1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Metaphysics/4 Noumenal Idealism in Germany
4. — Noumenal Idealism in Germany
Noumenal idealism is the metaphysics of those who suppose that all known things are indeed mental, but not all are phenomenal in the Kantian sense, because a noumenon is knowable so long as by a noumenon we mean some mental being or other which we somehow can discover beyond phenomena. The noumenal idealists of Germany assumed, like all psychological idealists, the unproved hypothesis that there is no sense of body, but there is a sense of sensations; and they usually accepted Kant's point, that to get from such sensations to knowledge there is a synthesis contributing mental elements beyond the mental data of sense. They saw also the logic of Kant's deduction, that all we can know from such mental data and mental categories must also be mental. This was the starting-point of their metaphysical idealism. But they disagreed with Kant, and agreed with Fichte about things in themselves or noumena, and contended that the mental things we know are not mere phenomena of sense, but noumena, precisely because noumena are as mental as phenomena, and therefore can be known from similar data: this was the central point of their noumenal idealism. They rightly revolted against the inconsistencies of Kant's third and fourth positions about the existence of unknown but postulated things in themselves, hidden from theoretical, but revealed to practical, reason. In a way they returned to the wider opinions of Aristotle, which had come down to Descartes and Locke, that reason in going beyond sense knows more things than phenomena; yet they would not hear of external bodies, or of bodies at all. No realists, they came nearer to Spinozistic pantheism and to Leibnitzian monadism, but only on their idealistic side; for they would not allow that extension and body are different from thinking and mind. Their real founder was Fichte, on account of his definite reduction of the noumenal to a mental world. This was indeed the very point the knowability of a noumenal mental world. At the same time it soon appeared that they could not agree among themselves when they came to ask what it is, but in attempting to define it seem to have gone through the whole gamut of mind. Schelling and Hegel thought it was infinite reason; Schopenhauer, unconscious will; Hartmann, unconscious intelligence and will; Lotze, the activity or life of the divine spirit; Fechner, followed by Paulsen, a world of spiritual actualities comprised in the one spiritual actuality, God, in whom we live and move and have our being.
1. Of these noumenal idealisms the earliest in time and the nearest to Fichte's philosophy was the panlogism, begun by Schelling. Schelling (1775-1854), completed by his disciple Hegel (1770-1831), and then modified by the master himself. Starting from Fichte's “Wissenschaftslehre,” Schelling accepted the whole process of mental construction, and the deduction that noumena are knowable products of universal reason, the Absolute Ego. But from the first he was bolder than Fichte, and had no doubt that the Absolute is God. God, as he thought, is universal reason, and Nature a product of universal reason, a direct manifestation, not of man, but of God. How is this Absolute known? According to Schelling it is known by intellectual intuition. Kant had attributed to God, in distinction from man's understanding, an intellectual intuition of things. Fichte had attributed to man an intellectual intuition of himself as the Absolute Ego. Schelling attributes to man an intellectual intuition of the Absolute God; and as there is, according to him, but one universal reason, the common intelligence of God and man, this intellectual intuition at once gives man an immediate knowledge of God, and identifies man with God himself.
On Schelling's idealistic pantheism, or the hypothesis that there is nothing but one absolute reason identifying the opposites Hegel. of subjectivity and objectivity, Hegel based his panlogism. But, while he fully recognized his indebtedness to his master, he differed from him profoundly in one fundamental respect. He rightly objected that the system was wanting in logical proof. He rightly, therefore, rejected the supposed intellectual intuition of the Absolute. He rightly contended that, if we are to know anything beyond sense, we must know it by a process of logical reason. But, unfortunately, he did not mean the logical inferences described in the Organon and the Novum organum. He meant a new “speculative” method, dialectic, founded on an assumption which he had already learnt from Schelling, namely, that things which are different but similar can have the same attribute, and therefore be also the same. With this powerful instrument of dialectic in hand, he attempted to show how absolute reason differentiates itself into subjective and objective, ideal and real, and yet is the identity of both — an identity of opposites, as Schelling had said. By the same dialectic Hegel was able to justify the gradual transformation of transcendental into noumenal idealism by Fichte and Schelling. If things different but similar have the same attributes, and are thereby the same, then in the first place the Kantian categories, though thoughts of mental origin and therefore confined to mind, are nevertheless applicable to things, because things, though different from, are the same as, thoughts, and have the categories of thoughts; in the second place, the Fichtian Ego of mankind is not the Absolute Reason of God, and yet is the same Absolute Reason; in the third place, the Schellingian Nature is the “other” of Spirit, and yet, being a mere reflex of the Idea of Nature, is identical with Spirit; and as this Spirit is everywhere the same in God and men, Nature is also identical with our Spirit, or rather with the Infinite Spirit, or Absolute Reason, which alone exists. The crux of all metaphysical idealism is the difficulty of reconciling the unity of the object with the plurality of subjects. Hegel's assumption of identity in difference at once enabled him to deal with the whole difficulty by holding that different subjects are yet one subject, and any one object, e.g. the sun, is at once different from, and identical with, the one subject which is also many. By the rough magic of this modern Prospero the universe of being is not, and yet is, thought, idea, spirit, reason, God. So elastic a solution established a dominant Hegelian school, which is now practically extinct, in Germany, and from Germany spread Hegelianism to France, England, America, and, in fact, diffused it over the civilized world to such an extent that it is still a widespread fashion outside Germany to believe that the world of being is a world of thought.
