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CHAPTER XXIV.: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION. - Herbert Spencer, First Principles 
First Principles, 2nd ed. (London: Williams and Norgate, 1867).
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SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION.
§ 184. At the close of a work like this, it is more than usually needful to contemplate as a whole that which the successive chapters have presented in parts. A coherent knowledge implies something more than the establishment of connections: we must not rest after seeing how each minor group of truths falls into its place within some major group, and how all the major groups fit together. It is requisite that we should retire a space, and, looking at the entire structure from a distance at which details are lost to view, observe its general character.
Something more than recapitulation—something more even than an organized re-statement, will come within the scope of the chapter. We shall find that in their ensemble the general truths reached exhibit, under certain aspects, a oneness not hitherto observed.
There is, too, a special reason for noting how the various divisions and sub-divisions of the argument consolidate; namely, that the theory at large thereby obtains a final illustration. The reduction of the generalizations that have been set forth to a completely integrated state, exemplifies once more the process of Evolution, and strengthens still further the general fabric of conclusions.
§ 185. Here, indeed, we find ourselves brought round unexpectedly, and very significantly, to the truth with which we set out, and with which our re-survey must commence. For this integrated form of knowledge is the form which, apart from the doctrine of Evolution, we decided to be the highest form.
When we inquired what constitutes Philosophy—when we compared men’s various conceptions of Philosophy, so that, eliminating the elements in which they differed we might see in what they agreed; we found in them all, the tacit implication that Philosophy is completely unified knowledge. Apart from each particular scheme of unified knowledge, and apart from the proposed methods by which unification is to be effected, we traced in every case the belief that unification is possible, and that the end of Philosophy is the achievement of it.
Accepting this conclusion, we went on to consider the data with which Philosophy must set out. Fundamental propositions, or propositions not deducible from deeper ones, can be established only by showing the complete congruity of all the results reached through the assumption of them; and, premising that they were assumed till so established, we took as our data, those organized components of our intelligence without which there cannot go on the mental processes implied by philosophizing.
From the specification of these we passed to certain primary truths-—“The Indestructability of Matter,” “The Continuity of Motion,” and “The Persistence of Force;” of which the last is ultimate and the others derivative. Having previously seen that our experiences of Matter and Motion are resolvable into experiences of Force; we further saw the truths that Matter and Motion are unchangeable in quantity, to be implications to the truth that Force is unchangeable in quantity. This we discovered is the truth by derivation from which all other truths are to be proved.
The first of the truths which presented itself to be so proved, was “The Persistence of the Relations among Forces.” This, which is ordinarily called Uniformity of Law, we found to be a necessary implication of the fact that Force can neither arise out of nothing nor lapse into nothing.
The deduction next drawn, was that forces which seem to be lost are transformed into their equivalents of other forces; or, conversely, that forces which become manifest, do so by disappearance of pre-existing equivalent forces. Of these truths we found illustrations in the motions of the heavenly bodies, in the changes going on over the Earth’s surface, and in all organic and super-organic actions.
It turned out to be the same with the law that everything moves along the line of least resistence, or the line of greatest traction, or their resultant. Among movements of all orders, from those of stars down to those of nervous discharges and commercial currents, it was shown both that this is so, and that, given the Persistence of Force, it must be so.
So, too, we saw it to be with “The Rhythm of Motion.” All motion alternates—be it the motion of planets in their orbits or ethereal molecules in their undulations—be it the cadences of speech or the rises and falls of prices; and, as before, it became manifest that Force being persistent, this perpetual reversal of Motion between limits is inevitable.
§ 186. These truths holding of all existences, were recognized as of the kind required to constitute what we distinguished as Philosophy. But, on considering them, we perceived that as they stand they do not form anything like a Philosophy; and that a Philosophy cannot be formed by any number of such truths separately known. Each such truth expresses the general law of some one factor by which phenomena, as we habitually experience them, are produced; or, at most, expresses the law of co-operation of some two factors. But knowing what are the elements of a process, is not knowing how these elements combine to effect it. That which alone can unify knowledge must be the law of co-operation of all the factors—a law expressing simultaneously the complex antecedents and the complex consequents which any phenomenon as a whole presents.
