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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/372

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MIND


322


MIND


whilst remainiiis utterly iiiuiwarc of the rational iiiter- inciliatc st<'|>s leailiiii; iij) to the final rps\ilt.s. On the other side it is iiryeil that most of those phenomena can 1h' accounted for by mon'ly subconscious processes which escape attention and are forgotten; or, at all eventvS, by miconscious ci'rebration. — the working out of purely pliysical nervous processes without any con- comitant mental state till the final cerebral situation is reached, when the corresponding mental act is evoked. The dispute is probably, at least in part, grounded on ilitTerences of definition. If, however, the mind be iilentified with the soul, and if the latter lx> allowed to be the principle of vegetative life, there can be no valid reason for denying that the principle of our mental life may be also the subject of uncon- scious acti\-ities. But if we confine the term mind to the soul, viewed as conscious, or as the subject of intellectual operations, then by definition we exclude unconscious states from the sphere of mind. Still whatever t<'nninology we may find it convenient to adopt, the fact remains, that our most purely intellec- tual operations are profountlly influenced by changes which take place Ijelow the surface of consciousness.

Okicin' of Mental Life. — A related question is that of the simple or composite character of conscious- ness. Is mind, or conscious life, an amalgam or prod- uct of units which are not conscious? One response is offered in the "mind-stuff" or "mind-dust" theory. This is a necessary deduction from the extreme mate- rialistic evolutionist hypothesis when it seeks to ex- plain the origin of human minds in this unii'erse. According to \V. K. Clifford, who invented the term "mind-stuff", those who accept evolutiou must, for the sake of consistency, assume that there is attached to every particle of matter in the universe a bit of rutlimentary feeling or intelligence, and "when the material molecules are so combined as to form the film on the under-side of a jelly fish, the elements of mind-stuff which go along with them are so combined as to form the faint beginnings of sentience. When the matter takes the complex form of the living human brain, the corresponding mind-stuff takes the form of human consciousness, having intelligence and voli- tion" (Lectures and Essays, 284). Spencer and other thorough-going evolutionists are driven to a similar conclusion. But the true inference b rather, that the incredibility of the conclusion proves the untenable- ness of the materialistic form of evolution which these writers adopt. There is no evidence whatever of this universal mind-stulf which they postulate. It k of an inconceivable character. .\s Professor James says, to call it " na.scent " consciousness is merely a verbal quibble which explains nothing. No multiplicity and no grouping or fusing of unconscious elements can be conceived as constituting an act of conscious intelli- gence. The unity and simplicity which characterize the simplest acts of the mind are incompatible with such a theory.

Mind and Matter. — The opposition of mind and matter brings us face to face with the great contro- versy of Dualism and Monism. Are there two forms of iK'ing in the universe ultimately and radically dis- tinct? or are they merely diverse phases or aspects of one common underlying substratum? Our experi- ence at all events appears to reveal to us two funda- mentally contrasted foruLs of reality. On the one side, there is facing us matter occupying space, sub- ject to motion, pos.sessed of inertia and resistance, permanent, indestructible, and seemingly independent of our observation. On the other, there is our own mind, immediately revealing itself to us in simple un- ext*'iided acts of consciousness, which seem to be born and then annihilated. Through these conscious acts we apprehend the material world. All our knowledge of it is dependent on them, and in the last resort, limited by them. By analogy we ascribe to other human organisms minds like our own. A craving to


find unity in the seeming multiplicity of experience has led many thinkers to accept a monistic explana- tion, in whieli the appan-nt duality of niindand matter is reduced to a single underlying prineiiile or sub- stratum. Materialism (Oiisiders niatler it.sejf, body, material substance, us this principle. I'or the material- ist, mind, feelings, thoughts, and volitions are but "functions" or "aspects" of matter; mental life is an rpiphiniinienoii, a by-product in the working of the I^nivense, which can in no way interfere with the course of physical changi's or modify the movement of any particle of nialter in the world; indeed, in strict consistency it should be held that successive mental acts do not influence or condition each other, but that thoughts and volitions are mere incidental appendages of certain nerve processes in the brain; and these lat- ter are determined exclusively and completely by antecedent material processes. In other words, the materialistic theory, when consistently thought out, leads invariably to the startling conclusion that the human mind has had no real influence on the history of the human race.

On the other hand, the idealistic monist denies alto- gether the existence of any extra-mental, independent material world. So far from mind I>eing a mere as- pect or epiphenomenon attached to matter, the mate- rial universe is a creation of the mind and entirely de- pendent on it. Its esse is percipi. It exists only in and for the mind. Our ideas are the only things of which we can te truly certain. And, indeed, if we were compelled to embrace monism, it seems to us there can be little doubt as to the logical superiority of the idealistic position. But there is no philosophical compulsion to adopt either a materialistic or an ideal- istic monism. The conviction of the common sense of mankind, and the assumption of physical science that there are two orders of being in the universe, mind and matter, distinct from each other yet inter- acting and influencing each other, and the assurance that the human mind can obtain a limited yet true knowledge of the material world which really exists outside and independently of it occupying a space of three dimensions, this view, which is the common teaching of the Scholastic philosophy and Catholic thinkers, can be abundantly justified (see Dualism; Energy, Conservation of).

Mi.N'D AND Mechanism. — Mind is also contrasted with mechanical theories as cause or explanation of the order of the world. The affirmation of mind in this connexion is equivalent to teleologism, or ideal- ism in the sense of there being intelligence and pui-- pose governing the working of the universe. This is the meaning of the word in Bacon's well-known state- ment: "I had rather believe all the faljles in the Legend and the Alcoran than that this universal frame is with- out a mind" (Essays: Of Atheism). It is, in fact, the doctrine of theism. The world as given demands a ra- tional account of its present character. The proxi- mate explanations of much, especially in the inorganic and non-living portion of it, can be furnished by ma- terial energies acting according to known laws. But reason demands an account of all the contents of the universe — living and conscious beings as well as life- less matter; and, moreover, it insists on carrying the inquiry back until it reaches an ultimate explanation. For this. Mind, an Intelligent Cause, is necessary. Even if the present universe could be traced back to a collection of material atoms, the particular collocation of these atoms from which the present cosmos re- sulted, would have to be accounted for; because in the mechanical or materialistic theory of evolution, that original collocation contained this universe and no other, and that particular collocation clamours for a sufficient reason just as inevitably as does the present complex result. If we are told that the explana- tion of a page of a newspaper is to be found in the contact of the paper with a plate of .set types, we are