Infomotions, Inc.An examination of Mr. J. S. Mill's philosophy : being a defence of fundamental truth / by James McCosh. / McCosh, James, 1811-1894

Author: McCosh, James, 1811-1894
Title: An examination of Mr. J. S. Mill's philosophy : being a defence of fundamental truth / by James McCosh.
Publisher: London : Macmillan and Co., 1880.
Tag(s): mill, john stuart, 1806-1873; mill; sensations; hamilton; logic; sensation; extension; theory; logical; notion
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Identifier: examinationofmrj00mccorich
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Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

Voikt by It, M'Cosh, 


PHYSICAL AND MORAL. 8vo. $2.50. 

" It is refreshing to read a work so distinguished for originality and sound- 
ness of thinking, especially as coming from an author of our own country." 
Sir William Hamilton. 

"Dr. M' Cosh's work is of the compact cast and thought-eliciting com 
plexion which men do not willingly let die ; and we promise such of our 
readers as may possess themselves of it much entertainment and instruction 
of a high order, and a fund of solid thought, which they will not soon ex- 
haust." Hugh Miller, in " Witness." 

" This work is distinguished from other similar ones by its being based upon 
a thorough study of physical science, and an accurate knowledge of its present 
condition, and by its entering in a deeper and more unfettered manner than its 
predecessors upon the discussion of the appropriate psychological, ethical, and 
theological questions. The author keeps aloof at once from the a priori 
idealism and dreaminess of German speculation since Schelling, and from the 
one-sidedness and narrowness of the empiricism and positivism which have so 
prevailed in England. In the provinces of psychology and ethics he follows 
conscientiously the facts of consciousness, and draws his conclusions of them 
commonly with penetration and logical certainty." Dr. Ulrici, in Zeitschrifl 
fur Philosophie. 


8vo. $2.50. 

" It is alike comprehensive in its range, accurate and minute in its details, 
original in its structure, and devout and spirited in its tone and tendency. It 
illustrates and carries out the great principle of analogy in the Divine plans 
and works far more minutely and satisfactorily than it has been done before ; 
and while it presents the results of the most profound scientific research, it 
presents them in their higher and spiritual relations." Argus 




"I have given an approving notice of Dr. M' Cosh's 'Intuitions of the Mind' 
in my ' Jahrbucher fur Deutsche Theologie' (1861). I value it for its large ac- 
quaintance with English Philosophy, which has not led him to neglect the great 
German works. I admire the moderation and clearness, as well as comprehen- 
sion, of the author's views. While entertaining a great respect for the Masters 
of the Scottish Philosophy, such as Sir W. Hamilton, this has not restrained 
his independent judgment, or kept him stationary." Dr. Dorner, of Berlin. 

" The undertaking to adjust the claims of the sensational and intuitional 
philosophies, and of the a posteriori and a priori methods is not only legitimate, 
but accomplished in this work with a great amount of success." Westminster 
Remew, April, 1865. 

"No philosopher, before Dr. M'Cosh, has clearly brought out the stages b; 
which an original and individual intuition passes first into an articulate but still 
individual judgment, and then into a universal maxim or principle ; and no one 
has so clearly or completely classified and enumerated our intuitive convictions, 
or exhibited in detail their relations to the various sciences which repose on 
them as their foundations. The amount of summarized information which it 
contains is very great ; and it is the only work on the very important subject 
with which it deals. Never was such a work so much needed as in the present 
day. It is the only scientific work adapted to counteract the school of Mill, 
Bain, and Herbert Spencer, which is so steadily prevailing among the students 
of the present generation." London Quarterly Review, April, 1865. 

" Though treating of the intuitions of the mind, and thus laboring in that par- 
ticular division of philosophy which is most liable to degenerate into imagina- 
tive, or at best merely speculative notions, Dr. M'Cosh preserves a clear, calm, 
and sober intelligence. The history of many philosophic opinions, and the pe- 
culiarities of many philosophical schools, are also passed in review in the notes 
to the work, in a concise yet thorough manner ; and the criticisms that are 
made upon several of the celebrated theories of the past are candid and ex- 
haustive." Dr. Shedd in Introduction to Second American Edition. 

'' When the original edition of this work appeared, we characterized it in 
terms of strong recommendation, such as we rarely bestow on any work, and 
pointed out at some length its distinctive merits. We will just say here, that, 
in regard to all the greatest issues between Mill and Hamilton, indeed, all the 
great issues raised by either of these eminent authors, or their respective philo- 
sophical schools ; and in regard to nearly every great issue raised between the 
philosophic scepticism and the Christian philosophy of our day, Dr. M'Cosh 
quite generally takes the right side." Princeton Review, Oct. 1865. 











IN reading lately the Memoirs^ Letters, and Remains ot 
Alexis De Tocqueville, who has speculated so profoundly 
on the causes and consequences of national character, I was 
much struck with the following : 

" The ages in which metaphysics have been most cultivated, have 
in general been those in which men have been most raised above 
themselves. Indeed, though I care little for the study, I have always 
been struck by the influence which it has exercised over the things 
which seem least connected with it, and even over society in general. 
I do not think that any statesmen ought to be indifferent as to 
whether the prevailing metaphysical opinions be materialistic or 
not. Condillac, I have no doubt, drove many people into material- 
ism, who had never read his book ; for abstract ideas, relating to 
human nature, penetrate at last, I know not how, into public 

Had De Tocqueville's studies run in that direction, it would 
not have been difficult for him to unfold the causes of the phe- 
nomena which he has so carefully noted. These phenomena 
are three in number. First, a taste for philosophic specula- 
tion is a mark of an elevated age. It is the sign of a time 
which believes that there is as much above the surface of the 
earth, and beneath it, as there is on it ; and is seeking suc- 
cessfully or unsuccessfully to gauge the height of the heavens, 
in order to draw down influences from it ; or to penetrate the 
ground in the hope of discovering mines from which unseen 
wealth may be dug. The age which comprised Socrates, 


Plato, and Aristotle, in Greece ; the age of Cicero in Rome , 
the seventeenth century in France, England, and Holland ; 
the last part of the eighteenth and the first part of the nine- 
teenth centuries in Scotland and in Germany, have been the 
peculiarly philosophic ages of these countries, and have been 
the times of deepest and brightest thought in all departments 
of literature and science. Whatever may be said against the 
age in which we live, it is clear that it is one in which the 
deepest speculative questions are discussed ; and it is char- 
acterized by high literary attainment and boundless scientific 
and political enthusiasm. The second fact noticed is, that 
metaphysics exercise a mighty influence on the things least 
connected with them, in fact over society in general. This 
can be accounted for. Men's deep and abiding convictions, 
religious, ethical, and philosophic, when they have 
such, or the restlessness gendered in hearts emptied of all 
credences, and with pretended satisfactions rushing in on 
every side to fill the vacuum, exert a far greater power over 
them and their age, than outward circumstances or floating 
impulses. De Tocqueville recommends statesmen carefully 
to watch the philosophy of their day, which is always sowing 
seed to produce fruit for good or for evil in the age that fol- 
lows. I may add that the friends of religion should also 
guard those springs out of which the streams of action flow. 
For De Tocqueville tells us, thirdly, that a materialistic phi- 
losophy penetrates into public, and I may add private, morals ; 
and this among persons who never looked into a work on 
metaphysics. He refers specially to the Sensational philoso- 
phy of France, which exercised so fatal an influence on 
French character and politics, in the latter half of last 
century, giving a direction to public sentiment which culmi- 
nated in the mad excesses of the French Revolution, and 
then sank into the stagnant indifference of the first Empire. 
When we look from this point, we see that we have dark 
days and fearful conflicts before us in France and in England : 
for we have a prevailing philosophy of quite as earthward a 
character and tendency as that of Condillac and the Encyclo- 


paedists ; with qualities fitted to stimulate a wild enthusiasm ; 
entertained by earnest and able men eager to propagate their 
opinions, supporting each other in important literary organs, 
and at the present moment buoyed up by the hopes of victory. 
Happily we have in this country (it is different, I fear, under 
the new Empire in France) many forces unfortunately 
unconnected and distracted to meet this, both in the high- 
toned philosophy which still lingers among us, and in a fer- 
vent religion widely spread, and fitted, I think, to keep the 
materialistic psychology from attaining to so great a sway as 
it reached in last century, and may still reach in this, on the 
continent. But the contest in England is a very serious one 
the religious public being quite unaware of its importance, 
and not likely to be aroused till they see the practical effects, 
when it is too late to avert them. Thinking men, however, 
feel that they have a part to act in this crisis. I introduce 
my readers to one of the skirmishes of the great warfare. 

In May, 1865, Mr. Mill published an Examination of 
Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, in which he unfolds 
principles fitted, as I think, to undermine fundamental truth. 
In the beginning of the following year, I published this work 
as a reply. In the third edition of his work, published in 
1867, Mr. Mill replied to his critics, including myself. I 
place in Appendix II. to this edition my answer to Mr. Mill's 
strictures. The combatants are now brought to very close 
quarters. We now see clearly what are the questions at 
issue. The Appendix may be regarded as forming a sort 
of resume of the whole controversy, not so far as it relates to 
Hamilton, but as it bears on what is far more important, 
the fundamental truth which Mr. Mill has assailed. 



* PA9I 



MB. MILL'S ADMISSIONS, ........ 95 

SENSATIONS, ........... 79 



...... 112 





















WHAT is TKUTH ? CRITERIA or TRUTH, ..... 372 


NATURAL THEOLOGY, ..... . 415 








IF any one competent to offer an opinion on such 
a subject were asked, Who are the most influen- 
tial philosophic thinkers of Britain, in this the third 
quarter of the nineteenth century? he would at 
once and unhesitatingly name Sir William Hamilton 
and Mr. John Stuart Mill. For the last twenty or 
thirty years the former has had great authority in 
Scotland, and considerable power in Oxford and 
among the Dissenting colleges of England; has 
been much admired in the United States of Amer- 
ica ; has been favorably known in France, and heard 
of even in Germany, where few British metaphysi- 
cians attain a name. Mr, Mill has qualities which 
specially recommend him to the English mind, and 
of late years he has got a firm hold of the rising 
thought of Oxford and Cambridge, where young 
minds, in the recoil from the attempt to impose the 
mediaeval forms upon them, have taken refuge in 


the Empiricism and Utilitarianism so lucidly ex- 
pounded by him; while writers bred at the great 
English Universities have, in certain portions of the 
London press, been constantly and apparently sys- 
tematically quoting him, or referring to him, as pos- 
sibly the only philosopher known to them, or at 
least appreciated by them. It should be added that 
he is known in France as the English representa- 
tive of their own Positive School; and his clear 
logical expositions have been esteemed by not a 
few in Germany, anxious to escape from the inex- 
tricable toils of Kant and Fichte, . Schelling and 

These two men are alike in the greatness of thoir 
intellectual power, and in the range of their attain- 
ments. But they differ widely in their peculiar 
mental endowments and predilections, in the man- 
ner in which they have been trained, and the 
influences under which their opinions have been 
formed. Hamilton is known to have received a 
thoroughly complete collegiate education in classics 
and philosophy ; to have afterwards had his logical 
powers sharpened by the study of law, and his ex- 
tensive information widened by his researches when 
Professor of History ; while his pursuits were made 
finally to centre in mental science by his appoint- 
ment as Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the 
University of Edinburgh. Keceiving his early col- 
lege training in Glasgow, where the influence of 
Reid was predominant, he retained through life a 


profound reverence for the common-sense philoso- 
pher. Completing his academic education at Ox- 
ford, he fell under the sway of Aristotle, and found 
in him much that was congenial to his own intel- 
lectual nature, and was led to study his philosophy 
not only in his own writings, but in the pages of 
his commentators, and in the modification of his 
logic constructed by the schoolmen. In the course 
of his multifarious reading he could not but fall in 
with constant references to Emmanuel Kant as a 
profound thinker, and, as he entered upon the study 
of his works, could not but be impressed with the 
vast logical power of the German metaphysician. 
These three, Eeid, Aristotle, and Kant, are the men 
who have exercised the greatest influence on the 
studies and the thoughts of the Scottish philosopher. 
But in his vast and rare reading he delighted to 
find truth scattered like gold dust in the pages of 
forgotten writers of all ages and countries, and, 
rejoicing in the discovery, he often magnified its 
value as he hastened to bring it forth to the public 
view in an age and country which seemed to him 
greatly deficient in scholarship. 

His intellectual features stand out very promi- 
nently. A discerning eye might have seen from 
the beginning that his independent and impetuous 
mind would impel him to follow a course of his 
own ; and that, while probably destined to lead, he 
would not be led certainly would not be driven 
by others. He is evidently moved by a strong 


internal appetency to master all learning, and he 
spent his life in accumulating stores which, after all, 
fell immeasurably beneath his high ambition. Along 
with this he has a masterly capacity of retention 
and power of arrangement. His skill in seizing the 
opinions of the men of all ages and countries : the 
ancient Greeks, the philosophic fathers of the 
Church, the schoolmen, the thinkers of the age of 
the Kevival of Letters, such as Scaliger, and of 
the continental metaphysicians from the days of 
Descartes to about the year 1830, has never been 
equalled by any British philosopher. His powers of 
logical analysis, generalization, and distribution are 
scarcely surpassed by those of Aristotle or Thomas 
Aquinas or Kant. I have to add, that while he has 
also superior powers of observation, he has, like most 
metaphysicians, often overridden and overwhelmed 
them by logical processes, and hastened by dissec- 
tion, division, and criticism to construct prematurely 
a completed system of philosophy such as is to 
be built up, only as systems of physical science are 
formed, by the careful inductions of successive in- 
quirers conducting their work through successive 
ages. In this respect he has imbibed the spirit of 
Kant, and has not followed the examples set by the 
more cautious school of Eeid and Stewart. 

His manner and style are very decided and very 
marked. Any man of sharp discernment could 
easily recognize him at a great distance, and detect 
him under the most rigid incognito. To some ears 


his nomenclature may sound uncouth and crabbed, 
being coined out of the Greek or borrowed from the 
Germans; but these persons forget that chemistry 
and geology and anatomy have all been obliged to 
create a new terminology, in order to embody the 
distinctions which they have established. Hamilton 
is certainly without the power of poetical or orator- 
ical amplification for which Brown and Chalmers of 
the same University were distinguished ; and he is 
deficient in the aptness of illustration in which such 
writers as Paley and Whately excel ; still his man- 
ner of writing has attractions of its own. His 
phraseology, if at times it sounds technical or pe- 
dantic, is always carefully explained and defined, 
and is ever scholarlike in its derivation and artic- 
ulate in its meaning. His style is never loose, never 
tedious, never dull ; it is always clear, always terse, 
always masculine, and at times it is sententious, 
clinching, and apothegm atic. In reading his works, 
the reader need entertain no fear of being led into 
a Scotch mist, or being met by a fog from the 
German Ocean. Not unfrequently dogmatic, at 
times oracular, resolute in holding by his opinions 
when attacked, and on certain occasions, as in his 
assaults on Luther, Brown, Whately, and De Mor- 
gan, giving way to undue severity and passion, he is 
ever open, manly, and sincere. He uses a sharp 
chisel and strikes his hammer with a decided blow, 
and his ideas commonly stand out before us like a 
clean cut statue standing firmly on its pedestal be- 


tween us and a clear sky. Indeed, we might with 
justice describe his style as not only accurate, but 
even beautiful in a sense, from its. compression, its 
compactness, its vigor, and its point. His thoughts, 
weighty and solid as metal, are ever made to shine 
with a metallic lustre. At the places at which his 
speculations are the most abstract and his words the 
baldest, he often surprises us by an apt quotation 
from an old and forgotten author ; or a sudden light 
is thrown upon the present topic by rays coming 
from a hundred points. If we have not the flowers 
or the riches, we are at the same time without the 
sultriness of a tropical climate ; and in the arctic re- 
gion to which he carries us, if the atmosphere feels 
cold at times, it is always healthy and bracing, and 
the lights in the sky have a bright and scintillating 

Mr. Mill's characteristics are of a different kind. 
It is understood that he received no collegiate 
education ; but it is clear that he has been instruct- 
ed with care, and I should suppose upon a system, 
in the various branches even of academic learning. 
If not so technically erudite as Hamilton, it is 
evident that he is well acquainted with the various 
departments of physical science ; that he is exten- 
sively read in all historical and social questions ; 
and that he is competently conversant with the 
opinions of philosophers and logicians in different 
ages. His thinking has many of the qualities of 
a self-educated man : that is, it is fresh and indepen- 


dent, but, at the same time, it is often exclusive and 
angular, in consequence of its not being rubbed and 
polished and adjusted by being placed alongside of 
the philosophic and religious wisdom of the great 
and good men of the past. Taught to think for 
himself from his boyhood, he has prepared opinions 
on all subjects ; he has published many of these in 
his writings, and has evidently many more to ad- 
vance in due time, as circumstances may seem to 
require, and the world is able to bear them. He 
received, I rather think, his first intellectual im- 
pulse from his own father, of whom he always 
speaks with profound reverence, a circumstance 
creditable alike to the father and the son. But Mr. 
James Mill, though a clear and independent, was by 
no means (so I think) a comprehensive or profound 
thinker. The title of his philosophical work, Anal- 
ysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, indi- 
cates its character and its contents ; it is an analysis 
of the operations of the mind into as few elements 
as possible, and preceded by no careful observation 
of the nature and peculiarities of the mental phe- 
nomena which he seeks to decompose. One so 
trained could not but have his attention drawn to 
the speculations of Dr. Thomas Brown, who, largely 
following the Sensational School of France, had 
shown his ingenuity in deriving the complex phe- 
nomena of the mind from a few ultimate laws. Like 
the older Mr. Mill (in this respect unlike Dr. 
Brown), the younger Mr. Mill delights to trace ideas 


to sensations ; like Brown and James Mill, he rep- 
resents all our mental states as " feelings," and like 
them he generates our ideas by means of sugges- 
tion or association. 

These are evidently Mr. Mill's immediate prede- 
cessors in psychology. In historical speculation he 
was early seized with an admiration of the general 
principles of the philosophy of M. Auguste Comte, 
who was becoming known to a select few at the 
time when the character of the young Englishman 
was being formed; and M. Littre' claims Mr. John 
Mill as the first who gave " a public adhesion to the 
method of the positive philosophy." Not that he 
has followed the founder of the Positive School in 
every respect ; in particular, he has been prevented 
by his adherence to his father's metaphysics from 
following M. Comte in his denunciations of all a1> 
tempts to study the human mind by consciousness. 
But he was led by the influence of this teacher to 
regard it as impossible for the mind to rise to first 
or final causes, or to know the nature of things ; 
and to adopt his favorite method of procedure, 
which is by deduction from an hypothesis, which he 
endeavors to show explains all the phenomena. 
Though a fairly informed man in the history of 
philosophy, he has attached himself to a school 
which thinks it has entirely outstripped the past ; 
and so he has no sympathy with, and no apprecia- 
tion of, the profound thoughts of the men of former 
times: these are supposed to belong to the theo- 


logical or metaphysical ages, which have forever 
passed away in favor of the positive era which has 
now dawned upon our world. Bred thus in a rev- 
olutionary school of opinion, his predilections are 
in all things in favor of those who are given to 
change, and against those who think that there is 
immutable truth, or who imagine that they have 
discovered it. His expressed admiration of Cole- 
ridge may seem to contradict this statement, but it 
does so only in appearance, for he has no partiality 
for any of the favorite principles of that defender of 
transcendental reason ; it is clear that he delights in 
him chiefly because his speculations have been act- 
ing as a solvent to melt down the crystallized philo- 
sophical and theological opinions of England. The 
school of Comte has hitherto had no analyst of the 
mind (the founder of it was a phrenologist, and 
studied the mind through the brain) ; and Mr. Mill 
may be regarded as, for the present, the recognized 
metaphysician of the school, and will hold this place 
till he is superseded by the more comprehensive 
system, and the bolder speculative grasp of Mr. 
Herbert Spencer. 

With an original clearness of intellectual appre- 
hension, his whole training has disposed him towards 
distinct enunciations and practical results. Engaged 
for many years in a public office, he has acquired 
habits which enable him to understand the business 
of life and the condition of society. He is partic- 
ularly fitted to excel in the exposition of those 


media axiomata upon which, according to Bacon, 
"depend the business and fortune of mankind." 
With an English love of the concrete, he has a 
French skill in reducing a complex subject into 
simple elements, and a French clearness of expres- 
sion. He is ever able to bring out his views in 
admirable order, and his thoughts lie in his style 
like pebbles at the bottom of a transparent stream, 
so that we see their shape and color without no- 
ticing the medium through which we view them. 
I have to add, that in his love of the clear, and his 
desire to translate the abstract into the concrete, he 
often misses the deepest properties of the objects 
examined by him. ; and he seems to me far better 
fitted to co-ordinate the facts of social science than 
to deal with the first principles of fundamental 
philosophy. As to his spirit, there are evidences of 
a keen fire, of enthusiasm, perhaps of passion, burn- 
ing within, but the surface is ever still and ever 

These two eminent men, whose systems evidently 
stood all along so widely apart from each other, 
have now been brought into violent collision by the 
publication of Mill's Examination of Sir William 
Hamilton's Philosophy. Such a collision was inev- 
itable. Hamilton was the ablest and most learned, 
I do not think the wisest or most consistent, de- 
fender of intuitive or a priori truth in our country 
in the past age. It was felt to be absolutely neces- 
sary, in these circumstances, by the British section 


of tlie school of M. Comte, that the fundamental 
positions of Hamilton should be removed out of the 
way of the advancing deductive empiricism. I 
rejoice that the attack has been made by Mr. Mill 
himself, so that we see all that can be advanced by 
the acutest representative of the experiential or 
sensational philosophy in our age and country. It 
is to be hoped that the formidable assault will be 
met by some disciple of Hamilton who has caught 
the spirit and who understands the system of his 
master. As the result, the student of philosophy 
will be in circumstances to decide what he should 
receive with gratitude, and what he should refuse 
or reject with regret, in the philosophy of the last 
of the great Scottish metaphysicians. 

In the title of his work, Mr. Mill announces it as 
an examination of " the principal philosophical ques- 
tions discussed in his writings;" and in his intro- 
ductory remarks he declares, " My subject, therefore, 
is not Sir W. Hamilton, but the questions which Sir 
W. Hamilton discussed." It is this circumstance 
which makes the work so important in the view of 
the students of mental science generally, and which 
has induced me to review it. In examining his 
opponent, Mr. Mill has taken the opportunity of 
developing his own philosophic system, and has put 
us in a position to judge of its principles and re- 
sults. It is true that we had the germs of that 
system embedded in his treatise on Logic, and ger- 
minating there. No doubt he is continually telling 


us in that work that he avoids metaphysics, but 
there is a metaphysical system underlying and run- 
ning throughout all the deeper discussions. He re- 
fers, and evidently adheres to a large extent, to a 
sensational theory of the origin of our ideas in 
his chapter, " Of the Things denoted by Names ; " 
he seeks to undermine all intuitive truth in his 
chapters on " Demonstration " and u Causation ; " 
and he has exposed with a special zest the errors of 
the a priori school in his book on " Fallacies." He 
has thus been preparing those who have studied his 
logic for accepting his metaphysics. In these cir- 
cumstances I rejoice that in his recent work he has 
furnished us with the means of thoroughly esti- 
mating his theory of the mind, of which we had 
only hints and glimpses in his logical treatise. It 
is this theory which I profess to examine in this 

In performing this special task it is not necessary 
to enter into the controversy between Mill and 
Hamilton. For more important questions than the 
merits of the individuals have been started. I cer- 
tainly do not feel that it is a duty devolving on me 
to offer a defence of the philosophy of Hamilton. 
Since the year 1854, when I reviewed his doctrines 
of the " Relativity of Knowledge " and of " Causa- 
tion," in an appendix to the fourth edition of my 
work on the Method of the Divine Government, I 
have been opposing certain of his favorite principles. 
I offered my strictures with excessive reluctance, as 


feeling a profound reverence for the vast erudition 
and logical power of the Edinburgh professor, and 
cherishing a lively gratitude for the services he had 
rendered to philosophy in refuting old and widely- 
received errors and establishing important truth. 
I advanced my criticisms while he was yet alive, 
and I have continued them in articles in reviews, 
and in my work on The Intuitions of the Mind, while 
his reputation was at its greatest height, and his 
disciples were indignant at any attempt to dispute 
the infallibility of their master. 

Hamilton, as it appears to me, was never able to 
weld into a consistent whole the realistic matter he 
got from Reid with the subjective forms he took 
from Kant. In his review of M. Cousin, he took up 
a negative position, which did not leave him free to 
follow thoroughly the positive revelations of con- 
sciousness. In his Discussions he developed a the- 
ory of causation which prevented him from rising 
from the phenomena of the world to a belief in the 
existence of Deity ; and he expounded a doctrine 
as to the relativity of knowledge which makes us 
perceive objects under forms, and with additions im- 
posed by the perceiving mind, which landed him 
avowedly in a system of nescience. Kant is claimed, 
with some truth, by M. Littre as in fact a precursor 
of the school of Comte. I have felt all along that 
Hamilton adopted principles from the Critical Phi- 
losophy which made it impossible for him to stand 
up for the trustworthiness of our faculties and the 


reality of things, which yet as a follower of Reid he 
seemed to be establishing. I declared openly and 
repeatedly, and' in a number of places, that the ad- 
missions he made would sooner or later be followed 
to their logical consequences ; that without meaning 
it, he was preparing the way for a nihilist philos- 
ophy; and that it would be seen that he had not 
left himself ground from which successfully to repel 
the attacks of scepticism. "When Dr. Mansel pub- 
lished his famous Bampton Lectures, On the Limits 
of Religious Thought, notwithstanding my great 
reverence for his erudition, his acuteness, and his 
high character, I immediately opposed his applica- 
tion of Hamilton's doctrine of the unconditioned to 
our knowledge of God and of good and evil, which I 
represented as being fraught with disastrous logical 
consequences. As having anticipated Mr. Mill in 
many of his objections to Hamilton's philosophy, 
and having advanced others against doctrines which 
Mr. Mill applauds and turns to his own uses, and 
believing it to be impossible to defend fundamental 
truth from the positions assumed by Hamilton, I 
feel that it is not for me to propose to defend the 
philosophy of the Scottish metaphysician from the 
assaults of Mr. Mill. 1 

At the same time, I cannot give my adherence to 
many of the objections which have been taken by 
his new opponent. Notwithstanding incongruities 

1 1 have placed in an Appendix to tions I have taken to Sir William 
this volume a summary of the objec- Hamilton's Philosophy. 


in some parts of his system, he has furnished more 
valuable contributions to speculative philosophy 
than any other British writer in this century. No 
man has ever done more in clearing the literature 
of philosophy of commonplace mistakes, of thefts 
and impostures. He has shown that it is dangerous 
to quote without consulting the original, or to adopt 
without examination the common traditions in phi- 
losophy ; that those who borrow at second-hand will 
be detected, and that those who steal without ac- 
knowledgment will sooner or later be exposed. He 
seems to experience a delight in stripping modern 
authors of their borrowed feathers, and pursuing sto- 
len goods from one literary thief to another, and 
giving them back to their original owner. More 
than any other Englishman, Scotchman, or Irishman, 
for the last two centuries, he has wiped away the 
reproach from British philosophy that it is narrow 
and insular. For years past ordinary authors have 
seemed learned, and for years to come will seem 
learned, by drawing from his stores. In incidental 
discussions, in footnotes, and notes on foot-notes, he 
has scattered nuts which it will take many a scholar 
many a day to gather and to crack. It will be long 
before the rays which shine from him will be so 
scattered and diffused through philosophic literature, 
as the sunbeams are through the atmosphere, 
that they shall become common property, and men 
will cease to distinguish the focus from which thev 
have come. By his admirable powers of division 


and subdivision he has placed the philosophic sys- 
tems of various ages and countries into appropriate 
compartments, which enable us at once to see the 
form and the nature of each. Mr. Mill regrets that 
he " did not write the history of philosophy." I am 
not sure whether the Scottish professor had all the 
qualifications necessary for such a work; whether, 
in particular, he could always enter sympathetically 
into the spirit of the times in which the philosopher 
lived, and whether he could have given us an easy 
and continuous narrative. But every student should 
be grateful to him for what he has actually per- 
formed; for arranging under proper heads, and stat- 
ing, always with admirable brevity, and commonly 
with unimpeachable accuracy, the opinions of philos- 
ophers, ancient and modern, on most of the topics 
of speculative interest which still continue to be ag- 
itated. Looking to his original contributions to phi- 
losophy, his defence of the principles of common 
sense is characterized at once by extensive learning, 
by unsurpassed logical acumen and consummate 
judgment. His immediate theory of sense-percep- 
tion, if it does not remove all difficulties, appears to 
me to be more consistent than any other with the 
facts both of psychology and of physiology. His 
logic is too Kantian in its manner and spirit, and 
will require to be carefully sifted; but I believe it is 
the most important addition made in our day to the 
analytic of the laws of thought. I am persuaded 
that his distribution of the mental faculties, given in 


the second volume of his Metaphysics, is upon the 
whole the best we yet have, and any one who would 
improve it must make extensive use of it. Nor is it 
to be forgotten that he has introduced fresh topics 
into British philosophy, and has always thrown light 
upon them even when he has not succeeded in set- 
tling them. 

I am sure Mr. Mill means to be a just critic of his 
rival. But from having attached himself to a nar- 
row and exclusive school of philosophy and of his 
tory, he is scarcely capable of comprehending, he is 
certainly utterly incapable of appreciating, some of 
Hamilton's profounder discussions. It could be shown 
that not a few of the alleged inconsistencies of Han; 
ilton arise from misapprehensions on the part of hi 
critic. I have observed that some of the supposed 
contradictions are merely verbal, and originate in his 
using a phrase in its usual acceptation, perhaps to a 
promiscuous class in one place, and employing it in 
a more technical sense after explanation in another. 
Nor is it to be forgotten that the writings published 
by himself appeared in the form of articles in re- 
views, and of notes and appendices to works edited 
by him; and that his Lectures, which contain his 
complete system, though carefully edited by Profes- 
sors Mansel and Yeitch, had not the advantage of 
being reduced to thorough consistency by himself. 
It has to be added, that, being willing to take a 
thought that struck him as true or important from 
any quarter, he was not always able to join the ma- 


terials lie had gathered into a harmonious structure. 
Hence his philosophy takes the appearance of a 
squared and diamonded mosaic, in which it is not al- 
ways easy to discover the unity of the plan. But I 
verily believe that Hamilton had after all a complete 
system, which, with some hiatuses and incongruities, 
and some fatal errors adopted from Kant, is, as a 
whole, consistent, and contains valuable truth. His 
critic, from his training and sectarian predilections, 
is incapacitated for forming a due estimate of many 
of his higher excellences, and everywhere examines 
him from his own standpoint, which is very narrow, 
and by his own experiential system, which is lament 
ably defective. But I leave the work of defending 
Hamilton to his pupils and disciples, and I rejoice to 
believe that in many points, and these very impor- 
tant ones, their defence will be triumphantly suc- 

In that curious retribution which we often discov- 
er in the affairs of this world, we find that those who 
are severe in judging others, may come in the end 
to be severely judged themselves. 1 The late Sir W. 
Hamilton was often harsh, at times I think unjust 
(not intentionally) in his censures on those who had 

1 Have we an illustration of this in are examined from the standpoint of 

the manner in which Plato, who is M. Comte, Mr. Mill, and Professor 

supposed to have treated the Sophists Bain ! Is there no living Archer But- 

with injustice, is himself treated in his ler among British scholars to defend 

turn by Mr. Grote, in his Plato and Plato's high aspirations, and to show 

the other Companions of Socrates i The that he had glimpses of great verities 

exposition of the Search Dialogues in which have never disclosed themselves 

that able and learned work is admira- to the view of the ancient Sophists or 

ble, but the positive doctrines of Plato modern Positivists ? 


possession of the philosophic ear of the country at 
the time when he was forcing himself into public 
notice in opposition to the spirit of the age. In say- 
ing so, I do not refer so much to his able and manly, 
though not altogether successful, criticism of M. 
Cousin, or to his non-recognition of any special merit 
in Mr. James Mill (of which his son complains), so 
much as to the censorious manner in which he refers 
to Dr. Brown and Archbishop Whately, who, if not 
very profound or erudite, were certainly fresh, acute, 
and honest thinkers. He has now been repaid for 
all this in his own coin, by one who has a great ad- 
miration of Whately, and who has sprung from the 
school of Brown and Mill, and who writes as if he 
had public wrongs to avenge, and an accumulation 
of accepted errors to scatter. The time will come, 
I doubt not, when the avenger may himself have to 
suffer for the excess of punishment he has inflicted. 
But I beg to say that this is not the spirit in which I 
have written this review. I have really no pleasure 
in exposing the inconsistencies, the misunderstand- 
ings, and mistakes, to be found in Mr. Mill's Exami- 
nation, or any of his other works. Acuter minds, 
or more pugnacious spirits, or earnest souls irritated 
as they see the evils which must arise from the prev- 
alence of a philosophy which undermines funda- 
mental truth, will, I suspect, rejoice to do this, and 
may be tempted to do it in excess. But I have no 
personal antipathies to gratify, no wrongs to avenge. 
The deepest feeling which I entertain towards Mr. 


Mill is that of admiration of his talents, and grati- 
tude for the clear exposition which he has given of 
many important principles. 1 My aim in this work is 
simply to defend a portion of primary truth which 
has been assailed by an acute thinker who has ex- 
tensive influence in England. 

Some of his admirers claim for Mr, Mill, that he is 
the genuine philosophical descendant of Locke. I 
acknowledge that in some respects he resembles our 
great English metaphysician. He is like him in his 
clearness of thought and diction. Both are careful 
to avoid, as far as possible, abstruse arguments and 
technical phrases. Both have a name in other de- 
partments as well as mental philosophy, Locke 
having thought profoundly on political questions, 
and Mr. Mill having given us one of the best works 
we have on political economy. Both have written 
on toleration or liberty, and defended views in ad- 
vance of those generally entertained in their own 
times. I am inclined further to admit that Mr. Mill 
has quite as much influence in our day in England 
as Locke had in his. But with these points of like- 
ness there are important points of difference. Locke 
had an originality, a shrewdness, a sagacity, and a 
high-principled wisdom and caution which have not 
been equalled by the later speculator. Locke avows 

1 Simply to illustrate this, I may corresponding professors in Cork and 

mention that the part of his Logic Galway, has a place in the examina- 

which treats of induction has a place tion for the Bachelor's and Master's 

in my college classes, and on my rec- degree in the Queen's University in 

ommendation, joined to that of the Ireland. 


extreme enough views in opposing the doctrines of 
professed metaphysicians, but he is saved by his 
crowning sense, and his religious convictions, ac- 
quired in Puritan times, from taking up positions 
adverse to the sound sense of mankind. Vehement 
enough in opposing a doctrine of innate ideas sup- 
posed to be held by philosophers, and laboring in 
vain to derive all our ideas from sensation and re- 
flection, we do not find him falling back on such ex- 
treme positions as those of Mr. Mill, when he en- 
dcavors to draw our higher ideas out of sensation by 
means of association, and maintains that we can 
know nothing of mind except that it is a series of 
sensations, aware of itself, or of matter, except that 
it is a possibility of sensations. I believe that Locke 
abandoned, without knowing it, some important fun- 
damental truths ; but he resolutely held by many 
others, as that man has high faculties working on the 
original materials, and that in particular he has an 
intuitive knowledge " which is irresistible, and, like 
bright sunshine, forces itself immediately to be per- 
ceived, as soon as ever the mind turns its view that 
way, and leaves no room for hesitation, doubt, or ex- 
amination, but the mind is presently filled with the 
clear light of it." (Essay, B. iv. c. 2.) Mr. J. S. Mill 
is the successor and the living representative of an 
important British school, but it is that of Hobbes, of 
Hartley, of Priestley, of David Hume, and of James 
Mill. I have studiously left Thomas Brown out of 
this list, because, while adopting much from Hume, 


he carefully separates from him on the subject of in- 
tuition, maintaining that we have original and irre- 
sistible beliefs in our personal identity, and in causa- 
tion. It will be seen as we advance how close the 
philosophy of Mr. J. S. Mill comes to that of Hume. 
I rather think Mr. Mill is scarcely aware himself of 
the extent of the resemblance, as he seems to have 
wrought out his conclusions from data supplied him 
to some extent by Brown, but to a greater extent 
by Mr. James Mill, both of whom drew much from 
the Treatise of Human Nature. But even on the 
supposition that Mr. Mill is the Locke of the nine- 
teenth century, it would be necessary to examine 
and correct his views. For while the Essay on the 
Human Understanding evolved much truth, and ex- 
ercised, upon the whole, a healthy influence, it con- 
tained very grave defects and errors, which issued in 
very serious consequences both in France and in this 
country ; in the former landing speculation in a mis- 
erable sensationalism, and in the latter originating 
the wire-drawn attempts to fashion all our ideas out 
of one or two primitive sources by means of associ- 
ation. I have already intimated that I believe the 
errors of Mr. Mill to be far more numerous and fun- 
damental than those of Locke ; and should his sen- 
sational and nescient system come to be adopted, it 
will be followed, both in theory and in practice, with 
far more fatal results than any that ensued from 
the combined idealistic and realistic philosophy ex- 
pounded in Locke's great work. 


Among a considerable portion even of the read- 
ing and thinking people of England, there is a 
strong aversion to all professedly metaphysical spec- 
ulation, which they regard as a net of sophistry 
spread out to catch them. But in avoiding an 
avowed and elaborate discussion of fundamental 
truth, it often happens that they are taken in by a 
plausible smartness, which is really metaphysics, but 
bad metaphysics, treating every profound subject 
in a superficial way. In this respect some of our 
countrymen act very much like those excessively 
cautious and suspicious persons to be met with in 
the world, who are so afraid of everybody cheating 
them, that they become the dupes of those more de- 
signing schemers who are ever warning them against 
the dishonesty of others. There are readers of 
Hobbes, who, on perceiving how free he is from 
mysticism, and how readily he seems to explain all 
our ideas by sensation, and all our actions by selfish- 
ness, are tempted to think that this man who speaks 
so clearly and dogmatically must be speaking truly. 
They are about as wise as the excessively far-sighted 
individuals who so easily account for all extraordi- 
nary actions on the simple principle that all mankind 
are fools, or rogues, or madmen ! The Englishman 
is thus often led astray by a deception which pre- 
tends to be simplicity itself. I abhor as much as 
any man the introduction of metaphysics into the 
discussion of commonplace or practical subjects. 
But there is another error, quite as common, and to 


be equally dreaded, and that is the introduction of 
superficial metaphysics furtively, by those who would 
gain your confidence by telling you that they avoid 
metaphysics. If we are to have metaphysics, let 
them avow that they are metaphysics, and let the 
investigation be conducted scientifically and system- 
atically. By all means let us have clear metaphys- 
ics, just as we would wish to have clear mathemat- 
ics and clear physics. But clearness to the extent 
of transparendy is of no value, provided it be at- 
tained, as in the case of the French sensational 
school, only by omitting all that is high or deep in 
man's nature. I certainly do not look on Mr. Mill 
as a superficial writer. On the contrary, on subjects 
on which he has not been led to follow Mr. James 
Mill or M. Comte, his thoughts are commonly as solid 
and weighty as they are clearly expressed. But, 
speaking exclusively of his philosophy of first prin- 
ciples, I believe he is getting so ready an acceptance 
among many for his metaphysical theories, mainly 
because, like Hobbes and Condillac, he possesses a 
delusive simplicity which does not account for, but 
simply overlooks, the distinguishing properties of 
our mental nature. 




COUSIN brings it as a charge against Locke, 
. that in his Essay on the Human Understand- 
ing, he treats of the origin of ideas before inquir- 
ing into their nature. Locke thus announces his 
method: "1st. I shall inquire into the original of 
those ideas, notions, or whatever else you please to 
call them, which a man observes, and is conscious to 
himself he has in his mind, and the ways whereby 
the understanding comes to be furnished with them." 
(Introd. s. 3.) Upon this, his French critic remarks 
that there are here " two radical errors in regard to 
method: 1st. Locke treats of the origin of ideas 
before having sufficiently studied these ideas. 2dly. 
He does more, he not only puts the question of the 
origin of ideas before that of the inventory of ideas, 
but he entirely neglects this last question." (Lec- 
tures on Locke, ii.) M. Cousin seems to lay down an 
important principle here, and to be so far justified in 
blaming the English philosopher for neglecting it. 
In order to be able to settle the very difficult ques- 
tion of the origin of our ideas, we must begin, and, I 



believe, end, with a careful inspection of their pre- 
cise nature. In the very passage in which Locke 
proclaims his mode of procedure, he speaks of in- 
quiring into the original of those ideas which a man 
" observes, and is conscious to himself." The obser- 
vation by consciousness should certainly precede any 
attempt to furnish a theoretical decomposition of 
ideas. I am convinced that in the construction of 
his theory, that all our ideas are derived from sensa- 
tion and reflection, Locke did not patiently and com- 
prehensively contemplate all that is in certain of the 
deepest and most characteristic ideas of the human 
mind. I do not ground this charge so much on the 
fact that he treats, in the First Book, of the Origin 
of Ideas, before coming, in the Second Book, to dis- 
cuss the Nature of Ideas, as on the circumstance that 
in the Second Book he is obliged to overlook some 
of the profoundest properties of our ideas, in order 
to make them fit into his preconceived system. But 
we find Mr. Mill justifying Locke, and condemning 
Cousin. u I accept the question as M. Cousin states 
it, and I contend that no attempt to determine what 
are the direct revelations of consciousness can be 
successful or entitled to regard, unless preceded by 
what M. Cousin says ought to follow it, an inqui- 
ry into the origin of our acquired ideas." (Exam. 
p. 145.) 

Mr. Mill at this place examines Sir W. Hamilton's 
constant appeals to consciousness. Sir William would 
often settle by consciousness alone questions which I 


suspect must be solved by a more complicated and 
difficult process. It is thus, for instance, that is, 
by an appeal to consciousness, that he would de- 
termine that we know immediately an external or 
material world. In language often of terrible se- 
verity, he charges Brown, and nearly all philoso- 
phers, with disregarding consciousness : " But it 
is thus manifestly the common interest of every 
scheme of philosophy to preserve intact the in- 
tegrity of consciousness. Almost every scheme of 
philosophy is only another mode in which this 
integrity has been violated." (Metaphysics, vol. i. 
p. 283.) Mr. Mill shows successfully (as I think) 
that the question between Hamilton and his oppo- 
nents is often not one of the testimony of conscious- 
ness, but of the interpretation of consciousness: 
"We have it not in our power to ascertain, by 
any direct process, what consciousness told us at 
the time when its revelations were in their prim- 
itive purity. It only offers itself to our inspection 
as it exists now, when these original revelations 
are overlaid and buried under a mountainous heap 
of acquired notions and perceptions." (pp. 145, 
146.) Mr. Mill then goes on to explain his own 
method, which he calls the Psychological: "And 
here emerges the distinction between two differ- 
ent methods of studying the problems of meta- 
physics, forming the radical difference between 
the two great schools into which metaphysicians 
are fundamentally divided. One of these I shall 


call for distinction the Introspective method, the 
other the Psychological." He rejects the Intro- 
spective method : " Introspection can show us a 
present belief or conviction, attended with a great- 
er or less difficulty in accommodating the thoughts 
to a different view of the subject; but that this 
belief or conviction or knowledge. If we call it so, 
is intuitive, no mere introspection can ever show." 
He therefore resorts to the other method : " Being 
unable to examine the actual contents of our con- 
sciousness until our earliest, which are necessarily 
our most firmly knit associations, those which are 
most intimately interwoven with the original data 
of consciousness, are fully formed, we cannot study 
the original elements of mind in the facts of our 
present consciousness. Those original elements can 
only come to light as residual phenomena, by a 
previous study of the modes of generation of the 
mental facts which are confessedly not original, 
a study sufficiently thorough to enable us to apply 
its results to the convictions, beliefs, or supposed 
intuitions which seem to be original, and deter- 
mine whether some of them may not have been 
generated in the same modes, so early as to have 
become inseparable from our consciousness before 
the time at which memory commences. This mode 
of ascertaining the original elements of mind I call 
Psychological, as distinguished from the simply 
Introspective mode." (pp. 147, 148.) These quota- 
tions furnish a sufficiently clear view of his account 


of the two methods, and of his reasons for rejecting 
the one and adopting the other. 

I have long been of opinion, and I have en- 
deavored to show elsewhere/ that Sir William Ham- 
ilton's use of " consciousness " is very unsatisfactory. 
He avows that he employs the phrase in two dis- 
tinct senses or applications. First, he has a gen- 
eral consciousness, discussed largely in the first 
volume of his Metaphysics. This he tells us can- 
not be defined (vol. i. p. 158); "but it comprehends 
all the modifications, all the phenomena of the 
thinking subject." (p. 183.) "Knowledge and belief 
are both contained under consciousness." (p. 191.) 
Again, " consciousness is co-extensive with our cog- 
nitive faculties;" "our special faculties of knowl- 
edge are only modifications of consciousness." (p. 
207.) He shows that consciousness implies discrim- 
ination, judgment, and memory, (pp. 202-206.) This 
is wide enough ; still he imposes a limit, for con- 
sciousness " is an immediate, not a mediate knowl- 
edge." (p. 202.) Already, as it seems to me, in- 
consistencies are beginning to creep in ; for whereas 
he had before told us that consciousness includes 
"all the phenomena of the thinking subject," now 
he so modifies it as to exclude "mediate knowl- 
edge," which is surely a modification of the think- 
ing subject. Throughout these passages he uses the 
phrase in the wide, loose sense given to the German 

1 Particularly in a review of Hamilton's Metaphysics in the Dublin University 
Magazine for August, 1859. 


Bewusstsein by the school of WoE He stoutly main- 
tains, what no 6ne will deny, that this general con- 
sciousness is not a special faculty; but when he 
comes to draw out a list of mental powers, in the 
second volume of his Metaphysics, he turns to the 
Scottish use of the phrase, and he includes among 
them a special faculty which he calls consciousness, 
but to which, for distinction's sake, he prefixes self, 
and designates it self-consciousness It is the office 
of this special faculty to " afford us a knowledge of 
the phenomena of our minds." (vol. ii. p. 192.) It is 
an inevitable result of using the phrases in such am- 
biguous senses, that we are ever in danger of pass- 
ing inadvertently from the one meaning to the 
other, and making affirmations in one sense which 
hold good only in another. Hamilton is ever ap- 
pealing to consciousness, as Locke did to idea, as 
Brown did to suggestion, and as Mr. Mill does to 
association, but without our being always sure that 
the various affirmations are made in the same sense 
of the term. His appeal to consciousness, both in 
establishing some of his own positions and in sum- 
marily setting aside those of his opponents, is often 
far too rapid and dogmatic. He represents the prin- 
ciples of common sense as being emphatically " facts 
of consciousness," whereas they are not so any more 
specially than our acquired and derived beliefs, 
which are equally under consciousness. In fact, 
these principles are not before the consciousness as 
principles. The individual manifestations are of 


course before the consciousness (though not more 
so than any other mental exercise), but not the 
principles themselves, which are derived from the 
individual exercises by a reflex process of abstrac- 
tion and generalization. Consciousness cannot de- 
cide directly which of our convictions are intuitive. 
Consciousness reveals only the present state of 
mind, and it cannot say whether it is original or 
derived. That state is probably a very complex 
one, and may embrace secondary beliefs mixed up 
with the primary ones ; and if we are to separate 
these and fix on the true primitive convictions, we 
must subject the whole to a process of analysis. 
Again, consciousness can reveal to us only the sin- 
gular, only the present state as an individual per- 
ception ; but in psychology, as in every other science, 
we are in search of the principle, and if we would 
gather the law out of the particulars, we must gen- 
eralize. In order, then, to the discovery even of an 
" intuitive principle," there must be what Bacon calls 
"the necessary rejections and exclusions," or what 
Dr. Whewell calls the " decomposition of facts," and 
then the co-ordination of the facts into a law by 
induction. In order, then, to the construction of 
metaphysics, more is required than a simple exer- 
cise of consciousness or introspection ; there is need 
of discursive processes to work the facts into a sci- 
ence. 1 It is of the utmost moment to remove these 

1 I may be permitted to mention that ary rules in The Intuitions of the Mind, 
I have fully wrought out these caution- Part First. 


misapprehensions out of the way, as Mr. Mill, with 
his usual acuteness, has taken advantage of them; 
and after he has shown that introspection cannot 
do everything, he leaves upon us the impression that 
it can do nothing. 

But consciousness, after all, is the main instru- 
ment in determining what are first principles. Let 
us endeavor to ascertain its precise province. The 
method followed by Mr. Mill in his psychology (and 
also in his political economy) is evidently what he 
calls the deductive, and which he represents in his 
Logic (B. iii. chap. xi. sect, i.) as consisting of three 
operations : " The first one of direct induction ; the 
second of ratiocination; and the third of verifica- 
tion." Now, of these three steps the first and the 
third are, properly speaking, inductive ; they depend 
entirely on observed facts. In physical science the 
agent of observation is the senses, aided, it may be, 
by artificial instruments, and corrected by careful 
methods as enjoined by modern accuracy. In men- 
tal science the observing agent is consciousness. 
We bend back the mental eye, and observe what is 
passing within as it passes. As this is often a very 
difficult and delicate operation, more particularly 
when thought is rapid and feeling intense, we must 
resort to other operations, but in which conscious- 
ness is still the main instrument. We must by 
memory bring up the past as much as possible in its 
entirety, and notice all that is in it. Not only so ; 
in order to correct the narrowness of our persona] 


observations, we must look to external quarters ; we 
must gather what are the convictions of other men 
from their deeds, ever passing under our notice, and 
as recorded in history ; and from their conversation 
and their writings, as the expression of human 
thought and sentiment. This may not be introspec- 
tion in the narrow sense of the term ; still it is in- 
spection of the soul of man, and it may be referred 
in a general way to self-consciousness, for it is by 
what we feel within ourselves that we are enabled 
upon evidence to comprehend the experience of 

But let it be observed that consciousness, under- 
stood in this enlarged sense, has to take the first 
step, and the final step in the process. It has to ob- 
serve and gather the original facts which suggest 
the law. It has again to collect and notice the veri- 
fying facts which establish the law. In comparison 
with these, the intermediate step, the ratiocination, 
is a subordinate and a dependent one. If the com- 
mencing and closing inductions are conducted im- 
properly, the reasoning which issues from them or 
leads to them will only bind the blunders more 
closely together. Thus, if in the original observa- 
tions part of the light has been obstructed, conse- 
quential deductions will only widen the shadow, 
as the mistake of a wrong datum is only increased 
by multiplying it. We see this strikingly illustrated 
in most of our rational systems of philosophy, as 
for instance, in that of Spinoza, who began with an 


ill-observed account of substance, and ended in the 
bogs of a horrid pantheism. Again, if in the final 
observations the facts are mutilated in order to fit 
them into an ingenious hypothesis, the error is 
thereby confirmed, and the system-builders feel 
themselves justified in adhering the more resolutely 
to a creation of their own minds. We see this ex- 
hibited in the history of most of those systems of 
empiricism which, as Bacon characterizes them, leap 
and fly at once from particular facts to universal 
principles, which are supposed to explain all the 
phenomena, and can easily get instances quoted to 
support them, found by " a vague and ill-built " ob- 

In conducting this work of observation by con- 
sciousness, there is a constant temptation to over- 
sight, to hasty conclusions and distorted representa- 
tions. In physical investigation there is less room 
for conscious or unconscious deception, as modern 
research insists on having the phenomena weighed 
or measured in some way: that we cannot apply 
such a corrective to the alleged facts of conscious- 
ness, constitutes one of the disadvantages under 
which psychology labors. No doubt, we have im- 
mediate access at once to the facts as being in our 
minds, and this seems to entitle every man to be 
a metaphysician ; but, from the impossibility of em- 
ploying a numerical test, there is room for great 
looseness in the observation and inaccuracy in the 
statement, and these issue in augmented errors in 


the results reached by deduction. In these circum- 
stances, there is great need in mental science of in- 
tellectual shrewdness, to keep us from mistaking one 
fact for another, and still greater need of high 
moral qualities, such as a spirit of self-restraint and 
caution, of integrity and candor. In particular, 
great pains must be adopted to guard against taking a 
part, and overlooking and rejecting the rest, because 
it may not fit into a preconceived theory to which 
the individual may have committed himself. In 
order to secure this we must as it were go round 
the mental phenomena and view them on all sides, 
and in all their aspects, both in our own minds and 
in those of others. We must mark their various 
properties, adding none and subtracting none, les- 
sening none and magnifying none, disguising none 
and correcting none, but making each stand out in 
its own form, in its proper action, and with its 
natural accompaniments. "We ought, as Hamilton 
expresses it, to exhibit each "in its individual in- 
tegrity, neither distorted nor mutilated, and in its 
relative place, whether of pre-eminence or subordi- 
nation." (Appendix to Reid's Works, p. 747.) Till 
this careful and candid observation has been com- 
pleted, we are not at liberty to begin to analyze or 
theorize. When we venture on these processes, all 
we can do is to dissect the concrete, to generalize 
the individual, or find out the producing cause. But 
the errors will only multiply upon us in these steps if 
we have not commenced with accurate observations. 


Sir "W. Hamilton says, " Philosophy is wholly de- 
pendent on consciousness." (Reid's Works, p. 74(3.) 
This is going too far, as philosophy cannot be con- 
structed without discursive processes. But Mr. Mill 
has committed a far more serious error, when he 
says that "Locke was therefore right in believing 
that the origin of our ideas is the main stress of the 
problem of mental science, and the subject which 
must first be considered in forming the theory of 
the mind." (p. 147.) M. Cousin seems to me to be 
altogether right when he lays it down as a rule, that 
in psychology we must begin with a painstaking 
inquiry into the actual nature of our ideas. Mr. 
Mill has thus reversed the order of things, placing 
that which is first last, and that which is last first, 
putting the theory of ideas before the observation 
of the ideas, which evidently holds out great temp- 
tations to him to determine their nature by his 

Not that we are precluded from making an in- 
quiry into the origin of ideas. This is a very fair 
subject of investigation, provided always that we 
acknowledge its difficulties and its uncertainties, and 
proceed in a cautious manner and in the proper 
method. But even here the main agent must be 
consciousness, in the sense which has been ex- 
plained, that is, as giving us directly a knowledge 
of our own mental operations, and indirectly an 
acquaintance with those of others. In order to the 
successful resolution of ideas into their originals, we 


have two objects, or classes of objects, to look at. 
We have, first, to consider the ideas or convictions 
which we would seek to account for, and, secondly, 
the elements into which we would resolve them. 
The first of these operations must be done by con- 
sciousness exclusively. Even in the other and more 
complicated and perplexing inquiry, introspection 
must be the main agent. No doubt it is possible 
that some light may be thrown on the origin of cer- 
tain ideas by the brain and nerves, and in this phys- 
iological investigation the instruments must be the 
eye and the microscope. But no unconscious action 
can account for conscious ideas. The attempt to 
explain ideas must always proceed by deriving the 
more complex -from the simpler mental phenomena. 
But in the determination of the precise nature of 
the simpler mental affections, we are again thrown 
back on consciousness. Suppose that the attempt 
be, as in the school of Mr. Mill, to get our ideas 
from sensations, and associations of sensation, we 
must begin to determine what sensations are, and 
what the laws of association are, by the internal 
sense. I am quite willing to adopt Mr. Mill's psy- 
chological method, but only on the condition that 
we take introspection as our main instrument of 

Mr. Mill tells us that " the proof that any of the 
alleged Universal Beliefs or principles of Common 
Sense are affirmations of consciousness, supposes two 
things, that the beliefs exist, and that they can- 


not possibly have been acquired." (p. 147.) I have 
no objection to accept these two conditions, with an 
explanation of the one and a correction of the 

As to the first rule, there are some points which 
3onsciousness can settle at once. It lets us know 
what is our present idea or conviction. This is alto- 
gether competent to it, this in fact is its office ; its 
revelations carry their own evidence with them, and 
from them there is no appeal. This is admitted by 
Mr. Mill : " Introspection can show a present belief 
or conviction." " If consciousness tells me that I 
have a certain thought or sensation, I assuredly 
have that thought or sensation." (p. 141.) Now, in 
the mature mind there are a vast number and 
variety of ideas and convictions. We have percep- 
tions, apprehensions, and beliefs, about matter and 
mind, about time and space, about things changing 
and things abiding, about the near and the remote, 
the past and the future, about activity and efficiency, 
about priority and succession, about cause and effect, 
about right and wrong, eternity and immensity. 
Now, it is the office of consciousness to reveal all 
that is in these ideas, and psychology should begin 
with attending to its revelations. Mr. Mill refers 
particularly to the alleged universal beliefs. The 
word " belief" is unfortunately a very vague one, 
and may stand for a number of very different men- 
tal affections. When I am speaking of first or in- 
tuitive principles, I use the term to signify our 


conviction of the existence of an object not now 
present, and thus I distinguish "primitive faith" 
from "primitive knowledge," in which the object is 
present. But however wide we may make the ap- 
plication of the phrase, it does not embrace all that 
is before consciousness. Thus we are capable of 
immediate knowledge ; we have such in every ex- 
ercise of self-consciousness, and I maintain also in 
all perception through the senses. The mind, also, 
is ever pronouncing judgments, declaring, for in- 
stance, that things agree, or that they differ, or that 
this change indicates a cause. We have not only 
intellectual operations, we form moral perceptions, 
and pronounce moral judgments, as when we 
decide that kindness is a virtue and cruelty a sin. 
If we would construct a science of psychology, we 
must survey carefully these apprehensions, beliefs, 
and decisions. If we would establish or dis-establish 
any metaphysical point, we must view, firstly and 
finally, and all throughout, what is in the mind's 
notion and conviction. Or if, what is more to our 
present review, we would resolve any idea into sim- 
pler elements, we must determine all that is in the 
idea by a searching introspection. Consciousness 
has thus not only to settle that certain ideas or 
beliefs, or convictions "exist," but ascertain for us 
all that is in them. Now, it has been repeatedly 
brought as a charge against the school to which Mr. 
Mill belongs, that, so far as the deeper notions and 
beliefs of the mind are concerned, they have never 


carefully observed, weighed, and measured the 
phenomenon which they seek to explain by means 
of such elements as sensations. I believe that this 
accusation is just, and I hope to substantiate it in 
the course of this review. 

Mr. Mill's second rule of proof can be admitted 
only with a restriction. I allow that it is not so 
easy a matter as Sir W. Hamilton imagines to de- 
termine what is a first principle ; and that this can- 
not be done by an immediate introspection. But is it 
not demanding too much to require that we are not 
to accept any beliefs as universal till it has been 
shown "that they cannot possibly have been ac- 
quired" ? The burden of proof seems rather to lie 
on those who maintain they are acquired. Were 
any man of science to affirm that hydrogen is not 
an element, chemists would be quite prepared to 
listen to him, but they would insist, as a condition 
of their giving a positive assent, that he should de- 
compose the substance, and until this is accom- 
plished they would continue to regard hydrogen as 
at least provisionally an elementary body. On a 
like principle, we should be quite ready to attend to 
Mr. Mill when he maintains that he can resolve our 
idea of moral good into simpler elements, but until 
he brings forward his components, and shows them 
to be quite sufficient to produce the result, we may 
surely be allowed to hold that our sense of duty is 
an ultimate principle. 

But instead of thus throwing the onus probandi 


from one side to another, I think it better to avow 
broadly that the question is not to be settled by 
possibilities or impossibilities, by may be or cannot 
be, but by the ordinary rules of evidence. On the 
one hand, persons are not to be allowed to imagine 
that they have resolved an alleged fundamental idea 
into something else, unless they can explain all that 
is in the idea by means of some principle competent 
to produce the idea with all its peculiarities. On 
the other hand, we are not to assume a conviction 
to be ultimate till it has been tried by clear and 
sufficient tests. Such tests, I believe, can be had. 
Almost all philosophers have appealed to them. We 
shall find Mr. Mill implicitly admitting them. We 
shall be able, I hope, to reach a precise expression 
of them as we advance. Following these general 
principles, the following rules of proof may help at 
once to guide and guard inquiry : 

I. No one is to be allowed to imagine that he has 
made a successful resolution into simpler elements, of 
an idea, belief, or conviction, unless he can explain 
all that is in the mental phenomenon. It is necessary 
to enunciate this rule, from the circumstance that it 
has so often been violated. Hobbes, and the sensa- 
tional school of France, were able to derive all our 
ideas from sensation, simply by refusing to look at 
and to weigh such ideas as those which we have of 
substance and power, moral good and infinity, so 
different from mere sensitive affections. It has been 


shown again and again against Hume, that all our 
ideas are not copies of impressions, that we have 
convictions of the existence of things, of personal 
identity, and of power, which cannot be traced to 
impressions, whatever be the meaning attached to 
that vague phrase. I am convinced Mr. Mill has 
been guilty of like oversights, when he would draw 
all our ideas, even those we have of mind and body, 
extension, personal identity, causation, and moral 
obligation, from sensations, and associations of sen- 
sations : he can appear to himself and his admirers 
to be successful, solely by not noticing the charac- 
teristic qualities of these profound and peculiar 
ideas. In these dissections, this school of mental 
anatomists destroys the life, and then declares that 
it never existed. Mr. Mill defines mind as a series 
of sensations : we shall see that the phenomenon to 
be explained is the consciousness of self; that even 
in sensation we are conscious of self. He describes 
our conviction of personal identity as a series of 
sensations, with the mind being aware of itself as a 
series : I shall show that we know in consciousness 
a present self and in memory a past self, and that 
in comparing the two we declare them to be the 
same. He makes body the possibility of sensations : 
it will be proven, that in his hypothetical explana- 
tion, he utterly fails to render any account of that 
idea of externality which we attach to matter. He 
resolves our idea of extension into length of time, 
and length of time he makes identical with a series 


of muscular sensations: It will not be difficult to 
establish the essential difference of the three phenom- 
ena which are thus confounded. In treating of 
ethical questions, he shows that we might be led to 
do good by motives derived from pleasure and pain : 
but he has failed to account for the very peculiar 
ideas involved in such phrases as " duty/' " ought," 
u obligation," u sin," and tt reproach." 

It has been resolutely maintained by the pro-\ 
foundest philosophers of all ages, that there are . 
certain convictions in the mind which have the 
characters of self-evidence and necessity. These 
constitute the u residual phenomena," which cannot 
be explained by a gathered experience, and to ac- 
count for which we must call in a new cause. We 
know, or believe, or judge so and so, on the bare 
contemplation of the objects ; we must do so, we can- 
not do otherwise. Mr. Mill has looked at this men- 
tal phenomenon, and has endeavored to account 
for it in accordance with his general theory by two 
principles, which it can be shown miss, and utterly 
fail to account for, the peculiarities of our convic- 
tion. We may here look at these for a moment, as 
illustrating the importance of our rule, reserving the 
more thorough discussion of them to future chapters. , ,- 

It is alleged by the whole school, that our belief ^ 
in certain general principles, supposed to be ulti- ^ 
mate, can be accounted for by experience. But the 
word " experience " is a very uncertain one, and 
may cover a number of very different mental ac- 



tions and affections. Everything that has been 
within our consciousness, all that we have seen or 
felt, may be said in a vague general sense to have 
fallen under experience. In this sense our intuitions 
of sense and consciousness, our original beliefs and 
primitive judgments, all come within our expe- 
rience. But thus understood, experience can ex- 
plain nothing, can be the cause of nothing. The 
thing experienced may, but not the experience, 
that is, the mere consciousness or feeling. As to 
the thing experienced, it should not be called ex- 
perience ; and as to what it may produce, we must 
determine this by looking at the nature of the thing, 
and not at our experience of it. But there is a 
sense, and this a very important one, in which ex- 
perience can furnish us with a principle, and this 
may be mistaken for an intuitive one. Thus we 
have observed, not once, or twice, or thrice, or ten 
times, but a hundred, a thousand times, that our 
friends have been in the habit of speaking the truth, 
and we expect them to do so in time to come as 
they have done in time past. There have been met- 
aphysicians who regarded our trust in testimony as 
an original instinct of our nature. But it is surely 
quite competent for persons to attempt to show that 
the conviction can be explained by an early, a 
lengthened, and a uniform observation ; and they 
may be allowed to be successful when they have 
proven that the experience is capable of producing 
the conviction entertained. Let it be observed, that 


when thus employed experience means an induction 
of instances to establish a general rule or law. And 
I take this opportunity of stating, that when I have 
occasion to refer to this power of experience, I call 
it a gathered experience, to distinguish it from a mere 
individual feeling. I admit freely that a gathered 
experience can generate a strong conviction, such as 
the trust we put in testimony, and our belief in the 
uniformity, or rather uniformities, of nature ; that is, 
it will account for all the marks of our convictions 
on these subjects, for their gradual formation, for 
their extent and their limits, as when we allow 
that our friends may at times commit mistakes in 
their testimony, or that there may have been mirac- 
ulous occurrences in the midst of the regularities 
of nature. But then, it is said that there are, and I 
hope to show that there are, convictions of a very 
different nature, which are as strong in early youth, 
and in early stages of society, as in later life and in 
more advanced communities, and which allow of no 
limitation or exception. As examples, we may give 
mathematical axioms, as that two straight lines can- 
not enclose a space, and moral maxims, as that in- 
gratitude for favors deserves reprobation. Our con- 
victions of this description spring up on the bare 
contemplation of the objects, and need not a wide 
collection of instances ; and their necessity and uni- 
versality cannot be accounted for by a gathered ex- 
perience. The school to which Mr. Mill belongs 
explains the phenomena only by failing to distin- 


guish between two sorts of convictions, and neglecir 
ing to mark the characteristics of those which an- 
nounce themselves as self-evident, necessary, and 

But Mr. Mill has another principle, by which he 
thinks he can explain the necessity and the unlimitr 
ed expectation ; this is the law of the association of 
ideas. When we have often thought of two things 
together, the idea of the one comes invariably, in 
the end necessarily, to call up the other. Thus Mar- 
tinus Scriblerus, having never seen a lord mayor 
without his fur gown and gold chain, could never 
think of a lord mayor without also thinking of his 
appendages. But here again Mr. Mill has missed 
the characteristic of the mental phenomenon. " If 
we find it impossible by any trial to separate two 
ideas, we have all the feeling of necessity the mind 
is capable of." (p. 264.) But this is to confound two 
things which are very different, the association of 
two ideas, so that the one calls up the other, with 
the judgment, which declares that the two things 
are necessarily related. When he heard the lord 
mayor named, Martin could not but think of his 
gown and chain; but he did not therefore decide 
that the mayor and his wig had always been to- 
gether, that they would always be together, that it 
had never been otherwise, and could not be other- 
wise. The laws of association may account for the 
rise of one idea along with another, or immediately 
after another, but they do not come near explaining 


the self-evidence and necessity of certain cognitions, 
beliefs, and judgments which may rise on the 
contemplation of single objects perceived for the 
first time, or on the immediate comparison of two 


II. In resolving an alleged fundamental idea or 
conviction into certain elements, we must assume only 
known elements, and we must not ascribe to them 
more than can be shown to be in them. To illustrate 
what I mean : It is quite competent to any one to 
attempt to explain chemical action by mechanical 
causes, or vital action by mechanical and chemical 
forces. But if he understand the problem which he 
hopes to solve, and grapple with it fairly, he must 
not give to mechanical action, or mechanical and 
chemical action combined, more than is in them. 
The whole attempt would be denounced as a mere 
pretence if he gave a chemical affinity to the me- 
chanical power, or a power of assimilation and ab- 
sorption to the mechanical and chemical action. 
Now we are surely entitled to impose a like restric- 
tion upon the analyst of the human mind. It is 
perfectly competent to him to attempt to resolve 
such convictions as those of identity, causation, and 
moral good into any other principle. But we can 
require of him to specify the principle, to prove that 
it actually works in the mind, to unfold its nature 
and its laws, and to show from its ascertained action 
that it is quite sufficient to produce the conviction. 


In particular, he must not be allowed, when he starts 
with an element, to add new properties to suit his 
purpose as he goes along. Or if he does so, he must 
formally announce the introduction of the new 
power, specify its nature, and honestly avow it to be 
a new element. 

This is a rule which has been habitually neglected 
by that school of metaphysicians who delight to 
reduce all the operations of the mind to a very few 
principles. Locke succeeded, to his own satisfaction, 
in deriving all our ideas from sensation and reflec- 
tion, but it has been shown by distinguished philos- 
ophers, British and Continental, that in accounting 
thus for such ideas as substance, and time, and 
power, he changed, without perceiving it, the sensa- 
tions and reflex perceptions into something entirely 
different. It can be proven that Mr. Mill is ever 
falling into a like error. The operation by which 
he derives all our ideas and beliefs from a few ele- 
ments, is a sort of jugglery, in which he alters the 
elements without its being discovered ; and it may 
be added, that in the product which he shows, he 
has not the real phenomenon which he professes to 
liave explained. 

The main elements which he employs are sensa- 
tions and associations of sensation. But he works 
up sensations into convictions of mind and body, of 
space and time, of personality and personal identity, 
of infinity and obligation to do good, which are not 
contained in the nature of sensations, and which 


could be imparted to them only by a new power 
superinduced, which power would require to have a 
place allotted to it in his system, and its laws enun- 
ciated, and its significance estimated. Again, it will 
be shown that Mr. Mill has made an unwarrantable 
use and application of the laws of association. These 
are the laws of the succession of our ideas, and 
nothing more. Give us two ideas, and place these 
two ideas together in the mind, and association will 
tend to bring them up once more in union. But it 
is not the office of association to give us the ideas 
which must first be furnished to it. We shall see 
that Mr. Mill is forever giving to association a 
power, which does not belong to it, of generating 
new ideas by an operation in which we see sensa- 
tions go in, and a lofty idea coming out, solely by 
the idea being surreptitiously introduced, without 
any person being expected to notice it. The pro- 
cess carried on by this whole school of analysts is 
like that of the alchemists, who, when they put 
earth into the retort, never could get anything but 
earth, and could get gold only by introducing some 
substance containing gold. The philosopher's stone 
of this modern psychology is of the same character 
as that employed in mediaeval physics. If we put in 
only sensations, as some do, we have never anything 
but sensations, and a "dirt philosophy," as it has 
been called, is the product. If we get gold (as cer- 
tainly Mr. Mill does at times), it is because it has 


been quietly introduced by the person who triumph- 
antly exhibits it. 

HI. Tests may be furnished to try intuitive truths. 
From the days of Aristotle down to the present 
time, it has been asserted that there are first truths, 
the support of other truths, while they themselves 
require no support. Profound thinkers have sys- 
tematically or incidentally been striving to give us 
the marks of such truths. Amidst considerable dif- 
ference of nomenclature and confusion of thought 
and statement (such as we might expect in the first 
efforts to catch and express the exact truth in so 
difficult an investigation), there has been all along a 
wonderfully large amount of agreement in the cri- 
teria fixed on. These have been such as self-evidence, 
necessity, and universality. Some have fixed on one, 
and some on another of these, as their favorite test- 
ing principle, and have overlooked the others. 
Some have employed two, overlooking the third. 
But these three are, in fact, the tests which, in a 
loose or more stringent form, have been announced 
or applied by the great body of deep and earnest 
thinkers. It could be shown that Aristotle had at 
least glimpses of all of them. In modern times, 
Locke formally propounded the self-evidence, refer- 
ring incidentally from time to time to the necessity 
and universality. Eeid was in the way of referring, 
not always in a very clear or satisfactory way, to all 
the three. Leibnitz brought out prominently the 


necessity ; and Kant, followed by Sir W. Hamilton, 
conjoined necessity and universality, all three 
overlooking the self-evidence, in consequence of their 
keeping away very much from realities, and dwell- 
ing among mental forms. 1 We shall find Mr. Mill 
employing all of them, without, however, fully ap- 
prehending their character or seeing their signifi- 

As we proceed, we shall gather these tests into 
heads, and establish their validity, and give them 
their proper expression. We shall show that asso- 
ciation of ideas, which is supposed to work such 
wonders, cannot give these characters to any appre- 
hension or proposition. No experiential or derived 
truth can stand any one, or at least the whole, of 
these tests. A general truth discovered by a gather- 
ed experience, as that night succeeds day, cannot be 
said to be self-evident. Nor can it be represented 
as having any necessity in thought, for we can easily 
apprehend it to be otherwise. Nor can it be de- 
scribed as universal, for the time may come when, in 
consequence of a change of mundane arrangements, 
the day or the night may cease. 

Following out these principles, I mean, in discuss- 
ing the questions started by Mr. Mill, to proceed in 
the following method : 

(1.) I allow him to try his power of analysis, ac- 
cording to his psychological method, on all alleged 

1 These tests will be consided, infra, review of them will be found in The 
Chap. xii. A historical and critical Intuitions of the Mind, Part i. B. ii. c. 3 


fundamental truth, without reserving any exception. 
This is what Sir W. Hamilton would not have done, 
as he regarded consciousness as deciding the whole 
question at once, and authoritatively and conclusive- 
ly. I hold that consciousness has a most important 
part to act. It has to disclose to us what are the 
ideas and convictions in the mind when it begins to 
reflect, and what is the precise nature of the ele- 
ments into which we would resolve them. But I 
admit that in the mature man all is not intuitive 
that is spontaneous and apparently instantaneous. 
And so I freely permit Mr. Mill to attempt to de- 
compose any idea into simpler composites. But as 
he does so, I claim the right to sit by and watch 
him, lest he unconsciously change the elements in 
the process; and at the close I carefully inquire 
whether he has explained all the characteristics of 
the idea and conviction. 

(2.) When he fails, as I believe it will be found 
that he does fail, in regard to certain mental prin- 
ciples, then I hold that these principles which the 
acute intellect of Mr. Mill cannot decompose, may 
be regarded as elementary, at least provisionally so ; 
that is, till some abler man (which is not likely to 
happen) makes the attempt and succeeds. 

(3.) I bring the alleged first truths to the test of 
self-evidence, necessity, and universality, and when 
they can stand these criteria, I pronounce them con 
clusively to be original and primary and funda 



rilHE common impression regarding Mr. Mill's 
JL philosophy is that it needs no intuitive prin- 
ciples ; that the author of it does not presuppose or 
allow that there is anything innate in the mind. 
Some of his admirers give him credit for weaving a 
rich fabric without any material except sensations, 
and with no machinery except experience. Mr. 
Mill's cavils against those who support fundamental 
truth, and the manner in which he expounds his 
own system, are fitted to leave this impression. He 
begins the construction of his theory with sensa- 
tions ; he goes on to fashion them into various forms 
by association of sensations ; he allows among the 
series of sensations a memory of the past, an expec- 
tation of the future, and a power of observing co- 
existences and successions, resemblances and differ- 
ences between sensations ; and he makes the mind 
as it advances receive powerful aid from the artificial 
instrumentality of language. These seem, at least 
to a cursory observer, to constitute the matter and 
the agency by which he ingeniously constructs the 



ideas, many of them so grand and far-ranging, which 
the mind of man is capable of forming. But while 
these seem to be the original furniture of the mind 
and the sum of the assumptions he has to make, we 
find if we look more carefully that in rearing his 
fabric he is ever and anon calling in other principles, 
some of them openly and avowedly, and others un- 
consciously and furtively ; and that these form when 
placed together a huge but ill-fashioned and in- 
congruous body of what are in fact, whatever he 
may call them, intuitive principles or metaphysical 

It will be found, indeed, that the mental analysts, 
whose ambition it has been to reduce the original 
capacities of the mind to a very small number, have 
been obliged to bring in a vast body of assumptions 
and new elements as they advance. Locke satisfied 
himself that he had derived all our ideas from sensa- 
tion and reflection, but then he called in faculties to 
work upon the materials thus furnished; he finds 
ideas " suggested " as these powers operate ; he 
gives an important function to " intuition," and sup- 
poses the mind capable of discovering " necessary " 
relations. Even Hume, who of all metaphysicians 
is disposed to make fewest admissions, remarks in 
criticising Locke, " I should desire to know what can 
be meant by asserting that self-love, or resentment 
of injuries, or passion between the sexes, is not in- 
nate." ( Works, vol. iv. p. 23.) The Sensational 
School made all our ideas transformed sensations ; 


but in order to get such ideas as those of personal 
identity, power, and duty, they quietly gave the 
transforming act a power of transmuting one thing 
into another. I am now to show how many prin- 
ciples Mr. Mill has been obliged to call in, as he goes 
along, in order to explain the actual phenomena of 
the mind on his hypothesis. I must give consider- 
able extracts in order to do justice at once to his 
views and my argument. The admissions are no 
doubt candidly made, and they are always clearly 
stated. Our readers must judge as to how far they 
affect the apparent simplicity and modify the logical 
consistency of his system. As I may have occasion 
to refer to them in the course of the discussion, I 
number and designate them by the letters of the 
Greek alphabet. 

a. There is an immediate and intuitive knowledge. 
His language is express. " We do know some things 
immediately and intuitively." (p. 126.) 