A further inference was that Philosophy, as we understand it, must not unify separate concrete phenomena only; and must not stop short with unifying separate classes of concrete phenomena; but must unify all concrete phenomena. If the law of operation of each factor holds true throughout the Cosmos; so, too, must the law of their co-operation. And hence in comprehending the Cosmos as conforming to this law of co-operation, must consist that highest unification which Philosophy seeks.
Descending from this abstract statement to a concrete one, we saw that the law sought must be the law of the continuous re-distribution of Matter and Motion. The changes everywhere going on, from those which are slowly altering the structure of our galaxy down to those which constitute a chemical decomposition, are changes in the relative positions of component parts; and everywhere necessarily imply that along with a new arrangement of Matter there has arisen a new arrangement of Motion. Hence we may be certain, à priori, that there must be a law of the concomitant re-distribution of Matter and Motion, which holds of every change; and which, by thus unifying all changes, must be the basis of a Philosophy.
In commencing our search for this universal law of re-distribution, we contemplated from another point of view the problem of Philosophy; and saw that its solution could not but be of the nature indicated. It was shown that a Philosophy stands self-convicted of inadequacy, if it does not formulate the whole series of changes passed through by every existence in its passage from the imperceptible to the perceptible and again from the perceptible to the imperceptible. If it begins its explanations with existences that already have concrete forms, or leaves off while they still retain concrete forms; then, manifestly, they had preceding histories, or will have succeeding histories, or both, of which no account is given. And as such preceding and succeeding histories are subjects of possible knowledge, a Philosophy which says nothing about them, falls short of the required unification. Whence we saw it to follow that the formula sought, equally applicable to existences taken singly and in their totality, must be applicable to the whole history of each and to the whole history of all.
By these considerations we were brought within view of the formula. For if it had to comprehend the entire progress from the imperceptible to the perceptible and from the perceptible to the imperceptible; and if it was also to express the continuous re-distribution of Matter and Motion; then, obviously, it could be no other than one defining the opposite processes of concentration and diffusion in terms of Matter and Motion. And if so, it must be a statement of the truth that the concentration of Matter implies the dissipation of Motion, and that, conversely, the absorption of Motion implies the diffusion of Matter.
Such, in fact, we found to be the law of the entire cycle of changes passed through by every existence—loss of motion and consequent integration, eventually followed by gain of motion and consequent disintegration. And we saw that besides applying to the whole history of each existence, it applies to each detail of the history. Both processes are going on at every instant; but always there is a differential result in favour of the first or the second. And every change, even though it be only a transposition of parts, inevitably advances the one process or the other.
Evolution and Dissolution, as we name these opposite transformations, though thus truly defined in their most general characters, are but incompletely defined; or rather, while the definition of Dissolution is sufficient, the definition of Evolution is extremely insufficient. Evolution is always an integration of Matter and dissipation of Motion; but it is in most cases much more than this. The primary re-distribution of Matter and Motion is usually accompanied by secondary re-distributions.
Distinguishing the different kinds of Evolution so produced as simple and compound, we went on to consider under what conditions the secondary re-distributions which make Evolution compound, take place. We found that a concentrating aggregate which loses its contained motion rapidly, or integrates quickly, exhibits only simple Evolution; but in proportion as its largeness, or the peculiar constitution of its components, hinders the dissipation of its motion, its parts, while undergoing that primary re-distribution which results in integration, undergo secondary re-distributions producing more or less complexity.
§ 187. From this conception of Evolution and Dissolution as together making up the entire process through which things pass; and from this conception of Evolution as dividing into simple and compound; we went on to consider the law of Evolution, as exhibited among all orders of existences, in general and in detail.
