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A FRAGMENT ON ONTOLOGY; NOW FIRST PUBLISHED, FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS OF JEREMY BENTHAM. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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A FRAGMENT ON ONTOLOGY; NOW FIRST PUBLISHED, FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS OF JEREMY BENTHAM.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
If the term Ontology be considered, as it generally is, synonymous with that of Metaphysics, and be held to embrace all that is brought together by the English writers on that science, the following tract will be found to illustrate but a very small branch of the subject. The original MSS. have indeed all the appearance of being purely fragmentary; and it is probable that the Author intended to incorporate them in the great system of Mental Philosophy, of a design to prepare which he has left so many traces, and of which the works on Logic, Language, and Grammar, which follow this, may be considered as portions. Although thus limited in extent, it was thought best to publish these pages in the form of a separate work, as the analysis and classification of the matter of thought and language which they contain, form what may be called the elements of the Author’s Psychical System, and are understood, or more briefly repeated, in all his examinations of the operations of the mind. The philosophical reader will perhaps find in them a key to many of the difficulties that created the controversy between the Realists and the Nominalists; and they undoubtedly throw considerable light on that dispute. The reader who wishes to follow out this subject will find farther elucidations of it in the tract on Logic, at pp. 246, 262, and in that on Language, at p. 327.
The MSS. from which this tract is edited bear date 1813, 1814, and 1821.
The most general, that is, the most extensive propositions belonging to physics, to somatology, the only branch of physics that comes under the cognisance of sense, are considered as forming a separate branch of art and science, under the very uncharacteristic name of mathematics.
The most general and extensive propositions belonging to physics, in the largest sense of the word, including Somatology* and Psychology† taken together, have been considered as forming, in like manner, a separate discipline, to which the name of Ontology has been assigned.
The field of Ontology, or as it may otherwise be termed, the field of supremely abstract entities is a yet untrodden labyrinth,—a wilderness never hitherto explored.
In the endeavour to bring these entities to view, and place them under the reader’s eye in such sort that to each of their names, ideas as clear, correct, and complete as possible, may by every reader who will take the trouble, be annexed and remain attached, the following is the course that will be pursued.
Those of which the conception is most simple, will all along precede those of which the conception is less simple; in other words, those words to the understanding of which, neither any other word, nor the import of any other word, will be necessary, will be brought to view in the first place, and before any of those which in their import bear a necessary and more or less explicit or implied reference to the ideas attached to this or that other word.
CLASSIFICATION OF ENTITIES.
Division of Entities.
An entity is a denomination in the import of which every subject matter of discourse, for the designation of which the grammatical part of speech called a noun-substantive is employed, may be comprised.
Entities may be distinguished into perceptible and inferential.
An entity, whether perceptible or inferential, is either real or fictitious.
Of Perceptible Entities.
A perceptible entity is every entity the existence of which is made known to human beings by the immediate testimony of their senses, without reasoning, i. e. without reflection. A perceptible real entity is, in one word, a body.‡
The name body is the name of the genus generalissimum of that class of real entities. Under this genus generalissimum, a system of divisions which has for its limit the aggregate of all distinguishable individual bodies, may be pursued through as many stages as are found conducive to the purposes of discourse, at any such stage, and at any number of such stages, the mode of division may be bifurcate§ and exhaustive, i. e. all-comprehensive.
The division according to which bodies are spoken of as subjects of one or other of the three physical kingdoms, viz. animal, vegetable, and mineral, is a trifurcate division. By substituting to this one stage of division, two stages, each of them bifurcate, the division may be rendered, or rather shown to be, exhaustive; as thus:—
A body is either endued with life, or not endued with life.
A body endued with life, is either endued with sensitive life, or with life not sensitive.
A body endued with sensitive life, is an animal; a body endued with a life not sensitive, is a vegetable; a body not endued with life, is a mineral.
Of Inferential Entities.
An inferential entity, is an entity which, in these times at least, is not made known to human beings in general, by the testimony of sense, but of the existence of which the persuasion is produced by reflection—is inferred from a chain of reasoning.
An inferential entity is either, 1. Human; or, 2. Super-human.
1. A human inferential entity, is the soul considered as existing in a state of separation from the body.
Of a human soul, existing in a state of separation from the body, no man living will, it is believed, be found ready to aver himself to have had perception of any individual example; or, at any rate, no man who, upon due and apposite interrogation would be able to obtain credence.
Considered as existing and visiting any part of our earth in a state of separation from the body, a human soul would be a ghost: and, at this time of day, custom scarcely does, fashion certainly does not command us to believe in ghosts.
Of this description of beings, the reality not being, in any instance, attested by perception, cannot therefore be considered any otherwise than as a matter of inference.*
2. A superhuman entity is either supreme or subordinate.
The supreme, superhuman, inferential entity is God: sanctioned by revelation; sanctioned by the religion of Jesus as delivered by the apostle Paul, is the proposition that no man hath seen God at any time. If this proposition be correct, God not being consistently with the imperfection of the human senses capable of being referred to the class of perceptible real entities, cannot, in consequence of the imperfection under which human reason labours, cannot, any more than the soul of man considered as existing in a separate state, be referred by it to any other class than that of inferential real entities as above described.†
A subordinate superhuman entity is either good or bad. A good subordinate superhuman inferential entity is an angel; a bad subordinate superhuman inferential entity is a devil.
By the learner as well as by the teacher of logic, all these subjects of Ontology may, without much detriment, it is believed, to any other useful art, or any other useful science, be left in the places in which they are found.
Of real Entities.
A real entity is an entity to which, on the occasion and for the purpose of discourse, existence is really meant to be ascribed.
Under the head of perceptible real entities may be placed, without difficulty, individual perceptions of all sorts:‡ the impressions produced in groups by the application of sensible objects to the organs of sense: the ideas brought to view by the recollection of those same objects; the new ideas produced under the influence of the imagination, by the decomposition and recomposition of those groups;—to none of these can the character, the denomination, of real entities be refused.
Faculties, powers of the mind, dispositions: all these are unreal; all these are but so many fictitious entities. When a view of them comes to be given, it will be seen how perfectly distinguishable, among psychical entities, are those which are recognised in the character of real, from those which are here referred to the class of fictitious entities.
To some it may seem matter of doubt whether, to a perception of any kind, the appellation of a real entity can, with propriety, be applied.
Certain it is that it cannot, if either solidity or permanence be regarded as a quality belonging to the essence of reality.
But in neither of these instances can, it is believed, any sufficient or just reason be assigned, why the field of reality should be regarded as confined within the limits which, on that supposition, would be applied to it.
Whatsoever title an object belonging to the class of bodies may be considered as possessing to the attribute of reality, i. e. of existence, every object belonging to the class of perceptions will be found to possess, in still higher degree, a title established by more immediate evidence: it is only by the evidence afforded by perceptions that the reality of a body of any kind can be established.
Of Ideas, our perception is still more direct and immediate than that which we have of corporeal substances: of their existence our persuasion is more necessary and irresistible than that which we have of the existence of corporeal substances.
Speaking of Entities, ideas might perhaps accordingly be spoken of as the sole perceptible ones, substances, those of the corporeal class, being, with reference, and in contradistinction to them, no other than inferential ones.
But if substances themselves be the subject of the division, and for the designation of the two branches of the division the words perceptible and inferential be employed, it is to corporeal substances that the characteristic and differential attribute, perceptible, cannot but be applied: the term inferential being thereupon employed for the designation of incorporeal ones.
The more correct and complete the consideration bestowed, the more clearly will it be perceived, that from the existence of perceptions, viz. of sensible ones, the inference whereby the existence of corporeal entities, viz. the bodies from which those perceptions are respectively derived, is much stronger, more necessary, and more irresistible, than the inference whereby the existence of incorporeal entities is inferred from the existence of perceptible entities, alias corporeal substances, alias bodies.
Suppose the non-existence of corporeal substances, of any hard corporeal substance that stands opposite to you, make this supposition, and as soon as you have made it, act upon it, pain, the perception of pain, will at once bear witness against you; and that by your punishment, your condign punishment. Suppose the non-existence of any inferential incorporeal substances, of any one of them, or of all of them, and the supposition made, act upon it accordingly,—be the supposition conformable or not conformable to the truth of the case, at any rate no such immediate counter-evidence, no such immediate punishment will follow.*
Of Fictitious Entities.
A fictitious entity is an entity to which, though by the grammatical form of the discourse employed in speaking of it, existence be ascribed, yet in truth and reality existence is not meant to be ascribed.
Every noun-substantive which is not the name of a real entity, perceptible or inferential, is the name of a fictitious entity.
