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And while it is thus a philosophical impossibility to demonstrate that any given phenomenon is not the effect of a material cause, any one who is acquainted with the history of science will admit that its progress has, in all ages, meant, and now, more than ever, means, the extension of the province of what we call matter and causation, and the concomitant gradual banishment from all regions of human thought of what we call spirit and spontaneity." He added: “And as surely as every future grows out of the past and present, so will the physiology of the future gradually extend the realm of matter and law, until it is co-extensive with knowledge, with feeling, and with action.” The opinion he then expressed in such words he now repeats in these: “I hold that opinion now, if anything, more firmly than I did when I gave utterance to it a score of years ago, for it has been justified by subsequent events. But what that opinion has to do with materialism I fail to discover.” Possibly we deceive ourselves, but it seems to us that we are fortunate enough to discern what eludes Prof. Huxley's sharper sight.
If “the realm of matter and law” is “co-extensive with knowledge, with feeling, and with action,” it must include “ all the phenomena of nature," which, therefore, are the effects of material causes, whereof the elements are “matter and force"; but, as “all the phenomena of nature are explicable by deduction” from their causes, and as their causes are compounded of “ matter and force," it follows that “all the phenomena of nature are explicable by deduction from the properties assignable to those two primitive factors "; which is Prof. Huxley's definition of materialism. Unless there is a flaw in this reasoning, and we have searched for one in vain, Prof. Huxley stands logically committed, by his own words, to materialism, in his own acceptation. His opinion respecting causationism has so much “to do” with materialism that it makes him a materialist in spite of himself.
Nevertheless, he stoutly refuses to “accept the situation,” insisting, amongst other things less cogent, that “ Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin ” were materialists, if he is a materialist, inasmuch as they all cherished, not less heartily than he cherishes, the " disbelief in spontaneity." True, but they did not hold, as he does, that “the realm of matter and law is “co-extensive with knowledge, with feeling, and with action," or register, as he has registered, a decree banishing from that realm "spirit" as well as "spontaneity." He styles his argument here a reductio ad absurdum, but the absurdity, we conceive, appears in the premises rather than in the conclusion, the argument being not so much a reduction to an absurdity as a deduction from one-a deductio ab absurdo. The province which those famous theologians assigned to spirit, matter, and law, Prof. Huxley quietly assigns to “matter and law," unseating the triumvirate they acknowledged, and seating, in place of it, a duumvirate they notoriously disowned, yet to which he airily assumes they yielded true allegiance. This is the real absurdity. Calvin believed, doubtless, in the universality of causation, but he did not believe, as Prof. Huxley avows that he himself does, in the universality of material causation; he was a determinist, indeed, but not a materialist. Prof. Huxley is both, or there is no meaning in words-no virtue in logic.
With respect to causationism, therefore, his opinion resolves itself into materialism; and his demurrer breaks down. now turn to the remaining point.
In the article under notice Prof. Huxley renews his assertion that "consciousness is a function of the brain," supplementing it with the admission that “material changes are the causes of psychical phenomena,” and reaffirms, in different words, the pith of this sentence in his celebrated address on Descartes'“ Discourse”: "I believe that we shall, sooner or later, arrive at a mechanical equivalent of consciousness, just as we have arrived at a mechanical equivalent of heat." Yet what all this has to do with materialism” he also fails “to discover." The connection is very real, nevertheless, and, if we mistake not, is capable of being clearly shown.
Causation, we may premise, is not creation, but transformationthe change of a given quantity of force into another form without altering the quantity. Essentially a cause and its effect are not two different forces, but one force in two different forms; they constitute an equation, of which relation the homogeneity of the two members, it were needless to say, is the fundamental property. Hence, a cause and its effect are necessarily of the same nature; they are, in the last analysis, consubstantial. This is a corollary from the law of the conservation of energy. It is a necessary truth. We now come to the point.
A function Prof. Huxley defines as “that effect or series of effects which results from the activity of an organ"; it is thus the effect of a material cause, and as such is itself material. In this nutshell lies the whole case. If “consciousness is a function of the brain," consciousness is material; for an organ and its function are of necessity co-essential. If "material changes are the causes of psychical phenomena," those phenomena are material; for causes and their effects are con-natural. If we can “arrive at a mechanical equivalent of consciousness, just as we have arrived at a mechanical equivalent of heat," consciousness is of the same nature as the equivalent from which it emerges, and just as material as heat is, no matter how much more subtile, how much more highly involved, how much more intricate and exquisite the texture of its
interrelations; for equivalence presupposes homogeneity. And, if all this be so, there is for us “nothing in the universe but matter and force," and "all the phenomena of nature are explicable by deduction from the properties assignable to those two primitive factors ”; for, if mind is material, everything is material. We see only one way by which Prof. Huxley can escape this conclusion; and that is, to retract the opinions which necessitate it.
But he believes in them too much for that, if not quite enough for submission to their logical consequences. In point of fact he frankly repeats them, and still refuses to "accept the situation.' He is gloriously obstinate. It is here that Prof. Huxley has most need for all his surpassing resources as a polemic, and here at any rate, we think, that he rises most clearly above himself, cleaving the upper air of philosophy with such freedom, strength, and beauty, with a playfulness so nearly riotous and wholly irresistible, and with such a chastened yet rejoicing and infectious sense of his own incomparable powers, that we confess we read the article with passionate admiration many times, before we read it once with conscious discrimination. There are passages that for ease and vigor and vivid grace—for prodigal splendor combined with rigorous precision, magnificence with distinctness—are hardly equalled in literature: passages that suggest the image of tropical luxuriance in the sober lights and cool shadows of temperate skies. But our admiration is getting the better of us once more.