The integration of Matter and concomitant dissipation of Motion, was traced not in each whole only, but in the parts into which each whole divides. By the aggregate Solar System, as well as by each planet and satellite, progressive concentration has been, and is still being, exemplified. In each organism that general incorporation of dispersed materials which causes growth, is accompanied by local in-corporations, forming what we call organs. Every society while it displays the aggregative process by its increasing mass of population, displays it also by the rise of dense masses in special parts of its area. And in all cases, along with these direct integrations there go the indirect integrations by which parts are made mutually dependent.
From this primary re-distribution we were led on to consider the secondary re-distributions, by inquiring how there came to be a formation of parts during the formation of a whole. It turned out that there is habitually a passage from homogeneity to heterogeneity, along with the passage from diffusion to concentration. While the matter composing the Solar system has been assuming a denser form, it has changed from unity to variety of distribution. Solidification of the Earth has been accompanied by a progress from comparative uniformity to extreme multiformity. In the course of its advance from a germ to a mass of relatively great bulk, every plant and animal also advances from simplicity to complexity. The increase of a society in numbers and consolidation has for its concomitant an increased heterogeneity both of its political and its industrial organization. And the like holds of all super-organic products—Language, Science, Art, and Literature.
But we saw that these secondary re-distributions are not thus completely expressed. At the same time that the parts into which each whole is resolved become more unlike one another, they also become more sharply marked off. The result of the secondary re-distributions is therefore to change an indefinite homogeneity into a definite heterogeneity. This additional trait also we found to be traceable in evolving aggregates of all orders. Further consideration, however, made it apparent that the increasing definiteness which goes along with increasing heterogeneity, is not an independent trait; but that it results from the integration which progresses in each of the differentiating parts, while it progresses in the whole they form.
Further, it was pointed out that in all evolutions, inorganic, organic, and super-organic, this change in the arrangement of Matter is accompanied by a parallel change in the arrangement of Motion: every increase in structural complexity involving a corresponding increase in functional complexity. It was shown that along with the integration of molecules into masses, there arises an integration of molecular motion into the motion of masses; and that as fast as there results variety in the sizes and forms of aggregates and their relations to incident forces, there also results variety in their movements.
The transformation thus contemplated under separate aspects, being in itself but one transformation, it became needful to unite these separate aspects into a single conception—to regard the primary and secondary re-distributions as simultaneously working their various effects. Every where the change from a confused simplicity to a distinct complexity, in the distribution of both matter and motion, is incidental to the consolidation of the matter and the loss of its motion. Hence the re-distribution of the matter and of its retained motion, is from a diffused, uniform, and indeterminate arrangement, to a concentrated, multiform, and determinate arrangement.
§ 188. We come now to one of the additions that may be made to the general argument while summing it up. Here is the fit occasion for observing a higher degree of unity in the foregoing inductions, than we observed while making them.
The law of Evolution has been thus far contemplated as holding true of each order of existences, considered as a separate order. But the induction as so presented, falls short of that completeness which it gains when we contemplate these several orders of existences as forming together one natural whole. While we think of Evolution as divided into astronomic, geologic, biologic, psychologic, sociologic, &c., it may seem to a certain extent a coincidence that the same law of metamorphosis holds throughout all its divisions. But when we recognize these divisions as mere conventional groupings, made to facilitate the arrangement and acquisition of knowledge—when we regard the different existences with which they severally deal as component parts of one Cosmos; we see at once that there are not several kinds of Evolution having certain traits in common, but one Evolution going on everywhere after the same manner. We have repeatedly observed that while any whole is evolving, there is always going on an evolution of the parts into which it divides itself; but we have not observed that this equally holds of the totality of things, as made up of parts within parts from the greatest down to the smallest. We know that while a physically-cohering aggregate like the human body is getting larger and taking on its general shape, each of its organs is doing the same; that while each organ is growing and becoming unlike others, there is going on a differentiation and integration of its component tissues and vessels; and that even the components of these components are severally increasing and passing into more definitely heterogeneous structures. But we have not duly remarked that, setting out with the human body as a minute part, and ascending from it to greater parts, this simultaneity of transformation is equally manifest—that while each individual is developing, the society of which he is an insignificant unit is developing too; that while the aggregate mass forming a society is becoming more definitely heterogeneous, so likewise is that total aggregate, the Earth, of which the society is an inappreciable portion; that while the Earth, which in bulk is not a millionth of the Solar System, progresses towards its concentrated and complex structure, the Solar System similarly progress; and that even its transformations are but those of a scarcely appreciable portion of our Sidereal System, which has at the same time been going through parallel changes.