Every fictitious entity bears some relation to some real entity, and can no otherwise be understood than in so far as that relation is perceived,—a conception of that relation is obtained.
Reckoning from the real entity to which it bears relation, a fictitious entity may be styled a fictitious entity of the first remove, a fictitious entity of the second remove, and so on.
A fictitious entity of the first remove is a fictitious entity, a conception of which may be obtained by the consideration of the relation borne by it to a real entity, without need of considering the relation borne by it to any other fictitious entity.
A fictitious entity of the second remove is a fictitious entity, for obtaining a conception of which it is necessary to take into consideration some fictitious entity of the first remove.
Considered at any two contiguous points of time, every real entity is either in motion or at rest.
Now, when a real entity is said to be at rest, it is said to be so with reference to some other particular real entity or aggregate of real entities; for so far as any part of the system of the universe is perceived by us, we at all times perceive it not to be at rest. Such, at least, is the case not only with the bodies called planets, but with one or more of the bodies called fixed stars; and, by analogy, we infer this to be the case with all the rest.
This premised, considered with reference to any two contiguous points of time past, every perceptible real entity was, during that time, either in motion or not in motion; if not in motion, it was at rest.
Here, then, we have two correspondent and opposite fictitious entities of the first remove, viz. a motion and a rest.
A motion is a mode of speech commonly employed; a rest is a mode of speech not so commonly employed.
To be spoken of at all, every fictitious entity must be spoken of as if it were real. This, it will be seen, is the case with the above-mentioned pair of fictitious entities of the first remove.
A body is said to be in motion. This, taken in the literal sense, is as much as to say, here is a larger body, called a motion; in this larger body, the other body, namely, the really existing body, is contained.
So in regard to rest. To say this body is at rest is as much as to say, here is a body, and it will naturally be supposed a fixed body, and here is another body, meaning the real existing body, which is at that first-mentioned body, i. e. attached to it, as if the fictitious body were a stake, and the real body a beast tied to it.
An instance of a fictitious entity of the second remove is a quality. There are qualities that are qualities of real entities; there are qualities that are qualities of the above-mentioned fictitious entities of the first remove. For example, of motion, rectilinearity, curvilinearity, slowness, quickness, and so on.†
Uses of this distinction between names of real and names of fictitious entities.
These uses are, 1. Attaching, in the only way in which they can be attached, clear ideas to the several all-comprehensive and leading terms in question. 2. Obviating and excluding the multitudinous errors and disputes of which the want of such clear ideas has been the source: disputes which, in many instances, have not terminated in words, but through words have produced antipathy, and through antipathy war with all its miseries.
Fictitious entity says some one,—of such a locution where can be the sense or use? By the word entity cannot but be represented something that has existence,—apply to the same subject the adjunct fictitious, the effect is to give instruction that it has not any existence. This, then, is a contradiction in terms, a species of locution from which, in proportion as it has any employment, confusion, and that alone, cannot but be the effect.
Entities are either real or fictitious, what can that mean? What but that of entities there are two species or sorts: viz. one which is itself, and another which is neither itself nor anything else? Instead of fictitious entity, or as synonymous with fictitious entity, why not here say, nonentity?
Answer.—Altogether inevitable will this seeming contradiction be found. The root of it is in the nature of language: that instrument without which, though of itself it be nothing, nothing can be said, and scarcely can anything be done.
Of the nature of that instrument, of the various forms under which it has been seen to present itself among different tribes of men, of the indispensable parts (i. e. parts of speech) which may be seen to belong to it under every one of those forms, actual or possible, of the qualities desirable on the part of the collection of signs of which, under all these several forms, it is composed;—under all these several heads, sketches will be endeavoured to be given in another place.*
All this while, antecedently to the stage at which these topics will present themselves, use is however making, as it could not but be made, of this same instrument. At that future stage, it will not only be the instrument, but the subject also of inquiry: at present and until then, employing it in the character of an instrument, we must be content to take it in hand, and make use of it, in the state in which we find it.
In like manner, the several operations, which by the help of language, and under the direction of logic, are performed by human minds upon language and thereby upon minds: such as distinction, division, definition, and the several other modes of exposition, including those of methodization, must be performed at and from the very outset of a work on logic, antecedently to the stage at which the task of examining into their nature and origination will be entered upon and come to be performed.
To language, then—to language alone—it is, that fictitious entities owe their existence—their impossible, yet indispensable, existence.†
In language the words which present themselves, and are employed in the character of names, are, some of them, names of real entities,—others, names of fictitious entities; and to one or other of these classes may all words which are employed in the character of names be referred.
What will, moreover, be seen, is, that the fiction—the mode of representation by which the fictitious entities thus created, in so far as fictitious entities can be created, are dressed up in the garb, and placed upon the level, of real ones, is a contrivance but for which language, or, at any rate, language in any form superior to that of the language of the brute creation, could not have existence.
And now, perhaps, may be seen the difference between a fictitious entity and a non-entity; or, to speak more strictly, the difference between the import of the two words—a difference such, that when, with propriety and use, the one is, the other cannot be employed.
In the house designated by such a number, (naming it) in such a street, in such a town, lives a being called the Devil, having a head, body, and limbs, like a man’s—horns like a goat’s—wings like a bat’s, and a tail like a monkey’s:—Suppose this assertion made, the observation naturally might be, that the Devil, as thus described, is a non-entity. The averment made of it is, that an object of that description really exists. Of that averment, if seriously made, the object or end in view cannot but be to produce in the minds to which communication is thus made, a serious persuasion of the existence of an object conformable to the description thus expressed.
Thus much concerning a non-entity. Very different is the notion here meant to be presented by the term fictitious entity.
By this term is here meant to be designated one of those sorts of objects, which in every language must, for the purpose of discourse, be spoken of as existing,—be spoken of in the like manner as those objects which really have existence, and to which existence is seriously meant to be ascribed, are spoken of; but without any such danger as that of producing any such persuasion as that of their possessing, each for itself, any separate, or strictly speaking, any real existence.
Take, for instances, the words motion, relation, faculty, power, and the like.
Real entities being the objects for the designation of which, in the first place, at the earliest stage of human intercourse, and in virtue of the most urgent necessity, words, in the character of names, were employed,—between the idea of a name and that of the reality of the object to which it was applied, an association being thus formed, from a connexion thus intimate, sprung a very natural propensity, viz. that of attributing reality to every object thus designated;—in a word, of ascribing reality to the objects designated by words, which, upon due examination, would be found to be nothing but so many names of so many fictitious entities.
To distinguish them from those fictitious entities, which, so long as language is in use among human beings, never can be spared, fabulous may be the name employed for the designation of the other class of unreal entities.
Of fictitious entities, whatsoever is predicated is not, consistently with strict truth, predicated (it then appears) of anything but their respective names.
But forasmuch as by reason of its length and compoundedness, the use of the compound denomination, name of a fictitious entity, would frequently be found attended with inconvenience; for the avoidance of this inconvenience, instead of this long denomination, the less long, though, unhappily, still compound denomination, fictitious entity, will commonly, after the above warning, be employed.
Of nothing that has place, or passes, in our minds can we give any account, any otherwise than by speaking of it as if it were a portion of space, with portions of matter, some of them at rest, others moving in it. Of nothing, therefore, that has place, or passes in our mind, can we speak, or so much as think, otherwise than in the way of fiction. To this word fiction we must not attach either those sentiments of pleasure, or those sentiments of displeasure, which, with so much propriety, attach themselves to it on the occasion in which it is most commonly in use. Very different in respect of purpose and necessity, very different is this logical species of fiction from the poetical and political;—very different the fiction of the Logician from the fictions of poets, priests, and lawyers.
For their object and effect, the fictions with which the Logician is conversant, without having been the author of them, have had neither more nor less than the carrying on of human converse; such communication and interchange of thought as is capable of having place between man and man. The fictions of the poet, whether in his character of historic fabulist or dramatic fabulist, putting or not putting the words of his discourse in metrical form, are pure of insincerity, and, neither for their object nor for their effect have anything but to amuse, unless it be in some cases to excite to action—to action in this or that particular direction for this or that particular purpose. By the priest and the lawyer, in whatsoever shape fiction has been employed, it has had for its object or effect, or both, to deceive, and, by deception, to govern, and, by governing, to promote the interest, real or supposed, of the party addressing, at the expense of the party addressed. In the mind of all, fiction, in the logical sense, has been the coin of necessity;—in that of poets of amusement—in that of the priest and the lawyer of mischievous immorality in the shape of mischievous ambition,—and too often both priest and lawyer have framed or made in part this instrument.
FICTITIOUS ENTITIES CLASSIFIED.
