Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 3: Whether Spirit Is a Different Thing from Body - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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CHAPTER 3: Whether Spirit Is a Different Thing from Body - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Whether Spirit Is a Different Thing from Body[cp11.2][cb-3]1
It is a celebrated question whether thinking thing (res cogitans) is completely different from body, or whether on the contrary matter itself, that is, extended thing (res extensa ), [which is] solid, mobile, and made up of different parts, can understand and will and possess within itself all that we commonly call the properties of spirits.2
Whether substance is completely different from body
A number of respectable ancient philosophers adopted the latter view, believing that certain subtle bodies, whether air, fire, or aether, are the actual thing that thinks, though none of the denser bodies can have the power of reasoning or sense.3
[The subtleties of the Cartesians about the actual nature of the soul, which they choose to locate in active thought, which is also general, I deliberately pass over, because the inward natures of all bodies are hidden from us, and all thought seems plainly to be an action or passion or state of the soul. And the only sense in which we can understand “general thought” is as the general idea of thinking, and we make no assertion about whether or not the soul is always thinking.]4
Our knowledge of things is imperfect
In this difficult question it will be well to remember that the eye of the mind is dull, and cannot penetrate to the inner natures of things, and therefore we are merely inferring likely conjectures about them from properties known by sense or experience. And it is not by arguments or reasoning based on the perceived nature of things that we are brought to adopt some of the most vital doctrines in philosophy, but rather by a certain internal sense, by experience, and by a kind of impulse of nature or instinct. Whoever sets out to settle the question before us, keeping this in mind, will find good reasons to believe that thinking thing is completely different from body.
There is a great difference between the properties of the two things
For first he will see that every kind of thought is quite different from the properties which all agree are in corporeal things, so that it cannot arise from them or from any compound of them. The only apparent result of the motion or collision of several bodies is movement in different directions or damage to the bodies and fragmentation. Nothing can truly arise from the figures of bodies except a figure, either in the things themselves or in some compound formed from them: nothing that has anything in common with sense, understanding, and will.
Certain contrary properties show that things are different from each other
What [of the fact that] every body, if we are to believe men’s reasoning, is a compound of things truly different which, however close they may be to each other, are in different places, and may easily be split apart by a suitably powerful force? And of the fact that the unique property which is in one part of a body cannot also be in another part, though it may have a similar property? The figure or motion of one part is not the figure or motion of another part, despite the fact that this other [part] has properties which are completely the same as those. By contrast, whatever properties the mind has of which it is conscious (and it has innumerable properties, including sensations, ideas, judgments, reasonings, volitions, desires, intentions), it also perceives that all these are properties of one and the same thing, which it calls its self, and it sees that they are unextended and indivisible. And it cannot doubt that it is one and the same thing which at different times feels, perceives, judges, and desires. But this cannot be the case with a corporeal system, each of whose parts has its own shapes, positions, and motions which are truly different from the qualities of the other parts.
Every man’s internal sense will show the same thing
Furthermore, the mind itself, under the guidance of nature, seems to have a consciousness of itself as distinct from every extension, indeed from the very body which it calls its own. For it seems to perceive that this body and its parts, however they may be connected with itself, are nevertheless subject to itself, to be ruled by its command, and are useful or distressing to itself: and perceives itself therefore to be distinct from that body.5
A threefold distinction between perceived properties
In order to better understand this argument, which comes from Plato or Socrates, we must not neglect a threefold distinction of perceptions. Some [perceptions], under the guidance of nature herself, refer to wholly external things, which belong to us only in the sense that they are perceived and whose changes do not affect us. There is a second kind of perception, namely, those which touch us more nearly, pervading us with a sense of pleasure or pain, and which, by a warning of nature, are always attributed to the parts of the corporeal system which we call our body, because they are associated with those places which the parts of the body occupy, and seem to arise directly from a certain motion, property, or change in those parts. These two kinds of ideas are involved in some way with corporeal properties, i.e., motion, extension, and space, and contribute nothing to the true dignity and excellence of man or to his depravity and baseness, and one would not put a lower or higher value on himself or another [person] on the basis of these ideas.
Finally, there is a third kind of perception, foreign to every corporeal property, which represents the very properties of man or of the human mind, and involves no ideas of space, extension, or motion, but depicts the true properties of each self, from which are fashioned all its dignity, goodness, and excellence on the one hand, and all its evil, depravity, and baseness on the other. Such are the notions of understanding, cognition, knowledge, reasoning, love, benevolence, faithfulness, and virtue, and of their contraries; none of them have anything in common with any kind of corporeal property.