So understood, Evolution becomes not one in principle only, but one in fact. There are not many metamorphoses similarly carried on; but there is a single metamorphosis universally progressing, wherever the reverse metamorphosis has not set in. In any locality, great or small, throughout space, where the occupying matter acquires an appreciable individuality, or distinguishableness from other matter, there Evolution goes on; or rather, the acquirement of this appreciable individuality is the commencement of Evolution. And this holds uniformly; regardless of the size of the aggregate, regardless of its inclusion in other aggregates, and regardless of the wider evolutions within which its own is comprehended.
§ 189. After making them, we saw that the inductions which, taken together, establish the law of Evolution, do not, so long as they remained inductions, form coherent parts of that whole rightly named Philosophy; nor does even the foregoing passage of these inductions from agreement into identity, suffice to produce the unity sought. For, as was pointed out at the time, to unify the truths thus reached with other truths, it is requisite to deduce them from the Persistence of Force. Our next step, there-fore, was to show why, Force being persistent, the transformation which Evolution shows us necessarily results.
The first conclusion arrived at was, that any finite homogenous aggregate must inevitably lose its homogeneity, through the unequal exposure of its parts to incident forces. It was pointed out that the production of diversities of structure by diverse forces, and forces acting under diverse conditions, has been illustrated in astronomic evolution; and that a like connection of cause and effect is seen in the large and small modifications undergone by our globe. The early changes of organic germs supplied further evidence that unlikenesses of structure follow unlikenesses of relations to surrounding agencies—evidence enforced by the tendency of the differently placed members of each species to diverge into varieties. And we found that the contrasts, political and industrial, which arise between the parts of societies, serve to illustrate the same principle. The instability of the homogeneous thus everywhere exemplified, we also saw holds in each of the distinguishable parts into which any uniform whole lapses; and that so the less heterogeneous tends continually to become more heterogeneous.
A further step in the inquiry disclosed a secondary cause of increasing multiformity. Every differentiated part is not simply a seat of further differentiations, but also a parent of further differentiations, but also a parent of further differentiations; since, in growing unlike other parts, it becomes a centre of unlike reactions on incident forces, and by so adding to the diversity of forces at work, adds to the diversity of effects produced. This multiplication of effects proved to be similarly traceable throughout all Nature—in the actions and reactions that go on throughout the Solar System, in the never-ceasing geologic complications, in the involved symptoms produced in organisms by disturbing influences, in the many thoughts and feelings generated by single impressions, and in the ever-ramifying results of each new agency brought to bear on a society. To which was added the corollary, confirmed by abundant facts, that the multiplication of effects advances in a geometrical progression along with advancing heterogeneity.
Completely to interpret the structural changes constituting Evolution, there remained to assign a reason for that increasingly-distinct demarcation of parts, which accompanies the production of differences among parts. This reason we discovered to be, the segregation of mixed units under the action of forces capable of moving them. We saw that when unlike incident forces have made the parts of an aggregate unlike in the natures of their component units, there necessarily arises a tendency to separation of the dissimilar units from one another, and to a clustering of those units which are similar. This cause of the local integrations that accompany local differentiations, turned out to be likewise exemplified by all kinds of Evolution—by the formation of celestial bodies, by the moulding of the Earth’s crust, by organic modifications, by the establishment of mental distinctions, by the genesis of social divisions.