Names of Physical Fictitious Entities.
To this class belong all those entities which will be found included in Aristotle’s list—included in his Ten Predicaments, the first excepted.
In the order in which he has placed and considered them, they stand as follows:—1. Substance. 2. Quantity. 3. Quality. 4. Relation. 5. Places. 6. Time. 7. Situation. 8. Possession. 9. Action. 10. Passion or Suffering.*
From this list of Aristotle’s—the list of names of physical entities will, as here presented, be found to be in a considerable degree different; viz. in the first place, in respect of the particulars of which it is composed: in the next place, in respect of the order in which they are brought to view. Of these differences the grounds will successively be brought to view as they arise.
1. Quantity.—Quantity cannot exist without some substance of which it is the quantity. Of substance, no species, no individual can exist, without existing in some certain quantity.
2. Quality.—Quality cannot exist without some substance of which it is the quality. Of substance, no species can exist without being of some quality; of a multitude of qualities, of which the number is, in every instance, indeterminate, capable of receiving increase, and that to an indefinite degree, according to the purposes for which, and the occasions on which, the several substances of which they are qualities, may come to be considered.
3. Place.—Of place, the notion cannot be entertained without the notion of some substance considered as placed, or capable of existing, or, as we say, being placed in it.
Place may be considered as absolute or relative. Supposing but one substance in existence, that substance would be in some place,—that place would be absolute place—relative place there could be none. Suppose two substances,—then, in addition to its own absolute place, each substance would have a relative place,—a place constituted by the position occupied by it in relation to the other.
Of no individual substance is any notion commonly entertained without some notion of a place—a relative place as being occupied by it.
The place considered as occupied by an individual substance is different, according to the purpose for which, and the occasion on which, the substance is taken into consideration.
Expressive of the notion of place, in their original, physical, archetypal signification, are the several words termed prepositions of place and adverbs of place: These are—
In; on, or upon; under; at; above; below; round; around; out—out of; from above; from under; from.
4. Time.—Time is, as it were, on an ulterior and double account, a fictitious entity,—its denominations so many names of fictitious entities.
Compared with substance, and, in particular, with body, place is, as hath been seen, a fictitious entity. Without some body placed in it, or considered as being capable of being placed in it, place would have no existence, or what, with reference to use, would amount to the same thing, there would be no purpose for which,—no occasion on which, it could be considered as having existence.
But if, putting substance out of consideration, place be a fiction, time is, so to speak, a still more fictitious fiction, having nothing more substantial to lean upon than the fiction of place.
To be capable of being spoken of, time itself must be, cannot but be, spoken of as a modification of space. Witness the prepositions in and at: in such a portion of time—at such a portion of time; in an hour—at 12 o’clock; in such a year, month, day, at such an hour, at so many minutes after such an hour,—at so many seconds after such a minute in such an hour.
Witness, again, the common expressions—a short time, a long time, a space of time.
By a line it is that every portion of time, every particular time, is conceived, represented, and spoken of;—by a line, i. e. a body, of which the length alone, without breadth or depth, is considered.
5. Motion. 6. Rest. 7. Action. 8. Passion.
At every step the subject of consideration becomes more and more complicated.
Rest is the absence or negation of motion. Every body is either in motion or at rest. Here place, i. e. relative space, is still the archetype. Motion is a thing, an imaginary, an involuntarily imagined substance, in which the body is conceived as being placed. Rest a like body, at which the real body is considered as being placed.
In the idea of motion that of time is, moreover, involved, and again, that of place, as being that in which the idea of time is, by the like necessity, involved.
In motion a body cannot have been but it must have been in two different places, at or in two different, which is as much as to say, in two successive portions of time.
For the space of time in question, i. e. for a portion of time composed of those same portions which were operative in the case of motion, the body has been at rest, in so far as in all that space or length of time it has not changed its place with reference to any others.
Taken in the aggregate, in so far as can be concluded, either from observation or from analogy in the way of inference, no body whatsoever is, or ever has been, or ever will be, absolutely in a state of rest, i. e. without being in motion with reference to some other body or bodies.
The earth which we inhabit is not at rest. The sun himself about which she moves is not at rest. The stars called fixed, being but so many suns, are themselves no more at rest than is he.
Considered as a whole, the parts of our earth are, as far as appears, with reference to one another, the greater part of them always at rest,—others, especially those near the surface, many of them occasionally in motion: and so in regard to the several separate bodies, consisting of such portions of the matter of which the earth is composed, as are detached and separate from one another, each of them having between itself and every other, with the exception of the base on which it stands, and upon which, by the principle of attraction under the several forms under which it operates, it is kept at that place, certain portions of intervening space.
Of such of them as are in a state of solidity, rest, relative rest, rest with relation to each other, in so far as they are in that state, is the naturally constant state. In motion they are not put but by some supervening accident operating from without. Of such of them as are in a state of fluidity, liquidity and gaseosity included, motion, relative motion is, in every instance, a natural state, exemplified to a greater or lesser extent, depending partly on the particular qualities of the several fluids, partly upon the accidents ab extra to which, individually taken, they happen to have been exposed.
In addition to the idea of motion, in the ideas of action and passion, the idea of causation or causality is involved. The body F is in motion;—of such motion, what is the cause? Answer: The action of another body, the body S, which, by the influence or correspondent power which it possesses becomes productive of that effect.
In themselves the two fictitious entities, Action and Passion, are not only correspondent, but inseparable. No action without passion—no passion without action;—no action on the one part without passion on the other.
In the case of action, and thereupon on the part of one of two bodies, motion, perceptible motion,—on the part of the other body, is relative motion, in every instance a never failing consequence? To judge from analogy, the probability seems to be in the affirmative.*
In so far as on the part of one of the two alone, any motion is perceptible, on the part of the other, no motion being perceptible, the one of which the motion is perceptible, is most commonly spoken of as the agent, the other as the patient: a state of motion is the state in which the former is said to be in, a state of passion the state in which the other is said to be in.
9. Relation.—Under this head, such is its amplitude, several of the others seem totally or partially to be included—viz. 1. Quantity, all quantities bear some relation or other to each other. 2. Quality.†
Absolute fictitious Entities of the first order. 1. Matter. 2. Form. 3. Quantity. 4. Space.
No substance can exist but it must be itself matter; be of a certain determinate form; be or exist in a certain determinate quantity; and, were there but one substance in existence, all these three attributes would belong to it.
Matter, at first sight, may naturally enough be considered as exactly synonymous to the word substance. It may undoubtedly be with propriety employed instead of substance on many of the occasions on which the word substance may, with equal propriety, be employed.
But there are occasions on which, while substance may, matter cannot, with propriety be employed.
By the word substance, substances incorporeal, as well as corporeal, are wont to be designated; the word matter is wont to be employed to designate corporeal to the exclusion of incorporeal substances.
On the other hand, neither are occasions wanting in which, while the word matter may, the word substance cannot, with propriety be employed.
Matter is wont to be employed in contradistinction to form; and that, on occasions in which the word substance cannot, with propriety, be employed. Thus, in considering substance, any individual substance, consideration may be had of its matter, without any consideration had of its form; and so vice versa of its form without its matter.
Thus it is, that, taken in that sense which is peculiar to it, the idea attached to the word matter cannot, by means of that word, be brought to view without bringing to view along with it, the idea of another entity called form; and this is the reason why, along with form, it has been considered as composing a group of entities distinct from the sort of entity, for the designation of which the word substance has been employed.
The word substance is the name of a class of real entities of, the only class which has in it any corporeal entities.
The word matter is but the name of a class of fictitious entities, springing out of the sort of real entity distinguished by the word substance.
And so it is in regard to the word form.
The ideas respectively designated by these corresponding words are fractional results, produced from the decomposition of the word substance.
Every real physical entity, every corporeal substance, every sort of body has its matter and form; and this its matter, and this its form are entities totally different from each other.
These names of entities possess, both of them, the characteristic properties of fictitious entities. It is by means of propositions designative of place, and, by that means, of a fictitious material image, that their images are connected with the name of the real entity substance.
In that substance exists such and such matter; behold the matter of that substance; behold all this matter from that substance. Here substance is a receptacle; matter a fictitious entity, spoken of in one of these occasions as if it were a real entity contained within that receptacle; in the others as one that had proceeded from it.
Behold the form in which that substance presents itself; behold the form, the figure, the shape, the configuration of that substance.
Figure, configuration, shape, in these several words may be seen so many synonyms, or almost synonyms, to the word form.
Quantity has been distinguished into continuous and discrete.
Discrete quantity (it is commonly said) is number; it should rather be said is composed of numbers: viz. of numbers more than one, of separate entities.