The plain answer is to contest the whole assumption. Different things, however similar, have only similar attributes, and therefore Criticism of Panlogism. are never the same. God created man in His own image, and the world in the image of the Divine Idea; but I am not God, and the transitory sun is not the same as God's eternal idea of it. The creatures, however like, are not the same as the Creator and His thoughts. Each is a distinct thing, as Aristotle said. Reality is not Reason. It is strange that the underlying assumption of panlogism was not at once contested in this plain way. Nevertheless, objection was soon taken to the unsatisfactoriness of the system reared upon it. Schelling himself, as soon as he saw his own formulae exposed in the logic or rather dialectic of his disciple, began to reconsider his philosophy of identity, and brought some powerful objections against both the conclusions and the method of Hegel. Schelling perceived that Hegel, in reducing everything to infinite mind, absorbed man's free but finite personality in God, and, in declaring that everything real is rational, failed to explain evil and sin: indeed, the English reader of T. H. Green's Prolegomena to Ethics can see how awkward is the Hegelian transition from “one spiritual principle” to different men's individual freedom of choice between good and evil. Again, Schelling urged that besides the rational element there must be something else; that there is in nature, as natura naturans, a blind impulse, a will without intelligence, which belongs to the existent; and that even God Himself as the Absolute cannot be pure thought, because in order to think He must have an existence which cannot be merely His thought of it, and therefore pure being is the prior condition of thought and spirit. Hence Schelling objected to the Hegelian dialectic on the ground that, although reason by itself can apprehend notions or essences, and even that of God, it cannot deduce a priori the existence either of God or of Nature, for the apprehension of which experience is required. He now distinguished two philosophies: negative philosophy starting from notions, and positive philosophy starting from being; the former a philosophy of conditions, the latter of causes, i.e. of existence. Hegel, he said, had only supplied the logic of negative philosophy ; and it must be confessed that the most which could be extracted from the Hegelian dialectic would be some connexion of thoughts without proving any existence of corresponding things. Schelling was right; but he had too much affinity with Hegelian assumptions, e.g. the panlogistic confusion of the essences of things with the notions of reason, to construct a positive philosophy without falling into fresh mysticism, which failed to exorcise the effect of his earlier philosophy of identity in the growing materialism of the age.
2. Meanwhile, by the side of panlogism arose the panthelism of Schopenhauer (1788-1860). This new noumenal idealism Schopenhauer. began, like the preceding, by combining psychological idealism with the transcendentalism of Kant and Fichte. In Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung Schopenhauer accepted Kant's position that the world as phenomenal is idea (Vorstellung); but he added that the world as noumenal is will (Wille). He got the hint of a noumenal will from Kant; but in regarding the noumenal as knowable, because mental, as well as in the emphasis he laid on the activity of will, he resembled Fichte. His theory of the nature of will was his own, and arrived at from a voluntaristic psychology leading to a voluntaristic metaphysics of his own. His psychological starting-point was the unproved assumption that the only force of which we are immediately aware is will; his metaphysical goal was the consistent conclusion that in that case the only force we can know, as the noumenal essence of which all else is phenomenal appearance, is will. But by this noumenal will he did not mean a divine will similar to our rational desire, a will in which an inference and desire of a desirable end and means produces our rational action. He meant an unintelligent, unconscious, restless, endless will. In considering the force of instinct in animals he was obliged to divest will of reason. When he found himself confronted with the blind forces of Nature he was obliged to divest irrational will of feeling. As he resolved one force after another into lower and lower grades of will he was obliged to divest will of all consciousness. In short, his metaphysics was founded on a misnomer, and simply consisted in calling unconscious force by the name of unconscious will (Unbewusster Wille). This abuse of language brought him back to Leibnitz. But, whereas Leibnitz imputed unconscious perception as well as unconscious appetition to monads, Schopenhauer supposed unconscious will to arise without perception, without feeling, without ideas, and to be the cause of ideas only in us. Hence he rejected the infinite intelligence supposed by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel against whom he urged that blind will produces intelligence, and only becomes conscious in us by using intelligence as a means to ends. He also rejected the optimism of Leibnitz and Hegel, and placed the most irrational of wills at the base of the worst possible of worlds (see further Schopenhauer). This pessimistic panthelism gradually won its way, and procured exponents such as J. Frauenstädt, J. Bahnsen, and, more recently, P. Deussen. The accident of its pessimism attracted F. W. Nietzsche, who afterwards, passing from the philosophy of will to the theory of evolution, ended by imagining that the struggle of the will to live produces the survival of the fittest, that is, the right of the strongest and the will to exercise power, which by means of selection may hereafter issue in a new species of superior man — the Uebermensch. Finally, Schopenhauer's voluntarism has had a profound effect on psychology inside and outside Germany, and to a less degree produced attempts to deduce from voluntaristic psychology new systems of voluntaristic metaphysics, such as those of Paulsen and Wundt.