At length, to the query whether these processes have any limit, there came the answer that they must end in equilibrium. That continual division and subdivision of forces, which changes the uniform into the multiform and the multiform into the more multiform, is a process by which forces are perpetually dissipated; and dissipation of them, continuing as long as there remain any forces unbalanced by opposing forces, must end in rest. It was shown that when, as happens in aggregates of various orders, many movements are going on together, the earlier dispersion of the smaller and more resisted movements, establishes moving equilibria of different kinds: forming transitional stages on the way to complete equilibrium. And further inquiry made it apparent that for the same reason, these moving equilibria have a certain self-conserving powers; shown in the neutralization of perturbations, and the adjustment to new conditions. This general principle of equilibration, like the preceding general principles, was traced throughout all forms of Evolution—astronomic, geologic, biologic, mental and social. And our concluding inference was, that the penultimate stage of equilibration, in which the extremest multiformity and most complex moving equilibrium are established, must be one implying the highest conceivable state of humanity.
But the fact which it here chiefly concerns us to remember, is that each of these laws of the re-distribution of Matter and Motion, was found to be a derivative law—a law deducible from the fundamental law. The Persistence of Force being granted, there follow as inevitable inferences “The Instability of the Homogeneous” and “The Multiplication of Effects;” while “Segregation” and “Equilibration” also become corollaries. And thus discovering that the processes of change formulated under these titles are so many different aspects of one transformation, determined by an ultimate necessity, we arrive at a complete unification of them—a synthesis in which Evolution in general and in detail becomes known as an implication of the law that transcends proof. Moreover, in becoming thus unified with one another, the complex truths of Evolution become simultaneously unified with those simpler truths shown to have a like affiliation—the equivalence of transformed forces, the movement of every mass and molecule along its line of least resistance, and the limitation of its motion by rhythm. Which further unification brings us to a conception of the entire plexus of changes presented by each concrete phenomenon, and by the aggregate of concrete phenomena, as a manifestation of one fundamental fact—a fact shown alike in the total change and in all the separate changes composing it.
§ 190. Finally we turned to contemplate, as exhibited throughout Nature, that process of Dissolution which forms the complement of Evolution; and which inevitably, at some time or other, undoes what Evolution has done.
Quickly following the arrest of Evolution in aggregates that are unstable, and following it at periods often long delayed but reached at last in the stable aggregates around us, we saw that even to the vast aggregate of which all these are parts—even to the Earth as a whole—Dissolution must eventually arrive. Nay we even saw grounds for the belief that the far vaster masses dispersed at almost immeasurable intervals through space, will, at a time beyond the reach of finite imaginations, share the same fate; and that so universal Evolution will be followed by universal Dissolution—a conclusion which, like those preceding it, we saw to be deducible from the Persistence of Force.
It may be added that in so unifying the phenomena of Dissolution with those of Evolution, as being manifestations of the same ultimate law under opposite conditions, we also unify the phenomena presented by the existing Universe with the like phenomena that have preceded them and will succeed them—so far, at least, as such unification is possible to our limited intelligences. For if, as we saw reason to think, there is an alternation of Evolution and Dissolution in the totality of things—if, as we are obliged to infer from the Persistence of Force, the arrival at either limit of this vast rhythm brings about the conditions under which a counter-movement commences—if we are hence compelled to entertain the conception of Evolutions that have filled an immeasurable past and Evolutions that will fill an immeasurable future; we can no longer contemplate the visible creation as having a definite beginning or end, or as being isolated. It becomes unified with all existence before and after; and the Force which the Universe presents, falls into the same category with its Space and Time, as admitting of no limitation in thought.
§ 191. So rounding off the argument, we find its result brought into complete coalescence with the conclusion reached in Part I.; where, independently of any inquiry like the foregoing, we dealt with the relation between the Knowable and the Unknowable.
