment of the corre- Harrison stigmatises as so selfishly imspondence between physical phenomena moral. on the one side, and moral and intellect- I should not like to undertake the reual phenomena on the other, is properly sponsibility of advising anybody to dogto be called an explanation (let alone a matise about anything; but surely if, as complete explanation) of the human organ- Mr. Harrison so strongly urges, the ism, surely Mr. Harrison's teachings whole range of man's powers, from the come dangerously near that tender of finest spiritual sensibility down to a mere physical theories in explanation of moral automatic contraction, falls into one cophenomena which he warns us leads herent scheme, being all the multiform straight to corruption.

functions of a living organism in presBut perhaps I have misinterpreted Mr. ence of its encircling conditions ;' then Harrison. For a few lines further on we the man who endeavors to ascertain the are told, with due italic emphasis, that exact nature of these functions, and to ‘no man can explain volition by purely determine the influence of conditions anatomical study.' I should have thought upon them, is more likely to be in a pothat Mr. Harrison might have gone much sition to tell us something worth hearing further than this. No man ever ex- about them, than one who is turned from plained any physiological fact by purely such study by cheap pulpit thunder touchanatomical study. Digestion cannot be ing the presumption of biological reaso explained, nor respiration, nor reflex soning about spiritual things.' action. It would have been as relevant Mr. Harrison, as we have seen, is not to affirm that volition could not be ex- quite so clear as is desirable respecting plained by measuring an arc of the meri- the limits of the provinces of anatomy dian.

and physiology. Perhaps he will permit I am obliged to note the fact that Mr.

me to inform him that physiology is the Harrison's biological studies have not science which treats of the functions of proceeded so far as to enable him to dis- the living 'organism, ascertains their cocriminate between the province of anat- ordinations and their correlations in the omy and that of physiology, because it general chain of causes and effects, and furnishes the key to an otherwise mys- traces out their dependence upon the terious utterance which occurs at p. physical states of the organs by which 631:

these functions are exercised. The exA man whose whole thoughts are absorbed planation of a physiological function is in cutting up dead monkeys and live frogs the demonstration of the connection of has no more business to dogmatise about reli- that function with the molecular state of gion than a mere chemist to improvise a 20

the organ which exerts the function. ology.

Thus the function of motion is explained Quis negavit? But if, as, on Mr. when the movements of the living (body Harrison's own showing, is the case, the are found to have certain molecular progress of science (not anatomical, but changes for their invariable antecedents; physiological) has established a distinct the function of sensation is explained correspondence between every process of when the 'molecular changes, which are thought or of feeling and some corporeal the invariable antecedents of sensations, phenomenon,' and if it is true that 'im- are discovered. paired secretions' deprave the moral The fact that it is impossible to comsense, and make 'hope, love, and faith prehend how it is that a physical state reel,' surely the religious feelings are gives rise to a mental state, no more les- .


sens the value of the explanation in the But Mr. Harrison is not an impatient latter case, than the fact that it is utterly theologian-indeed, no theologian at all, impossible to comprehend how motion is unless, as he speaks of 'Soul' when he communicated from one body to anoth- means certain bodily functions, and of er, weakens the force of the explanation *Future life' when he means personal of the motion of one billiard ball by annihilation, he may make his master's showing that another has hit it.

Grand être suprême the subject of a theThe finest spiritual sensibility, says ology; and one stumbles upon this wellMr. Harrison (and I think that there is worn fragment of too familiar declamaa fair presumption that he is right), is a tion amongst his vigorous periods, with function of a living organism-is in rela- the unpleasant surprise of one who finds tion with molecular facts. In that case, a fly in a precious ointment. the physiologist may reply, 'It is my There are people from whom one does business to find out what these molecu- not expect well-founded statement and lar facts are, and whether the relation thoughtful, however keen, argumentabetween them and the said spiritual tion, embodied in precise language. sensibility is one of antecedence in the From Mr. Harrison one does. But I molecular fact, and sequence in the spir- think he will be