(3. From the truths known by intuition, others are 
inferred. " Truths are known to us in two ways ; 
some are known directly and of themselves, and 
some through the medium of other truths. The 
former are the subject of intuition or consciousness, 
the latter of inference. The truths known by intui- 
tion are the original premises from which all others 
are inferred." (Logic, Introd. 4.) 

/. Reasoning carries us back to intuition, from 
which it derives its ultimate premises. He thus fol- 
lows up the passage last quoted : " Our assent to the 


conclusion being grounded upon the truth of the 
premises, we never could arrive at any knowledge 
by reasoning, unless something could be known an- 
tecedently to reasoning." And in the work more 
immediately under review : " Unless, therefore, we 
knew something immediately, we could not know 
anything mediately, and consequently could not 
know anything at all." (p. 126.) Elsewhere he says 
First Principles cannot be proven : " To be incapable 
of proof by reasoning is common to all first prin- 
ciples : of our knowledge as well as of our con- 
duct." ( Utilitarianism, p. 51.) 

These statements are very satisfactory as to the 
existence of intuition, and the place occupied by it, 
and the purpose served by it. He does not in these 
passages state the grounds on which he admits in- 
tuition, nor the tests by which he would try it. 
These, however, may come out incidentally as we 
advance. Let us inquire what he represents as ex- 
ercises of intuition. 

d. Consciousness is a form of intuition. This is 
implied throughout, and will be shown to be so by 
the passages quoted under other heads. 

8. Whatever consciousness reveals is to be received. 
" According to ah 1 philosophers the evidence of con- 
sciousness, if only we can obtain it pure, is con- 
clusive." (p. 126.) " If consciousness tells me that I 
have a certain thought or sensation, I assuredly have 
that thought or sensation." (p. 141.) 

f . Consciousness and intuitive convictions are ar- 


biters from which there is no appeal. " The verdict 
of consciousness, or, in other words, our immediate 
and intuitive conviction, is admitted on all hands to 
be a decision without appeal." (p. 127.) 

rj. The truth revealed by consciousness rests on its 
own evidence. " All the world admits, with our au- 
thor, that it is impossible to doubt a fact of internal 
consciousness. To feel, and not to know that we 
feel, is an impossibility. But Sir William Hamilton 
is not satisfied to let this truth rest on its own evi- 
dence. He wants a demonstration of it. As if it 
were not sufficiently proved by consciousness itself, 
he attempts to prove it by a reductio ad absurdum" 
(p. 132.) He then criticises, I think justly, Sir Wil- 
liam Hamilton's proof, which he says carries us 
u round a long circuit to return to the point from 
which we set out." u He has deduced the trust- 
worthiness of consciousness from the veracity of the 
Deity; and the veracity of the Deity can only be 
known from the evidence of consciousness." (p. 138.) 
Mr. Mill himself would have the truth " rest on its 
own evidence." I rejoice in this appeal For 
what is this ultimate test but that of Self-Evidence, 
so often enunciated, or at least referred to and im- 
plied in the writings of profound thinkers, from Aris- 
totle downwards, and among others, very expressly 
by Locke ? Nothing can be clearer or more satis- 
factory than Mr. Mill's language : " We know intui- 
tively what we know by its own evidence, by di- 
rect apprehension of the fact." 


&. It is impossible to doubt or deny the facts made 
known ~by consciousness. " A real fact of conscious- 
ness cannot be doubted or denied." (p. 134.) What 
is this but the other famous test of first truths, the 
test of Necessity appealed to by Plato, Aristotle, 
Leibnitz, Kant, and so many other profound thinkers 
of ancient and modern times? Already, then, we 
have the two tests of Self-Evidence and Necessity 
sanctioned. In the passage quoted under last head 
he had, as most philosophers have done, mixed them 
up together as being intimately connected. " It is 
impossible to doubt a fact of internal consciousness. 
To feel, and not to know that we feel, is an impos- 
sibility : " and so he would have the truth " rest on 
its own evidence." The law of necessity is repeatedly 
appealed to. " The facts which cannot be doubted 
are those to which the word consciousness is by most 
philosophers confined; the facts of internal con- 
sciousness; the mind's own acts and affections. 
What we feel, we cannot doubt that we feel. It is 
impossible for us to feel, and to think perhaps that 
we feel not, or to feel not, and think perhaps that 
we feel." (p. 132.) Sir William Hamilton has no 
where made a more decisive use of the law of neces- 
sity and principle of contradiction than Mr. Mill has 
done in these passages. 

i. No man ever doubted of the facts of conscious- 
ness. " Consciousness in the sense usually attached 
to it by philosophers, consciousness of the mind's 
own feelings and operations, cannot, as our author 


truly says, be disbelieved. The inward fact, the feel- 
ing in our minds, was never doubted, since to do so 
would be to doubt that we feel what we feel." (p. 
141.) As in a passage previously quoted, the tests 
of self-evidence and necessity were joined, so in this 
the tests of Necessity and Universality (universality 
of conviction) are combined, and the universality is 
traced to the necessity. The fact " was never doubt- 
ed," since to do so would be to doubt that we feel what 
we feel, which is represented as impossible. We thus 
find the tests of intuition, as I cursorily sketched them 
in last chapter, and mean to unfold them more fully 
in a future chapter, employed by Mr. Mill, and in the 
very logical order in which I have placed them. He 
makes an appeal to self-evidence ; the truth " rests 
on its own evidence." He tests this by the principle 
that " to feel, and not to know that we feel, is an 
impossibility." And now we find him appealing to 
catholicity or common consent, and founding it on 
necessity : the fact " was never doubted," since it 
" cannot be disbelieved." 

x. In arguing with the sceptic we are entitled to call 
in the assurance of immediate knowledge as a test. 
"I put to him (the sceptic) the simplest case conceiv- 
able of immediate knowledge, and ask, if we ever 
feel anything ? If so, then, at the moment of feel- 
ing, do we know that we feel ? Or if he will not 
call this knowledge, will he deny that we have a 
feeling, we have at least some sort of assurance, or 
conviction, of having it? This assurance or con- 



viction is what other people mean by knowledge. If 
he dislikes the word, I am willing, in discussing with 
him, to employ some other. By whatever name this 
assurance is called, it is the test to which we bring 
all our convictions." (p. 126.) This passage has not 
the logical power of some of Hamilton's arguments, 
but it is altogether after his manner. I have quoted 
it to show, that Mr. Mill thinks himself justified in 
appealing to the assurance of consciousness as an 
ultimate and decisive test. 

A,. The revelations of consciousness, together with 
what can ~be inferred from them, constitute the sum of 
our knowledge. "What consciousness directly re- 
veals, together with what can be legitimately in- 
ferred from its revelations, composes, by universal 
admission, all that we know of the mind, or indeed 
any other thing." (p. 107.) I do not admit that this 
statement is correct, unless he make consciousness 
synonymous with intuition, and include the senses 
and our primitive beliefs, which also contribute, and 
this largely, to what we know. I quote it to show 
how deep a place our author allots to the revelations 
of consciousness. 

These admissions all relate to Consciousness, the 
word being used, however, now in a wider and now 
in a narrower sense ; sometimes being coextensive 
with intuition, as when (see t.) he speaks of " con- 
sciousness, or in other words, immediate and intuitive 
conviction;" and in other passages meaning (see *.) 
" consciousness of the mind's own feelings and opera- 


tions." In the heads that follow, his admissions re- 
late to facts it may be attested by consciousness, but 
not beyond it. 

p. We may be sure of what we see as well as of 
what we feel. "What one sees or feels, whether 
bodily or mentally, one cannot but be sure that one 
sees or feels." (Logic, Introd. 4.) This is a satis- 
factory statement, but he afterwards detracts from it 
by observing that we often suppose that we see what 
we do not see, and he is evidently doubtful whether 
we see anything beyond ourselves. This topic will 
require to be carefully examined in a future chapter. 
Meanwhile I bring forward the statement to show, 
that if it can be proven that we do intuitively see 
external objects, and that our intuitions of external- 
ity and extension are not resolvable into anything 
simpler, then we must be prepared to grant that the 
objects exist. Speaking elsewhere of the "first 
premises of our knowledge," he says, that "being 
matters of fact, they may be the subject of a direct 
appeal to the faculties which judge of fact, namely, 
our senses and our internal consciousness." ( Utilita- 
rianism, p. 51.) 

v. We know existence, and make assertions about 
existence. Thus he places existence among his cate- 
gories, and does not attempt to resolve it into any- 
thing else. " Besides the propositions which assert 
sequence or Co-existence, there are some which 
assert simple existence," etc. (Logic, B. i. v. 5, 6.) 

?. We are capable of experiencing and knowing 


sensations. We need not produce passages or refer- 
ences to prove this, for the evidence of it runs 
throughout his works. 

o. Pleasure and pain are what we feel them to be, 
and nothing else. Speaking of these, he says of 
Hamilton, that "he is not so much the dupe of 
words as to suppose that they are anything else 
than what we feel them to be." (p. 479.) 

n. Extension is an essential part of the concept of 
~body. "The truth is, that the condition of space 
cannot be excluded ; it is an essential part of the 
concept of body, and of every kind of bodies." (p. 
327.) This is not an adequate statement, but it im- 
plies that man has at least one necessary concept as 
to body, and I shall endeavor to show that this can- 
not be resolved into sensation or association. 

(X There is evidently an ultimate fact in memory. 
" Our belief in the veracity of Memory is evidently 
ultimate : no reason can be given for it which does 
not presuppose the belief, and assume it to be well- 
grounded." (p. 174.) This statement appears in a 
footnote, 1 and our author does not even try to show 

1 Mr. Mill makes the admission answer (as they most certainly will) 

frankly and candidly, but he was driv- that they do include past experience as 

en to it by a criticism of Dr. Ward : well as present, then again I deny 

" I would ask of these philosophers their allegation, that they build their 

(those who build wholly upon Expe- philosophy wholly on experience, 

rience), do they mean by ' experience* " How can you even guess what your 

the experience of the present moment, past experience has been ? By trust- 

or do they include past experience ing memory. But how do you prove 

also ? If they say the former, I reply that those various intuitive judgments, 

it is obviously false that they do in any which we call acts of memory, can 

sense build their philosophy wholly or rightly be trusted ? So far from this 

chiefly on experience. But if they being provable by past experience, it 



how it fits into his system. The justification of the 
principle will fall under our notice under another 
head. Meanwhile I call attention to the admission. 
He declares that memory carries with it its own 
veracity, and that our belief in that veracity is " ul- 
timate/' and " evidently ultimate." I shall endeavor 
to show that the full facts of memory are not em- 
braced in this brief statement. But there is much 
stated, and there is more implied. He here concedes 
fully that there is a " veracity " in at least one other 
faculty of the mind besides internal consciousness, 
that there is a " belief" that can be trusted, and that 
this belief is "ultimate," is in fact "evidently ul- 

must be in each case assumed and taken 
for granted before you can have any 
cognizance whatever of your past ex- 
perience." " As it is most desirable 
to bring this point quite clearly home, 
I will cite and apply a passage in 
which Mr. Stuart Mill states his own 
philosophical doctrine. * There is no 
knowledge a priori ; no truths cog- 
nizable by the mind's inward light, and 
grounded on intuitive evidence. Sen- 
sation and the mind's consciousness 
of its own acts are not only the ex- 
clusive sources, but the sole materials 
of our knowledge.' Let us test, then, 
by these principles an act of memory. 
I am at this moment comfortably 
warm ; but I call to mind with great 
clearness the fact, that a short time 
ago I was very cold. What datum 
does ' sensation ' give me ? Simply 
that I am now warm. What datum 
does ' consciousness ' give "? that I 
have the present impression of having 
been cold a short time ago. But both 
these data are altogether wide of the 
mark. The question which I would 
earnestly beg Mr. Mill to ask himself 

is this : What is my ground for be- 
lieving that I was cold a short time 
ago ? ' I have the present impression 
of having been cold a short time ago ; ' 
this is one judgment. 'I was cold 
a short time ago ; ' this is a to- 
tally distinct and separate judg- 
ment. There is no necessary, nor 
even any probable, connection be- 
tween these two judgments, no 
ground whatever for thinking that the 
truth of one follows from the truth of 
the other, except upon the hypoth- 
esis that my mind is so constituted as 
accurately to represent past facts. But 
how will either ' sensation ' or ' con- 
sciousness,' or the two combined, in 
any way suffice for the establishment 
of any such proposition ? " (On Na- 
ture and Grace, 1860, pp. 26-28.) The 
Philosophical Introduction is the work 
of a mind of extraordinary acuteness, 
and has unfolded many important 
philosophical truths. Published at the 
same time as the first edition of my 
work on The Intuitions of the Mind, 
both Dr. Ward and myself have noticed 
curious coincidences in the two works. 


timate." He who allows so much might have in- 
quired whether there may not be other beliefs of the 
same kind, and equally veracious, involved in the 
exercise of other faculties of the mind. Mr. Mill is 
constantly and terribly severe in his strictures on the 
Intuitive School of Philosophy ; but it is clear he 
himself belongs to an intuitive school, without know- 
ing or at least avowing it. Admitting an intuitive 
consciousness and an ultimate belief, he makes no 
attempt to show how far they modify his empirical 
philosophy, and he enters upon no scientific investi- 
gation of the nature, the laws, or the mode of oper- 
ation of these elements of our nature. 

a. The mind, whatever it be, is aware of itself , is 
aware of itself as a series of feelings, is aware of it- 
self as past and present. The statements he makes 
are very curious : " Our notion of Mind, as well as 
of Matter, is the notion of a permanent something, 
contrasted with the perpetual flux of the sensations 
and other feelings or mental states which we refer 
to it." (p. 205.) "If we speak of the Mind as a se- 
ries of feelings, we are obliged to complete the state- 
ment by calling it a series of feelings which is aware 
of itself as past and future." Again, if but a series 
of feelings, it "can be aware of itself as a series." 
(pp. 212, 213.) I shall have to subject this language 
to a sifting examination in the two next chapters, 
where it will be shown that it does not fairly or fully 
embody the facts of which we are conscious. I quote 
it at present to show that Mr. Mill is obliged to 


allow that there is something permanent in mind, 
and that the mind is in a sense aware of itself and 
of this permanence. 

The above seem to be very much of the nature 
of those first or original principles which the Intui- 
tive School of Metaphysicians, to which Mr. Mill is 
so much opposed, are in the way of putting forward. 
Those that I am now to state seem to be of the 
nature of laws or faculties operating in the mind. 
No doubt, as we are ever being told, we prove that 
they exist by observation. But while it is by ex- 
perience we discover them and learn their nature, 
they must operate prior to our experience, and in- 
dependent of it. 

r. There is a native law of expectation. He tells 
as that the psychological method which he adopts 
" postulates, first, that the human mind is capable of 
Expectation. In other words, that after having had 
actual sensations, we are capable of forming the con- 
ception of Possible sensations ; sensations which we 
are not feeling at the present moment, but which we 
might feel, and should feel if certain conditions were 
present, the nature of which conditions we have, in 
many cases, learnt by experience." (p. 190.) Almost 
all metaphysicians have postulated, that the mind 
has a capacity and a tendency which prompt it to 
look forward from the past and present to the future. 
They have done so because internal observation 
shows that there must be some such principle, and 
they have endeavored to give the proper expression 


of it : some describing it (unfortunately, as I think) 
as an expectation that the future will resemble the 
past ; others (also unfortunately, as I think) as a be- 
lief in the uniformity of nature ; by others, more 
philosophically, as a belief hi the identity of self and 
of other objects, together with a conviction that the 
same agents, acting as a cause, will produce the 
same effects. But it does not concern us at present 
to inquire what is the accurate and adequate expres- 
sion of the law (this discussion will be taken up as 
we advance) ; only, I may remark, that Mr. Mill's 
version seems to me to be about the most defective 
and confused I have met with, experience being the 
arbiter, for he makes a series of feelings, each one 
of which must pass away before another appears, 
expect something of itself It is satisfactory, how- 
ever, to find him granting that there is such a law ; 
and surely he cannot object to others making a like 
postulate, and endeavoring to give an account of it 
which they regard as being more in accordance with 
our conscious experience. 

v. There are original laws of association. The 
psychological theory " postulates, secondly, the laws 
of the Association of Ideas." Then follows an 
enumeration of these laws. It is unnecessary to 
give it at this place ; it will subsequently fall under 
our notice and review. It does not seem to me to 
be the best in our language ; and we shall find that 
he enormously exaggerates the power of association. 
I refer to it at present to show that he is admitting 


at this place a new law, or rather group of laws 
operating in the mind. 

f/. Tfie mind can form very lofty ideas as to the 
Inf., 1 the Absolute. In this respect he adopts 

deeper and in some respects juster views than those 
of Hamilton. "Something infinite is a conception 
which, like most of our complex ideas, contains a 
negative element^ but which contains positive ele- 
ments also. Infinite space, for instance : is there 
nothing positive in that? The negative part of 
this conception is the absence of bounds. The posi- 
tive are, the idea of space, and of space greater than 
any finite space, so of infinite duration," etc. Again, 
-olute. in reference to any given attribute, sig- 
nifies the possession of that attribute in finished per- 
fection and completeness. A being absolute in 
knowledge, for example, is one who knows, in the 
literal meaning of the term, everything. Who will 
pretend that this conception is negative or unmean- 
ing to us ? " (pp. 45, 47.) This is a very just account, 
so far as it goes, of our apprehension of the infinite 
and perfect 1 a better phrase than the absolute. 
Mr. Mill does not say that this conception implies 
any intuitive capacity ; in fact, he neglects to tell Ub 
how it is formed. Whether ultimate or not, it is 
acknowledged that the mind has such a conception ; 
and Mr. Mill, if he account for it on his psychological 

1 I have endeavored to show (Intui- Deity, and that we regard that thing: 

turns of the Mind, Pt. 11. B. ii. c. 3) as (1.) erer exceeding our widest 

that we have a positive notion of some image or notion, and (2.) such that 

thing a* infinite, say space, or time, or nothing can be added to ii 


theory, will require to bring in something much 
deeper than the sensations and associations of sensa- 
tion, from which he seems to draw our ideas. 

We have yet to look at some other laws which 
look excessively like the first or ultimate truths, 
which metaphysicians of the Intuitive School have 
been in the way of enunciating and employing. 

#. Beliefs are ultimate when no reason can be given 
for them which does not imply their existence and 
veracity. I have already (see (>.) given the passage 
which authorizes this law. After stating that belief 
in the veracity of memory is evidently ultimate, he 
adds, u No reason can be given for it which does not 
presuppose the belief, and assume it to be well ground- 
ed." After announcing this principle, he might have 
been expected to inquire whether it does not sanc- 
tion other cognitions and beliefs, such as those which 
we have of the externality and extension of bodies, 
and the existence of time and of an abiding self. It 
can be shown that every attempt to derive these 
from other elements presupposes the ideas and the 

if. Thert are truths implied in other truths neces- 
sarily, and according to an ultimate law, internal or 
external. He is speaking of logical Proprium, and 
of its being involved in the attribute which the 
name ordinarily or specially connotes ; and he affirms, 
that u whether a Proprium follows by demonstration 
or by causation, it follows necessarily ; that is to 
say, it cannot but follow consistently with some law 


which we regard as a part of the constitution either 
of our thinking faculty or of the universe." (Logic, 
B. i. c. vii. 7.) As I understand this statement, it 
implies that when a Proprium follows by demonstra- 
tion, it does so according to a law which is part of 
the u constitution " of our " thinking faculty." The 
language reminds us of that of Eeid and Hamilton. 
a). Any assertion which conflicts with the Funda- 
mental Laws of Thought is to us unbelievable, and 
this may very possibly proceed from the native struc- 
ture of the mind. His language is very remarkable. 
He is speaking of the three Fundamental Laws of 
Thought, those of Identity, Contradiction, and 
Excluded Middle, and he thus comments upon them : 
" Whether the three so-called Fundamental Laws are 
laws of our thoughts by the native structure of the 
mind, or merely because we perceive them to be 
universally true of observed phenomena, I will not 
positively decide ; but they are laws of our thoughts, 
now and invincibly so. They may or may not be 
capable of alteration by experience, but the condi- 
tions of our existence deny to us the experience 
which would be required to alter them. Any asser- 
tion, therefore, which conflicts with one of these 
laws, any proposition, for instance, which asserts 
a contradiction, though it were on a subject wholly 
removed from the sphere of our experience, is to us 
unbelievable. The belief in such a proposition is, in 
the present constitution of nature, impossible as a 
mental fact." (p. 418.) The language is cautious 


and hesitating. It is evident that he would fain ex- 
plain the incapacity of believing contradictory prop- 
ositions by his favorite law of association. We shall 
see as we advance that this law cannot explain our 
peculiar conviction, but meanwhile it is interesting 
to notice that he will not decide whether these 
fundamental principles may not be "laws of our 
thoughts by the native structure of the mind." The 
hesitation implies a doubt of the whole system of 

Some of my readers, in looking at these passages 
thus brought into convenient (or inconvenient) jux- 
taposition, may require to be assured that I have not 
taken them from Hamilton's works, instead of the 
Examination of Hamilton and other works of Mr. 
Mill. And were it not that in the expression of 
them they have not the homeliness and depth of 
Reid, nor the clinching logical grasp of Hamilton, 
they might be mistaken for utterances of the two 
great Scottish metaphysicians. I have allowed Mr. 
Mill to speak for himself. All that I have done is 
to cull out the scattered statements as to ultimate 
truth, and present them in relievo, that students of 
philosophy may mark their significance. I mean to 
refer to them from time to time in the coming dis- 
cussion ; but I do not make use of them simply as 
concessions by Mr. Mill. I would not think it worth 
while employing a mere argumentum ad hominem. 
I feel no pleasure in pointing out real or seeming 


incongruities in the metaphysical system of an emi- 
nent thinker, who, in other departments, such as polit- 
ical economy and inductive logic, has done so much 
to advance knowledge. I employ these admissions 
because they contain important truth, not always in 
the best form, but capable of being fully vindicated, 

Mr. Mill, I believe, would urge that many of the 
admissions thus made are not separate and distinct 
from each other, and that several of them might be 
included under one head. Be it so, it is nevertheless 
of advantage to have them spread out in the several 
shapes in which they are presented, the more so that 
some of these imply very important principles with 
far-looking results. 

The first principles thus avowed in the course of 
his exposition should have had a formal place allot- 
ted them in the system, say at the commencement 
or the close. Had this been done, it would have ut- 
terly destroyed the apparent simplicity, and I believe 
also the symmetry of his system, which would have 
been seen to be a very complex and heterogeneous 
one. Seemingly a continuation of the philosophies 
of Hobbes, Condillac, and Hume, it contains as many 
assumptions as are demanded by the Scottish meta- 
physicians, who appeal to fundamental laws of 
thought, or by the German metaphysicians, who 
stand up for a priori forms. 

It will not be difficult to show, as we proceed to 
take up one special topic after another, that these 
admissions logically imply vastly more than is con- 


ceded in the metaphysical system constructed. In 
particular, it will be proven that they are made on 
avowed or implied principles, such as those of the 
veracity of consciousness, and of ultimate beliefs, 
such as those of self-evidence, necessity, and univer- 
sality, which require that vastly more be conceded. 
. Already it is clear that the question between Mr. 
Mill and the school he opposes cannot be said to be 
one as to the existence of intuition. I am not sure 
that any judicious defender of fundamental truth 
would demand or postulate a greater number of first 
principles than those allowed by the most influential 
opponent of necessary truth in our day. The ques- 
tion is not one as to the reality, but as to the nature 
and significance of ultimate truth. 

Of this I am sure, that the pressing philosophical 
want of our day is an exposition, with an enumera- 
tion and classification of the intuitions of the mind 
which, we have seen, must be admitted even by 
those who are supposed to deny them. It is time 
that those who allow them incidentally should be 
required to avow them openly and formally, and 
give a separate place to them. A flood of light will 
be thrown on metaphysics, and a world of logomachy 
between rival schools scattered, when we have an 
earnest attempt, by one competent for the work, to 
unfold the laws of our intuitions and their mode of 



IN the school to which Mr. Mill has attached him- 
self, there is a perpetual reference to Sensation. 
Those who look into their works with the view of 
discovering the deeper properties or higher affections 
of the mind, are wearied by the everlasting recur- 
rence of the word, and by the perpetual obtrusion 
of the thing denoted by it. 1 Some members of the 
school seem to be incapable of comprehending any- 
thing but matter, and the sensations excited by mai> 
ter. 1 bring no such charge against Mr. Mill. He 
is clearly capable of mounting into a higher and 
more spiritual region. But even he is often dragged 
down to the dust of the earth by the weight of the 
theory which he has undertaken to support. As we 

1 The mental sciences elevate those School, and that they be kept from so 

who study them in proportion as they setting their questions, as to encourage 

exhibit the higher faculties and ideas the reading only of the works of 

of the mind. This leads me to remark, writers belonging to that school. In 

that in the Competitive Examinations those departments in which the men- 

which now exercise so great an in- tal sciences have a place, they are 

fluence on the studies of our young surely meant to stimulate and to test 

men, care should be taken that the a different order of tastes and talents 

Examiners in Morals should not be from those called forth by the physical 

taken mainly from the Sensational and physiological sciences. 



are threatened with a revival, under a new and dis- 
guised, and somewhat more elevated form, of the 
Sensational system which wrought such mischief in 
France at the end of last century, it is essential that 
we inquire what sensation is, and settle what it can 
do, and what it cannot do. In other words, let us, 
with the internal sense as our informant, look care- 
fully at the original matter out of which Mr. Mill 
draws our higher ideas, with the view of determining 
whether the seed is fitted to yield such fruit. 

What, then, is Sensation ? It is allowed on all 
hands that it cannot be positively defined. This 
arises from its being a simple quality, and there is 
nothing simpler into which to resolve it. All we 
can do in the way of unfolding its nature, is to bid 
every man consult his consciousness when any bodily 
object is affecting his senses or sensibility. But while 
we cannot furnish an affirmative definition, we can 
offer some explanations to remove misapprehensions, 
and some decided denials to oppose accepted errors. 

It should be understood that the word is employed 
to denote an affection of the conscious mind (what- 
ever that may be), and not of the mere bodily frame. 
It should further be borne in mind that it does not 
include that knowledge of bodily objects, of their 
externality and extension, which is now denoted by 
the phrase " sense-perception." It is of special im- 
portance to press attention to the circumstance that 
sensation is not a separately existing object like this 
stone, this tree, or this bird, but is an attribute of 


an object. At this point we are coming in collision 
with Mr. Mill. Elsewhere (Logic, B. i. c. iii.) he has 
an ingenious distribution of namable things or real- 
ities into substances, attributes, and feelings, the last 
of course including sensations. " Substances are not 
all that exist : attributes, if such things are to be 
spoken of, must be said to exist, feelings certainly 
exist." " Feelings, or states of consciousness, are as- 
suredly to be counted among realities, but they can 
not be reckoned among substances or -attributes." 
This distribution of realities, especially this separa- 
tion of feelings from substances or attributes, seems 
to me to be curious : I have not met with it else- 
where. It is favorable to Mr. Mill's purpose, which 
we did not so well know when we had only his work 
on Logic, but with which we are now made fully ac- 
quainted by the fuller exposition of his views in the 
Examination of Hamilton: that purpose being to 
banish, to as great a distance as possible, substance 
and attribute, and leave only feelings. We are not 
yet sufficiently advanced, in these discussions, to 
deal with the confused metaphysics of substance and 
attribute. The present topic is sensation, and sensa- 
tion I maintain is an affection, that is an attribute, 
of the conscious mind. 

But Mr. Mill tells us that " the sensations are all 
of which I am directly conscious." (Logic, B. i. c. iii. 
7.) This mode of representing our conscious states 
was introduced by Hume, who derived his sceptical 
conclusions from it. He maintained that we are 



conscious only of impressions and ideas, the ideas 
being merely fainter impressions. Hume took care 
never to enter into any explanation as to what he 
meant by " impression ; " whether it implies, as it 
should do if it has any meaning, a thing impressing 
and a thing impressed. The doctrine of the school 
of Mill is that we are conscious merely of feelings, 
and among these, the first and all along the main 
place is given to sensation. Now, in opposition to 
these defective statements, I maintain that we are 
conscious, not of a mere impression, but of a thing 
impressed, not of sensation apart, but of self as sen- 
tient. On hearing this statement, metaphysicians 
will be disposed to ask with amazement, perhaps with 
scorn, "What! are we really then conscious of 
self?" And they will tell us that the child has 
never said to itself, " This is I." If they think it 
worth while going any further, they may then in 
condescension, or compassion towards our ignorance, 
explain to us that the Ego is a metaphysical notion, 
the product of advanced reflection. But I disarm 
all this at once, by allowing that we are never con- 
scious of a self, apart from self as sentient, or as 
engaged in thinking, willing, or some other opera- 
tion. And I balance this statement by another, that 
we are just as little conscious of the sensation, or 
the impression, or the thought, or volition apart from 
self. The child has never said to itself, This is I ; " 
but just as little has it said, " This is an impression ;" 
"This is a sensation." We are in fact conscious of 


both in one concrete act; ever conscious of self in 
its present affection, conscious of self as affected. 
Mr. Mill uses language which implies this when he 
says (4) that " sensations are states of the sentient 
mind ; " and everybody employs like expressions if 
he does not happen to be upholding a special theory. 
He who leaves out either of these elements is not 
giving a correct interpretation of consciousness. 
We may, by abstraction, separately contemplate the 
two, and important intellectual purposes are served 
by such a process. Each of the things we thus dis- 
tinguish in thought has a real existence ; the one as 
much as the other : the sensation or feeling has an 
existence, but so has also the self. Not that either 
has a separate existence, or an independent exist- 
ence, or an existence out of the other. As the one 
is an abstract, so is also the other. If you call the 
on,e, say the self, a metaphysical entity, you should 
in consistency describe the other, the sensation, as in 
the same sense a metaphysical entity. The correct 
statement is that we are conscious of the sensation as 
a sensation of self, and of the self as under sensation. 
And as we can never be conscious of the self, except 
as sentient or otherwise affected, so we can never be 
conscious of a sensation except as a sensation of a 
sentient self. It is high time, when physiologists 
and metaphysicians are drawing such perverted con- 
clusions, to put this seemingly insignificant and yet 
really important limitation upon the common state- 


I am quite willing that Mr. Mill should apply the 
sharp razor of his Psychological Method to sensation. 
I have called in consciousness to declare what is in 
sensation, but I do not allow consciousness to decide 
at once, and without further inquiry, that sensations 
are and must be primary and elementary. I freely 
allow the mental analyst to put them in his crucible, 
and to try if he can decompose them. No such at- 
tempt has been made ; I believe no such attempt 
will ever be made. Mr. Mill and his school acknowl- 
edge that they are unresolvable and ultimate. I am 
glad to have one element allowed, it may prepare 
the way for the admission of others on the same title. 
In particular, the self (I will show in next chapter) 
may turn out to be quite as unresolvable as the sen- 
sations of self. 

As so much is made of sensations by this whole 
school of philosophy, we must be careful to inquire 
what is really embraced in them, and not allow any- 
thing to be drawn from them which is not truly in 
them. It is necessary in these times to utter even 
such a truism as this, that a sensation is a sensation, 
and is nothing more. A sensation is not a thing ex- 
tended, is not extension, is not space. A sensation 
being only momentarily under consciousness, is not 
the same as time, which has a past and a future. A 
sensation is not matter or body, which is extended 
and occupies space. A sensation may be preceded 
by resistance, but is not itself resistance, which im- 
plies one body opposing the movement of another. 


It is important even to make the further statement, 
that we are conscious of many other mental acts and 
affections which are not identical with sensations. 
A sensation is not memory, say the remembrance of 
my reading Mr. Mill's book at a particular time. A 
sensation is not expectation, the expectation which 
I cherish that truth will in the end prevail over error. 
A sensation is not an imagination, as when I paint a 
glorious ideal of beauty or of virtue. A sensation 
is not judgment, even when that judgment is about 
sensation, as when I decide that the sensations pro- 
duced by a noise are not so pleasant as those excited 
by music. Certainly, sensation is not reasoning, as 
when I argue that mere sentient affections cannot 
yield our higher ideas and deeper convictions. Sen- 
sation is not even the same as emotion, as when I 
fear that the sensational philosophy is to prevail for 
a time in this country. A sensation is something far 
lower than sentiment or affection, as when I would 
love God and my neighbors, even those from 
whom I differ in most important points. A sensa- 
tion is not a volition, as when I resolve to do my 
best to oppose prevailing error, even when coun- 
tenanced by influential names. 

But may not sensation be the cause of something 
else ? I can answer this question only after giving 
an explanation. In ordinary mundane action, an 
effect is always the result of the operation of more 
than one agent or antecedent. " A man," says Mr. 
Mill, " takes mercury, goes out of doors, and catches 


cold. We say, perhaps, that the cause of his taking 
cold was exposure to the air. . . . But to be accurate, 
we ought to say that the cause was exposure to the 
air while under the effect of mercury." (Logic, B. in. 
c. v. 3.) I agree with this doctrine of Mr. Mill (it 
will be expounded more fully in chapter xiii. of this 
treatise), and I would apply it to the supposed causa- 
tive influence of sensations. Sensation may be one 
of the antecedents which go to make up the cause, 
but it cannot, properly speaking, be a cause in itself; 
it is a condition or occasion, and can produce an 
effect only when conjoined with some other agent. 
A sensation may be the occasion of something else, 
say of a violent derangement of a bodily organ ; but 
that derangement is not the sensation, and in ac- 
counting for it we must look not merely to the sen- 
sation, but the properties of the organ affected. A 
sensation may, in like manner, be the occasion of a 
new thought arising, but the thought should not be 
confounded with the sensation ; the sensation is not 
even the cause of the thought. Such a sensation in 
a plant (supposing it to be capable of feeling), such 
a sensation in one of the lower animals, would give 
rise to no such thought. The sensation can origin- 
ate the thought only by stirring up a mental ca- 
pacity in the soul, which mental potency is to be 
regarded as the main element in the complex cause. 
And yet this essential element is inexcusably, cul- 
pably overlooked by the Sensational School, when 
they derive all our thoughts from sensations. They 


make the mere auxiliary or stimulating condition 
the producing power, as if, to use a homely illustra- 
tion, we should make the setting of the pointer, 
which roused the attention of the sportsman, the 
cause of the killing of the bird shot by him. The 
mind of man, consciousness being the witness, does 
entertain a vast variety of ideas, some of them of a 
very elevating character, such as those we entertain 
of God, and good, and eternity. I doubt whether 
these are the product of sensations in any sense. Of 
this I am sure, that they do not proceed from sen- 
sations except when sensations are employed and 
moulded by lofty mental faculties, which faculties, 
and not the sensations, are the main agents in the 
production of the effect ; and they should have their 
nature, laws, and modes of action unfolded by any 
one who would give us a correct theory of our men- 
tal operations. 

By insisting on such points as these, we lay an 
effectual arrest on those rash speculations of our day 
which derive man's loftiest ideas from so low and 
subordinate an agent as sensation. 



MR MILL admits fully the veracity of conscious- 
ness and the reality of the facts attested by it 
(see d, e } rj.) But his view of the objects of which 
it is cognizant is very defective. It seems to be de- 
rived, through Mr. James Mill and Dr. Thomas 
Brown, from Hume and the Sensational School of 
France. Condillac, and those who followed him, 
designated all the states of the mind by the words 
sentir and sensibilite, which conveniently embraced 
two such different things as sensations excited by out- 
ward objects, and mental emotions, such as hope and 
fear. We have no such pliable word in our tongue, 
and Brown, who caught so much of the French spirit. 
had to adopt a narrower phrase when he habitually 
represents all states of mind as Feelings : thus he 
speaks of " feelings of relation " and " feelings of 
approbation," both of which imply judgment. Mr. 
James Mill says, "In the very word feeling, all that 
is implied in the word consciousness is involved." 
And now we find Mr. J. S. Mill declaring "a feeling 
and a state of consciousness are, in the language of 



philosophy " [that is, in the philosophy of Thomas 
Brown and James Mill], u equivalent expressions : 
everything is a feeling of which the mind is con- 
scious ; everything which it feels, or, in other words, 
which forms a part of its own sentient existence." 
Again, " Feeling, in the proper sense of the term, is 
a genus of which Sensation, Emotion, and Thought 
are the subordinate species." (Logic, B. i. c. iii. 3.) 
Of course Mr. Mill is at liberty to choose his own 
nomenclature, and use it in the signification he thinks 
fit to attach to it. But others have an equal liberty 
to reject it and give their reasons. It seems to me 
an unwarrantable use of the phrase to make Feel- 
ings embrace Thought, and I may add Volition ; and 
those who so use it will be found, in spite of them- 
selves, and of all explanations, understanding the 
word in its habitual and proper signification ; and 
when all other ideas and resolutions are spoken of 
as " feelings," the impression will be left that they 
are part of our sentient and (at best) emotional 

Mr. Mill claims the liberty of examining all the 
facts of consciousness, and of resolving them if he 
can into simpler elements. I freely grant him this 
power. Our sensations, he grants, are simple and 
original. But I have argued that when we are con- 
scious of a sensation, we are always conscious of self 
as sentient. Now I am quite ready to allow Mr. 
Mill or any other to reduce the self to something 
more elementary. But I am sure no components, 


which did not contain self, could give us seK Surely 
our perception of self could not be given by mere 
sensations, that is, by sensations in which self is not 
mixed up. We are as conscious of the self as of 
the sensation ; and the sensation could as little give 
us the self as the self could give the sensation. It 
should not be forgotten that this self appears in all 
our other mental exercises, thus showing that it 
is more essential than our very sensations; it is 
found in our memories, beliefs, imaginations, judg- 
ments, emotions, and volitions. We are conscious 
of these not separately or as abstracts ; but of 
self as remembering, self as believing, self as imag- 
ining, self as judging, self as under feeling, self as 

This self is what I call a Person. Thus under- 
stood, it is altogether correct to say that we are con- 
scious of ourselves as persons. Not that we are 
conscious of personality as a separate thing ; we are 
conscious in one concrete act of this person as sen- 
tient, or as thinking, or resolving. I believe that the 
infant, that the child, does not separate the two. 
Even the mature man seldom draws the distinction 
unless, indeed, he be addicted to reflection, or has to 
speak of the ego and the non ego. It is only on our 
remembering the self, and finding it necessary to dis- 
tinguish between the various states of self, and on 
our discovering that there are other conscious beings 
besides ourselves, that we ever think of forming to 
ourselves the abstraction personality, or taking the 


trouble to affirm that we are the same persons to- 
day as we were yesterday, or that we are different 
from all other persons. 

So much for our consciousness of our present self, 
or of ourselves as persons. The truth now evolved 
enables us to develop the exact psychological nature 
of our conviction of personal identity. In all our 
waking moments we have a consciousness of a 
present self. But in every exercise of memory we 
have a remembrance of a past self. We remember 
the event as in past time. We remember it as an 
experience of self. Thus, in remembering that we 
visited the London Exhibition, we recollect not mere- 
ly the Exhibition, but ourselves as seeing it. True, 
this recollection of ourselves may be very faint in 
comparison with that of the brilliant objects wit- 
nessed ; and, from laws of memory to be afterwards 
referred to, it may very much disappear ; still it is 
there wrapt up in one concrete act with the image 
of the external things. In this remembrance of 
ourselves we have more than a recollection of a past 
thought or a past feeling, say of the feeling we had 
when visiting the Exhibition ; we remember the feel- 
ing as a feeling of self. Here, as in so many other 
cases which will come under our notice, Mr. Mill has 
failed to apprehend and unfold all that is in the fact 
of consciousness. " The feeling I had yesterday," is 
his account (Logic, B. i. c. iii. 2), "is gone never to 
return ; what I have to-day is another feeling ex- 
actly like the former, but still distinct from it." This 


is not the correct statement. What I had yesterday 
was a conscious self under one affection, say grief; 
what I have to-day is also a conscious self under, it 
may be, a like affection of grief, or it may be under 
a different affection, say joy. Having thus a past 
self brought up by memory, and a present self un- 
der consciousness, we compare them and affirm that 
they are the same. This is simply the expression of 
the fact falling under the eye of consciousness. Let 
Mr. Mill, if he choose, try his sharp analysis upon it. 
If he does so, he will find the edge of his instrument 
bent back as he would cut it. It is a rock, itself 
needing no support, but fitted to act as a foundation. 
It is a self-evident truth, attained by the bare con- 
templation of the objects ; and no one can be made 
to come to any other decision, or to allow that he 
is a different person now from what he was when 
he recollects himself at some given instant in the 

We see what is meant by personality and persona] 
identity. We can express both these, without wrap- 
ping them in that awful mystery in which they have 
so often been made to appear. Personality is the 
self of which we are conscious in every mental act. 
Personal identity is the sameness of the conscious 
self as perceived at different times. The phrases do 
not point to some unknown essence, apart from or 
behind the known thing. They simply designate an 
essential, an abiding element of the thing known. 
As the personality and personal identity appear, we 


are entitled to insist that they be brought out to 
view and expressed in every proper science of psy- 
chology. One of Aristotle's definitions of the soul 
is " that (TO^TO) by which we live, and feel, and un- 
derstand." 1 Some have charged him with intro- 
ducing an unmeaning phrase when he mentions not 
only certain qualities of the soul, but a that by which 
we exercise the qualities. But Aristotle was far too 
comprehensive and accurate a thinker to omit the 
Totko, by which, no doubt, he meant to designate a 
thing, an existence, or rather a thing having exist- 
ence, and capable of living, feeling, understanding. 
As we advance, we shall see that Mr. Mill is obliged 
to use similar phrases to denote the permanent thing 
that abides, amid the changes of attribute or ex- 
ercise. In ordinary circumstances, no doubt, our at- 
tention is directed most forcibly to the changing 
element, to the action and new manifestation, and 
may allow the other, which is ever the same, to fall 
very much into what Mr. Mill calls a obliviscence." 
But it is the office of the careful psychologist to ob- 
serve it ; to bring it out from the shade in which it 
lies ; and to give this conscious self, this remembered 
self, this identical self, the same place in his system 
as it has in the mind of man. 

We are now in circumstances to judge of Mr. 
Mill's account of mind, and his psychological theory 
of the nature and genesis of the idea we form of it. 

i'H tyvxri oe rovro (p ^ay/ev, Kal alada- Xoyof rig av EITJ KCLI ddog, d/U/ ov% fl/ 
vofteda, 6iavovo(j.eOa Trporwf' &are not ib vTTOK.eifj.evov. De Anima, n. 2. 


In framing these lie has neglected to look carefully 
and patiently at the actual facts of consciousness, 
both in regard to the idea and conviction, and the 
elements out of which he would fashion it. He ac- 
knowledges that mind involves some sort of notion 
of what Kant calls Perdurability. He begins, indeed, 
by telling us that " we neither can know nor imagine 
it, except as represented by the succession of mani- 
fold feelings which metaphysicians call by the name 
of states or modifications of mind." (p. 205.) I have 
put in italics the words which Mr. Mill uses, must 
use, to express the facts ; the words which correspond 
to the tovto of Aristotle. He goes on to say, " It is 
nevertheless true that our notion of Mind, as well as 
of Matter, is the notion of a permanent something 
contrasted with the perpetual flux of the sensations 
and other feelings or mental states which we refer to 
it; a something which we figure as remaining the 
same, while the particular feelings through which it 
reveals its existence change." This is an inadequate 
account of the idea and conviction entertained by us 
in mature life. We do not refer the mental states 
to it, we know it in a particular state. We do not 
figure self as remaining the same, we judge or de- 
cide the conscious self of to-day to be the same as 
the conscious self of yesterday remembered by us. 
It does not reveal itself through feelings, we know 
it as feeling, the one being as immediate as the other. 
Nevertheless his account, though confused and 
never exactly hitting the facts, is a very remarkable 


one. We must look at it carefully: "Besides 
present feelings, and possibilities of present feeling, 
there is another class of phenomena to be included 
in -an enumeration of the elements making up our 
conception of mind. The thread of consciousness, 
which composes the mind's phenomenal life, consists 
not only of present sensations, but likewise in part 
of memories and expectations. Now, what are 
these ? In themselves, they are present feelings, 
states of present consciousness, and in that respect 
not distinguished from sensations. They all, more- 
over, resemble some given sensations or feelings, of 
which we have previously had experience. But 
they are attended with the peculiarity, that each of 
them involves a belief in more than its own exist- 
ence. A sensation involves only this : but a remem- 
brance of sensation, even if not referred to any 
particular date, involves the suggestion and belief 
that a sensation, of which it is a copy or representa- 
tion, actually existed in the past : and an expectation 
involves the belief, more or less positive, that a sen- 
sation or other feeling to which it directly refers, 
will exist in the future. Nor can the phenomena in- 
volved in these two states of consciousness be ade- 
quately expressed, without saying, that the belief 
they include is, that I myself formerly had, or that I 
myself, and no other, shall hereafter have, the sensa- 
tions remembered or expected. The fact believed is, 
that the sensations did actually form, or will here- 
after form, part of the self-same series of states, or 


threads of consciousness, of which the remembrance 
or expectation of those sensations is the part now 
present. If, therefore, we speak of the mind as a 
series of feelings, we are obliged to complete the 
statement by calling it a series of feelings which is 
aware of itself as past and future : and we are re- 
duced to the alternative of believing that the Mind, 
or Ego, is something different from any series of 
feelings or possibilities of them, or of accepting the 
paradox, that something which ex hypothesi is but a 
series of feelings, can be aware of itself as series." 
(pp. 212, 213.) This surely is an excessively round 
about and far-fetched account of a very clear fact, in 
order to suit it to an empirical theory. Making the 
mind " a thread of consciousness," " a series of feel- 
ings," he is obliged to give to this thread or series a 
set of attributes, such as that it is aware of itself, in 
order to make it even in appearance embrace the 
obvious phenomena. He prefaces the above by an 
acknowledgment that " the theory has intrinsic diffi- 
culties [they are those stated] which it seems to me 
beyond the power of metaphysical analysis to re- 
move." The intrinsic difficulties are very much the 
creation of the theorist. We decline certainly being 
shut up to the position, that the mind is " a series of 
feelings aware of itself," for if thus aware of it- 
self, it is more than a series; the genuine fact 
is that the mind is aware of itself as abiding. 
But as little do we consent to take the other 
alternative, that the mind is something differ- 


ent from the series of feelings ; it is an abiding ex- 
istence with a series of feelings. 

He adds, " the truth is, we are here face to face 
with that final inexplicability at which, as Sir Wil- 
liam Hamilton observes, we inevitably arrive when 
we reach ultimate facts." As finding himself shut 
up to such an issue, he should have exercised more 
patience in dealing with those who, like Reid, Kant, 
and Hamilton, have been painfully striving to give 
an adequate account of these ultimate facts. If he 
says they are beyond investigation or expression, I 
meet him with a direct denial. The operations are 
within consciousness, and we can observe and co- 
ordinate them. The fact is, Mr. Mill himself has 
been trying to unfold them, but has given a very in- 
sufficient and perplexed rendering. " The true in- 
comprehensibility perhaps is, that something which 
has ceased, or is not yet in existence, can still be in 
a manner present : that a series of feelings, the in- 
finitely greater part of which is past or future, can 
be gathered up, as it were, into a single present con- 
ception, accompanied by a belief of reality. I think, 
by far the wisest thing we can do, is to accept the 
inexplicable fact, without any theory as to how it 
takes place." This is a most circuitous and inade- 
quate, I believe, indeed, an inaccurate statement of 
the fact. That which has ceased to exist is not 
present ; it is the remembrance, which is a very dif- 
ferent thing, that is present. The future is not 
gathered into the present ; we at the present antic- 



ipate the future. We cannot, of course, give a 
theory of the production of an ultimate fact, but we 
can state it correctly, and even, I believe, seize and 
express its law. 

Let us inquire what he makes of the fact accord- 
ing to his Psychological Method. We shall find him 
accumulating statements which bring in new ideas, 
without his being able to reduce them even to an 
apparently consistent system, or to resolve them into 
simpler elements. " The belief I entertain that my 
mind exists, when it is not feeling, nor thinking, nor 
conscious of its own existence, resolves itself into a 
belief of a Permanent Possibility of these states. 
If I think of myself as in dreamless sleep, or in the 
sleep of death, and believe that I, or in other words 
my mind, is or will be existing through these states, 
though not in conscious feeling, the most scrupulous 
examination of my belief will not detect in it any 
fact actually believed, except that my capability of 
feeling is not in that interval permanently destroyed, 
and is suspended only because it does not meet with 
the combination of outward circumstances which 
would call it into action : the moment it did meet 
with that combination it would revive, and remains, 
therefore, a Permanent Possibility." (p. 205.) It 
could be shown that at this place we are brought 
very nearly to the doctrine of Hume, who represents 
the mind as " a bundle or collection of different per- 
ceptions," to which we are led, by certain tendencies, 
to give a fictitious identity. (See Works, vol. i. pp. 


318-334.) But we have here to do not with Hume 
but with Mr. Mill, who represents mind as a series 
of feelings, with a belief of the permanent possibility 
of its states. It is admitted, then, that there is more 
than feelings, more than even a series of feelings, 
there is belief. Surely Mr. Mill might have inquired 
more particularly into the nature of this belief, and 
he might then have seen that it is quite as note- 
worthy a phenomenon and quite as essential to the 
mind as the very feelings themselves ; he might have 
found that it is quite as " ultimate " as the belief 
in the veracity in memory is acknowledged to be 
(see Q.) ; or rather he might have found it involved 
in that ultimate belief. 

Observe how mental attributes are growing in 
number, without an attempt to reduce them to sim- 
pler elements. He seems to allow that they cannot 
be resolved into sensation. " They are attended 
with the peculiarity that each of them involves a 
belief in more than its own present existence. A 
sensation involves only this." There is a " belief," a 
" permanent " something. Mark that we have now 
Time. He has stolen in imperceptibly (time always 
does so), but we should notice him now that he is 
in ; and we are entitled to ask him what he is and 
whence he has come ; and he is far too important a 
personage to allow himself to be dismissed at our 
wish. It is a permanent possibility, we decide that 
there may be things in this enduring time. Observe 
what we have now gathered together. We have 


sensations ; we have a series of sensations ; we have 
a belief; we have a belief in time; a belief in time 
as permanent; and of possibilities in time. These 
are evidently different from each other, conscious- 
ness being witness. The belief is not the same as 
the sensations, or the series of sensations. The per- 
manence is not identical with the belief. The possi- 
bility is different from the permanent. I know no 
philosopher who has called in so many unresolved 
instincts to account for our convictions of memory 
and personal identity as Mr. Mill has done. His 
psychological method is multiplying, instead of di- 
minishing, ultimate elements. His system, so far 
from being simple, is in reality very complex ; and 
its apparent simplicity arises merely from his never 
summing up, or distinctly enunciating, the original 
principles he is obliged to postulate and assume. 

But I would not have objected to his system 
merely because of its complexity, provided it ha.d 
embraced all the phenomena. But I deny that he 
has noticed, or stated correctly, the facts of conscious- 
ness. No doubt there is a belief; but it is a belief 
in my past existence, conjoined with a knowledge 
of my present existence. There is time, an idea of 
time, and a conviction of the reality of time ; but it 
is in the form of a belief that I existed in time past. 
There is more than a belief, there is an immediate 
decision, that the present self known is the same with 
the past self remembered. There is more than an 
idea of mere possibility, there is the assurance that 


I did exist at a particular time, and that I who then 
existed do now exist. I acknowledge that I have 
no intuitive certainty that I existed every moment 
of a dreamless sleep. I have intuitive assurance that 
I existed when I fell asleep, and that I exist now 
when I have awoke, and I am led by the ordinary 
rules of evidence to believe that I existed in the in- 
terval. Here it is that Mr. Mill's permanent possi- 
bility of feeling comes in : I believe that had I been 
awakened sooner, I should have been consciously 
active as I now am. But these very possibilities all 
proceed on an intuitive remembrance of self, and an 
intuitive decision as to the identity of self. 

Mr. Mill labors to prove that his psychological 
theory leaves the doctrines that our fellow-men exist, 
and that God exists, and that the soul is immortal, 
where it found them. For we look on other people's 
minds as but a series of feelings like our own ; and 
we may regard the Divine Being as " a series of the 
Divine thoughts and feelings prolonged throughout 
eternity; " and our immortal existence to be "a suc- 
cession of feelings prolonged to eternity." (p. 207- 
211.) Now we are not yet in a position to inquire 
(which is the all-important question) whether Mr. 
Mill's theory admits of the usual arguments for the 
existence of our fellow-men, and of God, and of an 
immortal life ; or whether, if it cannot adopt the old 
arguments, it furnishes new ones. But before leav- 
ing our present subject I may remark, that the com- 
mon doctrine, which I believe to be the true one, 


and which I have endeavored to enunciate philosoph- 
ically, is much more in accordance with our cher- 
ished convictions and sentiments than the subtle one 
defended by Mr. Mill. As believing that I myself 
am more than a series of feelings, that I have a per- 
manent existence amid all mutations, I can, on evi- 
dence being adduced of their existence, take the 
same view of my fellow-men, of my friends, and my 
family ; that is, I can look upon them as having not 
only a permanent possibility of feelings, but a perma- 
nent personality, round which my affections may clus- 
ter and which leads me to treat them as responsible 
beings like myself. He says elsewhere (Logic, B. m. 
c. xxiv. 1) : "My belief that the Emperor of China 
exists is simply my belief that if I were transported 
to the imperial palace, or some other locality in Pekin, 
I should see him. My belief that Julius Caesar ex- 
isted is my belief that I should have seen him if I 
had been present in the field of Pharsalia, or the 
senate-house at Borne." This is to reverse the 
proper order of things, and to confuse all our con- 
ceptions. Looking on ourselves as persons with a 
permanent being, on evidence produced of their ex- 
istence, we take the same view of the Emperor of 
China and Julius Caesar, and thus believe that if we 
were in Pekin we should see the one, and that if we 
had been in the battle of Pharsalia we should have 
seen the other. The picture presented of the Divine 
Being, in this new philosophy, will appear to the 
great body of mankind to be unattractively bare 


and unmeaning, or rather in the highest degree 
shadowy, uncertain, and evanishing; and they will 
rejoice when they are invited to contemplate Him 
instead as Jehovah, I AM THAT I AM, the independent 
and self-existent One. I am not inclined to urge 
our conviction of personality and personal identity 
as in itself a proof of our immortality ; but in con- 
structing the cumulative argument, and cherishing 
the hope of a life beyond the grave, I feel it satisfac- 
tory to regard myself, I believe on sufficient evidence, 
not as a permanent possibility of feeling, but a per- 
manent being, the same in the world to come as in 

We may now combine the results which we have 
reached. In every conscious act we know an exist- 
ing thing, which when we begin to reflect we learn 
to call self, manifesting itself in some particular way 
which we are taught to regard as an attribute. 
Again, in all remembrance, we recollect self as exer- 
cising some particular attribute in time past, and we 
know self as now remembering ; and on comparing 
the two we decide that they are the same. This is 
a bare statement of the facts, as they daily present 
themselves. I defy Mr. Mill, or any other mental 
analyst, to reduce these facts of consciousness to 
fewer or simpler elements. In all consciousness, I 
have a knowledge of self as a person ; in all remem- 
brance, a recollection of self as a person; and in 
the comparison of the two a perception of their 


And let it be observed, that both in the conscious 
self and the recollected, we have the self perceived 
by us as operating in a great number of ways, with 
thoughts and emotions in infinite variety. We come, 
too, to discover (in a way which will come under our 
notice below) that there are other beings besides 
ourselves, who have the same personality and iden- 
tity, and the like incalculable number and diversity 
of ideas, wishes, and feelings. As we begin to re- 
flect on all this, and as we would speak about it, and 
make ourselves intelligible, we find it convenient to 
have a word to denote that which abideth in us, and 
is the same in us and in others. We have such a 
word in Substance, and we say that " mind is a sub- 
stance." In saying so, we mean nothing more than 
this, that in us and in others there is (1.) an exist- 
ing thing; (2.) operating; (3.) with a permanence. 
But in saying this, we say much, that is, we make a. 
statement full of meaning. By multiplying words 
of description or explanation we should only con- 
fuse and perplex the subject, which may be clearly 
discerned if only we look steadily at it, and weigh 
the several parts which make up the indissoluble 

And here I feel myself called on to state that no 
doctrine of modern philosophy, not even the ideal 
theory, or theory of representative ideas, so con- 
demned by Eeid and exposed by Hamilton, has 
wrought such mischief in speculation as that of 
Locke in regard to substance. His statements on this 


subject are unsatisfactory throughout, and when 
they were attacked by Stillingfleet, he defended 
them by a sparring and fencing unworthy of such 
a lover of truth ; he employed himself in repelling 
the objections of his opponent, instead of seeking to 
make his own views clearer. u So that if any one 
will examine himself concerning the notion of 
pure substance in general, he will find he has no 
other idea of it at all, but only a supposition of he 
knows not what support of such qualities, as are 
capable of producing simple ideas in us." (Essay, B. 
n. c. xxiii. 2.) In the controversy he affirms and 
re-affirms that he does not deny the existence of 
substance, or that we have an idea of it, and is very 
indignant with Stillingfleet for saying that he 
does. But he makes it to be " the support," but 
" unknown " support, of qualities. As the support 
was something unknown, Berkeley in the next age 
did a good service to philosophy by discarding it 
altogether, so far as matter is concerned. But in the 
succeeding age the avenger came, and Hume took 
away the unknown substratum from mind, as Berke- 
ley had done from body. Reid rushed in to save 
fundamental truth ; but he did not show his usual 
shrewdness and wisdom when he retained Locke's 
"substratum," and argued so tenaciously that the 
known quality intuitively suggests an unknown sub- 
stance. We should have been saved a world of con- 
fused and confusing controversy if Reid, when aban- 
doning Locke's " idea," had also rejected his " un- 


known support of qualities." Kant met the Scottish 
sceptic in a still more unsatisfactory manner, when 
he allowed that by the outward senses and by the 
internal consciousness we perceive only the phenom- 
enon, and then referred us to some noumenon beyond. 
In the schools which have ramified from Kant, the 
question has ever since been, Is there merely a 
phenomenon, or is there a noumenon also ? Sir 
William Hamilton in this, as in so many other topics, 
has endeavored to combine Reid and Kant. He 
identifies the phenomenon of the German, w r ith the 
quality of the British, philosophy; he argues that 
the quality implies the substance, and the phenom- 
enon the noumenon, but makes the substratum or 
noumenon unknowable. Mr. Mill takes much direct- 
ly or indirectly from Hume ; he favors in Kant all 
that is destructive ; he allows to Hamilton all his 
negative positions : and so we find him building on 
the miserably defective views which they have given 
of substance. " As our conception of body is that 
of an unknown exciting cause of sensations, so our 
conception of mind is that of an unknown recipient or 
percipient of them, and not of them alone, but of all 
our other feelings. As body is the mysterious some- 
thing which excites the mind to feel, so mind is the 
mysterious something which feels and thinks." (Logic, 
B. i. c. iii. 8.) He finds no great difficulty, as 
Hume had done before him, in putting aside this un- 
known and mysterious something. And it is high 
time, I think, that those metaphysicians who defend 


radical truth should abandon this unknown and un- 
knowable substratum or noumenon, which has ever 
been found a foundation of ice, to those who would 
build upon it. Sir William Hamilton having handed 
over this unknown thing to faith, Mr. Herbert Spen- 
cer has come after him, and consigned religion to it 
as to its grave, and there, it may safely be said, it 
will disturb no one, not even by sending out a ghost 
from its gloomy chambers. 

We never know quality without knowing sub- 
stance, just as we cannot know substance without 
knowing quality. Both are known in one concrete 
act. We may, however, separate them in thought. 
In contemplating any given object, such as the think- 
ing self, we may distinguish between the " thinking " 
which changes, and the " existence " which abideth. 
As both are known in the concrete, so both may be 
said to have an existence, not an independent exist- 
ence, but an existence in, or in connection with, each 
other. The one always implies the other ; that is, the 
thinking always implies a thinking existence, and 
the thinking existence is always exercised in some 
thought. Mr. Mill gets a momentary glimpse of this; 
doctrine, but does not follow it out. " We can no 
more imagine a substance without attributes, than 
we can imagine attributes without a substance." 
(Logic, B. i. c. iii. 6.) Taking this view, we cannot 
without protest allow persons to speak of substance 
as being something unknown, mysterious, lying far 
down in a depth below all human inspection. The 


substance is known, quite as much as the quality. 
True, the substance is never known alone, or apart 
from the quality, but as little is the quality known 
alone, or apart from a substance. Each should have 
its place, its proper place, neither less nor more, in 
every system of the human mind. 

Much the same may be said of " phenomenon " and 
" noumenon," which, however, have a still more mys- 
terious meaning than " quality " and " substance." 
Phenomenon means an appearance, but appearance 
is an abstract from a concrete ; we never see an ap- 
pearance apart from a thing appearing. It is the 
object appearing to the subject seeing it. If the 
phrase is to be retained in philosophy, let us under- 
stand what is meant by it. Let us not as we employ 
it deceive ourselves by imagining that we have, or 
can have, an appearance apart from a thing appear- 
ing. A phenomenon is a thing manifesting itself to 
us, as a quality is a thing in action or exercise. As 
to the " noumenon," it is not so easy to determine 
what can be meant by it. If it signifies the thing 
perceived by the mind, this is neither less nor more 
than the phenomenon. If it means a thing per- 
ceived by no mind, I allow that there are certainly 
things existing not perceived by the human mind, 
but then these things may be perceived by other 
minds, I suppose must certainly be perceived by 
the Divine Mind. But if the noumenon means 
something acting as the ground of the thing mani- 
festing itself, or behind it as a support, I declare that 


we have no evidence of there being such a thing, 
and I can see no purpose, philosophical or practical, 
to be served by it in the way of hypothesis or other- 
wise. Here Mr. Mill seems to me altogether right : 
" This unknown something is a supposition without 
evidence." But I abandon it, because we have a 
known something ; in the case of mind a thing ex- 
isting, acting, and permanent. 

But then it is said we do not know the thing in 
itself (Ding an sick). It is high time to insist on 
knowing what is meant by this phrase, taken from 
Kant, and with which of late years so many meta- 
physicians have been conjuring. It cannot be al- 
lowed to play a part any longer till it explains itself 
It seems full of meaning, and yet I believe that if 
we prick it, it will be found to be emptiness. I un- 
derstand what is meant by the thing ; it is the ob- 
ject existing. But what is meant by in itself? I 
acknowledge no itself beside, or besides, or beyond 
the thing. I confess to be so stupid, as not to be 
able to form any distinct idea of what is meant by 
the thing in itself. If it mean that the thing, the 
w r hole thing, is within the thing, I have about as 
clear a notion of what is signified as I have of the 
whale that swallowed itself. If it mean that there 
is a thing, in addition to the thing as it manifests it- 
self, and as it exercises property, I allow that, for 
aught I know, there may be many such things. My 
knowledge of the thing, of all things, nay, of any 



one thing, is confessedly limited. As to what may 
be beyond the phenomenon, the thing as it appears 
to me, and to others who may report to me, I ven- 
ture to say nothing, as I can know nothing about it. 
But believing that no other man knows anything 
about it any more than I do, I protest against its 
being represented as being a support of the thing 
known, or in any way essential to it. Though I 
were to get new faculties and know that great un- 
known, I am not sure that it would make the thing 
known the least clearer, in any way more mysterious 
or less mysterious than it now is. As it is confessed- 
Jy unknown, I can trace no relation of dependence, 
or of anything else between it and the known. 
Lying as it does in the region of darkness which 
compasses the land of light, I think it best to leave 
it there. 

We are thus brought to the doctrine which com- 
mends itself to our first thoughts, that we know 
self immediately as existing, as in active operation, 
and with a permanence. This primitive knowledge 
furnishes a nucleus round which we may gather 
other information, by experience and by reasoning, 
till we come at last to clothe mind with qualities so 
many and varied that it is difficult to classify them. 
I confess I grudge the school of Comte the epithet 
" Positive." It is a title which they have no right to 
appropriate to their crude system, which observes 
only the more superficial facts in these two wondrous 


worlds of mind and matter. I have in these two 
last chapters stated what I believe to be true positive 
doctrine in regard to mind, that is, the expression 
of the facts without addition or omission or hy- 



WE have now to face a more perplexing subject, 
the idea and conviction which we have in re- 
gard to an external world, the way in which we reach 
these, and the objective reality involved in them. 
In this border country there has been a war for ages 
in the past, and there is likely to be a war for ages 
in the future. There are real difficulties in the in- 
quiry, arising from the circumstance that conscious 
mind and unconscious matter are so different, - 
while yet they have an evident mutual relation, and 
also from the apparent deception of the senses ; and 
speculators have gathered an accumulation of imag- 
inary ones by their refined and elaborate specula- 
tions, so that now there are not only the original 
obstacles in the way, but a host of traditional feuds. 
I cling to the conviction that there is a doctrine of 
natural realism, which, if only we could seize and 
express it, will be found encompassed with fewer 
difficulties than any far-fetched or artificial system. 

Sir William Hamilton ha& given us a very elabor- 
ate classification of the theories of sense-perception 

BODY. 113 

It is not needful to follow him in this treatise. But 
in order to correct errors and prepare the way for a 
fair discussion, it may serve some good purposes to 
look at the account given, of the steps involved, by 
the three British metaphysicians who have given the 
greatest attention to the subject. To begin with 
Dr. Thomas Keid. According to him, there is, first, 
an action or affection of the organism ; there is, next, 
a sensation in the mind ; thirdly, this sensation, as a 
sign, suggests intuitively an external object. The 
two points on which he dwells chiefly are, first, that 
there is no ide-a between the external object and the 
mind perceiving; and, secondly, that we reach a 
belief in the external world intuitively, and not by 
any process of reasoning. u This conviction is not 
only irresistible, but it is immediate ; that is, it is 
not by a train of reasoning and argumentation that 
we come to be convinced of the existence of what 
we perceive." ( Works, p. 259.) I believe that he 
has established his two points successfully, and in 
doing so he has rendered immense service to philos- 
ophy. Dr. Thomas Brown gives a different account 
of the operation. There is first, as in the other 
theory, indeed in all theories, an affection of the 
bodily frame ; secondly, a sensation in the mind ; and 
thirdly, a reference of that to an external object as 
the cause. He calls in two general mental laws to 
give us the reference. The first is an intuitive law 
of cause and effect, which impels us when we dis- 
cover an effect to look for a cause. We have a sen- 


114 BODY. 

sation of resistance, of which we discover no cause 
within the mind, and therefore we look for it beyond 
the mind. The second law, of which he makes large 
use, is that of suggestion, which connects sensations, 
so that one becomes representative of others. 

Sir William Hamilton and Mr. Mill are forever 
criticising these two doctrines, but it may be doubted 
whether either has given a clear and correct exposi- 
tion of them. Hamilton, when he commenced his 
edition of Reid, thought that philosopher's views 
were the same as his own (we shall see wherein 
they differ immediately) ; as he advances, he sees 
that this is not the case ; and he nowhere gives us 
a precise account of Reid's theory, which, whether 
well founded or not, is consistent and easily under- 
stood. As to Brown, Hamilton is forever carping at 
him, as if he had a cherished determination to re- 
move his system out of the way, as one that opposed 
the reception of his own. The circumstance that 
neither Reid's theory nor Brown's theory would 
quite fit into his compartments, is a proof that Ham- 
ilton's classification of theories, though distinguished 
by great logical power, is not equal to the diversities 
of human conception and speculation. He clearly 
does injustice to Brown, by insisting on making him 
an idealist he makes him a cosmothetic idealist. 
Now there is no idea in Brown's system, as there 
was in the older theories. He made great use of 
sensation, and was in great difficulties when he at- 
tempted to show how, from this sensation, we could 

BODY. 115 

infer an external world ; but the sensation is an ex- 
isting, and not an imaginary thing like the idea; 
and the sensation was held by him to be an effect, 
but not at all a representative, of an external and 
extended object. Mr. Mill, in criticising Hamilton's 
criticism, would make Reid an idealist, (p. 177.) This 
is obviously a mistake. Reid did call in a sensation 
as a sign, but it was not supposed to be representa- 
tive, that is, to bear any resemblance or analogy like 
the old idea to the external object. All that is as- 
serted of it is that we are conscious of it, which we 
are not of the idea, and that it suggests a belief in 
an external object intuitively, and by the appoint- 
ment of Him who gave us our constitution. Mill 
represents Reid and Brown as holding substantially 
the same doctrine : " The difference between them is 
extremely small, and, I will add, unimportant." 
(p. 175.) Reid held that we never could reason 
from the sensation within to the extended object 
without. Brown labors to show that the whole pro- 
cess is one of ordinary inference, proceeding always 
on the intuitive law of cause and effect, aided by the 
association of ideas. But Mr. Mill tells us that 
" Brown also thinks that we have, on the occasion o^ 
certain sensations, an instantaneous conviction of an 
outward object." (p. 164.) 1 am surprised at such a 
statement from one who has imbibed so much from 
Brown, who so clearly represents the process as in- 
volving inference. We find everywhere such pas- 
sages as the following : " Perception, then, even in 

116 BODY. 

that class of feelings by which we learn to consider 
ourselves as surrounded by substance, extended and 
resisting, is only another name, as I have said, for 
the result of certain associations and inferences that 
flow from other more general principles of the mind." 
(Lectures, xxvi.) I call the theory of Brown (which 
is taken from the Sensational School of France) the 
Inferential, as distinguished from the Ideal theory 
on the one hand, and the Intuitive theory on the 

Hamilton's doctrine differs both from that of Keid 
and Brown. It is, that there is first an action of 
the organism, and, secondly, a simultaneous sensation 
and perception. He labors particularly to show that 
sense-perception being evoked, there is nothing be- 
tween it and the object, no sensation, no idea ; but 
that we gaze at once on the object, in fact are con- 
scious of it, conscious at one and the same time of the 
ego and the non ego. Between this and Brown's doc- 
trine there is an irreconcilable difference. Brown 
makes the process one of inference, implying, no 
doubt, an intuition, but an intuition of a general cha- 
racter bearing on all other mental operations. Hamil- 
ton makes the perception primitive and original and 
immediate. Hamilton also differs from Reid, but the 
point is not so important. Reid makes the sensation 
precede the perception ; whereas Hamilton, in accord- 
ance, I think, with the revelations of consciousness, 
makes them contemporaneous. Both make the opera- 
tion intuitive and not inferential. This doctrine of 

BODY. 117 

Hamilton is not without its difficulties. It leaves many 
points unexplained, perhaps they are ultimate and 
cannot be explained, possibly they are so simple 
that they do not need explanation. It does not pro- 
fess to show how the preceding organic affection is 
connected with the mental perception. Perhaps the 
human faculties cannot clear up the subject. Pos- 
sibly the question itself may be unmeaning, for there 
may be no how to ask about, no connection except 
this, that the cognitive mind is so constituted as to 
know the bodily frame with which it is so intimately 
connected. This doctrine, as it is the most simple, 
seems to me to be upon the whole the most truth- 
like, that has yet been propounded. It does not pro- 
fess to clear up all mysteries, but it embraces the 
acknowledged facts, and it starts no hypotheses. I 
regret the dogmatism which the author displays in 
asserting it. I do not agree with him in thinking 
that it can be established at once by an appeal to 
consciousness. But embracing as it does only facts, 
1 am inclined to adhere to it, till some facts not con- 
tained in it be ascertained by physiology or psychol- 
ogy, or the two combined. I am certainly not dis- 
posed to abandon it for so hypothetical a doctrine as 
that adopted by Mr. Mill and elaborated by Professor 

In the mature man we find certain ideas, beliefs, 
and, I would add, judgments. I readily allow all of 
these to be subjected to an analysis. Mr. Mill is 
quite justified in declaring that "we are not at 

118 BODY. 

liberty to assume that every mental process which, 
is now as unhesitating and rapid as intuition was in- 
tuition at its outset." (p. 144.) At present we have 
to look at the ideas and convictions which we enter- 
tain in regard to the external world. I allow at 
once that "we have no means of now ascertaining 
by direct evidence, whether we were conscious of 
outward and extended objects when we first opened 
our eyes to the light." (p. 147.) I am willing, there- 
fore, to consider Mr. Mill's theory of the genesis of 
our apprehension and belief. His theory seems to 
be, that we can get them by means of sensations and 
associations of sensation. "All we know of objects 
is the sensations they give us, and the order of the 
occurrence of these sensations." "Of the outward 
world we know and can know absolutely nothing, 
except the sensations we experience from it." (Logic, 
B. i. c. iii. 7.) The result reached by him is, that 
" matter may be defined a permanent possibility of 
sensations." (p. 198.) He does not commit himself, 
but he is not averse to the idea that " the non ego 
altogether may be but a mode in which the mind 
represents to itself the possible modifications of the 
ego." (p. 189.) 

In the discussion which is forced upon us by this 
doctrine, which at first sight seems so strange, there 
are two points to be specially attended to : First, is 
Mr. Mill's account of the ideas and convictions which 
we have concerning body correct ? Under this head 
our appeal must be to consciousness. I believe that 

BODY. 119 

it declares that Mr. Mill, in his analysis, commonly 
leaves out the main element. A second question 
has to be answered, Does Mr. Mill's hypothesis ex- 
plain all that is in our apprehension and belief? In 
answering this question we must be careful not to 
allow him to do, what Mr. Crosse and M. Pouchet 
are suspected of having done in professing to estab- 
lish the doctrine of spontaneous generation by ex- 
periment. Mr. Crosse is alleged to have had the 
germs of the acari produced by him in his carelessly 
cleaned vessels; and M. Pouchet to have had the 
germs from which he derived animals in the putres- 
cent matter. Certain it is, that when other persons 
performed the same experiments as Mr. Crosse, tak- 
ing care to exclude all organized bodies, no animals 
were produced ; and M. Pasteur maintains that, if 
you allow him to destroy the germs in the putres- 
cent fluid, no life will appear. Now, we must keep 
a strict watch on Mr. Mill, lest he be guilty of a like 
oversight in deriving ah 1 our ideas and convictions 
from so few germs. As we do so, we shall find that 
in order to prop up the theory, which he pro- 
fesses to rear on so narrow a basis, he is obliged to 
add buttress after buttress in the shape of new ideas 
and implied faculties. In particular, we shall find 
him guilty of a very grave logical mistake : he is 
ever assuming, without perceiving it, the idea which 
he professes to explain. In admitting the veracity 
of memory, he himself lays down a most important 
principle, that we should assume the belief "for 

120 BODF. 

which no reason can be given which does not pre- 
suppose the belief, and assume it to be well-ground- 
ed." We shall find that in unfolding his theory of 
the genesis of our ideas of body he neglects this 
rule, and without being aware of it, assumes the 
'deas of Externality, and Kesisting Force, and Ex- 
tension, which he is seeking to generate and explain 
by a circuitous process. Let us look at these ideas 
in the order now mentioned. 