It is only by means of discrete quantity, i. e. number, that continuous quantity can be measured by the mind; that any precise idea of any particular quantity can be formed.
To form an idea of any continuous quantity, i. e. of a body as existing in a certain quantity, one of two courses must be taken or conceived to be taken in relation to it. It must be divided, or conceived to be divided, into parts, i. e. into a determinate number of parts, or together with other similar bodies made up into a new, and artificial, and compounded whole.
To divide a body, or conceive a body to be divided into parts, it suffices not to divide it, or conceive it divided, into its constituent bodies, into any such smaller bodies as are contained in it. Either the entire body itself, or its parts respectively, must, by the mind, be conceived to be divided into its several dimensions.
Be the body what it may, not being boundless, it cannot but have some bound or bounds; if one, it is a surface; these bounds, if there be more than one, are surfaces: these surfaces again, not being boundless, have their bounds,—these bounds are lines.
The only bodies that have each of them but one uniform surface are spheres.*
Bodies are real entities. Surfaces and lines are but fictitious entities. A surface without depth, a line without thickness, was never seen by any man; no; nor can any conception be seriously formed of its existence.
Space is the negation or absence of body.
Of any determinate individual portion of space, as clear an idea is capable of being formed as of any body, or of any portion of any body; and besides, being equally determinate as that of body, the idea of space is much more simple.
To space it is difficult either to ascribe or to deny existence, without a contradiction in terms; to consider it as nothing, or as distinct from nothing.
Of body,—that is of all bodies whatsoever,—the annihilation may be conceived without difficulty. Why? Because, in whatsoever place,—that is, within whatsoever portion of space, within whatsoever receptacle, composed of mere space, any body is, at any given time conceived to be, it may thenceforward be conceived to be removed from that place, and so successively from any and every other portion of space.
Of space,—that is, of all portions of space whatever, indeed of so much as any one portion of space, the annihilation cannot easily be conceived. Why? Because, in mere space there is nothing to remove; nothing that can be conceived capable of being removed. In so far as matter is annihilated, there is less matter than there was before. But, suppose space to be annihilated; is there less space than there was before?
Hence, taken in the aggregate, no bounds, no limits can be assigned to space; so neither can any form or any quantity. It cannot be removed; it cannot be moved; for there is nothing of it or in it to remove; there is no place to which it can be removed.
So much for space taken in the aggregate; but take this or that individual portion of space, the properties of it are very different. Conceive it, as in innumerable instances it really is, enclosed in bodies, immediately it is, and unavoidably, you conceive it to be endowed with many of the properties of bodies. Of limits it is susceptible, as body is; in point of fact it has limits; and, having these limits, it thereby has not only form but quantity. It not only has limits as truly as body has limits, but it has the same limits.
Having limits, it thereby has form, quantity, and even motion: along with the terraqueous globe,—i. e. with the whole matter of it,—all the portions of space enclosed in that matter describe round the sun, and with the sun, their continually repeated and ever varied round.
Substance being a real physical entity,—perceptions real psychical entities,—matter, form, quantity, and so on, so many fictitious entities, both descriptions being in part applicable to space, neither of them applicable entirely,—space may be regarded and spoken of as a semi-real entity.
Absolute fictitious Entities of the second Order. 1. Quality. 2. Modification.
Matter, Form, Quantity,—all these are susceptible of Quality. Matter, every portion of it, is capable of having its qualities, independently of those of its form and those of its quantity.
A body is said to be of such a quality; such or such a quality is said to be in it, resident, inherent, in it. The matter, the form, the quantity of this body,—in any one of these fictitious entities may this secondary fictitious entity be said to be resident, to be inherent.
Between quantity and quality, a sort of reciprocation, a sort of reciprocal intercommunion may be observed to have place. As we have the quality of a quantity—two qualities, for instance, vastness, minuteness, &c.,—so has a quality its quantities.
The quantity of a quality is termed a degree.
The term modification is nearly synonymous to the term quality.
Of modification it seems scarcely proper to speak, as constituting or being a fictitious entity different and distinct from quality: the difference between them is rather of a grammatical than of a logical nature. Yet, of the cases in which the word quality may be employed, there are some in which the word modification can scarcely, without impropriety, be employed. We may speak of a modification of this or that body, or of the matter, form, or quantity, as well as of a quality of that same body; but we can scarcely, without impropriety, speak of a modification as being a thing resident or inherent in that same body.
By the word quality it is, that are expressed all particulars whereby the condition of the body, or other object in question, is rendered similar or dissimilar—in the first place, to that of itself at different times, in the next place, to that of other bodies or objects, whether at a different, or at the same time.
Goodness and badness, of all qualities experienced or imaginable, these are the very first that would present themselves to notice, these are the very first that would obtain names. Interest, i. e. desire of pleasure and of exemption from pain, being, in some shape or other, the source of every thought, as well as the cause of every action (and, in particular, amongst others of every action by which names are employed in the designation of persons and of things,—names plainly and immediately expressive of the two opposite modes of relation, in which those objects would be continually bearing relation to each man’s interest, as above explained) would be among the very earliest to which the faculty of discourse would give existence.
Synonyms, or quasi synonyms to quality,—in this character may be mentioned:—1. Nature; 2. Sort; 3. Kind; 4. Mode; 5. Complexion; 6. Description; 7. Character; 8. Shape; viz. in a sense somewhat less extensive than that in which it is, as above, synonymous with Form.
Fictitious Entities connected with Relation, enumerated.
No two entities of any kind can present themselves simultaneously to the mind; no, nor can so much as the same object present itself at different times, without presenting the idea of Relation. For relation is a fictitious entity, which is produced, and has place, as often as the mind, having perception of any one object, obtains, at the same, or at any immediately succeeding instant, perception of any other object, or even of that same object, if the perception be accompanied with the perception of its being the same; Dirersity is, in the one case, the name of the relation, Identity in the other case. But, as identity is but the negation of diversity, thence if, on no occasion, diversity had ever been, neither, on any occasion, would any such idea as that of identity have come into existence.
Whatsoever two entities, real or fictitious, come to receive names, and thus to receive their nominal existence, Relation would be the third; for, between the two, they being, by the supposition, different, and both of them actual objects of perception, the relation of difference or diversity would also become an object of perception, and in the character of a fictitious entity, a production of the acts of abstraction and denomination, acquire its nominal existence.
Next, after matter and form, the fictitious-entity relation, or the class of fictitious entities called Relations, might, therefore, have been brought to view. But not only between matter and form, but also between the one and the other respectively, and the fictitious entities designated by the words quantity, space, and quality, so close seemed the connexion as not to be, without sensible inconvenience, broken by the interposition of any other.
Once introduced upon the carpet, the fictitious entity called relation swells into an extent such as to swallow up all the others. Every other fictitious entity is seen to be but a mode of this.
The most extensive, and, in its conception, simple of all relations, i. e. of all modes or modifications of the fictitious entity, denominated relation, is that of place, with its submodifications.
Next to that in the order of simplicity comes the modification of time, with its submodifications.
Next to them come successively the relations designated by the several words, motion, rest, action, passion. Subalternation, viz. logical subalternation, opposition, and connexion, or the relation between cause and effect.
Existence, with its several modifications, or correspondent fictitious entities; non-existence, futurity, actuality, potentiality, necessity, possibility, and impossibility will, with most convenience, close the rear. Though still more extensive than even relation, they could not be brought to view before it, being applicable to all other relations,—to relations of all sorts, and in a word, to entities, whether fictitious or real, of all sorts,—no complete, or so much as correct view of their nature and character could be given, till these less extensive ones had been brought to view.
Simple fictitious Entities connected with Relation.
Place.—Of the species of relation designated by the word place, the most perfect conception may be easily formed by taking into the account the species of relation designated by the word time.
Necessary altogether is the relation which the species of fictitious entity called place has, on the one hand, to the fictitious entity called body, on the other hand, to the fictitious entity called space.
Space may be distinguished into absolute and relative. To absolute space there are no concervable bounds; to relative space, i. e. to portions of space separated from one or other by bodies, there are, in every instance, bounds, and those determinate ones.
As to the word place, whether it be considered as the name of a real entity or as the name of a fictitious entity, would be a question of words, barely worth explanation, and not at all worth debate.
Considered as a modification of space, it would, like that, stand upon the footing of the name of a real entity: considered as a species of relation, it would stand upon the footing of a fictitious entity. But in this latter case comes an objection: viz. that the relations which on that occasion are in question, are not place itself, or places themselves, but such relations as belong to place.
Be this as it may, place is a relative portion of space, considered either as actually occupied, or as capable of being occupied, by some real entity of the class of bodies.
