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CHAPTER II.: THE DATA OF PHILOSOPHY. - Herbert Spencer, First Principles 
First Principles, 2nd ed. (London: Williams and Norgate, 1867).
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THE DATA OF PHILOSOPHY.
§ 39. Every thought involves a whole system of thoughts; and ceases to exist if severed from its various correlatives. As we cannot isolate a single organ of a living body, and deal with it as though it had a life independent of the rest; so, from the organized structure of our cognitions, we cannot cut out one, and proceed as though it had survived the separation. The development of formless protoplasm into an embryo, is a specialization of parts, the distinctness of which increases only as fast as their combination increases—each becomes a distinguishable organ only on condition that it is bound up with others, which have simultaneously become distinguishable organs; and, similarly, from the unformed material of consciousness, a developed intelligence can arise only by a process which, in making thoughts defined also makes them mutually dependent—establishes among them certain vital connections the destruction of which causes instant death of the thoughts. Overlooking this all-important truth, however, speculators have habitually set out with some professedly-simple datum or data; have supposed themselves to assume nothing beyond this datum or these data; and have thereupon proceeded to prove or disprove propositions which were, by implication, already unconsciously asserted along with that which was consciously asserted.
This reasoning in a circle has resulted from the misuse of words: not that misuse commonly enlarged upon—not the misapplication or change of meaning whence so much error arises; but a more radical and less obvious misuse. Only that thought which is directly indicated by each word has been contemplated; while numerous thoughts indirectly indicated have been left out of consideration. Because a spoken or written word can be detached from all others, it has been inadvertently assumed that the thing signified by a word can be detached from the things signified by all other words. Though more-deeply hidden, the mistake is of the same order as that made by the Greeks, who were continually led astray by the belief in some community of nature between the symbol and that which it symbolized. For though here community of nature is not assumed to the same extent as of old, it is assumed to this extent, that because the symbol is separable from all other symbols, and can be contemplated as having an independent existence, so the thought symbolized may be thus separated and thus contemplated. How profoundly this error vitiates the conclusions of one who makes it, we shall quickly see on taking a case. The sceptical metaphysician, wishing his reasonings to be as rigorous as possible, says to himself—“I will take for granted only this one thing.” What now are the tacit assumptions inseparable from his avowed assumption? The resolve itself indirectly asserts that there is some other thing, or are some other things, which he might assume; for it is impossible to think of unity without thinking of a correlative duality or multiplicity. In the very act, therefore, of restricting himself, he takes in much that is professedly left out. Again, before proceeding he must give a definition of that which he assumes. Is nothing unexpressed involved in the thought of a thing as defined? There is the thought of something excluded by the definition—there is, as before, the thought of other existence. But there is much more. Defining a thing, or setting a limit to it, implies the thought of a limit; and limit cannot be thought of apart from some notion of quantity—extensive, protensive, or intensive. Further, definition is impossible unless there enters into it the thought of difference; and difference, besides being unthinkable without having two things that differ, implies the existence of other differences than the one recognized; since otherwise there can be no general conception of difference. Nor is this all. As before pointed out (§ 24) all thought involves the consciousness of likeness: the one thing avowedly postulated cannot be known absolutely as one thing, but can be known only as of such or such kind—only as classed with other things in virtue of some common attribute. Thus along with the single avowed datum, we have surreptitiously brought in a number of unavowed data—existence other than that alleged, quantity, number, limit, difference, likeness, class, attribute. Saying nothing of the many more which an exhaustive analysis would disclose, we have in these unacknowledged postulates, the outlines of a general theory; and that theory can be neither proved nor disproved by the metaphysician’s argument. Insist that his symbol shall be interpreted at every step into its full meaning, with all the complementary thoughts implied by that meaning, and you find already taken for granted in the premises that which in the conclusion is asserted or denied.
In what way, then, must Philosophy set out? The developed intelligence is framed upon certain organized and consolidated conceptions of which it cannot divest itself; and which it can no more stir without using than the body can stir without help of its limbs. In what way, then, is it possible for intelligence, striving after Philosophy, to give any account of these conceptions, and to show either their validity or their invalidity? There is but one way. Those of them which are vital, or cannot be severed from the rest without mental dissolution, must be assumed as true provisionally. The fundamental intuitions that are essential to the process of thinking, must be temporarily accepted as unquestionable: leaving the assumption of their unquestionableness to be justified by the results.
