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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/539

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MONISM


485


MONISM


and bequeathed to the Schoohnen the problem whether these faculties are really, or only notionally, distinct from the soul itself. Those who favour the real distinction are sometimes called pluralists in psychology, and their opponents, who say that the distinction is nominal or, at most, notional, are some- times called psychological ' Monists. The question is decided by inferences from the facts of conscious- ness. Those who hold real distinction of function argue that this is sufficient ground for a real distinction of faculties.

IV. In Epistemology, as in psychology, Mon- ism is used in various senses to signify, in a general way, the antithesis of dualism. The Dualist in epistemology agrees with the ordinary observer, who distinguishes both in theory and in practice between "things" and "thoughts". Common sen.se, or unre- flecting consciousness, takes things generally to be what they seem. It acts on the conviction that the internal world of our thoughts corresponds with the external world of reality. The philosophical dualist questions the extent and accuracy of that correspond- ence; he learns from psychology that many instances of so-called immediate perception have in them a large share of interpretation, and are, in so far, referable to the activity of the mind. Ne\-ertheless, he sees no reason to quarrel with the general verdict of common sense that there is a world of reality outside us, as well as a world of representation within us, and that the latter corresponds in a measure to the former. He distinguishes, therefore, between subject and object, between self and not-self, and holds that the external world exists. The Monist in one way or another eliminates the objective from the field of reality, obliterates the distinction between self and not-self, and denies that the external world is real. Sometimes he takes the ground of idealism, maintain- ing that thoughts are things, that the only reality is perception, or rather, that a thing is real only in the sense that it is perceived, es.se est perdpi. He scorn- fully rejects the view of naive realism, refers with con- tempt to the copy-theory (the \'iew that our thoughts represent things) and is rather proud of the fact tiiat he is in conflict with common sense. Sometimes he is a solipsist, holding that self alone exists, that the existence of not-self is an illusion, and that the belief in the existence of other minds than our own is a vulgar error. Sometimes, finally, he is an acosmist: he denies that the external world exists except in so far as it is thought to exist: or he affirms that we create our own external world out of our own thoughts.

However, the classical form of epistemological Monism at the present time is known as Absolutism. Its fundamental tenet is metaphysical monism of the purely idealistic type. It holds that both subject and object are merely phases of an abstract, unlimited, impersonal consciousness called the Absolute; that neither things nor thoughts have any reality apart from the Absolute. It teaches that the universe is a rational and systematic whole, consisting of an intellectual "ground" and multiform "appearances" of that ground, one appearance being what the Realist calls things, and another what the Realist calls thoughts. This is the doctrine of the Hegelians, from Hegel himself down to his latest representatives, Bradley and McTaggart. All these forms of episte- mological Monism — namely, idealism, solipsism, acos- mism, and absolutism — have, of course, metaphysical bearings, and soniftiincs n'st cm riietaphysical foimda- tions. Nevertiiclcss, liistnrirally ^[leaking, they are traceable to a iisyc lMiln).;ir:il .issimiption which is, and always will be, the dividing line between Dualism and Monism in epist<?mology. The Dualists, in their analysis of the act of knowing, call attention to the fact that in every process of perception the object is immediately given. It seems like em()hasiz- ing the obvious to say so, yet it is precisely on this


point that the whole question turns. What I perceive is not a sensation of whiteness but a white object. What I taste is not the sensation of sweetness but a sweet substance. No matter how much the activity of the mind may elaborate, synthesize, or recon- struct the data of sense-perception, the objective reference cannot be the result of any such subjective activity; for it is given originally in consciousness. On the contrary, the Monist starts with the idealistic assumption that what we perceive is the sensation. Whatever objective reference the sensation has in our consciousness is conferred on it by the activity of the mind. The objective is, therefore, reducible to the subjective; things are thoughts; we make our world. In the dualist's analysis there is immediate, presentative contact in consciousness between the subject and the object. In the Monist's account of the matter there is a chasm between subject and object which must be bridged over somehow. The problem of Dualism or Monism in epistemology de- pends, therefore, for solution on the question whether perception is presentative or representative; and the dualist, who holds the presentative theory, seems to have on his side the verdict of introspective psychology as well as the approval of common sense.

In recent Pragmatist contributions to epistemology there is presented a different view of epistemological Monism from that given in the preceeding paragraphs, and a solution is offered which differs entirely from that of traditional dualism. In William James's works, for instance. Monism is described as that species of Absolutism which "thinks that the all-form or collective-unit form is the only form that is ra- tional", while opposed to it is Pluralism, that is, the doctrine that " the each-form is an eternal form of real- ity no less thanit is the form of temporal appearance" (A Pluralistic Universe, 324 sqq.). The multitude of "each-forms" constitute, not a chaos, but a cos- mos, because they are "inextricably interfused" into a system. The unity, however, which exists among the "each-forms" of reality is not an integral unity nor an articulate or organic, much less a logical, unity. It is a unity "of the strung-along type, the type of continuity, contiguitj', or concatenation" (op. cit., .32.5). Into this unfinished universe, into this stream of successive experiences, the subject steps at a certain moment. By a process which be- longs, not to logic, but to life, which exceeds logic, he connects up these experiences into a concatenated series. In other words, he strings the single beads on a string, not of thought, but of the practical needs and purposes of life. Thus the subject makes his own world, and, really, we are not any better off than if we accepted the verdict of the intellectualistio Idealist. We have merely put the practical reason in place of the theoretical: so far as the value of knowledge is concerned the antithesis between Mon- ism and Pluralism is more apparent than real, and the latter is as far from the sanene.ss of realistic Dualism as the former. It is true that the Pluralist admits, in a sense, the existence of the external worlil; but so also does the Absolutist. The trouble is thai neither admits it in a .sen.se which would save the ilistiiiction between subject and object. For the Plurali.sl .-is well as the Monist is entangled in the web of subjective Idealism as soon as he favour." the doctrine that per- ception is representative, nut ])rcs(iitative.

V. In Cosmology, the central (|uestion is the origin of the imiverse. The early Ionian phil- o.sophers assigned, as the cause or princijile (apx'i is the Aristotelian word) of the universe, a substance which is at once the material out of which the uni- verse is made and the force by which it was made. As Ari.stotle says, they failed to distinguish between the material cause and the efficient cau.se. They were, therefore, dynamists and hylozoists. That is, they held matter to TTe of its nature active, and en-