Portions of the earth’s surface are considered and denominated each of them a place; but in this case, the term place is used in the physical and geographical sense of the word, not in an ontological sense.
Whether, in a physical sense, place be or be not the name of a fictitious entity, that in every psychical sense it is so, seems manifest beyond dispute. Take, for example, the place occupied by such or such an idea in the mind, by such or such a transaction in a narrative.
Time.—Be it as it may in regard to place, that the entity designated by the word time is but a fictitious entity, will, it is believed, be sufficiently manifest.
Different altogether from each other are the perceptions or ideas presented by the word place and the word time. Yet as often as time is spoken of, it is spoken of as if it were a modification of, or the same thing as place.
Like place, time, or at least any given portion of time, is spoken of in the character of a receptacle,—as in such or such a place things are done, in such or such a time things are done; portions of space or place are long or short, great or small,—so are portions of time. In the same sense we say, a quantity of time or a space of time. As bodies are spoken of as going to or from such or such a place, so operations are spoken of as going on from and to such or such a portion of time.
But of every receptacle, all the several parts are coexistent; of any portion of time, no two parts, how small soever, are coexistent. Of any given portion of time, no two of the parts are coexistent; with relation to each, all are successive. In the very import of the term coexistent, the idea of unity, is implied in respect of the portion of time supposed to be occupied; in the import of the term succession, that of diversity is of necessity implied.
Motion.—That the entity designated by the word motion is a fictitious entity seems at least equally beyond dispute.
A body, the body in question, is in motion: here, unless in motion be considered as an abbreviated expression substituted for in a state of motion, as we say, in a state of rest, motion is a receptacle, in which the body is considered as stationed. The motion of this body is slow or is retrograde. Here the body is a stationary object—a station or starting-post, of or from which the motion is considered as proceeding.
Necessarily included in the idea of motion is the idea of place and time. A body has been in motion.—When? In what case? When having, at or in one point of time, been in any one place, at another point of time it has been in any other.
Of any and every corporeal real entity, a similitude is capable of being exhibited as well in the form of a body, for instance a model, as in the form of a surface,—as in painting, or drawing, or engraving; which, in every case, is like the object represented, a stationary, permanent, and, unless by internal decay, or external force, an unchanging and unmoving object.
But by no such graphical similitude, by no picture, by no model, by no stationary object, can any motion be represented. A representation of the body as it appeared in the place occupied by it at a point of time anterior to that at which the motion commenced; a representation of the same body as it appeared in the place occupied by it at a point of time posterior to that at which the motion commenced; in these two representations, conjoined or separate, may be seen all that can be done towards the representation of motion by any permanent imitative work.
Even on the table of the mind, in imagination, in idea, in no other way can any motion be represented. There not being any real entity to represent, the entity cannot be any other than fictitious: the name employed for the purpose of representation cannot therefore be anything else than the name of a fictitious entity.
Action.—In the idea of action, the idea of motion is an essential ingredient. But to actual action, actual motion can scarcely be regarded as necessary. Action is either motion itself, or the tendency to motion. Under the term action, besides motion, a tendency, though so it be without actual motion, seems to be included. Held back by strings, a magnet and a bar of iron, suspended at a certain distance from each other, remain both of them without motion: cut the strings of either of them, it moves till it comes in contact with the other; but for the state of mutual action which preceded the cutting of the strings no such motion would have taken place.
Passion, Reaction.—Among all the bodies, large and small, with which we have any the slightest acquaintance, no instance, it is believed, can be found of action without passion, nor of passion without reaction. But without either of these accompaniments, a conception of action may be entertained, at any rate attention may be applied to it; but if on either of two objects, attention be capable of being bestowed without being bestowed upon the other, the separate lot of attention thus bestowed affords sufficient foundation for a separate name.
Here, then, are two more fictitious entities most nearly related and intimately connected with the fictitious entities action and motion, having all of them, for their common archetype, the same image or set of images: viz. that of a nutshell and nut, a starting-post and a goal; the representation of which is performed by the prepositions in, of, from, &c., employed in connexion with their respective names.
Fictitious Entities considered and denominated in respect of their concomitancy. Object, Subject, End in View.
In the idea of an object, the idea of some action, or at any rate some motion, seems to be constantly and essentially involved. Where the object is a corporeal entity, it is a body towards which the body in motion moves: this body, whether permanently or momentarily, stands objected: i. e. cast before that other body which moves.
Even in the case of vision, in the instance of an object of sight, the relation is naturally the same; the only difference is, that in the case of vision, the moving bodies being the rays of light, the object, instead of being the body towards which, is the body from which the motion takes place.
In the picture, the tracing of which is the effect, of the terms here in question the object is either on the same level with the source of motion, or above it; the subject, as in its literal sense, the word subject imports is below and under it.
In the case of human action,—a motion, real or fictitious, considered as being produced by an exercise of the faculty of the will, on the part of a sensitive being,—this action has, in every instance, for its cause, the desire and expectation of some good, i. e. of some pleasure or exemption from some pain, and the entity, the good by which this desire has been produced, is in this case, if not the only object, an object, and, indeed, the ultimate object, the attainment of which is, in the performance of the action aimed at.
Of entities thus intimately connected, it is not to be wondered at, if the conceptions formed, and the names bestowed in consequence, should frequently be indistinct.
In the designation of the same entity, in the designation of which the word subject is employed, the word object is at other times employed: and so also in the designation of the same entity in the designation of which the words end in view are employed, the word object is frequently also employed.
If in a case by which a demand is presented for the mention of a subject and an object: so it happen that for the designation of the subject you employ the word object, then so it will be that for the designation of that which may, with propriety, be termed the object, but cannot with propriety be termed the subject, finding the only proper word preoccupied, you will naturally feel yourself at a loss.
In a case where the faculty of the will is not considered as having any part, the designation of the end in view is a function in which any occasion for the employment of the word object, cannot have place; in this case, therefore, neither has the uncertainty which, as above, is liable to be produced by that word.
In a case where the will is supposed to be employed, and in which there is, accordingly, an end in view, one single end to the attainment of which by the power and under the orders of the will the action is directed, in any such case what may very well happen is, that there shall be other entities to which, in the course of the action, though not in the characters of ends in view, it may happen to the attention to be directed. Here, then, besides an object which may be, will be other objects, no one of which can commodiously be designated by the compound appellation, end in view.
In regard to the word subject, (as well as the word object,) one convenience is, that it may be used in the plural number. This convenience belongs to them in contradistinction to the word field. For a group of numerous and comparatively small entities, the word field will not, either in the singular or in the plural, conveniently serve; but to this same purpose the word subject, if employed in the plural, is perfectly well adapted.
If, beneath the imagined line of action, you have need to bring to view not merely one extensive fictitious immoveable body, but a multitude of smaller moveable bodies lying on it, here comes an occasion for the use of both these terms: viz. field and subject, or subjects: the field is the extensive immoveable entity, the subjects the comparatively numerous and less extensive bodies, fixed or lying loose upon the surface of it.
In the place of the word field, as well as in place of the word subject, the words subject-matter may be employed; so also the plural, subject-matters. But if, in addition to an extensive surface, you have to bring to view a multitude of smaller bodies stationed on it; if, in that case, instead of the word field, you employ the words subject-matters, you will find that you cannot commodiously, after laying down your subject-matter, have subjects stationed on it.
In the case where the action in question is a physical, a corporeal one, a question might perhaps arise whether the entities respectively designated by the words subject and object, belong to the class of real or fictitious entities: a platform on which you stand to shoot an arrow, a butt at which you shoot your arrow, to these could not be refused the appellation of real entities. But in so far as upon the platform you superinduce the character designated by the word subject, and upon the butt the character designated by the word object; of this subject and this object it might be insisted that they are but so many names of fictitious entities.
Not that for any practical purpose, a question thus turning upon mere words would be, in any considerable degree, worthy of regard.
Be this as it may, in the case in which the action in question is an incorporeal, a psychical action, having no other field than the mind, or than what is in the mind,—in this case the title of the words subject and object, as well as of the word field, to the appellation of fictitious entities, will be seen to be clear of doubt.
Concomitant fictitious Entities resulting from the process of Logical aggregation and division, and subalternation.
It will be seen further on more at large, how it is, that when contemplating the qualities exhibited by individuals, by abstracting the attention successively from them, quality after quality, let the group of individuals, present, past, and future, contingent included, be ever so vast and multitudinous, there will, at last, be left some quality, or assemblage of qualities, which, being found all of them existing in a certain assemblage of individuals, and not in any other, may serve for the foundation of a name by which that whole assemblage may be designated, without including in the designation any individual not included in that assemblage.* The words, mineral, vegetable, animal, may serve for examples.