It was there shown by analysis of both our religious and our scientific ideas, that while knowledge of the cause which produces effects on our consciousness is impossible, the existence of a cause for these effects is a datum of consciousness. We saw that the belief in a Power of which no limit in Time or Space can be conceived, is that fundamental element in Religion which survives all its changes of form. We saw that all Philosophies avowedly or tacitly recognize this same ultimate truth:—that while the Relativist rightly repudiates those definite assertions which the Absolutist makes respecting existence transcending perception, he is yet at last compelled to unite with him in predicating existence transcending perception. And this inexpugnable consciousness in which Religion and Philosophy are at one with Common Sense, proved to be likewise that on which all exact Science is based. We found that subjective Science can give no account of those conditioned modes of being which constitute consciousness, without postulating unconditioned being. And we found that objective Science can give no account of the world which we know as external, without regarding its changes of form as manifestations of something that continues constant under all forms. This is also the implication to which we are now led back by our completed synthesis. The recognition of a persistent Force, ever changing its manifestations but unchanged in quantity throughout all past time and all future time, is that which we find alone makes possible each concrete interpretation, and at last unifies all concrete interpretations. Not, indeed, that this coincidence adds to the strength of the argument as a logical structure. Our synthesis has proceeded by taking for granted at every step this ultimate truth; and the ultimate truth cannot, therefore, be regarded as in any sense an outcome of the synthesis. Nevertheless, the coincidence yields a verification. For when treating of the data of Philosophy, it was pointed out that we cannot take even a first step without making assumptions; and that the only course is to proceed with them as provisional, until they are proved true by the congruity of all the results reached. This congruity we here see to be perfect and all-embracing—holding throughout that entire structure of definite consciousness of relations which we call Knowledge, and harmonizing with it that indefinite consciousness of existence transcending relations which forms the essence of Religion.
§ 192. Towards some result of this order, inquiry, scientific, metaphysical, and theological, has been, and still is, manifestly advancing. The coalescence of polytheistic conceptions into the monotheistic conception, and the reduction of the monotheistic conception to a more and more general form in which personal superintendence becomes merged in universal immanence, clearly shows this advance. It is equally shown in the fading away of old theories about “essences,” “potentialities,” “occult virtues,” &c.; in the abandonment of such doctrines as those of “Platonic Ideas,” “Pre-established Harmonies,” and the like; and in the tendency towards the identification of Being as present to us in consciousness, with Being as otherwise conditioned beyond consciousness. Still more conspicuous is it in the progress of Science; which, from the beginning has been grouping isolated facts under laws, uniting special laws under more general laws, and so reaching on to laws of higher and higher generality; until the conception of universal laws has become familiar to it.
Unification being thus the characteristic of developing thought of all kinds, and eventual arrival at unity being fairly inferable, there arises yet a further support to our conclusion. Since, unless there is some other and higher unity, the unity we have reached must be that towards which developing thought tends; and that there is any other and higher unity is scarcely supposable. Having grouped the changes which all orders of existences display into inductions; having merged these inductions into a single induction; having interpreted this induction deductively; having seen that the ultimate truth from which it is deduced is one transcending proof; it seems, to say the least, very improbable that there can be established a fundamentally different way of unifying that entire process of things which Philosophy has to interpret. That the foregoing accumulated verifications are all illusive, or that an opposing doctrine can show a greater accumulation of verifications, is not easy to conceive.
Let no one suppose that any such implied degree of trustworthiness is alleged of the various minor propositions brought in illustration of the general argument. Such an assumption would be so manifestly absurd, that it seems scarcely needful to disclaim it. But the truth of the doctrine as a whole, is unaffected by errors in the details of its presentation. If it can be shown that the Persistence of Force is not a datum of consciousness; or if it can be shown that the several laws of force above specified are not corollaries from it; or if it can be shown that, given these laws, the re-distribution of Matter and Motion does not necessarily proceed as described; then, indeed, it will be shown that the theory of Evolution has not the high warrant here claimed for it. But nothing short of this can shake the general conclusions arrived at.