§ 40. How is it to be justified by the results? As any other assumption is justified—by ascertaining that all the conclusions deducible from it, correspond with the facts as directly observed—by showing the agreement between the experiences it leads us to anticipate, and the actual experiences. There is no mode of establishing the validity of any belief, except that of showing its entire congruity with all other beliefs. If we suppose that a mass which has a certain colour and lustre is the substance called gold, how do we proceed to prove the hypothesis that it is gold? We represent to ourselves certain other impressions which gold produces on us, and then observe whether, under the appropriate conditions, this particular mass produces on us such impressions. We remember, as we say, that gold has a high specific gravity; and if, on poising this substance on the finger, we find that its weight is great considering its bulk, we take the correspondence between the represented impression and the presented impression as further evidence that the substance is gold. In response to a demand for more proof, we compare certain other ideal and real effects. Knowing that gold, unlike most metals, is insoluble in nitric acid, we imagine to ourselves a drop of nitric acid placed on the surface of this yellow, glittering, heavy substance, without causing corrosion; and when, after so placing a drop of nitric acid, no effervescence or other change follows, we hold this agreement between the anticipation and the experience to be an additional reason for thinking that the substance is gold. And if, similarly, the great malleability possessed by gold we find to be paralleled by the great malleability of this substance; if, like gold, it fuses at about 2,000 deg.; crystallizes in octahedrons; is dissolved by selenic acid; and, under all conditions, does what gold does under such conditions; the conviction that it is gold reaches what we regard as the highest certainty—we know it to be gold in the fullest sense of knowing. For, as we here see, our whole knowledge of gold consists in nothing more than the consciousness of a definite set of impressions, standing in definite relations, disclosed under definite conditions; and if, in a present experience, the impressions, relations, and conditions, perfectly correspond with those in past experiences, the cognition has all the validity of which it is capable. So that, generalizing the statement, hypotheses, down even to those simple ones which we make from moment to moment in our acts of recognition, are verified when entire congruity is found to exist between the states of consciousness constituting them, and certain other states of consciousness given in perception, or reflection, or both; and no other knowledge is possible for us than that which consists of the consciousness of such congruities and their correlative incongruities.
Hence Philosophy, compelled to make those fundamental assumptions without which thought is impossible, has to justify them by showing their congruity with all other dicta of consciousness. Debarred as we are from everything beyond the relative, truth, raised to its highest form, can be for us nothing more than perfect agreement, throughout the whole range of our experience, between those representations of things which we distinguish as ideal and those presentations of things which we distinguish as real. If, by discovering a proposition to be untrue, we mean nothing more than discovering a difference between a thing expected and a thing perceived; then a body of conclusions in which no such difference anywhere occurs, must be what we mean by an entirely true body of conclusions.
And here, indeed, it becomes also obvious that, setting out with these fundamental intuitions provisionally assumed to be true—that is, provisionally assumed to be congruous with all other dicta of consciousness—the process of proving or disproving the congruity becomes the business of Philosophy; and the complete establishment of the congruity becomes the same thing as the complete unification of knowledge in which Philosophy reaches its goal.
§ 41. What is this datum, or rather, what are these data, which Philosophy cannot do without? Clearly one primordial datum is involved in the foregoing statement. Already by implication we have assumed, and must for ever continue to assume, that congruities and incongruities exist, and are cognizable by us. We cannot avoid accepting as true the verdict of consciousness that some manifestations are like one another and some are unlike one another. Unless consciousness be a competent judge of the likeness and unlikeness of its states, there can never be established that congruity throughout the whole of our cognitions which constitutes Philosophy; nor can there ever be established that incongruity by which only any hypothesis, philosophical or other, can be shown erroneous.