We return to the point. It is our business to show that this captivating flight, even when not wheeling above the question or wide of it, is as idle as it is admirable. Allons! “Nobody hesitates to say,” Prof. Huxley urges, “that an event A is the caụse of an event Z, even if there are as many intermediate terms, known and unknown, in the chain of causation as there are letters between A and Z. The man who pulls the trigger of a loaded pistol placed close to another's head certainly is the cause of that other's death, though, in strictness, he causes nothing but the movement of the finger upon the trigger. And, in like manner, the molecular change which is brought about in a certain portion of the cerebral substance by the stimulation of a remote part of the body would be properly said to be the cause of the consequent feeling, whatever unknown terms were interposed between the physical agent and the actual psychical product. Therefore, unless materialism has the monopoly of the right use of language, I see nothing materialistic in the phraseology which I have employed.” Ah! but in each of these illustrative cases, be it noted, in the homicidal as in the alphabetical, not merely is the chain of causation formed entirely of material links, but the swivel of the effect, if we may so express it, is material likewise: the concatenation is material through
Does Prof. Huxley admit that in the case illustrated the chain of causation, including the swivel, is formed in like manner? If no, his instances are irrelevant, ordinary cases of causation, mediate or immediate, having nothing to do with the extraordinary case in which a material event is supposed to cause an immaterial one. If yes, he surrenders his point, and acknowledges, in the teeth of his own sarcasm, that his "phraseology” is purely and simply "materialistic.” His illustrations either do not illustrate, or illustrate his materialism. We are far from thinking that“ materialism has the monopoly of the right use of language,” but unfortunately Prof. Huxley's practice, in this instance, adds no confirmation to our opinion.
We now approach the citadel of his defence, having first to encounter, however, what he probably regards as its bulwark. “It seems to me pretty plain," he tells us, "that there is a third thing in the universe, to wit, consciousness, which, in the hardness of my heart or head, I cannot see to be matter or force, or any conceivable modification of either, however intimately the manifestations of the phenomena of consciousness may be connected with the phenomena known as matter and sorce.” Herein Prof. Huxley, we cannot help thinking, does injustice to his comprehension. He
see” that "consciousness is a function of the brain"; he can "see " that “material changes are the causes of psychical phenomena”; he can “see" that we may“ arrive at a mechanical equivalent of consciousness, just as we have arrived at a mechanical equivalent of heat”; and, if he can “see" any one of these things, he infallibly can "see,” nay, does “see,” that consciousness is some "conceivable modification” of “ matter and force": for so much is implied in the perception of each.
Taking, for example, the relation of cause and effect, which in fact comprehends the others, it is absolutely impossible to "see " that consciousness is the effect of material changes, and not to “see" that it is material; for the change of a material event into an immaterial one involves the destruction of matter, which, in addition to being unthinkable, would tear the fabric of modern science clean from its foundations, setting the stately wreck adrift upon the waves of chaos. Nor this only. Seeing that the consciousness of a material thing dematerializes it, and seeing further that every material thing is capable of passing into consciousness, and does pass into it sooner or later, the immateriality of consciousness involves the annihilation of the material world, the microcosm devouring the macrocosm, at odd moments, till it leaves “not a rack behind.” Prof. Huxley's argument wipes out matter. But this is not the worst of it. If all causation is material, as he holds, and mind is not material, as he also holds, what becomes of mind as a causative agency? Nay, what becomes of mind as an effect? What becomes of mind in any mode? It cannot be a cause, for every cause is material; nor can it be an effect, for nothing material can lapse into immateriality. It vanishes altogether. Conceding the truth of Prof. Huxley's opinions, mind is literally nothing if not material; and he cannot "see" that it is material, he protests. His argument thus wipes out mind as well as matter: it abolishes the universe. The nimble microcosm, having swallowed the macrocosm, swallows itself, without leaving the faintest trace to tell of either. Most people would say that an assertion of which this is the outcome must be untrue.
It is due to Prof. Huxley to say that we have his authority for pronouncing the assertion untrue. It would be impossible, we are sure, to, cite a higher authority, and almost impertinent, we feel, to cite any other. Certainly no authority could be more to the point. A prefatory word may be pardoned us. Self-evidently, the abyss between the material and the immaterial, if passable from either side, is passable from the other--admitting that material changes are capable of causing psychical phenomena, psychical changes are capable of causing material phenomena; mind must act upon matter, provided matter acts upon mind; for action and reaction are equal and opposite. The reader will please bear this in mind. “ Have we any reason to believe that a feeling, or state of consciousness," asks Prof. Huxley, in the course of one of his late discussions with the Duke of Argyle, “is capable of directly affecting the motion of even the smallest conceivable molecule of matter? Is such a thing even conceivable? If we answer these questions in the negative, it follows that volition may be a sign, but cannot be a cause, of bodily motion. If we answer them in the affirmative, then states of conciousness become undistinguishable from material things; for it is the essential nature of matter to be the vehicle or substratum of mechanical energy." And these questions he himself answers in the affirmative, emphatically and unequivocally, when he asserts that "consciousness is a function of the brain,” that “material changes are the causes of psychical phenomena," and the rest. Consequently, states of consciousness, Prof. Huxley being judge, are “undistinguishable from material things”; which is as good as declaring his inability to "see " that consciousness is not material. Instead of being unable to “see" that it is material, therefore, he is unable, on his own admission, to "see" that it is anything else.
Furthermore, Prof. Huxley has avowed, in no uncertain terms, that, beyond “the abyss of geologically recorded time,” he can “ see” the evolution of living protoplasm from “not-living matter"; and, if life from lifeless matter, why not consciousness from life? Surely this latter evolution, no less than the former, must