§ 193. If these conclusions be accepted—if it be agreed that the phenomena going on everywhere are parts of the general process of Evolution, save where they are parts of the reverse process of Dissolution; then we may infer that all phenomena receive their complete interpretation, only when recognized as parts of these processes. Whence it follows that the limit towards which Knowledge is advancing, must be reached when the formulæ of these processes are so applied as to yield a total and specific interpretation of each phenomenon in its entirety, as well as of phenomena in general.
The partially-unified knowledge distinguished as Science, does not yet include such total interpretations. Either, as in the more complex sciences, the progress is almost exclusively inductive; or, as in the simpler sciences, the deductions are concerned with the component phenomena; and at present there is scarcely a consciousness that the ultimate task is the deductive interpretation of phenomena in their state of composition. The Abstract Sciences, dealing with the forms under which phenomena are presented, and the Abstract-Concrete Sciences, dealing with the factors by which phenomena are produced, are, philosophically considered, the handmaids of the Concrete Sciences, which deal with the produced phenomena as existing in all their natural complexity. The laws of the forms and the laws of the factors having been ascertained, there then comes the business of ascertaining the laws of the products, as determined by the inter-action of the co-operative factors. Given the Persistence of Force, and given the various derivative laws of Force, and there has to be shown not only how the actual existences of the inorganic world necessarily exhibit the traits they do, but how there necessarily result the more numerous and involved traits exhibited by organic and super-organic existences—how an organism is evolved? what is the genesis of human intelligence? whence social progress arises?
It is evident that this development of Knowledge into an organized aggregate of direct and indirect deductions from the Persistence of Force, can be achieved only in the remote future; and, indeed, cannot be completely achieved even then. Scientific progress is progress in that equilibration of thought and things which we saw is going on, and must continue to go on; but which cannot arrive at perfection in any finite period. Still, though Science can never be entirely reduced to this form; and though only at a far distant time can it be brought nearly to this form; much may even now be done in the way of approximation.
Of course, what may now be done, can be done but very imperfectly by any single individual. No one can possess that encyclopedic information required for rightly organizing even the truths already established. Nevertheless as progress is effected by increments—as all organization, beginning in faint and blurred outlines, is completed by successive modifications and additions; advantage may accrue from an attempt, however rude, to reduce the facts now accumulated—or rather certain classes of them—to something like co-ordination. Such must be the plea for the several volumes which are to succeed this; dealing with the respective divisions of what we distinguished at the outset as Special Philosophy.
§ 194. A few closing words must be said, concerning the general bearings of the doctrines that are now to be further developed. Before proceeding to interpret the detailed phenomena of Life, and Mind, and Society, in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force, the reader must be reminded in what sense the interpretations are to be accepted.
It is true that their purely relative character has been repeatedly insisted upon; but the liability to misinterpretation is so great, that notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, there will probably have arisen in not a few minds, the conviction that the solutions which have been given, along with those to be derived from them, are essentially materialistic. Having, throughout life, constantly heard the charge of materialism made against those who ascribed the more involved phenomena to agencies like those which produce the simplest phenomena, most persons have acquired repugnance to such modes of interpretation; and the universal application of them, even though it is premised that the solutions they give can be but relative, will probably rouse more or less of the habitual feeling. Such an attitude of mind, however, is significant, not so much of a reverence for the Unknown Cause, as of an irreverence for those familiar forms in which the Unknown Cause is manifested to us. Men who have not risen above that vulgar conception which unites with Matter the contemptuous epithets “gross” and “brute,” may naturally feel dismay at the proposal to reduce the phenomena of Life, of Mind, and of Society, to a level with those which they think so degraded. But whoever remembers that the forms of existence which the uncultivated speak of with so much scorn, are shown by the man of science to be the more marvellous in their attributes the more they are investigated, and are also proved to be in their ultimate natures absolutely incomprehensible—as absolutely incomprehensible as sensation, or the conscious something which perceives it—whoever clearly recognizes this truth, will see that the course proposed does not imply a degradation of the so-called higher, but an elevation of the so-called lower. Perceiving as he will, that the Materialist and Spiritualist controversy is a mere war of words, in which the disputants are equally absurd—each thinking he understands that which it is impossible for any man to understand—he will perceive how utterly groundless is the fear referred to. Being fully convinced that whatever nomenclature is used, the ultimate mystery must remain the same, he will be as ready to formulate all phenomena in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force, as in any other terms; and will rather indeed anticipate, that only in a doctrine which recognizes the Unknown Cause as co-extensive with all orders of phenomena, can there be a consistent Religion, or a consistent Philosophy.