The impossibility of moving towards either conviction or scepticism without postulating thus much, we shall see even more vividly on observing how every step in reasoning postulates thus much, over and over again. To say that all things of a certain class are characterized by a certain attribute, is to say that all things known as like in those various attributes connoted by their common name, are also like in having the particular attribute specified. To say that some object of immediate attention belongs to this class, is to say that it is like all the others in the various attributes connoted by their common name. To say that this object possesses the particular attribute specified, is to say that it is like the others in this respect also. While, contrariwise, the assertion that the attribute thus inferred to be possessed by it, is not possessed, implies the assertion that in place of one of the alleged likenesses there exists an unlikeness. Neither affirmation nor denial, therefore, of any deliverance of reason, or any element of such deliverance, is possible without accepting the dictum of consciousness that certain of its states are like or unlike. Whence, besides seeing that the unified knowledge constituting a completed Philosophy, is a knowledge composed of parts that are universally congruous; and besides seeing that it is the business of Philosophy to establish their universal congruity; we also see that every act of the process by which this universal congruity is to be established, down even to the components of every inference and every observation, consists in the establishment of congruity.
Consequently, the assumption that a congruity or an incongruity exists when consciousness testifies to it, is an inevitable assumption. It is useless to say, as Sir W. Hamilton does, that “consciousness is to be presumed trustworthy until proved mendacious.” It cannot be proved mendacious in this, its primordial act; since, as we see, proof involves a repeated acceptance of this primordial act. Nay more, the very thing supposed to be proved cannot be expressed without recognizing this primordial act as valid; since unless we accept the verdict of consciousness that they differ, mendacity and trustworthiness become identical. Process and product of reasoning both disappear in the absence of this assumption.
It may, indeed, be often shown that what, after careless comparison, were supposed to be like states of consciousness, are really unlike; or that what were carelessly supposed to be unlike, are really like. But how is this shown? Simply by a more careful comparison, mediately or immediately made. And what does acceptance of the revised conclusion imply? Simply that, a deliberate verdict of consciousness is preferable to a rash one; or, to speak more definitely—that a consciousness of likeness or difference which survives critical examination must be accepted in place of one that does not survive—the very survival being itself the acceptance.
And here we get to the bottom of the matter. The permanence of a consciousness of likeness or difference, is our ultimate warrant for asserting the existence of likeness or difference; and, in fact, we mean by the existence of likeness or difference, nothing more than the permanent consciousness of it. To say that a given congruity or incongruity exists, is simply our way of saying that we invariably have a consciousness of it along with a consciousness of the compared things. We know nothing more of existence than a continued manifestation.
§ 42. But Philosophy requires for its datum some substantive proposition. To recognize as unquestionable a certain fundamental process of thought, is not enough: we must recognize as unquestionable some fundamental product of thought, reached by this process. If Philosophy is completely-unified knowledge—if the unification of knowledge is to be effected only by showing that some ultimate proposition includes and consolidates all the results of experience; then, clearly, this ultimate proposition which has to be proved congruous with all others, must express a piece of knowledge, and not the validity of an act of knowing. Having assumed the trustworthiness of consciousness, we have also to assume as trustworthy some deliverance of consciousness.
What must this be? Must it not be one affirming the widest and most profound distinction which things present? Must it not be a statement of congruities and incongruities more general than any other? An ultimate principle that is to unify all experience, must be co-extensive with all experience—cannot be concerned with experience of one order or several orders, but must be concerned with universal experience. That which Philosophy takes as its datum, must be an assertion of some likeness and difference to which all other likenesses and differences are secondary. If knowing is classifying, or grouping the like and separating the unlike; and if the unification of knowledge proceeds by arranging the smaller classes of like experiences within the larger, and these within the still larger; then, the proposition by which knowledge is unified, must be one specifying the antithesis between two ultimate classes of experiences, in which all others merge.
Let us now consider what these classes are. In drawing the distinction between them, we cannot avoid using words that have indirect implications wider than their direct meanings—we cannot avoid arousing thoughts that imply the very distinction which it is the object of the analysis to establish. Keeping this fact in mind, we can do no more than ignore the connotations of the words, and attend only to the things they avowedly denote.