Thinking thing is a certain single thing, and is simple: body is an aggregate of several things
Moreover, every body is made up of parts which are really different, and every corporeal property is also divisible, so that a part of a property inheres in individual parts of a body, but the properties which, under the guidance of nature, are thought to be the properties of the mind itself are undivided and simple, and cannot be dissipated through the various parts of the body or diffused through the parts of space occupied by the body.6 We are therefore right to conclude that thinking thing is a simple substance, totally distinct from matter.
Thinking thing is active (actuosa), body inert
The human mind is also aware that it is endowed with a true power of acting. For it not only judges and desires, which are true actions, but also directs its attention wherever it may wish, and turns away from one thing and concentrates on another, entertains or ignores ideas it has received, and magnifies or minimizes them; it analyzes complex ideas or compounds simple ideas, and even sets the body in motion. But all body, if the physicists are correct, is inert, always retaining its own state or motion unless an external force impinges on it.
[Here should come a consideration of those divine powers which we see are in minds; there is memory, and that an almost infinite [memory] of innumerable things; there is invention and excogitation, which investigates hidden things; which has given names to all things; which has captured the almost infinite vocal sounds in a few marks of letters; which has brought together scattered men and summoned them to society of life; which has marked the various courses of the stars; which has discovered benefits, clothing, houses, cities, and the cultivation and protections of life; and has developed from necessary structures to more elegant things, whence so many delights/amusements have come, from poetry, eloquence, and the skills of painting, sculpting, and engraving. Why should I mention philosophy, a divine gift, which has educated us to the worship of God, to the law of men which lies in community and society, to modesty and magnanimity, and every virtue: surely this power is divine and is not of the heart or of the brain, or of the blood, or of the bile, bones, or muscles? can it be in these crude elements of which bodies are composed?]7
There is no generation or corruption of spirit
These same [arguments] will show that spirit is neither generated in the manner of bodies nor perishes. For bodies are generated when there is a due formation, combination, and motion of previously existing parts, and they die when this combination, formation, and motion is removed. From this simplicity of the soul is derived what is called its physical immortality, for the dissolution of the body is by no means necessarily followed by the death of the thing which is quite different from it. But it needs a deeper inquiry to determine whether human minds will survive and live after the death of the body, and we will discuss it later.8
[On the place of spirits
The simplicity of minds offers a reason for doubting whether they occupy space or have any relationship to space. One may make inferences about unknown natures only from their properties. Now, the properties of minds exclude all extension and figure. Indeed, in the present state of things, our minds can act only on external things by way of the body, and their senses are aroused by the movements of bodies; in fact, certain perceptions, in a wonderful and inexplicable way, are related to parts of the body, and others to things or places distant from the body. But the ideas which exhibit the properties of the mind itself are not related to any place. It is not therefore agreed whether a place should be assigned to the mind otherwise than by mere external denomination, drawn from its body. Indeed in this question, as in others raised about the nature of the mind, the gaze of the mind has to be withdrawn from its habitual familiarity with the eyes and the other senses, as well as from hastily adopted opinions, lest we imagine that only those things are true which are perceived by the senses.
The conclusion of all this is that the human mind is “a thinking substance, endowed with reason, totally distinct from body, which desires knowledge and a diverse happiness; and it can find it chiefly in knowledge itself, in the kindly affections of the will, and in action consistent with them; it is normally joined in close union with a living body and is affected by its changes.”]9
[1 ]This chapter was located in Part II, chapter 1 of the first edition (1742). See note 2 to Part II, chapter 1, pp. 111-12.
[2 ]In this chapter and the next, Hutcheson may be supposed to have had in mind the extended debate between Samuel Clarke, on the one hand, and Henry Dodwell and Anthony Collins, on the other, collected in The Works of Samuel Clarke, vol. 3, pp. 719-913, and the later defense of Clarke by Andrew Baxter in An Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul. For a review of eighteenth-century debates on the question whether it may be possible for matter to think, see John Yolton, Thinking Matter: Materialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain.
[3 ]See Aristotle, On the Soul, I, 2, 405 a-b (pp. 24-28).
[4 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[5 ]In the third edition (1749), a note was added: “See Plato, in Alcibiades I and passim” (Plato, Alcibiades I.129b-130e).
[6 ]Compare the discussion in Hutcheson’s A System of Moral Philosophy, p. 200: “The simplicity and unity of consciousness could not result from modes dispersed and inherent in an aggregate of different bodies in distinct places.” The note to this sentence urges the reader to consult Aristotle, De Anima, I, i, Dr. Samuel Clarke, and “Mr. Baxter’s ingenious book on the subject.”
[7 ]This paragraph was inserted at this place in the third edition (1749). There is also a note to this paragraph: “See Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, I, 24-30.”
[8 ]See Part II, chap. 4, sec. 3, pp. 147-49.
[9 ]These two paragraphs were added in 1744.