(1.) What is implied in Externality f Mr. Mill says 
we are aware of ourselves as a series. If I were 
inclined to adopt this representation, I would say 
that by externality we mean a something without 
and beyond the series. But I have objected to this 
account as inadequate. I have endeavored to show 
that in all mental action, even in sensation, there is 
a perception of self as existing; that in memory 
there is a remembrance of self, and that we proclaim 
the present self and the remembered self identical. 
Now, by an external object I mean a thing existing, 
but not this self, a thing different from this perma- 
nent and identical self. I believe that our first per- 
ceptions of externality are derived from things ap- 
prehended as extended, as having a direction and 
stretching away in space. But as this involves ex- 
tension, the consideration of it falls under next head. 
For the present we must look at externality simply 
as denoting an existing thing, different from, and not 
part of, the ego known by self-consciousness. Mr. 
Mill admits that every man comes to entertain some 

BODY. 121 

apprehension. "I consider them (the sensa- 
tions) to be produced by something not only exist- 
ing independently of my will, but external to my 
bodily organs and my mind." (Logic, B. i. c. iii. 7.) 
I am here to examine his account of the generation 
and the nature of this idea and conviction. I have 
found great difficulty in handling the subject, owing 
to the gossamer character of the theory, which is 
far too subtle and ingenious to be solid or true. 

In conducting this whole discussion, we must be 
on our guard against being misled by an ambiguity 
in the use of the phrase " outward world." It may 
mean the world out of the conscious 'mind, this 
I venture to call the extra-mental world ; or it may 
mean the world beyond the body, this, for dis- 
tinction's sake, I call the extra-organic world. I 
am not sure that Mr. Mill, or Mr. Bain who helps 
him to develop his system, have escaped the perplex- 
ities thus arising. I insist that they are not at lib- 
erty to assume the existence of the bodily frame, 
and then and thus account for the idea of a world 
beyond. Assuming only a series of sensations 
aware of itself, they must thence generate something 

Mr. Mill thus gets the idea of externality : "I 
see a piece of white paper on a table. I go into an- 
other room, and though I have ceased to see it, I 
am persuaded the paper is still there. I no longer 
have the sensations which it gave me ; but I believe 
that when I again place myself in the circumstances 

122 BODY. 


in which I had those sensations, that is, when I go 
into the room, I shall again have them ; and further, 
that there has been no intervening moment at which 
this would not have been the case. Owing to this 
law of my mind, my conception of the world at any 
given instant consists, in only a small proportion, of 
present sensations. The conception I form of the 
world existing at any moment comprises, along with 
the sensations I am feeling, a countless variety of 
possibilities of sensation." (p. 192.) I wish Mr. Mill 
would employ language consistent with his theory, 
and we should then be in a position to judge 
whether he is building it up fairly. As yet we know 
nothing of "white paper," "a room," "another 
room ; " least of all can we be aware of being placed 
in " circumstances : " all which certainly imply the 
very externality he is seeking to gender. We may 
believe that Mr. Mill does not forget, but it is neces- 
sary to warn his readers against forgetting, that we 
have yet only one sensation succeeding another. 
He refers to " a law of mind." The law r he postu- 
lates is, " that the human mind is capable of Expect- 
ation. In other words, that after having had actual 
sensations, we are capable of forming the conception 
of possible sensations." (p. 190.) It is one of the 
many postulates he is ever making. His assumptions 
are far from being the fewest and the simplest fitted 
to explain the phenomena. If he had postulated 
that in every act of sense-perception we apprehend 
a something external, the facts would have been ex- 

BODY. 123 

plained much more satisfactorily. But let us go on 
with his explication. He calls attention to the cir- 
cumstance, that " the sensations are joined in 
groups/' so that " we should have, not some one sen- 
sation, but a great and even an indefinite number 
and variety of sensations, generally belonging to 
different senses, but so linked together that the 
presence of one announces the possible presence, at 
the same instant, of any or all the rest." (p. 194.) 
But let it be observed that we do not yet know that 
the sensations belong to different senses, or come 
from different parts of the body, and the groups of 
sensations can no more give us externality than the 
individual sensations. But then " we also recognize a 
fixed order in our sensations." We have not yet 
cause and effect, but we have " an order of succes- 
sion which, when ascertained by observation, gives 
rise to the ideas of cause and effect." " Whether we 
are asleep or awake, the fire goes out, and puts an 
end to one particular possibility of warmth and light. 
Whether we are present or absent, the corn ripens 
and brings a new possibility of food." I have again 
to remind Mr. Mill's readers that we do not yet know 
that we have bodies to sleep or wake ; the sleeping 
and waking, the fire and the corn, are all in us as 
sensations. The "present" and the "absent" slip 
in very dexterously ; but as yet we know no place 
at which we are present, or from which we may be 
absent. The incipient cause and effect are as yet 
mere antecedence and consequence within the mind. 

124 BODY. 

" When this point has been reached, the Permanent 
Possibilities in question have assumed such unlike- 
ness of aspect, and such difference of position rel- 
atively to us, from any sensations, that it would be 
contrary to all we know of the constitution of human 
nature that they should not be conceived as, and 
believed to be, at least as different from sensations 
as sensations are from one another." (p. 196.) Still, 
all is within the thread of consciousness. But then 
it is said there is something in our " constitution " 
that makes us believe the possibilities to be different 
from sensations. I am glad of an appeal to our con- 
stitution, in which there is more, I believe, than Mr. 
Mill has unfolded. Yet I fear that the actual appeal 
is in no way complimentary. Our constitution 
makes us believe this " possibility " of sensations to 
be different from the sensations. But Mr. Mill does 
not say, and would not say, that our constitution is 
right in all this, or that there is any reality corre- 
sponding to the belief. I am not quite sure to what 
law of our constitution he refers. If it be his favorite 
principle of association of sensations, it is clear that 
it cannot help him, for the associated sensations are 
all in the mind ; and if a train of sensations could 
give us (which, I believe, it cannot) what is not in 
the ideas, it must be in virtue of some power in the 
train which is not unfolded. If he mean the ten- 
dency, on which he dwells so much elsewhere, to give 
an external reality to things within, I admit that 
there is such a tendency in loose thinking ; but then 

BODY. 125 

it is in minds that have already reached a knowledge 
of something outward, and it is for Mr. Mill to show, 
which would be difficult, that it could exist in a mind 
that as yet had no idea of externality. I cannot see 
that by either process Mr. Mill has got the concep- 
tion of an outward world, and I am sure that neither 
process would justify our belief in the reality of 
such a world. A belief generated by an accidental 
or fatalistic association might be error quite as 
readily as truth, and the disposition to give an ex- 
ternal embodiment to internal feelings is avowedly 
illusory. Already we see those flaws in the founda- 
tion which render the whole structure insecure, and 
make it impossible for man to be certain that he can 
reach any truth beyond the consciousness of the 
present sensation. 

Our author now crosses at one leap the wides: 
gulf of all. " We find that they (possibilities of 
sensation) belong as much to other human or sen- 
tient beings as ourselves." " The world of possible 
sensations, succeeding one another according tc 
laws, is as much in other beings as in me ; it has 
therefore an existence outside me ; it is an external 
world." But where in the procession of internal 
feelings which has passed before us can other human 
beings come in? "I conclude that other human 
beings have feelings like me ; because, first, they 
have bodies like me, which I know in my own case 
to be the antecedent condition of feelings ; and be- 
cause, secondly, they exhibit the acts and other out- 

126 BODY. 

ward signs which in my own case I know by expe- 
rience to be caused by feelings." Doubtless, if we 
had got our bodily frames as out of ourselves, the 
argument might have been conclusive. He tells us 
that we observe bodies which do not call up sensa- 
tions in our consciousness ; and since they do not do 
so in my consciousness, I infer that they do it out 
of my consciousness. The inference might be legit- 
imate, provided we had otherwise got an apprehen- 
sion of things out of and beyond the consciousness. 
All reasoning is usually said to be from what we 
know ; but in this inference we have in the conclu- 
sion what is not in the premises. Or, if we take 
Mr. Mill's theory of reasoning, that it is from partic- 
ulars to particulars, by some sort of registered ob- 
servation, the argument is seen to be equally falla- 
cious; for we have no register of objects out of 
ourselves to authorize us to infer that these possibili- 
ties constitute an external world. I am not at all 
sure that Mr. Mill (p. 207) has cause to condemn 
Reid, when he maintains that a like position taken 
by Hume lands us in a system of solitary egoism, or, 
as Mr. Mill expresses it, that u the non ego altogether 
may be but a mode in which the mind represents 
to itself the possible modifications of the ego" I 
am convinced that it is not by such a process, that 
babies come to believe in the existence of those who 
nurse them and are round about them. So far as I 
can see, Mr. Mill has never logically got out of the 
shell of the ego / nor can I see how any one can get 

BODY. 127 

out of it, except by means of an original impulse. 
1 suspect that in Mr. Mill's belief of the existence 
of his fellow-men, for whose benefit he has written 
so many able volumes, there is involved a spontane- 
ous step more convincing than his reflex logic. 

The conclusion reached is : . " Matter may be de- 
fined, a permanent possibility of sensation." (p. 198.) 
We shall not be in circumstances thoroughly to ex- 
amine this definition till we have fully unfolded, in 
the next two heads, the nature of our perceptions 
of Resistance and Extension, which enter essentially 
into our apprehension of Matter. Considered as an 
Account even of Externality it is defective. I believe, 
indeed, that it is the only result which Mr. Mill can 
reach from his induction or his premises. It should 
be observed that he does not, as some would expect 
him, define matter the Cause of sensations. Mr. 
Mill says what he means, and means what he says, 
when he describes Matter as the Possibility, not the 
cause of sensations. Dr. Brown, by help of in- 
genuity and twisting, could reach a cause, for he 
called in an intuitive conviction, which impels us 
when we discover a phenomenon to look for a cause ; 
and when, as in the case of certain sensations, we 
cannot get a cause within, we are driven to seek it 
without. His theory, however, was after all defecir 
ive, for it makes matter, as a cause, unknown, whereas 
we know matter, as we shall see forthwith, as resist- 
ing our effort, and as extended. But Mr. Mill cannot 
be sure, and does not profess to be sure, that he has 

128 BODY. 

reached matter even as an unknown cause. For our 
sensations have no discoverable causes within the 
mind ; and as we have no sensitive experience of 
sensations having causes, and no original conviction 
constraining us to seek for a cause, it is quite con- 
ceivable that they have no causes. But do these 
" possibilities " amount to the idea, which we have, 
of an outward world ? So far as we have gone, we 
do not seem to be beyond the " series of feelings," 
for the idea we have got is simply of possibilities of 
sensation. Mr. Mill thinks that " both philosophers 
and the world at large, when they think of matter, 
conceive it really as a Permanent Possibility of Sen- 
sation." (p. 200.) l The "permanence" is really an 
important element, presupposing the idea of time, 
and of the past and the future ; all of which carry 
us into a region high above sensation, and imply 
mental faculties with an extensive capacity and wide 
range. But not even with this addition does the 
description come up to the reality, I mean mental 
reality. Mr. Mill says that these " Permanent Pos- 
sibilities" are now "conceived as, and believed to 
be, as different from sensations as sensations are 

1 Mr. Mill (p. 200) admits that the from our observation that every ex- 
majority of philosophers fancy that perience has a cause ; it is thus that 
matter is something more, and that we are led to suppose that things have 
the world at large, if asked the ques- a substantive reality. As I do not 
tion, would undoubtedly agree with stand up for a substance different from 
the philosophers. But then he ac- the thing known, I do not require to 
counts for this " imaginary concep- examine this theory. In future chap- 
tion," as he calls it, by two tendencies ters his defective view of the compar- 
of the mind, one derived from our ative power of the mind and of causa- 
observat'on of differences, the other tion will be subjected to criticism. 

BODY 129 

from one another." (p. 196.) It should be observed 
that the sensations thus discovered to be different, 
are all sensations in the " series of feelings " or 
" thread of consciousness." But our apprehension 
of an outward world is of something, not only differ- 
ing from the sensations as one sensation differs from 
another, but different from the self, which, as we 
have found in last chapter, we know as sentient. 
We apprehend the material object as an existing 
thing, quite as much as the self, but distinct from 
the self. 1 It never has been shown how the ego, by 
reasoning or any other logical process, can give the 
non ego. I must therefore look on the ego as having 
a capacity of discovering the non ego, directly or 
indirectly. Mr. Mill has utterly failed to rear up the 
actual mental idea and conviction from the postu- 
lated materials. TiU such time as a mean can be 

1 Professor Bain reaches the con- so we contradict ourselves." (p. 385.) 

elusion : " It is quite true that the ob- Again, " we are incapable of discuss- 

ject of consciousness, which we call ing the existence of an independent 

Externality, is still a mode of self in material world ; the very act is a con- 

the most comprehensive sense, but not tradiction." (p. 379.) At this point 

in the usual restricted sense of 'self extreme sensationalism and extreme 

and ' mind/ which are names for the idealism, Mr. Bain and Mr. Ferrier, 

subject to the exclusion of the object." meet and are one ; it would be a con- 

(Senses and Intellect, p. 381.) We are tradiction to speak of the one as inde- 

accustomed to say that " light exists pendent of the other ; they are joined 

as independent fact, with or without in this philosophy of identity, which 

any eyes to see it. But if we consider, transcends that of Hegel himself! But 

the case fairly, we shall see that this joking aside, it is easy to represent 

assertion errs not simply in being be- the doctrine which affirms the exist- 

yond any evidence that we can have, ence of independent objects out of the 

hat also in being a self-contradiction, mind so as to make it contradictory ; 

We are affirming that to have an ex- but there is no contradiction in the 

istence out of our minds which we doctrine when correctly stated. Of 

cannot know but as in our minds, course, knowledge is in a mind, but it 

In words, we assert independent ex- may be of an existence " out of our 

istence, while in the very act of doing minds." 

130 BODY. 

pointed out by which we can reach the outward 
world as an existence, I cling to the belief that the 
self is endowed with a capacity of immediately know- 
ing not only the self, but the not-self. 

But it will be necessary to review Mr. Mill's theory 
of the genesis of our idea of Matter more carefully. 
We shall find it throughout a series of assumptions, 
no one of which admits of proof, and some of which 
can be disproven. Often do I wish, as I examine it, 
that Sir William Hamilton had been still alive to 
brush away by his sweeping logic the ingenuities 
which are employed to support it. u Our concep- 
tion of Matter," says Mr. Mill, " comes ultimately to 
consist of Kesistance, Extension, and Figure, together 
with miscellaneous powers of exciting other sensa- 
tions." (p. 219.) There is a palpable omission here, 
for it omits those powers (specially mentioned by 
Locke, Essay, B. n. c. ii. 23), by which one body 
operates upon another ; " thus the sun has a power 
to make wax white, and fire to make lead fluid." It 
is enough for us here to examine Mr. Mill's theory 
of the production of the idea of Resistance and of 

(2.) We have certainly an idea of RESISTANCE and 
a belief in it In the mature man it becomes a per- 
ception, and a conviction of an object out of the 
body, or in the body, resisting an effort to move a 
member of the body. In next chapter I will give 
some account of the sense which reveals the resist- 
ing object ; for the present we are examining Mr 

BODY. 131 

Mill's theory. (See pp. 219-21.) " Eesistance is only 
another name for a sensation of our muscular frame, 
combined with one of touch." It should be remarked 
that this language is not meant to imply that we 
have a muscle, or that we have skin ; the resistance 
and the touch must yet be considered as sensations 
in the mind. " When we contract the muscles of 
our arm, either by an exertion of will or by an in- 
voluntary discharge of our spontaneous nervous ac- 
tivity, the contraction is accompanied by a state of 
sensation, which is different according as the locomo- 
tion, consequent on the muscular contraction, con- 
tinues freely or meets with an impediment. In the 
former case the sensation is that of motion through 
empty space." We shall see that we seem to have 
no sensation of motion in empty space. When our 
muscular effort is not opposed by anything without 
the body, what we have is a feeling of tension, or of 
one muscle resisting another. But let this pass, as 
having no special connection with our present dis- 
cussion. He goes on to say, that if we will to exert 
our muscular force, and the exertion is accompanied 
by the usual muscular sensation, but the expected 
sensation of locomotion does not follow, we have 
what is called the feeling of resistance, or, in other 
words, of muscular motion, and that feeling is the 
fundamental element in the notion of matter. He 
shows how " skin sensations of simple contact in- 
variably accompany the muscular sensations of resist- 
ance ; " how our sensations of touch " become rep- 

132 BODY. 

resentative of the sensations of resistance with which 
they habitually coexist ; " and " our idea of matter 
as a resisting cause of miscellaneous sensations is 
now constituted." Every one knows that the mus- 
cular sense and touch combine, to give us the knowl- 
edge of matter as a resisting object. But does Mr. 
Mill's account come fully up to the facts falling un- 
der the eye of consciousness ? Does his theory ex- 
plain the facts ? Both questions must be answered 
in the negative. In touch, as we shall see in next 
chapter, we localize, I believe intuitively, our sensa- 
tions in a given direction, and at a given point in 
the surface of the body. Again, in the exercise of 
the locomotive energy, accompanied by muscular 
sensation, we have a sense of a member of our body 
which we will to move, of which member we must 
have some idea, otherwise we could not form a voli- 
tion regarding it ; and we have a perception of this 
member in motion, resisted by a body out of our 
frame. Mr. Mill's theory does not yield all of these, 
I rather think not even any one of these thoroughly. 
It takes no notice of the volition which moves the 
member, for this would introduce an element above 
sensations. It is not consistent with that idea of a 
member of the body, which is necessary to the voli- 
tion ; for the theory to be consistent must presup- 
pose that we have yet no knowledge of our bodily 
frame. There can yet be no apprehension of motion 
in space, for as yet we have no idea of space. The 
idea is not even of resistance, properly speaking, for 

BODY. 133 

we have no idea of a resisting object. So far as we 
have gone we have only sensations differing from 
each other in feeling or in intensity, and sensations 
coexisting, and sensations succeeding each other, and 
sensations the signs of other sensations. 

(3.) The mature man has also an idea of Extension 
and a belief in Extended objects. We have an appre- 
hension and a conviction of our bodies as extended, 
and of other bodies as extended, that is, as occupying 
space, as being contained in space, as being of a cer- 
tain spatial form, and as being movable in space. 
Can the sensation and association theory account 
for the generation of this mental phenomenon ? I 
believe it breaks down both psychologically and 

At this point Mr. Mill hands us over to his friend 
Professor Bain, who, in The Senses and the Intellect, 
has elaborated into a minute system the general 
statements scattered throughout Mr. Mill's Logic. 
Beginning with Feelings, he goes on to Thought, 
making its fundamental attributes to be Conscious- 
ness of Difference, Consciousness of Agreement, and 
Retentiveness ; and he builds up his system mainly 
out jf Feelings by means of the laws of Association 
by Contiguity and Resemblance. I cannot in a work 
like this, devoted to a different individual, review 
Mr. Bain's theories. But I beg to ask whether we 
ever have Feeling without some perception of an 
object, say self, as feeling ? Feelings, even such as 
joy or pain, are mere abstracts separated from our 

134 BODY. 

consciousness of self, as rejoicing or in distress. A 
proper psychological system should begin with the 
concrete perception, and not with a quality separated 
from it. So much for his foundation. And as to his 
mode of building, it will be shown to be altogether 
unsatisfactory, in the strictures we have to offer on 
such subjects as Association of Ideas, Comparison, 
and Relativity of Knowledge, as treated by Mr. Mill. 
Mr. Bain has received great praise for combining 
physiology with psychology. It is true that in his 
introduction, and in various parts of his work, he has 
given an account of the anatomy and physiology of 
the brain and nerves and organs of movement. But 
there is a mighty gap, which he can scarcely be said 
to have tried to fill up, between these unconscious 
parts and the conscious thoughts and feelings of 
mind proper. The most valuable part of his work 
is that in which he describes, more minutely than 
had ever been done before, the feelings excited by 
muscular and nervous action, accounting, I think, so 
far successfully, for many of our spontaneous and 
supposed instinctive movements. But he is out of his 
proper region when he comes to deal with the pecu- 
liar operations and the higher ideas of the mind. 
With a fine capacity for observing bodily affections, 
and an undoubted vigor and tenacity of intellect in 
dealing with material facts, he seems to be unfitted 
for realizing fully pure mental or spiritual phenom- 
ena, as falling simply under the eye of conscious- 
ness. He makes as much use of nerve-forces as 

BODY. 135 

Hartley did of vibrations, and seems to identify con- 
scious feelings with them, making the current and 
the consciousness two sides of one thing. Even 
when he is professedly treating of Emotions, Thoughts, 
and Volitions, he has great difficulty in rising above 
nerve affections ; and when he does make the at- 
tempt, it is immediately to fall back to his old level 
of sensations. He is to be constantly watched when 
he would draw our higher ideas of necessary truth, 
of beauty, and of moral good from sensitive affec- 
tions variously associated. It could be shown, that 
in treating of our intellectual and moral and volun- 
tary operations, while apparently proceeding in so 
matter of fact a manner, he is continually passing, 
without seeing it, from unconscious to conscious ac- 
tion, from bodily sensations to mental ideas, and ad- 
vancing hypotheses as to the influence of nervous 
and muscular action, which could be shown to be 
true only by their explaining all the mental facts 
revealed by consciousness ; and this he cannot be 
said to have attempted, as consciousness is seldom 
consulted, even formally or professedly. There is 
proof of all this in his theory of what constitutes 
our idea of extension and its mode of growth. 

In the earlier editions of his Logic (B. i c. iii. 7), 
Mr. Mill had described Brown as showing clearly 
that the notions of extension and figure are derived 
" from sensations of touch, combined with sensations 
of a class previously too little adverted to by meta- 
physicians, those which have their seat in the 

136 BODY. 

muscular frame." He adds, characteristically. " Who- 
ever wishes to be more particularly acquainted with 
this admirable specimen of metaphysical analysis, 
may consult the first volume of Brown's Lectures or 
Mill's Analysis of the Mind." The thought has 
germinated, and in his later editions he is able to re- 
fer to Mr. Alexander Bain and Mr. Herbert Spencer 
as following out the investigation. Mr. Bain has 
certainly taken up the idea, and ridden it to exhaus- 
tion, I should say to death. 

" We may accede," says Professor Bain, as quoted 
by Mr. Mill (p. 226), "to the assertion sometimes 
made, that the properties of space might be con- 
ceived or felt in the absence of an external world, or 
any other matter than that composing the body of 
the percipient being ; for the body's own movements 
in empty space would suffice to make the very same 
impressions on the mind as the movements excited 
by outward objects. A perception of length, or 
height, or speed, is the mental impression or state of 
consciousness accompanying some mode of muscular 
movement, and this movement may be generated 
from within as well as from without." In criticising 
this theory, so cloudy in its outline, we are placed in 
difficulties, in consequence of its not being clear 
whether Mr. Mill and Mr. Bain assume the existence 
of the bodily frame as a material object, in the com- 
mon acceptation, as implying objective existence and 
extension, or, even in their own sense, as " the mere 
possibility of sensations." Are they accounting for 

BODY. 137 

the extra-mental world, including the bodily frame ? 
or simply for the extra-organic world ? In most 
places Mr. Bain seems to posit the body as a reality. 
In the passage quoted, he speaks of the matter com- 
posing " the body of the percipient being/' as if he 
needed it to explain our idea of " the properties of 
space." He talks of a movement being " generated 
from within/' which cannot mean within the mind, 
which is a mere series of feelings ; it must mean 
within the body, which is quietly assumed. The 
whole plausibility, I had almost said intelligibility, 
certainly the expressibility, of the theory lies in its 
being supposed that there is a body, and even an 
extended body. He derives all from nerve-currents 
which imply space, and motion in space, and he con- 
structs the idea of extension by a sweep of the hand, 
or a sweep of the eye, or a volume of feeling, which, 
if taken metaphorically, explain nothing, and if 
taken literally, that is, as actualities, imply space and 
motion in space. But if the body is assumed as 
known immediately, then there is admitted a vast 
body of intuition, of which he should have measured 
the amount, and acknowledged the significance. Or 
if it be said that the bodily frame is assumed as an 
hypothesis, the answer is obvious. If it explains, as 
he thinks (I do not), the whole facts, then the hypoth- 
esis is rendered probable, and he must adhere to 
it ; for the author of an hypothesis cannot be allowed 
to employ it to reach a conclusion and then abandon 
it; on the contrary, he must keep by it and all 

138 BODY. 

its logical consequences. On whatever ground as- 
sumed, it is clear that when assumed there is little 
left to call for explanation. After we have got our 
own bodies, with " matter " composing them, capable 
of taking a ft sweep," and of having " a movement 
generated within," it can be no difficult matter to 
conceive of other bodies being extended, and in mo- 
tion, and resisting our movement. 

But in this discussion I must in all fairness sup- 
pose that he does not assume the existence of the 
bodily frame. 1 His business is to show, on his theory, 
how our conception in regard to body is generated. 
As he attempts to do so, I am entitled, after this 
statement, to take care that he does not assume sur- 
reptitiously what he professes to produce by a pro- 
cess. He has as yet got nothing but a series of feel- 
ings, with a possibility of sensations coming no one 

1 Since writing the above, I find Mr. visional assumption is eventually 

Herbert Spencer saying of Mr. Mill : proved true by its agreement with 

" If, knowing more than his own facts ; for in these cases the facts with 

states of consciousness, he declines which it is found to agree are facts 

to acknowledge anything beyond con- known in some other way than 

sciousness until it is proved, he may through the hypothesis : a calculated 

go on reasoning forever without get- eclipse of the moon serves as a verifi- 

ting any further ; since the perpetual cation of the hypothesis of gravitation, 

elaboration of states of consciousness because its occurrence is observable 

out of states of consciousness can without taking for granted the hypoth- 

never produce anything more than esis of gravitation. But when the 

states of consciousness. If, contrari- external world is postulated, and it is 

wise, he postulates external existence, supposed that the validity of the pos- 

and considers it as n^erely postulated, tulate may be shown by the explana- 

then the whole fabric of his argument, tion of mental phenomena which it 

standing upon this postulate, has no furnishes, the vice is that the process 

greater validity than the postulate o f verification is itself possible only 

gives it, minus the possible invalidity by assuming the thing to be proved." 

of the argument itself. The case Art., Mill v. Hamilton, in The 

must not be confounded with those Fortnightly Review, No.V. 
cases in which an hypothesis or pro- 

BODY. 139 


can tell from what quarter. I cannot allow him, in 
order that he may ingeniously get more, to employ a 
supposed body with a " sweep " and " contractions." 
*- When a muscle," says Mr. Bain, as quoted by 
Mr. Mill (see pp. 222-24), "begins to contract, or a 
limb to bend, we have a distinct sense how far the 
contraction and the bending are carried; there is 
something in the special sensibility that makes one 
mode of feeling for half contraction, another for 
three-fourths, and another for total contraction." 
" If the sense of degrees of range be thus admitted 
as a genuine muscular determination, its functions in 
outward perception are very important. The at- 
tributes of extension and space fall under its scope. 
In the first place, it gives the feeling of linear ex- 
tension, inasmuch as this is measured by the sweep 
of a limb or other organ moved by the muscles. 
The difference between six inches and eighteen 
inches is expressed to us by the different degrees of 
contraction of some one group of muscles ; those, 
for example, that flex the arm, of, in walking, those 
that flex or extend the lower limb. The inward 
impression corresponding to the outward fact of six 
inches in length, is an impression arising from the 
continued shortening of a muscle, a true muscular 
sensibility. It is the impression of a muscular effort 
having a certain continuance ; a greater length pro- 
duces a greater continuance (or a more rapid move- 
ment), and in consequence, an increased feeling of 
expended power. The discrimination of length in 

140 BODY. 

any one direction includes extension in any direc- 
tion." This reads very like assuming an extended 
bodily arm taking a sweep, and thus giving us the 
idea of extension. Of course we understand, on re- 
flection, that the sweep is only a sensation in the 
" series of feelings," but when we understand this, 
we see how far we are from having the idea of ex- 
tension produced. 

In explanation of the theory, Mr. Mill says, " Mr. 
Bain recognizes two principal kinds or modes of 
discriminative sensibility in the muscular sense : the 
one corresponding to the degree of intensity of the 
muscular effort, the amount of energy put forth ; 
the other corresponding to the duration, the 
longer or shorter continuance of the same effort. 
The first makes us acquainted with degrees of resist- 
ance, which we estimate by the intensity of the mus- 
cular energy required to overcome it. To the second 
we owe, in Mr. Bain's opinion, our idea of extension." 
I have already commented on the defects in Mr. 
Mill's account of' our apprehension of resistance. 
We have here to consider the theory of the genesis 
of the idea of extension. It is referred to the con- 
tinuance of a sensation. 

And here it is proper to state, that some deny the 
existence of such a sensation as arising when the 
arm sweeps through empty space. E. H. Weber had 
come, in 1852, to the conclusion: "Of the volun- 
tary motion of our limbs we know originally nothing. 
We do not perceive the motion of our muscles by 

BODY. 141 

their own sensations, but attain a knowledge of them 
only when perceived by another sense. The muscles 
most under our control are those of the eye and the 
voice, which perform motions microscopically small, 
yet we have no consciousness of the motion. We 
move the diaphragm voluntarily against the heavy 
pressure of the liver, etc., yet with as little conscious- 
ness of the motion. It follows that the motions of 
our limbs must be observed by sight or touch in 
order to learn that they move, and in what direc- 
tion." Mr. Abbot quotes this passage in his Sight and 
Touch (p. 71), and he adds, "The more recent re- 
searches of Aubert and Kammler not only confirm 
this result, but tend further to prove that there is 
not in the muscles any sense whatever of their con- 
traction." " Accordingly, they remark that the fric- 
tion of our clothing is a considerable aid in judging 
of our motions, especially if it is close fitting. 
When wearing boots, etc., with which we are not 
familiar, we are less certain of our judgments, 
and this is the more noticeable in riding, as the eye 
does not then control our judgment." The question 
is for physiologists to settle. I am not satisfied that 
the Germans referred to can have established their 
point. But until there is a more thorough deter- 
mination of the exact function of the nerves attached 
to the muscles, it is preposterous to found a huge 
metaphysical theory on our muscular sensations 
when the arm moves in empty space. 

My opinion on such a subject is of no value, but 

142 BODY. 

I am disposed to think that we have a sense of the 
contraction of at least some of our muscles, and of 
its continuance. 1 On the supposition that we have 
a sense of resistance, which seems established, the 
muscles of our arm, being always in a state of more 
or less tension, must feel the resistance offered by 
one muscle to another. Dr. Kirkes says that the 
muscles " possess sensibility by means of the sensi- 
tive nerve-fibres distributed in them. The amount 
of common sensibility in muscles is not great." 
" But they have a peculiar sensibility, or at least a 
peculiar modification of common sensibility, which 
is shown in that their nerves can communicate to 
the mind an accurate knowledge of their states and 
position when in action." (Phys., p. 530, 5th ed.) We 
may, therefore, know the contractions. But let us 
take along with us the full facts. The sense of touch- 
proper, as we shall see in next chapter, always refers 
the sensations to the points in the skin at which 
the nerves terminate ; and the muscular sense merely 
intimates that one organ is resisting another. In that 
" sweep of the arm," of which Mr. Bain makes 
so much, there is implied, first, a direction of 
the points of sensation in the skin ; secondly, a mus- 
cular resistance ; and, I rather think, thirdly, an ex- 
perience to enable us to combine the two. There is, 

1 Mr. H. Lewes thinks he has dern- tributedto the muscular sense." (Brit. 

onstrated the existence of the Mus- Assoc , 1859.) We require a more 

cular Sense. He skinned a frog, and thorough investigation of the relations, 

thus made it insensible to external and differences, of the precise func- 

impressions, and found it " to mani- tions of the nerves of touch-proper 

fest all those phenomena usually at- and the muscular sense 

BODY. 143 

I suspect, a further element. In whatever way it 
may begin, the continuance of the experimental 
bending of the arm, which Mr. Bain employs, must 
be done by the will. But a vague directionless effort 
will not move a limb, still less continue to move it 
in a certain way. The volition to continue the sweep 
of the arm implies a contemplated end, or some idea 
of the arm, and a belief in its existence, and, I should 
think, in its extension. It thus appears that it is to 
reverse the proper order of things, to make the con- 
tinuance of " the sweep of the arm " constitute or 
give us the idea of extension. In the very move- 
ment we have an idea of an extended arm by touch- 
proper or feeling ; as we move the arm, we become 
acquainted with the resistance of one felt member 
by another ; and in order to the continuance of the 
voluntary sweep, there must be some apprehension, 
more or less vague, of the limb which we continue 
to move. 

There are many serious physiological difficulties in 
the way of accepting this muscular theory. The 
extent of a sweep of the arm does not depend mere- 
ly on the amount of force put forth ; nor does it de- 
pend solely on the continuance of the effort : it de- 
pends also on the proportionate length of the two 
arms of the lever on which the muscle operates. 
For instance, the biceps muscle of the arm is inserted 
an inch below the elbow-joint, whilst the distance 
from the point of insertion to the end of the limb 
may be sixteen inches. When the muscle contracts 

144 BODY. 

to a certain extent, the rapidity of the movement at 
the extremity will be sixteen times as great as it 
would have been if the insertion had been at the 
extremity; and, on the other hand, the force em- 
ployed by the muscle has been sixteen times as great 
as would have been required if the insertion had 
been at the extremity. A. large amount of force is 
thus expended in order to secure the great advantage 
of rapidity of movement. It is clear, therefore, that 
neither the intensity nor the extent of contraction 
can give us the amount of motion in the part on 
which the muscle operates ; and, that while the mus- 
cular sense may inform us of the intensity, and ex- 
tent of the intensity, and extent of the contraction 
of the fibres of a muscle, it can give us no information 
of the extent of the movement of our limbs, till 
after long experience applied to each limb. " It is 
doubtful," says Dr. Kirkes (Phys., p. 646), "how far 
the extent of muscular movement is obtained from 
sensations in the muscles themselves. The sensation 
of movement attending the motions of the hand is 
very slight ; and persons who do not know that the 
action of particular muscles is necessary for the pro- 
duction of given movements, do not suspect that the 
movement of the fingers, for example, depends on 
action in the forearm." Mr. Abbot has pressed some 
of the difficulties (Sight and Touch, p. 70) : "Let us 
suppose a blind man trying to get the notion of dis- 
tance from the motion of his hand. He finds a cei- 
tain sweep of the hand brings it into contact with a 

BODY. 145 

desk ; the distance of which, therefore, is represented 
by that effort. But it requires a greater effort to 
reach the eyes or the nose; and distance being 
= locomotive effort, it is demonstrated that the nose 
extends beyond the desk. The top of the head must 
be conceived as more remote, and the back farthest 
of all. In general, when we refer distances to the 
eye, as we habitually do, objects four inches from the 
eye must appear farther from us than those at 
twelve. This is another novelty. But again, since 
the hand moves in curves, and cannot without con- 
siderable effort be made to move in a straight line, 
it is also demonstrated that an epicycloid is shorter 
than a right line between the same points." 

But, after all, the question is to be decided by 
psychological rather than physiological considera- 
tions. The phenomenon to be explained is our idea 
of extension, and consciousness will require to be 
consulted. The theory was started by Brown, and 
Hamilton had thus examined it (Append., Keid's 
Works, p. 869) : " The notion of Time or succession 
being supposed, that of longitudinal extension is 
given in the succession of feelings which accompanies 
the gradual contraction of a muscle ; the notion of 
this succession constitutes ipso facto the notion of a 
certain length ; and the notion of this length " 
(he quietly takes for granted) " is the notion of 
longitudinal extension sought. The paralogism 
here is transparent. Length is an ambiguous 

term ; and it is length in space, extensive length, 

146 BODY. 

and not length in time protensive, whose notion it is 
the problem to solve." Mr. Mill (p. 227) quotes this 
language, and tries to avoid the argument by urging 
that' the " assertion of Brown, and of all who hold 
the Psychological theory, is that the notion of length 
in space, not being in our consciousness originally, is 
constructed by the mind's laws out of the notion of 
length in time. The argument is not, as Sir William 
Hamilton fancied, a fallacious confusion between two 
different meanings of the word length, but an iden- 
tification of them as one." This statement is cer- 
tainly sufficiently clear, but it crowns the absurdity. 
" When we say that there is a space between A and 
By we mean that some amount of these muscular 
sensations must intervene; and when we say the 
space is greater or less, we mean that the series of 
sensation (amount of muscular effort being given) is 
longer or shorter." "Now this, which is unques- 
tionably the mode in which we become aware of sen- 
sation, is considered by the psychologists in question 
to be extension." I need not repeat that what is here 
represented as unquestionable, has been questioned 
physiologically. But we are now discussing the 
psychological question. 

We have here three different phenomena, con- 
sciousness being the witness. We have (1.) Series 
of Muscular Sensations; (2.) Length of Time; (3.) 
Length of Space. These three may have relations 
one to another, but they are surely diverse from one 
another. Mr. Mill explains that he does not draw 

BODY. 147 

the one from the other, which would be preposterous 
enough, but he declares them identical, which is ab- 
surd in the extreme. It matches the doctrine of 
Hegel, justly regarded as the reductio ad absurdum 
of his whole philosophy, that all things are one. 
Hegel lessened the absurdity of this statement by 
another, that all things are different ; but Mr. Mill has 
no such explanation to offer, for he declares musular 
sensations, time, and space to be identical, without 
a difference. Mr. Mill gives a scanty enough account 
of the faculties of the mind, but he acknowledges 
that we possess a power of discerning differences. 
If we can trust our capacities at all, they declare 
that the three things under consideration are as 
different as any one thing can be from any other. 

A series of muscular sensations and length of time 
are surely different. They are different in them- 
selves, and we can conceive an animated being, say a 
lobster, to have a succession of sensations, and yet 
no idea of time. Again, series of muscular sensations 
and extension are not the same. The series of feel- 
ings excited as I pass my hand over a table is not 
the same as the yard square which is the size of the 
table. Curious consequences would seem to follow 
from this doctrine of identity. If, in the next at- 
tempt with the same series of sensations, my hand 
passed over a table two yards long, the theory would 
identify the time with two yards, as before it did 
with one : and as Mr. Mill admits the law of identity 
(see to.), or, that things which are identical with the 


same thing are identical with one another, it would 
make one yard, which is the same with a series of 
sensations, identical with two yards, which is iden- 
tical with the same series of sensations. To represent 
this otherwise. The length of time taken by us to 
travel between London and Paris does not merely 
help us (as every one admits) to estimate the length 
of way when we have an idea of the rate at which 
we are travelling (as the thermometer measures heat 
for us), but is the very same with the length of the 
way ; and as we travel it in a longer or shorter time, 
or with more or fewer sensations, so is the length of 
way actually longer or shorter at different times. 
If we draw back from such consequences by appeal- 
ing to a different measure, would not this show that 
we had unfortunately taken the wrong rule ? But, 
after ah 1 , 1 will not positively affirm that such con- 
sequences follow, for the doctrine is one that baffles 
all reasoning because it sets aside the first premises 
of reasoning. Mr. Abbot says very properly, " In- 
deed the obvious differences between the two ideas 
are so great, that a philosopher who has neglected 
them can scarcely be convinced by more abstruse 
considerations. Thus, muscular effort has degrees, 
its parts are not equal ; extension does not admit of 
degrees, its parts are equal. Extension has three 
dimensions, muscular effort only one. The parts of 
extension are co-existent ; those of muscidar effort 
are successive." Finally, length of time and length 
of space are not the same. As weh 1 might we iden- 

BODY. 149 

tify colors with smells, sounds with shapes, sweet 
with sour, light with darkness, love with hatred, 
virtue with vice, Mr. Mill with Sir William Hamilton, 
as identify extension with duration. 

Mr. Mill's attempt to get support to his hypothesis 
from the sense of sight is, if possible, still more un- 
successful. He is obliged to suppose that in vision 
we have originally only a sensation of color, and 
that the idea of an extended surface is given by, or 
rather is identical with, the time occupied by the 
muscular sensations as we move the eye. Sir Wil- 
liam Hamilton, in reviewing Berkeley, had noticed 
the doctrine that the eye gives us only color, and his 
criticism has commonly been regarded as amounting 
almost to a demonstration: "All parties are, of 
course, at one in regard to the fact that we see color. 
Those who hold that we see extension, admit that 
we see it only as colored ; and those who deny us 
any vision of extension make color the exclusive ob- 
ject of sight. In regard to this first position all are 
therefore agreed. Nor are they less harmonious in 
reference to the second ; that the power of perceiv- 
ing color involves the power of perceiving the differ- 
ences of colors. By sight we, therefore, perceive 
color, and discriminate one color, that is, one colored 
body, one sensation of color, from another. This 
is admitted. A third position will also be denied by 
none, that the colors discriminated in vision are, or 
may be, placed side by side in immediate juxtaposi- 
tion ; or one may limit another by being superin- 

150 BODY. 

duced partially over it. A fourth position is equally 
indisputable ; that the contrasted colors, thus bound- 
ing each other, will form by their meeting a visible 
line, and that, if the superinduced color be sur- 
rounded by the other, this line will return upon it- 
self, and thus constitute the outline of a visible 
figure. These four positions command a peremptory 
assent ; they are all self-evident. But their admis- 
sion at once explodes the paradox under discussion " 
(that extension cannot be cognized by sight alone). 
" And thus : A line is extension in one dimension, 
length ; a figure is extension in two, length and 
breadth. Therefore the vision of a line is a vision 
of extension in length ; the vision of a figure, the 
vision of extension in length and breadth." (Metaph. 
vol. ii. p. 167.) 

Mr. Mill acknowledges, " I cannot make the answer 
to this argument as thorough and conclusive as I 
could wish." (p. 239.) His attempts to lessen its 
force are exceedingly weak and palpably insufficient. 
He calls attention to the circumstance that the eye 
" does not cognize visible figure by means of color 
alone, but by all those motions and modifications of 
the muscles connected with the eye, which have so 
great a share in giving us our acquired perceptions 
of sight." Be it so, the demonstration remains un- 
touched, that we take in figure when we take in 
color. He says, that an eye immovably fixed " gives 
a full and clear vision of but a small portion of 
space." The admission is sufficient for our purpose. 

BODY. 151 

He throws us once more on Mr. Bain, who tells us, 
" When we look at a circle, say one-tenth of an inch 
in diameter, the eye can take in the whole of it with- 
out movement." The tenth of an inch is as good 
as a whole inch, or a foot, or a yard. In the tenth 
of an inch is extension with a boundary, and may 
be a measure to aid us in ascertaining the extent we 
can take in by the sweep of the eyes. Mr. Mill ad- 
mits "a rudimentary conception must be allowed; 
for it is evident that even without moving the eye 
we are capable of having two sensations of color at 
once, and that the boundary which separates the 
colors must give some specific affection of sight." 
He would lessen the significance of this admission in 
a very unworthy manner : " But to confer on these 
discriminative impressions the name which denotes 
our matured and perfected cognition of extension, 
or even to assume that they have anything in com- 
mon with it, seems to be going beyond evidence." 
No one maintains that our primary vision of a sur- 
face by the eye comes up to our perfected cognition 
of extension ; still it is a surface, and it has a bound- 
ary, and therefore it has something in common with 
it. Mr. Bain tells us, " We may still, however, see 
very strong grounds for maintaining the presence of 
a muscular element, even in this instance." Be it 
so ; the demonstration of Hamilton holds good, that 
in the two colors in this space, whether with or with- 
out the aid of the muscles, we have lines and spaces. 
But he adds, " In the second place, the essential im- 

152 BODY. 

port of visible form is something not attainable 
without the experience of moving the eye. If we 
looked at a little round spot, we should know an 
optical difference between it and a triangular spot ; 
and we should recognize it as identical with another 
round spot." And then, subjecting the fact to his 
theory instead of forming his theory from the facts, 
he tells us, " We mean by a round form something 
which would take a given sweep of the eye to com- 
prehend it." I suppose this is what he means by the 
import of form, that it is the time spent in muscular 
action (!), which I rather think might be the same 
for a square, or a triangle, or an oval, of a certain 
size, as for a circle. I really cannot understand how 
we should optically know the difference of the figures, 
unless we perceived them as figures. In spite of all 
these perverted attempts at the resolution of them 
into something else, there still remains the surface 
and the boundary perceived by the eye. 

Failing utterly in the psychological analysis, Mr. 
Bain and Mr. Mill (p. 232) fall back on a statement 
of Platner, which Sir William Hamilton had copied 
into his Lectures without knowing what to make of 
it. "In regard to the visionless representation of 
space or extension, the attentive observation of a 
person born blind, which I formerly instituted in the 
year 1785, and again in relation to the point in ques- 
tion, have continued for three whole weeks, this 
observation, I say, has convinced me that the sense 
of touch by itself is altogether incompetent to afford 

BODY. 153 

us the representation of extension and space, and is 
not even cognizant of local exteriority ; in a word, 
that a man deprived of sight has absolutely no per- 
ception of an outer world beyond the existence of 
something effective, different from his own feeling of 
passivity, and in general only of the numerical diver- 
sity, shall I say of impressions or of things ? In 
fact, to those born blind, time serves instead of space. 
Vicinity and distance means in their mouths nothing 
more than the shorter or longer time, the smaller or 
greater number of feelings which they find necessary 
to attain from some one feeling to another. That a 
person blind from birth employs the language of 
vision, that may occasion considerable error ; and 
did, indeed, at the commencement of my observa- 
tions, lead me wrong ; but, in point of fact, he knows 
nothing of things as existing out of each other ; and 
(this in particular I have very clearly remarked) if 
objects, and the parts of his body touched by them, 
did not make different kinds of impressions on his 
nerves of sensation, he would take everything ex- 
ternal for one and the same. In his own body he 
absolutely did not discriminate head and foot at all 
by their distance, but merely by the difference of 
the feelings (and his perception of such differences 
was incredibly fine) which he experienced from the 
one and from the other, and, moreover, through time. 
In like manner, in external bodies, he distinguished 
their figure merely by the varieties of impressed 
feelings ; inasmuch, for example, as the cube by its 

154 BODY. 

angles affected his feelings difforonlly from the 

Let it be observed of this account, that it is largely 
theoretical, by one who believed with Kant, that 
there were d, priori forms of space and time in the 
mind, and that these were brought forth empirically 
only by the sense of sight. Platner does not give 
us the facts to enable us to judge for ourselves ; he 
favors us only with his conclusions. His observations 
carry us as far back as 1785, when the distinction 
between touch-proper and the muscular son so was 
not established. Later physiological research has 
shown that, in the case of the blind, as in all others, 
touch-proper makes us localize the affections of our 
bodily frame, and that the muscular sense gives us 
u something effective, different from our feeling of 
passivity:" we may add, different from our felt 
bodily frame. It has been proven, by later and fully 
detailed researches, that those born blind know th oil- 
own body as extended by the common sensations of 
feeling, and know ox Ira-organic objects by the resist- 
ance offered to their muscular efforts. Even Mr. 
Mill is obliged to modify and explain Platner's st a fo- 
ment (p. 233): "But Platner, though unintention- 
ally, puts a false color on the matter when he says 
that his patient had no perception of extension ; he 
had conceptions of extension after his own manner ; " 
in fact, " all that is meant by persons who see." 
Without this explanation the statement of Platner 
would be fatal to the theory of Mill, who makes UP 

U JW i V 


get our knowledge of extension from the muscular 
feelings, and not as Platner, whose avowed aim is to 
get it from sight. With this explanation it can help 
neither side, for it puts those who see in the same 
position as the blind, and those who see will be ad- 
mitted by all to have "a perception of an outer 
world " by the sense of touch. I believe that Plat- 
ner may be right when he says that " local exterior- 
ity," that is, objects out of the body, may not be 
given by touch-proper or feeling ; but this is certainly 
given by the muscular sense in the case of the blind, 
as in that of the seeing. When he speaks of time 
serving instead of space to those born blind, and 
that vicinity and distance means only shorter or 
longer time, or the smaller or greater number of 
feelings which they find necessary to attain from 
some one feeling to another, I believe he was led 
astray by not distinguishing between our apprehen- 
sion of space and the measure of space. The idea 
of members of the body localized is given most 
probably by all the senses. But the actual measure- 
ment of space is always a subsequent process, im- 
plying comparison and a standard. I believe that 
in all of us the succession of our feelings, of our 
muscular feelings, but also of our mental ideas and 
feelings as well, is one means of helping us to 
measure (not only tune, but) space ; we measure it 
in a loose way, by the feelings we have experienced 
in passing over it in travelling, or by a member of 
our body. Those born blind must be specially de- 

156 BODY. 

pendent on such a measure. Those who see have a 
natural measure provided in the surface which falls 
under the perception of the eye. Those born blind 
have such a measure in the surface of the body given 
by touch, and in the effort of the locomotive energy 
reported by the muscular sense. We shall see in 
next chapter that a very different account from that 
of Platner is given by later German physiologists. 1 

As the result of these discussions, it appears that 
we have ideas and convictions of externality, of 
resistance to the energy of self, and of extension, 
that cannot be resolved into any elements which do 
not imply them. But do these subjective apprehen- 
sions and beliefs imply corresponding objective real- 
ities ? This is the old question of metaphysics. To 
treat it historically, logically, and critically would 

1 In order to be able to form an in- of each. When their head, and their 
telligent opinion on these subjects, I legs, and their arms were pricked ex- 
put myself in communication with the actly alike, they at once showed us the 
Rev. J. Kinghan, who for twenty seat of sensation, and knew the points 
years has been connected with the In- to be out of each other. I moved 
stitution for the Blind in Belfast, first their hand first over a book seven 
as assistant, and now as Principal, inches long, and then over a desk four- 
He declares that he has never found teen inches long, occupying the same 
anything, in all his teaching of the time with each process, and they at 
blind, or intercourse with them, to con- once declared that the latter was much 
firm Platner's statement. Those longer than the former. We allowed 
born blind cannot have the visual idea a boy to feel round a room with which 
of space, but they have, he says, a he was unacquainted, and he at once 
very clear notion of figure and dis- declared its shape. One of these 
tance got directly from the sense of children was a girl of the age of eight, 
touch. With his aid I have experi- just entered the Institution, so igrio- 
mented with very young children born rant that she did not know the meaning 
blind. I put two small pieces of wood, of angle or corner or point, calling the 
one triangular and the other square, corners of the figures " little heads " 
under the palm of the hand, and with- She said the square had two little 
out being allowed to move the hand heads and two little heads, but was 
over it, they at once told us the shape not sure that two and two make four. 

BODY. 157 

require a separate volume. Fortunately it is not 
necessary here to enter upon the wide question. 
Mr. Mill grants that there is an assurance which is 
" a test to which we may bring all our convictions " 
(see x.), and that "we may be sure of what we see 
as well as what we feel " (see ft). Following these 
admitted principles, I do not see that Mr. Mill can 
object to the reality of an extended world, provided 
always that it be shown that our ideas as to exter- 
nality and extension cannot be resolved into simpler 
elements. The conviction we entertain as to an ex- 
ternal world is of the nature of a primitive percep- 
tion, and not a derivative idea. We perceive objects 
out of ourselves resisting us and extended. This 
perception, like that of consciousness, is self-evident : 
we seem to look at once on the object. It is also 
necessary : no doubt we can imagine it to be other- 
wise, but we cannot be made to judge or believe 
that our hand is not an extended object. It is uni- 
versal : all men entertain it and act upon it. Inge- 
nious objections may be urged against all this, but 
they are such as are advanced not only against all 
truth, but against all inquiry, and proceed upon a 
universal scepticism, which Mr. Mill, who professes to 
be a lover of truth, does not avow. 

These same considerations justify us in looking 
upon body as a substance. It will be remembered 
that I do not stand up for an unknown substratum 
beneath the known thing. Whatever is known as 
existing, as acting, and having permanence, I regard 

158 BODY. 

as a substance. Mind is a substance, as it can be so 
characterized. But we have seen that we know 
body as an existence, in operation, and with, as Mr. 
Mill allows, a permanence ; it is therefore a sub- 
stance. It is vastly more than a " possibility ; " it 
is an actuality. It is more than a possibility of 
" sensations ; " it has an existence even as the sensa- 
tions have ; and a body is known not only as giving 
sensations, but as capable of acting on other bodies 
in a variety of ways, which it is the office of physical 
science to classify and to reduce to laws. By adher- 
ing to these simple principles we are made to feel 
that we are out of the region of phantoms and in 
the land of realities. 



rilHERE is an impression among many that Mr. 
JL Mill's theory has the support of physiology, and 
this is strengthened by the anatomical and physio- 
logical details which constitute so large a portion of 
Mr. Bain's work. But I cannot discover that either 
has found a basis, or even a starting-point, for their 
general theory of the mind, or for their particular 
theory of the manner in which we reach the idea 
of an extended world, in any ascertained phenomena 
of our bodily frame. Their speculations receive 
no aid from physiology, and must stand or fall by 
their psychological merits or demerits. The phys- 
iology of the senses is still in a very uncertain con- 
dition, and, whatever it may do in ages to come, can 
as yet throw little light on strictly mental action, 
except, indeed, in the way of correcting premature 
hypotheses. It may be profitable to look at some 
of the later researches into the senses conducted by 
eminent physiologists, especially in Germany. We 
shall find that they give no sanction to the hypoth- 
esis of Mr. Mill and Mr. Bain, and seem to favor a the- 
ory of a very different character. In the sketch that 



follows, I have made free use of the great works on 
physiology which have been published in our coun- 
try, and still more particularly of the admirable his- 
torical, critical, and expository summary by Wundt, 
in his Beitrage zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung 


The scientific investigation of this sense may be 
said to have commenced with the researches of J 
Miiller and E. H. Weber. The general result reached 
by Miiller is, that " every point in which a nerve- 
fibre ends is represented in the sensorium as a space- 
particle." ( Wundt, Theor. Sinneswahr.) There are 
disputes as to how the general law should be stated, 
but we have a fact here which has not been and 
cannot be set aside. The nerves of touch proper, 
setting out from the base of the brain, tend towards 
the periphery of the body. They reach the skin 
each at a determined point : there is a special aggre- 
gation of these points in the mid-finger and the tip 
of the tongue. Now, wherever the nerve terminates, 
there the sensation is felt : thus, if we prick a nerve 
which reaches the mid-finger, the pain is localized at 
the point where the nerve terminates. If we stretch 
or pinch the ulnar nerve, by pushing it from side to 
side, or compressing it with the fingers, the shock is 
felt in the parts to which its ultimate branchlets are 
distributed, namely, in the palm and back of the 
hand, and in the fourth and fifth fingers. " Accord- 


ing as the pressure is varied, the pricking sensation 
is felt by turns in the fourth finger, in the fifth, in 
the palm of the hand, or in the back of the hand ; 
and both on the palm and on the back of the hand 
the situation of the pricking sensation is different, 
according as the pressure on the nerve is varied ; 
that is to say, according as different fibres or fasciculi 
of fibres are more pressed upon than others. The 
same will be found to be the case in irritating the 
nerve in the upper arm." (Miiller's Physiology, by 
Baly, p. 740.) So strong is this tendency to localize 
the sensation at the extremities of the nerves, that 
when an arm or leg is amputated the person has still 
the feeling of the lost limb. Miiller has collected a 
number of such cases. (Ib., pp. 746, 747.) "A stu- 
dent, named Schmidts, from Aix, had his arm am- 
putated above the elbow thirteen years ago ; he has 
never ceased to have sensations as if in the fingers. 
I applied pressure to the nerves in the stump ; and 
M. Schmidts immediately felt the whole arm, even 
the fingers, as if asleep." " A toll-keeper in the 
neighborhood of Halle, whose right arm had been 
shattered by a cannon-ball in battle, above the elbow, 
twenty years ago, and afterwards amputated, has 
still, in 1833, at the time of changes of the weather, 
distinct rheumatic pains, which seem to him to exist 
in the whole arm ; and though removed long ago, 
the lost part is at those times felt as if sensible to 
draughts of air. This man also completely confirmed 

our statement, that the sense of the integrity of the 


limb was never lost." When there is a change made 
artificially in the peripheral extremities of nerves, 
the sensations are still felt as if in the original spots. 
" When, in the restoration of a nose, a flap of skin is 
turned down from the forehead and made to unite 
with the stump of the nose, the new nose thus formed 
has, as long as the isthmus of skin by which it main- 
tains its original connections remains undivided, the 
same sensations as if it were btill on the forehead ; 
in other words, when the nose is touched, the patient 
feels the impression in the forehead. This is a fact 
well known to surgeons, and was first observed by 
Lisfranc." (Ib., p. 748.) 

No doubt it is possible to ascribe all this to ex- 
perience and the association of ideas. We first, it is 
said, find by observation that a certain sensation 
originates in a particular part of the body, and the 
same sensation ever after suggests the part. But the 
facts, as a whole, will not submit to this explanation. 
It is difficult to see how the phenomena quoted can 
be thus accounted for. For surely an experience of 
thirteen or twenty years might have been sufficient 
to change the associations acquired at an earlier date, 
and to place the persons under the influence of new 
ones, provided always that the original ones had not 
been instinctive or native. In the case of the trans- 
ference of the flap of skin, Miiller says, " When the 
communication of the nervous fibres of the new nose 
with those of the forehead is cut off by division of 
the isthmus of skin, the sensations are of course no 


longer referred to the forehead; the sensibility of 
the nose is at first absent, but is gradually developed." 
This language implies that the old reference to the 
forehead ceased in spite of the old association when 
the isthmus was cut; and that the new reference 
to the nose was occasioned by the sensibility of the 
nerve, according to the physiological law, which 
makes us ascribe the sensation to the extremity of 
the nerve. It is not easy to see how experience 
could give us the ready localization of the sensation, 
more particularly when the feeling is within the 
body, and in a part which has never fallen under the 
senses of touch or sight. It is hard to believe that 
the instantaneous voluntary drawing back of a limb 
when wounded, and the shrinking of the frame when 
boiling liquid is poured down the throat, can proceed 
from an application of an observed law as to the seat 
of sensations. From a very early age, and long be- 
fore they give any evidence of knowing distance 
beyond their bodies, or having any other acquired 
perceptions, children will indicate that they know at 
least vaguely the seat of the pain felt by them ; if 
a child is wounded in the arm, it will not hold out 
its foot. But the question seems to be set at rest by 
a physiological fact, thus stated by Dr. Baly : 
" Professor Valentin (Repertor. fur Anat. und Phy- 
siol, 1836, p. 330) has observed, that individuals who 
are the subjects of congenital imperfection, or ab 
sence of the extremities, have, nevertheless, the in- 
ternal sensations of such limbs in their perfect state. 


A girl aged nineteen years, in whom the metacarpal 
bones of the left hand were very short, and all the 
bones of the phalanges absent, a row of imper- 
fectly organized wart-like projections representing 
the fingers, assured M. Valentin that she had con- 
stantly the internal sensation of a palm of the hand, 
and five fingers on the left side as perfect as on the 
right. When a ligature was placed round the stump, 
she had the sensation of ' formication ' in the hand 
and fingers ; and pressure on the ulnar nerve gave 
rise to the ordinary feeling of the third, fourth, and 
fifth fingers being asleep, although these fingers did 
not exist. The examination of three other indi- 
viduals gave the same results." (76., p. 74 7). 1 

Miiller maintains, that in this way we get a knowl- 
edge of the greater number of the parts of our body, 
and in all the dimensions of space ; and that when 
our body comes into collision with another body, if 
the shock be sufficiently strong, the sensation of our 
body to a certain depth is awakened, and there 
arises a sensation of the contusion in the whole 
dimensions of the cube. He thus makes the knowl- 
edge not only of the third dimension of space, but 
of our own body, to depend on an original disposi- 
tion (Arilage). He carries this doctrine so far as to 
hold that as the nerves of all the senses are extended 
over the frame, so there is a representation of space 

1 Mr. Mill refers (p. 246) to a case was unable to localize the feeling, 

given him by Hamilton from Maine de The case is valueless, as evidently the 

Biran, of a person who had lost the functions of the nervous apparatus 

power of the motor nerves, but who, were deranged, 
though still alive to the sense of pain, 


given not only by touch and sight, but also by taste 
and smell, the sense of hearing alone not giving 
us a perception of space, because it does not perceive 
its special extension. "The first idea of a body 
having extension, and occupying space, arises in our 
mind from the sensation of our own corporeal ex- 
tension. This consciousness of our own corporeal 
existence is the standard by which we estimate in 
our sense of touch the extension of all resisting 
bodies." (Physiology, p. 1081.) Wundt says (p. 2), 
"These views, if they are not always carried out 
with such consistency, are in their essential funda- 
mental positions still acknowledged at this day by 
most physiologists." 

It is interesting to notice that a like doctrine was 
held on independent grounds by two of the greatest 
psychologists of this century, by M. Saisset in 
France, and Sir William Hamilton in this country. 
The former dwells on the localization of our sensa- 
tions in their various organic seats. (See Art. " Sens" 
in Diet, des Sciences Philos.) The latter says that 
" an extension is apprehended in the apprehension 
of the reciprocal externality of all sensations," and 
that " in the consciousness of sensations relatively 
localized and reciprocally external, we have a veri- 
table apprehension, and consequently an immediate 
perception of the affected organism, as extended, di- 
vided, figured," etc. (App. Reid's Works, pp. 884, 885.) 1 

1 It is interesting to find D. Stewart companied with a perception of the 
saying, " It is characteristical of all local situation of their exciting causes." 
sensations of touch, that they are ac- (Elem., vol. iii. p. 310.) 


I confess that I have a great partiality for this doc- 
trine. Even the sense of hearing, if it does not 
yield the extension of our frame, may give a direc- 
tion to the sound heard in the ear. The conclusion 
is the result of accurate physiological research, and 
it seems to me to clear up most of the psychological 
difficulties connected with the senses, and to favor a 
metaphysical realism which enables us to stand up 
for the veracity of our original sense-perceptions, 
which are mainly of the body as affected. It sup- 
poses that when the soul is roused into consciousness 
by an affection of the nerves, it gives a direction and 
a localization to its sensations, and as it feels simul- 
taneously a number of sensations from different 
members of the body, it feels them to be out of each 
other, and related in respect of direction ; and as 
sensations accumulate and succeed each other, it 
gives a sensation, or rather perception, of our ca- 
pacity of being affected at very different points of 
the periphery, and consequently of a volume. When 
in a tepid bath we have not only a pleasant sensa- 
tion (which is all that Mr. Bain allows), we have a 
feeling of the frame as affected over the whole sur- 
face. But let not this statement be misunderstood. 
No one means to affirm that we have as yet a repre- 
sentation or image in the mind of the external con- 
figuration of the body, and of its several parts, such 
as we reach when we come to feel them with the 
hand or see them in a mirror. This is a subsequent 
attainment made by a gathered experience through 


the combination of various senses; and we are often 
in perplexity from the difficulty of uniting the in- 
tuitive with the acquired knowledge, as when we 
know that the pain in toothache is in a certain direc- 
tion, and yet are in doubts as to what tooth corre- 
sponds externally to the internal localization. But 
as the ground of the whole, we have a localized per- 
ception of points, and of different points and direc- 
tions, in our bodily frame, which, I may add, is felt 
to be ours by the command which our efforts have 
over it, and the sensations of which it is felt to be 
the seat. Some parts of this general view seem to 
me to be established by physiological arguments, and 
the theory as a whole is vastly better fitted to meet 
and account for our idea of extension than the base- 
less hypothesis sanctioned by Mr. Mill. 

The curious experimental researches of Weber 
seem to confirm the general doctrine that Touch 
Proper or Feeling is very specially, as the Germans 
represent it, a space-giving organ. His experiments 
were conducted by means of a pair of compasses 
sheathed with cork, with which he touched the skin 
while the eyes were closed, in order to determine 
how close the points of the compasses might be 
brought to each and still be felt as two bodies. The 
distance between the points necessary to indicate 
different sensations was found to vary in different 
parts of the body, from one-half Parisian line on the 
tip of the tongue to thirty Parisian lines on the back 
of the body, thus showing the sensitiveness of the 


one part to be sixty times finer than that of the 
other part. The capability of discerning the differ- 
ence of sensation is somewhat different in different 
individuals, but it is said that their relative propor- 
tion in different parts of the body remains tolerably 
constant in the same individual. The researches 
seem to imply that the sense of touch indicates to 
us, in a way which cannot be the result of a gathered 
experience, both points of space and intervals of 
space, always within and not beyond the bodily 
frame. The points must be perceived immediately, 
and an interval or line between is either perceived 
immediately, or is necessitated in mathematical 
thought by the comparison of the different points. 

Weber regards the skin as a sort of mosaic of 
circles or compartments, which in different positions 
have different magnitudes and shapes, and that each 
has its own capacity of sensation. The theory sug- 
gested by Fick is thus stated by Dr. Carpenter : 
"Each nerve-fibril breaks up into a pencil of fine 
filaments at the periphery, which are distributed 
over a certain space, perhaps on the average about 
1.25 of an inch in diameter. An impression made 
upon any one of these filaments conveys the same 
sensation to the sensorium, providing no other nerve 
be distributed to the same space ; but this hardly 
ever occurs, and hence compound sensations arise by 
which our perception of the precise spot of the skin 
touched by a point is accurately determined. It is 
obvious that the closer these ' sensory circles * are, 


and the more intimately the branches of different 
nerves are intercalated with one another, the greater 
will be the sense of locality of that part ; or, in other 
words, the greater will be the facility with which 
minute differences in the precise spot touched will 
be appreciated." (Hum. Phys., p. 611.) The subject 
has been keenly discussed in Germany. According 
to George, movement is the source of all objective 
consciousness. If by objective consciousness is meant 
not that of our bodily frame, but of something be- 
yond, I believe the doctrine is correct. We discover 
extra-organic objects by the resistance offered to our 
movement. Fortlage ascribes our intuition of body 
to the restraint laid on our impulse (Triebhemmung}. 
It is thus, no doubt, we know the existence of ob 
jects beyond our bodies, but already in touch we 
have an apprehension of our frames as extended. 
Lotze has observed much, and speculated more on 
this whole subject. He says that when two object- 
points come into perception through two excitations 
of the nerves, the consciousness of their spatial near- 
ness to one another is not given ; and he starts the 
hypothesis that this is furnished by a third nerve- 
process, which he calls " place indicators." Meissner 
has sought to bring Lotze's hypothesis into unison 
with physiological and anatomical researches. He 
thinks he has discovered "touch-corpuscles," which 
he represents as the actual touch-organs. These are 
found specially in the hand and the foot, and they at 
once give us bodies without us as objects, apaitfrom 


the sensation of pressure. These researches and dis- 
cussions all proceed on the idea that our knowledge 
of an extended world is obtained not exclusively by 
a sweep of the hand, but by some special provision 
in the sense of touch proper or feeling. 

The admitted conclusions are thus stated by 
Wundt (pp. 64, 65): "With every single sensation 
(Empfindung) is connected involuntarily the repre- 
sentation of the place at which it occurs. As soon 
as there are two contemporaneous sensations in the 
perception ( Wahrnehmung), there is thence given a 
dim representation of the extent of the skin which 
the impressions embrace, whereby the impressions 
are immediately conceived as spatially separated. 
But about the magnitude of their separation in space 
nothing determinate can yet be declared, as that rep- 
resentation is for this purpose altogether indistinct. 
It is usually only when one is first led through an 
internal or external impulse to resolve upon an esti- 
mation by measure, that there is raised a clear image 
of the entire parts of the body and of the points 
touched, and thereby is first given the determinate 
representation of the interspace w r hich lies between 
the impressions." He then explains, that, in regard 
to the distance which is to be found between two 
impressions, the soul, in that it perceives two differeni 
sensations of place ( Ortsempfindungeri), is compelled 
to put an interspace between them, and to represent 
this out of the like experience through sight or the 
muscular sense. 



Sir Charles Bell established the great truth, that 
the nerves of sensation differ from those of motion. 
From his physiological researches, and the ingenious 
psychological speculations of his contemporary, Dr. 
Thomas Brown, has proceeded the very general ac- 
knowledgment in this country of the existence cf a 
Muscular Sense to be distinguished from Touch 
Proper. Physiologically the Muscular Sense consists 
of a Motor nerve, under the control of the will, going 
out from the brain and moving the muscle attached 
to it, and of a Sensor nerve going back to the brain 
and giving intimation of the motion. Psychologi- 
cally this sense serves as important purposes as either 
touch proper or sight. It may be doubted whether, 
apart from this endowment, we should have a sense 
or knowledge of any object beyond our bodily frame. 
Feeling, or the skin-sense as it has been called, seems 
to give us merely the periphery of our bodies ; and 
when we become cognizant of an extra-organic ob- 
ject, as when on pressing the palm of the hand on 
a table we feel a surface, I believe there is a combi- 
nation of the two senses of touch proper giving us a 
sense of the surface of the hand, and of the muscular 
sense giving a knowledge of an outward object re- 
sisting this surface. " If we lay our hand upon a 
table, we become conscious, on a little reflection, 
that we do not feel the table, but merely that part 
of our skin which the table touches." (Miiller, 


p. 1081.) Even as to the colored surface falling under 
the eye, it is doubtful whether we should place it 
certainly out and beyond our organism without the 
concurrence of the muscular sense and a gathered 
experience. The boy born blind, whose eye was 
couched by Cheselden, said that objects at first 
seemed " to touch his eyes as what he felt did his 
skin." In a like case operated upon, and recorded 
by Home, objects seemed at first to touch the eye. 
The expressions are somewhat vague, but it is clear 
that the objects were felt as having a close relation- 
ship to the eye, and were not known as being at a 
distance. It is certain that it is mainly and most 
effectually (if not exclusively) by the muscular sense 
that we obtain an apprehension, or rather knowledge, 
of an object beyond our bodily frame, and indepen- 
dent of it. Dr. Carpenter, with his usual sound judg- 
ment, declares that it is probably on the sensations 
communicated through this sense that " the idea of 
the material world, as something external to our- 
selves, chiefly rests ; but that this idea is by no 
means a logical deduction from our experience of 
these sensations, being rather an instinctive or intui- 
tive perception directly excited by them." (Hum. 
Phys., p. 612.) 

* I cannot do better than quote once more from 
Wundt, who gives us the result of German research 
(p. 427.) "The first acts of sense-perception are 
grounded on the operation of the Muscular Sense 
[that is, so far as objects beyond the body are con- 


cerned]. When we move our members we come 
upon external resistances. We observe that these 
resistances sometimes give way before our pressure ; 
but we find at the same time that this takes place 
with very different degrees of facility, and that in 
order to put different bodies in motion we must ap- 
ply very different degrees of muscular force ; but to 
every single degree of the contraction-force there 
corresponds a determinate degree in intensity of the 
muscular sensations. With these muscular sensa- 
tions, the sensations of the skin which cover our 
members of touch so continually mingle, that the 
intensity of these touch-sensations goes parallel to 
the intensity of the accompanying muscular sensa- 
tions. We succeed in this way in connecting the 
degree of intensity of the muscular sensations in a 
necessary manner with the nature of the resistances 
which set themselves against our movement." 


The eye is a more complicated structure than any 
of the other organs of sense, and there are more dis- 
putes as to the functions and operations of its parts 
than in regard to those of any of the other senses. 
On some points, however, there is a pretty general 
agreement among the scientific physiologists in 
Germany, who have devoted so much attention to 
the subject ; and these are sufficient for our purpose, 
being opposed to the hypothesis supported by Mr. 
Mill and Mr. Bain. 


It seems to be admitted on all hands, that by the 
eye we have immediately a perception of space in 
two dimensions, or of a surface. In stating the 
views of Miiller, Wundt says (p. 95), " We can per- 
ceive spatial extension and the relation in position 
of outward objects only so far as we have a spatial 
sensation of our own retina and the relative position 
of its single points. As the retina spreads itself in 
a surface, the images of objects obtain upon it only 
two dimensions. But this disadvantage, under which 
sight labors as compared with feeling, is compensated 
by the body's own movements, by means of which 
we can view successively the one object from different 
stand-points. As regards the sense of sight, the per- 
ception (Anschauung) of the third dimension is 
through a judgment, and so Miiller calls it a repre- 
sentation ( Vorstellung), while he designates the in- 
tuition of surface as a sensation." "The grand 
principle of the theory of Miiller, that the percep- 
tion of a surface is a sensation, and that the percep- 
tion of depth on the other hand is a representation 
formed through judgment, is to this day the univer- 
sally received one, and the researches remain settled, 
although this department since that tune has been 
enriched by a great many new facts, and although 
this principle, so far as certain matters of fact are 
concerned, does not seem to be sufficient." The in- 
sufficiency does not relate to the original discern- 
ment of a surface by the eye, which seems to be ac- 
knowledged on all hands, but to the provision in the 


eye itself for discovering the three dimensions of 
space. " The perception of superficial space, which 
goes before all representations of space, and makes 
the same possible, is bound up in the sense of sight 
so intimately with the pure sensation, that there is 
nowhere in the consciousness any act lying in the 
middle between the sensation and its perception in 
the form of space." (p. 145.) It should be added 
that Waitz and Lotze are opposed as to whether the 
chief importance should be attached to the sensible 
or motor factors : Waitz ascribing the greater value 
to the sensation ; and Lotze, to the motor element. 
Wundt (p. 104) says that all observation shows that 
both exercise an influence at the same time. 

So much for our perception of a superficies by the 
eye. But there is a provision in the organ of sight 
for giving us space in three dimensions, and for dis- 
covering the distance of objects. This can be done 
even by the single eye, not immediately with every 
perception, as may be done by the two eyes, but by 
a succession of perceptions. This is accomplished in 
the case of a single eye by its power of accommo- 
dating itself to different distances. Much attention 
has been given of late years to the nature of the 
accommodation-mechanism by Helmholtz and others. 
The accommodation seems originally to be involun- 
tary and unconscious, but is brought under our notice 
by the attached muscular feeling. So far as this 
means is concerned, the determination of distance 
by one eye is confined within very narrow limits j 


but there is a great help to it in the movement of 
the ball of the eye, of which intimation is given by 
the attached muscles. But by far the most important 
provision in the visual organ for discovering the 
third dimension of space is to be found in binocular 
vision, that is, in the convergence of the axis, accord- 
ing as the objects are near, and in the different as- 
pect of the object falling under each eye. Wundt 
again supplies us with an excellent summary : " The 
measurements which we are able to bring out by 
means of our senses which give us the intuition of 
space show this remarkable difference between the 
two, that the eye as the sense operating in the dis- 
tance measures space according to all the four dimen- 
sions ; whereas sensations by the skin, which are 
effected only by the immediate contact of the 
outward object with the surface of the skin, 
are all disposed only over one surface. The per- 
ception of the third dimension of space through 
the sense of sight is, however, so far as can be proven 
by experience, a mediate one derived from the move- 
ments of the muscles of the eye (partly of the ex- 
ternal, which move the apple of the eye ; partly of 
the internal, which regulate the accommodation- 
mechanism). These measurements of distance de- 
pend on nothing but the estimation of the muscular 
sensations accompanying the movements, and there- 
fore the perception is accomplished only by means 
of a lengthened experience and practice, and hence 
arise the great uncertainty and incompleteness of 


all measurements of that kind. Originally all spatial 
sense-intuitions are of surfaces ; depth for the eye 
comes forth gradually out of the surface ; the sense 
ever penetrates deeper and deeper into boundless 
space, its circle of vision widening as the visual circle 
of its experience extends." (p. 29.) 