§ 43. Setting out from the conclusion lately reached, that all things known to us are manifestations of the Unknowable; and suppressing, so far as we may, every hypothesis respecting the something which underlies one or other order of these manifestations; we find that the manifestations, considered simply as such, are divisible into two great classes, called by some impressions and ideas. The implications of these words are apt to vitiate the reasonings of those who use the words; and though it may be possible to use them only with reference to the differential characteristics they are meant to indicate, it is best to avoid the risk of making unacknowledged assumptions. The term sensation, too, commonly used as the equivalent of impression, implies certain psychological theories—tacitly, if not openly, postulates a sensitive organism and something acting upon it; and can scarcely be employed without bringing these postulates into the thoughts and embodying them in the inferences. Similarly, the phrase state of consciousness, as signifying either an impression or an idea, is objectionable. As we cannot think of a state without thinking of something of which it is a state, and which is capable of different states, there is involved a foregone conclusion—an undeveloped system of metaphysics. Here, accepting the inevitable implication that the manifestations imply something manifested, our aim must be to avoid any further implications. Though we cannot exclude further implications from our thoughts, and cannot carry on our argument without tacit recognitions of them, we can at any rate refuse to recognize them in the terms with which we set out. We may do this most effectually by classing the manifestations as vivid and faint respectively. Let us consider what are the several distinctions that exist between these.
And first a few words on this most conspicuous distinction which these antithetical names imply. Manifestations that occur under the conditions called those of perception (and the conditions so called we must here, as much as possible, separate from all hypotheses, and regard simply as themselves a certain group of manifestations) are ordinarily far more distinct than those which occur under the conditions known as those of reflection, or memory, or imagination, or ideation. These vivid manifestations do, indeed, sometimes differ but little from the faint ones. When nearly dark we may be unable to decide whether a certain manifestation belongs to the vivid order or the faint order—whether, as we say, we really see something or fancy we see it. In like manner, between a very feeble sound and the imagination of a sound, it is occasionally difficult to discriminate. But these exceptional cases are extremely rare in comparison with the enormous mass of cases in which, from instant to instant, the vivid manifestations distinguish themselves unmistakeably from the faint. Conversely, it also now and then happens (though under conditions which we significantly distinguish as abnormal) that manifestations of the faint order become so strong as to be mistaken for those of the vivid order. Ideal sights and sounds are in the insane so much intensified as to be classed with real sights and sounds—ideal and real being here supposed to imply no other contrast than that which we are considering. These cases of illusion, as we call them, bear, however, so small a ratio to the great mass of cases, that we may safely neglect them, and say that the relative faintness of these manifestations of the second order is so marked, that we are never in doubt as to their distinctness from those of the first order. Or if we recognize the exceptional occurrence of doubt, the recognition serves but to introduce the significant fact that we have other means of determining to which order a particular manifestation belongs, when the test of comparative vividness fails us.
Manifestations of the vivid order precede, in our experience, those of the faint order; or, in the terms quoted above, the idea is an imperfect and feeble repetition of the original impression. To put the facts in historical sequence—there is first a presented manifestation of the vivid order, and then, afterwards, there may come a represented manifestation that is like it except in being much less distinct. Besides the universal experience that after having those vivid manifestations which we call particular places and persons and things, we can have those faint manifestations which we call recollections of the places, persons, and things, but cannot have these previously; and besides the universal experience that before tasting certain substances and smelling certain perfumes we are without the faint manifestations known as ideas of their tastes and smells; we have also the fact that where certain orders of the vivid manifestations are shut out (as the visible from the blind and the audible from the deaf) the corresponding faint manifestations never come into existence. It is true that in some cases the faint manifestations precede the vivid. What we call a conception of a machine may presently be followed by a vivid manifestation matching it—a so-called actual machine. But in the first place this occurrence of the vivid manifestation after the faint, has no analogy with the occurrence of the faint after the vivid—its sequence is not spontaneous like that of the idea after the impression. And in the second place, though a faint manifestation of this kind may occur before the vivid one answering to it, yet its component parts may not. Without the foregoing vivid manifestations of wheels and bars and cranks, the inventor could have no faint manifestation of his new machine. Thus, the occurrence of the faint manifestations is made possible by the previous occurrence of the vivid. They are distinguished from one another as independent and dependent.