3. The first to modify the pure voluntarism of Schopenhauer was E. von Hartmann, who (Die Philosophie des Unbewussten, Hartmann. 1869, 1st ed.), advanced the view that the world as noumenal is both unconscious intelligence and unconscious will, thus founding a panpneumatism which forms a sort of reconciliation of the panlogism of Hegel and the panthelism of Schopenhauer. In his tract entitled Schelling's positive Philosophie als Einheit von Hegel und Schopenhauer (1869) he further showed that, in his later philosophy, Schelling had already combined reason and will in the Absolute. Indeed, Fichte had previously characterized the life of the Absolute by reason and will without consciousness; and, before Fichte, Leibnitz had asserted that the elements of Nature are monads with unconscious perception and appetition. Hartmann has an affinity with all these predecessors, and with Spinoza, with whom he agrees that there is but one substance unaltered by the plurality of individuals which are only its modifications. Following, however, in the footsteps of Schelling, he idealizes the one extended and thinking substance into one mental being; but he thinks that its essence consists in unconscious intelligence and will, of which all individual intelligent wills are only activities. The merit of this fresh noumenal idealism consists in its correction of the one-sidedness of Schopenhauer: intelligence is necessary to will. But Hartmann's criticism does not go far enough. He ends by outdoing the paradox of Schopenhauer, concluding that Nature in itself is intelligent will, but unconscious, a sort of immanent unconscious God.
As with his master, his reasons for this view are derived, not from a direct proof that unconscious Nature has the mental attributes supposed, but from human psychology and epistemology. Like Leibnitz, he proceeds from the fact that our perceptions are sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious, to the inconsequent conclusion, that there are beings with nothing but unconscious perceptions; and by a similar non sequitur, because there is the idea of an end in will, he argues that there must be an unconscious idea of an end in instinctive, in reflex, in all action. Again, in his Grundproblem der Erkenntnisstheorie (1889) he uses without proof the hypothesis of psychological idealism, that we perceive psychical effects, to infer with merely hypothetical consistency the conclusion of noumenal metaphysical idealism that all we can thereby know is psychical causes, or something transcendent, beyond phenomena indeed, yet not beyond mind. But, according to him, this transcendent is the unconscious (Kraftvolles unbewusst ideales Geschehen). He calls this epistemology “transcendent realism”; it is really “transcendent idealism.” On these foundations he builds the details of his idealistic metaphysics. (a) He identifies matter with mind by identifying atomic force with the striving of unconscious will after objects conceived by unconscious intelligence, and by defining causality as logical necessity receiving actuality through will, (b) He contends that, when matter ascends to the evolution of organic life, the unconscious has a power, over and above its atomic volitions, of introducing a new element, and that in consequence the facts of variation, selection and inheritance, pointed out by Darwin, are merely means which the unconscious uses for its own ends in morphological development, (c) He explains the rise of consciousness by supposing that, while it requires brain as a condition, it consists in the emancipation of intelligence from will at the moment when in sensation the individual mind finds itself with an idea without will. Here follows his pessimism, like to, but differing from, that of his master. In his view consciousness begins with want, and pain preponderates over pleasure in every individual life, with no hope for the future, while the final end is not consciousness, but the painlessness of the unconscious (see Pessimism). But why exaggerate? The truth of Nature is force; the truth of will is rational desire; the truth of life is neither the optimism of Leibnitz and Hegel, nor the pessimism of Schopenhauer and Hartmann, but the moderatism of Aristotle. Life is sweet, and most men have more pleasures than pains in their lives.
4. Lotze (1817-1881) elaborated a very different noumenal idealism, which perhaps we may express by the name Lotze. “Panteleologism,” to express its conclusion that the known world beyond phenomena is neither absolute thought nor unconscious will, nor the unconscious at all, but the activity of God; causing in us the system of phenomenal appearances, which we call Nature, or bodies moving in time and space; but being in itself the system of the universal reciprocal actions of God's infinite spirit, animated by the design of the supreme good. The Metaphysik of Lotze in its latest form (1879) begins with a great truth: metaphysics must be the foundation of psychology. He saw that the theories of the origin of knowledge in idealistic epistemology are unsound. Like Aristotle, then, he proposed anew the question, What is being? Nevertheless he was too much a child of his age to keep things known steadily before him; having asked the metaphysical question he proceeded to find a psychological answer in a theory of sensation, which asserted the mere hypothesis that the being which we ascribe to things on the evidence of sensation consists in their being felt. He really accepted, like Kant, the hypothesis of a sense of sensations which led to the Kantian conclusion that the Nature we know in time and space is mere sensible appearances in us. Further, from an early period in his Medicinische Psychologie (1852) he reinforced the transcendental idealism of Kant by a general hypothesis of “local signs,” containing the subordinate hypotheses, that we cannot directly perceive extension either within ourselves or without; that spatial bodies outside could not cause in us spatial images either in sight or in touch; but that besides the obvious data of sense, e.g. pressure, heat and colour, there must be other qualitative different excitations of different nerve-fibres, by means of which, as non-local signs of localities, the soul constructs in itself an image of extended space containing different places. This hypothesis of an acquired perception of a space mentally constructed by “local signs” supplied Lotze and many succeeding idealists, including Wundt, with a new argument for metaphysical idealism. Lotze concluded that we have no more reason for supposing an external space like space constructed out of our perceptions, than we have for supposing an external colour like perceived colour. Agreeing, then, with Kant that primary qualities are as mental as secondary, he agreed also with Kant that all the Nature we know as a system of bodies moving in time and space is sensible phenomena. But while he was in fundamental agreement with the first two positions of Kant, he differed from the third; he did not believe that the causes of sensible phenomena can be unknown things in themselves. What then are they? In answering this question Lotze regarded Leibnitz as his guide. He accepted the Leibnitzian fallacy that unity is indivisibility, which led to the Leibnitzian analysis of material bodies into immaterial monads, indivisible and therefore unextended, and to the theory of monadic souls and entelechies. Indeed, from the time of Leibnitz such attempts either to analyse or to construct matter had become a fashion. Lotze agreed with Leibnitz that the things which cause phenomena are immaterial elements, but added that they are not simple substances, self-acting, as Leibnitz thought, or preserving themselves against disturbance, as Herbart thought, but are interacting modifications of the one substance of God.