That the eye is immediately cognizant of direction 
and superficial figure is proven by the reported 
cases of persons born blind, but who acquired eye- 
sight by means of a surgical operation. The best 
reported case is that of Dr. Franz of Leipzig (Phil. 
Trans, of Roy. Soc. 1841), and I shall quote from it 
at considerable length. The youth had been born 
blind, and was seventeen years of age when the ex- 
periment was wrought which gave him the use of 
one eye. When the eye was sufficiently restored to 
bear the light, " a sheet of paper on which two strong 
black lines had been drawn, the one horizontal, the 
other vertical, was placed before him at the distance 
of about three feet. He was now allowed to open 
the eye, and after attentive examination he called 
the lines by their right denominations." " The out- 
line in black of a square, six inches in diameter, 
within which a circle had been drawn, and within 
the latter a triangle, was, after careful examination, 
recognized and correctly described by him." "At 
the distance of three feet, and on a level with the 
eye, a solid cube and a sphere, each of four inches 
diameter, were placed before him." "After atten- 
tively examining these bodies, he said he saw a quad- 


rangular and a circular figure, and after some con- 
sideration lie pronounced the one a square and the 
other a disc. His eye being then closed, the cube 
was taken away and a disc of equal size substituted 
and placed next to the sphere. On again opening 
his eye he observed no difference in these objects, 
but regarded them both as discs. The solid cube 
was now placed in a somewhat oblique position be- 
fore the eye, and close beside it a figure cut out of 
pasteboard, representing a plane outline prospect of 
the cube when in this position. Both objects he 
took to be something like flat quadrates. A pyramid 
placed before him with one of its sides towards his 
eye he saw as a plain triangle. This object was now 
turned a little so as to present two of its sides to 
view, but rather more of one side than of the other : 
after considering and examining it for a long time, 
he said that this was a very extraordinary figure ; 
it was neither a triangle, nor a quadrangle, nor a 
circle ; he had no idea of it, and could not describe 
it ; 6 in fact,' said he, ' I must give it up/ On the con- 
clusion of these experiments, I asked him to describe 
the sensations the objects had produced ; whereupon 
he said, that immediately on opening his eye he had 
discovered a difference in the two objects, the cube 
and the sphere, placed before him, and perceived 
that they were not drawings ; but that he had not 
been able to form from them the idea of a square 
and a disc until he perceived a sensation of what he 
saw in the points of his fingers, as if he really touched 


the objects. When I gave the three bodies (the 
sphere, cube, and pyramid) into his hand, he was 
much surprised he had not recognized them as such 
by sight, as he was well acquainted with mathemat- 
ical figures by his touch." These observations show 
that the eye takes in surface and superficial figure 
at once, but cannot immediately discern solidity. If 
the persons have the use of both eyes, they would 
observe the difference between a disc and a solid, 
but they would not be able to say, till they feel it, 
that the latter is a solid. It requires to be added, 
that persons who have their sight thus given them 
require observation and thought to reconcile the in- 
formation they had got from touch with that which 
they are now receiving from sight, just as persons 
who have learned two languages, say German and 
French, require practice to enable them readily to 
translate the one into the other. In the case reported 
by Cheselden, the boy, " upon being told what things 
were whose form he before knew from feeling, said 
he would carefully observe that he might know them 
again." Dr. Carpenter tells us of a boy of four years 
old, upon whom the operation for congenital cataract 
had been very successfully performed, that " he con- 
tinued to find his way about his father's house rather 
by feeling with his hands, as he had been formerly 
accustomed to do, than by his newly acquired sense 
of sight, being evidently perplexed rather than as- 
sisted by the sensations which he had derived through 
it. But when learning a new locality, he employed 


his sight, and evidently perceived the increase of 
facility which he derived from it." (Man. of Phys. 
p. 593.) 

All the recorded cases show that there is also a 
process of reasoning and experience in the discovery 
of distance. Mr. Abbot (p. 150) gives the following 
account of the observations of Trinchinetti : " He 
operated at the same time on two patients (brother 
and sister), eleven and ten years old respectively. 
The same day, having caused the boy to examine an 
orange, he placed it about one metre from him, and 
bade him try to take it. The boy brought his hand 
close to his eye (quasi a contatto del suo occhio), and 
closing his fist, found it empty, to his great surprise. 
He then tried again a few inches from his eye, and 
at last, in this tentative way, succeeded in taking the 
orange. When the same experiment was tried with 
the girl, she also at first attempted to grasp the 
orange with her hand very near the eye (colla mano 
assai vicina air occhio), then, perceiving her error, 
stretched out her forefinger and pushed it in a 
straight line slowly until she reached the object." 
Other patients have been observed (by Janin and 
Duval) to move their hands in search of objects in 
straight lines from the eye. Trinchinetti " regards 
these observations as indicating a belief that visible 
objects were in actual contact with the eye." It is 
clear that the eye gives direction to the object, but 
does not apprehend distance immediately. Franz 
says of his patient, that " if he wished to form an 


estimate of " the distance of objects from his own 
person, or of two objects from each other, without 
moving from his place, he examined the objects from 
different points of view by turning his head to the 
right and to the left." 

The German physiologists have paid great atten- 
tion to the case of persons born blind, and the con- 
clusions reached do not correspond with those of 
Platner. "As respects persons born blind," says 
Wundt (p. 60), " who are not supported by the accom- 
panying and preceding experience of the sense of 
sight, the perception of the sensation of place takes 
place after a much more tedious and laborious man- 
ner. The blind man receives the representation of 
his body wholly through his own touch. While he 
touches with the finger or hand different parts of 
his body, there arise in the muscles of the arm just 
as many different muscular feelings. These become 
to him a measure of different distances. Thus he 
receives from the mutual spatial position of single 
points a representation of his skin-surface, and while 
at the same time, at every point, the Quale of the 
sensation corresponding to the same imprints itself, 
he is placed in a position also to declare the place 
where are to be found the impressions which work 
from without." 

This is more fully explained (p. 31) : " The repre- 
sentation of the third dimension can also be awakened 
in the person born blind, but this only through a 
long series of conclusions, in which the changing 


impressions of the sense of feeling, and the muscular 
sensations of the entire self-moving body, work to- 
gether. As the person seeing remains in his place, 
and lets the objects in a manner come towards him, 
while he, at his will, opens his eyes to the far or the 
near; so must the blind person, when he would dis- 
cover the outer world, go and seek out the objects 
which remain to him in unchangeable rest." " The 
person seeing accommodates only his eye, the blind 
man his whole body, to the objects." 

It does not concern us in this discussion to inquire 
what truth there is in the Berkeleyan theory of 
vision. If the above conclusions be trustworthy, as 
I believe they are, they show it can be accepted only 
with important modifications. Berkeley was posi- 
tively mistaken in arguing that the eye is percipient 
only of color, and not of extension. He was further 
guilty of an oversight in not attending to the very 
special provision in the organs of vision for enabling 
us, always by experience, to discover the third dimen 
sion of space, and distance. It is firmly established 
that a surface is ever presented to the eye, and is 
perceived immediately; and this surface supplies a 
measure to us in all our other visual perceptions. It 
is now proven that there is a beautiful teleological 
apparatus in each eye, and still more in the rela- 
tive position of the two eyes, whereby we can dis- 
cover the solidity and estimate the distances of 
bodies. 1 

1 Thus far there is truth in Abbot's Sight and Touch, 


As the result of this criticism, conducted on the 
Psychological Method, we find ourselves entitled to 
adhere to a certain body of intuitive truth respecting 
both mind and matter. Instead of looking on mind 
as a mere " series of feelings/' we apprehend it as 
an abiding existence, with various properties which 
evolve themselves from day to day in our experience. 
Instead of regarding matter as a "possibility," we 
contemplate it as having a permanent being, with 
diverse forms of activity, which are ever manifesting 
themselves to our senses. On this intuitive truth 
we build others by a gathered observation, and as 
we do so we feel that they are laid on a foundation 
which cannot be shaken. 

Some object to this realistic doctrine, whether as 
held by the world at large or by professed metaphy- 
sicians, that it is contradicted by the established 
truths of modern physical science, which shows that 
light and heat are not substances, but vibrations in 
an ether, and that all the other physical forces are 
correlated with them. But these discoveries of recent 
science are all consistent with a doctrine of natural 
realism, when the same is properly expounded. Our 
senses afford us primarily a knowledge of the affec- 
tions of our bodily frame, these affections being al- 
ways localized. Such information is given us by 
touch, by sight, and probably also by smell, taste, 
and hearing. Then, by the muscular sense, we come 
to know objects resisting the movement of our local- 
ized organs, and external to these organs. In these 


operations, and especially in muscular resistance, w* 
know motion and force, that is, we are sensible of a 
limb moving in consequence of an effort, and being 
stayed by an extended object with a resisting force. 
This is all we know primarily of matter by the senses, 
and it has not been set aside by any doctrine of 
modern physical science. 

I have no partiality for the 'distinction between -the 
Primary and Secondary Qualities of bodies. In fact, 
as has often been acknowledged, the secondary qual- 
ities, such as heat and smell, are not so much proper- 
ties of matter as felt affections of our organism, which 
may indeed imply an external cause, but with which 
they are not to be identified. We can, however, 
specify the qualities of body which are primarily or 
intuitively known. These seem to be Externality, 
Eesisting Force, and Extension, together, I think, 
with Motion in Space. All besides, such as temper- 
ature, odors, tastes, and sounds, are mere affections 
of our organism, giving notice of changes in our 
bodily frame. Lotze says that our sense of pressure 
and of temperature is not an object, but a condition 
which the incitement in the parts of the skin brings 
forth. Meissner, following out the same doctrines, 
says that they are not sensations (Empfindungeri), 
but feelings, in so far as they do not stand in relation 
directly and immediately to an object, but are a 
condition of the subject, our own selves. Even color 
itself, though more objective, is felt merely, as in the 
seen surface, standing in relation to our eye, and we 


can say nothing more of it than that it affects us in 
a particular manner. 

Taking this view of matter, we see that we have 
first an original or intuitive knowledge. To this we 
are ever adding by observation, by generalization, 
and by deduction. But then, in the rapidity of 
thought and the hurry of life, our observations are 
often loose, our generalizations too wide, and our 
reasonings hasty. Hence the errors into which we 
are led, which, however, are not to be charged on 
our senses, but upon the judgments we have super- 
induced upon the information which they furnish. 
It cannot be shown that our intuitive perceptions, 
being those that have the sanction of Him who made 
us, ever do deceive us, or that they are contradicted 
by any established truth of science. 1 

Adopting these views of our original perceptions, 
we see how we have a confirmation of their trust- 
worthiness in the circumstance that the different 
senses yield the same testimony. I am persuaded, 
indeed, that our conviction rests primarily, and all 
along most firmly, on the assurance we have as to 
the veracity of each sense (see a). Still it is possible 
to get verifications even of our intuitions and dem- 
onstrations, thus land-measuring and astronomy 
corroborate our geometrical deductions. It is cer- 

1 1 have endeavored to show that (2.) That between Sensation and 

the difficulties connected with the ap- Perception ; (3.) That between the 

parent deception of the senses can be Objects intuitively Perceived ; all of 

removed by attending to three dis- them being extra-mental, but some of 

tinctions : (1.) That between our them also extra-organic. (Intuitions, 

Original and Acquired Perceptions; Pt. n. B. 11. c. i. 3.) 


tainly satisfactory to find that, in their original 
depositions, the senses, which are so far independent 
witnesses, thoroughly concur. Thus both touch and 
sight give us surfaces, which a little experience 
enables us to discover to be identical. It is probable 
that all the senses give us direction outward. It is 
certain that they all give us information directly or 
indirectly of external objects ; and thus each in its 
own way prepares us for looking out upon and esti- 
mating a world which, beginning at self as a centre, 
extends as far into space as the eye, aided by the 
telescope, can penetrate. 



THE faculty of Memory has not received any very 
special consideration in the writings of Mr. Mill. 
When we turn to the account given by his prede- 
cessors in the school, we find it defective, in fact, as 
is usual with them, overlooking the main element. 
Our recollections are represented as " revived sensa- 
tions." The statement might be allowed to pass in 
common conversation, or in loose literature, but can- 
not be accepted from a metaphysician. There may 
be a revival not merely of our sensations, but of 
our mental operations generally, of our thoughts, 
our emotions, of our very recollections. And in 
every exercise of memory there is more than a re- 
vival of our experience. As the new and the essen- 
tial element, there is a belief that we have had the 
experience, and that the event has been before us, 
in time past. All this being matter of constant con- 
sciousness, we seldom notice it, just as we pay no at- 
tention to the bodies which we ever see falling to 
the ground. But as it was the falling apple, which 
ordinary men thought beneath their regard, which 



seemed to Newton (if the common story is to be 
credited) the phenomenon to be weighed, and which 
actually furnished the key to the explanation of the 
path of the moon and planets in their orbits ; so it 
is in the familiar facts of our consciousness that the 
psychologist finds the means of clearing up the 
more complex laws of our mental nature. In par- 
ticular, every one who would dive into the deeper 
mysteries of mind must specially estimate what is 
involved in memory, which is quite as important 
a faculty as even sensation in our mental consti- 

In memory, let it be observed, we are beyond the 
territory of immediate knowledge, with the object 
before us : we are now in the region of Faith. We 
believe in the existence of an object not now present ; 
in that, say, of a departed friend never again to be 
met with in this world. We believe that this friend 
lived, and that we had frequent intercourse with him, 
in time past. I call this the Recognitive Power of 
Memory, to distinguish it from the mere reproductive, 
the recalling and imagining power. What we thus 
experience, what we are conscious of, cannot be 
called u a revived sensation " without giving the re- 
vival much that was not in the sensation. We have 
now not only Faith in its rudiments, we have Time 
in all its significance. No doubt it appears first in 
the concrete mixed up with other things ; but so do 
all our ideas, so do our very sensations. It comes in 
the form of an event believed to have happened in 


time past. But it is there in the mind, consciousness 
being witness; and we have only to abstract the 
time from the event to have the abstract idea of 
time, just as we have the idea of sensation by 
separating in thought the sentient from the self-sen- 
tient. Time thus reached has quite as real an 
existence as the very sensation which may have 
been conjoined with our original perception of the 

Mr. Mill, in language already quoted (supra, pp. 
68, 94), admits the existence of the belief involved 
in memory, and asserts its veracity and ultimate 
veracity. Our memories and expectations are present 
feelings, but each of them involves a belief in more 
than its own existence. A remembrance involves 
u the belief that a sensation, of which it is a copy or 
representation, actually existed in the past ; " and an 
expectation involves the belief, " that a sensation or 
other feeling to which it directly refers will exist in 
the future ; " and the belief the two include is, " that 
I myself formerly had, or that I myself and no other 
shall hereafter have, the sensations remembered or 
expected." He is fond, as we shall immediately see, 
of ascribing most of our convictions, beliefs, and 
judgments to association of ideas. Mr. James Mill 
had declared broadly, " that wherever the name 
Belief is applied, there is a case of the indissoluble 
association of ideas ; " and that " no instance can be 
adduced in which anything besides an indissoluble 
association can be shown in belief." (Analysis, p. 281.) 


But his son has been obliged to modify this doctrine, 
and to allow that there is an " ultimate " belief prior 
to association, and independent of it. I am sure that 
he is right in calling in such a belief. But I am also 
sure that he should have called in other beliefs 
equally independent of association; and we shall 
have to supply his deficiencies as we advance by 
showing how wide is the domain of faith. Mean- 
while let us observe how much is involved in the 
faith of memory and expectation. We have seen in 
last chapter that the senses directly or indirectly 
open to us the distant and the remote, till our minds 
are lost in the immensity of space. Now we see 
time stretching away into the past and the future, 
till it goes out into eternity. And it is interesting 
to notice, that while these ultimate beliefs, like the 
senses, carry with them their own evidence, they are 
ever meeting with corroborations. We remember a 
field, a dell, a cottage which we once visited; we 
have not seen it for many years, but as we now go 
back to it, we find it as we have been picturing it in 
our minds. These confirmations of our lower faiths 
help us to put a more implicit trust in our higher 
natural beliefs, which may not admit of any confirm- 
ation by sense. Already, in this belief of memory 
and expectation, we have the beginnings and the 
rudiments of that faith in the unseen, which in 
its higher flights carries us so far beyond ourselves, 
and lifts us as on wings high above this world. 

The subject of Association of Ideas, which is inti- 


mately connected with Memory, has long engaged 
the attention of British metaphysicians. It is re- 
ferred to by Hobbes, who was evidently aware of 
what Aristotle had written. It was employed by 
Locke to explain certain anomalies and eccentricities 
of mind and character. Its importance in account- 
ing for ordinary mental action was first brought out 
fully by Francis Huteheson, who showed in particular 
how it helped to create secondary affections. Some 
of its properties had a prominence given them by 
Hume, who used it to help his sceptical purposes by 
explaining by it many of the beliefs usually ascribed 
to reason. A fuller and a juster account of it than 
any previously published was given by Turnbull (the 
preceptor of Eeid) in his Moral Philosophy. Hart- 
ley speculated upon it in an empirical and peculiarly 
Anglican manner, identifying association with vibra- 
tions in the nerves. All the Scottish metaphysicians, 
including Reid, Beattie, and Stewart, discoursed upon 
it with greater or less fulness. But as universal at- 
tention was called to it, its power and significance 
came to be greatly exaggerated. This was certainly 
done by Alison when, passing far beyond the more 
sober views entertained on the same subject by Hutch- 
eson and Beattie, he sought to account by this one 
principle for all the phenomena of beauty. Brown 
drew back from so extreme a position, and maintained 
that there was excited by beautiful objects a class of 
feelings which could not be resolved into association 
of ideas nor anything else. But in his mental phys- 


iology suggestion plays a very important, I would 
say the principal, part. He treats of our intellectual 
operations under the heads of Simple and Kelative 
Suggestion, and indulges in an excess of ingenuity 
in making these two faculties manufacture so many 
of our ideas. Mr. James Mill followed, and carrying 
out a hint thrown out by Brown, that all our asso- 
ciate feelings could be reduced to " a fine species of 
proximity " (Lecture xxxv.), resolved all suggestion 
into the one law of contiguity; and abandoning 
Brown, who stood up for intuitive beliefs, and adher- 
ing to Hume, accounted for our very beliefs and 
judgments by association. The time for a reaction 
had now come. Artists never favored Alison's reduc- 
tion of beauty to association. New and profound 
ideas were introduced into English metaphysics by 
Coleridge, and through the taste stimulated by him 
and others for German speculation. But the recoil 
was actually called forth by Sir James Mackintosh's 
Dissertation on Ethical Science, which at once created 
the opposition of our higher moralists to the attempt 
made by him to manufacture our idea of moral good 
by means of association. Sir W. Hamilton, who 
belongs to this period, devoted his penetrating intel- 
lect to the more thorough expression of the laws of 
the reproduction of our ideas, and has thrown not a 
little light on the subject, at the- same time keeping 
the principle in its own place. Some of us had 
hoped that this tendency to exaggerate the power 
and importance of association had enjoyed its day, 


and was now past forever. But the wheel of specu- 
lative opinion seems to have come round to the posi- 
tion it had an age ago ; and we find association of 
ideas occupying in the writings of the younger Mill 
and Mr. Bain as high a place as it ever had in the 
works of Alison and Brown, of Mackintosh and the 
older Mill, or, we may add, as it had two ages 
earlier still in the philosophy of Hume and of Hart- 
ley. There is evidently clear room for a new dis- 
cussion of the whole subject. Of late it has been 
taken up by the German metaphysicians generally ; 
and the School of Herbart, in particular, has been 
seeking to give a mathematical expression to the 
laws of the succession of our ideas. I should like 
to see the results of the investigations of the British 
School, especially of Hamilton, and of the later 
German metaphysicians, wrought out into a consist- 
ent system. 

Mr. Mill can scarcely be said to have added much 
to our knowledge of the laws of association. He 
specially dwells on two points, and he exaggerates 
and distorts both. The first is what he calls the Law 
of Inseparable Association. " Associations produced 
by contiguity become more certain and rapid by rep- 
etition. When two phenomena have been very 
often experienced in conjunction, and have not in 
any single instance occurred separately, either in ex- 
perience or in thought, there is produced between 
them what has been called Inseparable Association ; 
by which is not meant that the association must in- 



evitably last to the end of life, that no subsequent 
experience or process of thought can possibly avail 
to dissolve it, but only that, as long as no such ex- 
perience or process of thought has taken place, the 
association is irresistible, it is impossible for us to 
think the one thing disjoined from the other." 
(p. 191.) We have here an important truth, which 
was much dwelt upon by our author's father. It 
can scarcely be raised to the dignity of a law; it 
results from higher laws. According to the fre- 
quency with which two ideas have been together, so 
will be the tendency of the one to recall the other. 
When they have often been associated, the one will 
bring up the other, not only without an act of will 
on our part, but it may be in opposition to our ut- 
most efforts. Thus there are painful recollections 
which we would fain be rid of, but they cleave to us 
with horrid pertinacity, because conjoined with ob- 
jects which are forever pressing themselves on our 
notice. The only way of dissolving such a combina- 
tion is by forming a new one, as in chemistry we 
dissolve a compound by bringing to bear upon it 
another substance, which having a strong affinity to 
one of the elements, draws it away from that with 
which it is now united. It is thus we break up an 
old set of associations by forming new ones, say by a 
change of scene or society. 

So far we have a well-known operation, according 
to a well-known law. But let us understand precisely 
what is involved. We shall find that Mr. Mill has 


BO stretched the law as to make it embrace an en- 
tirely different phenomenon. It is implied that two 
ideas having been together, the one will never cast 
up without the other tending to follow. But this 
does not require that we judge or decide that there 
is, and still less that there must be, some relation 
between them in the nature of things, or discerned 
by the mind. On the contrary, we may see them to 
be utterly discrepant, and wish that we could only 
break the links that join them in the chain of asso- 
ciation. Thus there is a lovely spot where we once 
saw a foul act committed, and ever since, as we pass 
it, the whole scene rushes into our mind; but we 
never think or conclude that there is any necessary 
or even natural connection between the place and 
the deed. Mr. Mill has slipped in a word very dex- 
terously, when he says, " It is impossible for us ever 
to think the one disjoined from the other." This is 
true only when by u think " we understand " having 
the idea of." It is a fact that the one idea recalls the 
other, but we do not therefore think the one to be 
joined to the other, either in the nature of things, 
or according to the laws of thought. 

We have here come to one of the gravest errors 
into which Mr. Mill has fallen in his theory of the 
operations of the mind. It is that of making the 
association of ideas usurp the province of judgment, 
which declares that two ideas or objects have a rela- 
tion. I admit that the two, suggestion and judg- 
ment or comparison, often coincide and co-operate, 


and accomplish most important ends as they do so. 
Things that have a natural connection are often pre- 
sented to us together ; they are thus brought under 
the law of association, and they are henceforth often 
recalled at the same time. In this way the associa- 
tion of ideas may lead to a hasty belief, not founded 
on a careful comparison of facts. I believe that 
much of what is usually reckoned understanding or 
judgment contains little else than an association of 
ideas. The so-called "thought" of the lower ani- 
mals, of children, and even of men of mature 
years, consists mainly in ideas succeeding each other 
in a train determined by outward circumstances or 
by habit. It has to be added, that association of 
ideas often essentially aids us in forming a mature 
judgment, by bringing things that have a positive 
relation into juxtaposition, whereby we are enabled 
to discover the connection. As the association helps 
the judgment, so the judgment, when it once con- 
nects the two things, creates an association of ideas, 
whereby the one tends to bring up the other, and 
thereby we may be led to discover further relations, 
real or imaginary. But the actual comparison of 
two ideas or objects, and the predication of their 
agreement or disagreement, is always an operation 
different from, and should be regarded as higher 
than, the mere alliance of them by an accidental asso- 
ciation in our minds. The psychologist, instead of 
confounding, should be careful to distinguish them. 
Philosophy should aim at delivering us as much as 


possible from the power of accidental conjunctions, 
and bringing us under the habitual influence of a 
judicial temper of mind, which looks to the nature 
of things. Mr. Mill has done as much as within him 
lies to degrade human intelligence, by grounding 
belief- on association, when he should have led us to 
seek for a deeper foundation in the mind's capacity 
of discerning realities and their relations. This is a 
subject which will come more fully before us when 
we consider Comparison. 

Mr. Mill makes great use of another peculiarity of 
association, which had been much dwelt on by 
Brown. " When impressions have been so often ex- 
perienced in conjunction, that each of them calls up 
readily and instantaneously the ideas of the whole 
group, these ideas sometimes melt and coalesce into 
one another, and appear not several ideas but one." 
(Logic, B. vi. c. iv. 3.) Thus far we have a correct 
statement. When ideas have often been in com- 
pany, they flow together so spontaneously, and in 
the end so rapidly, that we cannot stay or even 
watch them in their course. As thus having no at- 
tention bestowed on them, some, or perhaps the 
whole, pass away into oblivion, according to a law 
to be immediately unfolded. Possibly we do not 
declare them to be one, I rather think we make 
no declaration about them at all ; but we do not, we 
cannot, distinguish them one from another. And 
when high feeling mingles with them, there may be 
produced upon our nervous organism a combined 


result of a peculiar, perhaps of an intense, kind, 
which may abide when the mental ideas and emo- 
tions are gone. 

But Mr. Mill goes much further than this. " When 
many impressions or ideas are operating in the mind 
together, there sometimes takes place a process of a 
similar kind to chemical combination." (Logic, B. vi. 
c. iv. 3.) This he explains, " The effect of concurring 
causes is not always precisely the sum of the effects 
of those causes when separate, nor even always an 
effect of the same kind with them ; " thus water, the 
product, differs in its qualities from its two elements, 
oxygen and hydrogen. We must be very careful 
here to ascertain the precise facts, to guard against 
exaggerating them, or allowing them to be turned 
to illegitimate purposes. Let it be observed, that in 
chemical action we have always two substances, 
each with many properties known and unknown: 
we bring them into a certain relation to each other ; 
an action takes place very much of an unknown char- 
acter, but implying the operation of electricity, or of 
one of the correlated forces of the universe; the 
result is the formation of water, which possesses 
properties different from the oxygen, and the hydro- 
gen, and the energy exerted in producing the 
changes, but which is always capable of being re- 
solved into the same old elements with the same 
measure of energy. Now the question is, is there an 
analogous operation produced by the association of 
ideas ? I have admitted that, as the result of long 


and repeated conjunction, ideas, each, it may be, 
with its own peculiar feeling, succeed each other 
with incalculable rapidity, so that we cannot distin- 
guish between them ; and that they may coalesce in 
a result. Show the mother a plaything which be- 
longed to a deceased child, and what a rush of re- 
membrances and attached emotions will spring up, 
which she is not only not inclined, but not able, to 
analyze. But is there anything in all this like 
chemical action ? There is a mighty torrent, but it 
appears to me that in the confluence there is noth- 
ing after all but the individual ideas with their cor- 
responding feelings. There may be new associa- 
tions, but there does not seem to be a new idea. 
Some of the ideas may pass away on the instant 
never to be recalled, whereas others may bulk 
largely before the mind, and leave their observed or 
abiding consequences. But in the agglomeration 
there seems to be nothing but the ideas, the feel- 
ings, and their appropriate impressions, coalescing; 
there is no new generation, no generation of an idea 
not in the separate parts of the collection. 

In particular, it is altogether unwarrantable out 
of mere associated sensations to draw those lofty ideas 
which the mind can form as to substance and quality, 
cause and effect, moral good and moral obligation. 
Let us observe with care what is implied in the pro- 
duction of a new body by chemical composition. 
There is one element with its properties, and 
another element with its properties, a mutual ao 


tion in which there is potential energy expended, 
and a new product with its properties. And this 
mutual action we reckon a wonderful action of 
bodies ; we distinguish it from mechanical action ; 
we call it by the name of chemical affinity, and we 
seek to determine its laws. But let us suppose that 
instead of two elementary bodies we have two sen- 
sations, say of two colors, or two smells, or two 
sounds, and that these have been often together, so 
that the one always comes up immediately after the 
other ; I ask, whether we have any ground to believe 
that these would of themselves generate a third thing 
different from the two ? If they do, it must be by 
some causal power in the sensations, or out of the 
sensations, in the mind or out of the mind ; and it is 
the business of the psychologist not to overlook this 
power, not to confound it with the mere association 
of old ideas, but to separate it from them carefully, 
diligently to observe it, and endeavor to discover its 
laws, as the chemist seeks to find the law of 
elementary affinity. I can discover no evidence that 
two sensations succeeding each other will ever be 
anything else than two sensations, or that two re- 
membered sensations will ever be anything else than 
two remembered sensations. When a further pro- 
duct appears, such as the idea of power, or the idea 
of the good, it cannot be the effect of a mere sensa- 
tion, except in the sense above explained (p. 85), of 
an occasion, implying a co-operative capacity in the 
mind, such as a judgment or a power of discerning 


moral good, which capacity should be noted as 
carefully as the sensations. In short, the laws of as- 
sociation are the mere laws of the succession of our 
ideas and attached feelings, and can generate no 
new idea, without a special inlet from without or 
capacity within. Association cannot give a man born 
blind the least idea of color, and as little can it pro- 
duce any other idea. By mixing the colors of yel- 
low and blue, the hand could produce green ; but 
give a person the idea of yellow and the idea of 
blue, and from the two he could not manufacture 
the idea of green ; still less could he from these sen- 
sations, or any others, form such ideas as those of 
time or potency. 

There are two points in regard to the association 
of ideas which require to be cleared up. The first 
is the precise and ultimate expression of the law, 
that things which are related, in particular, that 
things which are like suggest each other. This 
law, under one form or other, has appeared in nearly 
every classification of the laws of the succession of 
our mental states from the time of Aristotle down- 
wards. Mr. Mill puts the law in the form, " Similar 
phenomena tend to be thought of together." (p. 190.) 
I believe that other related things do also suggest 
each other; but let this pass. The unsettled ques- 
tion is, must the relation be seen by the mind before 
the law operates ? I see a portrait, and it at once 
suggests the original. I have never seen the two 
together; I see the portrait for the first time, tho 


original is not present, and yet it is immediately 
called up. It can scarcely be alleged in such a case 
that I first discover the resemblance, and then have 
the idea of the original, for until the idea of the 
original springs up I cannot discover the resem- 
blance. Is the law then to take this form, that like 
suggests like before the likeness is observed ? This 
is a topic on which Hamilton often pondered, and he 
has advanced some subtle considerations which are 
perhaps not sufficiently reduced to a consistent 
system. Mr. Mill severely criticises Hamilton, but 
has not himself sounded the depths of the subject, 
which requires to be further cleared up before we 
have an ultimate expression of the laws of associa- 
tion. In endeavoring to explicate it, we must ever 
keep a firm hold of the distinction between thr 
observation of relations, which is an act of compari- 
son, and the mere suggestion of one thing by 
another. We shall see that the school of Mr. Mill 
has perseveringly confounded them. 

The other point requiring further elucidation re- 
lates to the Secondary Laws of Suggestion, as they 
have been called by Brown, or the Law of Prefer- 
ence, as it has been called by Hamilton. To explain 
what this means : suppose that the idea now before 
the mind has been associated with a great number 
of others, according to the laws of contiguity and 
correlation; the question arises, why among these 
ideas does it go after one rather than another ? I 
met with a do^en people at a dinner ; what makes 


me think of some one of them rather than the 
others ? Many references had been previously 
made to the facts bearing on this subject, but the 
first enumeration of Secondary Laws, as different 
from the Primary, was made by Brown, whose ar- 
rangement though clear was defective in logical 
reduction. I am sure there are two Laws of Prefer- 
ence which have a powerful influence. One of these 
is the law of native taste and talent. We go after 
the ideas which have the deepest interest to our 
natural faculties. Some, for instance, have a great 
tendency to observe resemblances, and among possi- 
ble associations they will find likenesses, analogies, 
and affinities coming up most strongly and frequently 
Some have constitutionally certain strong appeten- 
cies or passions, and their thoughts will tend towards 
the corresponding objects. The mother with a 
strong love of offspring will find every topic started 
and event occurring, suggesting possible perils or en- 
joyments to her children. I need not dwell on this, 
as it has no special reference to our present discus- 
sion, which certainly the other has. 

I call it the Law of Mental Energy. Those ideas 
are brought up most readily and frequently on 
which we have bestowed the greatest amount of 
mental force. Every mind seems to be endowed 
with a certain amount of power, and, according to 
the power expended on an idea, so is it remembered 
for a greater length of time, and so is it suggested 
more easily and frequently. It may be an energy 


of sensation, as when the idea has been very pleas- 
urable or very painful. It may be an energy of in- 
telligence, as when we have devoted one or several 
of our faculties, eagerly or for a length of time, to 
a given object. It may be an energy of emotion, as 
when a lively hope or an anxious fear has collected 
round a particular event. Or it may be an energy of 
will, as when we have given earnest attention to a sub- 
ject. Of course, the ideas, when they appear, always 
come up according to such Primary Laws as those 
of contiguity and correlation ; but the Law of Energy 
shows why, among a variety of objects which it 
.might follow, the mind takes one rather than 
another. It is thus we explain that Law of Insep- 
arable Association on which Mr. Mill dwells so much : 
the ideas have been together, and much energy 
having been expended on them in their frequent 
combination, they come up together, and they come 
up often. Much the same effects as are produced by 
frequent occurrence follow from a very strong energy 
being exerted only for a brief period, only, may be, 
for a few minutes or moments. A strong sensation, 
as that of an avalanche, heard, it may be, only once 
in our lives, may leave a life-long impression of itself. 
We can never forget the moment when, after long 
search and toil in some branch of research, a glorious 
thought burst on our view like the sun, and threw a 
flood of light on all surrounding objects. A terrible 
convulsion of fear will imprint itself on our souls for 
life, and be renewed by every correlated circum- 


stance. An acute sorrow will burn itself into the 
soul, and leave a wound which a thousand circum- 
stances will tend to open, thus the widow can 
never pass the spot where her husband was thrown 
out of a carriage and killed in her presence, without 
having the whole scene with its nervous agitations 

This train of thought and observation opens to us 
what I regard as a very deep and fundamental law 
of memory in its recalling power. I believe we are 
momentarily conscious of every sensation, idea, 
thought, or emotion of the mind. But it is merci- 
fully provided that many of our mental states are 
never reproduced : they are happily allowed to pass 
away into forgetfulness, at least they cannot be 
brought up in ordinary circumstances, though 
there are curious recorded instances of their reap- 
pearing in extraordinary positions. We should cer- 
tainly be in a pitiable condition if every tick of the 
clock in the room in which we sit, if every act of 
will put forth in moving our limbs, if every passing 
thought in our day dreams or our night dreams, 
came up as readily as our more important cogitations, 
which have engaged and engrossed much thought 
and attention. While we are conscious (so it ap- 
pears to me) of every mental operation, it seems to 
be necessary that a certain amount of mental force 
should be expended in order to our having the capac- 
ity to recall it. Very possibly this mental law may 
be connected with a physiological one, with what has 


been called by Dr. Carpenter " unconscious cerebra- 
tion." I am inclined to think that our conscious 
mental affections tend to produce an unconscious 
brain affection, and that the concurrence of the 
brain thus affected is necessary in order to memory, 
or the reproduction of an idea. Now, a certain 
amount of mental force may be necessary to produce 
the cerebration, without which there can be no rec- 
ollection. Whether from purely mental or cerebral 
causes, or as I think from the two combined, it looks 
as if the recalling of ideas requires that they should 
first have been in the consciousness with a certain 
amount of force or vividness. Many ideas which 
have been in the mind never reappear, and those 
which do, come forth, according to the power or prero- 
gative we have imparted to them, like the stars, 
which do not all show themselves, for otherwise 
the sky would be one blazing concave, but which, 
when they do appear, come out according to their 
nearness to us and their magnitude. 

It is by this broader and deeper principle that I 
account for what Mr. Mill chooses to call the Law of 
Obliviscence. I agree with Sir William Hamilton in 
thinking that there may be more than one object 
before the mind at one time. Suppose that there 
are five objects before the eye, I believe that we 
ould notice all of them. But our apprehension of 
all and each is so spread and dissipated, is so faint 
and vague, that the chance is, that no one of them 
ever presents itself to the mind at any future time. 


But let one of them be of a very brilliant color, or 
let it have a large amount of attention centred upon 
it for a special end, or suppose that it had created 
an interest in itself in time past so that it now 
awakens lively feeling, that object will be found to 
have so imprinted itself on the mind, that it will re- 
main when others pass into obliviscence. "After 
reading," says Mr. Mill (p. 260), "a chapter of a 
book, when we lay down the volume do we remem- 
ber to have been individually conscious of the printed 
letters and syllables which have passed before us ? 
Could we recall, by any effort of mind, the visible 
aspect presented by them, unless some unusual cir- 
cumstance has fixed our attention upon it during the 
perusal? Yet each of these letters and syllables 
must have been present to us as a sensation for at 
least a passing moment, or the sense could not have 
been conveyed to us. But the sense being the only 
thing in which we were interested, or, in excep- 
tional cases, the sense and a few of the words or 
sentences, we retain no impression of the separate 
letters and syllables." By the same principle, we 
account for the facts which of late years have been 
commonly ascribed to Unconscious Mental Action. 

Mr. Mill has done essential service to philosophy 
by opposing the tide which, both in Germany and in 
Britain, has been flowing too strongly in favor of this 
theory. And yet I am not sure that he has appre- 
hended all that is in the facts supposed to favor the 


(1.) I hold that the soul, from the very first, is en- 
dowed with certain powers or tendencies. Even 
matter has capacities which lead to action, and to 
changes of state when the needful conditions are 
fulfilled j and much more must the soul have original 
properties, which come forth in operation according 
to the law imposed on them. But in these primary 
endowments there is no action, conscious or uncon- 
scious ; there is simply a capacity of action. Some 
of the German philosophers who support the theory 
confound these a priori powers or regulative prin- 
ciples of the mind, of which we are certainly not 
conscious, with the actions that proceed from them, 
and of which we are conscious. 

(2.) The mind by action is ever acquiring and lay- 
ing up power, capacity, tendency. "We have some- 
thing analogous in physical nature. In the geolog- 
ical ages, the plants by drinking in the sunbeams 
acquired a stock of power, which went down with 
them into the earth as they sank into it, which abides 
in the coal which they helped to form, and is now 
ready to burst out in heat and flame in our fires, and 
supply mechanical power to our steam-engines. 
There seems to be a like laying up of power in the 
mind ; of intellectual, and, I may add, of moral or 
immoral power, the result of continued mental 
action. When we have done an act, we have a 
greater capacity, along with a tendency to do it 
again. Thus it is that we are. all our lives long, and 
on every day of them, acquiring powers, tendencies, 


dispositions, habits, inclinations, which are to abide 
with us for years, perhaps forever. This is one 
of the regulating principles in the reproduction of 
our mental states generally, and particularly in the 
association of ideas. What is done, and especially 
what is done repeatedly, leaves its trace on the soul, 
and may appear in deeds long, long after. Ideas which 
have been together simultaneously or in immediate 
succession, have the property and the tendency 
to come up together, and this in proportion to 
the mental energy which has been expended in pro- 
ducing them, and under this to the frequency with 
which they have been together. This is one of the 
elements which gives its beneficent and its awful 
power to habit. But let it be carefully observed, 
that in all this we have not come in sight of uncon- 
scious mental action. We were conscious of every 
step of the actual operations of the mind, and we 
were responsible for them throughout. Those who 
support the theory mistake the unconscious acquired 
power for unconscious acts. 

(3.) The mind by action may affect the structure 
of the brain, or the forces, mechanical, chemical, 
vital, operating in it, and in the nervous system. 
Materialistic physiologists represent high mental 
capacity as resulting from a large or finely con- 
structed brain. The more probable theory is, that a 
nicely adapted and a finely strung cerebral structure 
results from high mental capacity and activity. It 
is not the casket which forms the jewel, but it is the 



jewel that determines the size and shape of the 
casket ; or, to use a better illustration in such a con- 
nection, it is the kernel that determines the form of 
the husk. The finely organized brain thus produced 
may, in man and the lower animals, tend to go 
down by the ordinary laws of transmission from 
parent to offspring. It is thus, that in certain of the 
West India Islands, by examining the heads of the 
negroes on a plantation, a hatter can tell at what 
age their forefathers were transplanted from Africa, 
the brain being larger in those families whose an- 
cestors have been longest in contact with civilized 
men. It is thus, that in our own country, the aver- 
age size of the heads of the educated classes is larger 
than that of the uneducated. But in this, the actual 
action of the -mind is conscious throughout. It is only 
the organic product of which we are unconscious. 

This is not the place to work out these principles 
to their results. They imply important and far- 
ranging consequences, mental and organic. But 
these are not the doctrines defended by those whose 
opinions I am here reviewing. Not satisfied with 
native endowments, and acquired powers, and bodily 
effects, which are unconscious, they insist on the ex- 
istence of actual operations which are unaccompanied 
with consciousness. They are not agreed among 
themselves as to what is the nature of this action. 
The theory was introduced into modern speculation 
by Leibnitz, who connected it with the essential ac- 
tivity of his monads. It was eagerly seized by cer- 


tain of the pantheistic speculators of Germany, who 
maintained that the Divine Idea awakes to conscious- 
ness according to certain laws. As held in the 
present day, it takes two different, I should say in- 
consistent, forms. According to a numerous school 
in Germany, which may be held as represented by 
the younger Fichte, the unconscious mental action 
is thought, and thought of the highest kind : the 
thought which in the bee constructs the cells on 
mathematical principles; which bursts out in the 
highest products of genius, artistic, literary, and 
philosophic, and gives birth even to inspiration. The 
theory under this form seems to me to be fanciful in 
the highest degree. As to animal instincts, they are 
clearly to be traced to original or inherited proper- 
ties, obeying laws not yet determined. And as to 
genius, it is to be explained by far different principles. 
We account for it by high mental endowment, often 
stimulated into intense action by a peculiar nervous 
temperament. We have no evidence, that, prior to 
Bacon composing the Novum Organum, or Shak- 
speare writing Hamlet, there was any mental opera- 
tion below consciousness. There were lofty gifts in 
both, and also a training and experience which left 
their permanent effects ; but when these came forth 
into action, I apprehend that the illustrious authors 
were quite conscious of them, though they might 
not have been able or disposed to furnish a metaphys- 
ical analysis of them. 

The theory of Hamilton is of a more sober char- 


acter, but seems to be equally devoid of evidence to 
support it. The class of facts on which he rests his 
opinion are misapprehended. " When we hear the 
distant murmur of the sea, what are the constituents 
of the total perception of which we are conscious ? " 
(Metaph.y vol. i. p. 351.) He answers that the mur- 
mur is a sum made up of parts, and that if the noise 
of each wave made no impression in our sense, the 
noise of the sea, as the result of these impressions, 
could not be realized. " But the noise of each sev- 
eral wave at the distance, we suppose, is inaudible ; 
we must, however, admit that they produce a cer- 
tain modification beyond consciousness on the per- 
cipient object." He speaks of our perception of a 
forest as made up of impressions left by each leaf, 
which impressions are below consciousness. There 
is an entire misapprehension of the facts in these 
statements, and this, according to Hamilton's own 
theory of the object intuitively perceived. The mind 
is not immediately cognizant of the sound of the 
sea, or of its several waves, nor of the trees of 
the forest and their several leaves. All that it knows 
intuitively is an affection of the organism. The im- 
pression made by the distant object is on the organ- 
ism ; and when the action is sufficiently strong, the 
mind is called into exercise, and, from the perceived 
affections, argues or infers the peculiar nature of the 
distant cause. In this class of phenomena there is 
no proof of a mental operation of which we are un- 


Hamilton explains, by supposed unconscious acts, 
a class of mental phenomena with which we are all 
familiar. We walk in a "brown study" from a 
friend's house to our home : there must have been 
many mental acts performed on the way, but they 
cannot be recalled. The question is, were they ever 
before the consciousness ? Dugald Stewart maintains 
that they were for the time, but that we cannot rec- 
ollect them. Notwithstanding the acute remarks 
of Hamilton, I adhere to the explanation of Stewart. 
I do so on the general principle, that in propounding 
an hypothesis to explain a phenomenon, we should 
never call in a class of facts, of whose existence we 
have no other proof, when we can account for the 
whole by facts known on independent evidence. 
Hamilton tells us, " When suddenly awakened during 
sleep (and to ascertain the fact, I have caused my- 
self to be roused at different seasons of the night), I 
have always been able to observe that I was in the 
middle of a dream ; " but, he adds, that he was often 
scarcely certain of more than the fact that he was 
not awakened from an unconscious state, and that 
we are often not able to recollect our dreams. He 
represents it as a peculiarity of somnambulism, that 
we have no recollection when we awake of what has 
occurred during its continuance. (Yol. i. pp. 320-322.) 
Every one will admit that we are often conscious of 
states at the time, which we either do not remember 
at all, or more probably cannot remember, except 
for a very brief period after we have experienced 


them. We have thus an established order of facts 
sufficient to explain the whole phenomena, and do 
not require to resort to alleged facts of which we 
have and can have no direct evidence. We walk 
home of an evening from a place at a distance con- 
versing as we go along with a friend. In order to 
our reaching our dwelling, there must have been a 
number of mental acts to enable us to thread our 
way, along possibly a very perplexed road. Next 
morning we remember the topics gone over in the 
conversation, but have entirely and forever forgot 
the acts of will implied in guiding our steps. But I 
venture to affirm that at the time we were conscious 
of both, that we were conscious even of the volitions 
that brought us safely to our home, and that we 
should have seen this and acknowledged it, and re- 
membered it, had there been anything to call our 
attention to it at the time. The reason why the one 
is remembered while the other is forgotten, is to be 
found in the circumstance, that the conversation ex- 
cited our interest, whereas the walk, as being the 
result of long acquired habit, called forth no feeling, 
and so passed into oblivion. 



IN this chapter I have to point out first, a grave 
defect, and then a still graver error. 
There is no part of the psychology of the school 
to which Mr. Mill belongs in which their defects are 
so evident as in their account of the Judging, Com- 
parative, or Correlative capacity. They may have 
been misled in part by Brown, who joined in one 
suggestion and relation, under a faculty which he 
called Relative Suggestion, whose function it is at 
once to discover relations and suggest objects accord- 
ing to relations. Brown was wrong, I think, in allow- 
ing two such diverse functions to one power ; but it 
is justice to him to say that he has given a compre- 
hensive view of the relations which the mind of man 
can discover. He has a generic and a specific divis- 
ion. He has first a grand twofold division into Co- 
existence and Succession. Under the first he em- 
braces Position, Resemblance or Difference, Propor- 
tion, Degree, Comprehension ; and under the second, 
Causal and Casual Priority. The later members of 
the school, such as Mr. James Mill, Mr. J. S. Mill and 



Mr. Bain, have been lessening the number, and low- 
ering the importance of the relations which can be 
discovered by our faculties, and thus narrowing our 
mental powers, so as to enable them the more readily 
to account for the phenomena of the mind by sensa- 
tions and association. Mr. James Mill does speak of 
Eelative Terms, but contrives to get them without 
calling in a special faculty of Comparison. Mr. J. S. 
Mill, after specifying 1st, Feelings, 2d, Minds, and 3d, 
Bodies, as included among namable things, men- 
tions, " 4th and last, the Successions and Co-exist> 
ences, the Likenesses and Unlikenesses between feel- 
ings or states of consciousness." In explanation, he 
tells us, " Those relations, when considered as subsist- 
ing between other things, exist in reality only be- 
tween the states of consciousness which those things, 
if bodies, excite, if minds, either excite or experience." 
(Logic, B. i. c. iii. 15.) This statement is quite in 
accordance with his general theory as he has now 
developed it. As we know originally only feelings 
or states of consciousness, so the relations we dis- 
cover can only be between feelings and possibilities 
of feeling. No doubt most people imagine that in 
comparing Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon 
Bonaparte ; and in comparing or contrasting Louis 
Napoleon with Augustus, Comte with Hobbes, and 
Mill with Hume, we are comparing things out of our 
states of consciousness : but the new philosophy cor- 
rects this vulgar error, and in doing so is consistent 
with itself, whether it be consistent with our in- 


tuitive assurances or no. To complete the simplicity 
of the reduction, Mr. Bain tells us, in reviewing 
Grote's Plato (Macmillarts Magazine, July, 1865), 
" These two facts, Cognizance of Difference and Cog- 
nizance of Agreement, can be shown to exhaust the 
essence of knowledge, and both are requisites. All 
that we can know of a gold ring is summed up in its 
agreement with certain things, round things, small 
things, gold things, etc., and its differences from 
others, squares, oblong, silver, iron," etc. 

I maintain that this account of man's power of 
correlation is far too narrow, consciousness being 
the witness and arbiter. Profound thinkers have 
given a much wider sweep to the intellect. I have 
quoted the enumeration by Brown, and I have pre- 
sented below the classifications of such thinkers as 
Locke, Hume, and Kant. 1 I ask the reader to look 
at them, and to decide for himself whether they can 
all be reduced to agreement and disagreement. Mr. 
Mill gives a place to co-existences and successions. 
In this he is surely right : for when I say that Shak- 
speare and Cervantes died the same year, and that 
the ancient epic poets, Homer and Yirgil, lived be- 
fore the modern ones, Dante and Milton, I indicate 

1 Locke specifies Cause and Effect, II. Quality, containing Reality, Nega- 
Time, Place, Identity and Diversity, tion, Limitation. III. Relation, con- 
Proportion and Moral Relations (Es- taining Inherence and Subsistence, 
say, B. ii. c. xxxvii). Hume men- Causality and Dependence, Commu- 
tions Resemblance, Identity, Space nity of Agent and Patient. IV. Mo- 
and Time, Quantity, Degree, Con- dality, containing Possibility and Im- 
trariety, Cause and Effect. Kant's possibility, Existence and Non-Exist- 
categories are, I. Quantity, con- tence, Necessity and Contingence. 
taining Unity, Plurality, Totality. 


more than an agreement in the former case and a 
disagreement in the latter, I intimate the point 
of relation, which is that of Time, a relation, I 
may add, the significance of which has not been 
estimated by Mr. Mill. When I say that one figure 
before my eyes is a disc, and another a solid, I declare 
more than a difference or co-existence, I declare that 
the two differ in respect of their occupation of space. 
Again, when I affirm that oxygen is one of the ele- 
ments of water, I predicate a relation of part and 
whole, and imply one of composition, which is surely 
more than agreement, or co-existence, or succession. 
The same may be said of other relations, such as 
that of quantity, when I maintain that Chimb orazo 
is higher than Mont Blanc ; and of active property, 
when I declare that the sun attracts the earth, and 
that oxygen combines with hydrogen to form water. 1 
We are now in a position to discover and expose 
what is perhaps the most fatal error in the whole 
theory : it consists in ascribing to association the 
functions of judgment. Mr. James Mill thus sums 
up a statement : " We have now then explored those 
states of Consciousness which we call Belief in ex- 
istences : Belief in present existences ; Belief in past 
existences; and Belief in future existences. We 
have seen that, in the most simple cases, Belief con- 
sists in sensation alone, or ideas alone ; in the more 

1 I have arranged the Relations as tity, Resemblance, Active Property, 
those of Identity and Difference, and Cause and Effect. Intuitivns,!? 
Whole and Parts, Space, Time, Quan- II. B. in. c. i. 


complicated cases, in sensation, ideas, and association, 
combined ; and in no case of belief has any other 
ingredient been found." As to Propositions, he says 
they are either of general names or particular names. 
Of the former he says, " They are all merely verbal ; 
and the Belief is nothing more than recognition of 
the coincidence, entire or partial, of two general 
names." As to the latter, he says, " Propositions re- 
lating to individuals may be expressions either of 
past or future events. Belief in past events, upon 
our own experience, is memory ; upon other men's 
experience, is Belief in testimony ; both of them re- 
solved into association. Belief in future events is 
the inseparable association of like consequents with 
like antecedents." (Analysis, pp. 290, 307, 308.) I 
am not sure whether the son would adopt the whole 
of this statement : he has been obliged to admit that 
memory yields an ultimate belief, which is not the 
result of association. But his theory in the main 
coincides with that of the father. It is admitted 
that there is an original consciousness of sensations, 
and that there is a memory of sensations, which can- 
not be resolved into anything simpler. It is further 
postulated that there is an association of sensations 
according to contiguity and agreement, and that there 
is an expectation of sensations. Out of these, as I 
understand, spring our judgments (if indeed we have 
the power of judging) and our beliefs, which imply, 
and can imply nothing more than contiguity or 
agreement in the sensations. I charge this doctrine 


with stripping man of the capacity of judging of the 
actual relations of things ; and making all our beliefs, 
except those involved in sensations, and the memory 
of them, to be the creation of circumstances, and 
capable of being changed only by circumstances with 
their conjunctions and correspondencies, which, for 
anything we can ever know, may be altogether for- 
tuitous or fatalistic. 

The defects of the theory commence in the account 
given of the matter with which the mind starts : this 
is supposed to be merely sensations. But the fatal 
consequences do not become evident till we see what 
must be the explanation rendered of the mind's 
capacity of Judgment. I have endeavored in this 
treatise to meet and stop the error at its inlet, that 
so we may be preserved from the issues. I have 
shown that the mind starts with an original stock 
of knowledge and belief. In sense-perception it 
knows objects, with an existence, external to self, 
extended, and capable of resistance and of motion. 
In self-consciousness it knows self as an existing 
thing, sentient, or knowing, or remembering, or 
believing, or judging, or resolving, or entertaining 
moral or other sentiments. In memory we remem- 
ber ourselves and the event in the past, and thus 
have a continuous and identical self, with the impor- 
tant element of time. And now we can compare all 
these, and discover relations among them. By this 
further faculty the domain of our knowledge is indef- 
initely extended : in fact our acquaintance with an 


object is very vague and very limited till we have 
detected its connections with other things. But 
what I wish specially noticed is, that the comparison 
is not between mere " feelings or states of conscious- 
ness." but between things, without us as well as 
within us. I compare self in one state, say under 
sensation, with self in another state, say recollecting 
or resolving. I compare one extended object 
with another, and declare the one to be larger than 
the other. I compare events remembered, and de- 
clare that they happened at different times. I com- 
pare my very comparisons, and discover further, it 
may be more recondite, proportions and harmonies, 
till we link all nature within and without us in a 
series of uniformities. And let it be observed, that 
our judgments throughout are judgments as to real- 
ities. As being cognizant of extended objects in 
perception by the senses, on noticing two extended 
objects, say St. Paul's and its door, we declare the 
one to be greater than the other ; and our judgment 
is about things, and not about sensations, or the 
mere possibilities of sensation. On seeing two per- 
sons on our right hand and two persons on our left 
hand, we declare them to be four, as soon as we un- 
derstand what " two " and what " four " mean. We 
remember our school days and our college days, and 
we declare the one to be prior to the other. Our 
comparisons in such cases are of things, and our 
judgments upon things, and not on mere feelings, or 
mere possibilities of feeling. Circumstances have 


not produced the judgments, nor can circumstances 
change or modify them. In all circumstances I de* 
cide that the house is larger than its door that two 
and two make four ; and that an event which oc- 
curred when we were ten years old must be prior to 
one which happened when we were twenty. 

I admit that association tends to produce action, 
independent of judgment upon a comparison of the 
things. When things have often been together in 
the mind, we go spontaneously from the one to the 
other ; and if action be needed to secure the second, 
we will be disposed to exert it. As Mr. Bain, in un- 
folding the nature of our Beliefs, expresses it (Emot. 
and Willy p. 579), 1 " An animal sees the water that 
it drinks, and thereby couples in its mind the prop- 
erty of quenching thirst with the visible aspect. 
After this association has acquired a certain degree 
of tenacity, the sight of water at a distance suggests 
the other fact, so that, from the prospect, the animal 
realizes to some degree the satisfying of that craving. 
The sight of water to the thirsty animal, then, in- 
spires the movements preparatory to actual drinking ; 
the voluntary organs of locomotion are urged by 
the same energetic spur on the mere distant sight, 
as the organs of lapping and swallowing under the 
feeling of relief already commenced. This is the 
state of mature conviction as to the union of the 
two natural properties of water." I reckon this as 

1 Mr. Bain admits Intuitive Beliefs, born energy of the brain gives faith, 
but then they deceive us. " The in- and experience scepticism," p. 582. 


a case mainly of association, and not of judgment 
I do allow that association tends to make us form 
judgments. When two objects have been often 
brought together, we are led to discover a resem- 
blance, real or imaginary, between them. But ad- 
mitting all this freely, I maintain that the mind has 
a power of judgment, upon the bare contemplation 
of objects, and apart altogether from the association 
of instances. On the simple consideration of two 
straight lines, I am sure they cannot enclose a space. 
I have only to hear of a case of ingratitude for favors 
to declare it to be bad and blameworthy. 

While the two, association and comparison, often 
help each other, yet they are never the same. The 
one may exist without the other ; and the one doe& 
not increase nor decrease with the other. In many 
cases there is a strong and inseparable association 
without the judgment perceiving any relation, nay, 
where it would declare that there is no connection 
in the nature of things. Thus the letter A natur- 
ally suggests the letter B, because they have come 
so often together in our repetition of the alphabet ; 
yet no one thinks that the two have in them- 
selves any bonds of union. It so happens that, when 
the name St. Patrick is brought up, I always associate 
with it the legend I heard in my youth about 
the saint swimming from Donaghadee to Portpatrick, 
with his head in his teeth; yet the frequency of 
the conjunction has not been able to convince me of 
the possibility of the act. Often have the numbers 


17 and 20 been together in my mind, from the ac- 
cident of their having been printed together on a 
card on which I had frequent occasion to look ; but 
it has never occurred to me that the two must have 
a necessary connection. It thus appears that fre- 
quency of association cannot of itself generate a 
judgment with its attached belief. On the other 
hand, a judgment declaring that there is a connec- 
tion does not imply that there has been a frequent 
association. Comparatively seldom have 17 -f- 20 
been conjoined in my mind with 37, certainly not 
so frequently as 17 has been associated with 20, 
and yet, on the bare contemplation of 17 -|- 20, 1 de- 
clare them to be equal to 37, and cannot be made 
to decide otherwise. If I hear that Peter Jones 
robbed his master John Smith, who trusted him, I 
declare that Peter Jones deserves punishment, and 
this though I never heard of Peter Jones before. 

Mr. Mill is prepared to carry out his principles 
to consequences, which seem to me a reductio ad 
absurdum of the principles. He tells us (p. 69) that 
" the reverse of the most familiar principles of geom- 
etry might have been made conceivable, even to our 
present faculties, if these faculties had co-existed 
with a totally different constitution of external na- 
ture," and quotes at length, in proof of this, from 
Essays by a Barrister, in which it is said. " There 
is a world in which, whenever two pairs of things 
are either placed in proximity or are contemplated 
together, a fifth thing is immediately created and 


brought within the contemplation of the mind en- 
gaged in putting two and two together. This is 
surely neither inconceivable, for we can readily con- 
ceive the result by thinking of common puzzle tricks, 
nor can it be said to be beyond the power of Omnip- 
otence. Yet in such a world surely two and two 
would make five." This certainly would be the 
result on Mr. Mill's theory. But such consequences 
can be admitted only by those who deny the mind 
all power of knowing the nature of things. Those 
of us who stand up for a power of independent judg- 
ment, that is, a judgment founded on the perception 
of things, cannot allow such conclusions. Were we 
placed in a world in which two pairs of things were 
always followed by. a fifth thing, we might be dis- 
posed to believe that the pairs caused the fifth thing, 
or that there was some prearranged disposition of 
things producing them together ; but we could not 
be made to judge that 2 -|- 2 = 5, or that the fifth 
thing is not a different thing from the two and the 
two. On the other supposition put, of the two pairs 
always suggesting a fifth, we should explain their 
recurrence by some law of association, but we would 
not confound the 5 with the 2 -|- 2, or think that the 
two pairs could make five. 

The same ingenious gentleman supports the theory 
by another illustration, and receives the sanction of 
Mr. Mill. " It would also be possible to put a case 
of a world in which two lines would be universally 
supposed to include a space. Imagine a man who 



had never had any experience of straight lines 
through the medium of any sense whatever, suddenly 
placed upon a railway stretching out on a perfectly 
straight line to an indefinite distance in each direc- 
tion, He would see the rails, which would be the 
first straight lines he had ever seen, apparently meet* 
ing, or at least tending to meet, at each horizon ; and 
he would thus infer, in the absence of all other ex- 
perience, that they actually did enclose a space when 
produced far enough." Now I allow that this person, 
as he looked one way, would see a figure presented 
to the eye of two straight lines approaching nearer 
each other ; and that as he looked the other way 
he would see a like figure. But I deny that in com- 
bining the two views he would ever decide that 
the four lines seen, the two seen first and the 
two seen second, make only two straight lines. 
Tn uniting the two perception^ in thought, he 
would certainly place a bend or a turn some- 
where, possibly at the spot from which he took 
the two views. He would continue to do so till he 
realized that the lines seen on either side did not in 
fact approach nearer each other. Or to state the 
whole phenomenon w T ith more scientific accuracy : 
Intuitively, and to a person who had not acquired 
the knowledge of distance by experience, the two 
views would appear to be each of two lines approach- 
ing nearer another ; but without his being at all cog- 
nizant of the relation of the two views, or of one 
part of the lines being farther removed from him 


than another. (See supra, pp. 160-168.) As expe- 
rience told him that the lines receded from him on 
each side, he would contrive some means of com- 
bining his observations, probably in the way above 
indicated ; but he never could make two straight 
lines enclose a space. 

The same remarks apply, mutatis mutandis, to a 
third case advanced by the Barrister. Thomas Keid, 
who was a man of humor and addicted to mathe- 
matics, amused himself and relieved a dry discussion 
by drawing out a " Geometry of Yisibles " ( Works, p. 
147), in which he exhibits the conclusions which 
could be deduced from the supposed perceptions of 
sight. He proceeds upon the Berkeleyan doctrine 
of vision, and supposes that by sight we could have 
" no conception of a third dimension " of space ; and 
that a person with sight, but without touch, would 
see length and breadth, but could have no idea of 
thickness, or of the distinction of figures into planes 
and curves. Such a one, he thinks, might be driven 
by geometry to the conclusion that " every right line 
being produced will at last return into itself ; " that 
"any two right lines being produced will meet in 
two points;" and that "two or more bodies may 
exist in the same place." But these inferences can 
be deduced only by denying to vision functions 
which belong to it, and ascribing to it others which 
are not intuitive or original. We have seen that 
the eye takes in intuitively a colored surface, and if 
there be two colors on the surface, divided by a 


curve line, we at once have the perception of a 
curve. Again, by binocular vision we have, if not 
intuitively, at least by an easy process of experience 
and inference, space in the third dimension. It is 
further to be borne in mind, that in our acquired per- 
ceptions we lay down rules which may help us in 
common cases, but which, not being absolutely cor- 
rect, may lead into error when improperly applied 
to other cases ; as when we argue from the crooked 
image presented to the eye that there is a crooked 
stick corresponding to it in the water. Proceeding 
on such assumptions as these, it is possible to show 
that we are landed in the consequences so graphi- 
cally pointed out by Eeid. But the consequences 
are not legitimate, because they are drawn from a 
misapprehension of the precise nature of our intui- 
tive perceptions in vision. There is and can be no 
evidence that a person with the sense of sight, but 
without the sense of touch, would draw them. I 
hold that the very vision of two straight lines would 
prevent us from being led to declare that they could 
meet at two points. Upon the bare contemplation 
of the lines, whether made known by sight or touch 
we at once reject all such conclusions, however in- 
geniously constructed from premises which have not 
the sanction of our constitution. 

When such consequences are allowed and defend- 
ed, we see how ominous is this conjunction in the 
philosophic firmament of the School of Comte with 
that of Hume. The philosophy thus generated 


places truth, that is, a knowledge of the nature of 
things, beyond the reach of human faculties ; which 
commence with they know not what, and close, 
after a laborious process, with results which may 
have as little reality as a succession of dissolving 
views. Stripping us of a power of independent 
judgment, it leaves us the servants, I should rather 
say the slaves, of circumstances, with their conjunc- 
tions and correspondences, which may all be the 
issue of blind chance or dead mechanism, cer- 
tainly without our being able to say that they are 
not. Along with independence, I fear there is also 
taken away all responsibility, of judgment and 
belief, except, indeed, such accountability as we 
may require of a horse or a dog when we associate 
its vices with a lash, simply to prevent the animal 
from doing the deed again. I am persuaded that 
such a creed must exercise, whether the persons are 
or are not aware of it, whether they do or do not 
confess it, a deadening influence on those who 
actually believe it and come under its sway ; and if 
ever it should be accepted in its results (I say re- 
sults, for its processes are too subtle to be grasped 
by the rough hands of the common people), and its 
appropriate sentiments diffused, in a community, the 
consequences would be as fatal as those which flowed 
in the end of last century in France, from the prev- 
alence of the Sensational Philosophy, when it gave 
a wrong direction to the great political upheaval, 
and helped to degrade the national character. 


We can avoid these issues only by maintaining 
that man is so constituted as to know originally 
something of the reality of things, and to be capable 
of rising to an acquaintance with their relations 
Association may help us to form a reasonable judg- 
ment and it is a happy circumstance when it does 
so ; but whether we are or are not so aided, we 
should be taught that it is our duty to found our 
beliefs on a previous judgment, in which we look to 
the nature of things as the same can be discovered 
by us. One end, no doubt, of a good training is to 
encompass us with profitable associations in the 
family, in the social circle, and in the community ; 
with associations originating in the highest senti- 
ments, and sanctioned by the common conscience 
and the universal reason of the men of former ages. 
But it is a still higher end of the highest education 
to raise us above all hereditary and casual associa- 
tion of times or circumstances, and to constrain us 
to base our beliefs on an inspection of realities and 
actualities. Every youth should be taught that he 
is endowed with an inherent power of discernment, 
which he is not at liberty to lay aside in any circum- 
stances, and for the proper use of which he is respon- 



WHEN Professor Ferrier propounded the theory 
that one's self mixes as an integral and essen- 
tial part with our knowledge of every object, and Sir 
William Hamilton unfolded his doctrine of the rela- 
tivity of knowledge, I felt constrained to declare 
that there were views prevalent in metaphysical 
speculation which were working as much mischief 
as the ideal theory had done in the days of Berkeley ; 
and I ventured to affirm that if Professor Ferrier's 
speculations were not regarded as a reductio ad 
absurdum of the whole style of thinking, " the next 
phenomenon appearing in the philosophic firmament 
must be a Hume or a Fichte." (Meth. of Div. Gov- 
ern., 4th Edit. App. pp. 536-539.) In now holding 
that this fear has been realized, it is not needful to 
maintain that Mr. Mill is in every respect like either 
the great Scottish sceptic or the great German 
idealist, any more than to assert that these two are 
like each other. Mr. Mill is not so original a thinker 
as Hume, nor does he like him profess scepticism. 
He does not possess the speculative genius of Fichte, 



and he defends his system in a much more sober 
manner. But it can be shown that his philosophy 
comes very nearly to the positions taken up by Hume, 
when Hume is properly understood ; and in main- 
taining that mind is a series of feelings aware of 
itself, and that matter is a possibility of sensations, 
he has reached conclusions quite as visionary as 
those of Fichte. As Hume brought out fully the 
results lying in the Philosophy of Berkeley as 
one of the offshoots of the philosophy of Locke, and 
as Fichte carried to their logical consequences cer- 
tain of the fundamental principles of Kant, so Mr. 
Mill, and we may add Mr. Herbert Spencer, are pur- 
suing to their proper issues the doctrine floating in 
nearly all our later metaphysics, that we can know 
nothing of the nature of things. 

Mr. Bain speaks complacently of u the great doc- 
trine called the Relativity of Knowledge, which has 
risen by slow degrees to its present high position in 
philosophy." But unfortunately I should rather 
say fortunately no two defenders of the doctrine 
have agreed as to the sense in which they hold it ; 
in fact I can see no point in which they meet except 
the Comtian position, that the knowledge of the 
actual nature of things is beyond the reach of man. 
Mr. Mill remarks very properly (p. 5), that the 
phrase " relativity of knowledge " admits of a great 
variety of meanings, and that when a philosopher 
lays great stress upon the doctrine, " it is necessary 
to cross-examine his writings, and compel them to 


disclose in which of its many degrees of meaning he 
understands the phrase." 

There is a doctrine sometimes passing by this 
name, which will recommend itself to all sober 
thinkers: who will admit (1.) that we can know 
objects only so far as we have faculties of knowl- 
edge ; (2.) that we can know objects only under the 
aspects presented to the faculties ; and (3.) that our 
faculties are limited in number and in range, so that 
not only do we not know all objects, we do not know 
all about any one object. These positions have 
been disputed by none except some of the Alexan- 
drian Neo-Platonists in ancient times, and a few 
German defenders of the Absolute Philosophy in 
modern times. A doctrine embracing these posi- 
tions has been known and acknowledged under such 
designations as that of " the limited knowledge of 
man," and should not be expressed by so ambiguous 
a phrase as " the relativity of knowledge," which is 
applied to a very different theory. That theory has 
of late years assumed four different forms. 

I. There is the form given to it by Sir "W. Hamil- 
ton. He thus unfolds it (Metaph. i. 148): "Our 
knowledge is relative, \st, because existence is 
not cognizable absolutely and in itself, but only in 
special modes ; 2d, because these modes can be 
known only if they stand in a certain relation to 
our faculties." Mr. Mill thus comments : " Whoever 
can find anything more in these statements than 
that we do not know all about a thing, but only sc 


much as we are capable of knowing, is more ingen- 
ious or more fortunate than myself." But surely it 
is desirable to have even this much allowed and 
clearly enunciated ; only I think it unfortunate that 
two such inexplicable phrases as "absolutely" and 
"in itself" should have been introduced. Sir Wil- 
liam gives a third reason, and here the error appears. 
* 3d, Because the modes, thus relative to our facul- 
ties, are presented to and known by the mind only 
under modifications determined by these faculties 
themselves." This doctrine is thoroughly Kantian 
in itself and in its logical consequences. It makes 
the mind look at things, but through a glass so cut 
and colored that it gives a special shape and hue to 
every object "Suppose that the total object of 
consciousness in perception is = 12 ; and suppose 
that the external reality contributes 6, the material 
sense 3, and the mind 3, this may enable you 
to form some rude conjecture of the nature of the 
object of perception." 1 (Metaph. ii. p. 129.) This 
doctrine very much neutralizes that of natural 
realism, which Hamilton seems, after the manner of 
Reid, to be so strenuously defending. To suppose 
that in perception or cognition proper we mix 
elements derived from our subjective stores, is to 
unsettle our whole convictions as to the reality of 

1 Sir William Hamilton has used that he had some means of satisfying 

very unguarded language as to hu- hims&lf that he held by the reality of 

man nescience; but I have reason to things. There is a point here on 

believe that he thought himself misun- which it is hoped some of his pupila 

derstood, and I am inclined to think may be able to throw light. 


tilings; for if the mind adds three things, why 
not thirty things, why not three hundred, till we are 
landed in absolute idealism, or in the dreary flat 
into which those who would float in that ejmpty 
space are sure in the end to fall, that is, absolute 
scepticism. By assuming this middle place between 
Reid and Kant, this last of the great Scottish met- 
aphysicians has been exposed to the fire of the 
opposing camps of idealism and realism, and it 
will be impossible for the school to continue to 
hold the position of their master. 

It required no great shrewdness to foresee the 
logical consequences that would be drawn, and so I 
take no credit for resolutely opposing the doctrine 
from the time of its publication. It should be al- 
lowed that sensations, feelings, impressions, associate 
themselves with our knowledge, but every man of 
sound sense easily separates them ; and it should not 
be difficult for the philosopher to distinguish between 
them, to distinguish between our intuition of a tooth 
and the pain of toothache, between the perception 
of a landscape and the aesthetic emotions which it 
calls up. Following the spontaneous convictions of 
assurance and certitude in the mind (see x.), which 
all but the sceptic allow speculatively, and which 
even the sceptic must actually proceed upon in de- 
fending his scepticism, we should hold, (1.) that 
we know the very thing as appearing, and not a 
mere appearance without a thing to appear ; and 
(2.) that our knowledge is correct so far as it goes, 


and is not modified by the subjective forms of the 
mind. I have, been striving in these chapters to 
show that we immediately know a self and extended 
objects beyond. But we have the same grounds for 
affirming that our knowledge is correct as for assert- 
ing that we have knowledge. In the event of man's 
intuitive knowledge being mistaken or fallacious in 
any point, it is certain he could never discover it to 
be so with his present faculties. Our perceptions of 
sense, consciousness, and intuitive reason all combine 
in a consistent result, and we must receive the whole 
or reject the whole. Hamilton declares that "no at- 
tempt to show that the data of consciousness are 
(either in themselves or in their necessary conse- 
quences) mutually contradictory, has yet succeeded." 
"An original, universal, dogmatic subversion of 
knowledge has hitherto been found impossible." ( App. 
to Keid's Works, p. 746.) That there should be such 
consistency in intuitive truth that the acutest human 
intellects have not been able to detect a contradic- 
tion, is not the primary proof, but is a confirmation 
of its truth. That there should be such consistency 
in total error, or in a mixture of truth and error, is 
scarcely believable : we could account for it only on 
the supposition that it was produced by a mischievous 
deity, who wished so to deceive us that we could 
never discover the deception, a supposition con 
tradicted by the circumstance that the whole con- 
stitution of our minds and of things is fitted to im- 
press us with the importance of veracity, showing 


that the Creator and Ruler of our world is a God of 

II. Mr. Mill has enunciated the doctrine in a second 
form, and accepts it as expressing " a real and im- 
portant law of our mental nature. This is, that we 
only know anything by knowing it as distinguished 
from something else ; that all consciousness is of dif- 
ference; that two objects are the smallest number 
required to constitute consciousness ; that a thing is 
only seen to be what it is by contrast with what it 
is not." (p. 6.) He tells that the employment of the 
phrase to express this meaning is sanctioned by high 
authorities, and he mentions Mr. Bain, " who habit- 
ually uses the phrase ' relativity of knowledge ' in 
this sense." It is quite true that the doctrine, that 
all knowledge consists in comparison, has appeared 
again and again in speculative philosophy; but as 
destroying the simplicity of our mental operations, 
and reversing the order of nature, it has wrought 
only mischief. 

The mind, as I apprehend, begins its intelligent 
acts with knowledge, and, we may add, with beliefs, 
and then it can go on to compare the things known 
and -believed in, and thereby widens the domain both 
of knowledge and belief. It commences, we may 
suppose, with a perception, which is knowledge, 
of an external object, and a consciousness, which 
is knowledge, of self as perceiving the object. 
"f hen it remembers, and in doing so has a belief in 
+he object which has been perceived. In all this 


there is no comparison, but having this, the mind 
can forthwith institute a comparison and pronounce 
a judgment. Thus, having a knowledge of body in 
the concrete, the mind can then, when a purpose is 
to be served by it, declare that body exists, and that 
it is extended ; and having a knowledge of self, it 
can assert that it exists, and that it is under grief or 
joy, as our experience may be at the time. Ee- 
membering an event as happening in time past, it 
can declare that the event is real, and the time real. 
But while such judgments are involved in our pri- 
mary cognitions, I rather think that they come in 
later life : the child, I rather think, as knowing its 
own existence and never doubting it, is not at the 
trouble of asserting it. But the child, on perceiving 
two objects successively, or it may be simultaneously, 
delights to discover a relation between them. Such 
judgments follow so immediately on the cognitions, 
that it is not necessary to distinguish them from one 
another except in scientific psychology. But if meta- 
physicians lay down an opposite doctrine, and draw 
consequences from it, it is absolutely necessary to 
correct the statement. 