These two orders of manifestations form concurrent series; or rather let us call them, not series, which implies linear arrangements, but heterogeneous streams or processions. These run side by side; each now broadening and now narrowing, each now threatening to obliterate its neighbour, and now in turn threatened with obliteration, but neither ever quite excluding the other from their common channel. Let us watch the mutual actions of the two currents. During what we call our states of activity, the vivid manifestations predominate. We simultaneously receive many and varied presentations—a crowd of visual impressions, sounds more or less numerous, resistances, tastes, odours, &c.; some groups of them changing, and others temporarily fixed, but altering as we move; and when we compare in its breadth and massiveness this heterogeneous combination of vivid manifestations with the concurrent combination of faint manifestations, these last sink into relative insignificance. They never wholly disappear however. Always along with the vivid manifestations, even in their greatest obtrusiveness, analysis discloses a thread of thoughts and interpretations constituted of the faint manifestations. Or if it be contended that the occurrence of a deafening explosion or an intense pain may for a moment exclude every idea, it must yet be admitted that such breach of continuity can never be immediately known as occurring; since the act of knowing is impossible in the absence of ideas. On the other hand, after certain vivid manifestations which we call the acts of closing the eyes and adjusting ourselves so as to enfeeble the vivid manifestations of pressure, sound, &c., the manifestations of the faint order become relatively predominant. The ever-varying heterogeneous current of them, no longer obscured by the vivid current, grows more distinct, and seems almost to exclude the vivid current. But while what we call consciousness continues, the current of vivid manifestations, however small the dimensions to which it is reduced, still continues: pressure and touch do not wholly disappear. It is only on lapsing into the unconsciousness termed sleep, that manifestations of the vivid order cease to be distinguishable as such, and those of the faint order come to be mistaken for them. And even of this we remain unaware till the recurrence of manifestations of the vivid order on awaking: we can never infer that manifestations of the vivid order have been absent, until they are again present; and can therefore never directly know them to be absent. Thus, of the two concurrent compound series of manifestations, each preserves its continuity. As they flow side by side, each trenches on the other, but there never comes a moment at which it can be said that the one has, then and there, broken through the other.
Besides this longitudinal cohesion there is a lateral cohesion, both of the vivid to the vivid and of the faint to the faint. The components of the vivid series are bound together by ties of co-existence as well as by ties of succession; and the components of the faint series are similarly bound together. Between the degrees of union in the two cases there are, however, marked and very significant differences. Let us observe them. Over an area occupying part of the so-called field of view, lights and shades and colours and outlines constitute a group to which, as the signs of an object, we give a certain name; and while they continue present, these united vivid manifestations remain inseparable. So, too, is it with co-existing groups of manifestations: each persists as a special combination; and most of them preserve unchanging relations with those around. Such of them as do not—such of them as are capable of what we call independent movements, nevertheless show us a constant connexion between certain of the manifestations they include, along with a variable connexion of others. And though after certain vivid manifestations known as a change in the conditions of perception, there is a change in the proportions among the vivid manifestations constituting any group, their cohesion continues—we do not succeed in detaching one or more of them from the rest. Turning to the faint manifestations, we see that while there are lateral cohesions among them, these are much less extensive, and in most cases are by no means so rigorous. After closing my eyes, I can represent an object now standing in a certain place, as standing in some other place, or as absent. While I look at a blue vase, I cannot separate the vivid manifestation of blueness from the vivid manifestation of a particular shape; but, in the absence of these vivid manifestations, I can separate the faint manifestation of the shape from the faint manifestation of blueness, and replace the last by a faint manifestation of redness. It is so throughout: the faint manifestations cling together to a certain extent, but nevertheless most of them may be re-arranged with facility. Indeed none of the individual faint manifestations cohere in the same indissoluble way as do the individual vivid manifestations. Though along with a faint manifestation of pressure there is always some faint manifestation of extension, yet no particular faint manifestation of extension is bound up with a particular faint manifestation of pressure. So that whereas in the vivid order the individual manifestations cohere indissolubly, usually in large groups, in the faint order the individual manifestations none of them cohere indissolubly, and are most of them loosely aggregated: the only indissoluble cohesions among them being between certain of their generic forms.