Though it is impossible to prevent misrepresentations, especially when the questions involved are of a kind that excite so much animus, yet to guard against them as faras may be, it will be well to make a succinct and emphatic re-statement of the Philosophico-Religious doctrine which pervades the foregoing pages. Over and over again it has been shown in various ways, that the deepest truths we can reach, are simply statements of the widest uniformities in our experience of the relations of Matter, Motion, and Force; and that Matter, Motion, and Force are but symbols of the Unknown Reality. A Power of which the nature remains for ever inconceivable, and to which no limits in Time or Space can be imagined, works in us certain effects. These effects have certain likenesses of kind, the most general of which we class together under the names of Matter, Motion, and Force; and between these effects there are likenesses of connection, the most constant of which we class as laws of the highest certainty. Analysis reduces these several kinds of effect to one kind of effect; and these several kinds of uniformity to one kind of uniformity. And the highest achievement of Science is the interpretation of all orders of phenomena, as differently-conditioned manifestations of this one kind of effect, under differently-conditioned modes of this one kind of uniformity. But when Science has done this, it has done nothing more than systematize our experience; and has in no degree extended the limits of our experience. We can say no more than before, whether the uniformities are as absolutely necessary, as they have become to our thought relatively necessary. The utmost possibility for us, is an interpretation of the process of things as it presents itself to our limited consciousness; but how this process is related to the actual process we are unable to conceive, much less to know. Similarly, it must be remembered that while the connection between the phenomenal order and the ontological order is for ever inscrutable; so is the connection between the conditioned forms of being and the unconditioned form of being for ever inscrutable. The interpretation of all phenomena in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force, is nothing more than the reduction of our complex symbols of thought, to the simplest symbols; and when the equation has been brought to its lowest terms the symbols remain symbols still. Hence the reasonings contained in the foregoing pages, afford no support to either of the antagonist hypotheses respecting the ultimate nature of things. Their implications are no more materialistic than they are spiritualistic; and no more spiritualistic than they are materialistic. Any argument which is apparently furnished to either hypothesis, is neutralized by as good an argument furnished to the other. The Materialist, seeing it to be a necessary deduction from the law of correlation, that what exists in consciousness under the form of feeling, is transformable into an equivalent of mechanical motion, and by consequence into equivalents of all the other forces which matter exhibits; may consider it therefore demonstrated that the phenomena of consciousness are material phenomena. But the Spiritualist, setting out with the same data, may argue with equal cogency, that if the forces displayed by matter are cognizable only under the shape of those equivalent amounts of consciousness which they produce, it is to be inferred that these forces, when existing out of consciousness, are of the same intrinsic nature as when existing in consciousness; and that so is justified the spiritualistic conception of the external world, as consisting of something essentially identical with what we call mind. Manifestly, the establishment of correlation and equivalence between the forces of the outer and the inner worlds, may be used to assimilate either to the other; according as we set out with one or other term. But he who rightly interprets the doctrine contained in this work, will see that neither of these terms can be taken as ultimate. He will see that though the relation of subject and object renders necessary to us these antithetical conceptions of Spirit and Matter; the one is no less than the other to be regarded as but a sign of the Unknown Reality which underlies both.