I suppose Mr. Mill would represent the mind as 
beginning with sensations. We have then a sensa- 
tion. Is there comparison in this ? I cannot discover 
that there is. No doubt, upon another sensation 
rising up, we may compare the one with the other 
and discover an agreement or difference. But in 
order to this comparison there is memory; and 


memory, in recalling the sensation, must bring it up 
prior to the comparison. But Mr. Mill may say that 
we have two sensations simultaneously, say a sen- 
sation of resistance by one sense, and a sensation of 
color by another, and we declare them at once to 
agree or to differ. But could we not have the sen- 
sation of resistance or the sensation of color though 
each came alone ? Even when they come simulta- 
neously, we are able to compare them, because we 
know so much of each. We ever proceed on a sup- 
posed knowledge of the objects when we compare 
and decide. When I say that 2 -|- 2 = 4, it is be- 
cause I know what is meant by the terms. If I say 
Ben Nevis is a few feet higher than Ben Macdhui, it 
is because I know somewhat of the height of each 
mountain. If I say that Aristotle's Induction was 
not the same as Bacon's ; that Comte's Positive 
Method differs essentially from Bacon's Inductive 
Method ; that Locke was not a follower of Hobbes ; 
that Condillac had no right to proclaim himself a 
disciple of Locke ; that Keid met Hume in a more 
sagacious manner than Kant did ; that Brown vainly 
endeavored to combine the Sensational School of 
France with the British Association School and the 
School of Eeid ; and that a good Inductive Logic 
must combine certain principles of Whewell with 
those of Mill, I do so because I think I know 
something of the philosophic systems of which I 
speak, and am thus able to compare or to contrast 


But Mr. Mill may refer me to the philosophy of 
Hamilton, which declares that in the very first act 
of consciousness we discover the relation of the ego 
and the non ego. My readers, however, will have 
seen by this time that I am not bound to follow 
Hamilton, who, in fact, though without meaning it, 
prepared the way for a farther doctrine from which 
he would have turned away with the strongest aver- 
sion. I believe that in our conscious sense-percep- 
tions we know both the self and the not-self in one 
concrete act ; and of course we have in ah 1 this the 
materials for a judgment ; but I doubt much whether 
the infant actually pronounces the judgment. But 
then it is said that our knowledge of the object is 
an apprehension of the relation of the object or sen- 
sation to the perceiving mind. Now, I believe that 
a relation is formed in the very act of knowledge. 
But my knowledge does not consist in the percep- 
tion of the relation on the contrary, the relation 
may arise simply from the knowledge. I apprehend 
the President of the United States of America ; as I 
do so, I have constituted a relation between myself 
and him ; but there may have been no previous re- 
lation ; and if I declare the relation, it is by a con- 
sequent and subsequent act. I strive to rise to a 
contemplation of the Divine Being; there is no 
doubt a relation of my mind to the object viewed ; 
but the relation consists in my contemplation. When 
the Divine Being looks down on His works and pities 
those who suffer, it is not because the Creator in all 


this is dependent on His creatures; the viewing of 
them by Him with regard and commiseration consti- 
tutes the particular and interesting relation. It is 
high time to lay an arrest on that style of represent- 
ation, so frequent in the present age, which would 
make us perceive a relation before perceiving the 
things related, and make the very Divine knowledge, 
so far as we can comprehend it, depend on creature 

I take exception, on like grounds, to another part 
of the same doctrine : " That a thing is only seen to 
be what it is by contrast with what it is not." I ad- 
mit that where we can discover contrasts, our notions 
are rendered more distinct and vivid. But I cannot 
allow that we should not have known a sensation, 
say the feeling of a lacerated limb, to be painful, un- 
less we had contrasted it with a pleasurable one ; on 
the contrary, I maintain that in order to contrast the 
two, we must have experienced them in succession. 
I cannot believe that we should never have known 
body as extended, unless we had previously known 
something as unextended ; or that no one could 
know and appreciate moral good unless he had been 
acquainted with moral evil. 

The doctrine I am expounding in this volume 
makes the relations to be in the things compared, 
and not the creation of the mind as it compares 
them. The opposite doctrine reverses the order of 
the mind's procedure, and, logically followed out, un- 
settles the foundation of knowledge. It makes us 



discover relations between tilings in themselves un- 
known, and it leaves us standing on a bridge of 
which we do not know that it has a support at either 
end. If we know a thing only in relation to another 
thing, and this only in relation to some other thing, 
as we thus ever chase the thing without catching it, 
we are made to feel as if we had only a series of 
strings put into our hands, at which we have to pull 
forever without their bringing anything but other 

Mr. Mill's theory obliges him to accept the special 
doctrine I am now examining in its very lowest 
form. The school of Kant, both in its German and 
British modifications, supposes that the mind has a 
rich furniture of forms and categories, out of which 
can be fashioned an ideal world of a very lofty 
character. But the school of Mill, admitting no a 
priori elements, and limiting the comparative capaci- 
ties of the mind, can furnish no such glorious crea- 
tion. Mr. Mill gives us the power of discovering 
only the relations of co-existence and succession, 
and of resemblance and difference. He says that 
" equality is but another word for the exact resem- 
blance, commonly called identity, considered an 
subsisting between things in respect of their guai^ 
tity" And then, in explaining what is implied in 
quantity, "When we say of two things that they 
differ in quantity, just as when we say they differ in 
quality, the assertion is always grounded upon a 
difference in the sensations which they excite" 


(Logic, B. i. c. iii. 11, 12) : thus making us know 
nothing of either quality or quantity or number, 
except as denoting agreements in the sensations 
forming the series which we call mind. Mr. Bain 
goes down to a still lower level, when he tells us, in 
a passage already quoted (p. 217), that cognizance 
of difference and cognizance of agreement exhaust 
the essence of knowledge ; that all we can know of 
a ring is its agreement with certain things, and its 
differences from other things ; which other things, of 
course, can be known only as they agree with, or 
differ from, yet other things. Knowledge can have 
no resting-place when driven from one thing to 
another in this shuttlecock process. It falls through, 
by being placed between such instabilities. The 
way to meet all this, and put knowledge on its 
proper basis, is by showing that we have an original 
knowledge of self, and of objects, such as a ring, be- 
yond self; and that, proceeding on this, we are able 
to discover not only resemblances and differences, 
but various other important relations, which enable 
us to combine every one thing known with others as 
also known in a compact structure, in which every 
one part binds all the others, and helps to support 
the whole. 

III. Mr. Mill would especially apply the phrase, 
" relativity of knowledge," to a third doctrine, being, 
in fact, his own theory of the mind. " Our knowl- 
edge of objects, and even our fancies about objects, 
consist of nothing but the sensations they excite, or 


which we imagine them exciting in ourselves." 
" This knowledge is merely phenomenal." " The 
object is known to us only in one special relation, 
namely, as that which produces, or is capable of 
producing, certain impressions on our senses; and 
all that we really know is these impressions." " This 
is the Doctrine of the Relativity of Knowledge to 
the knowing mind, in the simplest, purest, and, as I 
think, the most proper acceptation of the words." 
(pp. 7-14.) I confess I can see no propriety in 
applying to such a theory a phrase which had been 
appropriated by Sir William Hamilton, or by some 
of us who had criticised him, to a different doctrine. 
I do not see that it has any right to claim the title 
of " knowledge," or that it can get " relations," when 
it has no things to bring into relation. The theory 
is simply that we know sensations, and possibilities 
of sensations, while we cannot be said to know what 
sensations are. But I have no interest in giving 
the phrase any one special application rather than 
another ; I believe it to be vague and ambiguous 
in fact, not used by any two philosophers, I rather 
think by no one philosopher, at different places, in 
one and the same sense ; and I think it should be 
altogether banished from speculation. And as to 
the doctrine to which Mr. Mill would specially 
apply it, I need not enter upon the consideration of 
it here, as I have been examining it all through- 
out this volume. But there is a fourth form 
of the general theory, defended by an illustrious 


member of the same school, which demands a 

IV. Mr. Grote, in his exposition of Plato's philoso- 
phy (Art. Thecetetus), has developed a theory of rela- 
tivity, which he ascribes to the Sophists, at least 
to Protagoras, and which he himself is prepared to 
accept. It is the doctrine of Homo Mensura, which, 
construed in its true meaning, is said to be, " Object 
is implicated with, limited or measured by, Subject; 
a doctrine proclaiming the relativeness of all objects 
perceived, conceived, known or felt and the 
omnipresent involution of the perceiving, conceiv- 
ing, knowing, or feeling, Subject : the Object vary- 
ing with the Subject. 'As things appear to me, 
so they are to me ; as they appear to you, so they 
are to you/ This theory is just and important if 
rightly understood and explained." (Vol. ii. p. 335.) 
K So far as the doctrine asserts essential fusion and 
implication between Subject and Object, with actual 
multiplicitity of distinct subjects denying the 
reality either of absolute and separate Subject, or of 
absolute and separate Object I think it true and 
instructive." (p. 340.) Proceeding on this general 
doctrine, he reaches another : " What is Truth to 
one man, is not truth, and is often Falsehood, to 
another ; that which governs the mind as infallible 
authority in one part of the globe, is treated with 
indifference or contempt elsewhere. Each man's 
belief, though in part determined by the same causes 
as the belief of others, is in part also determined by 


causes peculiar to himself. When a man speaks of 
Truth he means what he himself (along with others, 
or singly, as the case may be) believes to be Truth ; 
unless he expressly superadds the indication of some 
other persons believing in it." (p. 360.) 

I have looked from time to time into the Platonic 
and Aristotelian discussions on the subject, but I 
confess I have never been able to discover what was 
the precise philosophy of the Sophists, or whether 
indeed they had a philosophy, or whether they were 
anything more than instructors of youth, professing 
to teach wisdom without knowing what wisdom 
is. So far as any of them, such as Protagoras, had 
a philosophic system, I think it probable that they 
meant it to be that which has been elaborated by 
the British Section of the school of Comte. But I 
have here to do not with the Greek Sophists, but 
with Mr. Grote. I am surprised to find him repeat- 
ing the juggle, which has so often been exposed, 
arising from the ambiguity of the phrase " Subject 
and Object." No doubt, if you use the terms as cor- 
relative, meaning by " subject " the mind contemplat- 
ing an object, and by" object" a thing contemplated, 
then the subject implies the object, and the object 
the subject, as the husband implies the wife, and 
the wife the husband. But as we cannot argue 
from the husband implying the wife that every 
man has a wife, or from the wife implying a hus- 
band that every woman has a husband, so we cannot 
argue from the mere existence of a mind that there 


must be an external thing to think about, nor from 
the bare existence of an object or thing that there 
must be a mind to think about it. As to the allega- 
tion that the subjective mind necessarily mixes its 
own shapes and colors with the things known, I 
have already examined it when discussing the first 
form of the theory of relativeness. There is, there 
can be no proof advanced in its behalf that is to 
show that the mirror does not correctly reflect the 
object presented to it. We have the same grounds 
for believing in the accuracy of our primitive knowl- 
edge as we have for believing in the existence either 
of the subject or the object. 

But the fatal part of the doctrine lies in the asser- 
tion, that truth varies with the individual, and with 
the circumstances in which he may be placed : a 
tenet which, if held by the Sophists, deserves all the 
reprobation heaped upon it by Socrates, Plato, and 
Aristotle, and, I may add, that the defence of it, 
in the further light we now enjoy, is worse than the 
original offence. By truth, I mean what philosophers 
in general have understood by it, the conformity 
of our ideas to things. There is no truth where 
there is no correspondence of our notions to realities. 
I admit that human knowledge never comes up to 
the extent of things. I allow that human knowledge 
is often partial, that is, is only partly correct, and 
may have error mixed up with it. But truth, so far 
as it is truth, is the agreement of thoughts with 
things. To illustrate this. I will not trouble the 


school with transcendental or religious truth. I ap- 
peal to judgments pronounced on more common 
and familiar affairs. Were any one to affirm that 
there never had been such a country as ancient 
Greece, such a man as Socrates, or such a sect as the 
Sophists ; that Queen Victoria is incapable of cher- 
ishing the memory of departed friends, that Louis 
Napoleon is a man of guileless transparency and 
openness of character, or that President Lincoln was 
a man given to crooked and dishonest policy ; that 
Mr. Grote was utterly illiterate, had never written, 
and could not write a history of Greece, and had 
never been favorable to vote by ballot, I would 
say of this person, not that he had got what is truth 
to himself, but that he had not reached truth at all. 
Were I to allow myself to think that a certain Lon- 
don banking-house of high repute is on the point of 
bankruptcy, and that those who manage it are a 
band of rogues and robbers, I should in the very 
act be guilty not only of error but of sin ; and I am 
sure that were I to give expression to such a thought, 
I should be justly exposed to punishment. 

Mr. Grote represents his doctrine as forming the 
basis of the principle of toleration, and the opposite 
doctrine as fostering intolerance, (p. 362.) I reverse 
this account, and declare that the person who avows 
that he cannot distinguish between truth and error, 
is not in circumstances to exercise the virtue of tol- 
erance ; for he has not discovered an error which he 
is bound to tolerate ; and Mr. Grote's principle would 


lead him to refuse toleration, if ever he did reach 
positive truth. The principle of toleration, as I un- 
derstand it, is, that I am bound to tolerate what I 
believe, what I may know, to be error ; that the 
power of punishing .error as error has not been put 
into my hands, has in fact been mercifully withheld 
from me by One who claims to be Himself the 
Judge. I am quite sure that there is a God who 
rules this world in justice and love, and yet I feel 
that I must bear even with the " fool who says in 
his heart, There is no God." This is my idea of 
toleration, which I reckon a much deeper and juster 
one than that held by those who say that truth 
varies with the individual, the age, and the circum- 

But then Mr. Grote tells us u no infallible objective 
mark, no common measure, no canon of evidence, re- 
cognized by all, has yet been found." (p. 360.) I 
admit freely that we cannot obtain what a certain 
school calls an absolute criterion of truth ; for I* admit 
that the word " absolute " is about the most unintel- 
ligible in the language, whether as used by those 
who favor or oppose the doctrine it is employed to 
designate. I allow, further, that it is in vain to 
search for any one criterion which will settle for us 
what is truth in all matters. But we have tests 
quite sufficient to determine for us what is truth and 
what is error in many matters, both speculative and 
practical ; these I shall endeavor to unfold in a future 
chapter. (See xix.) I have intuitive evidence of my 


own existence ; and evidence from testimony of the 
existence of India, which I never saw ; and evidence 
from induction and deduction of the existence of 
the law of gravitation, and I declare of any one 
who denies any of these that he is in error, and this 
however strong his beliefs may be. To believe with- 
out evidence, and not to believe when we have 
evidence, may both be sinful when our belief or un- 
belief involve duties which we owe to ourselves, to 
our fellow-men, and to God. 


THE word u conceive," with its derivatives " con- 
ceivable" and "inconceivable," is one of the 
most ambiguous in the philosophic nomenclature of 
this country. When I say I cannot conceive the dis- 
tance of a star which requires hundreds of thousands 
of years to transmit its light to our earth, I use the 
term in the sense of " image " or " represent." When 
I affirm that I have a conception of the animal king- 
dom, I mean that I have a general notion of beings 
possessing animation. When I declare that I cannot 
conceive that God should be unjust, I signify that I 
cannot so believe or decide. These three senses are 
at once seen not to be the same when the difference 
is pointed out. We cannot easily imagine the dis- 
tance of a fixed star, but we decide on the evidence 
produced, or believe on the authority of astronomers, 
that it is at the distance it is said to be. We cannot 
image the class " animal kingdom," for it includes 
innumerable objects, yet we can intellectually think 
about it, that is, about objects possessing the com- 
mon attribute of animal life. We cannot be made 



to decide or believe that Cleopatra's Needle should 
be in Paris and Egypt at the same time, yet with 
some difficulty we can simultaneously image it in 
both places. 

It could easily be shown that the phrase is used 
in all these senses in philosophy, as well as in our 
current literature. " By conception," says Stewart 
(Mem. c. iii.) ? " I mean that power of the mind which 
enables us to form 'a notion of an absent object of 
perception." Sir William Hamilton professes to use 
the word in the same sense as the German Begriff, 
that is, for the general notion formed by an indefinite 
number of objects being joined by the possession of 
a common attribute. With or without avowing it, 
philosophers have also employed it in the third sense. 
Hamilton often explains conceive by "construe in 
thought," which must denote an act of judgment ; 
he must employ it in this sense when he says it is 
inconceivable that space should have limits. Dr. 
Whewell's arguments in favor of necessary truth are 
valid only when he uses it in the signification of 
judging, as when he says, "we cannot conceive 
reasoning to be merely a series of sensations." (Phil. 
Ind. Sciences, i. 44.) 

The question arises, and must now be settled, in 
which of these senses, or in what other, is the word 
employed when man's power or impotency of con- 
ception is supposed to be a test of truth. It is clear 
that it cannot be employed in the first-mentioned 
sense Man's capability of imaging an object is no 


proof of its existence : I can picture a hobgoblin 
without supposing it to be a reality. Man's inca- 
pacity to image or represent an object is no proof of 
its non-existence ; a blind man cannot have an idea 
of color, but this does not prove even to him that 
color has no existence. Nor can it be used in the 
second signification above intimated. I can form a 
notion of a class of mermaids without being con- 
vinced that mermaids were ever seen by any human 
being. In these senses of the words there is much 
conceivable by man which has no existence, much 
inconceivable by man which has an existence. Con- 
ceivability and inconceivability can be employed as 
a test of truth only in the third meaning of the 
term, as signifying " construe in thought " (whatever 
that may mean), judge or decide. 

Both the defenders and opposers of intuitive truth 
have been in the way of going from the one of 
these meanings to the other. Hamilton uses the 
phrase both in the first and third of these significa- 
tions without perceiving that they are not the same ; 
and it is very much because of this ambiguity that 
he is able to make it appear that there is a contra- 
diction in human thought. He says, on the one 
hand, that we cannot conceive space or time as 
without bounds ; which must mean, when properly 
interpreted, that we must always give a boundary 
in the image we form of it. But then he tells us, on 
the other hand, that we are altogether unable to 
conceive space or time as bounded; that is, when 


rightly understood, we cannot be made to judge or 
decide that it has bounds. He has constructed a set 
of opposed propositions as to space, time, and 
infinity, the seeming contradiction arising very 
much from the double signification of the word 
" conceive." (See Art. on " Unconditioned " in Dis- 
cussions.) But the philosopher who has made the 
most frequent use of the impossibility of conceiving 
the opposite as a test of truth is Dr. Whewell. He 
tells us that necessary truths are those "in which 
we cannot, even by an effort of imagination, or in a 
supposition, conceive the reverse of that which is as- 
serted." Necessary truths are those of which we can- 
not distinctly conceive the contrary." (Phil Ind. Sc., 
i. 55, 59.) The phrase "imagination" and the 
phrase " distinctly " might lead us to think that by 
u conceive " we are to understand " image," yet we 
must attach a different meaning to it when he tells 
us more accurately of necessary truths that we 
"see" them which must mean "judge" them 
"to be true by thinking about them, and see that 
they could not be otherwise." (Ib., p. 20.) But so 
loosely does he use this test, that he declares that 
: laws acknowledged to be discovered by experiment, 
Such as the laws of motion and of chemical affinity, 
are such that it is inconceivable that they should 
not be true. "For how, in fact, can we conceive 
combinations otherwise than as definite in kind and 
quantity ? " " We cannot conceive a world in which 
this should not be the case." (76., i 400.) When 


the defenders of fundamental truth fall into such 
ambiguity of phraseology, and apply their test so 
unsatisfactorily, there is some excuse for those who 
criticise and oppose them when they take advantage 
of their mistakes. 

I say u some excuse," for I cannot allow that this 
is an entire justification of Mr. Mill when he uses 
the word, as I shall show he does, in so many differ- 
ent senses; and when, in criticising Hamilton and 
Whewell, he employs it in a way they would not 
have allowed. Mr. Mill is aware that, when Sir 
William Hamilton is wishing to bring out his full 
meaning, he uses such phrases as "think," and 
" construe in thought : " and Dr. Whewell, while he 
also uses the word " think," is careful to represent 
Conceptions as modifications of Fundamental Ideas, 
which he enumerates and classifies. Mr. Mill always 
employs the phrase in a vague manner, and often in 
more than one signification. He must use it in the 
sense of " image " or " picture " when he says, " We 
cannot conceive a line without breadth ; we can 
form no mental picture of such a line." (Logic, B. n. 
c. v. 1.) This is all true, but it is also true that 
we can form an abstract notion of such a line. 
He states that Dr. Whewell's idea of necessary truth 
is "a proposition, the negation of which is not 
only false, but inconceivable." But then, in criticis- 
ing this test, he uses the word in quite a different 
sense : " When we have often seen and thought two 
things together, and have never in one instance 


either seen or thought of them separate, there is, by 
the primary law of association, an increasing diffi- 
culty, which in the end becomes insuperable, of con- 
ceiving the two things apart." (Ib., 6.) It is clear 
that while Dr. Whewell uses the phrases as applica- 
ble to a proposition declared to be true, Mr. Mill 
employs it in the sense of mental pictures joined by 
association. This is one other instance of an am- 
phiboly, which we have noticed before, and which 
will require to be noticed again in examining Mr. 
Mill's attempt to explain necessity of thought by 
association of ideas. 

He tells us, " The history of science teems with 
inconceivabilities which have been conquered, and 
supposed necessary truths, which have first ceased 
to be thought necessary, then to be thought 
true, and have finally come to be deemed im- 
possible." (p. 150.) And then he gives us. once 
more his famous case of persons not being able 
to conceive of antipodes, being "merely the effect 
of a strong association." But let us understand 
precisely in what sense our forefathers had a diffi- 
culty in conceiving the existence of antipodes. It is 
evident that they could have little difficulty in 
imagining to themselves a round globe with persons 
with their feet adhering to it all around. Their 
difficulty lay in deciding it to be true ; and the 
difficulty was increased by the very vividness of the 
picture of men, as they would have said, with their 
feet upward and their head downward. It is clear 


that Mr. Mill, when he applies it to such a case, 
must be using the word in the sense of "judge " and 
" believe." But let us understand on what ground 
our ancestors felt a difficulty in yielding their judg- 
ment and belief. Not because of any supposed 
intuition or necessary truth, I am not aware that 
they ever appealed to such; not even because of a 
strong association : but because the alleged fact 
seemed contrary to a law of nature established by 
observation. A gathered experience seemed to 
show that there was an absolute up and down, and 
that heavy bodies tended downwards, and thus, and 
not on any a priori grounds, did they argue that 
there could not be antipodes, as persons so situated 
would fall away into a lower space. As a narrow 
experience had created the difficulty, so it could 
remove it by giving us a view of the earth as a 
mass of matter, causing human beings to adhere 
to it over its whole surface. And such a case 
does not in the least tend to prove, that truths 
which are seen to be truths at once, and without 
a gathered experience, could ever be set aside by a 
further experience : that a conscious intelligent 
being could be made to regard himself as non-exist- 
ing ; that he could believe himself as having been 
in existence before he existed ; or that he could be 
led to allow that two straight lines might enclose 
a space in the constellation Orion. 

It is in the highest degree expedient, at the stage 
to which mental science has come, that the word 



' conceive/ and its derivatives, should be abandoned 
altogether in such a connection ; as being fitted to 
confuse our ideas and mislead our judgments. The 
greatest and wisest philosophers have not appealed 
to the possibility or impossibility of conception as 
tests of truth or falsehood, but have pointed to other 
and clearer and more decisive criteria. 1 

1 The printing of this work had pro- lief" (i. 303.) But he himself con- 

ceeded thus far, when I observed that tinues to take advantage of the am- 

Mr. M., in 6th edition of Logic, just biguity, which is greater than he yet 

published, has been obliged, in defend- sees. I have been laboring for years 

ing himself against Mr. Spencer, to to make metaphysicians perceive the 

notice that " conceive " might signify ambiguity. 
" to have an idea " or " to have a be- 



II TR MILL freely admits the existence and the 
LTJL veracity of intuitive perceptions. But he has 
lot inquired into their nature, their mode of opera- 
tion, their laws, their tests, or their limits. What he 
has failed to do must be undertaken by others ; and 
in the process it will be seen that intuition has quite 
as important a place in the mind as sensation, asst)- 
ciation, or any of Mr. Mill's favorite principles, and 
that it must be embraced and have a distinct place 
allotted to it in a sufficient theory of our mental 

Our intuitions are all of. the nature of perceptions, 
in which we look on objects known or apprehended : 
on separate objects, or on objects compared with one 
another. Sometimes the objects are present, and we 
look on them directly, by the senses and self-con- 
sciousness. In other cases they are not present, but 
still we have an apprehension of them, and our con- 
victions, whether beliefs or judgments, proceed upon 
this apprehension. A very different account has 
often been given of them. According to Locke, the 



mind in intuition looks at ideas, and not at things. 
According to the theory elaborated by Kant, and so 
far adopted by Hamilton, it is possessed of a priori 
forms, which it imposes on objects. Such views are 
altogether indefensible, and have in fact hindered the 
ready reception of the true doctrine. Making our 
intuitions mere ideas or forms in the mind, they have 
very much separated them from realities. The in- 
tuitions I stand up for are all intuitions of things. 
In opposition to M. Comte and his school in all its 
branches, I hold that man is so constituted as to 
know somewhat of things, and the relations of things. 
What we know of things, with their relations, on the 
bare inspection or contemplation of them, constitutes 
the body of intuitive truth, and the capacity to dis- 
cover it is called intuition. Taken in this sense, the 
exercise of intuition is not opposed to experience, 
but is in fact an experience : only it is not a gathered 
experience ; it is a singular experience at the basis 
of all collected experiences. 

Our intuitive perceptions are all, in the first in- 
stance, individual or singular. Thus, by the external 
senses, we observe an extended and colored surface 
before us, or by the internal consciousness we ex- 
perience ourselves in a certain state of thought and 
feeling. Our very intuitive judgments or com- 
parisons are singular. On finding that a particular 
rod, A, is of the same length as another rod, B, and 
that B is of the same length as a third rod, C, we at 
once declare that A is equal to C. But we can gen- 


eralize these intuitive judgments, and then they be- 
come maxims or axioms. We see that what is true 
of the rods A, B, C, would also be of the rods D, E, 
F, or of any other objects found equal to one an- 
other, and we feel ourselves entitled to declare that 
66 things which are equal to the same thing are equal 
to one another." As the generalization is the result, 
not of an intuitive, but a discursive, process, it is 
possible that error may creep into it, that the gener- 
alized expression of our original perceptions may be 
mutilated or exaggerated. But on the supposition 
that the generalization has been properly conducted, 
the maxim is as certain as the individual perception 
is allowed to be. 

By standing up for this distinction between what we 
may call our spontaneous and our generalized intui- 
tions, we can answer an objection urged against the 
existence of necessary truth by Mr. Mill. " The very 
fact that the question is disputed, disproves the 
alleged impossibility. Those against whom it is 
needful to defend the belief which is affirmed to be 
necessary, are unmistakable examples that it is not 
necessary." (p. 150.) But what is the dispute ? It 
is commonly not as to the belief, but simply as to 
whether it is intuitive, which, as Mr. Mill knows and 
asserts, is not to be settled by intuition. Take only 
one example : the sums of equals are equals ; there 
is no dispute as to the truth of this. What Mr. 
Mill's school objects to is, that it should be represent- 
ed as intuitive. But again, what the upholders of 


necessary truth maintain is, not that every man must 
hold speculatively by intuitive truth, that is, hold by 
it in the generalized form given it by philosophers ; 
but that all believe in, and spontaneously act upon, 
their individual primitive perceptions. It is quite 
possible for Mr. Mill to maintain that the law of 
cause and effect is not necessary or universal, and 
that there may be a phenomenon without a cause in 
"the Dog-star; but meanwhile it will be found that 
on any given occurrence presenting itself, he will 
look for something as producing it. 

If we look carefully into the nature of the intui- 
tive perceptions of the mind, they will be found to 
be of three kinds. Some of them are of the nature 
of Primitive Cognitions : the object is now present, 
and we look upon it. It is thus we are conscious of 
self as existing in a particular state. This being 
self-evident, we cannot be made to regard ourselves 
as non-existent, and not in that particular state. In 
other exercises our intuitions are of the nature of 
Primitive Beliefs ; the object is not present, but we 
contemplate it, and discover that it is of such a na- 
ture. It is thus that we believe of space, that it 
does not cease when our eye is no longer able to 
follow it : this appears from the very nature of space ; 
and having such a conviction, we cannot be made to 
believe that space, at the point at which it ceases to 
be invisible, should come to a termination. Again, 
some of our intuitions are of the nature of Primitive 
Judgments, in which by bare inspection we discover 


relations between things apprehended. Thus we are 
told first of one man that he died at the age of fifty, 
and then of another man that he died at the age of 
fifty, and we at once declare that the two men died 
at the same age ; and this being evident from the 
contemplation of the things, we cannot be made to 
decide otherwise. 

The truth reached by intuition in these its three 
forms is of course limited, is confined, indeed, 
within very stringent boundaries. It is narrowed, 
first of all by the original inlets, which are the oui>- 
ward and inward senses ; and secondly, by the limit- 
ed capacity of man to discover what is involved in 
this primitive stock. What intuition may do of itself 
is best seen in mathematical demonstration, in 
which every step taken is seen to be true at once, 
on the bare contemplation of the figures or num- 
bers, and by which we reach a body of truth of im- 
mense scientific value. But the main service of in- 
tuition consists in its furnishing a point from which 
experience may start, and a foundation on which to 
build. Our original perceptions lie at the basis of all 
our acquired ones. I allow that our acquired ones, 
obtained by a gathered experience, carry us far be- 
yond our primitive perceptions. But in fact intui- 
tions, for example those of sense and consciousness, 
mingle with all our mental operations, and upon 
them we must fall back in the last resort, when 
required to specify the ground on which experience 


Keeping these explanations and distinctions in 
view, it should not be difficult to find tests of intui- 
tion. The primary mark I hold to be Self-Evidence. 
The evidence is in the objects, and is discerned by 
the mind on the bare contemplation of them. From 
the mere inspection of consciousness we perceive 
self hi some action or under some affection. From 
the simple apprehension of 2 -|- 2 we see that it 
makes 4. And wherever there is Self-Evidence there 
will also be Necessity. But let us observe carefully 
what this necessity consists in. It is not a fatalistic 
necessity imposed upon us from without, and for any- 
thing we know in an arbitrary manner. It is neces- 
sity arising sole]y from the nature of things as the 
same is perceived by the mind. 1 This conviction of 
necessity may assume two forms, a positive and a 
negative. On the bare contemplation of 2 -)- 2 I see 
that it must make 4 : this is the positive form. I 
am further constrained to decide that it cannot be 
otherwise, that 2 -|- 2 cannot be 3, or 5, or any other 
number : this is the negative form. These two forms 
depend on each other, or rather they both depend 
on the Self-Evidence ; and we may in argument of 

1 Mr. Herbert Spencer, following in meanings, he is completely fettered by 

this respect Sir William Hamilton, them. Their indestructibility is the 

stands up for Necessity as a test of proof to him that his consciousness is 

ultimate truth, but overlooks Self- imprisoned within them." (Fortn. Rev. 

Evidence, the evidence in the thing No. v.) I have given a more pleasant 

looked at. " No matter what he calls account of them. The necessity is 

these indestructible relations [of Con- not a fetter or a prison, but a convic- 

sciousness, using consciousness in a tion arising from an immediate per- 

very vague and perverted sense], no ception of the nature of the thing, 
matter what he supposes to be their 


any kind employ the one or other as may suit our 
purpose. And as is the nature of the original per- 
ception, so is the precise nature of the conviction of 
necessity. We have seen that our intuitions may be 
of the nature of cognitions, of beliefs, or of judg- 
ments ; and whatever the intuition be, we must ad- 
here to it, and cannot be made to give our assent to 
the opposite. Thus, if our intuition be a cognition 
of an object as existing, we cannot be made to ac- 
knowledge it as non-existing : if I know self as think- 
ing, I cannot be made to allow that it is not thinking. 
Again, if our intuition be a belief, such as that I saw 
a particular person yesterday, I cannot be made to 
believe that I did not see him. The same is true of 
our judgments : deciding that two straight lines can- 
not enclose a space, I cannot be made to allow that 
they can form a closed figure. Thus understood, 
the necessity of conviction (and not the mere inca- 
pacity of conceiving) becomes a criterion of funda- 
mental truth, clear and certain, and not difficult of 

To these some have added Universality. But the 
phrase has been used in two different significations. 
As employed by some, it means the universality of 
the truth. In this sense the universality is involved 
in the necessity ; we cannot be made to believe that 
two straight lines should enclose a space at any time 
or in any world. Thus understood, the test of uni- 
versality is not different from that of necessity ; but 
as presenting the conviction under a very important 


aspect, it may often be usefully employed in deter- 
mining whether a truth is intuitive. But Univer- 
sality may also mean being entertained by all men. 
This property of intuitive truth may be more appro- 
priately designated by Catholicity or Common Con- 
sent. This quality does belong to all primary truth, 
and where it is found it may be regarded as a pre- 
sumption that the truth is intuitive. But it is not 
a proof; for it may spring not so much from any in- 
born principle as from the uniformity to be found 
in the experience of all men. All men expect that 
the sun will rise to-morrow, not from any intuitive 
principle, but from the gathered observations of the 
past carried forward to the future. 

These two then, Self-Evidence, and Necessity with 
implied Universality, are the decisive tests of intui- 
tive truth. All intuitive truths possess these charac- 
teristics ; no others do. The question now to be 
discussed is, Can these marks be produced by Asso- 
ciation of Ideas, or by Experience, the two princi- 
ples from which Mr. Mill gets all our general con- 
victions ? 

(1.) "As for the feeling of necessity, or what is 
termed a " necessity of thought, it is of all mental 
phenomena positively the one which an inseparable 
association is the most evidently competent to gen- 
erate." (p. 299). In answer to this it can be shown, 
in the first place, that in many cases of immediate 
and necessary conviction we have not two ideas to 
be associated. This holds of our primitive cognitions 


and primitive beliefs. Take the consciousness which 
the infant has of a sensation, or rather of self as 
sentient. Here we cannot point to two objects which 
have been often together : we have only one object, 
the sentient self as existing, and we cannot be made 
to know it as not existing or not sentient. Again, I 
remember that I was under a peculiar sensation of 
pain two days ago : I never had the same feeling be- 
fore ; the object is one, and there has been no repe- 
tition, and therefore no association can have been 
formed ; and yet I have the most perfect assurance 
that I existed two days ago under that sensation, 
and I cannot be made to believe otherwise. These 
are cases of intuition allowed by Mr. Mill (see e, ()), 
but in which association cannot generate the con- 

In other cases, I admit that there is a combination 
of two ideas or two objects, that is, those in which 
we institute a comparison or pronounce a judgment. 
But even in such the judgment is pronounced not 
in consequence of the mere association, but on a 
comparison of the things brought together. What 
Mr. Mill means by the feeling of necessity, which 
can be generated by his examples, is evident from 
his examples. " Many persons who have been fright- 
ened in childhood can never be alone in the dark 
without irrepressible terrors. Many a person is un- 
able to revisit a particular place, or think of a partic- 
ular event, without recalling acute feelings of grief 
or reminiscences of suffering." (p. 265.) This is a 


very glaring example of mistaking the point to be 
proven. Mr. Mill is aware what those who hold 
necessary truth mean by it. u Necessary/' says Mr. 
Mill, " according to Kant's definition, is, that of which 
the negation is impossible." But the necessity which 
he looks at and accounts for is of a very different 
character ; it is not a necessity of conviction, of 
belief, or judgment, but is a mere association of two 
ideas or thoughts, so that the one never comes up 
without the other. He explains his meaning : 
" When an association has acquired the character of 
inseparability, when the bond between the two 
has been thus firmly riveted, not only does the idea 
called up by the association become, in our con- 
sciousness, inseparable from the idea which suggested 
it, but the facts or phenomena answering to those 
ideas come at last to seem inseparable in existence : 
things which we are unable to conceive apart, appear 
incapable of existing apart." (p. 191.) The word 
" conceive " has here come in with all its ambiguity, 
and the two things denoted by it, having an idea, 
and judging or deciding, are here represented as 
being one. But the two are very different. The 
fright in childhood may long continue to raise up 
terror, but cannot of itself create conviction; as 
may be seen in the case of multitudes who expe- 
rience the fear but have never believed in ghosts. 
When Pascal was crossing a bridge in a carriage, 
the two leaders took fright and plunged into the 
Seine ; the shock broke the traces, and the carriage 


remained on the brink of the precipice ; ever after 
he felt as if there was an abyss on his left hand, and 
had a chair placed there to tranquillize his mind. 
But this association, while it raised the painful idea, 
did not convince his judgment that there was act- 
ually, a river ever running at his left hand. I never 
pass a particular spot without being reminded of a 
youthful companion whom I met there for the last 
time before his removal from this world; but this 
association of my friend and the spot has not con- 
vinced me that the two have any real connection. 
The mother never thinks of a particular church-yard 
without remembering that her boy sleeps there ; 
but she does not therefore think that her child will 
be there forever ; on the contrary, she may firmly 
believe that he will rise again. 

(2.) Just as little can experience, I mean a 
gathered experience, create the self-evidence and 
its consequent necessity. A truth reached by an 
accumulation of instances cannot be self-evident, for 
the evidence is collected from the uniformity of 
many, perhaps of innumerable cases. Neither is it 
accompanied with any conviction of necessity. We 
do not affirm of a general law thus discovered that 
the opposite of it is impossible, and we allow that 
there may be exceptions. Some persons are so 
situated that they see crows daily, and they have 
never seen them with any other color than black ; 
they have sufficient evidence of the general law 
that crows are of this color, and when the idea of a 


crow comes up before them, it will always be in a 
sable hue: but it is not self-evident that crows 
are black ; and they do not decide that they must 
be of this color, or that there cannot possibly be 
white crows in any other world which God has 

We have seen, in a former chapter, that the mind 
is endowed with a capacity of observing relations. 
Some of these are discovered by a process of length- 
ened observation. It is thus we know that all mat- 
ter attracts other matter, and that the elements of 
bodies have certain chemical affinities which can be 
expressed in numerical proportions. But there are 
other relations which can be discerned immediately. 
In saying so, I do not affirm that they are noticed 
independently of things compared; I mean that 
they are discovered on the contemplation, the bare 
contemplation, of the objects, and without a gathered 
experience or an induction of instances. Thus, on 
comparing my conscious self of the present moment 
with the remembered self of yesterday, I at once, 
and without any mediate proof, declare an identity 
of person. A triangle being a figure with three 
angles, I need no experiments to convince me that 
one of the angles being a part is less than the whole, 
and that the three angles make up the whole. I 
may never have tried whether I could enclose a 
space by two straight lines : I do not require to try 
it, for I see it at once ; and I would declare of any 
apparent or professed attempt to make them form a 


closed figure, that it must involve, some deception, 
and that the two lines cannot be straight. 

Mr. Mill derives what are usually reckoned intui- 
tive truths by "simple enumeration without a 
known exception ; " a method which Bacon declares 
to be "puerile" and useless, as the next instance 
may prove an exception. " The principles of num- 
ber and geometry are duly and satisfactorily proved 
by that method alone, nor are they susceptible of 
any other proof." (Logic, B. m. c. xxi. 2.) This 
makes the evidence for mathematical axioms the 
same in kind as that which the Hindu has for water 
being always liquid; as that which we have for 
crows being black all over the universe ; and for the 
alternation of day and night continuing forever. 
We see now how he should be obliged in logical 
consistency to maintain that two and two may make 
five in other worlds. I meet this by showing that 
there is an essential difference between the two 
classes of cases. In the one we see nothing in the 
nature of things to necessitate the law; we adhere 
to it simply on the ground of the number of instan- 
ces, and we can readily be made to believe that 
the law is limited in range, and that there are ex- 
ceptions. But in the other class the relation is in 
the very nature of the things; we discover it at 
once by looking at the things ; we believe it to hold 
wherever the things exist, and we cannot be made 
to decide otherwise. In order to account for the 
conviction of necessity and universality which 


attaches to mathematical truth, Mr. Mill refers to 
the circumstance that geometrical curves admit of 
being distinctly painted in the imagination, so that 
we have "mental pictures of all possible combina- 
tions of lines and angles." (Logic, B. n. c. v. 5.) 
But what, I ask, makes he of algebraic demonstra-- 
tions, where there can be no such painting of the 
imagination, while yet there is the same necessity ? 
And I call attention to the circumstance that men- 
tal pictures do not constitute an accumulation of in- 
stances, or tend in the least to bring the case under 
the law of simplex enumeratio. They do, however, 
serve a purpose. They enable us to perceive more 
clearly the nature of the objects, and to conceive the 
"possible combinations of angles and figures," so 
that we see the certainty and necessity of the truth. 
Supposing, he says that two straight lines after 
diverging could again converge, "we can transport 
ourselves thither in imagination, and can frame a 
mental image of the appearance which one or both 
the lines must present at that point, which we may 
rely upon as being precisely similar to the reality." 
The clearness of the image does help us, but it is 
simply in the way of giving us an apprehension of 
the " reality," and thus enabling us to pronounce a 
judgment on which we may " rely." 

By means of these tests we can without much 
difficulty distinguish between truths which are intui- 
tive, and truths which are reached by a gathered 
experience. We have seen that Mr. Mill proceeds 


on these criteria. (See 17, , *.) And if any one will 
take the trouble to look back upon the chapter in 
which I have collected his " Admissions," he will see 
that Self-Evidence, and Necessity with Universality, 
cover, sanction, and justify all the intuitive princi- 
ples he has avowed. But as not following out these 
criteria consequentially, he rejects as intuitive, and 
labors to establish otherwise, truths which can stand 
these tests quite as clearly and decisively as those 
acknowledged by him. Hence the heterogeneous 
character of his theory, which looks as if it stood 
altogether on sensation, and was reared by associa- 
tion, but requires to be buttressed on all sides by in- 
tuition to keep it from falling. It is only by logi- 
cally carrying out these tests that we can construct 
a consistent system of philosophy, in which we give 
to intuition what belongs to intuition, and to expe- 
rience what belongs to experience. Let us now in- 
quire whether our conviction as to causation can 
stand the tests of intuition. 




ON this subject a much sounder doctrine than 
that entertained by most metaphysicians has 
been laid down by Professor Bain, who, however, 
has neglected to unfold all that is in the mental 
phenomenon which he has noticed. "As regards 
muscular exertion, there is a notable specialty, a 
radical difference in kind, signified by such phrases 
as ( the sense of power/ ' the feeling of energy put 
forth,' ' the experience of force or resistance.' This 
is an ultimate phase of the human consciousness, and 
the most general and fundamental of all our con- 
scious states. By this experience [observe, not a 
gathered experience] we body forth to ourselves a 
notion of force or power." He believes that u the 
combined movements of locomotion are original or 
instinctive." (Senses and Intell., pp. 98, 267.) Here, 
then, we have a perception, original and intuitive, of 
things exercising power. We are immediately con- 
scious of power exerted, and we find it producing an 
effect. Again, things become known to us as exer- 
cising power upon us, and we know the effect as 



proceeding from a cause. This perception of power 
exercised by us, and upon us, is the primary cogni- 
tion of things on which all our judgments as to 
causation are founded. Our knowledge both of self 
and of external objects is of things effecting and 
being effected. 

Mr. Mill tells us, in his Logic, that he has no in- 
tention of entering into the merits of the question 
of causation u as a problem of transcendental meta- 
physics." And yet in his logical treatment of the 
subject he is ever introducing, I think unfortunately, 
metaphysical speculations. In the discussion he has 
confounded (in this respect like some of the Scottish 
metaphysicians) the principle of causation with that 
of the uniformity of nature. When we say that na- 
ture is uniform, we mean that nature constitutes a 
course or system ; that there is in it a determinate 
number of agents, or rather a fixed amount of ener- 
gy, actual or potential, operating according to laws, 
and in an arranged constitution. That there is an 
invariable uniformity in nature, is discovered by a 
long experience. It is certainly not an obvious truth 
forced upon us by an early and easy observation. 
Judging by first appearances, it looks as if nature 
often acted unsystematically, or was swayed by in- 
fluences out of its sphere. The mother finds her 
child in health to-day, sick to-morrow, better the 
third day, and dead the next ; so far from showing 
a uniformity, it seems rather to indicate a change of 
agency, springing either from an unknown fatality 


or the will of a supernatural being. It is only as 
the result of long and patient research, conducted 
independently in the various departments of nature 
and of history, that we reach the reasonable convic- 
tion that there is a fixed system constituted amidst 
these seeming irregularities. 

Now it is, in fact, of this uniformity of nature that 
Mr. Mill is treating in his chapter on the " Evidence 
of Universal Causation." He is right in saying of it, 
" There must have been a time when the universal 
prevalence of that law throughout nature could not 
have been affirmed in the same confident and un- 
qualified manner as at present." He is further right, 
so far as the uniformity of nature is concerned, when 
he says that the reasons for our reliance on it " do 
not hold in circumstances unknown to us, and beyond 
the possible range of our experience. In distant 
parts of the stellar regions, where the phenomena 
may be entirely unlike those with which we are ac- 
quainted, it would be folly to affirm confidently that 
this general law prevails, any more than those spec- 
ial ones which we have found to hold universally on 
our own planet. The uniformity in the succession 
of events, otherwise called the law of causation, must 
be received not as a law of the universe, but of that 
portion of it only which is within the range of our 
means of sure observation, with a reasonable degree 
of extension to adjacent cases." In this passage he 
identifies " the uniformity in the succession of events" 
with " the law of causation." But these are not the 


same. It is quite conceivable that there may be 
worlds in which there is a universal causation, and 
yet no self-contained system of natural causes. Some, 
or many, or in fact all of the phenomena might be 
produced by agents acting from above or beyond the 
phenomena themselves, say by the Divine Being, 
or angels, or demons. In such a world spring might 
follow winter one year, and be prevented from fol- 
lowing it the next by the action of a supra-mundane 
influence ; and no one would be able from the past 
to anticipate the future. In this state of things there 
would be no uniformity of physical agencies, and yet 
there would be an invariable causation. Now the 
grand metaphysical question is not about the uni- 
formity of nature, but about the relation of cause 
and effect. There is a momentary discovery of the 
difference of the two, and yet a studious identifica- 
tion of them in the following passage : " There was a 
time when many of the phenomena of nature must 
have appeared altogether capricious and irregular, 
not governed by any laws, nor steadily consequent 
upon any causes. Such phenomena, indeed, were 
commonly in that early stage of human knowledge 
ascribed to the direct intervention of the will of 
some supernatural being, and therefore still to a, 

It is admitted that the great body of mankind, 
whether they are or are not persuaded of the exist- 
ence of a uniform system of nature, believe as to 
every effect, as to every new thing produced, or 


change upon an old thing, that it must have had a 
cause, whether natural or supernatural. The ques- 
tion is, Is this belief intuitive ? 

This conviction can stand the tests of intuition. 
On the bare contemplation of a new phenomenon, 
that is, of a new thing appearing, of a thing which 
did not exist before, we declare that it has had a 
producing cause. It certainly appears in very early 
life, before there can be a lengthened or wide obser- 
vation or enumeration of instances. It is strong in 
very primitive states of society, long before mankind 
had observed an invariable uniformity in the occur- 
rence of natural phenomena. It can be shown that 
it is necessary and universal. Mr. Mill indeed tells 
us, " I am convinced that any one accustomed to ab- 
straction and analysis, who will fairly exert his facul- 
ties for the purpose, will, when his imagination has 
once learned to entertain the notion, find no difficul- 
ty in conceiving that in some one for instance of the 
many firmaments into which sidereal astronomy now 
divides the universe, events may succeed one another 
at random, without any fixed law ; nor can anything 
in our experience or in our mental nature constitute 
a sufficient, or indeed any, reason for believing that 
this is nowhere the case." The phrase, " fixed law," 
here employed, is ambiguous ; it may mean a mere 
natural or physical law, such as that of attraction. 
And I acknowledge at once that it is quite possible 
to apprehend and to believe that there may be worlds 
in which new phenomena, or changes on old phenom- 


ena, may be produced, without the operation of that 
law of gravitation which seems to act everywhere in 
our mundane system. But the real question is, would 
not the mind insist, and this according to " a fixed 
law" of our "mental nature," that the event must 
have a cause in an agent physical or spiritual ? We 
may observe that the old misleading phrase, " con- 
ceive," is once more casting up. I admit we can 
have the idea of, that is, image to ourselves, a new 
phenomenon without any necessary precedent. But 
I hold that we cannot be made to judge, decide, or 
believe, that in any firmament there could be a new 
event, say a world springing into being with no 
cause to produce it. 

The mental phenomenon, the conviction and its 
attached necessity, Mr. Mill would explain by the as- 
sociation of ideas. But then, in order to save himself 
from obvious and pressing difficulties, he is obliged to 
lay down very stringent precautions as to when asso- 
ciation can generate a feeling of necessity. In order 
to produce the inseparable association, the phenom- 
enon must be " so closely linked in our experience, 
that we never perceive the one without at the same 
time, or the immediately succeeding moment, per- 
ceiving the other." Again, " No frequency of con- 
junction between two phenomena will create an in- 
separable association if counter associations are being 
created all the while." (p. 266.) By help of these 
two principles he tries to avoid the objection which 
might be urged to his mode of accounting for the 


conviction of necessity. But he is seen to be involved 
in hopeless perplexities when these laws are ap- 
plied to causation. For neither of them would allow 
the necessary conviction to be formed as to cause 
and effect from mere experience. For it is not the 
case that we never perceive a cause without perceiv- 
ing an effect, or that we never observe an effect with- 
out also observing a cause. On the contrary, the 
effects of causes operating, and the causes of effects 
falling under our notice, are very often concealed 
from us. Of how few of the occurrences happening 
in the circle of our experience, or in the times in 
which we live, are we able to estimate the conse- 
quences ? In a large proportion of the physical ef- 
fects which come under our notice, the cause is not 
discovered at the time, and is only found out in the 
end by a process of elaborate experiment, fitted to 
distract instead of aiding association ; and in the case 
of a large number of the occurrences of our personal 
experience, or recorded in history, we never do rise 
to the discovery of the causes. Again, as to the oth- 
er precautionary rule, we find that in the case of 
cause and effect there is a constant formation of 
" counter associations " by reason of the complexity 
of the conditions which meet in the cause, and of inci- 
dents which attach themselves to the effect, and of 
the combination of each of these with a host of con- 
comitant circumstances to disturb the formation of an 
inseparable association. A friend dies : no doubt there 
has been a physical cause of the occurrence, but how 


many things prevent us from discovering or even in- 
quiring about it; and finding little satisfaction in the 
contemplation, we dwell rather on the regard we had 
for the departed, on his excellent qualities, on the loss 
we have suffered ; or, if we think of what led to it, we 
prefer referring the whole to the appointment of God. 
That amidst all these complications, and in spite of 
appearances to the contrary, mankind should ever 
have clung to the belief that there is a cause, natural 
or supernatural, to every event, is a proof that the 
conviction is deeply seated in our nature. 

When Mr. Mill confines his attention to the physi- 
cal and logical nature of causation, he throws light 
upon the subject. " The statement of the cause is 
incomplete unless in some shape or other we intro- 
duce all the conditions." " In practice, that particu- 
lar condition is usually styled the cause, whose share 
in the matter is superficially the most conspicuous, 
or whose requisiteness to the production of the effect 
we happen to be insisting upon at the moment." 
" The real cause of the phenomenon is the assem- 
blage of all the conditions." There is new and im- 
portant truth in this statement. But I am not sure 
that Mr. Mill has got a full view of the facts. In 
material nature there is always need of the action 
of two or more agents in order to an effect. If a 
ball moves in consequence of another striking it. 
there is need of the one ball as well as the other, 
and the cause, properly speaking, consists of the two 
in a relation to each other. But not only is there a 


duality or plurality in the cause, there is the same 
(Mr. Mill has not noticed it) in the effect. The effect 
consists not merely of the one ball, the bah 1 struck 
and set in motion, but also of the other ball which 
struck it, and which has now lost part of its momen- 
tum. By carrying out this doctrine, we can deter- 
mine what is meant by " condition " and " occasion " 
when the phrases are applied to the operation of 
causation. When we speak of an agent requiring a 
"condition," an "occasion," or "circumstances," in 
order to its action, we refer to the other agent or 
agents required, that it may produce a particular 
effect. Thus that fire may burn, it is necessary to 
have fuel, or a combustible material. In order that 
my will may move my arm, it is needful to have 
the concurrence of a healthy motor nerve. So 
much for the dual or plural agency in the cause. 
But there is a similar complexity in the effect, and 
we need a like phrase to designate the part of it 
which we do not require to consider at the time. 
Thus the steam which has raised a certain weight 
has expended meanwhile a certain amount of force ; 
but persons striving merely to have the weight 
raised care nothing for the other, and may call it 
" incidental ; " which incidental part, however, may 
be the essential element in the view of the engineer 
who requires to generate the steam. In the proper 
enunciation of the cause and the effect the invari- 
able and unconditional cause and effect there 
should be a statement of all the concurring antece- 


dents, and all the involved consequents, including 
the conditions in the cause, and the incidents in the 

By carrying out this doctrine consistently, we are 
able to give (which Mr. Mill has not done) its 
proper place to the " Agent " and u Patient ; " the 
distinction between which has been noticed in some 
form or other by most philosophers from the time of 
Aristotle. The agent and patient are certainly not 
to be identified with the cause and effect ; but they 
are to be found in the cause, that is, in the assem- 
blage of circumstances necessary in order to the 
production of the effect. These circumstances or 
agencies must concur, in short, must operate on 
each other, in order to action and change. Thus, in 
order to the production of water, there must be both 
oxygen and hydrogen; the two act on each other 
according to their nature and laws ; and both are 
changed and appear in the product. That which 
we consider as acting may be called the Agent; that 
which we regard as acted on may be considered as 
the Patient. It should be observed and remembered, 
that the agent under one aspect is always a patient 
under another, and the patient may also be viewed 
as an agent ; for that which acts is always acted on, 
and that which is acted on always acts ; and action 
is always equal to reaction. The account now given 
enables us to settle a question which has often been 
started, but never determined satisfactorily. The 
question is, Is the effect always posterior in time to 


the cause, or may it not be contemporaneous ? The 
answer is, that the complex effect always follows the 
complex cause ; but that the concurrent agents which 
constitute the cause may be regarded as acting on 
each other simultaneously. The oxygen and the 
hydrogen influence each other contemporaneously, 
and are followed by the production of water as the 

The reader may compare the statement now 
offered with that given by Mr. Mill in his chapter 
" Of the Law of Universal Causation." Mr. Mill has 
not seen that as the cause consists in an assemblage 
of conditions, so the effect consists in an assemblage 
of consequences. In the agents concurring in the 
cause there is a real distinction between agent and 
patient, whereas he says the distinction vanishes on 
examination, or rather is found to be merely verbal. 
He has discussed, but avowedly, does not know how 
to settle, the question as to whether the cause pre- 
cedes the effect. He has also noticed the circum- 
stance, that in some cases when the cause ceases, the 
effect also seems to cease, whereas in others the 
effect appears to remain ; but he has not been able 
to give a full explanation of the phenomenon. The 
effect remains when the assemblage of circumstan- 
ces which constitute the cause abides. It is thus a 
book remains on the table as long as the table is in 
a position to uphold it. It is thus oxygen and hy- 
drogen abide in water till an element with a 
stronger affinity with one of them succeeds in draw- 


ing it off In other cases the concurrence of agencies 
acting as the cause is ever liable to be broken up, 
and the effect ceases when the complex cause has 
disappeared. It is thus that the book is upheld in 
my hand only so long as I stretch out my arm: 
thus that the room is illuminated by day only so 
long as the sun shines, and by night only so long as 
the lamp continues to burn. In all cases a change 
implies a new agent, or a new concurrence of 

But we are now in the heart of our author's logi- 
cal discussions. Mr. Mill's Logic has never been sub- 
jected to a careful review on the part either of his 
supporters or opponents. It deserves such an exam- 
ination because of its excellences, and it requires it 
because of its errors, which many students are ac- 
cepting along with the truths. I undertake this 
review in the immediately succeeding chapters. 



FOEMAL Logic is usually represented as dealing 
with the Notion, Judgment, and Reasoning. 
Mr. Mill has no separate exposition of the Notion. 
He treats instead, of Names: as if Names did not 
stand for Thoughts, the nature of which should have 
been previously investigated. This is surely a defect 
in an elaborate Logical Treatise. In his controver- 
sial work he has given us his theory of the Notion 
or Conception. It will be necessary to examine it. 

The Notions, that is, apprehensions of things, 
which the mind can entertain, are of three sorts : 
Fir st 7 There is the Singular Concrete Notion, such as 
Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, this man, this dog, that 
daisy, that book. This notion is singular, as it em- 
braces a single object. It is concrete, as it contem- 
plates the object as possessing an aggregate of quali- 
ties. The consideration of the nature of this notion 
does not, properly speaking, come under Formal 
Logic, which has to do only with Discursive Thought ; 
that is, thought in which there is a process from some- 
thing given or allowed to something founded upon it 



It is furnished to us by intuition, primarily by the 
senses and consciousness, and does not imply any logi- 
cal operation. But then it comes into Logic when it 
is combined with the abstract and general notion in 
the proposition and argument. Thus, when we say, 
" Locke was an independent thinker," the subject is 
a singular concrete notion compared with a general 
notion in the predicate. Logic, therefore, cannot 
overlook this notion, but it may hand over the 
special discussion of its origin and validity to psychol- 
ogy or metaphysics. Mr. Mill gives us a correct 
enough account of it, though he does not specially 
investigate its nature : u A concrete name is a name 
which stands for a thing." (B. i. c. ii. 4.) 

Second, There is the Abstract Notion. It is the 
apprehension of a part of an object as a part, say of 
the head of a horse as the head of a horse. More 
technically it is the apprehension of an attribute 
" An abstract name is a name which stands for an 
attribute of a thing." (Ib.) In this latter sense the 
part cannot exist separate from the whole : thus 
transparency cannot exist apart from a transparent 
object, such as glass or ice. But though an abstract 
quality cannot exist apart from an object, it is not to 
be regarded as a nonentity or a fiction of the mind. 
Rationality cannot exist apart from a rational being, 
but it has a real existence in a rational being, such 
as man. 

On account of the defective view which he takes 
of the intellectual faculties of man, Mr. Mill has not 


been able to furnish an adequate account of the 
Abstract Notion. Speaking of the notion of length 
without breadth, " According to what appears to me 
the sounder opinion, the mind cannot form any such 
notion ; it cannot conceive length without breadth." 
(B. i. c. viii. 7.) And in his recent work, " The ex- 
istence of Abstract Ideas the conception of the 
class qualities by themselves, and not as embodied 
in an individual is effectually precluded by the 
law of Inseparable Association." (p. 314.) The 
ambiguous word " conceive " has once more cast up 
without his telling us in what sense he employs it. 
I should say that in these passages he uses it in the 
sense of "image," in which signification the state- 
ment is true. I believe that length cannot exist 
except in an extended object which has also breadth, 
and I am sure that I can image length only in an 
extended object. He adds, that the mind " can only, 
in contemplating objects, attend to their length, ex- 
clusively of their other sensible qualities, and so 
determine what properties may be predicated of 
them in virtue of their length alone." This is not a 
sufficiently comprehensive account of the Abstract 
Notion; but it implies that there is more than a 
mere image. If we inquire carefully into its nature, 
we shall find that as a thought it implies not only 
attention but a comparative act. We apprehend the 
attribute to be an attribute of the concrete object, 
thus comparing the part and whole. This apprehen- 
sion is the Abstract Notion, and we can compare the 


attribute apprehended with other attributes, or with 
concrete objects of various kinds, and make affirma- 
tions or denials. Thus, on perceiving a cone of 
sugar as a concrete object, we can in abstract 
thought fix on the figure, and from the contempla- 
tion of it we might by a further abstraction fix on 
the conic sections, and by a process of reasoning 
evolve their properties. In all this we should be 
dealing, not with mere hypotheses, but abstracted 
realities ; and the conclusions we reach will be found 
true of all cones, and of all sections of the cone, 
including the elliptic figures in which the planets 
move. 1 

Third, There is the general Notion, such as man, 
poet, animal. We are so constantly forming notions 
of this sort, that it should not be difficult to evolve 
the processes involved in it. The two first steps 
are, (1.) that we observe a resemblance among 
objects; (2.) that we fix on the points of resem- 
blance. The first is accomplished by the mind's 
power of perceiving agreements, and the second 
by an operation of abstraction. No absolute rule 
can be laid down as to which of these processes 
is the prior. I believe that in most cases there 

1 Regarding Logic as the Science of nished I. The Abstract Quality im- 

the Laws of Discursive Thought, as plies a Concrete Object. II. When 

above defined, the Abstract Notion is the Concrete Object is real the Ab- 

clearly embraced in it, as in it we stract Quality taken from it is also 

draw an attribute out of the concrete real. III. When the Abstract is a 

object given, and we must endeavor Quality, it is not to be regarded as 

to unfold the Laws of Thought in- having an independent existence ; Its 

volved in it. The following may serve existence is in a Concrete Object, 
provisonally till a better list be fur- 


is first a perception more or less vague of a like- 
ness, and then the separate consideration of the 
points of likeness. But in other cases we seem 
rather to fix primarily on an attribute, and conjoin 
by it all the objects which we discover to possess 
it. Thus, in zoology the naturalist fixes on the 
possession of a backbone, and makes it the bond 
of a class of animals. But there is more in gen- 
eralization than either or than both of these steps. 
(3.) The consummating step is, that we constitute 
a class which embraces all the objects possessing 
the common attribute or attributes. Till this step 
is taken there is no generalization. "When this 
step is taken the general notion is formed. Let 
it be observed that there is here an operation be- 
yond the other two. In the first step we must 
have observed or contemplated more or fewer ob- 
jects, and perceived them to resemble each other; 
still the number was limited. In the second step 
we fixed on a quality or qualities common to the 
objects noticed. But in the final step the number 
of objects is indefinite, and must include not 
merely those we have observed and compared, but 
all others possessing the mark or marks fixed on. 
On seeing only half a dozen red deer I may have 
been forcibly struck with their resemblance, and 
may have been able to fix on their points of like- 
ness, such as their shape and their noble antlers. 
But when I take the decisive step and form the 
class red deer, that class must include not only 


those I have seen, but all others with that form 
of body and horns j not only these six deer, bu* 
all other deer now living, and all deer that ever 
lived or shall live ; not only so, but all imagina- 
ble deer, the deer sung of by all the poets, and the 
deer that may be created by the ever active imagi- 
nation. A notion is not general unless it embraces 
all the objects possessing the mark or marks fixed 
on. Now this consummating step has not been no- 
ticed, or at least has not had its appropriate place 
allotted to it, by most psychologists and logicians. 
Dr. Brown dwells very fondly on the feeling of re- 
semblance, as he calls it (he should have said the 
observation of the relation of resemblance), but 
takes no notice of the all-important act by which the 
species is made to embrace all the objects having 
the resemblance. This specially intellectual step 
was from time to time before the mind of Hamilton, 
as when he says, that " concepts have only a poten- 
tial, not an actual, universality; that is, they are 
only universal, inasmuch as they may be applied to 
any of a certain class of objects." But with an oc- 
casional glimpse of the truth, he loses sight of it 
immediately after, and he talks of a mysterious 
" synthesis in consciousness," wherein " the qualities, 
w r hich by comparison are judged similar, and by 
attention are constituted into an exclusive object of 
thought, these are already, by this process, identi- 
fied in consciousness ; for they are only judged sim- 
ilar, inasmuch as they produce in us indiscernible 


effects." (Logic, Lect. viii.) His whole exposition ig 
confused and unsatisfactory, and it issues in his find- 
ing a contradiction in the general notion. He loses 
his consistency and clearness in endeavoring to 
find some sort of reconciliation between nominalism 
md conceptualism. Mr. Mill has unfolded no ele- 
ments hi the general notion except the attribute 
and the name. "We create an artificial association 
between those attributes (to which we wish to de- 
vote our exclusive attention) and a certain combina- 
tion of articulate sounds, which guarantees to us 
when we hear the sound, or see the written charac- 
ters corresponding to it, there will be raised in the 
mind an idea of some object possessing those attri- 
butes, in which idea those attributes alone will be 
suggested vividly to the minds, our consciousness of 
the remainder of the concrete idea being faint," 
" The association of that particular set of attributes 
with a given word is what keeps them together in 
the mind by a stronger tie than that with which 
they are associated with the remainder of the con- 
crete image." (p. 322.) There is a great oversight 
here. There is no reference to the discovery of re- 
semblances among objects as constituting the com- 
mencement of the whole process. He ascribes to 
the name what is done by the possession of com- 
mon qualities. "For a class is absolutely nothing 
but an indefinite number of individuals denoted by 
a general name. The name given to them in com- 
mon is what makes them a class." But what 


makes the name applicable to the indefinite number 
of objects? What enables us, when we discover a 
new object, to say whether it is or is not entitled to 
the name ? The answer to these questions will force 
us to look beyond the name to the like attributes in 
the objects, as making the objects pass under the 
same name, as enabling us to understand what is 
denoted by the name, as being the meaning of the 
name, and, in fact, constituting the bond which joins 
the objects in a class. There is a passage in which 
he has a glimpse of the consummating step, and 
indeed of the whole process. "The only mode in 
which any general name has a definite meaning, 
is by being a name of an indefinite variety of things, 
namely, all things known or unknown, past, present, 
or future, which possess certain attributes." (Logic, I. 
v. 3.) This language does point to something else 
than the name as bringing together "the indefinite 
number of individuals in the class : " it points to the 
possession of " certain attributes " in the " indefinite 
variety of things ; " and it implies, though it does 
not just state, that the class must include all the 
objects possessing these attributes. This account, 
consequentially followed out, makes the common 
notion embrace three elements : objects resembling 
each other ; points of resemblance ; and the inclu- 
sion of all objects having these points. But Mr. 
Mill habitually loses sight of some of these essential 
characteristics, and ever falls back upon the attribute 
and tht name. This omission in the theory of the 


notion comes out in positive error in the account of 
the judgment and reasoning. 

According to the exposition now given, the Class- 
Notion always includes both objects and attributes, 
objects having a resemblance, and common attri- 
butes possessed by them. So far as it embraces 
objects, it is said to have Extension. So far as it 
contains attributes, it is said to have Comprehension 
or Intension. This distinction was indicated in the 
Port-Royal Logic, and was enunciated in several 
logical works published in the end of the seven- 
teenth and the beginning of the eighteenth cen- 
tury 1 . It has been elaborated w r ith great care, at 
times with an excess of refinement, by Sir Wil- 
liam Hamilton. That every general notion should 
have both these aspects, follows from the ac- 
count I have given of its formation and constitu- 
tion. In every General Notion there must be 
objects compared; this constitutes the Extension 
There must also be marks to bring the object* 
together under one head ; this is Comprehension 
The former is got by observation and comparison 
the latter by abstraction. We see that as the on* 
rises the other falls, and that as the one falls the 
other rises. As we multiply the marks or attributes, 
there must be fewer objects possessing them. As 

1 In particular, I have found it in a an Introduction to Logic (2d edit., 
Compend of Logic, prepared and 1722) by Gershom Carmichael of Glas- 
printed (there is no evidence of its gow University ; and again in a Corn- 
having been published) for use of the pend of Logic by Francis Hutcheson, 
Scottish Universities, by order of a which was used in Glasgow College 
Parliamentary Commission, 1795 ; in till towards the close of last century. 


we multiply the objects, they must have fewer com- 
mon marks. Hence the rule, that the greater the 
Extension, the less the Comprehension; and the 
greater the Comprehension, the less the Extension. 

Upon this distinction the remark is, " that the Ex- 
tension is not anything intrinsic to the concept ; it 
is the sum of all the objects, in our concrete images 
of which the concept is included : but the compre- 
hension is the very concept itself; for the concept 
means nothing but our mental representation of the 
sum of the attributes composing it." (p. 333.) It is 
clear that of the three constituents of common 
notions he gives the chief, or rather exclusive, place 
to the attributes. " All men, and the class man, are 
expressions which point to nothing but attributes; 
they cannot be interpreted except in comprehen 
sion." (p. 363.) In opposition to this, I maintain 
that the Extension of the notion is quite as impor- 
tant an aspect of it as the Comprehension ; that 
every common notion may be interpreted in Exten- 
sion as well as Intension ; that in the class there 
must be objects to combine as well as attributes to 
combine them; and that a mental representation 
must be inadequate which does not embrace the 
objects as well as the sum of the attributes possessed 
by them. The Universal Notion is of objects possess- 
ing common attributes, the notion including all the 
objects possessing the attributes. We see here, in Mr. 
Mill's logical doctrine, a taint at the fountain, which 
will be found running through the whole stream. 


" General concepts, therefore, we have, properly 
speaking, none." "I consider it nothing less than 
a misfortune that the words Concept, General No- 
tion, or any other phrase to express the supposed 
mental modification corresponding to a class name, 
should ever have been invented. Above all, I hold 
that nothing but confusion ever results from intro- 
ducing the term Concept into Logic; and that 
instead of the Concept of a class, we should always 
speak of the signification of a class name." (pp. 321, 
331.) But surely it is desirable to have a word to 
express the "mental modification" when we con- 
template a "class," and Conception or General No- 
tion seems appropriate enough. I also think it 
desirable to have a phrase to denote, not the " signi- 
fication of a class name," but the thing signified by 
the class name ; and the fittest I can think of is 
Concept. Mr. Mill would replace Abstract and 
General Idea by " the connotation of the class name." 
I reckon the epithet " connotation " a very good one 
for some purposes. It was used by the schoolmen ; 
it was a favorite one with Mr. James Mill ; and has 
had a clear meaning attached to it. " A connotativ 
term is one which denotes a subject and implies a:L 
attribute." Thus, "white" is connotative; "it de- 
notes all things white, as snow, paper, the foam of 
the sea, etc. ; and implies, or, as it was termed by 
the schoolmen, connotes the attribute whiteness." 
But while " connotative " is an expressive enough 
epithet, applied to certain predicates, it does not 


bring out what is contained in the class-notion. 
" Horse," for example, is a general notion, embrac- 
ing an indefinite number of objects ; but all this is 
not expressed by applying the phrase " connotative." 
"It denotes a subject;" but what is the subject? 
This question is left unanswered. It can be answered 
only by saying that it consists of all the objects 
possessing the attributes ; and as to the phrase " sig- 
nification of the class name," it leaves it unsettled 
what the thing signified is. I am inclined to think 
that the words Conception and Concept serve a 
good purpose ; they express the signification of the 
class name. 1 

The General Notion being formed in the way ex- 
plained, we fix it and preserve it, and think of it by 
means of a Sign. The Sign may be one or other of 
two sorts. Lauding the founder of his School, Mr. 
Mill says, " It is a doctrine of one of the most fertile 
thinkers of modern times, Auguste Comte, that, 
besides the logic of signs, there is a logic of images, 
and a logic of feelings. In many of the familiar 
processes of thought, and especially in uncultured 
minds, a visual image serves instead of a word." (p. 
329.) Omitting the consideration of the logic of 
feelings as not coming specially before us, the doc- 
trine attributed to Comte as so " fertile " a thinker 

1 The following are some of the Heal. III. The Reality in the Uni- 

Laws of Thought involved in the Gen- versal consists in the possession of 

eral Notion : I. The Universal im- common attributes by all the objects 

plies Singulars. II. When the Sin- embraced in it. 
gulars are Real the Universal is also 


was long ago proclaimed by Aristotle, and has floated 
ever since, in a more or less correct form, in logic 
and speculative philosophy. According to Aristotle, 
a notion is not the same as a phantasm, but it is 
never found without a phantasm. 1 The expression 
of Mr. Mill is much more loose. He talks of a 
" logic of images ; " whereas it is not a logic, but a 
notion entertained by means of an image. He 
speaks of the image being a " visual sensation " and 
" visual appearance ; " whereas it may be a phantasm 
by any of the senses, it may be of a smell, or a 
taste, or a touch, or a sound. 

I believe that the General Notion is kept before 
the mind primarily by the phantasm. In every 
such notion the objects are indefinite are innu- 
merable ; and so the human mind (whatever angelic 
minds may do) cannot image them all ; but it images 
one as a sign of the others. The attribute, or aggre- 
gate of attributes, cannot be imaged apart from 
objects, but we labor to fashion an object which 
may give prominence to the one attribute, if there 
be only one, or combine them if there be many. 
This, I am persuaded, is the original and spontaneous 
agency by which we carry with us and compare our 
concepts. Mr. Mill has a glimpse of this, and noth- 
ing more, when he says that " in uncultured minds a 
visual image serves instead of words." The more 

1 Distinguishing between Notions, dioiaei TOV firj 6av7 arrfiara dvai, f] ovfit 
Tifiara, and <j>avTaa(iaTa, Aristotle ravra ^avrd^ara, akV OVK UVEV <f>av- 

voTifiara, and <j>avTaa(iaTa, Aristotle ravra ^avrd^ara, akV OVK UVEV <f>av- 
says (see Arum, in. 7), No^/zara rivt Tuauaruv. 


correct expression would be, that in cultured minds 
the word often comes to serve the purpose of the 
image and to supersede it. I believe we naturally 
resort to the image ; but the image is always felt to 
be inadequate. Hence the common remark, that 
we cannot have an adequate idea, that is, in the 
sense of image, of a class. Suppose the notion to be 
"quadruped:" when we think about the class, we 
may, and do commonly, image some sort of beast with 
four limbs ; but if the limbs be those of a horse, they 
cannot be those of a dog, and if they be those of a 
dog, they cannot be those of the horse ; and if they 
be different from either, they cannot be those either 
of the horse or the dog. All this does not prove 
that we cannot in thought form a general notion, or 
that we cannot legitimately employ it in judgment 
and reasoning ; it merely shows that the image, as 
being single, is not equal to the indefinite number 
of objects, and, as being concrete, cannot be identi- 
cal with the attribute, which is abstract. The fact 
is, the image, or, as I prefer calling it with Aristotle, 
the phantasm, is a mere sign, one for the many, 
that one being as far as possible a type of the many. 
The mind spontaneously forms such representations, 
and delights to do so ; and when it can have them, 
the thinking is rendered much more vivid and 
pleasant, and is more readily accompanied with ex- 
citement and emotion. 