Wherever any such aggregate number of individuals can be found so connected with one another,—so distinguished from all others, and, for the designation of the aggregate, the fictitious unit composed of that multitude, a name or appellation has been employed, and appropriated by use, the fictitious unit thus formed will be found capable of being divided by the imagination into lesser component aggregates or units,—these again each of them into others; and, in this way, the largest and first divided all-comprehensive aggregate will be found capable of being divided and subdivided into any number of aggregates, not greater than the whole number of individuals, actual and conceivable, contained in the original factitious and fictitious whole,—the name of each one of these component aggregates constituting, as it were, a box for containing and keeping together the several aggregates comprised in it, the entire aggregate contained in each such box being characterized by some quality or qualities in respect of which being agreed with one another, at the same time they disagree with, and are thereby distinguished from all others.
Kingdom, class, order, genus, species, variety, have been the names given to these boxes—to these factitious receptacles.
That it is to the class of fictitious, and not to the class of real entities, that these imaginary, however really useful receptacles, appertain, is, at this time of day, sufficiently clear; but the time has been when they have been mistaken for realities.
Political and Quasi Political fictitious Entities.
I. Effects.—1. Obligation; 2. Right; 3. Exemption; 4. Power; 5. Privilege; 6. Prerogative; 7. Possession—physical; 8. Possession—legal; 9. Property.
II. Causes.—1. Command; 2. Prohibition, Inhibition, &c.; 3. Punishment; 4. Pardon; 5. License; 6. Warrant; 7. Judgment; 8. Division.
All these have for their efficient causes pleasure and pain, but principally pain, in whatsoever shape, and from which soever of the five sanctions or sources of pleasure or pain, derived or expected, viz.—1. The physical sanction; 2. The sympathetic sanction, or sanction of sympathy; 3. The popular or moral sanction; 4. The political, including the legal sanction; 5. The religious sanction.†
Obligation is the root out of which all these other fictitious entities take their rise.
Of all the sanctions or sources of pleasure and pain above brought to view, the political sanction being susceptible of being the strongest and surest in its operation, and, accordingly, the obligation derived from it the strongest and most effective, this is the sanction which it seems advisable to take for consideration in the first instance; the correspondent obligations of the same name which may be considered as emanating from these other fictitious entities being, in the instance of some of these sanctions, of too weak a nature to act with any sufficient force capable of giving to any of those other productions any practical value.
An obligation,—understand here that sort of obligation which, through the medium of the will, operates on the active faculty,—takes its nature from some act to which it applies itself; it is an obligation to perform or to abstain from performing a certain act.
A legal obligation to perform the act in question is said to attach upon a man, to be incumbent upon him, in so far as in the event of his performing the act, (understand both at the time and place in question,) he will not suffer any pain, but in the event of his not performing it he will suffer a certain pain, viz. the pain that corresponds to it, and by the virtue of which applying itself eventually as above, the obligation is created.
Fictitious Entities appertaining to Relation as between Cause and Effect.
In the idea of causation,—in the idea of the relation as between cause and effect,—in the idea of the operation or state of things by which that relation is produced, in which that relation takes its rise, the idea of motion is inseparably involved: take away motion, no causation can have place,—no result, no effect, no any-thing can be produced.
In the idea of motion, the idea of a moving body is, with equal necessity, implied.
Of the cases in which the existence of motion, relative motion, is reported to us by our senses, there are some in which the commencement of the motion is, others in which it is not manifest to our senses.
Endless and terminating. Under one or other of these denominations may all motions, observed or observable, be included.
Endless motions are those which have place among the bodies, (each of them considered in its totality,) of which the visible universe is composed.
To the class of terminating or terminative motions belong all those which have place in our planet, and, to judge from analogy, all those which have place in any other of the celestial bodies.
So far as the motions in question belong to the endless class, so far no such distinction, and, therefore, no such relation as that of cause and effect, seems to have place. Each body attracts towards it all the rest, and, were it to have place singly, the attraction thus exercised might be considered as if it operated in the character of a cause; but each body is attracted by every other, and, were it to have place singly, the attraction thus suffered might be considered in the character of an effect. But, in fact, the two words are but two different names for one and the same effect. In the case of motions that have place among the distinct bodies with which the surface of our earth is covered, action and causation are the phenomena exhibited by different bodies in the character of agents and patients. In the case of the celestial bodies, considered each in its totality, no such distinction has place. No such character as that of agent—no such character as that of patient, belongs separately to any one. They are each one of them agent and patient at the same time. No one exhibits more of agency, no one more of patiency, than any other.
Suppose that all these several bodies having been created out of nothing at one and the same instant, each with the same quantity of matter, and thence with the same attractive power that appears to belong to it at present, an impulse in a certain rectilinear direction were to be given to each of them at the same time. On this hypothesis it has been rendered, it is said, matter of demonstration, that the sort of intermediate motions which would be the result, would be exactly those which these same bodies are found by observation to exhibit.
Here, then, we should have a beginning, but even here we should not have an end. In the beginning, at a determinate point of time, we should have a motion operating in the character of a cause, but at no determinate point of time, to the exclusion of any other, should we have either a motion or a new order of things resulting from it, and produced by it, in the character of an effect.
Thelematic and athelematic.—To one or other of these denominations will all motions of the terminative class be found referable. Thelematic, those in the production of which volition, the mind of a sentient and self-moving being, is seen to be concerned. Athelematic, those in the production of which volition is not seen to have place.
In the case of a motion of the thelematic class, you have for the cause of the motion,—meaning the prime cause of whatsoever motion happens in consequence to take place, the psychical act, the act of the will of the person by whose will the motion is produced; you have that same person for the agent.
Fruitful or unfruitful, or, say ergastic or unergastic.—To one or other of these denominations will all the motions of the thelematic class be found referable. Ergastic or fruitful, all those which have for their termination and result the production of a work. Unergastic or unfruitful, all those which are not attended with any such result.
Between these two classes the line of separation, it will be manifest enough, cannot, in the nature of the case, be determinate.
A work has reference to human interests and exigencies. When, in consequence of a motion, or set of motions, of the thelematic kind, in the body or among the bodies in which the motion has terminated, or those to which it has in the whole, or in any part, been communicated, any such change of condition has place, by which, for any considerable portion of time, they are or are not regarded as being rendered, in any fresh shape, subservient to human use, a work is spoken of as having thereby been produced.
In so far as a work is considered as having been produced, any agent, who, in respect of his active talent, is regarded as having borne the principal part in the production of the work, is wont to be spoken of under the appellation of an author or the author.
In this same case any body which is regarded as having, in consequence of the motion communicated to it, been rendered contributory to the production of the work, is wont to be spoken of in the character, and by the name, of an instrument,—any body, viz. inasmuch as considered as inanimate—an instrument in the physical sense; if animated, or considered as animated, and, in particular, if regarded as rational—in the psychical sense; if regarded as simple, a tool or implement; if regarded as complex, an engine, a machine,—a system of machinery.
To the case, and to that alone, in which the motion or motions, being of the thelematic, and therein, moreover, of the ergastic kind, have had for their prime mover or principal agent concerned, a rational, or at least, a sentient, being, belong the words end, operation, means, design.
Of the word end, and its synonym, the compound term, end in view, the exposition has been already given. It consists in the idea of some good (i. e. pleasure, or exemption from pain in this or that shape or shapes) as about eventually to result to the agent in question from the proposed act in question.
Operation is a name given to any action in so far as it is considered as having been performed in the endeavour to produce a work.
The word means is a term alike applicable, with propriety, to the designation of body considered in the character of an instrument, or any action or motion considered in the character of an operation, tending to the production of a work, or any good looked to in the character of an end.
Productive and unproductive,—under one or other of these denominations, as the case may be, may be referred the action in question, in so far as where, being of the thelematic, and, moreover, of the ergastic kind, it has for its end in view the bringing into existence any intended result in the character of a work.
Productive and unproductive, whether in actual result or only in tendency, under one or other of these denominations may also be referred every motion, or set of motions, of the athelematic kind; every motion, or set of motions, produced in, by and upon such agents as are of the purely physical kind.
This distinction is applicable to all the three physical kingdoms; but, on the mention of it, the two living kingdoms, the vegetable and the animal, will be most apt to present themselves.
In the use frequently made of the word cause, may be seen an ambiguity, which, in respect of its incompatibility with any correct and clear view of the relation between cause and effect, there may be a practical use in endeavouring to remove from the field of thought and language.