think he will be at a loss to answer the itual fact, or vice versa. If the latter re- question, if I pray him to tell me of any sult comes out of my inquiries, I shall representative of physical science who, have made a contribution towards either arrogantly or otherwise, has ever moral theory of physical phenomena; if attempted to dispose of moral' truths on the former, I shall have done somewhat a physical or physiological basis. If I towards building up a physical theory of am to take the sense of the words litemoral phenomena. But in any case I am rally, I shall not dispute the arrogance not outstepping the limits of my proper of the attempt to dispose of a moral truth province : my business is to get at the a bare, or even on a covered, physitruth, respecting such questions at all cal or physiological basis; for, whether risks; and if you tell me that one of the truth is deep or shallow, I cannot these two results is a corrupting doctrine, conceive how the feat is to be performed. I can only say that I perceive the in- Columbus's difficulty with the egg is as tended reproach conveyed by the ob- nothing to it. But I suppose what is servation, but that I fail to recognise its meant is, that some arrogant people have relevance. If the doctrine is true, its so- tried to upset morality by the help of cial septic or antiseptic properties are physics and physiology. I am sorry if not my affair. My business as a biolo- such people exist, because I shall have gist is with physiology, not with morals.' to be much ruder to them than Mr. Har

This plea of justification strikes me as rison is. I should not call them arrogant, complete; whence, then, the following any more than I should apply that epioutbreak of angry eloquence ?

thet to a person who attempted to upset The arrogant attempt to dispose of the

Euclid by the help of the Rigveda. Acdeepest moral truths of human nature on a curacy might be satisfied, if not propriebare physical or physiological basis is almost ty, by calling such a person a fool; but enough to justify the insurrection of some im

it appears to me that it would be the patient theologians against science itself.

height of injustice to term him arrogant. 'That strain again : it has a dying Whatever else they may be, the laws fall;' nowise similar to the sweet south of morality, under their scientific aspect, upon a bank of violets, however, but like are generalisations based upon the obthe death-wail of innumerable 'impatient served phenomena of society; and, theologians' as from the high 'drum ec- whatever may be the nature of moral apclesiastic'they view the waters of science probation and disapprobation, these feelflooding the Church on all hands. The ings are, as a matter of experience, assobeadles have long been washed away;

ciated with certain acts. escape by pulpit stairs is even becoming The consequences of men's actions doubtful, without kirtling those outward will remain the same, however far our investments which distinguish the priest analysis of the causes which lead to them from the man so high that no one will may be pushed: theft and murder would see there is anything but the man left. be none the less objectionable if it were possible to prove that they were the re- founder onwards, stricken with metasult of the activity of special theft and physical incompetence, and equally incamurder cells in that'grey pulp’of which pable of appreciating the true spirit of Mr. Harrison speaks so scornfully. scientific method, it is now essaying to Does any sane man imagine that any cover the nakedness of its philosophical quantity of physiological analysis will materialism with the rags of a spiritualislead people to think breaking their legs tic phraseology out of which the original or putting their hands into the fire desir- sense has wholly departed. I understand able? And when men really believe that and I respect the meaning of the word breaches of the moral law involve their ‘soul,' as used by Pagan and Christian penalties as surely as do breaches of the philosophers for what they believe to be physical law, is it to be supposed that the imperishable seat of human personeven the very firmest disposal of their ality, bearing throughout eternity its burmoral truths upon a bare physical or den of woe, or its capacity for adoration physiological basis' will tempt them to and love. I confess that my dull moral incur those penalties ?

sense does not enable me to see anything I would gladly learn from Mr. Harri- base or selfish in the desire for a future son where, in the course of his studies, life among the spirits of the just made he has found anything inconsistent with perfect; or even among a few such poor what I have just said in the writings of fallible souls as one has known here bephysicists or biologists. I would entreat low. him to tell us who are the true material- And if I am not satisfied with the eviists, the scientific specialists' who 'neg- dence that is offered me that such a soul lect all philosophical and religious syn- and such a future life exist, I am content thesis,' and who submit religion to the to take what is to be had and to make the test of the scalpel or the electric bat- best of the brief span of existence that is tery;' where the materialism which is within my reach, without reviling those 'marked by the ignoring of religion, the whose faith is more robust and whose passing by on the other side and shut- hopes are richer and fuller. But in the ting the eyes to the spiritual history of interests of scientific clearness, I object mankind,' is to be found.

to say that I have a soul, when I mean, I will not believe that these phrases all the while, that my organism has cer. are meant to apply to any scientific men tain mental functions which, like the of whom I have cognisance, or to any rest, are dependent upon its molecular recognised system of scientific thought composition, and come to an end when I

- they would be too absurdly inappro- die; and I object still 'more to affirm priate—and I cannot believe that Mr. that I look to a future life, when all that Harrison indulges in empty rhetoric. I mean is, that the influence of my say. But I am disposed to think that they ings and doings will be more or less felt would not have been used at all, except by a number of people after the physical for that deep-seated sympathy with the components of that organism are scat' impatient theologian' which character- tered to the four winds. ises the Positivist school, and crops out, Throw a stone into the sea, and there characteristically enough, in more than is a sense in which it is true that the one part of Mr. Harrison's essay. wavelets which spread around it have an