In the first place, he resolved the doubt of Leibnitz about bodies by deciding entirely against his realistic alternative that an organic body is a substantia realizans phaenomena, and for his idealistic alternative that every body is a phenomenon and not a substance at all. Secondly, he accepted the Leibnitzian hypothesis of immaterial elements without accepting their self-action. He believed in reciprocal action; and the very essence of his metaphysics consists in sublimating the interaction of bodies into the interaction of immaterial elements, which produce effects on one another and on the soul as one of them. According to the mechanics of Newton, when two bodies collide each body makes the other move equally and oppositely; but it has become a convenient habit to express this concrete fact in abstract language by calling it the conservation of momentum, by talking of one body communicating its motion to the other; as if bodies exchanged motion as men do money. Now Lotze took this abstract language literally, and had no difficulty in showing that, as an attribute is not separated from its substance, this supposed communication of motion does not really take place: nothing passes. But instead of returning to the concrete fact of the equivalence of momentum, by which each body moving makes the other move oppositely, he denied that bodies do reciprocally act on one another, and even that bodies as mutually resisting substances press one another apart in collision. Having thus rejected all bodily mechanism, he had to suppose that reciprocal action somehow takes place between immaterial elements. This brought him to another difference from Leibnitz as well as from Newton. According to Leibnitz, while each immaterial element is a monadic substance and self-acting secondary cause, God is the primary cause of all. According to Lotze, the connexion required by reciprocity requires also that the whole of every reciprocal action should take place within one substance; the immaterial elements act on one another merely as the modifications of that substance interacting within itself; and that one substance is God, who thus becomes not merely the primary but the sole cause, in scholastic language a causa immanens, or agent of acts remaining within the agent's being. At this point, having rejected both the Newtonian mechanism of bodily substances and the Leibnitzian automatism of monadic substances, he flew to the Spinozistic unity of substance; except that, according to him, the one substance, God, is not extended at all, and is not merely thinking, but is a thinking, willing and acting spirit.
Lotze's metaphysics is thus distinguished from the theism of Newton and Leibnitz by its pantheism, and from the pantheism of Spinoza by its idealism. It is an idealistic pantheism, which is a denial of all bodily mechanism, a reduction of everything bodily to phenomena, and an assertion that all real action is the activity of God. At the same time it is a curious attempt to restore mechanism and reconcile it with teleology by using the word “mechanism” in a new meaning, according to which God performs His own reciprocal actions within Himself by uniform laws, which are also means to divine ends. It is also an attempt to reconcile this divine mechanism with freedom. In his Metaphysik (1879), as in his earlier Mikrokosmus ( 1856-1864), Lotze vindicated the contingency of freedom by assigning to God a miraculous power of unconditional commencement, whereby not only at the very beginning but in the course of nature there may be new beginnings, which are not effects of previous causes, though once started they produce effects according to law. Thus his pantheistic is also a teleological idealism, which in its emphasis on free activity and moral order recalls Leibnitz and Fichte, but in its emphasis on the infinity of God has more affinity to Spinoza, Schelling and Hegel. Hence his philosophy, like the Hegelian, continually torments one with the difficulty that its sacrifice of the distinct being of all individual substances to the universality of God entails the sacrifice of the individual personality of men. Our bodies were reduced by Lotze to the general ruck of phenomenal appearances. Our souls he tried his best to endow with a quasi-existence, arguing that the unity of consciousness requires an indivisible subject, which is distinct from the plurality of the body but interacting with it, is in a way a centre of independent activities, and is so far a substance, or rather able to produce the appearance of a substance. But at the end of his Metaphysik, from the conclusion that everything beyond phenomena is divine interaction, he drew the consistent corollary that individual souls are simply actions of the one genuine being. His final view was that certain actions of the divine substance are during consciousness gifted with knowledge of themselves as active centres, but during unconsciousness are non-existent. If so, we are not persons with a permanent being of our own distinct from that of God. But in a philosophy which reduces everything to phenomenal appearance except the self-interacting substance of God, there is no room for either the bodies or the souls of finite substances or human persons.