But when the generalizations are very high, when 
the abstractions are very refined, and the common 


attributes are very numerous, or not very definitely 
fixed, it becomes all but impossible to construct a 
phantasm which will represent the class. We can 
form a pretty fair representative image of quadru- 
ped, but what phantasm could stand for such com- 
plex notions as civilization, liberty, politics, art, and 
science ? In striving to compass such notions, we 
naturally resort to artificial symbols, particularly 
language. If there be a word suitable to express 
the thought, it will employ it; if there be not, it 
will labor to invent one. But so far from images 
serving instead of words, the words serve our pur- 
pose as being images. It has been remarked by 
metaphysicians that most names were originally of 
individual objects. An individual object, or the 
image of it, was first taken to represent the class ; 
and then the name of the individual, as a sound or 
a written character addressed to the eye, was used 
as a briefer and more convenient symbol. The ad- 
vantage of such verbal signs, which are always, be it 
remarked, in a sense phantasms addressed to the eye 
or ear, is that they do not distract us with the 
peculiarities of individual objects, and allow us in 
thinking to proceed only on the common qualities of 
objects. All this renders the notion less lively and 
emotional, unless indeed by those who resort to 
word-painting to raise up a phantasm, but at the 
same time better fitted for the conducting of rigid 
thought. The most perfect artifical signs for the 
limited end in view are those employed in algebra. 


in which meaningless letters denote quantities known 
or unknown, and we can employ them according to 
the settled laws of reasoning in quantity without 
thinking of what they stand for, till we reach the 
result, when we translate the sign into what it signi- 
fies. When we lose sight for the time for what the sign 
stands for, this is what constitutes, properly speak- 
ing, Symbolical Thought. But it is always to be 
understood that the sign does stand for a notion, 
and has always a tacit reference to it ; that we can 
predicate of the sign only what we could legiti- 
mately predicate of the notion; and that in pass- 
ing it on from premises to conclusion in a chain of 
reasoning, we must be sure that we proceed on 
principles which are applicable to the thing signified. 
And in order to determine whether we are or are 
not making a proper predication, we can always, 
and should often, require that the sign should be 
translated into the notion, and the notion com- 
pared with the thing. 1 

A distinction of some importance may be drawn 
between two kinds of Concepts. In the one the 
class is determined by a single attribute, or by it 

1 The following are some of the Notion. IV. In order to determine 

Laws of Thought involved in the use whether we are making a proper pred 

of Signs as Instruments of Thought : ication as to the Sign, we may de- 

I. Every Logical Term stands for a mand at a % ny time that the Notion be 

Notion, which may be a Singular Con- substituted for it. V. In order to 

crete, an Abstract, or a Universal, determine whether we are making a 

II. According as it stands for one or proper predication as to the Notion, we 
other of these, so is it to be interpreted, must inquire what is the nature of the 

III. We can predicate of the Sign Things from which it has been formed 
only what might be predicated of the 


together with the attributes implied in it. Such 
are the classes designated by adjectives, as gener- 
ous, faithful, virtuous, pointing to one quality 
of an object, along with those that may be involved 
in that quality. It is to these phrases that the 
epithet " connotative " is specially applicable ; they 
denote an attribute, and connote objects possessing 
it. In other cases the Comprehension of the class 
consists of an aggregate of attributes. Thus, we 
cannot fix on any one attribute of the class Man, 
and derive all the others from it. Eationality is 
one quality, but he has many others : 

" Men define a man 

The creature who stands frontward to the stars, 
The creature who looks inward to himself, 
The tool-wright, laughing creature. 'Tis enough; 
We'll say instead the inconsequent creature man, 
For that's his specialty. What creature else 
Conceives the circle, and then walks the square ? " 

The one kind of notions I would be inclined to call, 
when it is necessary to draw the distinction between 
them, the Generalized Abstract, because in it we 
seize on a single quality, and put all the objects 
possessing it into a class. The other I call the 
Generalized Concrete, because in it we bring to- 
gether, by certain resemblances, individuals with 
their aggregate of qualities. It was to the latter 
that the schoolmen appropriated the phrase Species ; 
I think they would scarcely have applied it to the 
Generalized Abstract such as " rational " or " irra- 


tional." The Generalized Concrete evidently in- 
cludes all natural classes, such as reptiles, fishes, 
birds, mammals, in the animal kingdom, and rosa- 
ceae, cruciferse, solanacese in the vegetable kingdom ; 
the objects embraced in these have all a number of 
common qualities. 

It is of importance to keep these distinctions in 
view in considering the nature of Definition. In 
defining the Generalized Abstract Notion, we have 
only to bring out the one common quality, and the 
work is completed. But in attempting to define 
the Generalized Concrete, we cannot fix on any one 
quality as being the essential one ; and it often 
happens that the common attributes are so numer- 
ous, that it would be vain and presumptuous to 
attempt to specify all of them. Thus, no one can 
tell what are the properties embraced in horse, dog, 
metal, mineral. It fortunately, I believe providen- 
tially, happens that we have in nature classes called 
Kinds, the nature of which has been so well ex- 
pounded by Mr. Mill. In these, one of the Marks is 
an invariable accompaniment, and therefore a sign 
of the others ; and in specifying it we have truly 
fixed the significates of the notion, that is, comprised 
all the objects embraced in it and excluded others. 
Thus it is a good definition to say, " Man is a rational 
animal," for all his other special attributes are con- 
joined with rationality. If we call the attribute 
fixed on the Differentia, the others may be repre- 
sented as Propria, if we wish to retain, after amend- 


ing it, the distinction of Porphyry between Differen- 
tia and Proprium. 

Mr. Mill has offered some valuable remarks on 
Definition, but from overlooking the distinction 
between the Extension and Comprehension of a 
Notion, he has not given us a thoroughly scientific 
account of the logical process. Sir William Hamil- 
ton is right in saying, after older logicians, that it 
is effected according to the Comprehension of a 
Notion ; that is, it reflectively brings out the Marks 
by which those who spontaneously formed the con- 
cept combined the objects. From overlooking Ex- 
tension Mr. Mill has omitted Division, a subject 
which ought to be discussed in all logical treatises. 
Logical Division proceeds according to the Exten- 
sion of a Notion, and spreads out the co-ordinate 
species of a genus, according to marks added, so that 
the species exclude one another, and together make 
up the genus. 



THERE is no part of Logic which has greater need 
of being thoroughly cleared up than that which 
relates to Judgment. In particular, first, what pre- 
cisely are the things compared, and in regard to 
which the affirmation or denial is made? In the 
common logical treatises we are said to compare 
two notions and declare their agreement or disagree- 
ment. Mr. Mill has made an important correction 
of this statement: " Propositions (except when the 
mind itself is the subject treated of) are not asser- 
tions respecting our ideas of things, but assertions 
respecting the things themselves. In order to be- 
lieve that gold is yellow, I must indeed have the 
idea of gold and the idea of yellow, and something 
having reference to these ideas must take place in 
my mind ; but my belief has not reference to the 
ideas, it has reference to the things." (Logic, i. v. 1.) 
"Do we never judge or assert anything but our 
mere notions of things? Do we not make judg- 
ments and assert propositions respecting actual 
things ? " (p. 346.) There is truth here. But is the 

20 (305) 


whole truth set forth ? The judgment is pronounced 
in regard to objects, but then, it must be of objects 
of which we have a notion. The judgment is not 
pronounced of our notions as mental phenomena, 
but neither can it be of things of which we have 
had no notion, of such we can make no predica- 
tion. He tells us again and again, "The judgment 
is concerning the fact, not the concept." But then 
he is obliged to allow, " that in order to believe that 
gold is yellow, I must, indeed, have the idea of 
gold, and the idea of yellow, and something hav- 
ing reference to these ideas must take place in my 
mind ; " and he adds, that in order to believe, " a 
previous mental conception of the facts is an indis- 
pensable condition." I ask, should not this indispen- 
sable condition have a place in the full statement of 
the nature of propositions ? There is a sentence in 
which he has got at least a momentary view of the 
correct doctrine : " The real object of belief is not 
the concept, or any relation of the concept, but the 
fact conceived." (p. 348.) Yes, the facts conceived 
are what we compare. If we could get philosophers 
to reserve the word "conception" for the mental 
operation, and apply the word " concept " exclusively 
and consistently, not to the mental product, as Ham- 
ilton does, but to the things conceived, then the 
proper account of Judgment, when we have a class- 
notion, would be, the act in which we compare two 
concepts. This account embraces the full mental 
operation, and throws us back first upon the notions 


that we may judge of them, and these throw us 
back on the things from which the notions have 
been formed. 

This leads me to notice another misapprehension 
of our author's. Here, as all throughout his Logic, 
he makes us look to names rather than to thoughts. 
But surely Locke has shown, in that third book 
of his Essay, which Mr. Mill so commends, that 
names should ever carry us back to ideas, which 
ideas, as Bacon had previously shown, should ever 
carry us back to things. Logic has to do primarily 
with Thought as employed about Things, and with 
Names only secondarily and incidentally, as being 
the expression of Thoughts. It is thus only that we 
can employ the laws of thought, which are fixed, to 
enable us to examine and correct language, which is 
variable. But Mr. Mill reverses this order, and 
makes Logic deal primarily with the proposition 
or expression, and not with the judgment or com- 
parison, (p. 357.) 

But the important and unsettled question is, 
What is the precise relation between the two Con- 
cepts or Terms in Judgment? When it is said to 
be an agreement or disagreement, the language is 
far too vague for philosophic purposes. Sir William 
Hamilton vacillates in the account given by him. 
His common representation is that the relation is 
one of whole and parts. "We may articulately 
define a judgment or proposition to be the product 
of that act by which we pronounce, that, of two 


notions thought as subject and as predicate, the one 
does or does not constitute a part of the other, 
either in the quantity of extension or in the quan- 
tity of comprehension." (Logic, i. p. 229.) In other 
places the relation seems rather to be spoken of as 
one of equality, and he would interpret "all men 
are mortal " as " all men = some mortals." Again, 
he seems to make the relation one of identity; for 
he says that the law of identity " is the principle of 
all logical affirmation and definition" (Ib. p. 80), 
and he speaks of the two notions being " conceived 
as one." (Ib. p. 227.) 

It is not very easy, amidst Mr. Mill's criticisms of 
others, to find his own theory. He tells us, "Ex- 
istence, Co-existence, Sequence, Causation, Resem- 
blance, one or other of these, is asserted or denied in 
every proposition without exception." But then he 
explains away the affirmations and denials as to Ex- 
istence and Causation; for Existence, that is, nou- 
menon, is unknown and unknowable, and Causation 
is unconditional sequence. There remain only three 
relations, and the judgment is a recognition of a re- 
lation "of a succession, a co-existence, or a simili- 
tude between facts." (p. 353.) But he has a way of 
still further reducing the number of relations. For 
propositions which assert a resemblance, such as 
"this color is like that color," "might with some 
plausibility be brought within the description of an 
affirmation of sequence, by considering it as an as- 
sertion that the simultaneous contemplation of the 


two colors is followed by a specific feeling, termed 
the feeling of resemblance." And as to the allega- 
tion that the propositions of which the predicate 
is a general name, affirm or deny resemblance, he 
says, that what is declared is the possession of " cer- 
tain common peculiarities," u and those peculiarities 
it is which the terms connote, and which the prop- 
ositions consequently assert, not the resemblance." 
(Logic, i. v. 6.) By this subtle but not satisfactory 
process, in which, as usual, he reaches simplicity 
by overlooking the peculiarities of the phenomenon, 
he makes propositions to declare " that a certain attri- 
bute is either part of a given set of attributes, or in- 
variably co-exists with them." (p. 361.) His final 
reduction is thus expressed : " Propositions in which 
the concept of the predicate is part of the concept 
of the subject, or, to express ourselves more phil- 
osophically, in which the attributes connoted by 
the predicate are part of those connoted by the 
subject, are a kind of Identical Propositions : they 
convey no information, but at most remind us of 
what, if we understood the word which is the sub- 
ject of the proposition, we knew as soon as the 
word is pronounced. Propositions of this kind are 
either definitions, or parts of definitions. These 
judgments are analytical: they analyze the conno- 
tation of the subject-name, and predicate separably 
the different attributes which the name asserts col- 
lectively. All other affirmative judgments are syn- 
thetical, and affirm that some attribute, or set of 


attributes, is, not a part of those connoted by the 
subjeci>name, but an invariable accompaniment of 
them." (p. 359.) This analysis accords thoroughly 
with Mr. Mill's psychological theory, and helps to 
prop it. It makes all judgments relate to attributes, 
and simply to proclaim either an identity, or co- 
existence among them, which attributes are in 
the end sensations, or possibilities of sensation. But 
it is not in accordance with the revelations of con- 
sciousness, which show us that the mind pronounces 
judgments not as to, abstract attributes, but as to 
things with attributes; and not only of identity 
and co-existence, but of whole and parts, of resem- 
blance, of space, of quantity, and active property. 
(See supra, pp. 217, 218.) 

Much clearness, as it appears to me, may be in- 
troduced into this subject by distinguishing three 
classes of judgments, corresponding to three classes 
of notions: 

(1.) There are judgments in which the objects 
compared are Singular Concretes ; as when by the 
eye I see two marbles and judge them to be of 
the same size, or by the ear hear two sounds and de- 
clare one of them to be louder than the other. In 
the order of time these are the first judgments pro- 
nounced by the mind. It is by a succession of them, 
that is, by observing resemblances among a number 
of individual objects that we form the General No- 
tion. It is to these, as I understand his doctrine, 
that Dr. Mansel applies the term Psychological Judg- 


inents. (Proleg. Log., p. 63.) I have already ex- 
pressed my opinion, that the relations which the 
mind can perceive among objects are very numerous 
and diversified, much more so' than Mr. Mill sup- 
poses. What is the nature and what the best class- 
ification of these comparisons; these are very im- 
portant questions in psychology, but do not specially 
fah 1 under the science which treats of discursive 

(2.) There are judgments in which we compare 
Abstracts, by which I do not mean mental states or 
modifications, but things abstracted. For example, 
" Honesty is the best policy," where both " honesty " 
and "the best policy" are Abstracts, being neither 
Singular Concretes on the one hand, nor Common 
Concepts on the other, that is, they do not denote 
separately existing things, such as "this man," nor 
an indefinite number of objects, like "man." Under 
this fall all definitions such as " Logic is the science 
of the laws of thought." Here both the subject, 
" Logic," and the predicate, " the science of the laws 
of thought," are not independently existing things 
on the one hand, nor do they embrace indefinite ob- 
jects on the other. In this same class I place judg- 
ments regarding space, time, and quantity, such as 
"the zenith is the point of the visible hemisphere 
directly over the head of the observer ; " " mid-day is 
12 o'clock in the day;" and " 2 -f 2 4." Here both 
the terms are abstract. We never met with such 
separate things as 2 -\- 2 or 4 ; nor can we describe 


either 2 -|- 2 or 4 as a class embracing objects : in 
fact we cannot say of such abstract notions that 
they have Extensions. 

In all such judgments the relation is one of iden- 
tity or of equality. The judgments are convertible 
or substitutive ; that is, we can change the position 
of the terms, or substitute the one for the other, 
without any change; in fact we can make either 
term the subject or the predicate, as may suit our 
purpose. Thus we reverse the order given above, 
and say, "the science of the laws of thought is logic; " 
" the point of the visible hemisphere directly over 
the head of the observer is the zenith ; " "12 o'clock 
in the day is mid-day;" and "4 = 2 + 2." Great 
clearness is introduced into this part of Logic by 
separating these judgments, in which we compare 
Abstracts, from those in which we compare Singu- 
lars or Concepts. 

(3.) A more important, but a more complicated, 
class of judgments remains for consideration. It 
consists of those in which there is an attributive, 
and in fact, or by implication, a Concept or a class- 
notion. This language requires to be explained. 
When we say, "this cow ruminates," we have ab- 
stracted an attribute and ascribed it to the animal. 
In this proposition the subject is singular. But in 
judgments of this kind the subject may be a class- 
notion ; thus we say, " cows ruminate," meaning that 
the whole class do so. A judgment of this descrip- 
tion is called attributive. One of the terms is, prop- 


erly speaking, the subject, and the other the predi- 
cate. And the terms cannot be converted simply; 
in other words, the predicate cannot be made the 
subject without limitation. Because all cows possess 
the attribute of rumination, we cannot say all rumi- 
nating things are cows. 

All Attributive judgments are judgments in Com- 
prehension, but they may also be made judgments 
in Extension. For we may reckon " ruminant " as a 
class embracing not only the cow but other animals, 
such as the sheep and the deer. It will be admitted 
that this is always possible. On the other hand, I 
do not affirm that this is always done. In by far 
the greater number of propositions the primary and 
uppermost sense is in comprehension. Thus, when 
we say " larks sing," we probably mean not that larks 
are among the class of singing birds, but that they 
have the capacity of singing. But we may always 
interpret in Extension the proposition which is pri- 
marily in Comprehension. This follows from the ac- 
count given in last chapter, of the mutual relation 
and dependence of the two. When we have a mark, 
we may always form a class, embracing the objects 
possessing the mark. The mind in its discursive 
operations tends to go on from Comprehension to 
Extension. When the predicate of a proposition is 
a verb, as in the example just given, the thought is 
in Comprehension. But then we have also adjec- 
tives and common norns as predicates Whon we 
say the "man hoards money/" the thought is in 


Comprehension ; but we also say that " he is penuri- 
ous," and the thought is rising to Extension; and 
when we say " he is a miser," the thought is in Ex- 
tv ision as well as Comprehension, for we have es- 
tablished a class, "miser," to which we refer the 
individual. Mr. Mill seems to get a momentary 
view of this ; for while he holds that all judgments 
(except where both the terms are proper names) 
are really judgments in Comprehension, he allows 
that " it is customary, and the natural tendency of 
the mind, to express most of them in terms of Ex- 
tension." The "tendency" to do this must surely 
proceed from some law of thought as applied to 
things ; and the possibility of doing it surely implies 
an intimate relation between the Comprehension and 
the Extension. In not a few propositions the upper- 
most thought is in Extension. Thus, when the 
young student of Natural History is told that " the 
crocodile is a reptile," his idea is of a class, of which 
he may afterwards learn the marks. As in the other 
cases, the mind tends to generalize the attribute, 
and make the proposition one in Extension, so in 
this case it should go on to translate the idea in Ex- 
tension into one in Comprehension. That proposi- 
tions can always be interpreted in both ways, is a 
clear evidence of the indissoluble connection of the 

It appears then that in all judgments belonging to 
this head the relation is always one of Comprehen- 
sion, and may also and always be one of Extension 


likewise. This cannot be said of the second class, or 
those in which we compare mere Abstracts. We 
cannot call such attributive ; thus there would be no 
propriety in saying that 4 is an attribute of 2 -|- 2. 
Nor can such judgments be intelligently explained 
in Extension. At this point we see that Sir William 
Hamilton has fallen into error, from looking merely, 
in his Logic, to the Conception or General Notion, 
and overlooking the Abstract Notion. He makes 
all logical propositions capable of being interpreted 
both in Extension and Comprehension. But when 
we affirm that 4 X 4 = 16, we have no General No- 
tion, and the phrases Extension and Comprehension 
are not applicable. In all cases, however, in which 
the predicate is a formed class-notion or Concept, 
the proposition should be interpreted both ways. 
Not only so, but when the predicate is merely attri- 
butive, it is still possible to interpret the proposition 
in both ; and we shall see in next chapter that in 
reasoning its uppermost meaning is always in Ex- 
tension rather than Comprehension. 

At this point we see the error of Mr. Mill, as at 
the other we saw that of Sir William Hamilton. 
Mr. Mill maintains that "the supposed meaning in 
Extension is not a meaning at all, until interpreted 
by the meaning in Comprehension ; that all concepts 
and general names which enter into propositions re- 
quire to be construed in Comprehension, and that 
their Comprehension is the whole of their meaning." 
Again, " The Extension of a concept is not, like the 


Comprehension, intrinsic and essential to the con- 
cept ; it is an external and wholly accidental relation 
of the concept, and no contemplation or analysis 
of the concept itself will tell us anything about it." 
(pp. 362, 364.) There is an accumulation of mis- 
takes in this statement, all arising from the inade- 
quate view taken by him of the elements involved 
in the General Notion. We have seen that in the 
General Notion there are objects as well as attri- 
butes ; objects to combine as well as attributes to 
combine them. In all propositions falling under 
this head the Extension has quite as distinct a mean- 
ing (it connotes objects) as the Comprehension 
(which denotes attributes) ; and both are " intrinsic 
and essential to the concept." Extension is in- 
volved in every concept, and should always be 
noticed when we are using the concept, and brought 
out into distinct view w T hen we analyze it. Even in 
cases in which the primary sense of the predicate is 
attributive, w r e may also turn it into a class-notion and 
explain it in extension ; and we shall see that we 
always do so think it when we use the proposition 
as a premise in an argument. 

Looking upon all judgments of this class as having 
both Extension and Comprehension, we can obtain 
from any given proposition a set of what have been 
called by Kant Syllogisms of the Understanding, and 
by Hamilton Immediate Inferences, or what I call 
Implied or Transposed Judgments. Thus, the judg- 
ment being given, " All men are responsible," we 


can by Extension derive such judgments as the fol- 
lowing : that man is a species in the genus responsi- 
ole ; that some responsible beings are men ; that any 
one man is responsible ; that it is not true that no 
men are responsible ; or that some men are not 
responsible; that men of genius are responsible 
with their genius ; and that God who calls men to 
account is calling to account responsible beings. 
Again, by Comprehension we can say, that responsi- 
bility should always accompany our notion of man ; 
that responsibility exists, being found in man who 
really exists ; that no man is irresponsible ; that ir- 
responsible beings cannot be men ; and since respon- 
sibility is to God, man being responsible is responsi- 
ble to God. These implied judgments bring us to 
the very verge of mediate reasoning. By subalter- 
nation we declare that all men being responsible, 
some men are responsible : there is but a step 
between this and mediate reasoning, in w r hich we 
argue that all men being responsible, the New 
Zealand ers who are men, that is, some men, are re- 
sponsible. These Transposed Judgments appeared 
in the old Logic under the heads of Opposition and 
Conversion ; and in the New Analytic they have been 
drawn out fully in Archbishop Thomson's Laws of 
Thought (p. iii., where, however, they are not drawn 
by Extension and Comprehension). It is a defect in 
Mr. Mill's work, professedly A System of Logic> 
Eatiocinative and Inductive, that it does not discuss 
such topics. 



IN order that they may reason, and reason validly, 
it is not necessary that persons be logicians. 
Man reasons spontaneously. The logician reflects 
upon the natural operation, and seeks to unfold its 
nature and its laws ; and he strives also to lay down 
rules fitted to guide and guard us as we reason. 
The grand question to be determined in scientific 
logic is, what is the regulating principle of sponta- 
neous ratiocination ? On this subject there is a 
general agreement, and yet considerable diversity 
of opinion, among logicians. Almost all admit that 
the principle (when the conclusion is affirmative) 
may be expressed, "Things which agree with one 
and the same agree with one another." But this 
form is too vague, for it does not specify the nature 
of the agreement. And so logicians have endeavored 
to make the statement more definite. According to 
the Dictum of Aristotle, the things must agree in 
being both under some higher class or genus. The 
form has sometimes been put, " Things are the same 
are the same with a third." Mr. Mill expresses 


it, " Things which co-exist with the same co- exist 
with one another." The distinctions which have 
been drawn in the two last chapters in regard to the 
Notion and Judgment will be found, if followed out, 
to throw light on some of these points. 

First, There are simple cases of reasoning in 
which the terms are Singular or Abstract : 

Thomas a Kempis was the author of the u Imitation of Christ ; * 
Gerson was not Thomas a Kempis ; 
.*. Gerson was not the author of the " Imitation of Christ." 

Or the unfigured syllogism of Hamilton : 

Sulphate of iron is copperas ; 
Sulphate of iron is not sulphate of copper ; 
.*. Sulphate of copper is not copperas. 

In the same class may be placed all reasoning in 
which the proposition are definitions or substitutive : 
as, "Logic is the science of the laws of thought- 
Ethics is the science of the laws of our moral nature ; 
therefore Logic is not Ethics." Under this head I 
put all quantitative reasoning ; as, u A = B ; B = C ; 
therefore A = C." In such examples none of the 
notions is properly a class-notion or attributive. As 
none of them has quantity or extension, so we can- 
not speak of a minor or major term, or of a minor 
or major premise. The division into figures has no 
place ; for, as any one will at c nee see on trial, the 
middle term may be made, as we please, the subject 
or the predicate of either premise. The regulating 
principle in all such cases is either, (k Things are the 


same which are same with a third," or " Things which 
are equal to the same are equal to one another." 
Much confusion is avoided by alloting reasoning of 
this description to a separate head. As there is no 
class-notion the Dictum cannot be the regulating 

Second, There is more complex reasoning in 
which there is an attributive predicate or a class- 
notion. In this the old Aristotelian Dictum remains, 
after all discussion, the fundamental regulating prin- 
ciple : " Whatever is predicated of a class may be 
predicated of all the members of the class." No 
other proposed Dictum has lived beyond the age of 
its inventor. I am convinced that the same fate 
awaits that propounded by our author. (Logic, 
H. i-iv.) 

The u really fundamental axiom of ratiocination," 
as announced by him, is, " Things which co-exist with 
the same thing, co-exist with one another ; " and " a 
thing which co-exists with another thing, with which 
other a third thing does not co-exist, is not co- 
existent with that third thing." But the phrase 
" co-exist," if limited to co-existence in respect of 
time or space, does not include most important cases 
of reasoning ; and if widened beyond this, it becomes 
meaningless. When we argue that the man hav- 
ing committed murder deserves punishment, the 
premises and the conclusion have reference, not to 
Bpace or time, but to far different relations. When 
we infer from A being equal to B, and B to C, that 


A is equal to C, we are not making affirmations 
about co-existence. In explanation, he tells us (p. 
203, foot-note, 6th ed.), " the co-existence meant is 
that of being jointly attributes of the same subject." 
This statement is still vague, and is not adequate, 
for it does not specify what is " the same subject," 
and it does not bring out that the attribution in- 
volves Extension : but it contains partial truth, and 
it has a meaning, which we can examine. 

This new Dictum gives him the following univer- 
sal formula : 

Attribute A is a mark of Attribute B ; 
A given object has the mark A ; 
. . The given object has the attribute B. 

But what does this first premise mean when we 
translate it from abstractions into concrete realities ? 
As there cannot be an Attribute existing separately 
or apart from objects, it must mean, "Whatever 
objects have the attribute A have the attribute B." 
And what is this but the major premise of the old 
syllogistic formula? The second premise requires 
an explanation. " A given object has the mark A : " 
this object may be one object or a class of objects. 
In order to give the formula a meaning, we must 
interpret it, " Whatever individual or class has the 
attribute A has the attribute B ; a given object or 
class C has the attribute A ; therefore it has the 
attribute B." The new Dictum and new Syllogistic 
formula are just bad versions of the old ones. I 

call them bad versions, for the phrase " co-exist " 


does not bring out the precise relation of the terms 
on which the thought proceeds; and the phrase, 
" Attribute A," requires to be interpreted in order to 
have a relevant signification. 

But he has given us another form, which he repre- 
sents as u an universal type of the reasoning process. 
We find it resolvable in all cases into the following 
elements : Certain individuals have a given attri- 
bute ; an individual or individuals resemble the for- 
mer in certain other attributes ; therefore they re- 
semble them also in the given attribute." (Ib. II. in. 
7.) It may be observed that the phrase "co-exist" 
has disappeared, and another and equally vague one 
has taken its place ; it is a " resemblance " in certain 
attributes, and in other attributes. It is allowed 
that this is not " conclusive from the mere form of 
the expression." By itself it would sanction falla- 
cious reasoning quite as readily as valid. " All men 
have immortal souls ; the brutes resemble them in 
certain attributes (as instincts and bodily organs) ; 
they must also have immortal souls." We shall see 
immediately that Mr. Mill allows that the syllogism 
is an admirable test of the validity of reasoning, 
which, it is conceded, this alleged u universal type " 
is not. It wants the essential testing element, the 
general rule that guarantees the conclusion, and 
which in the syllogistic formula is embodied in the 
major premise, the necessity of which is pressed 
on us by the Dictum. 

But may there not be reasoning in Comprehen- 


siori as well as in Extension? In answering this 
question it should be admitted fully, that reasoning 
in Extension may always be translated into reason- 
ing in Comprehension. The reason of this is very 
obvious : it follows from the account given of the 
nature of the Concept. Extension always implies 
Comprehension ; that is, the objects in the class are 
joined in the class by the possession of common 
marks : 

He who has intelligence and free agency is responsible ; 
Man has intelligence and free agency ; 
/. Man is responsible. 

This reasoning in Extension may be put in Com- 
prehension : 

Responsibility is an attribute of all who have intelligence and free 

agency ; 

Intelligence and free agency is an attribute of man ; 
.. Responsibility is an attribute of man. 

Mr. Mill maintains that all reasoning is in Com- 
prehension, and not in Extension. " All propositions 
into which general names enter, and consequently 
all reasonings, are in Comprehension only. Proposi- 
tions and reasonings may be written in Extension, 
but they are always understood in Comprehension." 
(p. 363.) I have granted that, so far as propositions 
are concerned, spontaneous thought is chiefly in 
Comprehension. In simple affirmation and denial, 
we commonly mean to do nothing more than declare 
or deny that an object or class of objects has or has 


not a certain attribute, but without turning the predi- 
cate into a class-notion, or inquiring whether there 
may or may not be other objects, which have or have 
not the same attribute. When we say that "the 
horse is warm-blooded," we may be looking exclu- 
sively to the attribute, without caring, at the time, 
whether there are other warm-blooded animals. 
But it seems to be different in regard to reasoning, 
the uppermost thought in which is always in Ex- 
tension. It seems to me to be so when, not know- 
ing whether the horse is or is not warm-blooded, 
we call in a middle concept, and argue " that the 
horse being a mammal, and all mammals being 
warm-blooded, the horse must be so." Here we 
place the horse in the class mammal, and mammals 
among warm-blooded animals, and thus reach the 
conclusion. Again, to take an example of negative 
reasoning (falling naturally into the second figure) ; 
When we argue that " the rat, not bringing forth its 
young by eggs, is not a reptile," we find in thought 
that the class rats, not being in the class of animals 
which bring forth their young by eggs, cannot be in 
the class reptiles, which always bring forth their 
young by eggs. Here, as in all other cases, we un- 
derstand the attributive terms such as bringing 
forth their young by eggs as class-notions in order 
to draw a conclusion. This is seen very clearly 
when we have to determine whether our conclusion 
should be universal or particular; that is, of the 
whole class, or a part. We argue (in the third 


figure) that " as the connection of soul and body, 
though incomprehensible, is yet to be believed, that 
therefore not all things, but some things to be 
believed are incomprehensible;" and how do we 
reach this conclusion ? Because in thought we have 
made a class of " things to be believed," and found 
that in this class are things incomprehensible. 1 

Such considerations convince me that our sponta- 
neous reasoning is in Extension. I allow that Sir W. 
Hamilton has furnished a valuable contribution to 
Logic by exhibiting the forms of reasoning in Com- 
prehension. But I look on these as secondary and 
derived, and not entitled to the same primary rank 
x as those in Extension. Most logicians teachers 
and taught have shrunk from his 108 Modes as 
being an oppressive burden on the mind, both on its 
memory ^and its intellectual apprehension. I am in- 
clined to think that all the purposes of Logic will be 
accomplished by retaining the old forms of reasoning 
in Extension, and showing how, when any end is to 
be served, they can be turned into the forms of 
Comprehension. As to Mr. Mill, he has got a partial 
and imperfect view of reasoning in Comprehension, 
but has not taken the trouble of showing us how his 
theory is adequate to explain the processes of spon- 
taneous reasoning. 

He utters an emphatic denial regarding the syl- 
logistic form and its rules, that they are not " the 

1 Mr. Kidd, in his very able work, conception of a class is present in 
A Delineation of the Primary Princi- every instance of reasoning." 
pies of Reasoning } shows, p. 121, " The 


form and the rules according to which our reason- 
ings are necessarily, or even usually, made." But all 
wise logicians have allowed that in spontaneous 
reasoning persons have not before them the Dictum 
of Aristotle, and still less the modes and figures of 
the syllogism. The former of these is the regula- 
tive principle of reasoning, and the latter are ex- 
pressions constructed to test the validity of ratioci- 
nation. What I maintain is that the mind in all 
reasoning grasps the three notions, that is, things 
apprehended, and the relation between them. We 
see a new kind of leaf that never fell under our 
view before, and we notice that it is netted in its 
veins, and we infer that the plant on which it grew 
must be dicotyledonous : we do so on the principle, 
gathered probably from botanical books, that all 
netted-veined plants are dicotyledons ; and we see 
the relation of " this plant, having netted leaves, and 
being dicotyledonous." But we do not enounce the 
Dictum, nor do we spread out major, minor, and 
conclusion. We leave all this to logicians, who 
construct a reflex science out of a spontaneous 

He makes two most important admissions in favor 
of the syllogistic analysis. One is that all reasoning 
can be reduced to the formula of the syllogism ; and 
the other, that this formula is admirably fitted to ex- 
pose invalid reasoning. The value of the syllogistic 
form, and of the rules of using it correctly, is said to 
consist " in their furnishing us with a mode in which 


those reasonings may always be represented, and 
which is admirably calculated, if they are inconclu- 
sive, to bring their inconclusiveness to light." But I 
ask, how does it happen that all our reasoning can 
be reduced to this form ? How is it that it comes 
to test so admirably the conclusiveness and inclusive- 
ness of all reasoning? It is surely strange that 
there is a rule to which all reasoning is conformable, 
and which acts as a criterion of all reasoning, and 
yet is not the natural law of reasoning. I believe 
that all arguments can be made to take this form, 
because it is the right one. I believe it is a crucial 
test of the soundness or unsoundness of all argu- 
ments, because it is the law of thought, springing 
from the mental constitution with which our Maker 
has endowed us. 

I suppose Mr. Mill would account for the conform- 
ableness of all reasoning to the syllogistic form, and 
for its aptness to act as a test, by saying that, though 
all reasoning is naturally in Comprehension, it can 
be represented in Extension. But if this be so, it 
would show, I think, that propositions and reasoning 
must, contrary to what Mr. Mill alleges, have a 
meaning in Extension as well as in Comprehension. 
And if reasoning be naturally in Comprehension, 
we should expect that formulae drawn oul on that 
principle must be better fitted than those derived 
from Extension to exhibit the validity or invalid- 
ity of arguments. Mr. Mill has, unfortunately, not 
favored us with a development of the forms of rea- 


soning according to Comprehension. We are there- 
fore not in a position to say whether these would or 
would not be superior, as a means of testing infer- 
ence, to those furnished in the old Logic. I am con- 
vinced that such forms, constructed even by so clear 
a thinker as Mr. Mill, would have a more artificial, 
a more twisted and translated look, and would be 
far less fitted to expose fallacies in reasoning. I 
rather think that we should have to translate them 
back into Extension before we could fully recognize 
their meaning. Looking upon reasoning as proceed- 
ing naturally by classification, rather than attribu- 
tion, I maintain that the great body of logicians, 
from Aristotle downwards, have acted properly in 
drawing out their formulas according to Extension, 
and that it is when they are thus drawn out that 
they are most easily understood and readily applied. 
Mr. Mill has made a most important admission (p. 
429): "The propositions in Extension, being, in 
this sense, exactly equivalent to the judgments in 
Comprehension, served quite as well to ground forms 
of ratiocination upon: and as the validity of the 
forms was more easily and conveniently shown 
through the concrete conception of comparing classes 
of objects, than through the abstract one of recogniz- 
ing co-exjstence of attributes, logicians were per- 
fectly justified in taking the course which, in any 
case, the established forms of language would doubt- 
less have forced upon them." The two circumstances, 
that the validity of the forms is more easily and con 


veniently shown by comparing "classes," and that 
the established forms of language, which are ex- 
pressions of the natural processes of the mind, would 
have forced an expression according to classes on 
logicians, is surely a presumption, if not a proof, that 
the forms in extension are the development of spon- 
taneous thought. 

" I believe that, in point of fact, when drawing in- 
ferences from our personal experience, and not from 
maxims handed down to us by books or tradition, we 
much oftener conclude from particulars to particulars 
directly, than through the intermediate agency of any 
general proposition." Now, nearly all philosophers 
have allowed that the mind begins its observations 
with particulars, or, to use a better phrase, singulars. 
Having observed a number of individuals, it can 
reach a general conclusion ; but it is only by a pro- 
cess which the logician should fully unfold. Having 
observed or heard that crows everywhere are black, 
we conclude that the crow which we hear, without 
seeing, is black. But we can argue thus only on the 
condition that the induction is such as to justify the 
general proposition that all crows are black. The 
syllogism is so admirable a means of bringing to 
light the inconclusiveness of fallacious reasoning, 
just because it requires the general proposition to 
be expressed in one of the premises. 

" All inference is from particulars to particulars ; 
general propositions are merely registers of such in- 
ferences already i lade, and short formulae for mak- 


ing more." He thinks that the error of the syllo- 
gistic theory arises from not distinguishing between 
"the inferring part and the registering part, and 
ascribing to the latter the functions of the former." 
Now I admit that the general proposition may be 
the record or register of a previous induction. And 
if there has been reasoning in the process of induc- 
tion by which this has been reached, there must 
have been a prior general proposition got by an ear- 
lier induction, or given by intuition. But in any 
given argument we do not look to the previous ac- 
cumulation of particulars, but to the register em- 
bodied in a general proposition. The general prop- 
osition is certainly no part % of the inference, but it 
is an essential part of the assumption from which 
we infer the conclusion, and should therefore have a 
distinct place allotted to it in the premises. Mr. 
Mill has a partial view of the truth when he says 
(Tb. c. iv.), "In drawing this inference, we conform 
to a formula which we have adopted for our guid- 
ance in such operations, and which is a record of the 
criteria by which we thought we had ascertained 
that we might distinguish when the inference could 
and when it could not be drawn." In any given 
argument, as an argument, all that we have to do is 
to look to this register, or record, or general prop- 
osition. If doubts arise as to its accuracy, we must 
go back on the processes by which we reached it ; 
and if there be reasoning in the processes, we must 
test them in the same way. But our record being 


settled, the general proposition in which it is an- 
nounced is implied in the argument, and should 
therefore have a place in the formula of reasoning. 
We have already noticed that " universal type of the 
reasoning process," according to which we find that 
" certain individuals have a given attribute, and that 
an individual or individuals resemble the former in 
certain attributes, and therefore resemble them in 
the given attribute." We remarked upon the vague- 
ness of this type as leaving us in doubt as to what 
are the "certain attributes" which entitle us to 
infer the presence of the "given attribute." It is 
the general proposition embodied in the major prem- 
ise, which spreads out the rules which, when we 
take the minor premise along with it, entitles us 
to draw the conclusion. 

But it is asked, if all reasoning implies a major 
proposition, where do we get our first major, that 
with which we start? Aristotle did not overlook 
this question, and he answered it. He tells us again 
and again that the beginning of demonstration can- 
not be demonstration, and that all demonstration 
carries us back to Intuitive Keason (vov$, see Anal. 
Post, i. 3, 22, 23). In certain acts of reasoning, 
primitive perceptions, such as "the effect has a 
cause," give us the one proposition, and ordinary 
observation the other, and the two necessitate the 
conclusion. JBut in far the greater number of argu- 
ments the general proposition is the result of a 
gathered observation. The criteria of these gath- 


ered or inductive general laws will come under our 
notice in next chapter. 

" The child, who, having burnt his fingers, avoids 
to thrust them again into the fire, has reasoned or 
inferred, though he has never thought of the general 
maxim, Fire burns. He knows from memory that 
he has been burnt, and on this evidence believes, 
when he sees a candle, that if he puts his finger 
into the flame of it, he will be burnt again. He 
believes this in every case which happens to arise ; 
but without looking, in each instance, beyond the 
present case. He is not generalizing he is infer- 
ring a particular from particulars. In the same way, 
also, brutes reason." f< Not only the burnt child, but 
the burnt dog dreads the fire." I am inclined to 
think that in these cases, that of the child and the 
dog, the process is very much one of the association 
of ideas and feelings. The fire and the sensation 
have been together, and upon the fire presenting 
itself there is a tendency to a feeling which causes 
shrinking. There is really no conclusion from ob- 
served, from remembered, from gathered particulars. 
Should the fire only once have burnt the child, it 
will turn away from it, possibly without remember- 
ing the previous case, certainly without an induction 
of particulars, or an inference from them. 

I have called attention to the circumstances that 
while Judgment and Association are not the same, 
they do yet conspire in their action, (pp. 195, 196, 
222, 223.) I have now to apply this remark to 


reasoning and suggestion. Inference is not to be 
confounded with mere association. In all reasoning 
there is comparison, there is the perception of sL 
relation between things about which we reason. 
Thus <we argue, " A deer, being horned, is ruminant.'* 
Here the mind grasps the three concepts and their 
relation : " deer," " being horned," u are among rumi- 
nant animals." Unless there be a positive percep- 
tion of the connection of the things, there is no rea- 
soning. Herein is argument at once distinguished 
from association, which does not imply any connec- 
tion between the things which have been together 
in the mind, any comparison, or any observed rela- 
tion. But while the two mental operations are not 
the same, association greatly helps reasoning. In 
all inference there is a discovered relation, and the 
related things may often have been together, and 
thus the one tends to suggest the others. Some 
think that it is a native law of the mind that cor- 
related things, such as like things, and cause and 
effect, call up each other. However we may ac- 
count for it, whether from things being often 
together or an original tendency, correlated things 
come up simultaneously, altogether independent of 
our observing the relation. Indeed, it is often the 
circumstance that they have come up together 
which invites or constrains us to notice the connec- 
tion. Now all this helps us to conduct the operation 
of reasoning. Thus fire suggests the burning sensa- 
tion, and we collect cases till we reach the general 


truth that fire burns, and then the process may 
become one of inference. It is in this way we are 
to account for the readiness, the rapidity, and for 
what is often called the unconsciousness of the 
reasoning process. The laws of association call up 
correlated objects, and the mind perceives the cor- 
relation and draws the inference. Thus " deer " sug- 
gests "horned 5" and having heard that horned 
animals are ruminant, " horned " suggests " rumi- 
nant ; " and perceiving the class relation of the 
terms, we draw the conclusion that horned animals 
are ruminant 

I believe that very much of what some regard as 
reasoning in the brute creatures arises from mere 
association, without the relation of the things being 
discovered. In like manner the laws of suggestion 
operate in children to excite fears and expectations, 
before there are those observed relations which 
must enter into reasoning. All our lives we act on 
impulses produced by mere association, without any 
accompanying argument. A loud noise will raise up 
fear, without our having inferred that it proceeds 
from a cause implying danger. The person who has 
been seriously hurt by a horse or dog can never look 
on a horse or dog without a feeling of tremor. In 
such mental action I admit that there is no class- 
notion, no general proposition, no regulating princi- 
ple of Extension. But just as little is there an in- 
duction of particulars, or attribution, or reasoning 
in Comprehension ; there is no such process as 


" Attribute A being a mark of Attribute B, and C 
having the mark A." But then it is one aim of in- 
tellectual teaching, and one very special end of 
Logic, to raise us above the animal state and the 
infant state ; to keep us from being driven along 
passively by more casual associations ; and train the 
mind to look narrowly into the relations of things 
that pass before it, and of which it must have some 
conception, that it may thereby reach sound conclu- 
sions which can be justified. In all such processes 
of real reasoning, it will be found that there is a 
general proposition involved, and this should have a 
place in the formula which systematizes the sponta- 
neous operation. 

But Mr. Mill tells us that "in every syllogism 
considered as an argument to prove the conclusion, 
there is a petitio principii." But did any one ever 
maintain that the syllogism is " an argument to 
prove the conclusion ? " It has usually been repre- 
sented as the form to which the argument can be 
reduced. The petitio principii is a fallacious mode 
of reasoning; but the syllogism cannot with any 
possible propriety be represented as a mode of 
reasoning, valid or fallacious, for it is not reasoning, 
but the formula of reasoning. I suppose Mr. Mill 
meant to affirm that all reasoning in syllogistic form 
involves a petitio. If so, then he is caught in 
inextricable toils, for he admits that all rea- 
soning can be reduced to syllogistic form, which 
seems to imply that it involves a begging of the 


question. The petitio principii is a fallacy in which 
one of the premises is either the same as the con- 
clusion, or depends upon it. But in reasoning, ac- 
cording to the syllogistic analysis, the conclusion 
follows, not from one of the premises, but from the 
two, or rather from the relations between the things 
compared and the premises. It is when the rela- 
tions predicated in the two propositions are brought 
before the mind that we see the force of the infer- 
ence. We wish to determine what we are not 
expressly told in the gospels whether the Baptist 
was a priest : give us only one premise, as, that " the 
Baptist was the son of a priest," or, that " the sons 
of priests were priests, and we can infer nothing ; 
but place the two together, and the conclusion 
is necessitated. The one of these premises is a 
particular fact, the other is a general proposition, and 
both are necessary to the validity of the conclusion. 
Both premises are, in the reasoning, assumptions 
they must be given or granted ; but neither of them 
is an assumption of the conclusion ; the two are as- 
sumptions which warrant the conclusion. As to 
whether the assumptions are or are not warranted, this 
is to be determined by a previous investigation, to be 
tested by the criteria of induction, intuition, or rea- 
soning. And it should be forever pressed on Mr. 
Mill, that the objections he brings against the Dic- 
tum of Aristotle are quite as applicable to his own. 
" Things which co-exist with one and the same thing 
co-exist with one another ; " this is quite as much a 


truism as the old Dictum, while it is much more 
vague ; and reasoning proceeding upon it must be 
quite as liable to the charge of being a begging of 
the question, as reasoning according to the syllogis- 
tic formula. 

It should not be omitted that Mr. Mill does not 
enter upon any special consideration of the nature 
of Conditional Reasoning, whether Hypothetical or 
Disjunctive. This is a great defect in a work which 
professes to give us a full Logic of Inference. There 
are very important questions started as to the regu- 
lating principle of Conditional Arguments, and these 
should be discussed in every logical treatise worthy 
of these advanced times. He tells us, in his "Ex- 
amination of Hamilton," that a Hypothetical Judg- 
ment is " a judgment concerning judgments ; " but 
he does not attempt to enounce the principle which 
connects the "judgment " with the "judgments " with 
which it is concerned. He further lets us know that 
he looks on a Disjunctive Judgment as compounded 
of two or more Hypotheticals, but he does not in- 
form us what is the relation of these Hypotheticals 
to one another, (pp. 454, 455.) I confess I should 
like to see his attributive theory of reasoning tried 
by its application to Conditional, and specially to 
Disjunctive reasoning. When we argue that " the 
season when a particular event took place not hav- 
ing been spring, summer, or autumn, must have 
been winter," we seem to proceed on the principle 
of Division, which is made according to the Exteri- 


sion and not the Comprehension of a concept. But 
I allude to these topics here, not in order to discuss 
them, but to show that as Mr. Mill has avoided the 
discussion, he cannot be said to furnish a full system 
of Logic. 



I AM inclined to justify Mr. Mill in introducing into 
the science other topics besides those treated 
of in what we may call Primary Logic. The effort 
made by certain purists to exclude such matters as 
Demonstration, Induction, and Evidence generally, 
must fail, and ought to fail. It is of vast moment 
to have these subjects discussed in a scientific man- 
ner, and Logic is the field for the discussion ; and 
our definitions of the science are too narrow if they 
exclude them, and should be so widened as to give 
them an acknowledged place. In treating of such 
topics, or at least two of them, Induction and Evi- 
dence, our author occupies a far more distinguished 
place than he does in Formal Logic. Still, even in 
this department, his work, while possessed of great 
merits, may be charged with grave errors, springing, 
I believe, from his mistaken views of fundamental 

I have commented already (Chap, xii.) on his ac- 
count of Necessary Truth generally. His defective 
appreciation of intuition has led him to an errone- 



uus exposition of the nature and office of Mathe- 
matical Definitions and Axioms. (Logic, n. v.-vii.) 
Definitions are represented as hypotheses, and the 
necessity of the truths derived from them consists 
in the relation between the supposition and the con- 
clusions drawn from it. " Axioms are experimental 
truths ; generalizations from observation. The prop- 
osition. Two straight lines cannot enclose a space 
or in other words, Two straight lines which have 
once met, do not meet again, but continue to di- 
verge is an induction from the evidence of our 

I reckon these views as radically erroneous. Defi- 
nitions are Abstracts, that is, things abstracted from 
known concrete realities. ' A line is length without 
breadth/ that is, we consider the length without 
regarding the breadth. ' A superficies has breadth 
and length without depth/ that is, in all reasoning 
we agree to look to the length and breadth without 
taking the depth into account. But Mr. Mill tells 
us " there exist no real things exactly conformable 
to the definition;" there exist no lines without 
breadth, no surfaces without depth. I admit that 
there can be no such lines or surfaces with a sepa- 
rate or independent existence. But still they have 
a reality; they have a reality in extended objects 
which have, besides, length and breadth. Man's 
mind is so constituted that he can think about 
them, and draw deductions from them. But he tells 
us, "A line, as defined by geometers, is wholly in- 


conceivable/' where the word that covers so much 
confusion appears once more, and in his latest edi- 
tion. We certainly cannot image such a line, but 
we can image an extended object, and think about 
its length. I believe that all further mathematical 
truths are derived from Definitions. But when I 
say so ? I do not mean that they are obtained from 
ideas in the mind, but from things abstracted from 
concrete realities, and having a reality in existing 
concrete objects. As there is a reality in the things 
defined, so there is also a reality in all the conclu- 
sions logically drawn from them. The deductions 
derived two thousand years ago from the definition 
of the ellipse, are found to be realized in the plane- 
tary bodies, so far as they move in elliptic orbits. 
I cannot see how this should follow, unless the thing 
defined had been a reality. 

Mr. Mill thinks that demonstrative truths follow 
from Postulates and not Definitions. We postulate 
that there may be a line with length without 
breadth, and get deductions from our assumptions. 
True, in all deduction the premises are assumptions, 
but in mathematical definitions the assumptions are 
abstracted realities. Here, as in so many other de- 
partments, his acuteness has given him a partial 
view of the truth, and he says that " our reasonings 
are grounded upon matters of fact in our defini- 
tions." When I say that mathematical demonstra- 
tion is founded upon definitions, I mean upon the 
matters of fact or things defined, whi^h no doubt 


are postulated, but postulated as realities, giving us 
corresponding realities in all legitimate deductions 
from them. To support his confused theory, he is 
obliged to give a twofold view of definitions. The 
definition of a triangle, he says, obviously comprises 
not one but two propositions perfectly distinguisha- 
ble. The one is, " There may exist a figure bound- 
ed by three straight lines;" and the other, "this 
figure may be termed a triangle." But there is 
no advantage secured, in the way of clearing our 
thoughts or otherwise, by drawing such a distinction ; 
for demonstration relates throughout not to the word, 
but the thing, a figure bounded by three straight lines. 
He argues that definitions, as such, are the premises 
only in the reasonings which relate to words, and 
that if we take any other view, "we might argue 
correctly from true premises, and arrive at a false 
conclusion." Thus let the definition be, " A dragon 
is a serpent breathing flame ; " out of this we may 
carve the following syllogism : " A dragon is a thing 
which breathes flame; but a dragon is a serpent: 
therefore, some serpents breathe flame," " in which 
both premises are true, and yet the conclusion 
false." But surely the premises are here true or 
false according to what we understand as to the 
objects compared. If we are speaking throughout 
of imaginary things, the conclusion is true in the 
same sense as the premises are. If we are speak- 
ing of actually existing things, both the premises 
and the conclusion are false. After what I have 


said in regard to necessary truth (Chap, xii.), it is 
not necessary to dwell on his theory of Mathemati- 
cal Axioms. They are represented as mere general- 
izations of an outward experience. I believe, indeed, 
that in the axiom in its generalized form there must 
be generalization. But they are not generalizations 
of an outward or sensible experience. On the bare 
contemplation of a whole object, say a table, we 
declare it to be larger than a part of it, say its leg. 
I do so at once on the mere sight or thought of the 
object as known to me, and not from any induction 
of particulars falling under my experience in time 
past. Perceiving that I would do the same in every 
like case, I may generalize the judgment and put it 
in the form of an axiom, that " the whole is greater 
than its part." But this general truth is not the 
generalization of a lengthened experience ; it is not 
reached by our having observed a thousand times or 
ten thousand times that a whole thing is greater 
than a part of the same thing : we see it at once on 
the bare inspection of any one thing; our convic- 
tion could not be made stronger by multiplying ex- 
amples ; and we cannot allow that there should be 
an exception. I may have observed of ten thousand 
plants with netted leaves, that they have all sprung 
from two seed-lobes, and I feel justified in laying 
down the general rule, that " netted-leaved plants 
are dicotyledonous;" but the law is reached by a 
gathered experience. I do not assert that it can 
have no exceptions ; and when I learn that there is 


a tribe of plants (including Arum, etc.) which have 
netted leaves, and yet spring from one seed-lobe, I 
may wonder at the fact, but I do not say that it 
is impossible. But the mind having discovered, 
from its knowledge of the nature of things, that the 
whole is greater than a part, I cannot be made to 
allow that there is anywhere an exception. To 
apply these remarks to mathematical truth: In 
proceeding with its demonstrations, the mind pro- 
nounces its judgments immediately on the objects 
defined being presented to it, and it does not need 
the axiom in its generalized form; indeed it feels 
the force of the reasoning quite as clearly before as 
after the maxim is announced. In learning geome- 
try, the beginner seems to discover the truth of the 
axiom from the judgment pronounced in a given 
case, rather than to recognize the validity of the 
argument in the particular example by the maxim. 
Still the axiom is the expression of the regulating 
principle of reasoning, and it serves important pur- 
poses to enunciate it at the commencement of the 
demonstration. It is one of the greatest defects of 
Mr. Mill's work on Logic, that in consequence of 
mistaking the nature and functions of definitions 
and axioms, he has not been able to give a correct 
account of the Method employed in Demonstration. 
That Method I call the Joint Dogmatic and Deduc- 
tive. I call it Dogmatic, for it begins with assump- 
tions, with truths not proven, with truths perceived 
by intuition; and I call it Deductive, for it draws 


other truths from its assumptions. The criteria of 
its assumptions are the tests of intuitive truth, that 
is, Self-Evidence and Necessity; the criteria of its 
deductions are the forms of reasoning. 

Mr. Mill's Book on Induction is far the most valu- 
able part of his Logic ; it contains the best exposi- 
tion which we have of the Method of Induction in 
our own or in any other language. His Canons of 
Causes are a great improvement upon the Preroga- 
tive Instances of Bacon, and are an advance upon 
the rules proposed by Sir J. Herschel. But, wlxi!<3 
he has admirably expounded the functions of Pre- 
rogative Instances or Canons in physical science, he 
does not seem to see what is the precise logical pur- 
pose, that is, the purpose in thought, served by them. 
Induction consists of two parts : the gathering of 
individual facts, which, however numerous, must 
always be limited ; and the derivation from them of 
a law announced in a general proposition. In the 
first of these there is no special exercise of reason- 
ing ; the whole is the work of observation and trained 
sagacity. But in the derivation of the law from 
the scattered and incomplete facts there is inference. 
Now, what is it that justifies the inference ? If there 
be any truth in the Aristotelian or syllogistic analy- 
sis, there must be a general principle involved, 
which, when the reasoning is put in syllogistic form, 
becomes the major premise. Now, such rules as 
these, involved in the Prerogative Instances of Ba- 
con, and the Canons of Mr. Mill, are the general 


propositions which supply the major premise ; and the 
particular set of facts give us the minor premise ; and 
the two necessitate the conclusion. I drank brandy 
on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and had a 
headache the succeeding mornings; I drank no 
brandy on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 
and had no headache on the following days. When 
I conclude that my drinking brandy was the cause 
of the headache, I have, as my major premise, such 
a general proposition as the Canon of Difference : 
"If, in comparing cases in which the effect takes 
place with other cases in which it does not take 
place, we find the latter to have every antecedent in 
common with the former except one, that one cir- 
cumstance is the cause, or a part of the cause ; " and 
as my minor premise, the facts as constituting such 
a case ; and the conclusion follows syllogistically. 
The excellence of Mr. Mill's Canons is, that they are 
the simplest and most complete yet enunciated of 
the general principles which guide us in rising from 
the collection of individual facts to the causes. Had 
Mr. Mill clearly perceived that there is reasoning in 
all induction, he would have been prevented from re- 
versing the natural order by representing the rea- 
soning process as an induction. 

But the discovery of causes is not the sole end of 
science. In some departments the object is to re- 
solve the compounds of nature into their elements. 
This is one of the main ends sought in chemistry, 
and also in psychology. There should, therefore, 



be Canons of Composition 1 as well as Canons of 

In another important group of sciences, those 
called the Classificatory by Dr. Whewell, the end 
sought is not the discovery of Causes or of Com- 
position, but of Classes ; that is, Natural Classes. 2 I 
mention these things to show that, while Mr. Mill 
has given us the best exposition we yet have of the 
Logic of Induction, he has by no means completed 

1 In the absence of an attempt by 
any Logician to supply them, we may 
give the folowing : ( 1 . ) We have de- 
composed a compound when we have 
decomposed it in separation from all 
other substances. (2.) Having found 
the elements of a compound in one 
case, we have found them in all. A 
caution requires to be added, that the 
elements reached are to be regarded 
as such merely provisionally. The 
first rule theoretically guards against 
a mistake, which is difficult to avoid in 
practice. The second shows that one 
decisive experiment may settle the 
whole question of the decomposition 
of a substance. Hence it is that in 
Chemihtry we may not require a large 
induction, such as is necessary in Nat- 
ural History and many departments 
of Natural Philosophy. As Chemis- 
try did not exist in the days of Bacon, 
he does not seem to have contemplated 
the possibility of so rapid a method of 
reaching a law ; and his rules as to the 
necessity of a wide induction, and the 
gradual rising from particulars to mi- 
nor, middle, and major axioms do not 
apply to this science, at least in its 
present advanced stage, though I 
rather think they did at its earlier 
stages, before the nature of chemical 
affinity had been ascertained The cau- 
tion guards us against concluding, 
when we have reached certain compo- 

nents, we must have got the ultimato 
elements. Every chemist allows that 
these sixty elements are to be esteemed 
such, merely till there has been a suc- 
cessful decomposition of them. 

2 The following Canons of Classes 
may serve till better are furnished : 
(1.) We have found the resemblance 
among the objects in many and varied 
cases. (2.) We must be in circum- 
stances to say that if there be excep- 
tions we should most probably have 
fallen in with them. These two rules 
will prevent us from drawing rash gen- 
eralizations from a few cases, or cases 
confined to a limited region. But in 
order to determine whether the class is 
or is not a Natural Class, we require a 
more important rule. (3.) The class 
may be regarded as a natural one when 
it is one of Kinds ; that is, when the 
possession of one mark is a sign of a 
number of others. Thus we may 
reckon Mammal as a Natural Class ; 
for though founded on the single cir- 
cumstance of the animals belonging to 
it suckling their young, it is found that 
this characteristic is a sign of others, 
as, that they are warm-blooded, and 
that their heart has four compartments. 
Such Orders as Ranunculaceae, Cruci- 
ferse, Rosaces, are obviously Natural 
Classes, for the plants included in each 
have a number of resembling points. 


the investigation. Much remains to be done by 
other men and* by other ages. 

There has been an important discussion between 
Dr. Whewell and Mr. Mill as to whether we may 
now expect more from the Method of Induction or 
of Deduction. Mr. Mill maintains that in most de- 
partments of science our hope of discovery lies more 
in Deduction than in the Induction of Bacon. On 
the other hand, Dr. Whewell holds that, whatever 
may be the case with the social sciences, in the 
physical sciences discoveries may be expected to be 
made in time to come, as they have been in time 
past, by a patient induction. Much confusion has 
crept into this controversy from the circumstance 
that these two eminent men have not come to an 
agreement as to what is involved in the processes 
about which they dispute. According to Mr. Mill, 
the Deductive Method consists of three operations : 
the first, one of direct induction ; the second of 
ratiocination ; and the third of verification. (Logic, 
m. xi.) Now of these three steps, the first, the di- 
rect induction of particulars, and also the third, the 
verification by facts, are essentially inductive ; they 
consist in collecting facts, with the view of deter- 
mining the law of the facts. What Mr. Mill calls 
Deductive, I am inclined to designate the Joint In- 
ductive and Deductive Method. In those depart- 
ments of science which are yet in their infancy, we 
must trust mainly to a careful collection of facts, 
and allow the facts to suggest the law, at which we 


may not yet be able even to guess. But in ad- 
vanced sciences in which laws have been established, 
and are ready to form the general or major proposi- 
tion, advances may be expected mainly from the 
combination of Deduction with Induction. Dr. Whe- 
well and Mr. Mill have both done much to unfold 
the steps of this Joint Method. But much yet re- 
mains to be done, by showing what is the separate 
province of each, and how they may be combined 
so as best to yield the wished-for results in the dif- 
ferent departments of science. 



IN this country Formal Logic is dealt with in four 
different ways at this present time. 

I. By some it is reckoned antiquated and ex- 
ploded, and never referred to without a sneer. 
Though these persons are not likely to attend to me, 
or favor me with an answer, yet I beg to ask them 
whether it would not be very desirable to have a Logic 
to unfold the laws of thought, and direct thought in 
its various walks in which it is so apt to err ? If 
they can be induced to reply candidly in the affirma- 
tive, I would then invite them to look into what 
earnest and able thinkers have done ; and I would 
show them how the Aristotelian Logic has cast up 
again and again, in spite of all efforts to suppress it ; 
and that no other Logic has stood longer than a 
single age : in particular, no one now sets any value 
on the attempts that were made to construct a 
logical science by the school of Locke and the 
school of Coridillac. 

II. There are those who accept the Aristotelian 
Logic without criticism or modification. Most of 



these are inclined to accept it in the form in which 
it is put by Whately, who, by his new and fresh 
illustrations and examples, threw such life into the 
bones which had become dry. The mastering of 
Whately's Elements is certainly a most profitable 
gymnastic to all young men, and is fitted to exer- 
cise a salutary influence upon their intellectual 
habits, which is likely to continue with them all 
their lives. But those who have a taste for the 
study ought not to content themselves with such an 
elementary exposition ; they should go on to make 
themselves acquainted with the discussions in our 
day in regard to logical forms ; and neither young 
nor advanced students must be allowed to forget 
that we have now a Logic of Induction quite as 
important as the Logic of Deduction. 

III. There is a British modification of the Logic 
of Kant which has able supporters, the leader hav- 
ing been Sir W. Hamilton, who has had able and 
learned fellow-workers in Dr. Mansel and Archbishop 
Thomson. The Logic of this school has many excel- 
lences. It has allotted a distinct and intelligible 
province to the science, which is described as that of 
the Laws of Thought. It has so defined the depart- 
ment as to make it embrace the Concept and the 
Judgment, as well as Keasoning. Sir W. Ham- 
ilton has revived the distinction between the Ex- 
tension and Comprehension of the Concept, and has 
evolved and applied it in a more scientific manner 
than was ever done before. Not satisfied with the 


Dictum of Aristotle as the one and universal regulat- 
ing* principle of reasoning, the school is seeking to 
enunciate a wider Canon, and important minor rules 
derived from it. It has successfully shown that 
reasoning may be put in the form of comprehension as 
well as Extension. It has subjected all the forms of 
reasoning, Categorical and Conditional, to a sifting 
examination, which has introduced greater scientific 
accuracy into the technicalities of Primary Logic. 
With unsurpassed acuteness and erudition, Dr. Man 
sel has introduced us to important Aristotelian and 
scholastic distinctions. Archbishop Thomson has 
given us an admirable chapter on Language as the 
instrument of thought, has clearly expounded the 
distinction between Substitutive and Attributive 
Judgments (though he has not seen what is 
the precise nature of the forms), and drawn 
out a comprehensive scheme of Immediate Infer- 

But on the other hand the Logic of the school is 
tainted throughout with the false metaphysics of 
Kant, and should not be accepted without important 
explanations ' and modifications. It proceeds all 
along on the principle that there are subjective 
forms in the mind itself, which impose on objects as 
we think about them, much that is not in the objects 
themselves. From this general error there arise 
several particular ones. 

(1.) The school represent Logic as an ci priori 
science. Now this doctrine cannot be allowed without 


an important explanation which changes the whole 
theory. It is all true that the mind in logical 
thought proceeds according to native principles. 
But the principles, as general rules, are not before 
consciousness. It is upon the bare inspection and 
comprehension of the case before it that the mind 
proceeds in the exercises of thought. It being un- 
derstood that a crocodile is a reptile, and that all 
reptiles bring forth their young by eggs, we at once 
conclude that the crocodile must do so ; but without 
having consciously before us the Dictum, that what- 
ever is predicated of a class may be predicated of all 
that is contained in the class. It needs objects to 
call the native capacities of the mind into exercise. 
Not only so, but the exercises are always individual. 
It is by a process of generalization that we derive 
the general law from the individual cases; and as 
there may be oversights and inaccuracies in the 
generalization, so there may be discussions and 
disputes about the expression of the general law. 
The laws of thought may be in the mind a priori, 
but we cannot discover and unfold them d priori. 
In order to find the general principles of logical 
thought, and to construct a science of Logic, there 
must be a careful and extensive observation of 
thought as directed to objects, and various classes of 

(2.) Kant represents Logic as " making abstrac- 
tion of all content of the cognition of the understand- 
ing and of the difference of objects, and having to do 



only with the form of thought." Sir W. Hamilton 
makes a like statement : " Logic is conversant with 
the form of thought to the exclusion of the matter." 
(Logic, i. 15.) Now this account contains both a 
truth and an error. It is quite true that Logic does 
not look to the objects of thought, but to thought : 
but it is equally true that thought must be employed 
about objects. If Logic, then, considers thought, it 
must consider thought as employed about objects, 
only it considers the thought and not the objects. 
Taking this view, we see that we are warranted 
(though, perhaps, Kant was not according to his 
principles) in adopting the division of the science, 
which we shall explain further on in this chapter, 
into Universal and Particular Logic. 

(3.) From the same mistaken view of thought, 
the whole school represent the Notion or Concep- 
tion as being formed by the mind, according to a 
priori laws, not altogether independent of objects, 
but imposing on objects what is not in them. Ham- 
ilton speaks of "an act of thought as the recogni- 
tion of a thing as coming under a concept;" and 
again, " Thought is a knowledge of a thing through 
a concept or general notion, or of one notion 
through another." (Ib. p. 43.) This language pro- 
ceeds on the idea that there is a concept prior to the 
thing, above the thing, and ready to be imposed 
upon it, so as to shape and color it. But surely the 
correct statement is not that thought is through 'a 
concept, but that a concept is a thought formed 


on the contemplation of things. The General No- 
tion is fashioned by the mind on the apprehension 
of objects, by putting together the objects, real or 
potential, having common properties. 

(4.) The whole Kantian school omits the Abstract 
Notion in the construction of logical science. Sir 
W. Hamilton, indeed, gives a brief but correct ac- 
count of it in his Metaphysics (Lect. xxxv.), showing 
that it implies comparison, and that " there is noth- 
ing necessarily connected with generalization in ab- 
straction." But in his Logic, the laws which he lays 
down apply only to the Concept or General Notion. 
This omission not only leads to a defective account 
of Simple Apprehension in the first part of Formal 
Logic, but makes him overlook a class of judgments 
and a species of reasoning in which the terms are 

(5.) In consequence of neglecting to give the Ab- 
stract Notion a separate place, Sir W. Hamilton and 
Archbishop Thomson have been led to represent 
every Notion as having Extension and Comprehen- 
sion. Now, these are properties exclusively of the 
General Notion. The Abstract Notion, say tranquil- 
lity, cannot be said to have Extension, for it denotes 
not objects, but an attribute. 

(6.) In a previous chapter I have shown that Sir W. 
Hamilton has not unfolded fully nor accurately the 
nature and the relations of the things compared in 
Logical Judgment. He represents the comparison 
as between two conceptions or concepts as mental 


products, whereas it is between concepts as things 
conceived. He vacillates in the account which he 
gives of the relation discovered between the con- 
cepts, speaking of it at times as being identity, at 
other times as that of whole and parts, and in some 
places as equality. 

(7.) One of Sir W. Hamilton's supposed improve- 
ments in Formal Logic consists in his insisting that 
the predicate should always be quantified ; that is, 
declared to be either universal or particular. Thus 
the proposition, "All men are mortal," he would 
write, " All men are some mortals." He defends this 
on the general principle, that whatever is in thought 
should be unfolded in the statement which professes 
to express thought. I admit the principle, but I do 
not admit that it requires the predicate to be quan- 
tified. For I have endeavored to show that in by 
far the greater number of propositions the upper- 
most thought is in Comprehension, and we do not 
think at all of the Extension. When we say " The 
dog barks," we mean that the dog is engaged in the 
act of barking, and we may not think of a class 
of barking animals; we certainly do not trouble 
ourselves with inquiring whether there are or are 
not other animals that bark. Even in propositions 
in which the Extension is in the thought, we do not 
always settle whether the subject is or is not co- 
extensive with the predicate. Thus, when we say 
"Man is rational," we may not have determined 
whether there are or are not other rational beings 


besides man. It is sufficient to lead us to form the 
judgment that man has the attribute rationality, or 
that he is in the class rational, whether this class in- 
clude other beings or not. I hold that in the vast 
majority of propositions the predicate is not quanti- 
fied in thought. I urge, further, in opposition to the 
doctrine, that in those propositions in which the 
terms are abstract, the predicate, properly speaking, 
has no quantity or extension, for it is not a class- 
notion. When we say that 3x3 = 9, neither sub- 
ject nor predicate has an indefinite number of ob- 
jects embraced in it. I admit that in reasoning, 
when the predicate is known to be distributed, we 
can convert the subject into the predicate, and the 
predicate into the subject, without any change, and 
draw a conclusion which we should not otherwise be 
entitled to do. Thus when we have it demonstrated, 
both that " all equilateral triangles are equiangular," 
and that " all equiangular triangles are equilateral," 
we can, upon a given triangle being found equilate- 
ral, declare it to be equiangular. Such cases are 
worthy of special notice, and might have a separate 
place allotted them in logical treatises, but, being so 
limited, should not be allowed to change the whole 
analytic of reasoning. 

(8.) The new Canon of Reasoning adopted by the 
school is very vague. It is thus stated in the Out- 
lines of the Laws of Thought: "The agreement 
or disagreement of one conception with another is 
ascertained by a third conception, inasmuch as this 


wholly or by the same part, agrees with both, or with 
only one of the conceptions to be compared." ( 93.) 
Now, the phrase e< agree " is not explicit ; it does not 
specify what the concepts agree or do not agree in. 
This defect may be remedied by distinguishing be- 
tween those cases in which the terms are singular or 
abstract, and those in which one at least is general. 
In the former the regulating principle is "things 
which are the same with, or equal to, one and the 
same thing, are the same with, or equal to, one 
another." In the latter, in which we have a general 
conception, the main regulating principle is, I believe, 
the Dictum, which the founder of Logic propounded. 
While this is the main law of thought, I am con- 
vinced that there may be others involved, such as 
that of whole and parts, and of division in all dis- 
junctive reasoning. A thorough analytic of logical 
forms should unfold all these laws, and give each its 
separate place. 

(9.) Sir W. Hamilton places reasoning in Compre- 
hension on the same level as reasoning in Exten- 
sion, or rather he gives it a prior and higher posi- 
tion. I have stated my reasons for thinking that rea- 
soning is primarily in Extension. It may, indeed, 
always be translated into the forms of Comprehen- 
sion, and it is desirable that students should know 
how to do this, and do it when any purpose is to be 
served by it. But it is not necessary to burden the 
mind with the numerous modes which appear when 
we insist on always quantifying the predicate, and 


join on the same footing reasoning in Comprehen- 
sion and reasoning in Extension. 

IV. There is a large class who accept implicitly 
the Logic of Mr. Mill. 1 These consist chiefly of 
persons who are disgusted with the scholastic Logic 
as being so abstract and technical, and are not pre- 
pared to give their adherence to the Kantian refor- 
mation, as they feel that its forms keep us too far 
removed from things. Now, I rejoice to proclaim 
that there are remarks, as true and important as 
they are fresh, scattered throughout Mr. Mill's 
treatise. In Book First he has many useful observa- 
tions on Naming, which make us regret the more 
that they are indissolubly mixed up with sensational 
metaphysics. His Book on Induction is by far the 
most valuable part of his work, though it is much 
injured by doubtful speculations as to the nature of 
our belief in causation. 2 There are practical lessons 
of much utility conveyed in his Book on Fallacies, 
only it is to be regretted that in pointing out with 
so much keenness and relish the errors of the old 
philosophy, he leaves unnoticed the still more glaring 
fallacies of the nescience and association schools. 

1 I should here have referred to the cussion. Students would feel it to be 
very able attempt of Prof. De Morgan a great advantage to have his book on 
and the late Prof. Boole to give us a Induction in a separate form, and 
mathematical theory of reasoning, with the discussions on Intuitions left 
But it would take us altogether out of out. This would leave them at 
our present line of thought to discuss liberty to get their Formal Logic 
it thoroughly, and I think it better not elsewhere, and to resort to his corn- 
to enter upon it. plete work when they want to know 

2 I regret to see that in the later edi- his theory of the mind and his other 
tions Mr. Mill is crowding his work opinions. 

with still more of metaphysical dis- 


His closing Book is very defective as a full Logic of 
the mental and social sciences, more particularly in 
not estimating what is involved in man's essential 
freedom ; but is of value as the commencement of a 
discussion which must grow in interest and impor- 
tance. I propose to sum up the defects of the work 
as gathered from the survey taken in the last four 

(1.) He denies that Logic is entitled to be 
regarded as a separate science. " So far as it is a 
science at all, it is a part or branch of Psychology ; 
differing from it on the one hand as a part differs 
from the whole, and on the other, as an Art differs 
from a Science." (p. 388.) Now, there is no doubt 
that Logic is closely connected with Psychology, is 
in fact largely dependent on it for some of its 
elementary truths. The same may be said of 
Metaphysics, or the science of the laws of intuition ; 
of Esthetics, or, as I prefer calling it, Kalology, the 
science of the laws of the Feelings ; and Ethics, the 
science of the laws of our motive and moral nature. 
It is no doubt one part of the office of Psychology 
to gather from an observation of the operations of 
the mind the laws of discursive thought, as it is also to 
find out the laws of our immediate perceptions, of 
our emotional and moral nature. But having ascer- 
tained that there are such laws, and shown how they 
act in the mind, it does not seek in a special way to 
formalize them, to inquire into their relation to 
external things, or to apply them to scientific or 


practical ends. Psychology leaves all this very ap- 
propriately to the other mental sciences, which are 
no doubt her daughters, but have their separate 
households, where they are married to their different 
objects, each with its own alliances. In particular^ 
Logic strives to give a strictly scientific form and 
expression to the mode of the mind's procedure in 
apprehending, judging, and reasoning, and in gather- 
ing laws and cause ; and from these it draws rules 
for the guidance of thought in its various walks of 
investigation. Logic has the proper characteristics 
of a science ; it is systematized truth, systematized 
natural truth. 

(2.) He does not give its proper place to the ele- 
ment of thought. No doubt he has done great ser- 
vice to the study, by calling our attention to the 
objects of thought, which the scholastic and Kantian 
logicians had very much declined to look at. But 
Logic has not to do with things as things. This it 
leaves to other, and what have been called material, 
or real, or what in such a connection might be called 
objective, sciences. Logic has to do not with objects, 
but with thought as employed about objects. If 
this distinction is not kept constantly in view, the 
logician is ever tempted to mix up physical or psy- 
chological questions with those that properly belong 
to Logic. 

(3.) He makes Logic treat of Names, Propositions, 
and Arguments, and not, as our more philosophical 
logicians make it, with Simple Apprehension, Jndg- 


ment, and Keasoning. Every one allows that Appre 
hensions may be expressed in Names, Judgment in 
Propositions, and Reasoning in Arguments, and that 
Logic should look to these incidentally as the ex- 
pression of thought. But the science should deal 
primarily and throughout with the laws of thought, 
always as applied to things, leaving the laws of lan- 
guage to a special department of science now being 
formed. It is to be remembered, that as a term 
may consist of one word, or twenty words, we 
cannot by merely looking at words so much as 
know what the term is ; and that we cannot make 
an intelligent predication in a proposition without 
knowing the meaning of the terms : ah 1 which shows 
that Logic should expound thought rather than 
names. Nor is it to be forgotten that the laws of 
thought constitute the fixed element, while the 
names or phrases differ not only in their sound, but 
in what they express and embrace in different 
languages. And then the forms of language are 
often defective, and not unfrequently erroneous, and 
need to be amended by the invariable and, I believe, 
unerring laws of thought ; which we should endeavor 
so to analyze and formalize as to aid the advancing 
Science of Language, which will again, as it makes 
progress, greatly help the Science of Thought. 

(4.) In looking at language instead of thought, 
he has given a very imperfect account of the topics 
usually expounded in the first part of Formal Logic, 
that which deals with Simple Apprehension. Instead 


of examining the various classes of apprehensions, 
and carefully distinguishing them, he confines his 
own attention and that of his readers to the name 
and its connotation, without regard to the notion 
which the name expresses, or bringing out accurately 
what things, or aspects of things, the notion em- 
braces in its different forms. 

Owing to his defective psychology, he has no ade- 
quate idea of the capacity of the mind to discover 
relations among things, and he has failed to give us 
a full or accurate exposition of the relation of the 
two apprehensions in logical Judgment. He makes 
us look not at the act of comparison, which is surely 
the primary and main element, but at the attribute 
connoted, overlooking, in the General Notion, the 
class of objects combined by the attribute, and the 
mental concept combining them. 