Mr. Harrison tells us that ' Positivism effect through all space and all time. is prepared to meet the theologians.' I Shall we say that the stone has a future agree with him, though not exactly in his life? sense of the words-indeed, I have for- It is not worth while to have broken merly expressed the opinion that the away, not without pain and grief, from meeting took place long ago, and that beliefs which, true or false, embody great the faithful lovers, impelled by the in- and fruitful conceptions, to fall back into stinct of a true affinity of nature, have the arms of a half-breed between science met to part no more. Ecclesiastical to and theology, endowed, like most halfthe core from the beginning, Positivism breeds, with the faults of both parents is now exemplifying the law that the out- and the virtues of neither. And it is unward garment adjusts itself, sooner or wise by such a lapse to expose oneself to later, to the inward From its the temptation of holding with the hare and hunting with the hounds of using do not represent existing things, but the weapons of one progenitor to damage qualities, relations, consequences, prothe other. I cannot but think that the cesses, or occurrences, like victory, virmembers of the Positivist school in this tue, life, order, or destruction, which do country stand in some danger of falling but belong to substances, or result from into that fatal error; and I put it to them them without any distinct existence of to consider whether it is either consistent their own. A thing signified by a word or becoming for those who hold that of the former class cannot possibly be 'the finest spiritual sensibility' is a mere identical or even homogeneous with a bodily function, to join in the view-hal- thing signified by a word of the second loo, when the hunt is up against biologi- class. A fiddle is not only a different cal science to use their voices in swell. thing from a tune, but it belongs to aning. the senseless cry that 'civilisation is other and totally distinct order of ideas. in danger if the workings of the human To this distinction the English mind at spirit are to become questions of physi- some period of its history must have been ology.'


imperfectly alive. If a Greek confound

ed κτίσις with κτίσμα, an act with a thing, Lord BLACHFORD.

it was the fault of the individual. But Mr. Harrison is of opinion that the the English language, instead of precluddifference between Christians and him- ing such a confusion, almost, one would self on this question of the soul and the say, labors to propagate it. Such future life 'turns altogether on habits of words as 'building, announcement,' thought.' What appears to the Positivist ‘preparation, or 'power,' are equally flimsy will, he says, seem to the Christian available to signify either the act of consublime, and vice versa, 'simply because struction or an edifice-either the act of our minds have been trained in different proclaiming or a placard-either the act logical methods,' and this apparently be- of preparing, or a surgical specimencause Positivism 'pretends to no other either the ability to do something, or the basis than positive knowledge and scien- being in which that ability resides. Such tific logic.' But if this is so, it is not, I imperfections of language infuse themthink, quite consistent to conclude, as selves into thought. And I venture to he does, that it is idle to dispute about think that the slight superciliousness our respective logical methods, or to put with which Mr. Harrison treats the docthis or that habit of mind in a combat trines which such persons as myself enwith that.' As to the combatants this tertain respecting the soul is in some demay be true. But it surely is not gree due to the fact that positive 'habits idle, but very much to the purpose, for of thought' and 'logical methods' do the information of those judges to whom not recognise so completely as ours the the very act of publication appeals, to distinction which I have described as discuss habits and methods on which, it that between a fiddle and a tune. is declared, the difference altogether Again, my own habit of mind is to turns.

distinguish more pointedly than Mr. I note therefore in limine what, as I go Harrison does between a unit and a on, I shall have occasion to illustrate, complex whole. When I speak of an one or two differences between the meth- act of individual will, I seem to myods of Mr.. Harrison and those in which self to speak of an indivisible act proI have been trained.

ceeding from a single being. The unity I have been taught to consider that is not merely in my mode of reprecertain words or ideas represent what are sentation, but in the thing signified. If called by logicians substances, by Mr. I speak of an act of the national will Harrison, I think, entities, and by oth- say a determination to declare war-I ers, as the case may be, persons, beings, speak of the concurrence of a number of objects, or articles. Such are air, earth, individual wills, each acting for itself, men, horses, chairs, and tables. Their and under an infinite variety of influpeculiarity is that they have each of ences, but so related to each other and them a separate, independent, substan- so acting in concert that it is convenient tive existence. They are.

to represent them under the aggregate There are other words or ideas which term 'nation.' I use a term which sig

« ПредишнаНапред »