5. Fechner (1801-1887) affords a conspicuous instance of the idealistic tendency to mysterize nature in his Panpsychism, or Fechner. that form of noumenal idealism which holds that the universe is a vast communion of spirits, souls of men, of animals, of plants, of earth and other planets, of the sun, all embraced as different members in the soul of the world, the highest spirit — God, in whom we live and move and have our being; that the bodily and the spiritual, or the physical and the psychical, are everywhere parallel processes which never meet to interact; but that the difference between them is only a difference between the outer and inner aspects of one identical psychophysical process; and yet that both sides are not equally real, because while psychical and physical are identical, the psychical is what a thing really is as seen from within, the physical is what it appears to be to a spectator outside; or spirit is the self-appearance of matter, matter the appearance of one spirit to another. Fechner's panpsychism has a certain affinity both to Stahl's animism and to the hylozoism of materialists such as Haeckel. But, while it differs from both in denying the reality of body, it differs from the former in extending conscious soul not only to plants, as Stahl did, but to all Nature; and it differs from the latter in the different consequences drawn by materialism and idealism from this universal animism. According to Haeckel, matter is the universal substance, spirit its universal attribute. According to Fechner, spirit is the universal reality, matter the universal appearance of spirit to spirit; and they are identical because spirit is the reality which appears. Hence Fechner describes himself as a twig fallen from Schelling's stem. Schelling's adherent Oken by his Lehrbuch der Naturphilosophie conveyed to his mind the life-long impression that God is the universe and Nature God's appearance. At the same time, while accepting the Schellingian parallelistic identity of all things in God, Fechner was restrained by his accurate knowledge of physics from the extravagant construction of Nature, which had failed in the hands of Schelling and Hegel. Besides, he was deeply impressed by the fact of man's personality and by the problem of his personal immortality, which brought him back through Schelling to Leibnitz, whose Monadologie throughout maintains the plurality of monadic souls and the omnipresence of perception, sketches in a few sections (§§ 23, 78-81) a panpsychic parallelism, though without identity, between bodily motions and psychic perceptions, and, what is most remarkable, already uses the conservation of energy to argue that physical energy pursues its course in bodies without interacting with souls, and that motions produce motions, perceptions produce perceptions. Leibnitz thus influenced Fechner, as in other ways he influenced Lotze. Both, however, used this influence freely; and, whereas Lotze used the Leibnitzian argument from indivisibility to deduce indivisible elements and souls, Fechner used the Leibnitzian hypotheses of universal perception and parallelism of motions and perceptions, in the light of the Schellingian identification of physical and psychical, to evolve a world-view (Weltansicht) containing something which was neither Leibnitz nor Schelling.
Fechner's first point was his panpsychism. Emphasizing the many real analogies between physical and mental agency, but underrating the much stronger evidences that all the mental operations of men and animals require a nervous system, he flew to the paradox Panpsychism. that soul is not limited to men and animals, but extends to plants, to the earth and other planets, to the sun, to the world itself, of which, according to him, God is the world-soul. In this doctrine of universal animation he was like Leibnitz, yet very different. Whereas Leibnitz confined a large area of the world to wholly unconscious perceptions, and therefore preferred to call the souls of inorganic beings “Entelechies,” Fechner extended consciousness to the whole world; and accordingly, whereas Leibnitz believed in a supramundane Creator, “au dessus du Monde” and “dans le Monde,” Fechner, in the spirit of Schelling, identified God with the soul of the world. Fechner's second point was that, throughout the animated universe, physical processes accompany psychical processes without interaction. In this panpsychistic parallelism he was again like Leibnitz, and he developed his predecessor's view, that the conservation of energy prevents interaction, into the supposition that alongside the physical there is a parallel psychical conservation of energy. Here, again, he went much further than Leibnitz, but along with Schelling, in identifying the physical and the psychical as outer and inner sides of the same process, in which the inner is the real and the outer the apparent. Fechner's third point carried him beyond all his predecessors, containing as it does the true originality of his “world-view.” He advanced the ingenious suggestion that, as body is in body and all ultimately in the world-body, so soul is in soul and all ultimately in the world-soul. By this means he explained immortality and vindicated personality. His fourth point was connected with this inclusion of personal spirits in higher spirits and in the highest. It is his so-called “synechological view” of the soul. Herbart and Lotze, both deeply affected by the Leibnitzian hypothesis of indivisible monads, supposed that man's soul is seated at a central point in the brain; and Lotze supposed that this supposition is necessary to explain the unity of consciousness. Fechner's supposition was that the unity of consciousness belongs to the unity of the whole body; that the seat of the soul is the living body; that the soul changes its