On the one hand, a motion, an action, an operation; on the other hand, an agent, an operator, an author; to the designation of both these, in themselves perfectly distinct objects, the words are wont to be indiscriminately applied.
Take, for example, the questions that used to be agitated in the logical schools. Is the moon, says one of them, the cause, or a cause, of the flux and reflux of the sea? Here the moon, here the word cause is employed to designate a corporeal being considered in the character of an agent.
The cause, (says a position of which frequent use was made in the same theatres of disputation,) the cause is always proportioned to its effect. But, between the moon itself and the tide, i. e. the flux and reflux of the sea, there cannot be any proportion; they are disparate entities, the one the moon, a real entity, the other, the flux and reflux, i. e. the motions of the sea are but fictitious entities. Between the moon itself, and the water moved by it, i. e. between the quantity of both, proportion may have place; between the motion, and thence the action of the moon, and the motion of the waters, a proportion may have place. But, between the moon, a body, and the flux and reflux of the sea, no proportion can have place, neither can either be larger or smaller than the other.
In speaking of God, it has been common to speak of that inferential Being by such names as the Cause of all things, the great, the universal Cause. In this instance, the same sort of confusion, the same sort of indistinctness in the expression, the same consequent confusion in men’s conception, as in the case mentioned, is apt to have place.
The act of God, the will of God,—these are the entities, to the designation of which, and which alone, the term cause can, in the case in question, with propriety, and consistently with analogy, be employed; these, on the one hand, and the word cause on the other, are alike names of fictitious entities.
Author, and Creator,—these alone, and not the word cause, can, with propriety, be employed in speaking of God. These, as well as God, are names of real entities; not names of fictitious entities: Author, a name applicable to man, or, in a word, to any being considered as susceptible of design; Creator, a term exclusively appropriated to the designation of God, considered with reference to his works.
In the use commonly made of the terms, work, cause, effect, instrument, and in the habit of prefixing to them respectively the definitive article the, seems to be implied a notion, of which the more closely it is examined, the more plainly will the incorrectness be made to appear,—this is, that where the effect is considered as one, there exists some one object, and no more than one, which, with propriety, can be considered as its cause. Of the exemplification and verification of this supposition, there exists not, perhaps, so much as a single instance.
Take, in the first place, an effect, any effect, of the physical kind;—no effect of this kind can, it is believed, be assigned, that is not the result of a multitude of influencing circumstances; some always, in different ways, contributing to the production of it, viz. in the character of promoting and co-operating causes; others frequently contributing to the non-production of it, in the character of obstacles.
In relation to the result in question, considered in the character of an effect, suppose, at pleasure, any one body to be the prime or principal mover or agent, and the motion, the action, or the operation of it, to be the prime or principal cause.
In no instance can any such cause be in operation, but it will happen to it to be, on all sides, encompassed and surrounded by circumstances.
Those circumstances will consist of the state of the contiguous and surrounding bodies, in respect of motion or rest, form, colour, quantity, and the like.
Among these some will appear to be exercising on the result a material operative influence; others not to be exercising such influence. Influential and influencing circumstances, uninfluential or uninfluencing circumstances; in one or other of these two classes of circumstances taken together, will every circumstance by which it can happen to the principal agent or agents to be encompassed, be comprised.
Promotive or obstructive,—under one or other of these denominations may the whole assemblage of influential circumstances be comprised.
Any circumstances that act, that are considered as acting in the character of obstructive circumstances, are termed, in one word, Obstacles.
Purely natural, purely factitious, and mixed,—to one or other of these heads may every motion be referred, considered with reference to the part which the human will is capable of bearing in the production of it.
Solid, liquid, or gaseous,—in one or other of these states, at the time of the motion, will the moving body be found.
The internal constitution of the moving body, the internal constitution of the unmoveable, or non-moving bodies, with which it comes in contact, and the configuration of these same bodies;—upon all these several circumstances, or rather groups of circumstances, must the nature of the ultimate effect produced by the motion be dependent,—whether that effect be a purely physical result, or a human work.
In so far then as, by the term cause, nothing more is meant to be designated than one alone of all those sets of co-operating circumstances; be the effect what it may, the cause can never of itself be adequate to the production of it; nor, between the quantum of the effect and the quantum of the cause, can any determinate proportion have place.
But, of the case in which, in the extent given to the import attributed to the word cause, the whole assemblage of these influencing circumstances is taken into the account and comprised, it seems questionable whether so much as a single example would be to be found.
Unless the above observations be altogether incorrect, it will appear but too manifest that, in the notions commonly attached to the word cause, much deficiency, in respect of clearness and correctness, as well as completeness, cannot but have place; and that, in the inferences made from either the one to the other, whether it be the cause that is deduced, or supposed to be deduced, from the effect, or the effect that is deduced, or supposed to be deduced, from the cause, much uncertainty and inconclusiveness cannot but be a frequent, not to say an almost constant and continual, result.
Seldom, indeed, does it happen that, of the co-influencing circumstances, the collection made for the purpose is complete; nor is it always that, in such a collection, so much as the principally influencing circumstances are included.
In those cases in which the several influencing circumstances are, all of them, subject, not only to the observation, but to the powers of human agency, any such miscalculations and errors as from time to time happen to be made, may, when perceived from time to time, be corrected.
Thus it is, for example, in the case of observations that have for their field the anatomy and physiology of plants and animals.
Thus it is, moreover, with little exception in the instance of the practical applications made of the respective theories of Chemistry and Mechanics, the influencing circumstances being, for the most part, or even altogether subject, and that, at all times, not only to our observations, but to our command.
The cases in which our inferences from supposed causes to supposed effects, and from supposed effects to supposed causes, seem most precarious and exposed to error, are,—on the one hand, cases belonging to the field of medicine, on the other hand, cases belonging to the field of naval architecture.
In cases belonging to the field of medicine, the influencing circumstances belonging principally to the class of chemical phenomena—to those phenomena by which particular sorts of bodies are distinguished from each other, lie, in a great degree, out of the reach of our observation.
In cases belonging to the field of naval architecture, the influencing circumstances, belonging principally to the class of mechanical phenomena,—to those phenomena which belong in common to bodies in general, may, perhaps, in specie be, without much difficulty, comprehended in their totality by observation; but, in respect of their quantity, lie, in a great measure, beyond even the reach of observation, and, in a still greater degree, are out of the reach of command.
Prone as is the human mind to the making of hasty and imperfectly-grounded inductions on the field of physical science, it cannot but be much more so in the fields of psychology and ethics, in which is included the field of politics; commonly not only is the collection made of influencing circumstances incomplete, but uninfluencing circumstances, and even obstacles, are placed in the station of, and held up to view in the character of, principally or even exclusively operating causes.
Thus superior is the density of the clouds which overhang the relation between cause and effect in the field of morals, as compared with the field of physics. Two concurring considerations may help us to account for this difference,—1. The elements of calculation being in so large a proportion of the phychical class—such as intentions, affections, and motives,—are, in a proportional degree, situated out of the reach of direct observation. 2. In the making of the calculation, the judgment is, in a peculiar degree, liable to be disturbed and led astray by the several sources of illusion,—by original intellectual weakness, by sinister interest, by interest-begotten prejudice, and by adopted prejudice.
Material, formal, efficient, final,—by these terms in the language of the Aristotelian schools—by these terms, in the higher forms of common language, so many different species of causes are considered as designated.
Neither incapable of being applied to practice, nor of being ever applied with advantage, these distinctions present, in this place, a just claim to notice. The relation they bear to the foregoing exposition, will now be brought to view.
Matter and form,—both these, it has been seen, are necessary to existence,—meaning, to real and that physical existence,—the existence of a physical body.
1. By material cause is indicated the matter of the body in question, considered in so far as it is regarded as contributing to the production of the effect in question.
2. By formal cause, the form of the same body.
3. By efficient cause must be understood, in so far as any clear and distinct idea is attached to the term, the matter of some body or bodies: what is meant to be distinguished by it may, in general, be supposed to be the motion of that body, or assemblage of bodies, which is regarded as the principal motion,—the motion which has the principal share in the production of the effect.
But to the production of the effect,—meaning a physical effect,—whatsoever it be, a correspondent and suitable disposition of the circumjacent non-moving bodies is not (it has been seen) less necessary than a correspondent and suitable motion, or aggregate of motions, on the part of the moving body.
To the designation of the matter, and of the form, that concurs in the production of the effect, the language here in question is, therefore, we see, adequate; but, to the designation of the other influencing circumstances, we see how far it is from being adequate.
4. By final cause, is meant the end which the agent had in view; meaning, as hath been seen, by the end, if anything at all be meant by it, the good to the attainment of which the act was directed,—the good, i. e. the pleasure, or pleasures, the exemption or security from such or such pain, or pains.