(5.) The error goes up into his analysis of reason- 
ing, and makes him give a very partial exhibition of 
the process, in which he sees only the attribute, and 
overlooks the general conception and general prop- 
osition, which are involved in the validity of the 

(6.) Mr. Mill has given us the most valuable con- 
tribution since the days of Bacon to one important 
department of Logic, that which treats of Induc- 
tion. But still there are very grave mistakes in his 
exposition of the topics that fall under Particular or 
Secondary Logic. These spring from his erroneous 
theory of Demonstration, more particularly of the 


nature, functions, and value of mathematical defini- 
tions and axioms ; from his mixing false metaphysics 
with his logical exposition of causation; from his 
not seeing that the discovery of the Decomposition 
of compounds and of Natural Classes are among the 
ends aimed at in science, and requiring Special 
Canons : and finally, from an imperfect view of the 
nature of the phenomena of the mind, which it is 
the office of Psychology to co-ordinate, and for the 
aid of which Logic should furnish a method. 

It now only remains to gather from this discussion 
what is the Province of the science of Logic. It 
has to do with thought: but what is meant by 
thought in such an application ? It must evidently 
be so explained as not to include the motive ex- 
ercises of the mind, and to exclude intuition, in 
which we perceive objects or truths at once, and 
which has always been allotted to Metaphysics. By 
thought, in the technical sense in which the word is 
used in Logic, is meant Discursive Thought, in which 
we proceed from something given or allowed to 
something else derived from it. It implies a process, 
which must have laws. In order to construct the 
science of Logic, we must endeavor to gather the 
laws of thought, by a careful observation of the 
operations of thought. 

Kant has a twofold division of the science, as 
Logic of the universal or of the particular use of 
the understanding. "The first contains the abso- 


lutely necessary laws of thought, without which no 
use whatever of the understanding is possible, and 
gives laws therefore to the understanding, without 
regard to the difference of objects on which it may 
be employed. The Logic of the particular use of 
the understanding contains the laws of correct think- 
ing upon a particular class of objects." (Kritik of 
Pure Reason, Meiklejohn's trans., p. 46.) This lan- 
guage is not unexceptionable, more particularly as 
pointing to laws independent of the observation of 
objects ; and it is doubtful whether Kant, in consistr 
ency with his account of the science, which makes 
abstraction of all content of the cognition, that is, 
of all relation of cognition to its object" (Ib. p. 49), 
could adopt such a division. But if we take the 
proper view of thought, as always engaged with ob- 
jects, then we can accept and justify the arrange- 
ment. We have, first, a Universal, or, as I prefer 
calling it, a Primary Logic (identical with what is 
commonly designated Formal Logic), conversant 
with the laws of thought, not independent of objects, 
but whatever be the objects. We have, secondly, 
a Particular, or, as I would call it, Secondary Logic, 
considering the operations of thought as directed to 
particular classes of objects, say to intuitive percep- 
tions, as in demonstration; and the collection of 
scattered facts, external or internal, as in Induction. 
Under the first head Logic treats of Simple Appre- 
hension, Judgment, and Reasoning, which, no doubt^ 
all look to objects, but are the same for all objects. 


It has to consider, first, our apprehensions. Some of 
these are of objects singular and concrete, what we 
may call Percepts, as being immediately perceived 
by the mind. Some of them, again, are of Abstracts, 
or parts considered as parts of a whole, more par- 
ticularly of attributes of objects. Others are of Con- 
cepts, or of things having common attributes, and 
joined in a class which embraces all the objects pos- 
sessing the attributes. All Concepts have both Ex- 
tension and Comprehension. Logic does not deal 
immediately with the formation of Percepts, which 
are intuitive ; but it evolves the laws involved in the 
construction of Abstracts and Concepts. In Judg- 
ment we compare two of these Percepts, Abstracts, 
or Concepts. This process also has laws, such as, 
when the things compared are Abstracts the relation 
is one of identity or of equivalence; and, when 
there is a general notion, the relation is both of Com- 
prehension and Extension. There are also laws in- 
volved in Reasoning, in which we compare two of 
our apprehensions by means of a third. These are 
derived very much from the nature of the apprehen- 
sions compared. Thus, in cases in which we com- 
pare Abstracts, the regulating principle is that of 
identity or equality, "things which are the same 
with a third, or equal to a third, are the same with, 
or equal to one another." But when there is a class- 
notion involved and there is so wherever there 
is attribution, then we must proceed according 
to the class-notion, and the regulating principle is, 


u whatever is predicated of a class may be predi- 
cated of all that is contained in that class." While 
these are the main ruling principles involved in all 
cases of reasoning, there may also be other princi- 
ples implied in all cases, or in special cases. Thus 
the principle of whole and parts is involved when 
we include an individual in a class, or a species in a 
genus. The Comprehension of the Notion is to be 
taken along with us, when we translate reasoning in 
Extension, so as to make Comprehension the upper- 
most thought. A principle of Division, that the co- 
ordinate sub-classes must make up the class, is in- 
volved in all Disjunctive Reasoning : thus when we 
argue that this man, being either a knave or a fool, 
and not being a fool, must be a knave, it is implied 
that knave and fool make up the class to which this 
man must belong. 

Taking this view of Logic, we do not separate it 
so entirely from realities as the scholastic logicians 
did, and as the Kantian logicians still do. It has 
not, indeed, to do with things directly. Many of 
Mr. Mill's discussions would lead us to think that it 
has, and we are thus involved in questions which 
can be settled only by the sciences material or men- 
tal which deal with objects. Logic has to do not 
with objects, but with thought as directed to objects. 
This account makes it quite competent for Logic to 
consider not only Apprehension, Judgment, and 
Reasoning, which are the same for all objects but 
also Thought as directed to particular classes of ob- 


jects. The great body of thinkers in modern times 
have felt that Logic ought to embrace other topics 
besides those treated of in Formal Logic ; in par- 
ticular that it ought not to exclude the Method of 
investigation propounded by Bacon. The exposition 
I have given makes it include not only Induction 
but other modes of discovering truth. 

It may consider thought as proceeding in the way 
of Demonstration. Here all that is assumed in start- 
ing, and all that is assumed throughout, must be seen 
to be true intuitively. The Method of Investigation 
is what I call the Joint Dogmatic and Deductive. 
It is Dogmatic, in that it assumes ; but then it should 
assume only what is seen to be true on the bare con- 
templation of the nature of objects. It is Deductive, 
in that it derives other truths from these assump- 
tions by a process of reasoning. But this Method is 
applicable only within a very limited range, only so 
far as we have an immediate intuition of the nature 
of things. In most walks of investigation Demon- 
stration is not available. What we have before us 
are individual and scattered facts, falling under the 
senses or the consciousness. It is out of these that 
we must gather the law. So far as we observe and 
co-ordinate the facts with the view of rising to their 
law, whether this be a class or a cause, or the consti- 
tution of compound objects, the Method pursued is 
the Inductive. In this process we gather the facts 
and tabulate them, and, without " anticipating " na- 
ture, we allow the facts to suggest the law, which is 


Accepted only when it embraces and explains all the 
facts. But as science advances, by this method we 
reach laws which may be regarded as at least pro- 
visionally established, and we inquire in certain 
departments with the powerful aid of Mathematics 
what consequences would follow from these laws ? 
Another, and a very powerful Method, now becomes 
applicable. I call it the Joint Inductive and De- 
ductive, in which we inquire what results must fol- 
low from certain supposed laws, and then compare 
these with facts got by observation or experiment 
In all our advanced sciences this must now be the 
principal mode of investigation. 

I am inclined to think that Whately is right when 
he represents Logic as both a Science and an Art. 
It is a science, inasmuch as it is a systematized body 
of natural truth. It is reared by the observation 
and co-ordination of the spontaneous operations of 
discursive thought. But it may also become an art, 
or a body of precepts drawn out to enable us to 
accomplish a particular end, that is, to think cor- 
rectly, and expose confused thought or invalid rea- 
soning. It should aim at nothing less than the 
discovery of the laws of thought operating in the 
mind as it contemplates objects. When we have 
accurately apprehended and expressed them, we 
may then apply them to test and correct actual 
thought. For this purpose we may derive from 
them rules, and put these in various formulae, which 
admit of a ready and useful application to our every- 



day thinking, and to scientific investigation. In par- 
ticular, Logic is of great use in clearing our notions ; 
it shows what notions are singular and what universal ; 
what concrete and what abstract ; and guards us 
against using a general term as if it were a singular 
concrete. It cannot tell us what judgments are true 
and what false (this must be done by the depart- 
ments of knowledge which deal with objects), but it 
tells us what is the precise relation between the Per- 
cepts, Abstracts, and Concepts compared, and thus 
places our notions in such a light that we are better 
able to say whether a given proposition is true or 
false. Again, the syllogistic analysis lets us see that 
in reasoning we have to look to the relation of three 
notions, Percepts, Abstracts, or Concepts; and that 
when one of the notions is a Concept, we always 
need by implication a general proposition ; and the 
formulae derived from this analysis unfold the various 
possible forms of reasoning, and enable us to test 
our own inferences and those of others. In the 
Secondary (but not less important) Logic, there 
can be tests laid down, such as those of self-evi- 
dence, necessity, and catholicity, sufficient to decide 
readily and certainly what truths are intuitive, and so 
entitled to become assumptions in Demonstration; 
while the processes of deduction from intuitive truth 
may all be tested by the syllogism. The Canons of 
Causes enunciated by Mr. Mill settle for us, when we 
are entitled to argue that we have discovered the 
cause of a given phenomenon ; and I hope that in 


due time we shall have Canons of Decomposition 
and Canons of Classes, to determine when we have 
reached the elementary constitution of bodies (pro- 
visionally), and when we have discovered natural 
classes. We have already some Canons of Historical 
Investigation to aid us in finding whether the evi- 
dence is sufficient to establish the alleged facts, and 
these Canons should be adopted into Logic, and 
made as succinct and comprehensive as possible. 
Logic has thus a wide and most important field as 
an art ; it furnishes guiding rules and tests in every 
path of inquiry. It is thus fulfilling some of the 
old pretensions made in its behalf. I do not like the 
phrase, " Art of Thinking," for men think spontane- 
ously, without any science or art ; but Logic supplies 
rules to guard against confused and erroneous think- 
ing. It is in a special sense the " Science of Method ; " 
that is, of the Method to be pursued in discovering 
scientific and historical truth. It is the " Science of 
Sciences," not because superior to other departments 
of knowledge, but because it supplies rules to guide 
and guard in every other science. 



IT is very evident that Mr. Mill has a pleasure in 
seeing himself and his opinions reflected in the 
convictions and writings of young men. On the 
other side, the youth who give themselves up to his 
guidance seem as if they could look only straight 
before them in the path in which he leads them, and 
as if they were incapable of taking a comprehensive 
view of things lying on either side. As, however, 
they will be obliged to do so sooner or later, it might 
be as well if they now stopped for a little, in order 
to look round them and inquire whither he is lead- 
ing, and where he is to leave them ? What have we 
left us according to this new philosophy ? We have 
sensations ; we have a series of feelings aware of ii> 
self, and permanent, or rather prolonged; and we 
have an association of sensations, and perceived re- 
semblances, and possibilities of sensations. The 
sensations and associations of sensation generate 
ideas and beliefs, which do not, however, either in 
themselves or their mode of formation, guarantee 
any reality. We have an idea of an external mate- 



rial world ; but Mr. Mill does not affirm that there is 
such a world, for there are laws of the series of feel- 
ings which would produce the idea, whether the 
thing existed or not; and our belief in it may be 
overcome, just as our natural belief in the sun 
rising is made to give way before the scientific con- 
viction that it is the earth that moves. He thinks 
he is able by a process of inference to reach the 
existence of other beings besides ourselves. But 
the logic of the process is very doubtful. I believe 
that neither Mr. Mill nor any other has been able to 
show how from sensations, individual or associated, 
we could ever legitimately infer the existence of any- 
thing beyond. "What he claims to have found is, 
after all, only other " series of feelings." 

But have we not, it is said, a body of scientific 
truth, for which Mr. Mill has done as much as any 
living man, by showing how it may be best arranged? 
I acknowledge that in the view of those who believe 
in the reality of things, and who further believe in 
a God who made and arranged, and still upholds 
them, this systematized truth is a glorious body, 
like the sun itself, with a central solidity which 
keeps it firm, while it holds other bodies circling 
round it, and with a gloriously illuminated atmos- 
phere, scattering light and heat all around. But 
what is all this when interpreted in philosophic ac- 
curacy ? It is simply possibilities of sensations, com- 
ing in groups, and in regular succession, and with re- 
semblances which can be noticed. And is this the 


sum of what has been gained by the highest science 
of the nineteenth century ? As we contemplate it, 
do we not feel as if the solid heart of truth and the 
radiating light were both gone, and as if we had 
left only a series of systematic vibrations in an un- 
known ether ? Does this satisfy the convictions and 
the longings of man ? Does not the intelligence de- 
clare that it has something deeper than this ? Does 
not the heart crave for something higher than this ? 
And when the youths, who are led on so pleasantly 
by the clear enunciations of Mr. Mill, stop at any 
time to inquire what he has given them, must they 
not feel that they are, after all, in darkness, with 
only a camera obscura displaying figures before 
them, always according to sternly scientific laws? 
If they are satisfied with this, are they not in the 
act abnegating the deeper capacities, and refusing 
to follow the higher aspirations of their souls, which, 
for want of proper exercise, will become dry, and 
shrunk, and withered? And if they are not satis- 
fied, as our higher minds will certainly not be, 
how piteous must be the wail of disappointment and 
anguish coming from the depths of their bosoms, as 
they crave for truth on the one hand, and feel that 
they can never catch it on the other ? I do fear for 
the consequences, when our promising youths awake, 
and in despair of attaining truth, are tempted to 
plunge into deeper and yet deeper darkness. For- 
tunately such a state of things the deeper instincts 
of human nature being so strong cannot continue 


for any length of time; and however lamentable 
may be the experience and history of individuals, 
the hour of thickest darkness will be found to excite 
the cry for the returning light. 

" By nature," says Aristotle, " man is competently 
organized for truth; and truth in general is not 
beyond his reach." Truth is usually defined as 
the agreement of our ideas, or apprehensions, with 
things. Profound thinkers have assumed, or labored 
to prove, that, on the one hand, man has ideas ; that, 
on the other hand, there are things ; and that man 
can reach ideas which correspond with things. Let- 
us inquire what view must be taken of truth by 
those who follow out Mr. Mill's system to its conse- 
quences ? 

Mr. Mill acknowledges that we have ideas. But 
he takes great pains to show that these originate in 
sensations, and grow out of sensations, according to 
the laws of the association of sensations. I am not 
sure whether he acknowledges the existence of ma- 
terial things out of, and independent of, sensations. 
He often uses language which seems to imply that 
he does ; but his system all tends the other way. 
This is certain, that even if body exists we can never 
know anything of it, except as " the possibility of 
sensations." All that we know of objects is the sen- 
sations which they give us, and the order of the oc- 
currence of those sensations. "There is not the 
slightest reason for believing that what we call the 
sensible qualities of the object are a type of any- 


thing inherent in itself, or bear any affinity to its 
own nature. A cause does not, as such, resemble its 
effects ; an east wind is not like the feeling of cold, 
nor is heat like the steam of boiling water: why then 
should matter resemble our sensations?" (Logic,!. 
m. 7.) Then as to the internal world : all that we 
know of it is a series of feelings, with a prolongation 
in time, which again is identical with a series of 
muscular sensations. (Supra, p. 145.) I suppose he 
would further say, though I do not remember any 
passage in which he does say h, that we do not 
know what is the nature of these sensations. As 
things are thus unknown, and must be unknown with 
our prosent faculties, and in the condition in which we 
are placed, so man seems to be precluded from reach- 
ing any truth beyond the consciousness of present 
sensations, and the possibility of other sensations. 
But some have defined truth as the accordance, 
not of our own ideas with things, but of our 
ideas with one another. This is a view which 
I do not think worth the pains of defending. It 
is quite compatible with the existence of a uni- 
versal system of delusion and deception, provided 
always that this system were consistent with itself. 
Give a mathematician such a false assumption as 
that matter attracts other matter inversely ac- 
cording to the distance (and not the square of 
the distance), and he might construct from it an 
imaginary world, every part of which would be in 
agreement with every other, but no part in accord 


ance with the reality of things. It is imaginable 
that the truth which man discovers is all of this 
description: a consistency between an unfounded 
hypothesis, and the results following from it accord- 
ing to the laws of our idea. Some ideal philoso- 
phers would be content with such a view of truth. 
But then they think that this consistency is given 
by the laws of reason, and that man can actually 
reach truth, not it may be in congruity with phe- 
nomenal things, but, with the principles of reason 
some of them would say absolute and eternal reason. 
But truth thus understood is, according to our 
author's system, quite as much beyond the reach of 
man as truth in the other sense. For any accord- 
ance that there may be between our ideas might be 
produced, not by independent reason, or consequen- 
tial reasoning, but by the association of ideas, by the 
laws of contiguity or resemblance. When two phe- 
nomena have been very often experienced in con- 
junction, and have not, in any single instance, oc- 
curred separately, either in experience or in thought : 
"When the bond between the two ideas has thus 
been firmly riveted, not only does the idea, called up 
by association, become, in our consciousness, insep- 
arable from the idea which suggested it, but the facts 
or phenomena answering to these ideas come at last 
to seem inseparable in existence : things which we 
are unable to conceive apart appear incapable of ex- 
isting apart." (p. 191.) Thus 2 and 2 having been 
associated in our experience with 4, we give them a 


relation in the nature of things ; but if 2 and 2 had 
been followed by the appearance of 5, we should 
have had a like assurance of 2 -|- 2 and 5 being 
equal. Truth in Mr. Mill's philosophy is not even 
a logical or rational consistency between ideas; it 
can be nothing more than an accordance of our 
ideas with sensations, and laws of the association of 
sensation; which sensations come we know not 
whence, and are associated by resemblances, exist- 
ing we know not how, or, more frequently, by con- 
tiguity, implying no relation of reason, no con- 
nection in the nature of things, and very possibly 
altogether fortuitous, or absolutely fatalistic. 

We see now the issues in which the doctrine of 
the relativity of knowledge, as held by Mr. Mill, 
lands us. The geometrical demonstrations of Euclid 
and Apollonius and Newton may hold good only 
within our experience, and "a reasonable distance 
beyond." The mathematics taught in Cambridge 
may differ in their fundamental principles from those 
taught in the corresponding university of the planet 
Jupiter ; where two and two may make five, where 
two straight lines may enclose a space, and where 
the three angles of a triangle may be more than 
two right angles. Mr. Mill is exceedingly indignant 
at Dr. Mansel for maintaining that the Divine 
morality is not to be measured by human morality, 
declaring that " it is simply the most morally perni- 
cious doctrine now current." (p. 90.) But I can dis- 
cover no ground on which the rebuker can stand, in 


pronouncing such a judgment on Dr. Hansel's appli- 
cation of the doctrine of the relativity of knowledge. 
Any one with half the acuteness of Dr. Mansel could 
show that if two and two may make five, it is also 
supposable that lying may be a virtue, and veracity 
a vice, in other worlds; and that God (if there be 
a God) may commend deceit in the constellation of 
the Plough, even as He encourages truthfulness in 
our world ; and this doctrine, I rather think, is quite 
as " morally pernicious " as any now current, and 
certainly much more so than that entertained by Dr. 
Mansel, who holds resolutely (whether consistently 
or not) by an absolute morality, which does not 
change with times or circumstances. 1 

Some represent Mr. Mill as falling back upon the 
position of Berkeley. And I suppose we may reckon 
Mr. Mill as favoring all the negative statements of 
Berkeley ; but he has discarded all those grand 
views and elevating sentiments which render his 
system so attractive to certain minds. No consistent 
thinker can stay at the place taken up by the Irish 
metaphysician ; he had to give way before the 
Scotch one, who used the arguments against the 
independent existence of matter, to undermine our 

1 "We can point to a doctrine forth there as right. " (London Quarterly 
which cannot be less morally perni- Review, Jan. 1866.) A very able con- 
cious than Mr. MansePs, than which tributor to that periodical has antici- 
none indeed can be more morally per- pated Mr. Mill in many of his objec- 
nicious." " If in some other world tions to Hamilton's philosophy, but 
two and two may make five ; in some rejects Mr. Mill's philosophy as a sub- 
other world what we regard as virtue stitute. 
may be vice, and our wrong may come 


belief in the independent existence of mind. 1 Our 
author's system, both in its premises and conclusion, 
has many striking analogies to that of Hume. Does 
the one begin with sensations, these are very much the 
same as the impressions of the other. The later meta- 
physician is only following the elder, in laboring to 
show we get our ideas out of sensations and impres- 
sions, by means of association. They concur in not 
knowing very well what to make of time and space ; 
but neither allows them any separate reality. Both 
hold that there is no such thing as substance that 
all we can know of mind is, that it is a bundle of 
states or a series of feelings, to which we give some 
sort of unity or permanence, not justifiable by reason 
or any higher principle ; and that body is an un- 
known something, from which we suppose we get 
our sensations. Both deny that we have any intui- 
tive conviction as to cause and effect; and both 
make the relation between these to consist in invari 

1 Some are looking with extreme ception of things and necessary truth ? 
anxiety to the course which the pupils Or, abandoning the position taken by 
of Hamilton may adopt at this crisis Hamilton, and defended by him in 
in the history of philosophic thought, many a brave fight, are they to be- 
lt is clear, from their published writ- take themselves to the lines occupied 
mgs, that Dr. Cairns and Dr. Calder- by Kant or by Berkeley, and which 
wood will be prepared to defend have been found so utterly untenable ? 
natural realism, and the veracity of If they take the latter course, it will be 
our native convictions. But what line seen by every shrewd observer that 
is to be taken by those who occupy they cannot stand one hour before the 
chairs of philosophy, and have students keen play of Mr. Mill's musketry, or 
under them ? I am convinced that Mr. Spencer's heavy artillery. Those 
they cannot now stand where their illus- of their pupils who may try to stand 
trious master endeavored to stand, on the sliding-scale, will only thereby 
halfway between Reid and Kant be made to fall more rapidly to the 
between realities and forms. Are base where the school of Mill will 
they to fall back on an intuitive per- welcome them. 


able or unconditional conjunction, within the limits 
of experience. Both admit some sort of original 
power : Hume stands up for innate instincts ; and 
Mr. Mill for an ultimate belief in memory; and it 
should be added that neither knows very well what 
to make of these inborn principles. Both derive 
our motives originally from sensations of pleasure 
and pain ; and both, it is well known, were clear 
and eloquent expounders of the utilitarian theory of 
morals. Nor is it unworthy of being mentioned, 
that both point not unobscurely to changes, which 
they think ought to be made, in the marriage rela- 
tion. It should be admitted that with these promi- 
nent points of correspondence there are also points 
of difference. Hume's account of the relations which 
the mind of man can discover is much more com- 
prehensive than that of Mill. On the other hand, it 
is pleasant to find that the writer of this century 
assumes a higher moral tone than the writer of 
the last; both, however, concurring in overlooking 
or despising the special Christian graces. But the 
main difference lies in this, that Hume discovers 
flagrant contradictions in human intelligences ; 
whereas the other maintains that the most certain 
principles reached by us, being all the product of 
circumstances, might have to give way before new 
circumstances or in other conditions. Hume had to 
say, that " the intense view of these manifold contra- 
dictions and imperfections in human reason has sc 
wrought upon me and heated my brain, that I am 


ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can 
look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely 
than another." The modern author is saved from all 
such contradictions; for if one set of experiences 
showed him that two and two make four, and another 
that two and two make five, he would proclaim both 
true in the different conditions. The consequence 
is, that the one is an avowed sceptic or professed 
pyrrhonist, at least in many parts of his writings, 
delighting to play off one dogmatist against another ; 
whereas the other is a supporter of the doctrines of 
nescience and relativity, holding that we can never 
reach truths which may not be modified or set aside 
in other times and circumstances. I am not sure 
which of the issues is the more blank : I rejoice that 
I do not feel myself required to make a choice be- 
tween them. 

I hold that human intelligence begins with truth, 
and if it proceeds properly it ends with truth ; which 
may at times be mysterious, but never contradictory ; 
which may be indefinitely enlarged, but cannot be 
upturned or reversed. In the course of these dis- 
cussions we have gathered the means of trying the 
supposed verities proffered for our acceptance. There 
is to us no one absolute criterion of all truth ; but 
there are tests of the various kinds of truth, both 
of those with which we start, and of those which we 
reach in our progress. Of Intuition itself we have 
tests in self-evidence, necessity, and universality. 
Of Reasoning we have stringent tests in the forms 


of the syllogism. By these two combined we can 
try Demonstration, which consists in a union of in- 
tuition and deduction. We have tests, too, of truths 
reached in physical, in psychological, and in histor- 
ical investigation, by the Collection of Facts. These 
are to be found in the Canons of Induction and in 
the Canons of Verification ; which we may confi- 
dently expect to be more and more perfected in 
their formalization and expression as the separate 
departments of knowledge make progress. 

It is admitted that these criteria demand that we 
leave unanswered many questions which the ques- 
tioning mind of man can put. Whatever alleged 
truth cannot stand such tests should be regarded as 
unsettled, and allowed to lie for the present in the 
land of darkness. As we use the criteria we shall be 
led to see that there are very stringent limits set to 
man's power of acquiring knowledge. But we shall 
see at the same time how wide is the field of inquiry, 
and even of certainty, thrown open to us. Geology 
can carry us back in the history of our earth to 
periods removed from us by millions of years. As- 
tronomy, aided by mathematics, lets us know of the 
existence of bodies millions of miles away; and, 
aided by chemistry, gives us an insight into the com- 
position of the atmosphere of a body so far removed 
from us as the sun. Nor is it to be forgotten that, 
by the observation of the evidences of design in 
nature, combined with the principle of cause and 
effect, and our moral convictions, we can rise to a 


most reasonable belief in the existence of an Al- 
mighty and All-Perfect God. Man should ever claim 
this wide field as an inheritance, and allow no one, 
on any pretence, to deprive him of it. And having 
such an inheritance he should be glad and grateful, 
the more so as, attending always to the tests ap- 
pointed to guide and guard, he can indefinitely widen 
and extend his possessions. 



IN specifying the influences under which Mr. Mill's 
opinions were formed, I might have referred to 
Jeremy Bentham and his utilitarian theory, as hav- 
ing not a little swayed the opinions of the young 
thinker, either directly, or indirectly through his 
father, who was a friend of Bentham's. But in this 
treatise I meant to look more to Mr. Mill's general 
philosophic system than his specially ethical views ; 
and however eminent as a jurist, Bentham had no 
name as a metaphysician. Our author's philosophy 
is essentially a combination of that of Mr. James 
Mill and of M. Comte, however, the utilitarianism 
of the older Mill and of Bentham thoroughly fits 
into the system. It would require a volume instead 
of a chapter to discuss historically, psychologically, 
and ethically the utilitarian theory. We can touch 
here only on a few points intimately connected with 
f he preceding discussions. 

I. Can Mr. Mill's psychological theory account for 
the peculiar idea and conviction which we have in 
regard to moral good and evil ? He admits that the 
25 (385) 


mature man in the advanced stages of society has a 
conscience and moral ideas : let us inquire how he 
generates them. And first, let us try to ascertain 
what he makes the original motive powers or springs 
of action in the mind of man. " The utilitarian doc- 
trine is, that happiness is desirable, and the only 
thing desirable, as an end." (p. 51.) It is clear that 
he makes, as every other philosopher does, the desire 
of personal pleasure a primary motive to action. 
But I am not sure whether he makes the desire of 
promoting the happiness of other beings also an 
originating appetence in man. There are passages 
which look as if he did, or at least wished to be re- 
garded as doing so. In rearing his theory he is 
ever appealing to " the social feelings of mankind ; " 
and he maintains with Bentham, that man is urged 
to the u greatest happiness " principle both tt by in- 
terest and sympathy." (pp. 45, 47.) " The idea of 
the pain of another is naturally painful ; the idea of 
the pleasure of another is naturally pleasure." (Dis. 
p. 137.) I am sure that the great British moralists, 
who lived at the beginning of last century, have 
succeeded in demonstrating that man is not in his 
nature and constitution an utterly selfish being, but 
is capable of being swayed by a desire to promote 
the welfare of others ; and the arguments of Shaftes- 
bury, Hutcheson, and Butler have been repeated 
and strengthened by the Scottish school of philoso- 
phers generally, including Reid, Stewart, and Brown, 
and by M. Cousin, and the Eclectic school of France. 


But these writers have shown that the same facts 
and arguments which lead us to admit an original 
principle of sympathy, require us also to call in a 
cognitive and a motive moral power. 

He allows as a psychological fact that virtue may 
become "a good in itself, without looking to any 
end beyond it," and that the mind is not in a right 
state unless it love virtue "as a thing desirable in 
itself." (p. 53.) In indignantly repelling the ob- 
jections of Dr. Sedgwick, he maintains, " It is a fact 
in human nature that we have moral judgments and 
moral feelings. We judge certain actions and dis- 
positions to be right, others wrong : this we call ap- 
proving and disapproving them. We have also feel- 
ings of pleasure in the contemplation of the former 
class of actions and dispositions, feelings of dis- 
like and aversion to the latter; which feelings, as 
everybody must be conscious, do not exactly resem- 
ble any other of our feelings of pain or pleasure. 
Such are the phenomena; concerning their reality 
there is no dispute." He then seeks to account for 
the phenomena by his famous principle of the chem- 
istry of the association of ideas. " The only color 
for representing our moral judgments as the result 
of a peculiar part of our nature, is that our feelings 
of moral approbation and disapprobation are really 
peculiar feelings. But is it nqt notorious that pe- 
culiar feelings, unlike any others we have experi- 
ence of, are created by association every day?" (Dis. 
pp. 139, 140.) He instances the desire of power, the 


feelings of ambition, of envy, of jealousy, and of the 
miser towards his gold. Now, as to some of these 
appetencies, I believe them to be natural. We see 
them working strongly in certain individuals, show- 
ing that they are elements of their inborn character. 
We see them descending hereditarily from father or 
mother, to son or daughter or grandchild ; and we 
find them stronger in certain families and races than 
in others. As the love of power is a native appe- 
tence by which men may be swayed, surely the con- 
science and the felt obligation to do that which is 
right may be the same. 

But our present question is one not so much of 
mere appetency or desires as of moral perceptions, 
judgments, and sentiments. I grant that persons 
may be led by mere prudence to attend to the du- 
ties of an outward morality, and by a kindly dispo- 
sition to relieve distress, altogether irrespective of a 
moral sense. But there is a very special obligation 
felt in regard to those actions which we call moral, 
and which does not bear on other parts of our con- 
duct ; we are convinced that we ought to attend to 
them, and that if we neglect to do so our conduct is 
blameworthy. Whence the very peculiar and pro- 
found ideas denoted by the phrases "obligation," 
"ought," "blameworthy." Take the perception of 
conscience, that deceit is a sin. Take the conviction, 
that we are not at liberty to tell a lie when we might 
be tempted to do so. Take the judgment, that the 
person who has committed the act is guilty, con- 


demnable, punishable. Take the feeling of remorse, 
which rises when we contemplate ourselves as having 
told a falsehood. We have here a series of mental 
phenomena quite as real and quite as worthy of 
being looked at, as our very sensations, or beliefs 
of the reality of the past in memory, or our expecta- 
tion of the future. I am convinced that as these last 
are admitted to be ultimate (see Q, a, T), so are the 
others also. "This instinct," says Isaac Taylor, 
" flushes in the cheek of every sensitive child, and 
it prevails over the laborious sophistications of the 
philosopher. This belief is cherished as an inestima- 
ble jewel by the best and purest of human beings ; 
and it is bowed to in dismay by the foulest and the 
worst ; its rudiments are a monition of eternal truth, 
whispered in the ear of infancy ; its articulate an- 
nouncements are a dread fore-doom ringing in the 
ears of the guilty adult. You say you can bring 
forward a hundred educated men, who, at this time, 
will profess themselves to be no believers in a moral 
system ; but I will rebut their testimony by the 
spontaneous and accordant voices of as many mil- 
lions of men as you may please to caU for on , the 
other side." 

I have already examined the general theory which 
generates a new idea by means of an association of 
sensations, and have shown how little* truth there is 
in it. (pp. 195-201.) Give us mere sensations, say of 
sounds, or colors, or forms, or of pleasure and pain, 
and they will never be anything else in the repro- 


duction of them than the ideas of sounds, colors, 
forms, pleasures, or pains, unless, indeed, there be 
some new power introduced, and this new element 
in itself, or in conjunction with the sensations, be 
fitted to produce a new idea, and that very idea. In 
none of its applications is the theory seen to fail so 
utterly, as in the attempt thus to produce our moral 
perceptions. Provided we once had the ideas, the 
laws of association might show how they could be 
brought up again ; how in the reproduction certain 
parts might sink into shadow and neglect, while 
others came forth into prominence and light; and 
how the whole feeling, by the confluence of different 
ideas, might be wrought into a glow of intensity ; 
but the difficulty of generating the ideas, such ideas, 
ideas so full of meaning, is not thereby surmounted. 
The idea I have of pain is one thing, and the idea I 
have of deceit, that it is morally evil, condemnable, 
deserving of pain, is an entirely different thing 
our consciousness being witness. On the supposition 
that there is a chemical power in association to cre- 
ate such ideas as those of duty and merit, sin and 
demerit, this chemical power would be a native 
moral power ; not the product of sensations, but 
a power above them, and adapted to transmute 
them from the baser into the golden substance. 

It will be needful at this place to correct a misap- 
prehension into which Mr. Mill has fallen. He rep- 
resents the intuitive school of morals as holding 
that " the principles of morals are evident a priori" 


(p. 3.) Now I admit that influential members of 
the school have used language fitted to warrant this 
statement. But there are others, and these the 
wisest defenders of intuition, who have given a 
different account. Our intuitions are perceptions of 
individual objects or individual truths ; and in order 
to reach an axiom or " principle of morals," there is 
need of a discursive process of generalization. Our 
author makes the intuitive agree with the inductive 
school, in holding that " the morality of an indi- 
vidual action is not a question of direct perception, 
but of the application of law to an individual case." 
The proper account is that the law is generalized 
out of our direct perceptions. On the bare contem- 
plation of an ungrateful spirit, the conscience at 
once declares it to be evil, apart from the conscious 
apprehension or application of any general principle. 
The enunciation of the law is a reflective and not 
a spontaneous process, and is undertaken when 
we wish to construct a code of morals or a science 
of ethics. This representation saves the intuitive 
theory of morals from many of the specious ob- 
jections urged against a different version. Our 
moral intuitions are not a priori forms, which the 
mind imposes on objects, but immediate perceptions 
of qualities in certain objects, that is, in the volun- 
tary dispositions and actions of intelligent beings. 
Taking this view of them, I believe they can stand 
the tests which settle what truth is intuitive. They 
are self-evident : on the simple apprehension of dis- 


interested love we declare it to be good and com- 
mendable. They may be described, if we properly 
explain the statement, as necessary : give us a cor- 
rect representation of a deed of intentional deceit 
for a selfish end, and we condemn, and cannot be 
made to commend it. They have, in a sense, even 
catholic consent in their favor : all men will condemn 
deceit if it is properly laid before them, but the 
deceit may be so painted as that we do not see 
its true nature, and then we give our approval, 
not of the deceit, but of its accompaniments. Man- 
kind can be so deceived as to give diverse judgments 
on moral actions, only by the blinding influence of 
sin, disguising and distorting the real nature of 

II. Does utilitarianism embrace sufficient sanctions 
to induce us to approve virtue and condemn vice ? 
Our author labors to show that the motives usually 
supposed to lead to virtue are left untouched by this 
theory. But this is not the question, the main ques- 
tion; and if any defender of a priori morals had 
been guilty of such an ignoratio elenchi, we can con- 
ceive that the acute logician would have exposed it 
with extraordinary zest. The question is not about 
sanctions which other systems may employ, but it is, 
Does utilitarianism contain within itself a body of 
motives, or motive powers, fitted to lead to virtuous 
conduct ? If it does not, if it is obliged to make us 
look elsewhere for motives, then it is without one of 
the essential constituents of an adequate theory of 


morals. Utilitarianism bids us seek to promote the 
greatest happiness of the greatest number. "But 
why should I strive to attain this end ? " asks the 
inquiring youth. Practically, and in reference to 
his future conduct, theoretically, and as interested in 
the science of ethics, he insists on a reply. " Why 
should I give up my immediate ease and comfort and 
expected enjoyments, and restrain my strong native 
impulses and indulged habits in order to look after 
others, who may be quite able to look after them- 
selves ? " " Or why, at the best, may I not content 
myself with attending to the feelings and immediate 
wishes of the few persons in my family or circle, 
with whose welfare my own is bound up, or of the 
single person to whom I am attached?" As he 
presses these questions he will not be satisfied to be 
told that other ethical systems have sanctions, and 
that utilitarianism leaves them where it found them. 
But let us look at those sanctions with which it is 
said the theory does not meddle. We may find, as 
to some of the guaranties or sureties to which we 
are referred, that their credit is undermined, and 
that they are rendered bankrupt, by the principles 
of the new philosophy. Mr. Mill tells us, that if v 
persons believe that there is a God, they may still 
have the motives derived from their religion to in- 
duce them to practise morality. This starts the 
question, what religion has our author's system left 
us? It is clear that utilitarianism deprives us of 
one of the arguments which has been felt by pro- 


found thinkers to carry the greatest weight, that 
derived from the moral law in the heart arguing a 
moral lawgiver. Nor is it to be forgotten, that our 
greatest moralists have not heen in the way of 
appealing first to the Divine power or will, as a 
motive to lead us to do good, but have rather sought, 
by the principles of an independent morality, to 
show that we ought to obey God. We may omit 
entering further into this inquiry at present, as the 
whole subject of the relation of Mr. Mill's philoso- 
phy to natural theology will come to be discussed 
in next chapter. But we must look here at some 
other sanctions which it is supposed utilitarianism 
has left untouched. 

"The internal sanction of duty, whatever our 
standard of duty may be, is one and the same, a 
feeling in our own mind ;' a pain more or less intense 
attendant on violation of duty, which in properly 
cultivated moral natures rises, in the more serious 
cases, into shrinking from it as an impossibility ; " 
and " the ultimate sanction, therefore, of all morality 
(external motives apart) being a subjective feeling 
in our own minds," he thinks that utilitarianism has 
as powerful a sanction as any other theory can have, 
(pp. 40, 41.) But it is not fair to represent those 
who hold the opposite theory as making the ultimate 
appeal, standard, and sanction, to be in " feeling," in 
mere " subjective feeling," a " feeling of pain " at- 
tendant on the violation of duty. It cannot be said 
to consist in " feeling," except we use the phrase in 


so wide and loose a sense as to include all mental 
operations, and the native principles of action from 
which they spring. It should not be represented as 
a mere " subjective feeling," for it points to and im- 
plies an objective reality, a real good and evil in the 
voluntary acts of intelligent beings, independent of 
our sense of it, being in fact the object to which the 
sense looks. Still less should it be regarded as a 
mere " feeling of pain : " it has been shown again 
and again, by moralists, that the feeling of pain rises 
in consequence of a prior perception of the evil of 
sin. According to our most esteemed moralists, the 
mind, in looking at moral good and evil, is exercis- 
ing a higher attribute than mere feeling or emotion. 
By some it is represented as a Sense looking to and 
discerning a moral quality as the eye discerns 
color and surface. More frequently it is described 
as Reason, or as analogous to Reason, and the Moral 
Reason, which perceives at once the good and the evil, 
and distinguishes between them, declaring the doing 
of the one and the avoiding of the other to be obliga- 
tory on all intelligent beings, and the one to be 
of good desert and re ward able, and the other of evil 
desert and punishable ; and the feeling of pleasure 
or pain is the consequent and not the essence of the 

But then the feeling, which is the essence of con- 
science, is " all encrusted over with collateral associa- 
tions, derived from sympathy, from love, and still 
more from fear ; from all the forms of religious feel- 


ing; from the recollections of childhood and of all 
our past life ; from self-esteem, desire of the esteem 
of others, and occasionally even self-abasement." 
"Its binding force consists in the existence of a 
mass of feeling, which must be broken through in 
order to do what violates our standard of right, and 
which, if we do nevertheless violate that standard, 
will probably have to be encountered afterwards in 
the form of remorse." (p. 41.) He reckons this com- 
plicated feeling as furnishing quite as strong a sanc- 
tion, and one quite as likely not to be violated, as 
that which might be awakened by a distinct moral 
faculty. Now, I concede at once, that other and 
secondary motives may and should gather and cling 
round our primary conviction of duty, to aid and 
strengthen it. But meanwhile, as the centre, and in 
the last resort, as the support of them, there should 
be recognized obligations of morality. The intelli- 
gent youth, when he comes to rise beyond his educa- 
tional beliefs, and to think for himself, will not be 
satisfied with the mere existence of the mass of 
feeling ; he will ask, Is it justifiable, is it binding ? 
If satisfied on this point, then he will feel himself 
called on to encourage all these associations, and to 
live under their influence. But if not satisfied, if 
taught they have no obligation in reason or the 
nature of things, then why should he not uncoil 
them, as he does some other hereditary preposses- 
sions; or even if he should be inclined to retain 
them, will they not be apt to give way before the 


strong and seductive temptations which are ever 
assailing him ? Let it be observed of many of these 
associations which have been gathered, and senti- 
ments which have been gendered, that they have 
been generated in individuals, or grown up in a 
state of society, entertaining and cherishing the be- 
lief that there is an independent rule of duty. 
Such, for example, are our "religious feelings;" 
such, too, our "remorse;" such our "self-abase- 
ment," they arise mainly from the promptings of 
a conscience, which carries with it its own authority 
and its own sanctions. Eemove the support which 
bears them as the stake bears up the vine and 
they will speedily fall, or rather will never rise to 
any height. Let the school beware lest, in striving 
to destroy the inborn sense and native perceptions 
of good and evil, they be not doing as much as 
within them lies to cut down the tree that has borne 
the fruit; or, to use a still more familiar image, 
to kill the hen that has laid the golden eggs. And 
as to the " recollections of childhood and of our past 
lives," and the feelings of "sympathy" and "self- 
esteem," and " the desire of the esteem of others," 
these can foster virtuous sentiment and lead to vir- 
tuous conduct only where there is a high moral and 
religious standard in the family, and in the commu- 
nity, and may tend the opposite way in other states 
of society; as, for instance, that which existed in 
ancient Rome in the decline of the empire, or among 
the educated classes in France in the age before the 


Revolution, or which may be found in certain circles 
in Paris at this present time. The vessel, which 
is sailing along gracefully with its present structure, 
may be speedily dissolved and its crew wrecked, 
when a magnet (to refer to a well-known fable) has 
been applied, which draws out the bolts that kept 
the parts together. 

I deny that the two kinds of sanction are on the 
same footing and of equal strength. The one sort 
is derived from a mere agglomeration of feelings, 
which are generated by associations created inde- 
pendently of our choice, and mainly by outward con- 
tiguities. Some of these, such as those mentioned 
by Mr. Mill, may be laudable, and may tend to 
promote virtuous conduct. But others, though aris- 
ing from like associations, produced by the same cir- 
cumstances, may be of an opposite character. Such 
are the fears which spring from a degraded super- 
stition with its horrid ceremonials; such are the 
animal lusts that may grow up along with a purer 
love ; such are the jealousy, malice, and envy gen- 
dered by the rivalries of trade and fashion; such 
are the expectations excited when large pleasure 
and profit to ourselves or others may be had by one 
bold deed of selfishness; and such is the despair 
awakened when there has been a failure in the 
favorite ends of a man's life. These feelings, grow- 
ing from the same root of associations and circum- 
stances, will tend to moral evil as the others do 
to good ; and surely it is of moment to have a 


moral obligation above either, and calling on us 
while we allow the one to disallow the other. How 
vastly inferior must be the sanction supplied by this 
conglomeration of associations to that which the 
higher moral theory furnishes, when it declares that 
certain affections, such as gratitude, and love, and 
justice, are themselves good, and that certain other 
affections, such as ingratitude and malice and deceit, 
are evil in their very nature ; that the mind is or- 
ganized to discern the distinction between good and 
evil, just as it discovers the difference between truth 
and error ; that the moral power by which it does 
this is not only in the mind, but claims to be su- 
preme there; that it implies and points to a God 
who is the guardian of the law, and will call every 
man to account for the deeds done in the body, 
wnether they have been good or evil. 

III. Does utilitarianism furnish a sufficient test of 
virtuous acts and of virtuous motives? It tells us 
that a good deed is one tending to promote the 
greatest happiness of the greatest number. But in 
the complicated affairs of this world, the most far- 
sighted cannot know for certain what may be the 
total consequences of any one act; and the great 
body of mankind feel as if they were looking out on 
a tangled forest, and need a guide to direct them. 
Utilitarian moralists, like'Bentham, may draw out 
schemes of tendencies for us ; but the specific rules 
have no obliging authority, and, even when under- 
stood and appreciated, are difficult of application, 


and are ever bringing us into cross avenues into 
which we may be led by self-deceit. With no other 
standard than ultimate tendency, the timid will ever 
be afraid to act as never clearly seeing their way, 
while the bold will ever be tempted at critical junc- 
tures, and in order to gain ends which are dear to 
them, and which they have identified with the good 
of their country, as when Julius Caesar crossed 
the Rubicon, and Louis Napoleon ventured on his 
coup d'etat, to commit crimes in the name of 
virtue. I am aware that on any theoretical system 
men will commit sin ; but on this system they will 
commit crimes of the highest order, and justify 
themselves as they do so, on the ground of the 
great advantages to be secured by themselves and 

Mr. Mill's defence of the theory proceeds on the 
principle, that there may be a distinction drawn be- 
tween the virtuousness of the act and the virtuous- 
ness of the agent. " He who saves a fellow-creature 
from drowning does what is morally right, whether 
his motive be duty, or the hope of being paid for 
his trouble ; he who betrays the friend that trusts 
him is guilty of a crime, even if his object be to 
serve another friend to whom he is under greater 
obligations." (p. 26.) The test of a virtuous act is 
beneficial tendency, but what is the test of the vir- 
tuous motive ? Is it, too, beneficial tendency ? Is 
the agriculturist who improves the soil, so as to 
make it feed more men and cattle than it did before, 


or the master manufacturer who sets up a large 
public work which gives food to thousands, necessa- 
rily virtuous, and this in proportion to the good 
done, and though in the depths of his heart he may 
be influenced by no other consideration than the 
love of gain? We do run a considerable risk in 
these times of the prevalence of a cosmopolitanism, 
originating in a deeper selfishness, and prosecuted in 
a spirit of self-righteousness, and going on to over- 
whelm and supersede the gentler and the humbler 
private and domestic virtues, which our fathers so 
valued before utilitarianism was heard of. But Mr. 
Mill is too wise a man to make beneficial tendency 
a test of excellence in the agent./" The motive has 
nothing to do with the morality of the action, 
though much with the worth of the agent/^X He 
tells us that it is a misapprehension of the utilitarian 
mode of thought to conceive it as implying so wide 
a generality as the world or morality at large, and 
he says of M. Comte, that " he committed the error 
which is often, but falsely, charged against the whole 
class of utilitarian moralists : he required that the 
test of conduct should also be the exclusive motive 
to it." (Comte and Posit, p. 138.) It is not very 
clear what constitutes a virtuous agent, according to 
our author. The following statement is sufficiently 
vague, and yet it is the clearest I can find on a 
point which should not be left in uncertainty for a 
moment : " The great majority of good actions are 
intended not for the benefit of the world, but for 


that of individuals, of which the good of the world 
is made up : and the thoughts of the most virtuous 
man need not on these occasions travel beyond the 
particular persons concerned, except so far as is 
necessary to assure himself that in benefiting them 
he is not violating the rights, that is, the legitimate 
and authorized expectations, of any one else." (p. 
27.) There is some truth here, but it is surely far 
from being the full truth. The impelling motive of 
an action entitled to be called virtuous is love, lead- 
ing us to perform that which is right ; that is, ac- 
cording to moral law, the law of God. The love 
is a well-spring ready to burst forth, and the law 
is the channel provided in which the stream may 
flow. Without the love, there is no virtue; and 
without the love regulated by law, there is no 
virtue in the agent. It is to the credit of M. 
Comte that, separating himself from cold utilita- 
rianism, he reckoned love as of the essence of ex- 
cellence : but it is an evidence of the narrowness 
and bigotry which so distinguished him, that he 
does not see that he has derived this principle from 
Christianity, which he represents as deriving all 
its motives from the selfish fear of hell and hope 
of heaven. 

And what nrnkes an action sinful according to 
this philosophy? It is still more difficult to find 
what is the answer to that question. Sin is quite 
as much a fact of consciousness and of our moral 
nature as even virtue. "Thou shalt not kill;" 


u Thou shalt not commit adultery ; " Thou shalt not 
steal ; " ." Thou shalt not bear false witness," these 
laws are clear, and the violation of them is sin ac- 
cording to Scripture, and according to conscience. 
But what is sin according to utilitarianism ? It is ^ 
acknowledged not to be the mere omission to look 
to the general good. What then does it consist in ? 
Mr. Mill speaks of "reproach" being one of the 
checks on evil; but when is reproach justifiable? 
Not knowing what to make of sin, the system pro- 
vides no place for repentance. The boundary line 
between moral good and evil is drawn so uncertainly, 
that persons will ever be tempted to cross it without 
allowing that they have done so, the more so that 
they are not told what they should do when they 
have crossed it. 

IV. Does utilitarianism embrace all the virtues ? 
In answering this question, it should at once be 
allowed that the system contains an important body 
of truth ; it errs only so far as it professes to embrace 
and unfold the whole of morals. It is a duty devolv- 
ing on all to promote the happiness of their fel- 
lows. So far as the system recommends this, it can 
have nothing erroneous, it should be added that 
it has nothing original. But even at this point, 
where it is supposed to be strongest, it is found to 
fail when we narrowly examine it. For whence can 
utilitarianism draw its motive and obligation to con- 
strain us to look after the general happiness ? He 
says, " No reason can be given why the general hap- 


piness is desirable, except that each person, so far as 
he believes it to be attainable, desires his own hap- 
piness." (p. 52.) But it would need more acuteness 
than even Mr. Mill is possessed of to show that this 
principle requires us to promote the best interests 
of others. It is proper to refer to this here ; but 
I need not dwell upon it, as I have urged it under 
another head. 

Utilitarianism has a special merit in all questions 
of jurisprudence. The reason can be given. The 
end of legislation is not the maintenance of the law 
of God, but the promotion of the interests of the 
nation. But even in this department a higher 
morality has a place, though only -a negative one. 
The governing power is not entitled to enact what 
is in itself sinful, on the pretence of adding to the 
pleasures of the community. The people of this 
country are right in their religious and moral in- 
stincts when they declare that on no pretence what- 
ever should the Government take upon itself the 
licensing of places of prostitution, even on the pre- 
tence of regulating them, and restraining the evils 
that flow from them. Nor is the magistrate at lib- 
erty to punish an act unless it be sinful ; for example, 
he would not be justified in punishing a person, who, 
without meaning it, had brought infectious disease 
into a city, whereby ten thousand inhabitants had 
perished ; whereas he would be required to inflict 
a penalty for the theft of a very small sum from a 
rich man who never felt the loss. Why the differ- 


ence ? Plainly because the former act is not a sin, 
that is, implied no evil disposition, whereas the other 
does. But while the civil government should punish 
only when sin has been committed, and has thus to 
look to the moral law, it does not punish sin as sin, 
but as inflicting injustice on others, and injurious to 
the best interests of society. The utilitarian theory, 
as developed by Bentham, has, consequentially and 
historically, been the means of alleviating the harsh- 
ness of our penal code, and giving a more benignant 
aspect to legislation generally. 

Mr. Mill has given a contribution to public ethics 
in his treatise on Liberty. The work is stimulating 
in its spirit, but at the same time far from being 
satisfactory in its results. It might have been ex- 
pected in a renewed discussion on such a subject, 
after all that has been written during the last two 
centuries, that we should have had some principles 
laid down to guide us as to the moral limits to be 
set to the expression of sentiment, and the attempt 
to create a public feeling against what we believe to 
be evil. A gentleman, let me suppose, settles in my 
neighborhood, of polite manners, of cultivated mind, 
and apparently of general beneficence. But he has 
a wife and a mistress, and maintains that he is justi- 
fied in having both, and might allowably have more. 
What is to be my demeanor towards him ? Am I 
to ask him to my house, and introduce him to my 
sons and my daughters? Am I never to speak against 
him and his conduct, never to warn my family against 


being influenced by his example ? Am I to hasten 
to elect him to places of honor and trust in the par- 
ish or in the town ? Or, if I decline thus to coun- 
tenance him, am I to be declared intolerant ? Eising 
beyond such personal to public questions, am I not 
to protest against a public evil, and seek to create a 
public sentiment against it ? If I am not at liberty 
to do this, Mr. Mill is laying down a doctrine of lib- 
erty which is interfering with my liberty. Such 
questions as these start points, on which many anx- 
ious to cultivate a spirit, not only of toleration, but 
what is far higher, of charity, are anxious to have 
light, which is not vouchsafed in this treatise. 

The spirit which it is fitted to engender is that of 
u individualism ; " and when it has had time to pro- 
duce its proper fruits, it will be found to have raised 
up a body of young men who reckon it a virtue to 
be peculiar in their opinions, and rather commenda- 
ble to be eccentric. The spirit of hero-worship pro- 
duced indirectly by German pantheism, and directly 
by the writings of Carlyle, has happily lost its sway 
over our young men, and is now to be found, in some 
of the remains of it, onlyjmonj^Jite^ 
of respectable middle age. But we are sure to be 
flooded in the coming generation with something 
still more intolerable, in ambitious youths each af- 
fecting to strike out a path of his own, in opinion 
and sentiment, speculative, practical, and religious. 
This spirit, as it runs to excess, will be quite as de- 
leterious, and will be more foolish and offensive than 


the old habit jf subjection to authority or reverence 
for the great. The genuine temper is not a prostra- 
tion before antiquity or before genius on the one 
hand ; but just as little is it a love of novelty or a 
love of change on the other : it is a love of inde- 
pendence, which, believing that truth in all impor- 
tant matters is attainable, sets out earnestly - in 
search of it ; not rejecting the old because it is old, 
or accepting the new because it is new, but willing 
to take light from whatever quarter it may come. 

While giving to utility an important place, I deny 
that it is the only thing to be looked at as a good, 
as a test, or as a standard. Take the duties we owe 
to God, the love and reverence we should cherish 
towards Him, and the worship we should pay Him 
in private and in public. Surely man's moral nature 
justifies him in holding that there are such duties: 
but on what foundation can utilitarianism rest them ? 
Is it on beneficial tendency to the individual or 
to society? So far as the individual is concerned, 
the salutary influence is produced on his spirit only 
when he pays the service, because it is right. If he 
is constrained to render it from any other motive, 
it will rather chafe and irritate, and end in unbelief 
and rebellion. And as to worship paid to God 
merely for the good of the community, it is the 
very consummation of public hypocrisy which in 
the end would deceive no one. The defenders of 
the utilitarian theory, in the form given to it by 
Bentham, have never attempted to build upon it 


a code of religious duties. I believe that any at- 
tempt of this description would only show that 
the foundation was not broad or deep enough to 
bear such a superstructure. The same may be said 
of not a few of the duties we owe to our fellow- 
men. Take gratitude for undeserved favors. I 
would not choose to found it on the mere desire 
to promote our own happiness or that of the person 
from whom the benefit has come : in order to be 
a virtue, it must spring from a sense of the duty 
we owe to the benefactor. 

There are symptoms of a renewed attempt being 
made in our age to construct a morality without 
a godliness. I speak of it as a renewed attempt, for 
it has been tried before. In the second century, 
when Paganism was losing its hold of educated 
minds, and young Christianity was advancing with 
such rapid strides, an attempt was made by the Neo- 
Platonic School of Alexandria to construct a the- 
ology, and, by the Stoic School of Rome a morality, 
higher than that of the Bible. Every student of 
history knows how these schemes were soon seen to 
terminate in a humiliating failure. The Neo-Platonic 
ecstasy evaporated into empty air, and the Stoic 
self-sufficiency hardened into offensive pride ; and 
neither offered any effectual resistance to the tri- 
umphant march of a religion suited in every way to 
the wants of man's nature. Analogous projects have 
been devised and are being recommended in our day. 
For some time past the God of the Bible has been 


represented as not sufficiently pure as being too 
anthropomorphic ; and mystic thinkers have sought 
to picture to us a God of a more spiritual and ethe- 
real character. This style of thinking in Germany 
has issued from, or culminated in, a shadowy panthe- 
ism, which, followed to its logical and practical con- 
sequences as it will be in this country must 
identify God with the evil as well as with the good, 
or in fact make evil only a form of good. And now 
it looks as if we are to have persons presenting 
to us a morality higher and broader than that of the 
New Testament. 

After speaking in very exalted terms of the doc- 
trines and precepts of Christ, Mr. Mill asserts " that 
many essential elements of the highest morality are 
among the things which are not provided for, nor in- 
tended to be provided for, in the recorded deliver- 
ances of the Founder of Christianity, and which 
have been entirely thrown aside in the system of 
ethics erected on the basis of those deliverances by 
the Christian church. And this being so, I think it 
a great error to persist in attempting to find in 
the Christian doctrine that complete rule for our 
guidance, which its author intended to sanction and 
enforce, but only partially to provide." "I believe 
that other ethics than any which can be evolved 
from exclusively Christian sources, must exist side 
by side with Christian ethics to produce the moral re- 
generation of mankind." (Liberty, pp. 91-92.) Now, 
it may be admitted that the precepts of the Word 


of God do not contain specific directions as to what 
mankind should do in the infinitely varied positions 
in which they may be placed. The Christian system 
first shows the sinner how he may be delivered from 
the burden of past sin, which so weighs him down 
in his efforts after regeneration. It then furnishes 
motives to induce him to perform the duties which 
devolve upon him. It enjoins, as the regulating 
principle of our conduct, love to God and love to 
man. It lays down many and varied precepts as to 
how we should feel and what we should do, in very 
many and varied situations, and supplies numerous 
warnings against evil, and examples of good. Speak- 
ing as unto wise men, it leaves the rest to ourselves, 
to the motives which it has called forth, and the 
royal law of love, which is its grand moving and 
ruling principle. 

Mr. Mill is not very specific as to what he sup- 
poses the code of Christian morality to be deficient 
in. He complains of our "discarding those secular 
standards (as, for want of a better name, they may 
be called) which heretofore co-existed with and 
supplemented the Christian ethics." But I believe 
this has been provided for in such passages as these, 
scattered everywhere : " Whatsoever things are true, 
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are 
just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things 
are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ; if 
there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think 
on these things."- Narrow Christians may have over- 


looked some of these graces and virtues ; but in 
order to correct them, we do not require to go be- 
yond the Scriptures themselves. He fixes on one 
department of duty which he supposes to be neglects 
ed in the Word of God, and that is the duty we owe 
to the State : " In the purely Christian ethics, that 
grand department of duty is scarcely noticed or ac- 
knowledged." I am amazed, I confess, at this charge. 
The history of ancient Israel, recorded in the Old 
Testament, exhibits the most fervent patriotism in 
every page. How nobly does it burst forth in the 
exclamation of the Psalmist, "If I forget thee, 
Jerusalem," etc. Paul has caught the same spirit: 
" Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer for Israel is, 
that they might be saved." We find it burning and 
flaming in the bosom of our Lord himself: "0 Jeru- 
salem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered 
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her 
chickens under her wings, but ye would not." The 
Word of God requires obedience from the subject : 
" Render therefore to all their dues ; tribute to whom 
tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom 
fear, honor to whom honor." But he adds, " It is 
essentially a doctrine of passive obedience ; it incul- 
cates submission to all authorities thought estab- 
lished, who indeed are not to be actively obeyed 
when they command what religion forbids, but who 
are not to be resented, far less rebelled against, for any 
amount of wrong to ourselves." I admit that the 
Bible does not give minute rules as to when subjects 


may claim the right to refuse obedience, nor do I 
know of any moral code that does. But it prescribes 
the function of governors : " A minister of God to 
thee for good, sent for the punishment of evil-doers, 
and for the praise of them that do well." I do be- 
lieve that Christians are not at liberty to rebel 
merely because of wrong done to themselves per- 
sonally. But when the governor commands what is 
evil in itself when the government ceases to fulfil 
its proper office, Christians have thought themselves 
entitled, always with excessive reluctance, to resist, 
and have drawn their warrant from the Word of 
God. So at least thought the Huguenots of France, 
and the Puritans of England, and the Covenanters of 
Scotland, and the Bishops at the Revolution Settle- 
ment ; and their descendants, who have inherited 
the blessings secured through them, have been 
proud of the example they set. 

Mr. Mill and his school have, unfortunately, not 
drawn out this code of morality, which is to be purer 
and nobler than the Christian. ^But we may gather 
what it would be from occasional statements. With 
perhaps some few additions, it would probably be 
such as we find in the Meditations of Marcus Aure- 
lius Antoninus, the Roman emperor who so rigorously 
opposed the progress of Christianity. Mr. Mill says 
of his writings, that " they are the highest ethical 
product of the ancient mind," and that they " differ 
scarcely perceptibly, if they differ at all, from the 
most characteristic teachings of Christ." (Ib. p. 49.) 


Surely Mr. Mill forgets that Jesus began his public 
teaching by " preaching the gospel of the kingdom 
of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the 
kingdom of God is at hand : repent ye, and believe 
the gospel" (Mark i. 14, 15); that the first beati- 
tude and the second beatitude in the Sermon on the 
Mount are, "Blessed are the poor in spirit;" "Blessed 
are they that mourn ; " and the prayer commanded 
is that of the publican, " God, be merciful to me a 
sinner." I have met with no such injunctions, no 
such spirit, in the Meditations of Antoninus. This 
work of the heathen emperor was much read by the 
moral school of divines last century; and the pre- 
cepts enjoined were those they recommended. We 
know the result. The self-righteous system, whether 
recommended by the stoic moralists in ancient times, 
or by the rationalists of last century, was favorably 
regarded by a few persons belonging to the middle 
class, mostly in comfortable worldly circumstances, 
and not in a position to be much in fear of poverty, 
or the deeper trials, of life. In them it produced or 
favored a spirit of self-sufficiency and pride, which 
tended to make their characters hard and unlovely, 
and exposed them often to grievous falls, from which 
it could not lift them, ^nd as to the great body of 
the people of all classes, but especially the poor, the 
tried and the unfortunate, they turned away from it 
with loathing, as not adapted to their wants and cir- 
cumstances, pretending, as it did, to keep up by their 
own strength those who felt that they needed higher 


support, and providing no means of raising the 
lapsed or comforting the mourner. I do not allow 
that it would be an elevation of morality to set aside 
the peculiar Christian graces of penitence, meekness, 
and humility, and to substitute for them a sense of 
honor, a sense of our own merits, and a spirit of self 
sufficient independence. 



THE School of M. Comte, both in its French and 
British departments, is essentially a Sect, sepa- 
rated from other philosophies, and with very narrow 
sympathies. It has been made so partly by the cir- 
cumstance that its adherents were at first few, and 
had to meet not only with opposition but with con- 
tempt from the leading metaphysicians of the age ; 
but it is so essentially, because it has cut itself off 
from the streams which flow down from the past, 
and, like a pool, it has no connection with anything 
beyond itself. Though no longer a small body, and 
though by their intellectual power and perseverance 
they have compelled their opponents to respect 
them, the disciples have still the exclusiveness of a 
sect : they read one another, they quote one another, 
and they criticise one another ; they are incapable 
of appreciating any other philosophy. The two arti 
cles of their creed, and the two points that unite 
them, are t the theory of nescience, and that of the 
steps by which knowledge has made progress. I 



have been examining the first all throughout this 
work. Before I close I must notice the other. 

The famous law of sociology, as developed by M. 
Comte, is about as rash a generalization as was ever 
made by a Presocratic physiologist, a mediaeval 
schoolman, or a modern German speculator. It 
realizes the description given by Bacon of empiri- 
cists, who are represented as rising at once from 
a limited observation of facts to the highest and 
widest generalizations. The theory contains a small 
amount of truth which it has misunderstood and 
perverted. In the early ages of the world, and in 
simple states of society at all times, mankind are in- 
clined to see God or the gods as acting without any 
secondary instrumentality, in operations which are 
found subsequently to take place according to natu- 
ral law. The reason of this is very simple and very 
obvious, and has often been noticed : it is that man- 
kind are prompted by the native principle of causa- 
tion to seek for a cause to every event, while they 
have not so large an experience as to enable them 
to discover the uniformity in the cosmos. This state 
of society constitutes what M. Comte calls the Theo- 
logical Era ; which, however, does not imply that 
men are more disposed to see God in his works, and 
to worship, love, and obey him, than in other ages ; 
but simply that they believe him to act or interpose 
by a free operation, independent of a}l physical 

As observation widens and intelligence advances,. 


men learn to abstract and generalize upon the phe- 
nomena of nature. They are apt to do so in the 
first instance as being the easiest method by 
mere mental force or inward cogitation. Not hav- 
ing learned to perform experiments, they cannot dis- 
tinguish between the various subtle powers and ele- 
ments which operate in nature, nor to make what 
Bacon calls the necessary "rejections and exclu- 
sions." Generalizing the obvious facts, they repre 
sent the sun and stars as moving daily round the 
earth, and, as they find they cannot thus explain the* 
whole phenomena, they give a special motion to the 
moon and planets, and call in eccentrics and epicy- 
cles. Or, abstracting what seems common in the 
obvious operations of earthly agents, they represent 
the components of the universe as being the fiery, 
the aerial, the aqueous, and the solid powers ; and 
speak of certain bodies being in their very nature 
light and others heavy. This is what is called the 
Metaphysical Era. Not that mankind are then in- 
clined to cultivate metaphysics in any proper sense 
of the term, or more than any other department of 
inquiry ; but simply that they hasten to grasp the 
operations of nature within and without them by 
mental acts, and have not learned what it required 
a Bacon to tell us that investigation must proceed 
gradually, and by means of enlarged observation 
and careful experiment. So far from being in any 
peculiar sense a metaphysical age, it sought to pene- 
trate into all the departments of nature, and inquired 



into the origin and structure of the universe, and the 
movements of the celestial bodies. It did enter upon 
metaphysical subjects, but it was as it rushed into 
physiological and astrological speculations ; and it 
discussed them all in the same spirit. The Presocratic 
schools, for example, did inquire into the nature of 
knowing and being, and the human soul ; but it was 
as they inquired into the primary principle or ele- 
ments of the universe. They satisfied themselves 
with a few common observations, and then proceed- 
ed to apply thought to them. In pure metaphysical 
questions they distinguished in a rude way between 
Sensation and Eeason, and when this division was 
found insufficient, they called in a vague intermedi- 
ate principle called Opinion or Faith. Such ages 
have no special title to be called the Metaphysical 
Era : they treat physics and metaphysics in the same 
undistinguishing and uncertain manner. Nor are 
they to be regarded as necessarily non-theological 
ages. No doubt there were curious questions started, 
which could not be settled, as to the relation be- 
tween these rapidly generalized and abstract powers, 
and the gods who ruled in heaven. There were thus 
stirred theological questions which tended to under- 
mine the old superstitions, and to prepare the way 
for a better era. It was at this time " the fulness 
of time " that Christianity was introduced as a 
seed into a soil ploughed to receive it. 

In the natural advancement of intelligence, es- 
pecially after the great awakening of thought in the 


sixteenth century, it was felt that the old methods 
were waxing old, and must soon vanish away. These 
methods are happily described by Bacon as the " Ka- 
tional " so presumptuous, the " Empirical " so narrow, 
and the " Superstitious " which made religion accom- 
plish what could be done only by science. At this 
time there appeared such men as Galileo practising 
careful experiment, and Bacon himself to expound 
the general principles of the true mode of pro- 
cedure of which method the Positive Philosophy 
is merely a monstrous outgrowth. This Era should 
be called the Inductive. It may be quite as meta- 
physical as the previous ones, only it will conduct 
the investigations in a new spirit and mode, that is, 
according to the Method of Induction. This new 
spirit (though the method was not yet properly un- 
derstood) sprang up in the seventeenth century, and 
was fostered by such men as Descartes, who taught 
us to look into the mind to discover its operations, 
and by Locke, who appealed to experience. Since 
that time an inductive mental science, distracted 
from time to time by an ambitious a priori, or by 
a r arrow empirical philosophy, has run parallel to 
physical science. Nor is this era necessarily an un- 
theological one. Never were questions of divinity 
discussed so keenly as in the ages when the induc- 
tive spirit sprang up, and was applied to the study 
of the human mind. And I believe that there is as 
much, and as intense, religious feeling in our country 
at this present time as there ever was in any country 


since man appeared on the earth; and sooner or 
later there will be a tremendous reaction against the 
present attempt to deaden the religious instincts 
among our young men by a cold unbelief. No doubt 
educated men cannot now see the constant interpo- 
sitions of God which were noticed in early ages; 
but it is because they take an enlarged and enlight- 
ened view of the course of nature, which they re- 
gard as ordered by God in infinite wisdom, and as 
the expression of His will, and not requiring to 
be interfered with. It is all true that men with a, 
proud and self-dependent spirit may now find it 
easier to disbelieve in a personal God, and to hand 
over the universe to unconscious natural law. But 
the truth is, persons who do not like to retain a pure 
and holy God in their hearts, had at all times an 
outlet. That outlet was furnished in ancient times 
by superstition, which degraded the Divine character, 
and in modern times by infidelity, which denies His 
existence or His constant operation. 

It is a pleasant circumstance to reflect upon, that 
nearly all the great philosophers of ancient and 
modern times have been anxious to show that their 
systems favor religion. There is every reason to be- 
lieve that the Ionian physiologists recognized the 
Divine existence and the Divine agency : certainly 
Anaxagoras, who seems to have been the greatest 
of them, allotted the all-important place in his 
system to the Divine Intelligence. The founder of 
the Eleatio School, Xenophanes. while he ridiculed 


the popular mythology, represented God as the es- 
sential existence. We know little of the Pythago- 
rean system, but it is clear that it had a Zeus as the 
centre of the order which it delighted to unfold. 
The two great truths which Socrates held by firmly, 
amidst his doubts and his love of dialectic, were the 
providence of God, and the tendency of virtue in 
the government of God to promote happiness. 
When Plato rises above the intellectual gymnastic 
which he is so delighted to exercise, it is to merge 
his philosophy in a theology in which the God is 
represented as forever contemplating eternal ideas, 
and developing all things according to them. Even 
Aristotle, cold though he be in his references to 
divine subjects, falls back on God as the principle 
and ground of all things. In the Stoic system there 
was a fiery deity, who pervaded all nature, and con- 
tinued unchanged amidst the periodical conflagra- 
tion of all things. Cicero wishes everywhere to be 
thought a pure theist; and the later Latin Stoics, 
such as the philosophic emperor, were more religious 
than the Greek founders of the school. Mediaeval 
scholasticism consisted essentially in the application 
of Logic to Theology. In the reaction of the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries, philosophic think- 
ers delighted to show that their systems could bear 
up and confirm true religion. Bacon excluded final 
causes from physics, but gave them and formal 
causes a place in the higher field of metaphysics, 
which stand next to and support theology at the 


apex of the pyramid. Descartes maintained that 
the mind has an idea of the infinite and perfect, 
which implies the existence of an infinitely perfect 
Being. Locke wrote much on religious subjects, and 
in the Fourth Book of his Essay, he shows that his 
system leads to a reasonable belief in the existence 
of a spiritual Being. The founders of the German 
School, Leibnitz and Kant, embraced the existence 
of God as essential parts of their philosophies, and 
in this they were followed by the ideal pantheists, 
Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. The Scottish School, 
from Hutcheson to Hamilton, including Brown, has 
been at great pains to expound and defend the great 
truths of natural religion. 

It is surely an ominous circumstance, that in this 
the nineteenth cenEury there should arise a system 
of philosophy, supported by very able men, and with 
very extensive ramifications and applications, espe- 
cially in social science, but which contains within it 
no argument for the Divine existence, or sanctions 
to religion. The founder of the school was an 
avowed, indeed a rabid, atheist ; and 1 am not aware 
that any of his French followers have made any pro- 
fession of religion, most of them are favorers of 
a materialism, which does not admit of a spiritual 
God. 1 The British branch of the school seems, with 
one accord, and evidently on a system, to decline 
uttering any certain sound on the subject; they cer- 

1 A vigorous opposition is being of- M. Cousin, M. Remusat, and M. 
fcred to the prevailing Materialism by Janet (see his Malerialisme Content 
a number of able French writers, as porain). 


tainly do not pretend that their philosophy, em- 
bracing though it does, ah 1 mental, moral, and social 
problems, requires us to believe in the existence of 
God, in the immortality of the soul, or a day of 
judgment. Mr. Mill's method of dealing with the 
subject is uniform, and evidently designed. Though 
fond of uttering opinions on most other topics, he 
declines saying what are his convictions, or whether 
he has any convictions, in regard to religious truth. 
He satisfies himself with declaring, that if you believe 
in the existence of God, or in Christianity, I do not 
interfere with you. He does not pretend that his 
philosophy does of itself give any aid or sanction to 
religion ; but if we can get evidence otherwise, he 
assures us that he does not disturb us. 

Without saying that it has convinced him, he 
speaks with great respect of the argument from de- 
sign in favor of the Divine existence, and advises us 
to stick by it, rather than resort to a priori proof. 
The advice is a sound one. The greater number, 
even of metaphysicians, are in doubts whether there 
has ever been an a priori argument constructed by 
Anselm, by Descartes, by Leibnitz, or by Clarke, 
which can of itself prove the existence of God, apart 
from the observation of the traces of wisdom and 
goodness in the Divine workmanship. The reaction 
against the argument from final cause, which has 
been fostered by the German metaphysics for the 
last age, is far from being a wise or a healthy spirit 
and sentiment. The proof from design is that which 


ever comes home with most force to the unsophisti- 
cated mind. 

But the important question is not about our au- 
thor's personal predilections and convictions, but is, 
Does his philosophy undermine the arguments for 
the existence of Deity, and the immortality of the 
soul, and a day of accounts ? It is clear that many 
of the old proofs cannot be advanced by those who 
accept his theory. The argument from catholic con- 
sent can have no value on such a system. That 
derived from the moral faculty in man, so much in- 
sisted on by Kant and Chalmers, is no longer avail- 
able when it is allowed that the moral law has no 
place in our constitution, and that our moral senti- 
ments are generated by inferior feelings and associ- 
ated circumstances. But then, he tells us, that the 

Design argument "would stand exactly where it 
does." (p. 210.) I doubt much whether this is the 
case. (jL see no principles left by Mr. Mill sufficient 
to enable us to answer the objections which have 
been urged against it by Hume. Kant is usually 
reckoned as having been successful in showing, that 
the argument from design involves the principle of 
cause and effect. We see an order and an adapta- 
tion in nature, which are evidently effects, and we 
look for a cause. Has Mr. Mill's doctrine of causa- 
tion left this proof untouched ? Suppose that we 
allow to him that there is nothing in an effect which 
of itself implies a cause ; that even when we know 
that there is a cause, no light is thereby thrown on 


the nature of that cause ; that the causal relation is 
simply that of invariable antecedence within the 
limits of our experience ; and that beyond our ex 
perience there may be events without a cause, I 
fear that the argument is left without a foundation. 
And there are other questions pressing on our notice, 
and demanding an answer. Can God be shown to 
be infinite on the principles of this philosophy ? If 
so, what are these principles? If God exists as a 
designer, is He also a moral governor? Will He 
call His creatures to account, and reward those who 
do good, and punish those who do evil ? Is this 
world the only world to us, or is there another ? It 
is clear that the argument drawn from the abiding, 
the substantial, and spiritual nature of the soul is 
entirely cut off by a philosophy which makes mind 
a mere series of feelings. The more convincing ar- 
gument from God's justice calling His responsible 
creatures to account, can have little or no force in a 
system which admits no independent morality. 