place as in different parts a process rises above the “threshold of consciousness”; and that soul is not substance but the single psychical life which has its physical manifestation in the single bodily life. Applying this “synechological view” to the supposed inclusion of soul in soul, he deduced the conclusion that, as here the nature of one's soul is to unite one's little body, so hereafter its essence will be to unite a greater body, while God's spirit unites the whole world by His omnipresence; and he pertinently asked, in opposition to the “punctual” view, whether God's soul is centred in a point. Lastly, the whole of this “world-view” was developed by Fechner in early life, under the influence of his religious training, and out of a pious desire to understand those main truths of Christianity which teach us that we are children of God, that this natural body will become a spiritual body, and that, though we are different individual members, we live and move and are in God: “in Deo vivimus, movemus, et sumus.” It is important to notice that Fechner maintained this “world-view” in a little book, Das Büchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode, which he originally published in 1836 under the pseudonym of Dr Mises, but which he afterwards republished in his own name in 1866, and again in 1887, as a sketch of his Weltansicht. Afterwards in Nanna (1848) he discussed the supposed souls of plants, and in Zendavesta (1851) the supposed souls of the earth and the rest of the world. Then in 1855 he published his Atomenlehre, partly founded on his physics, but mainly on his metaphysics. Under the influence of Leibnitz, Boscovich, Kant and Herbart, he supposed that bodies are divisible into punctual atoms, which are not bodies, but centres of forces of attraction and repulsion; that impenetrability is a result of repulsive force; and that force itself is only law — taking as an instance that Newtonian force of attraction whose process we do not understand, and neglecting that Newtonian force of pressure and impact whose process we do understand from the collision of bodies already extended and resisting. But, in thus adapting to his own purposes the Leibnitzian analysis of material into immaterial, he drew his own conclusions according to his own metaphysics, which required that the supposed centres of force are not Leibnitzian “monads,” nor Herbartian “reals,” nor divine modifications such as Lotze afterwards supposed, but are elements of a system which in outer aspect is bodily and in inner aspect is spiritual, and obeying laws of spirit. At the same time his synechological view prevented him from saying that every atom has a soul, because according to him a soul always corresponds to a unity of a physical manifold. Thus his metaphysics is Leibnitzian, like that of Lotze, and yet is opposed to the most characteristic feature of monadology the percipient indivisible monad.
In 1860 appeared Fechner's Elemente der Psychophysik, a work which deeply affected subsequent psychology, and almost revolutionized metaphysics of body and soul, and of physical and psychical relations generally. It becomes necessary, therefore, to determine how far Fechner derived his psychophysics from experience, how far from fallacies of inference, from his romantic imagination and from his theosophic metaphysics, which indeed coloured his whole book on psychophysics. At the very outset he started with his previous metaphysical hypothesis of parallelistic identity without interaction. He now compared the spiritual and bodily sides of a man to the concave and convex sides of a circle, as inner and outer sides of the same process, which is psychical as viewed from within and physical as viewed from without. He also maintained throughout the book that physical and psychical energy do not interfere, but that the psychical is, like a mathematical quantity, a function of the physical, depending upon it, and vice versa, only in the sense that a constant relation according to law exists, such that we may conclude from one to the other, but without one ever being cause of the other. By his psychophysics he meant the exact doctrine of the relations of dependency between physical and psychical. The name was new, but not the doctrine. From antiquity men had applied themselves to determine the relations between the physical stimuli and the so-called “quality” of sensations. But what was new was the application of this doctrine to the relations between the stimuli and the so-called “intensity” of sensations. He generalized Weber's law (q.v.) in the form that sensation generally increases in intensity as the stimulus increases by a constant function of the previous stimulus; or increases in an arithmetical progression as the stimulus increases in a geometrical ratio; or increases by addition of the same amount as the stimulus increases by the same multiple; or increases as the logarithm of the stimulus. There are then, at least within the limits of moderate sensations, concomitant variations between stimuli and sensations, not only in “quality,” as in the intervals of sounds, which were understood long ago, but also in “intensity”; and the discovery of the latter is the importance of Weber's and Fechner's law. By the rules of induction from concomitant variations, we are logically bound to infer the realistic conclusion that outer physical stimuli cause inner sensations of sensible effects. But, unfortunately for Fechner, the very opposite conclusion followed from the presuppositions of his parallelistic metaphysics, and from the Leibnitzian view of the conservation of energy, which he was the first in our time to use in order to argue that a physical cause cannot produce a psychical effect, on the ground that physical energy must be exactly replaced by physical energy.