While the components of each current cohere with one another, they do not cohere at all strongly with those of the other current. Or, more correctly, we may say that the vivid current habitually flows on quite undisturbed by the faint current; and that the faint current, though often largely determined by the vivid, and always to some extent carried with it, may yet maintain a substantial independence, letting the vivid current slide by. We will glance at the interactions of the two. The successive faint manifestations constituting thought, fail to modify in the slightest degree the vivid manifestations that present themselves. Omitting a quite peculiar class of exceptions, hereafter to be dealt with, the vivid manifestations, fixed and changing, are not directly affected by the faint. Those which I distinguish as components of a landscape, as surgings of the sea, as whistlings of the wind, as movements of vehicles and people, are absolutely uninfluenced by the accompanying faint manifestations which I distinguish as my ideas. On the other hand, the current of faint manifestations is always somewhat perturbed by the vivid. Frequently it consists mainly of faint manifestations which cling to the vivid ones, and are carried with them as they pass—memories and suggestions as we call them, which, joined with the vivid manifestations producing them, form almost the whole body of the manifestations. At other times, when, as we say, absorbed in thought, the disturbance of the faint current is but superficial. The vivid manifestations drag after them such few faint manifestations only as constitute recognitions of them: to each impression adhere certain ideas which make up the interpretation of it as such or such. But there mean while flows on a main stream of faint manifestations wholly unrelated to the vivid manifestations—what we call a reverie, perhaps, or it may be a process of reasoning. And occasionally, during the state known as absence of mind, this current of faint manifestations so far predominates that the vivid current scarcely affects it at all. Hence, these concurrent series of manifestations, each coherent with itself longitudinally and laterally, have but a partial coherence with one another. The vivid series is quite unmoved by its passing neighbour; and though the faint series is always to some extent moved by the adjacent vivid series, and is often carried bodily along with the vivid series, it may nevertheless become in great measure separate.
Yet another all-important differential characteristic has to be specified. The conditions under which these respective orders of manifestations occur, are different; and the conditions of occurrence of each order belong to itself. Whenever the immediate antecedents of vivid manifestations are traceable, they prove to be other vivid manifestations; and though we cannot say that the antecedents of the faint manifestations always lie wholly among themselves, yet the essential ones lie wholly among themselves. These statements will need a good deal of explanation. Obviously, changes among any of the vivid manifestations we are contemplating—the motions and sounds and alterations of appearance, in what we call surrounding objects—are either changes that follow certain vivid manifestations, or changes of which the antecedents are unapparent. Some of the vivid manifestations, however, occur only under certain conditions that seem to be of another order. Those which we know as colours and visible forms presuppose open eyes. But what is the opening of the eyes, translated into the terms we are here using? Literally it is an occurrence of certain vivid manifestations. The preliminary idea of opening the eyes does, indeed, consist of faint manifestations, but the act of opening them consists of vivid manifestations. And the like is still more conspicuously the case with those movements of the eyes and the head which are followed by new groups of vivid manifestations. Similarly with the antecedents to the vivid manifestations which we distinguish as those of touch and pressure. All the changeable ones have for their conditions of occurrence certain vivid manifestations which we know as sensations of muscular tension. It is true that the conditions to these conditions are manifestations of the faint order—those ideas of muscular actions which precede muscular actions. And we are here introduced to a complication arising from the fact that what is called the body, is present to us as a set of vivid manifestations connected with the faint manifestations in a special way—a way such that in it alone certain vivid manifestations are capable of being produced by faint manifestations. There must be named, too, the kindred exception furnished by the emotions—an exception which, however, serves to enforce the general proposition. For while it is true that the emotions are to be considered as a certain kind of vivid manifestations, and are yet capable of being produced by the faint manifestations we call ideas; it is also true that because the conditions to their occurrence thus exist among the faint manifestations, we class them as belonging to the same general aggregate as the faint manifestations—do not class them with such other vivid manifestations as colours, sounds, pressures, smells, &c. But omitting these peculiar vivid manifestations which we know as muscular tensions and emotions, and which we habitually class apart, we may say of all the rest, that the conditions to their existence as vivid manifestations are manifestations belonging to their own class. In the parallel current we find a parallel truth. Though many manifestations of the faint order are partly caused by manifestations of the vivid order, which call up memories as we say, and suggest inferences; yet these results mainly depend on certain antecedents belonging to the faint order. A cloud drifts across the sun, and may or may not produce an effect on the current of ideas: the inference that it is about to rain may arise, or there may be a persistence in the previous train of thought—a difference obviously determined by conditions among the thoughts. Again, such power as a vivid manifestation has of causing certain faint manifestations to arise, depends on the pre-existence of certain appropriate faint manifestations. If I have never heard a curlew, the cry which an unseen one makes, fails to produce an idea of the bird. And we have but to remember what various trains of reflection are aroused by the same sight, to see how essentially the occurrence of each faint manifestation depends on its relations to other faint manifestations that have gone before or that co-exist.