I should like, I confess, to have the proof and the 
doctrine of natural religion drawn out according to 
this philosophy. The argument for the being of a 
God founded on any native principles is unavailable, 
but we are allowed to weigh the a posteriori evi- 
dence. It is conceivable that the adherents of the 
system may thread their way through the series of 
feelings and possibilities of sensations, and as they 
do so discover traces of what, if done by man, would 
be reckoned design and beneficence : but whether 


these phenomena within our experience entitle us to 
argue that there is a Being beyond who has caused 
them, is a question in regard to which some are wait 
ing for light to come from the head of the school 01 
some other quarter. Those who believe that an 
effect of itself implies a cause, have no hesitation in 
concluding that the design in nature implies a de- 
signer ; and those who look on man as having a 
moral nature, and constrained by inward principles 
to believe in infinity, can clothe the designer with 
moral and infinite perfections. But there are not a 
few, both of those who oppose and those who sup- 
port Mr. Mill, who cannot see that his system war- 
rants us in reaching any such result. And there is 
the more puzzling inquiry, whether there is proof 
that the thread or prolonged throb of consciousness 
exists after its external bodily conditions or possibili- 
ties have been evidently dissolved by death. These 
are questions which some of our youths, who have 
committed themselves to this philosophy, are sporting 
with in utter levity, and which are wringing the 
hearts of others till feelings more bitter than tears 
burst from them : and what are they to do, in this 
transition state, with the old undermined and the 
new not yet constructed ? 

I have carefully refrained throughout this work 
from urging any argument from consequences, or 
from religious considerations, against the philosophy 
I am examining. I have, to the best of my ability, 
and with an anxious desire to reason fairly, met my 


distinguished opponent on the ground of conscious- 
ness, and of legitimate inference from it. But neither 
he nor I, neither those who follow nor those who op- 
pose him, can avoid looking at the results. Scepti- 
cism, as Hume delights to show, can produce no mis- 
chief in the common secular affairs of life, because 
there man is ever meeting with circumstances which 
keep him right in spite of his principles or want of 
principles. But it is very different in those questions 
which fall to be discussed in higher ethics and theol- 
ogy. A man will not be tempted by any sophistry to 
doubt the connection of cause and effect when he is 
thirsty and sees a cup of water before him ; in such a 
case he will at once put forth his hand and take it, 
knowing that the beverage will refresh him. But he 
may be led by a wretched sophistry to deny the neces- 
sary relation of cause and effect when it would lead 
him upward from God's works to God himself, or to 
seek assurance and peace in him. Hence the import- 
ance of not allowing fundamental truth to be assailed : 
not because the attack will sway any one in the 
common business of life, but because it may hold 
back and damp our higher aspirations, moral and 
religious. I put ho question as to the religious con- 
victions of its supporters ; but I may surely ask 
What is the religion left us by the new philosophy ? 

M. Comte provided a religion and a worship for 
his followers. He had no God, but he had a " Grand 
Etre," in Collective Humanity, or "the continuous 
resultant of all the forces capable of voluntarily con- 


curring in the universal perfectioning of the world," 
being in fact a deification of his system of science 
and sociology. In the worship he enjoined he has 
nine sacraments, and a priesthood, and public honors 
to be paid to the Collective Humanity ; but with no 
public liberty of conscience, or of education, in sacred 
or indeed in any subjects. The religious observances 
were to occupy two hours every day. Mr. Mill tells 
us, "Private adoration is to be addressed to Col- 
lective Humanity hi the persons of worthy individual 
representatives, who may be either living or dead, 
but must in all cases be women ; for women, be- 
ing the sexe aimant, represent the best attribute of 
humanity, that which ought to regulate all human 
life, nor can Humanity possibly be symbolized in any 
form but that of a woman. The objects of private 
adoration are the mother, the wife, and the daughter, 
representing severally the past, the present, and the 
future, and calling into active exercise the three so- 
cial sentiments, veneration, attachment, and kind- 
ness. We are to regard them, whether dead or alive, 
as our guardian angels, ' les vrais anges gardiens.' If 
the last two have never existed, or if, in the particu- 
lar case, any of the three types is too faulty for the 
office assigned to it, their place may be supplied by 
some other type of womanly excellence, even by one 
merely historical. (Comte and Posit., p. 150.) The 
Christian religion surely does not suffer by being 
placed alongside this system, which is one of the 
two new religions which this century has produced, 


the other being Mormonism. The author clung 
more and more fondly to this faith and ceremonial 
as he advanced in years. His English followers are 
ashamed of it, and ascribe it to his lunacy, as if 
he had not been tinged with madness (as his poor 
wife knew, all his life), and as if his whole system 
had not been the product of a powerful but constitu- 
tionally diseased intellect. 

He denounces his English followers, because they 
did not adopt his moral and social system ; he char- 
acterizes the conversion of those who have adopted 
his positivity and rejected his religion as an abor- 
tion; and declares that it must proceed from im- 
potence of intellect, or insufficiency of heart, com- 
monly from both ! (Polit. Posit, tome I. pref. p. xv. ; 
in. p. xxiv.) There is a basis of wisdom in this com- 
plaint. All history shows that man is a religious, 
quite as certainly as he is a feeling, and a rational 
being. But what has the British School provided 
to meet man's religious wants ? As yet they have 
furnished nothing. But Mr. Mill, who always weighs 
his words, and who is too skilful a dialectician to say 
more than he means, evidently points to something 
which is being hatched, and may some day burst 
forth. "While he has the strongest objection to the 
system of politics and morals set forth in the Poll- 
tique Positive, he thinks "it has superabundantly 
shown the possibility of giving to the service of hu- 
manity, even without the belief in a Providence, 
both the psychological power and the social efficacy 


of a religion : making it take hold of human life, 
and color all thought, feeling, and action, in a 
manner of which the greatest ascendency ever ex- 
ercised by any religion may be but a type and fore- 
taste." ( UtiLy p. 48.) More specifically in his latest 
work he says, that " though conscious of being in an 
extremely small minority," a circumstance which 
is sure to catch those " individualists " who are bent 
on appearing original " we venture to think that 
a religion may exist without belief in a God, and 
that a religion without a God may be, even to Chris- 
tians, an instructive and profitable object of contem- 
plation." (Comte and Posit, p. 133.) He tells us, 
that in order to constitute a religion, there must 
be "a creed or conviction," "a belief or set of be 
liefs," " a sentiment connected with this creed," and 
a "cultus." I confess I should like excessively to 
see this new religion, with its creed and its cultus, 
fully developed. It would match the theologies, 
with their ceremonial observances, projected by doc- 
trinaires in the heat of the French Eevolution. 
There is no risk of the British School setting up 
a religion and a worship so superbly ridiculous as 
that of M. Comte, but I venture to predict that 
when it comes, it will be so scientifically cold, and 
so emotionally blank, as to be incapable of gathering 
any interest around it, of accomplishing any good 
or, I may add, inflicting any evil. 

Leaving the religion to develop itself in the future, 
let us ascertain what we have without it in the phil- 


osophic system. Within, we have a prolonged series 
of feelings ; without, we have a possibility of sensa- 
tions ; both regulated by the most unbending laws 
of necessity, within the limits of experience and a 
reasonable distance beyond ; and beyond that beyond, 
if there be such, a land of darkness and eternal 
silence. This is the cold region into which thought, 
as it moves on in its orbit, has brought us, in the 
third quarter of the nineteenth century. And is 
this, then, what is left us after all the dialectic con- 
flicts, and as the result of all the scientific discoveries 
of the last two thousand five hundred years that 
have elapsed since reflective thought was awakened ? 
We know how keenly some patriotic and high-minded 
Frenchmen feel when they are obliged to contem- 
plate the present state of their country, and to con- 
fess how great the humiliation implied in the bloody 
revolutions through which they have passed, ending 
in a military despotism, which restrains on all hands 
liberty of thought and action. I am sure that a like 
feeling will rise up in many noble and hopeful minds 
when they are made to see that all these discussions, 
philosophic and religious, in the past, that all these 
throes and convulsions of opinion and sentiment 
have left us only a series of feelings and a possibility 
of sensations, beginning we know not with what, 
and carrying us we know not whither, all that we 
are sure of being, that the sensations and feelings 
are conveyed along pleasantly or unpleasantly, and 
ranged into companies suitably or unsuitably, and 


our very beliefs generated, by a fatalistic law of con- 
tiguity and resemblance. Some may be content 
with this lot, as being caught in the toils and despair- 
ing of an escape : but there will be others, I ven- 
ture to say nobler and better, who feel that they 
must be delivered from this mental bondage at all 
hazards, and will hasten to attempt it even at the 
risk of new conflicts and new revolutions. It should 
not after all be so difficult for humble and sincere 
men to escape from this net which sophistry would 
weave around them. Let them follow those intui- 
tions and ultimate beliefs, the existence and the 
veracity of which Mr. Mill has acknowledged, 
while he has declined to pursue them to their con- 
sequences -, let them gather around them a body of 
acquired observations with their appropriate senti- 
ments ; and, as they do so, they will reach a body 
of truth, practical, scientific, and religious, sufficient 
to stay the intellect and satisfy the heart, while 
what still remains unknown will only incite to fur- 
ther explorations, and lead to new discoveries. 




I HAVE taken exception to certain doctrines of Hamilton in the Method of 
Divine Government (M. D. G.) ; in the North British Review, Nos. liv. and lix. 
(N. B. R.) ; in Dublin University Magazine, Aug. 1859 (D. u. M.) ; in Intuitions 
of the Mind (i. M.) ; in Supernatural in Relation to Natural (s. N.) ; in Appen- 
dix to Stewart's Outlines (s. o.) ; and now in this work (D. p. T.) 

1. His Method. N.B.R. liv. 427; I.M. 96; D.F.T. 42. 

2. His ambiguous use of Consciousness. N.B.R. liv. 428 ; 

D.TJ.M. 159, 160; I.M. 96; D.P.T. 32-38. 

3. His omission among the Reproductive Powers (Metaph 

vol. ii.), of the Recognitive Power by which we believe 
the remembered event to have fallen under our notice in 
time past. D.U.M. 160; D.F.T. 188. 

4. His view of Time and Space. N.B.R. liv. 429; I.M. 178, 


5. His doctrine of Unconscious Mental Operations. D.U.M. 161, 

162; D.F.T. 211-214. 

6. His unsatisfactory way of appealing to Faith without ex- 

plaining its nature. N.B.R. lix. 150, 151 ; I.M. 168-173 ; 
S.N. 355. 

7. His view of all Knowledge implying Comparison. I.M. 207- 

210; D.F.T. 237. 

8. His defective view of the Relations which the mind can 

discover. D.U.M. 162, 163; I.M. 211. 

9. His doctrine of the Relativity of Knowledge. M.D.G. 536- 

539 ; N.B.R. liv. 428-429 ; D.U.M. 163, 164; I.M. 109, 340- 
341 ; s.o. 132 ; D.F.T. 233-237. 

10. His doctrine of Nescience. M.D.G. 520; N.B.R. liv. 430- 
431 I.M. 342-345 ; D.F.T. 234. 



11. His defective doctrine as to our idea of the Infinite. M.D.O. 

534; N.B.K. liv. 430, lix. 150, 154, 156; I.M. 193-197; 
S.N. 141. 

12. His axiom that truth lies between two extremes. I.M. 304, 


13. His doctrine of Substance. I.M. 146, 148. 

14. His doctrine of Causation. M.D.G. 529, 530 ; N.B.R. liv. 

430; D.U.M. 164. 

15. The application by Dr. Mansel of the doctrine of Relativity 

to Moral Good and Evil. N.B.R. lix. 157; S.N. 356, 

16. His view of the Theistic Argument. M.D.G. 520 ; N.B.R. liv 

431, lix. 152 ; S.N. 355 ; s.o. 140. 

((UN IV 



ARTICLE I. Mr. Mitt's Philosophic Predecessors, (p. 14.) 

I REQUIRE, before entering on the discussion, to refer to 
one or two personal matters, these fortunately not involving 
any offensive personal feeling. I had spoken of Hobbes, 
Hartley, Hume, and Brown as Mr. Mill's philosophic ances- 
tors, and of Mr. James Mill and M. Comte as having had 
influence on the young thinker, and of M. Comte as having 
led him to regard it as " impossible for the mind to rise to 
first or final causes, or to know the nature of things " (Ex- 
amination of MilVs Philosophy, p. 8). I did so, because 
M. Comte, the great defender of that doctrine, had ex- 
pounded his views before Mr. Mill had published anything. 
But Mr. Mill tells us : " The larger half of my /System of 
Logic, including all its fundamental doctrines, was written 
before I had seen the f Le Cours de Philosophic Positive.' 
That work was indebted to M. Comte for many valuable 
thoughts, but a short list would exhaust the chapters, and 
even the pages which contain them " (p. 267). I suppose he 
means to include not merely his System of Logic, but the 
'fuller exposition which we have in some of his other works, 
in which he has expounded doctrines identical with those 
held by M. Comte, and usually fathered upon him. He as- 
sures us, however, in regard to the general doctrine of Nesci- 
ence, as I call it, he was familiar with it " before I was out 
of my boyhood, from the teachings of my father. Ever since 
the days of Hume, that doctrine has been the general property 
of the philosophic world. From the time of Brown, it has 
entered into popular philosophy." This statement does not 
differ essentially from mine, only it ascribes less to M. Comte, 


and more to Mr. James Mill, who is represented as teaching 
the doctrine to his son from boyhood. I leave this statement 
without comment, except thfit X must protest against repre- 
senting Brown, who argued for the existence of God from 
the traces of design, as discarding either first or final 

Mr. Mill admits (p. 319) "Dr. M'Cosh's work is unim- 
peachable in respect of candor and fairness." I accept the 
compliment. I did intend to act fairly towards my distin- 
guished opponent ; and carefully abstained from quibbling 
and captiousness, when strongly tempted to indulge in it by 
what seemed the severe criticism of Mr. Hamilton. Esteem- 
ing moral higher than intellectual qualities (so deified by 
Buckle and others of the school), I value this testimony 
higher than I would have done a laudation of my abilities. 
But the compliment is followed by a charge, that "he can- 
not be relied on for correctly apprehending the maxims and 
tendencies of a philosophy different from his own," and he 
complains that "he has not been able, even a little way, into 
the mode of thought he is combating" (p. 250). All I 
have to say here is, that if I have not been able to do so, it 
must be owing to some hebetude of intellect ; for I was 
reared in favorable circumstances for understanding the sys- 
tem and its tendencies. Albeit some years younger than 
Mr. Mill, I was brought up intellectually in a position not 
so widely different from those in which he was trained. The 
first professor of mental science who impressed me favorably, 
which he did by his cool intellectual power, was Mr. James 
Mylne of Glasgow University, who following Destutt de 
Tracey, derived all our ideas from sensation, memory, and 
judgment. The first metaphysical work I read with admi- 
ration, was the Lectures of Thomas Brown. At a prema- 
turely early age, I had perused the philosophic works of 
Hume. I read James Mill's Analysis at the time it came 
out, and also Sir James Mackintosh's Dissertation, in which 
he attempts to resolve conscience into the association of ideas. 
All along, indeed, I had a suspicion that the refined analysis 


of these writers was far too subtile, and that they must be 
overlooking some of the deepest and most characteristic 
phenomena of the mind. Still, these were the men (not 
to speak of ancient philosophers) for whom, in my juvenile 
years, I had an admiration, rather than towards Keid, or 
even Stewart or Locke ; and I believe I entered a good way 
into their modes of thought and their systems. But on ma- 
ture and independent reflection, I had found my way out 
of their subtilties, and this before I knew anything of Ham- 
ilton, who turned the tide in public sentiment. At a -time 
when the Philosophie Positive was known to few in this 
country, I read it with care, and I saw at once that it would 
come to be a power in this century, quite equal to Hobbes 
in the seventeenth and of Hume in the eighteenth centuries ; 
and I noticed it in my first published work (Method of Di- 
vine Government, B. II. c. ii., Note D). On my first 
reading Mill's Logic, which was not for some time after its 
publication, I saw that the philosophy in which I had been 
brought up was involved throughout. The literary work on 
which I was engaged at the time when Mill's Examination 
of Hamilton came out, was an expository and critical ac- 
count of Hume's philosophy for this Review, and intended to 
find a place in a contemplated work on the Scottish philoso- 
phy ; and the book came out in time to enable me to bring 
out in a set of foot-notes, the curious correspondence between 
the philosophy of Hume and that of Mill. I mention these 
things, to show that I should be quite prepared to enter a 
considerable way into Mr. Mill's mode of thought. But by 
painful cogitation I had wrought myself out of it, and be- 
lieved I had discovered the fundamental fallacies of the whole 
philosophy. The one qualification which I possessed for the 
task of examining Mr. Mill, lay in my having been trained 
in much the same school, and having risen above it ; and I 
thought it right to give to the world, with an application to 
the very able work which appeared, the arguments which had 
convinced myself, and which I had expounded for years to 
my college classes. 


Mr. Mill is often alleging against those who oppose him, 
that they are not able to place themselves " at the point of 
view of a theory different " from their own. But has Mr. Mill 
never put to himself the question, " May I not have fallen into 
the sin I have laid to the charge of my opponents ? Have I 
ever thoroughly entered into and sympathized with that high- 
eouled philosophy which was introduced by Plato, which was 
continued by men like Augustine, Anselm, Descartes, Cud- 
worth, Leibnitz, Jacobi, and Kant, and Cousin ; and in a 
lower key, by Aristotle, Buffier, Reid, Stewart, and Hamil- 
ton ? " I admire greatly the ability, dialectic and deductive, 
of Mr. Mill. It is peculiarly a clear, a penetrating under- 
standing ; but it is not distinguished by wide sympathies and 
philosophic comprehensiveness. He does admire Plato and 
Coleridge ; but it is because the former had so much of the 
search-spirit and the undermining dialectic ; and because the 
latter was dissolving the old philosophy and theology of Brit- 
ain. I arn convinced that he has seen so many contradic- 
tions in Hamilton, because he could not always take into 
view the full sweep of his massive, but at times ill-constructed 
system. When he commends an opponent, as he does Ham- 
ilton often and Mansel at times, it is when he sees they are 
travelling towards the point which he himself has reached. 
It is surely conceivable that he may have been so filled with 
his own system, inherited from a beloved father, and cher- 
ished resolutely at the time when the tide was all against him, 
and that it may now bulk so largely before his eyes, as to 
make him to some extent incapable of appreciating, or even 
thoroughly comprehending, those who look on things from 
a different point of view. 

I do believe, that, because of my philosophic experience, 
I am able, at least, to look at both sides of the question. I 
claim to understand the " maxims " of this philosophy, ex- 
cept, indeed, that I confess to a difficulty in apprehending 
how, on his principles, he reaches the idea of extension, or 
a reasonable conviction of the existence of his fellow-men. 
Possibly I may be able to judge of the " tendencies " of it 


as coolly and impartially as those who have constructed it. 
He has himself characterized the Sensational philosophy of 
France, as " the shallowest set of doctrines which were ever 
passed off upon a cultivated age as a complete psychological 
system, the ideology of Condillac and his school; a system 
which affected to resolve all the phenomena of the human 
mind into sensation, by a process which essentially consisted 
in merely calling all states of mind however heterogeneous 
by that name" (Discuss, vol. i. p. 410). But Condillac, 
as a philosophic thinker, a scholar, and a writer, was equal 
to Mr. Mill, and was quite as acute in arguing against 
Descartes and Malebranche, as Mill is against Whewell 
and Hamilton, and had much the same kind of influence 
in France a hundred years ago that Mr. Mill is now ex- 
ercising in England. I am convinced that Condillac had no 
idea that any evil consequences would follow from his phil- 
osophic theories. Most of his works were written for the 
purpose of training a prince of Parma : he believes that 
there is a God ; " that the laws which reason prescribes to 
us are the laws which God has imposed on us ; and that it 
is here that the morality of actions is completed. There is, 
therefore, a natural law ; that is to say, a law which has its 
foundation on the will of God" (Traite des Animaux, 
c. vii.). I admit that the two systems, that of Condillac and 
that of Mill, are not the same; but it could be shown that 
they have a much closer correspondence in themselves, and 
in their logical and practical consequences, than Mr. Mill 
will be disposed to allow. Both derive our ideas from 
sensation ; but Mr. Mill takes credit for adding association, 
and says we get our ideas from sensation by association. But 
it can be shown that Condillac had not overlooked associa- 
tion. I find Dugald Stewart remarking, " Condillac's earliest 
work appeared three years before the publication of ' Hart- 
ley's Theory.' It is entitled 'Essai sur VOrigine des Con- 
naissances Humaine, Ouvrage oil Von reduit d un- seul 
principe tout ce qui concerns V entendement humain.' This 
seul principe is the association of ideas. The account which 


both authors give of the transformation of sensations into 
ideas is substantially the same" (Dissert., P. ii., S. 6). 
But the truth is, both had been anticipated by Hutch eson, 
who had expounded the general doctrine, and by Hume, who 
had used the doctrine of associations to account for beliefs 
supposed to be innate. Certain it is, that Condillac speaks 
of association of ideas which are the effect of a foreign im- 
pression : " Celles-la sont souvent si bien cimente'es, qu'il 
nous est impossible de les detruire." M En ge'ne'ral les im- 
pressions que nous e*prouvons dans differentes circonstances 
nous font lier des ide*es que nous ne sommes plus maitres de 
se*parer." Mr. Mill will, I believe, be astonished to find 
here his father's law of Inseparable Association. Not only 
so, but he accounts by this law, like Mr. Mill, for what is 
supposed to be inn ou naturel (see " Connaissances Hum.," 
c. ix.). I doubt much whether Mr. Mill is entitled to as- 
sume such airs in denouncing the sensational school of 
France. His ideas, generated out of sensation by associa- 
tion, do not differ so widely after all from the " transformed 
sensations " of Condillac. Both philosophies, when we trace 
them sufficiently far down, are found to rest on nothing more 
solid than sensations with their associations ; only Mr. 
Mill is driven at times to bring in something inexplicable, of 
which nothing can be known. Let Mr. Mill's philosophy 
have as long time to work as that of Condillac had, from 
the middle of last century to the French Revolution, and 
through the imperial sway of Bonaparte, and I believe that 
" sensation plus association " will not be found to have any 
more elevating effect on prevailing thought and sentiment 
than " transformed sensations " had ; only I cherish the 
hope that in this country the tendency will be counteracted 
by the higher philosophy and theology still abiding among 


ARTICLE II. Mr. Mill's Theory of Mind. (pp. 88-111.) 

It falls in with the order of my examination to begin with 
his account of mind, which he had resolved into "a series of 
feelings with a background of possibilities of feeling," re- 
quiring the farther statement that it is " a series aware of 
itself as past and future." He had acknowledged that this 
" reduces us to the alternative of believing that the Mind, 
or Ego, is something different from any series of feelings or 
possibilities of them, or of accepting the paradox that some- 
thing which, ex hypothesi, is but a series of feelings, can be 
aware of itself as a series ; " that his theory on this subject 
has "intrinsic difficulties, and that he is here face to face 
with a final inexplicability." Now he has told us (Logic, 
III. iv. 1), that "the question, What are the laws of na- 
ture ? may be stated thus : what are the fewest and simplest 
assumptions which, being granted, the whole existing order 
of nature would result?" Now I believe that the single and 
simple assumption to be made on this subject is, that in 
every conscious act there is a knowledge of self as acting, 
and in every remembrance of a past experience of self, as 
having had the experience. Here we are face to face with 
a final fact, which needs no explicability. But Mr. Mill 
will not state it thus, and he is flitting round and round the 
point without alighting on it. He affirms that there " is no 
ground for believing that the Ego is an original presenta- 
tion of consciousness." Now I admit that an abstract Ego 
is not given in self-consciousness ; but the concrete Ego is ; 
that is, the Ego as thinking, feeling, or in some other act. 
He allows, in his new edition, that he does not profess to 
have adequately accounted for the belief in mind. Let us 
see how he seeks to bear up his theory in the Appendix 
which he has added : 

" The fact of recognizing a sensation, of being reminded of it, 
and, as we say, remembering that it has been felt before, is the 
simplest and most elementary fact of memory ; and the inexplicable 


tie or law, the organic union (as Professor Masson calls it), which 
connects the present consciousness with the past one, of which it 
reminds me, is as near, I think, as we can get to a positive con- 
ception of Self. That there is something real in this tie, real as 
the sensations themselves, and not a mere product of the laws of 
thought, without any fact corresponding to it, I hold to be un- 
dubitable." " Whether we are directly conscious of it in the act 
of remembrance, as we are of succession in the fact of having 
successive sensations, or whether, according to the opinion of Kant, 
we are not conscious of self at all, but are compelled to assume it 
as a necessary condition of memory, I do not undertake to decide. 
But this original element, which has no community of nature with 
any of the things answering to our names, and to which we cannot 
give any name but its own peculiar one without implying some 
false or ungrounded theory, is the Ego or Self. As such, I ascribe 
a reality to the Ego to my own mind different from that real 
existence as a Permanent Possibility, which is the only reality I 
acknowledge in matter." " We are forced to apprehend every part 
of the series as linked with the other parts by something in com- 
mon, which is not the feelings themselves any more than the succes- 
sion of the feelings is the feelings themselves ; and as that which is 
the same in the first as in the second, in the second as in the third, 
in the third as in the fourth, and so on, must be the same in the 
first and in the fiftieth, this common element is a permanent ele- 
ment. But beyond this, we can affirm nothing of it except the 
states of consciousness themselves." (pp. 256, 257.) 

There are plenty of assumptions and admissions in this pas- 
sage, far more than the defender of intuitive psychology is 
obliged to make. There is an "original element," to which 
he ascribes a " reality," and a real existence ; a " permanent 
element," something common to the feelings, "which is not 
the feelings themselves ; " the same in the first and fiftieth 
state of consciousness, and to which we can give no other 
name than the Ego, or Self. Now what is this but the per- 
manent mind or Elgo of the metaphysicians, with its various 
modifications, revealed by consciousness? I certainly do not 
stand up for the doctrine of Kant, according to whom we are 
not conscious of self, but are required to assume it as a con- 
dition. I prefer a much simpler doctrine, that we are 


conscious of self in every mental act, conscious of self griev- 
ing in every feeling of grief, of self remembering in every 
act of memory. Admit this clearly and frankly, and I am 
satisfied. But I am satisfied because in this we have two 
great truths, that man knows, and that he knows real exist- 
ence, that is, self, as existing. But the disciple of the doc- 
trine of Nescience that is, of the doctrine that we can know 
nothing of the nature of things ever draws back from such 
a plain statement, as inconsistent with his favorite theory ; 
and he talks instead of an "inexplicable tie," or "law," or 
"organic union," or "link to connect the facts," language 
which is metaphorical at the best, and never does express the 
fact, which is a very simple one, though full of meaning. 

We are hei'e at the place where Mr. Mill is in greatest 
difficulties, and feels himself to be so. He tells us that "the 
one fact which the Psychological Theory cannot explain, is 
the fact of Memory (for Expectation I hold to be, psycho- 
logically and logically, a consequence of Memory)." I have 
shown, I think, that he is for ever assuming, without per- 
ceiving it, other primordial facts ; and that there are other 
facts equally entitled to be regarded as primordial, and, on 
the same ground, "no reason can be given for it which does 
not presuppose the belief, and assume it to be well grounded." 
But let us specially inquire, What is involved in the assump- 
tion of memory? I had objected, that Mr. Mill was not 
able to give an account of the genesis of the idea which, as 
consciousness attests, we have of Time. Let us look at the 
account he now gives of the idea (p. 247), and then we shall 
be prepared to look at the way in which he generates it. He 
tells us that by Time is to be " understood an indefinite suc- 
cession of successions." This does not make the matter 
clearer ; the more so, as he has no things to succeed each 
other except sensations, which are only for the moment. 
" The only ultimate facts or primitive elements in Time are 
Before and After, which (the knowledge of opposites being 
one) involve the notion of Neither before nor after i.e., 
simultaneous." I do not look on this account as a correct one 


of the tacts of our experience. We get the idea of Time as a 
primitive fact in memory : we remember every event as hap- 
pening in time past, and can then abstract the time from the 
event. I certainly do not give in to the principle that 
"the knowledge of opposites is one," for I hold that the 
knowledge of opposites is the knowledge of opposites, 
that is, of things opposed ; and I do not allow that Before 
and After are opposites : they are rather continuous. But 
we are more interested to inquire, What account does he 
give of our idea and conviction as to this infinite Succes- 
sion of Successions ; this Before, and After, and Simul- 
taneous? His answering is hesitating, and it is unsatis- 
factory, ft brings out the weak points of the theory, and 
the awkwardness of the attempt made to bolster it up. He 
admits, " I have never pretended to account by association 
for the idea of Time." " Neither do I decide whether that 
inseparable attribute of our sensations is annexed to them by 
the laws of the mind or given in the sensations ; nor whether, 
at this great height of abstraction, the distinction does not 
disappear." He admits that Time is the inseparable attribute 
of our sensations. He admit? that we have the idea. We 
ask, Whence it comes ? Let us look at the alternatives be- 
tween which he hesitates. Our idea of Time " may be given 
in the sensations themselves." Observe how he is giving to 
the sensations a new and a totally diverse element, in the 
very manner of the school of Condillac. An idea implying 
indefinite successiveness, a Before and an After,' all given 
in sensations, which we thought were confined to the pres- 
ent ! ! Surely this beats anything found in the " shallowest 
set of doctrines ever passed off upon a cultivated age," and 
" which consisted in merely calling all states of mind, how- 
ever heterogeneous, by that name," that is, the name of 
sensations. If he take the other alternative, then he is giv 
ing to the mind the power of generating in the course of its 
exercise, a totally new idea a view utterly inconsistent with 
his own empirical theory, and the very view of Leibnitz, who 
makes intellectus ipse a source of ideas. No wonder that he 


seems unwilling to be fixed on either horn, and would fain 
mount up into some height of abstraction, where the distinc- 
tion may disappear. But the facts do not lie in any great 
height of abstraction, but in the low level of our every-day 
consciousness, and can be expressed only by giving sensation 
its proper place, and time its proper place, both being 
equally primordial facts. 

ARTICLE III. Mr. Mill's Theory of Body. (pp. 112-158.) 

I now come to a more perplexing subject, in which I admit 
there is room for difference of opinion, though no room for 
that of Mr. Mill ; that is, the idea and the conviction which 
we have in regard to Body. As the conclusion of his subtile 
disquisitions, he had defined Matter as the Permanent Possi- 
bility of Sensation. In the added Appendix, he declares 
clearly that there is no proof that we perceive it by our 
senses, or that the notion and belief of it come to us by an 
original law of our nature ; and that w all we are conscious 
of, may be accounted for without supposing that we perceive 
Matter by our senses, and that the notion and belief may 
have come to us by the laws of our constitution, without 
being a revelation of any objective reality." 

He admits (p. 245) that his opponents have referred his 
theory to the right test, in aiming to show that "its attempt 
to account for the belief in matter implies or requires that the 
belief should always exist as a condition of its own produc- 
tion. The objection is true, if conclusive." But he adds, 
n They are not very particular about the proof of its truth ; 
they one and all think their case made out, if I employ in 
any part of the exposition the language of common life." I 
deny for myself that I have tried to make out my case by such 
an argument. I have indeed expressed a wish that he would 
w employ language consistent with his theory, and we should 
then be in a position to judge whether he is building it up 
fairly." I believe that any plausibility possessed by it is de- 
rived from his expressing it in common language, which 


enables him to introduce, surreptitiously and unconsciously, 
the ideas wrapt up in it. When he and Mr. Bain speak of 
"a sweep of the arm," and "a movement of the eye," it is 
difficult for others, perhaps even for themselves, to think of 
the arm and the eye as mere momentary sensations, as unex- 
tended, and as not moving in space. I was convinced that 
if the theory were only expressed in language not implying 
extension in the original sensation, its insufficiency would at 
once be seen. He has now, in a long appendix, labored to 
construct his theory in language consistent with it. and| the 
baldness of it at once appears. 

My objection proceeded on a far deeper principle than the 
language employed by Mr. Mill. I appealed to conscious- 
ness, not as Hamilton would have done, to settle the whole 
question at once, but to testify to a matter of fact, which Mr. 
Mill would admit to fall immediately under its cognizance. 
Consciousness declares that we have now an idea of some- 
thing extended; extended on three dimensions,: length, 
breadth, and depth ; and, I may add, of extended objects 
moving in space. It is admitted, then, that we have this 
idea, and I defy Mr. Mill to revolve this idea into any ele- 
ment allowed by him, in fact, into any element not involv- 
ing extension. He tells us that the whole variety of the facts 
of nature, as we know it, is given in the mere existence of 
our sensations, and in the laws or order of their succession. 
But from which of these does he get extension ? Surely not 
from mere sensation, which, as not being extended, cannot 
give what it does not possess. As certainly not from laws 
or order in successive sensations, which, as they do not pos- 
sess it individually, cannot have it in their cumulation, any 
more than an addition of zeros could give us a positive num- 
ber. We have one more primordial fact, not only not ac- 
counted for by his theory, but utterly inconsistent with it. 

We must examine his account of matter a little more 
narrowly. It is a possibility of sensations. Whence this 
dark background of possibilities which he cannot get rid of, 
which he cannot get behind, to which, indeed, he cannot get 


up? To account for the phenomena, he says, they come in 
groups, and by rigid laws of causation. Whence these co- 
existing groups and un variable successions ? Do they come 
in obedience to mental laws, say, to the laws of association ? 
These laws are represented by him as being contiguity and 
resemblance. Do these create the groups and successions? 
I scarcely think that Mr. Mill will assert that they do. I 
remember when travelling in the midst of a group of sensa- 
tions called the Alps, thinking only of my wretchedly wet 
condition, I was suddenly startled by a group and succession 
of sensations such as I had never experienced before, and 
which I referred to an avalanche falling a mile off. Whence 
this effect? It was not produced by any volition of mine. 
Surely, Mr. Mill will not argue that it was produced by con- 
tiguity or resemblance, or any of the known laws of associa- 
tion. Whence, then? If he says something within me, 
then I say we have here a set of laws of a very curious and 
complex character, unnoticed by the theorist. But it can be 
shown that the facts cannot be explained by laws within me. 
The law of cause and effect is, that the same co-existing 
agencies are followed by the same consequences. But I 
might be under the same group of sensations as I was when 
the avalanche fell, without the sounds which I heard follow- 
ing. Does not this require us to posit something out of the 
series of sensations to account for the phenomena in the 
series ; and this something obeying laws independent alto- 
gether of our sensations and associations. If we once posit 
such an external, extra serial agency, we cannot withdraw it 
when it becomes inconvenient ; we must go on with it, we 
must inquire into all that is involved in it by the laws of in- 
duction. This was the argument that convinced Brown, 
who, however, called in to guarantee it an intuitive convic- 
tion of cause and effect, that there must be an external world. 
Whether the argument is convincing, on the supposition that 
the belief in causation is not intuitive, I will not take it upon 
myself to say. I am not sure that the infant mind could 
arrive, in the midst of such complications, at a knowledge of 


the law of cause and effect. Finding many sensations not 
following from any law in the mind, it could not, I believe, 
reach a law of invariable succession. But then, it is said, it 
would refer them to something out of the mind. But with 
an experience only of something in the mind, how could it 
argue any thing out of the mind, of which outness it has as 
vet no idea in the sensations or order of sensations ? Would 
it not, in fact, be shut up in the shell of the Ego, and find in 
that Ego most of its sensations without a cause ? Or rather, 
would not an infant mind, endowed with only the powers 
allowed by Mr. Mill, speedily become extinguished? But if 
it could live, and discover the law of cause and effect, as Mr. 
Mill thinks, that law seems to require us to believe in an 
external something, obeying laws of co-existence and succes- 
sion independent of the series of sensations, and we should 
have to take this with all its logical consequences. This 
gives us Matter not as a possibility of sensations, but an ex- 
ternal something obeying laws of co-existence and succession, 
and the cause of sensations in us. 

The theory would, after all, be utterly inadequate, for it 
would not account for the most prominent thing in our con- 
ception of matter ; namely, that it is extended, which we could 
never argue, or apprehend, or even imagine, if we knew it 
merely as the cause of unextended sensations. I therefore 
reject it entirely. But the consequences I have sketched in 
last paragraph follow, if we adopt the theory. Under this 
view, I was entitled to point out an oversight in Mr. Mill's 
account of the properties of matter, which he represents as 
being resistance, extension, and figure ; thus omitting, I said, 
those powers mentioned by Locke, by which one body oper- 
ates upon another. " Thus the sun has a power to make wax 
white, and fire to make lead fluid." When I said so, I had 
entered a good way, notwithstanding his insinuation to the 
contrary, into the cloud of Mr. Mill's mode of thought, 
farther, perhaps, than I was welcome. He now, in replying 
to me (p. 248), is obliged to talk of one group of possibili- 
ties of sensations, "destroying or modifying another such 


group ; " and this certainly not by laws of sensation or asso- 
ciation, but by laws acting independently of any discoverable 
cause in the series which constitutes mind. We have now 
got, by logical consequence, from Mr. Mill's theory, a con- 
siderably complicated view of Matter, as a group of causes 
obeying laws of co-existence and unconditional succession, 
and one group influencing another, or destroying it, and all 
independent of any volitions of mine, or laws in my mind. 
The idea is, after all, inadequate, as it does not include exten- 
sion ; but it is certainly utterly inconsistent with his theory, 
that the notion and belief of Matter " may have come unto us 
by the laws of our constitution, without being a revelation of 
any objective reality." 

This is confirmed by the language he uses in answering 
Mr. O. Hanlon. He admits "that there is a sphere beyond 
my consciousness ; " and w the laws which obtain in my con- 
sciousness also obtain in the sphere beyond it." This, of 
course, refers to our conviction as to there being other minds 
as well as our own (p. 253). I am not sure that his argu- 
ment for the existence of such minds is conclusive. 

" I am aware, by experience, of a group of Permanent Possi- 
bilities of Sensation, which I call my body, and which my expe- 
rience shows to be an universal condition of every part of my thread 
of consciousness. I am also aware of a great number of other 
groups, resembling the one that I call my body, but which have no 
connection, such as that has, with the remainder of my thread of 
consciousness. This disposes me to draw an inductive inference, 
that those other groups are connected with other threads of con- 
sciousness, as mine is with my own. If the evidence stopped here, 
the inference would be but an hypothesis, reaching only to the 
inferior degree of inductive evidence called Analogy. The evidence, 
however, does not stop here ; for, having made the supposition that 
real feelings, though not experienced by myself, lie behind these 
phenomena of my own consciousness, which, from the resemblance 
to my body, I call other human bodies. I find that my subsequent 
consciousness presents those very sensations, of speech heard, of 
movements and other outward demeanor seen, and so forth, which, 
being the effects or consequents of actual feelings in my own case, 



I should expect to follow upon those other hypothetical feelings, if 
they really exist : and thus the hypothesis is verified. It is thus 
proved inductively, that there is a sphere beyond my consciousness : 
i.e., that there are other consciousnesses beyond it ; for there exists 
no parallel evidence in regard to matter." 

Now, I am not sure that an infant mind, with only the 
furniture allowed by Mr. Mill, and without a knowledge 
direct or by legitimate inference of body, and apart from an 
intuitive law of cause and effect, could conduct such a pro- 
cess. The actual attainments of every mature mind show, 
by a legitimate inference, that there must be more capacities 
and inlets of ideas than Mr. Mill supposes. But, passing 
this, let us examine the legitimacy of the process. There is 
first the difficulty, already urged, of getting out of the sensa- 
tions which have no outness, to the conception of an " outer 
sphere." Then, is it not conceivable that the notion and 
belief in regard to other people's mind may have come to us 
by the laws of our constitution, without implying any objec- 
tive reality ? And if so, are we not, by the law of parcimony, 
shut up to a solitary egoism as the more philosophical theory ? 
that is, I may look on myself as a series of sensations aware 
of itself, with possibilities of sensation in groups and succes- 
sions, among which I place what would be called, in the lan- 
guage I employ, my fellow-creatures. No doubt, another 
hypothesis may be made, and seems to have its verifications ; 
but the simple hypothesis, which explains all by the laws of 
my constitution, is to be preferred, if it explains the phe- 
nomena of other people's minds, as I believe it to do quite as 
satisfactorily as it does our notion ot and belief in Matter. 
If we draw back from this, and stand upon the hypothesis 
and verification, then I urge that a like process requires me 
to postulate, that these groups of possibilities in my body 
and beyond it have an objective reality independent of me, 
and obeying laws of their own, and not laws of my constitu- 
tion. Of the conceivable conclusions reached, Mr. Mill's 
seem to me the most hesitating and incongruous. He must, 
I suspect, either logically remain for ever within the sphere 


of the Fgo, with possibilities he knows not what ; or, if he 
once go beyond it, he must include not only other minds, 
but material objects following laws independent of our sub- 
jective constitution or perceptions. 

ARTICLE IV. Experimental Physiological Cases, (pp. 152-180.) 

We have now to look at the attempts which Mr. Mill has 
made to turn aside the force of the reported experimental 
cases which I had urged against him. To prove that the eye 
is immediately cognizant, not merely of color, but of surface, 
I had adduced the case reported by Dr. Franz, of Leipsic, 
which Mr. Mill seems never to have heard of before, though 
it was given in the Transactions of the Royal Society for 
1841. A youth born blind had his sight restored at the age 
of seventeen ; and when a sheet of paper, on which two strong 
black lines had been drawn, the one horizontal and the other 
vertical, was placed before him at the distance of about three 
feet, on opening his eye, "after attentive examination, he 
called the lines by their right denominations." What? asks 
Mr. Mill. It is clear he called them horizontal and vertical, 
having got the terms by his mathematical education, and 
knowing what were the things by the sense of touch. Mr. 
Mill allows (pp. 287-290) that this case, if fairly reported, 
would require a considerable modification of his doctrine, and 
that it looks like an experimental proof, that something which 
admits of being called extension " may be perceived by sight 
at the very first use of the eyes." But he tries to throw 
doubts on the accuracy of the report, evidently because it runs 
counter to his theory. It is a suspicious circumstance, he says, 
that the youth knew a cube and a sphere placed before him 
not to be drawings, of which he could have no idea, as if 
he could not have had some idea of what persons seeing meant 
by drawings, through the. descriptions which they had given. 
And if there be any truth in the case at all, it is clear that 
the youth perceived at once vertical and horizontal lines, 
squares, circles, triangles, and the difference between the 


cube and the sphere. Mr. Nunneley's case proves the same 
thing : the boy could at once perceive " the differences in the 
shape of objects," though he could not tell, as to the cube and 
the sphere, which was which. It appears that, in this case, it 
was some time before the boy could identify his perceptions 
of touch with those of sight. This is in accordance with what 
I have stated. The youth in Dr. Franz's case could do it 
more rapidly than the boy in Nunneley's case, because the 
former had a mathematical training ; but even he required 
examination and consideration, so that the two cases exactly 
correspond. There is nothing odd in the circumstance that 
Franz's youth could not form, from what he saw, "the idea 
of a square and disc, until he perceived a sensation of what he 
saw in the points of his fingers, as if he really touched the 
object ; " for it was thus he identified the perceptions which 
he was now receiving with those which he formerly had. Mr. 
Mill will only admit after all, that, though the youth is re- 
ported as seeing lines, circles, triangles, yet this "does not 
prove that we perceive extension by sight, but only that we 
have discriminative sensations of sight corresponding to all 
the diversities of superficial extension ; " as if Hamilton 
had not demonstrated that discriminate sensations of color 
imply the perception of bounding lines, and therefore of 
figure. I do not know if the history of speculative philosophy 
affords a more startling case of the determination of a theorist 
not to found his theory on facts, but to twist the facts to suit 
his theory, which he is determined to adhere to at all hazards. 
This may be the proper place for referring to the now 
famous case of Platner, which both Hamilton and Mill have 
been using, but which in fact helps neither, and perplexes 
both. Platner, without giving a detail of the facts, comes to 
the conclusion that " touch is altogether incompetent to afford 
us the representation of extension and space, and is not even 
cognizant of local exteriority," and that a person born blind 
could have no idea of extension. These observations do not 
agree with those of any other person I am acquainted with. 
Mr. Mill was obliged to say, that Platner " had put a false 


color on the matter, when he says his patient had no percep- 
tion of extension-." He now tells us that he does not agree 
with Platner, that ff the notions of figure and distance come 
originally from sight" (p. 280). But if Platner's case does 
not prove this, it proves nothing. I believe it does prove 
nothing. It is quite inconsistent with the simple experiments, 
which, with the aid of Mr. Kinghan, I wrought on young 
children born blind. I have an idea that Platner was led 
astray by not distinguishing between the idea of extension, 
which is original both to sight and touch, with the power of 
measuring it, which is acquired. Mr. Mill admits all that I 
claim, and all that Platner denies, "that a person born blind 
can acquire, by a mere gradual process, all that is in our 
notion of space, except the visible picture," that is, the color 
in the picture. 

To show that we intuitively know our bodily frame as 
extended, by the sense of touch, I had quoted at length from 
the cases adduced by Miiller. According to that illustrious 
physiologist, we localize our affections received by the senses ; 
and the law of our nature is, that, in touch or feeling, we 
place the sensation at the spot where the nerve normally ter- 
minates. It is thus, I believe, that we acquire a knowledge 
of our frame as having one part out of another, and as ex- 
tended. All this I hold to be original and intuitive, so 
strongly so, that persons who have their limbs cut off, have, 
ten or twenty years after, a sense of the integrity of the limb. 
Mr. Mill says he can explain this by association of ideas. I 
deny that he can ; for surely such a length of time was suffi- 
cient to destroy the old association, which had nothing to 
keep it alive, and to create a new one. He tells me, that, 
according to my theory, the pain should have been felt in the 
stump. I believe, on the contrary, that, after so long an 
experience without a limb, this should have been the case, 
according to Mr. Mill's theory. My theory no, not my 
theory, but Mailer's is, that there is an original law which 
leads us to localize the affection at the spot where the nerve 
in its healthy and proper action terminates. When, in the 


restoration of a nose, a flap of skin is turned down from the 
forehead, and made to unite with the stump of the nose, the 
new nose thus formed has, as long as the isthmus of skin by 
which it maintains its connections remains undivided, the same 
sensations as if it were still in the forehead. This, Mr. Mill 
says, should not be, according to my theory ; and there is a 
good deal of self-complacent chuckling over me, as if my 
facts overthrew my theory. This implies a misunderstanding 
of the facts. According to the law, as I have expounded it, 
as Ion 2: as the nerve is imbedded in the isthmus of skin taken 


from the forehead, it should be felt in the forehead. Mr. Mill 
takes care not to quote the further fact, that is, " when the 
communication of the nervous fibres of the new nose with 
those of the forehead is cut off by the division of the isthmus 
of skin, the sensations are of course no longer referred to the 
forehead ; the sensibility of the nose is at first absent, but is 
gradually developed." According to the association theory, 
the affection should have been felt in the forehead, not till 
the isthmus was cut, but till the old association was gone ; and 
this, according to Mr. Mill, might not have been for twenty 
years. Be it observed, that, when the flesh is cut off from the 
forehead, and the nerve comes to have its normal position in 
the nose, the sensation is felt there. My theory is thus sim- 
ply the expression of the facts. But whatever doubt there 
may be about these phenomena, there can be none about 
other facts which I have adduced. Whatever dispute there 
may be as to cases in which there has been an association 
formed between a limb once existing but now lost, there can 
be none as to persons who never had the limb, and in whose 
case the association could not have been formed, but who are 
reported as having a sense of it. Professor Valentin men 
tions cases which I have quoted, which show, "that individu- 
als who are the subjects of congenital imperfection, or the 
absence of the extremities, have, nevertheless, the internal 
sensations of such limbs in their perfect state." It is curious 
that Mr. Mill has taken no notice of these decisive cases 
which I have adduced as setting the whole question at rest. 


Mr. Mill dilates on two cases, to which I have referred with- 
out attaching much importance to them. The shrinking of 
the frame when boiling liquid is poured down the throat, 
seems to show that we localize the pain at a spot of which 
we cannot know the site by touch or experience. Mr. Mill 
thinks the action purely automatic (p. 303). Now I am 
disposed to think that there may be an action of the will di- 
rected to the seat of sensation. I believe that at a very early 
age, and long before they have any acquired perceptions of 
locality, they will indicate vaguely the seat of the pain. My 
instance may not be the best, it is rather negative : " if a child 
is wounded in the arm, it will not hold out the foot." This 
should not be construed as meaning that the infant will sys- 
tematically hold out its foot ; for this would suppose that it 
has much more knowledge than it can yet have of mother or 
doctor watching it. But at an early age, there are apparently 
voluntary movements which enable the mother and doctor 
to discover the seat of the pain. I agree with Mr. Mill, 
"there are some difficulties, not yet completely resolved, re- 
specting the localization of our internal pains, for the solution 
of which we need more careful and intelligent observation of 
infants." The question is set at rest, not by such a case, 
which I am prepared to abandon, if disproven, without 
the least injury to my argument, but by the fact reported 
by Professor Valentin, which Mr. Mill has declined to 

* In a foot-note I had uttered a sentence in regard to a case quoted by Mill from 
Hamilton, who gets it from Maine de Biran, who takes it from a report of Key Regis 
in regard to a patient, who, though he retained a sense of pain, had lost the power 
of localizing the feeling. I pronounced the case " valueless, as evidently the functions 
of the nervous apparatus were deranged." Mr. Mill allows that this single case is 
not conclusive (p. 295); and with this I would have been satisfied, had he not gone 
on to argue from it that " localization does not depend on the same conditions with 
the sensations themselves." Be it so; in the normal state, the nerves localize the 
feeling. " The patient, as he gradually recovered the use of his limbs, gradually also 
recovered the power of localizing his sensations." I do not attach much importance 
to the following reports of the experience of insane persons ; but they are worthy 
of being mentioned, as showing how intimately our abiding perception of our 
bodily frame is bound up with the skin sense and its localizing tendency. " A woman," 
whose case Esquirol tells, "had complete anaesthesia of the surface of the skin: she 
believed that the devil had carried off her body. A soldier who was severely 


Mr. Mill thinks that the eye originally gives us only color 
and not extension. He does not allow though the cases 
now adduced seem to prove it that we have original per- 
ceptions of our bodily frame as affected. How, then, ac- 
cording to him, do we get the idea of extension? Following 
Dr. Brown, he thinks that we get it by the sweep of the 
arm in space ; and he quotes, with approbation, Professor 
Bain's method of working out this hypothesis. In my Exam- 
ination of Mill, I endeavored to meet this by psychological 
considerations, and showed that a sweep of the arm or leg, 
considered merely as a group of sensations without exten- 
sion, Could not give us the idea of extension. I was not 
aware then that a German metaphysician, in examining the 
theory of Brown, had entirely disproved it by an experi- 
mental case. According to this theory, a person born without 
arms or legs could have no idea of space ; but Schopen- 
hauer has brought forward the case of Eva Lauk, an 
Esthonian girl fourteen years old, born without arms or legs, 
but who, according to her mother, had developed herself 
intellectually quite as rapidly as her brothers and sisters, and 
without the use of limbs had reached a correct judgment con- 
cerning the magnitude and distance of visible objects quite 
as quickly as they.* Such a fact as this undermines the 
theory of the mode in which we gain our idea of extension, 
and with it the whole philosophic superstructure which Mill 
and Bain have been rearing with such labored and ill-spent 
ingenuity. The cases adduced by Miiller, and that reported 
by Franz, show how it is we get our idea of extension ; 
we get it by the immediate perception of our bodily frame in 

wounded at the battle of Austerlitz considered himself dead from that time ; if he 
were asked how he was, he invariably replied, that 'Lambert no longer lives; a 
cannon-ball carried him away at Austerlitz. What you see here is not Lambert, 
but a badly imitated machine,' which he failed not to speak of as it. The 
sensibility of his skin was lost." MAUDSLEY: Physiology and Pathology of the 
Mind, p. 242. 

* My attention was called to this case by Mr. Bleeck, in his Mr. J. 8. Mifft 
Psychological Theory. It is quoted by Schopenhauer in his Die Welt ah Wille, vol 
ii. c. 4, and is taken from Frorieps Neue Notizen aus dem Gebiete de,r Natur July 


feeling, and, by means of the eye perceiving the colored and 
extended surface before it. There is an impression among 
many that somehow Mr. Mill and Mr. Bain have phvsiology 
on their side. I confidently affirm that their peculiar philoso- 
phy is not supported by a single reported case, and that most 
of the reported cases are entirely against them. 

ARTICLE V. Can Association generate New Ideas? (pp. 190-207, 


I now turn to the discussion of a point of perhaps greater 
importance than any other started by Mr. Mill's philosophy. 
It relates to the power of association to generate new ideas, 
and to produce belief, in fact, to take the place of judg- 
ment or the comparison of things. It is, perhaps, the most 
fatal of all the errors in Mr. Mill's speculations. It was on 
this account I dwelt so much on it, more than any other 
of Mr. Mill's critics. 

The two principal elements out of which Mr. Mill gen- 
erates all our ideas, are sensation and association. I have 
found fault with him for never telling us what is involved in 
sensation. We have seen in this paper that he is not sure 
whether time may not be involved in it, a view which 
would entirely change its nature. He never sees what is 
really involved in sensation, which is never felt except a sen- 
sation of self. But I have a still greater complaint against 
him for never telling us precisely what association can do, 
an I what it cannot do. He everywhere ascribes to it, in lan- 
guage derived from material action, a chemical power : two 
ideas coming together may generate a third, different from 
either of the original ones. This is making association a source 
of new ideas. In other words, he gives to mere association 
a power which the a priori philosophers have given to the 
intellect ; and surely with much more justice, for even on the 
supposition that association is the occasion of the new idea, 
the new idea must proceed from some mental capacity joined 
with association. Mr. Mill does not render anv account of 


the law, and the limit of this power, supposed to be in asso- 
ciation. It is a chemical power, but then the chemist can tell 
us what is the nature and the law of the chemical power ; 
he says, Put one proportion of oxygen and another proportion 
of hydrogen in a certain relation, and water is the product. 
But Mr. Mill never ventures to express any such definite law ; 
he leaves every thing vague and loose. He finds certain pecul- 
iar ideas in the mind, such as those we have in regard to beauty 
and moral good ; and he satisfies himself with saying that they 
are generated by sensations and ideas, which have in them- 
selves no such qualities. I see no reason which he has for 
claiming for his system of generalizing ideas out of sensation 
by associations, such a superiority over Condillac's "trans- 
formed sensations." 

I have denied that association is ever a source of new ideas. 
I have admitted that as the issue of " long and repeated con- 
junction, ideas, each it may be with its own peculiar feeling, 
succeed each other with incalculable, rapidity, so that we can- 
not distinguish between them, and that they may coalesce in 
a result." " But in the agglomeration there seems to be 
nothing but the ideas, the feelings, and their appropriate im- 
pressions coalescing ; there is no new generation no gen- 
eration of an idea, nor in the separate parts of the collection." 
At this point Mr. Mill meets me (pp. 3423). He is obliged 
to concede that " facts in the case of ideas cannot be appealed 
to, for they are the very matter disputed." It clears the 
ground very much to have this admission. It is implied that 
there are new ideas generated by the action of the mind ; and 
Mr. Mill ascribes to association what our profounder philoso- 
phers have ascribed to the intellect, making their case more 
parallel to that of the chemists, who give to their elements a 
chemical power quite different from the mechanical. Not 
able to get proof from ideas, he says, "There are abundant 
instances in sensation." 

"I had thought," he says, "that such an experiment as 
that of the wheel with seven colors, in which seven sensa- 
tions following one another very rapidly, become, or at least 

nl^ w 



generate one sensation, and that one totally diffe 
any of the seven sufficiently proved the possibility of what 
Dr. M'Cosh denies ; but he writes as if he had never heard 
of the experiment ; " and he refers to the ribbon of light pro- 
duced by waving rapidly a luminous body. Now, it so hap- 
pens that I had produced the ring when a boy, by a lighted 
piece of paper ; in my college days, I had seen the experi- 
ment of the seven colors ; and in my mature life, I have 
seen a wheel in rapid motion appearing stationary when 
made visible by instantaneous electric light. But I looked 
on these as experiments, not in regard to mental states, but 
simply about light, and the way in which it affects our bodily 
organs. The wheel under electric light looks stationary, not 
as the result of successive sensations of motion, for we have 
not been percipient of the motion, but because we see it only 
for the instant. In the ribbon of flaming color, the impres- 
sion produced by each of the rays lingers for a certain short 
time, till the impression produced by those that rapidly fol- 
low mixes with it, and the figure on the retina becomes a 
continuous circle. In the same way with the seven colors, 
the organic affections mingle and become one, and are trans- 
mitted as one to the mind, which ceases to have a sensation 
of the seven colors, and has the sensation of one. This is 
not a case of seven separate mental sensations generating a 
new one. As long as the wheel with the seven colors ro- 
tates slowly, so that there is time for the one set of rays to 
disappear from the retina before the other overtakes them, 
there are seven sensations, but no eighth generated by the 
seven. If the wheel is seen by instantaneous light, seven 
colors are seen, but no eighth. Mr. Mill has stated the 
facts precisely in an analogous case furnished by the sense 
of hearing (p. 618) : " When a number of sounds in per- 
fect harmony strike the ear simultaneously, we have but a 
single impression, we perceive but one mass of sound." 
Mr. Mill was bound to produce a case of two or more sep- 
arate mental affections producing a new one never before ex- 
perienced ; and he has produced simply a case of the blending 


of rays of light in retinal or nervous action. Again facts 
fail him, and he is left with a baseless hypothesis. 

ARTICLE VI. Impossibility of reaching Positive Truth. 
(pp. 224-230.) 

This brings us to the consideration of the now notorious 
examples which he adduces of the most certain principles of 
arithmetic and geometry being believable in other circum- 
stances : that is, in the possibility of our believing that 2 + 2 
may be 5 ; that parallel lines may meet ; that any two right 
lines being produced will meet at two points ; and that two 
or more bodies may exist in the same place. These cases are 
taken from Essays by a Barrister, who did not profess to be 
a metaphysician, who did not know what to make of them, 
except that he thought they were fitted to lessen our assurance 
of the certainty of objective truth. Mr. Mill now makes the 
following singular addition to his statement of the two first of 
these cases : " Hardly any part of the present volume has been 
so maltreated by so great a number of critics, as the illustra- 
tions here quoted from an able and highly instructed contem- 
porary thinker ; which, as they were neither designed by their 
author, nor cited by me, as any thing more than illustrations, 
I do not deem it necessary to take up space by defending. 
When a selection must be made, one is obliged to consider 
what one can best spare" (p. 87). This is surely far from 
satisfactory. Does, or does he not, give up the cases? If 
he does, he should have said so in all honesty, and nobody 
would have thought the less of him. But he seems still in- 
clined to retain them as illustrations, but does not think it 
necessary to defend them. I do hold, that Mr. Mill's prin- 
ciples do lead to these consequences, which have staggered so 
many, and made them review the principles which lead to 
such results, implying that man can reach no truth which 
might not be falsehood in other circumstances. But as Mr. 
Mill does not care to defend them, I do not feel that I am 
called to continue my assault. 


w The geometry of visibles has been noticed only by Dr. 
M'Cosh, who rejects it as founded on the erroneous doctrine 
(as he considers it), that we cannot perceive by sight the 
third dimension of space." This is not a full statement of 
the ground of my rejection. My language is, " These infer- 
ences can be deduced only by denying to vision functions 
which belong to it, and ascribing to it others which are not 
intuitive or original." I hold it to be one of the functions of 
sight to give us a right line and a curved line. Such cases 
as those of Franz clearly show, that by sight alone we can 
perceive two straight lines ; and, having once seen them, we 
never could be made to believe that they could meet at two 
points and enclose a space ; or that a straight line being con- 
tinued could return itself again. Those who see colors must 
perceive the boundaries of colors, and these being often curved, 
would give us the idea of a curved line ; and I am sure they 
would be obliged to look on a straight line returning into 
itself as a curve, and not a right line. So much for his deny- 
ing to vision functions which belong to it, which was my main 
argument. But again, he ascribes to it functions which are 
not intuitive or original : for I hold that it is not the function 
of vision, but of touch, to reveal to us impenetrability; and 
a creature with sight, but not touch (even if it could live or 
reason at all) , could argue nothing as to bodies either pene- 
trating, or not penetrating, each other, or passing through 
each other, " without having undergone any change by this 

In looking at these acknowledged consequences, I had ven- 
tured to point out the dangerous tendency of a doctrine which 
strips man of the power of reaching positive truth, and of 
pronouncing judgment on the reality of things. Because 1 
have done so, he represents me as "preaching; " but preach- 
ing to one who is "already converted," "an actual missionary 
of the same doctrine." I am here tempted to remark, that 
Mr. Mill himself "preaches" at times, as in those passages in 
which he charges Dr. Mansel's doctrines as being "simply 
the most morally pernicious doctrine now current," and hurls 


at him that tremendous passage, " I will call no being good 
who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fel- 
low-creatures ; and if such a being can sentence me to hell, 
for not so calling him, to hell I will go." My preaching on 
this occasion has evidently had some effect ; it has hit a point 
in which Mr. Mill seems to be sensitively tender. I am con- 
vinced that he has never seriously weighed the logical and 
practical tendency of his doctrine of nescience ; it looks as if 
there are times when he is unwilling to look at the conse- 
quences. He tells us that, in his Logic, he has been instruct- 
ing his readers to form their belief exclusively on evidence. 
But did he never hear a preacher waxing longest and loudest 
on the points of his doctrine which he felt to be the weakest 
'and most vulnerable? In regard to ordinary mundane mat- 
ters, Mr. Mill is very careful to bid us look for evidence ; but 
the evidence, in the last resort, is found to be baseless, thus 
rendering the whole superstructure insecure in the estimation 
of all who are bent on looking beneath the surface. He cor- 
rects Mr. Grote when he seems to say, that truth is to every 
man what seems truth to him ; but his own doctrine is equally 
unsatisfactory when we follow it to its foundation. "We 
grant," he says, "that, according to the philosophy which we 
hold in common with Mr. Grote, the fact itself, if knowable 
to us, is relative to our perceptions, to our senses, or our 
internal consciousness ; and our opinion about the fact is so 
too : but the truth of the opinion is a question of relation 
between these two relatives, one of which is an objective stan- 
dard for the other" (Dissert., vol. ii. art. Grote's Plato). 
That is, we are to have witnesses ; but our conviction, nay, 
truth itself, leans on the deposition of witnesses, each of which 
supports the other, but each of which may be a liar. The 
earnest and logical mind is made to feel that in all matters 
bearing on the depths of philosophy, and the heights of reli- 
gion, and fitted to bear it up above this cold earth, it has 
nothing left on which to lean. 


ARTICLE VII. Ambiguity of the word Conceive, (pp. 251-258.) 

In my Examination I had been at great pains to point out 
the ambiguity in the word " conceive," and the paronymoua 
words "conception," "conceivable," and "inconceivable." It 
is of essential importance, if we would avoid senseless logo- 
machy, to determine the meaning in which we employ the 
phrase when we use man's power of conception as a test of 
necessary truth, or his incapacity of conception as a test 
of error. I distinguished three senses of the word : (1) image 
in the phantasy, as when we picture Mont Blanc; (2) the 
generalized notion, as "mountain;" (3) native cognition, 
belief, or judgment, in regard to objects ; and I showed that 
it is only when used in the third sense that it can be legiti- 
mately employed as a test of truth. I showed that it was not 
in this sense that Antipodes were supposed by our fathers to 
be inconceivable, but because they seemed to be contrary 
to experience, a prepossession which gave way before far- 
ther experience. I am not aware that any one ever objected 
to Antipodes on the ground of a native cognition, belief, or 
judgment. I charged Mr. Mill with taking advantage, of 
course unconsciously, of the ambiguity of the phrase. Any 
apparent success which he may have had, in explaining neces- 
sity of conception by association, arises solely from his show- 
ing how one image suggests another, how, for instance, 
darkness suggests ghosts, or a precipice the danger of falling. 
I was quite aware that Mr. Mill, in answering Hamilton, had 
shown that the phrase had several meanings ; but then, I 
asserted, that he himself was led astray, and was leading 
astray his readers, by the ambiguity. As my work was 
passing through the press, I observed that, in the sixth 
edition of his Logic (I. pp. 303-306), lately published, he 
had charged Mr. Spencer as deriving w no little advantage " 
from the ambiguity, and alleges that the popular use of the 
word " sometimes creeps in with its associations, and prevent 
him from maintaining a clear separation between the two." 
I simply noticed this in afoot-note, and added, that Mr. Mill 


"continues to take advantage of the ambiguity, which is 
greater than he yet sees." Mr. Mill thinks this "curious" 
(p. 88). The note was hastily written, and I admit my 
meaning was not so clear as I have now endeavored to make 

ARTICLE VIII. Mr. Mill's Logical Views, (pp. 286-371.) 

The only subject remaining to be discussed is his defence 
of his own logical views, and his criticism of mine. He is 
pleased to say (p. 388), that "the chapter of Dr. M'Cosh, 
headed the * Logical Notion,' contains much sound philoso- 
phy." But he complains of " the persistent impression which 
the author keeps up, that I do disagree with him." Now, I 
believe that our views do disagree, and I was anxious to point 
out the mistakes in a work which is of such value and influ- 
ence as Mr. Mill's Logic. Mr. Mill is a nominalist, and 
looks at the name, its denotation, and connotation, instead of 
the mental exercise ; whereas, I am a conceptualist (though, 
certainly, not in the sense in which many are), and have 
labored to bring out the process of mind involved in the 
notion, judgment, and reasoning. 

We differ in regard to the General Notion, or Common 
Term. I hold,, that every such notion or term has both exten- 
sion and comprehension, or intension, that is, both objects 
and attributes, whereas, he looks solely at the comprehen- 
sion, or the attributes. I had said, that I think it desirable 
to have a phrase to denote the class of things comprised in 
the general notion, and that the best word I can think of is 
Concept. In opposition to this, he says the word "class" 
is sufficient. But the word class is rather significant of an 
objective arrangement, existing independent of my notice of 
it, say, of the class Rosaceae, which had an existence in 
nature before naturalists had observed it, or given a name to 
it. He admits, that, in order to belief, " a previous mental 
conception of the facts is an indispensable condition," and 
w that the real object of belief is the fact conceived." Now, 


the word Concept stands with me, not for the class, but for 
the class conceived, and is the best I can think of. He has a 
glimpse of' the truth when he speaks of extension (p. 421) 
" as a name for the aggregate of objects possessing the attri- 
butes included in the concept." He tells us (p. 372), "that 
concepts cannot be thought as being universal, but only as 
being part of the thought of an individual." Here, again, 
conceive, or " think," used in the sense of image ; whereas, 
it should be employed in the sense of judge. A concept is 
a notion of an indefinite number of objects (extension) pos- 
sessing common properties (comprehension) , the notion being 
such as to include all objects possessing the common proper- 
ties. It is thus emphatically universal. 

We differ, also, in regard to Abstract Notions. "It is 
evident that the existence of abstract ideas the conception 
of the class qualities by themselves, and not as embodied in 
an individual is effectually precluded by the law of insepa- 
rable association." I acknowledge, that, in the sense of 
" imaging," we cannot have a conception of an attribute apart 
from a concrete object. But, in the sense of "think of," we 
can apprehend a part as a part, an attribute as an attribute ; 
and this is what I mean by abstraction. I think it of great 
moment to distinguish between the abstract and general 
notions, which the Kantian logicians, German and British, 
departing from certain older logicians, everywhere con- 
found. "Rationality" is an abstract term, denoting an attri- 
bute, and is different from "man," which is a general notion 
connecting objects. By drawing this distinction, and carry- 
ing it out consequentially, we throw light on logical judg- 
ment, and settle some of the questions discussed in the present 
day. There are, I hold, judgments in which we compare 
mere abstracts, and in which there is no general notion in- 
volved. Such judgments are always convertible or substitu- 
tive (called equipollent by certain older logicians), that is, 
we can turn the subject into the predicate, and the predicate 
into the subject, without any change, which we cannot do 
in comparing universal notions. Because " men are mortals," 


we cannot say, therefore, "mortals are men ; " but if "honesty 
is the best policy," we can say, " the best policy is honesty/ 1 
because both terms are abstract. 

I have represented Numbers as Abstract Notions, and the 
judgments involving them as being convertible in conse- 
quence. Thus 3X3 being 9, we can say, 9 is 3 X 3. But 
Mr. Mill says that the terms are general. "The objects em- 
braced in 9 are nine apples, nine marbles, nine hours, nine 
miles , and all the other aggregations of which 9 can be predi- 
cated. Every numeral is the name of a class, and a most 
comprehensive class, consisting of things of all imaginable 
qualities." Now, it was a disadvantage under which I la- 
bored in criticising Mr. Mill's " Formal Logic," that I was 
not able to expound my own views with sufficient fulness. 
But I have all along explained to my college classes that the 
same phrase may stand for an abstract and a general notion. 
I hold, that numerals, 1, 2, 3, are primarily abstract qualities 
of things, a quality of that one thing, of these two things, 
or three things. It is because they are so that the propo- 
sitions comparing them are convertible. But, then, we very 
often turn abstract names into general ones (as we also do 
general ones into abstract ones), and we do speak of 1, 2, 3 
as standing for a class. We so employ them when we say, 
"3X3 make 9," which we can only convert by saying, 
" some things making 9 are 3 X 3," for 6 -\- 3 also make 9. 
There is surely a profound distinction here, with far-reaching 
consequences ; but this is not the place for the further devel- 
opment of it. 

As not seeing that Extension, as well as Comprehension, 
is involved in all our general notions, and so in all our judg- 
ments involving general notions, Mr. Mill has not been able 
to give a clear account of the Proposition. He says (p. 420) , 
"all men," and the "class men," are "expressions which 
point to nothing but attributes ; they cannot be interpreted 
except in comprehension." Now, I have admitted that in the 
greater number of propositions the uppermost thought and 
sense are in comprehension, and I am represented as "having 


partially just conceptions on the subject." But I hold that, 
in all judgments of the kind he is speaking of, there is thought 
in extension, and that they can be interpreted in extension, 
and have a meaning in extension. When I say, "Gorillas 
are not men," I mean, are not included in the class men ; 
and in many other propositions the uppermost thought is in 
extension. Of course, as the one implies the other, the prop- 
osition has also a meaning in comprehension. 

This is the proper place for correcting a misapprehension 
of Mr. Mill's, as to what constitutes the principle of identity, 
which, he thinks, should be expressed thus (p. 466) : "What- 
ever is true in one form of words, is true in every other form 
of words which convey the same meaning." He applies this 
to what " Kant terms Conclusions of the Understanding, and 
Dr. M'Cosh, Implied or Transposed Judgments." "They 
are not conclusions, nor fresh acts of judgment, but the 
original expressed in other words." But this is not an ade- 
quate account. The law of identity requires that the relation 
of the things compared should be considered the same, not 
merely under different expressions, but in different circum- 
stances, positions, and forms. It being given us that "all 
men have a conscience," we are sure it cannot be true that 
"no man has a conscience," or that "some men have not a 
conscience." These are not the same propositions expressed 
in other words ; they would be felt to be true and implied., 
though not expressed in words at all. 

There is one other logical point in which Mr. Mill and I 
differ theoretically. I hold that in reasoning there is always 
thought in Extension ; always a general principle involved, 
constituting the major premises when the argument is fully 
unfolded. In his own Formula, there is a major premise : 
" Attribute A is a mark of attribute B," which means, when 
properly interpreted, " Whatever object possesses attribute A 
has also attribute B," clearly a proposition involving Exten- 
sion ; nay, actually thought of in Extension. It is only 
when we have such a generalized rnaxim that the particular 
case constituting the minor premise warrants the conclusion. 


w The gorilla cannot speak ; " this cannot give us the conclu- 
sion, "the gorilla is not a man," unless we proceed on the 
general principle that " all beings placed in the class man are 
possessed of speech." So far as our views bear on the prac- 
tical evolution of logical formulae, I believe Mr. Mill and I 
are at one. We both think that the old logical formulae, 
which are in Extension, may be allowed to keep the place 
which they have had for ages ; and we both think that Sir W. 
Hamilton has done good service to logic by showing us how, 
when any good purpose is to be served by it, we may turn 
reasoning in Extension into the form of reasoning in Com- 
prehension. I cannot agree with him, however, when he 
gives as a reason for allowing the reasoning in Extension to 
remain, that " concrete language, requiring for its formation a 
lower degree of abstraction, was earliest formed, took posses- 
sion of the field, and is still the most familiar" (p. 484). I 
am not sure that thought in Extension is more concrete than 
thought in Comprehension. I hold that reasoning is sponta- 
neously in Extension, and that it is thus that the forms 
assumed this shape, took possession of the field, and are still 
most familiar. When we argue that " the Red Indians are 
responsible because they are human beings," we put the major 
in the form, "human beings are responsible," not because 
"responsible" is more concrete than "possessing responsi- 
bility," but because we must have a general law, and put " all 
human beings in the class of beings possessing responsibility." 
The premises as propositions may be thought of primarily in 
Comprehension, the Extension, however, being always in- 
volved ; but in reasoning, the Extension involved must be 
actually thought of in order to give us the major proposition. 
The formula in Extension, in the ordinary syllogistic analysis, 
is thus the expression, not of artificial, but of spontaneous 


ARTICLE IX. Mr. Mill's Omissions. 

I have now faced Mr. Mill at all the points in which he hay 
seen fit to meet me.* But I cannot close the discussion with- 
out referring to the points at which he has not deigned to 
meet me. I had said a good deal about his mode of pro- 
cedure, and criticised his "Psychological Method," showing 
how it should be adopted only with important explanations 
and modifications ; in particular, that we are at liberty to 
proceed on this method only on the condition that we care- 
fully look at all that is in .the idea, and that we explain it all 
by the theory. Again, I had shown that Mr. Mill, while 
seeming to explain all our ideas by sensation and association, 
had been obliged to call in as many assumed metaphysical 
principles as Reid and Hamilton. I had collected his admis- 
sions into heads ; I had shown that they are utterly inconsis- 
tent with his apparently association theory ; and that, if 
logically followed out, they must carry him much farther 
than he is disposed to go. On none of these points does he 
offer a word of explanation. I had criticised his doctrine of | 
causation, showing that what he explains by experience is not j 
our conviction as to cause and effect, but in the uniformity of 
nature. I had reviewed with considerable care his very 
defective account of mathematical axioms and definitions, 
and of demonstration. I had examined his genesis of our 
idea of moral good, and his whole utilitarian theory. I had 
invited him to say whether he thinks a conclusive argument 
for the existence of God could be constructed on his prin- 
ciples. It is curious that, while he has seen fit to meet me 

* I am glad he has called attention (p. 76) to my complaint of the vagueness of 
the distinction between knowledge and faith. He acknowledges that the distinction, 
as drawn by me, agrees with the cases to which I have applied it, and says that 
every definition of belief must include these cases. But, then, he sees a difficulty in 
carrying it through the entire region of thought. I am satisfied, if it holds good 
in the region in which I have employed it, that is, in regard to primitive cognitions in 
which the objects are present, and primitive beliefs, in which we are convinced of 
their existence, though they are not present. But even in other regions, it calls 
attention to the circumstance that in our very scientific knowledge there is belief 
involved, always, however, with other mental exercises, such as judgment. 


on other points, some of them in no way essential to my argu- 
ment, he has not noticed these all-important criticisms. I 
am perhaps not justified in arguing that my positions must 
therefore be unassailable; but it will, at least, be allowed 
that, since no attack has been made upon them by my acute 
opponent, I am not required, for the present, to offer any 
further defence. 



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