Having satisfied himself in what he called “outer psychophysics,” that the stimulus causes only the nervous process and not sensation, he passed to what he called “inner psychophysics,” or the theory of the relation between nervous and psychical processes. He rightly argued against the old theory that the continuity of nervous processes in the brain is interrupted by mental processes of thought and will: there is a nervous process for every mental process. But two questions then arose. What is the relation between nervous process and sensation? What causes sensation? The first question he answered from his imagination by supposing that, while the external world is stimulus of the nervous process, the nervous process is the immediate stimulus of the sensation, and that the sensation increases by a constant fraction of the previous stimulus in the nervous system, when Weber's law proves only that it increases by a constant fraction of the previous stimulus in the external world. The second question he answered from his parallelistic metaphysics by deducing that even within the organism there is only a constant dependency of sensation on nervous process without causation, because the nervous process is physical but the sensation psychical. This answer supposed that the whole physical process from the action of the external stimulus on the nervous system to the reaction of the organism on the external world is one series, while the conscious process beginning with sensation is only parallel and as it were left high and dry. What then is the cause of the sensation? Huxley, it will be remembered, in similar circumstances, answered this question by degrading consciousness to an epiphenomenon, or bye-product of the physical process. Fechner was saved from this absurdity, but only to fall into the greater absurdity of his own panpsychism. Having long assumed that the whole world is animated throughout, and that there are always two parallel series, physical and psychical, he concluded that, while a physical stimulus is causing a physical nervous process, a psychical accompaniment of the stimulus is causing the sensation, which, according to him, is the psychical accompaniment of the nervous process; and that, as the whole physical and the whole psychical series are the same, differing only as outer and inner, this identity holds both of stimulus and its psychical accompaniment and of nervous process and its accompanying sensation. Accordingly, he calls these and all other processes “psychophysical”; and as he recognized two parallel energies, physical and psychical, differing only as outer and inner aspects of the same energy, he called this “psychophysical energy.” In such a philosophy all reality is “psychophysical.” At the same time Fechner would not have us suppose that the two sides are equal; according to him, the psychical, being the psychophysical as viewed from within, is real, the physical, being the psychophysical viewed from without, is apparent; so in oneself, though nervous process and psychical process are the same, it is the psychical which is the reality of which the nervous is mere appearance; and so everywhere, spirit is the reality, body the appearance of spirit to spirit. Finally, he supposed that one spirit is in another, and all in the highest spirit, God. By this means also he explained unconsciousness. In point of fact, many stimuli are beneath the “threshold” of a man's consciousness. Leibnitz, in the Nouveaux Essais, ii. 11, had also said that we have many “petites perceptions,” of which we are unconscious, and had further suggested that a perception of which we are, is composed of a quantity of “petites perceptions” of which we are not, conscious. Proceeding on this suggestion, and misled by the mathematical expression which he had given to Weber's law, Fechner held that a conscious sensation, like its stimulus, consists of units, or elements, by summation and increments of which conscious sensations and their differences are produced; so that consciousness, according to this unnecessary assumption, emerges from an integration of unconscious shocks or tremors. But by the hypothesis of the inclusion of spirit in spirit, he was further able to hold that what is unconscious in one spirit is conscious in a higher spirit, while everything whatever is in the consciousness of the highest spirit of God, who is the whole of reality of which the spirits are parts, while the so-called physical world is merely outer appearance of one spirit to another.
Fechner first confused physics and metaphysics in psychophysics, and next proceeded to confuse them again in his work on evolution (Einige Ideen zur Schöpfungs und Entwicklungs-geschichte der Organismen, 1873). He perceived that Darwinism attributed too much to accident, and was also powerless to explain the origin of life and of consciousness. But his substitute was his own hypothesis of panpsychism, from which he deduced a “cosmorganic” evolution from a “cosmorganic” or original condition of the world as a living organism into the inorganic, by the principle of tendency to stability. The world, as he thought, on its physical side, always was a living body; and on its psychical side God always was its conscious spirit; and, so far from life arising from the lifeless, and consciousness from unconsciousness, the life and consciousness of the whole world are the origin of the lifeless and the unconscious in parts of it, by a kind of secondary automatism, while we ourselves are developed from our own mother-earth by differentiation. By thus supposing a psychical basis to evolution, Fechner, anticipating Wundt, substituted a psychical development of organs for Darwinian accidental variation. The difficulty of such speculations is to prove that things apparently dead and mindless are living souls. Their interest to the metaphysician is their opposition to physics on the one hand and to theism on the other. Shall we resign our traditional belief that the greater part of the world is mere body, but that its general adaptability to conscious organisms proves its creation and government by God, and take to the new hypothesis, which, by a transfer of design from God to Nature, supposes that everything physical is alive, and conducts its life by psychical impulses of its own? Fechner himself went even further, and together with design transferred God Himself to Nature. This is the subject of his last metaphysical work, Die Tagesansicht gegenüber der Nachtansicht (1879). The “day-view” (Fechner's) is the view that God is the psychophysical all-embracing being, the law and consciousness of the world. It resembles the views of Hegel and Lotze in its pantheistic tendency. But it does not, like theirs, sacrifice our personality; because, according to Fechner, the one divine consciousness includes us as a larger circle includes smaller circles. By this ingenious suggestion of the membership of one spirit in another, Fechner's “day-view” also puts Nature in a different position; neither with Hegel sublimating it to the thought of God's mind, nor with Lotze degrading it to the phenomena of our human minds, but identifying it with the outer appearance of one spirit to another spirit in the highest of spirits.