Here we are introduced, lastly, to one of the most striking, and perhaps the most important, of the differences between those two orders of manifestations—a difference continuous with that just pointed out, but one which may with advantage be separately insisted upon. The conditions of occurrence are not distinguished solely by the fact that each set, when identifiable, belongs to its own order of manifestations; but they are further distinguished in a very significant way. Manifestations of the faint order have traceable antecedents; can be made to occur by establishing their conditions of occurrence; and can be suppressed by establishing other conditions. But manifestations of the vivid order continually occur without previous presentation of their antecedents; and in many cases they persist or cease, under either known or unknown conditions, in such way as to show that their conditions are wholly beyond control. The impression distinguished as a flash of lightning, breaks across the current of our thoughts, absolutely without notice. The sounds from a band that strikes up in the street or from a crash of china in the next room, are not connected with any of the previously-present manifestations, either of the faint or of the vivid order. Often these vivid manifestations, arising unexpectedly, persist in thrusting themselves across the current of the faint ones; which not only cannot directly affect them; but cannot even indirectly affect them. A wound produced by a violent blow from behind, is a vivid manifestation the conditions of occurrence of which were neither among the faint nor among the vivid manifestations; and the conditions to the persistence of which are bound up with the vivid manifestations in some unmanifested way. So that whereas in the faint order, the conditions of occurrence are always among the pre-existing or co-existing manifestations; in the vivid order, the conditions of occurrence are often not present.
Thus we find many salient characters in which manifestations of the one order are like one another, and unlike those of the other order. Let us briefly re-enumerate these salient characters. Manifestations of the one order are vivid and those of the other are faint. Those of the one order are originals, while those of the other order are copies. The first form with one another a series, or heterogeneous current, that is never broken; and the second also form with one another a parallel series or current that is never broken: or, to speak strictly, no breakage of either is ever directly known. Those of the first order cohere with one another, not only longitudinally but also transversely; as do also those of the second order with one another. Between manifestations of the first order the cohesions, both longitudinal and transverse, are indissoluble; but between manifestations of the second order, these cohesions are most of them dissoluble with ease. While the members of each series or current are so coherent with one another that the current cannot be broken, the two currents, running side by side as they do, have but little coherence—the great body of the vivid current is absolutely unmodifiable by the faint, and the faint may become almost separate from the vivid. The conditions under which manifestations of either order occur, themselves belong to that order; but whereas in the faint order, the conditions are always present, in the vivid order the conditions are often not present, but lie somewhere outside of the series. Seven separate characters, then, mark off these two orders of manifestations from one another.
§ 44. What is the meaning of this? The foregoing analysis was commenced in the belief that the proposition postulated by Philosophy, must affirm some ultimate classes of likenesses and unlikenesses, in which all other classes merge; and here we have found that all manifestations of the Unknowable are divisible into two such classes. What is the division equivalent to?
Obviously it corresponds to the division between object and subject. This profoundest of distinctions among the manifestations of the Unknowable, we recognize by grouping them into self and not-self. These faint manifestations, forming a continuous whole differing from the other in the quantity, quality, cohesion, and conditions of existence of its parts, we call the ego; and these vivid manifestations, indissolubly bound together in relatively-immense masses, and having independent conditions of existence, we call the non-ego. Or rather, more truly—each order of manifestations carries with it the irresistible implication of some power that manifests itself; and by the words ego and non-ego respectively, we mean the power that manifests itself in the faint forms, and the power that manifests itself in the vivid forms.
As we here see, these consolidated conceptions thus antithetically named, do not originate in some inscrutable way; but they have for their explanation the ultimate law of thought that is beyond appeal. The persistent consciousness of likeness or difference, is one which, by its very persistence, makes itself accepted; and one which transcends scepticism, since without it even doubt becomes impossible. And the primordial division of self from not-self, is a cumulative result of persistent consciousnesses of likenesses and differences among manifestations. Indeed, thought exists only through that kind of act which leads us, from moment to moment, to refer certain manifestations to the one class with which they have so many common attributes, and others to the other class with which they have common attributes equally numerous. And the myriad-fold repetition of these classings, bringing about the myriad-fold associations of each manifestation with those of its own class, brings about this union among the members of each class, and this disunion of the two classes.