It is, therefore, only in so far as the effect is the result of design on the part of a sensitive being; a being susceptible of pains and pleasures,—of those sensations which, by us, are experienced and known by the names of pleasures and pains, that the species of cause here called final can have place.
The doctrine of final causes supposes, therefore, on the part of the agent in question, the experience of pleasure and pain; of pleasures and pains, the same as those of which we have experience—for to us there are no others; employed in any such attempt as that of designating and bringing to view the idea of any others, they would be employed in designating and bringing to view so many non-entities.
Existence, and the Classes of fictitious Entities related to it.
Existence is a quality, the most extensively applicable, and, at the same time, the most simple of all qualities actual or imaginable. Take away all other qualities, this remains: to speak more strictly, take any entity whatsoever, real or fictitious,—abstract the attention from whatsoever other qualities may have been found belonging to it, this will still be left. Existence is predicable of naked substance.
Opposite to the idea of existence is that of non-existence. Non-existence is the negation of existence. Of every other entity, real or fictitious, either existence or non-existence is at all times predicable. Whether such other entity be real or fictitious, its existence is, of course, a fictitious entity; i. e. the word existence is, in all cases, the name of a fictitious entity.
The idea of non-existence is the idea of absence extended. Take any place, and therewith, any real entity—any body existing in that place, suppose it no longer existing in that place, you suppose its absence, its relative non-existence. Expel it, in like manner, from every, from all, place, you suppose its absolute non-existence.
It is through the medium of absence, the familiar and continually recurring idea of absence, that the idea of non-existence, the terrific, the transcendant, the awful, and imposing idea of non-existence is attained.
Existence being, as above, a species of quality, is itself a fictitious entity;—it is in every real entity—every real entity is in it.
In it, the man, the object of whose appetite is the sublime, and he the object of whose appetite is the ridiculous, may here find matter for their respective banquets. Nothing has been laughed at to satiety. The punster who has played with nothing till he is tired may renew the game with existence and non-existence.
At any point of time, in any place whatsoever, take any entity, any real entity whatsoever, between its existence in that place and its non-existence in that same place, there is not any alternative, there is not any medium whatsoever.
Necessity, impossibility, certainty, uncertainty, probability, improbability, actuality, potentiality;—whatsoever there is of reality correspondent to any of these names, is nothing more or less than a disposition, a persuasion of the mind, on the part of him by whom these words are employed, in relation to the state of things, or the event or events to which these qualities are ascribed.
Down to the present time, whatsoever be this present time, whether the time of writing this, or the time of any one’s reading it, whatsoever has existed has had existence,—whatsoever has not existed has not had existence; at this time whatsoever does exist, has existence,—whatsoever does not exist has not existence; and so at any and every future point of time. Throughout the whole expanse of time, past, present, and future, put together, where will room be found for anything real to answer to any of these names?
Quality itself is but a fictitious entity, but these are all of them so many fictitious qualities. They do not, as real qualities,—they do not, like gravity, solidity, roundness, hardness, belong to the objects themselves to which they are ascribed,—in the character of attributes of the objects to which they are ascribed, they are mere chimeras, mere creatures of the imagination—nonentities.
Yet, nonentities as they are, but too real is the mischief of which some of them, and, in particular, the word necessity, has been productive:—antipathy, strife, persecution, murder upon a national, upon an international, scale.
The persuasion expressed by the word certainty has for its foundation the event itself simply. The persuasion indicated by the word necessity has for its object not only that event, but an infinity of other events, and states of things out of number, from the beginning of time, in the character of its causes.
Certainty, necessity, impossibility; exhibited seriously in any other character than that of expressions of the degree of the persuasion entertained in relation to the subject in question, by him whose words they are, in the use of these words is virtually involved the assumption of omniscience. All things that are possible are within my knowledge,—this is not upon the list; such being interpreted is the phrase, this thing is impossible.
The sort of occasion on which, without any such assumption, these terms can be applied, is that of a contradiction in terms,—a self-contradictory proposition, or two mutually contradictory propositions issuing, at the same time, from the same mouth or the same pen. But here the objects to which these attributes are, with propriety, applicable, are not the objects, for the designation of which the propositions are applied, but the propositions themselves. Propositions thus contradictory and incompatible cannot, with propriety, be applied to the same object. It is impossible that they should, i. e. inconsistent with the notions entertained by the person in question, in relation to what is proper and what improper in language
It is impossible that, among a multitude of bodies all equal to one another, four taken together should not be greater than two taken together. Why? Because, by the word four has, by every person, been designated a number greater than by the word two.
Yet, in affirmance of the truth of a proposition thus impossible, persuasion rising to the highest pitch of intensity has been entertained. Why? Because the human mind having it in its power to apply itself to any object, or to forbear to apply itself at pleasure, the person in question has exercised this power in relation to the import of the words in question, as above, i. e. to the import which, according to his experience, all persons by whom they have been employed have been constantly in the habit of annexing to them. But against an object which the mind has contrived to exclude out of the field of its attention, no objection can, in that same field, be seen to bear. Whatsoever, therefore, were the considerations by which he was engaged to endeavour to persuade himself of the truth of the self-contradictory, and therefore, impossible, propositions, remain without anything to counteract their force.*
[* ] Somatology, the science that belongs to bodies.
[† ] Psychology, the science that belongs to mind.
[‡ ] The name substance has, by the logicians of former times, been used to comprise perceptible and inferential real entities: Souls, God, Angels, Devils, have been designated by them by the appellation substance.
[§ ] The use of the exhaustive mode of division, as contradistinguished from that which is not exhaustive, i. e. all-comprehensive, is to show, that your conception and comprehension of the subject, in so far as the particulars comprehended in it are in view, is complete. Vide supra, p. 110, et seq.
[* ] Should there be any person in whose view the soul of man, considered in a state of separation from the body, should present itself as not capable of being, with propriety, aggregated to the class of real entities, to every such person, the class to which it belongs would naturally be that of fictitious entities; in which case it would probably be considered as being that whole, of which so many other psychical entities, none of which have ever been considered any otherwise than fictitious, such as the understanding, and the will, the perceptive faculty, the memory, and the imagination, are so many parts.
[† ] Should there be any person who, incapable of drawing those inferences by which the Creator and Preserver of all other entities, is referred to the class of real ones, should refuse to him a place in that class, the class to which such person would find himself, in a manner, compelled to refer that invisible and mysterious being would be, not as in the case of the human soul to that of fictitious entities, but that of non-entities.
[‡ ] Pathematic, Apathematic, to one or other of these denominations may all imaginable sorts of perceptions be referred. Pathematic, viz. such as either themselves consist of or are accompanied by pleasure or pain; Apathematic, such as have not any such accompaniment in any shape.
[* ] In the works of the authors who now (anno 1813) are in vogue, not a few are the notions of which the appearance will, at this time of day, be apt to excite a sensation of surprise in an unexperienced, and, one day perhaps, even in an experienced, mind.
Of this number are—1. The denial of the existence of bodies. 2. The denial of the existence of general or abstract ideas.
Of these kindred paradoxes,—for such, in some sort, they will be found to be,—who were the first persons by whom they were respectively broached, is more than I recollect, if so it be that I ever knew; nor, supposing it attainable, would the trouble of the search be paid for by the value of the thing found.
Of those by whom the notion of the non-existence of matter, including the several bodies that present themselves to our senses, is maintained, Bishop Berkeley, if not the first in point of time, is, at any rate, the most illustrious partisan.
[† ] The manuscript of this section finishes at this point, but the marginal note in pencil is—“Go on, bring to view the several other fictitious entities of the second remove, those of the third remove, if any, and so on.”
[* ] See Essay on Language, in this volume.
[† ] The division of entities into real and fictitious, is more properly the division of names into names of real and names of fictitious entities.
[* ] The enumeration is left blank in the original. Aristotle’s own arrangement is filled in, in the printing, and not that of Sanderson, which the author generally employed as the text-book of the Aristotelian system.—Ed.
[* ] 1. The earth and a projected stone.
2. A larger and a lesser magnet.
3. Liquids and gases.
[† ] The MS. of this section here breaks off abruptly. See further on this subject sec. 4, p. 204.—Ed.
[* ] Here there is in the MS. a N.B., “Query as to Spheroids.”—Ed.
[* ] See the chapters on Division and Methodization in the ensuing work on Logic.—Ed.
[† ] See the sanctions and their operation, considered at length, in the Principles of Morals and Legislation, vol. i. p. 14, et seq.—Ed.
[* ] See further on this subject, vol. vii. p. 76, et seq.—Ed.