We have dwelt on this curious metaphysics of Fechner because it contains the master-key to the philosophy of the present moment. When the later reaction to Kant arose against both Hegelianism and materialism, the nearly contemporary appearance of Fechner's Psychophysics began to attract experimental psychologists by its real as well as its apparent exactness, and both psychologists and metaphysicians by its novel way of putting the relations between the physical and the psychical in man and in the world. Fechner saw psychology deriving advantage from the methods, as well as the results, of his experiments, and in 1879 the first psychological laboratory was erected by Wundt at Leipzig. But he had also to endure countless objections to his mathematical statement of Weber's law, to his unnecessary assumption of units of sensation, and to his unjustifiable transfer of the law from physical to physiological stimuli of sensations, involving in his opinion his parallelistic view of body and mind. Among psychologists Helmholtz, Mach, Brentano, Hering, Delboeuf, were all more or less against him. Sigwart in his Logic has also opposed the parallelistic view itself; and James has criticized it from the point of view that the soul selects out of the possibilities of the brain means to its own ends. Nevertheless, largely under the influence of the exaggeration of the conservation of energy, many psychologists — Wundt, Paulsen, Riehl, Jodl, Ebbinghaus, Münsterberg, and in England Lewes, Clifford, Romanes, Stout have accepted Fechner's psychophysical parallelism, as far at least as men and animals are concerned. Most stop here, but some go with Fechner to the full length of his metaphysical parallelism of the physical and psychical, as psychophysical, throughout the whole world. This influence extended from Germany to Denmark, where it was embraced by Hoffding, and to England, where it was accepted by Romanes, and in a more qualified manner as “a working hypothesis” by Stout. But the most thorough and most eloquent of Fechner's metaphysical disciples was F. Paulsen (q.v.), who spread panpsychism far and wide in his Einleitung in die Philosophie.
Here reappear all the characteristic points of Fechner's “world-view” — the panpsychism, the universal parallelism with the Paulsen. identification of physical and psychical, the inclusion of spirit in spirit, the synechological view of spirit, and the final “day-view” that all reality is spirit, and body the appearance of spirit to spirit. But Paulsen tries to supply something wanting in Fechner. The originality of Paulsen consists in trying to supply an epistemological explanation of the metaphysics of Fechner, by reconciling him with Kant and Schopenhauer. He borrows from Kant's “rationalism” the hypothesis of a spontaneous activity of the subject with the deduction that knowledge begins from sense, but arises from understanding; and he accepts from Kant's metaphysical idealism the consequence that everything we perceive, experience and know about physical nature, and the bodies of which it consists, is phenomena, and not bodily things in themselves. But he has a different theory of human nature and soul, and so does not accept the Kantian conclusion that things in themselves, in the sense of things beyond phenomena, are all unknowable. On the contrary, his contention is that of Fechner that all knowable things are inner psychical realities beneath outer physical appearances the invisible symbolized by the visible. Kant, however, had no epistemology for such a contention, because according to him both outer and inner senses give mere appearance, from which we could not know either body in itself, or soul in itself. Parting, then, from Kant, Paulsen resorts to a paradox which he shares with Fechner and Wundt. He admits, indeed, Kant's hypothesis that by inner sense we are conscious only of mental states, but he contends that this very consciousness is a knowledge of a thing in itself. He agrees with Fechner and Wundt that there is no substantial soul, and that soul is nothing but the mental states, or rather their unity thus identifying it with Kant's synthetic unity. On this assumption he deduces that in being conscious of our mental states we are conscious of soul not merely as it appears, but as it is in itself, and therefore can infer similar souls, other psychical unities, which are also things in themselves.
But what is the essence of this psychical reality which we thus immediately and mediately know? Here he appeals to Schopenhauer's doctrine that will of some sort is the fundamental fact of mental life. Taking, then, will to be the essential thing in itself of which we are conscious, he deduces that we can infer that the psychical things in themselves beyond ourselves are also essentially “wills.” Combining with this the central dogma of Fechner that spirit extends throughout the world of bodily appearance, he concludes that the realities of the world are “wills,” that bodies are mere appearances of “wills,” and that there is one universal and all-embracing spirit which is “will.” His ultimate metaphysics, then, is this: Everything is spirit, and spirit is “will.” Lastly, by “will” he does not mean “rational desire,” which is its proper meaning, but inapplicable to Nature; nor unconscious irrational will, which is Schopenhauer's forced meaning; nor unconscious intelligent will, which is Hartmann's more correct meaning, though inapplicable to Nature. His “will” is instinct, impulsive feeling, a “will to live,” not indeed unconscious, but often subconscious, without idea, without reasoning about ends and means, yet pursuing ends — in short, what he calls, after K. E. von Baer, Zielstrebigkeit. How persistent is ancient animism! Empedocles, Plato and Aristotle; Telesio, Bruno and Campanella; Leibnitz; the idealists, Schopenhauer and Hartmann, Fechner and Paulsen; and the materialist, Haeckel all have agreed in according some sort of appetition to Nature. So prone are men to exaggerate adaptation into aim! So prone are they to transfer to Nature the part played by the providence of God! (see Bacon, De augmentis, iii. 4, sub fin.).
Noumenal idealism is not dead in Germany. It died down for a time in the decline of Hegelianism and the rise of materialism. It has since revived. The pure idealism of Fichte is at the bottom of it all. The panlogism of Schelling and Hegel survives in its influence. So still more does the pantheism of Schopenhauer. The three most vital idealisms of this kind at the moment are the panpneumatism of Hartmann, combining Hegel with Schopenhauer; the panteleologism of Lotze, reviving Leibnitz; and the panpsychism of Paulsen, continuing Fechner, but with the addition of an epistemology combining Kant with Schopenhauer. All these systems of metaphysics, differ as they may, agree that things are known to exist beyond sensible phenomena, but yet are mental realities of some kind. Meanwhile, the natural substances of Aristotelian realism are regarded with common aversion.