Strictly speaking, this segregation of the manifestations and coalescence of them into two distinct wholes, is in great part spontaneous, and precedes all deliberate judgments; though it is endorsed by such judgments when they come to be made. For the manifestations of each order have not simply that kind of union implied by grouping them as individual objects of the same class; but, as we have seen, they have the much more intimate union implied by actual cohesion. This cohesive union exhibits itself before any conscious acts of classing take place. So that, in truth, these two contrasted orders of manifestations are substantially self-separated and self-consolidated. The members of each, by clinging to one another and parting from their opposites, themselves form these united wholes constituting object and subject. It is this self-union which gives to these wholes formed of them, their individualities as wholes, and that separateness from each other which transcends judgment; and judgment merely aids the predetermined segregation by assigning to their respective classes, such manifestations as have not distinctly united themselves with the rest of their kind.
One further perpetually-repeated act of judgment there is, indeed, which strengthens this fundamental antithesis, and gives a vast extension to one term of it. We continually learn that while the conditions of occurrence of faint manifestations are always to be found, the conditions of occurrence of vivid manifestations are often not to be found. We also continually learn that vivid manifestations which have no perceivable antecedents among the vivid manifestations, are like certain preceding ones which had perceivable antecedents among the vivid manifestations. Joining these two experiences together, there results the irresistible conception that some vivid manifestations have conditions of occurrence existing out of the current of vivid manifestations—existing as potential vivid manifestations capable of becoming actual. And so we are made vaguely conscious of an indefinitely-extended region of power or being, not merely separate from the current of faint manifestations constituting the ego, but lying beyond the current of vivid manifestations constituting the immediately-present portion of the non-ego.
§ 45. In a very imperfect way, passing over objections and omitting needful explanations, I have thus, in the narrow space that could properly be devoted to it, indicated the essential nature and justification of that primordial proposition which Philosophy requires as a datum. I might, indeed, safely have assumed this ultimate truth; which Common Sense asserts, which every step in Science takes for granted, and which no metaphysician ever for a moment succeeded in expelling from consciousness. Setting out with the postulate that the manifestations of the Unknowable fall into the two separate aggregates constituting the world of consciousness and the world beyond consciousness, I might have let the justification of this postulate depend on its subsequently-proved congruity with every result of experience, direct and indirect. But as all that follows proceeds upon this postulate, it seemed desirable briefly to indicate its warrant, with the view of shutting out criticisms that might else be made. It seemed desirable to show that this fundamental cognition is neither, as the idealist asserts, an illusion, nor as the sceptic thinks, of doubtful worth, nor as is held by the natural realist, an inexplicable intuition; but that it is a legitimate deliverance of consciousness elaborating its materials after the laws of its normal action. While, in order of time, the establishment of this distinction precedes all reasoning; and while, running through our mental structure as it does, we are debarred from reasoning about it without taking for granted its existence; analysis nevertheless enables us to justify the assertion of its existence, by showing that it is also the outcome of a classification based on accumulated likenesses and accumulated differences. In other words—Reasoning, which is itself but a formation of cohesions among manifestations, here strengthens, by the cohesions it forms, the cohesions which it finds already existing.
So much, then, for the data of Philosophy. In common with Religion, Philosophy assumes the primordial implication of consciousness, which, as we saw in the last part, has the deepest of all foundations. It assumes the validity of a certain primordial process of consciousness, without which inference is impossible, and without which there cannot even be either affirmation or denial. And it assumes the validity of a certain primordial product of consciousness, which though it originates in an earlier process, is also, in one sense, a product of this process, since by this process it is tested and stamped as genuine. In brief, our postulates are:—an Unknowable Power; the existence of knowable likenesses and differences among the manifestations of that Power; and a resulting segregation of the manifestations into those of subject and object.
Before proceeding with the substantial business of Philosophy—the complete unification of the knowledge partially unified by Science, a further preliminary is needed. The manifestations of the Unknowable, separated into the two divisions of self and not-self, are re-divisible into certain most general forms, the reality of which Science, as well as Common Sense, from moment to moment assumes. In the chapter on “Ultimate Scientific Ideas,” it was shown that we know nothing of these forms, considered in themselves. As, nevertheless, we must continue to use the words signifying them, it is needful to say what interpretations are to be put on these words.