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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/540

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MONISM


486


MONISM


dowcd with life. Without the aid of any extrinsic force, they said, the original substance, by a process of thickening and thinning, or by quenching and kindling, or in some other immanent way, gave rise to the universe as we now see it. This primitive eosmothetic Moni.-;in gradually gave way to a dualistic conception of the origin of the world. Tentatively at first, and then more decisively, the later lonians introduced the notion of a primitive force, distinct from matter, which fashioned the universe out of the primordial substance. Anaxagoras it was, who, by clearly delining this force and describing it as mind (toCs), eanieil the encomium of being the "first of the ancient philosoiihers who .spoke .sense". Dual- ism, thus introduced, withstood the onslaughts of materialistic .Vtomism and Epicureanism, i)anlhe- istic Stoicism and emanationistic neo-Platonism. It was develoi)ed by .Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who brought to their description of the world-forming process a higher notion of eosmothetic mind than the pre-.Socral ic philosophers po.ssesseil. It was left for the Christian pliil<iso|)liers of .\lexandria and their succe.s.sors, the Scholastics of medieval times, to elaborate the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, and thus bring out more clearly the role played by the Divine Power and ^^'ill in the formation of the universe. The order, harmony, and purposiveness evident everywhere in nature arc cited by the creationists as evidence to show that mind must have presided at the origination of t hings. Furthermore, the question of dynamism or mechanism hinges on the problem of the nature of matter. This phase of the question has been developed especially in post -Cartesian philosophy, some maintaining that matter is essentially inert and must, therefore, have acquired force and activity from without, while others as stoutly maintain that matter is by nature active and, consequently, may have developed its own force from within. Evolution of the thoroughgoing type takes the latter view. It holds that in the primitive cosmic matter was con- tained "the power and potency" of all life and move- ment, in such a way that no external agent was re- quired in order to bring it to actual existence. Here, as in the question of Thei.sm, Christian philosophy is frankly dualistic, although it acknowledges that, since actuality antecedes potency by nature and, as a mat- ter of fact, the world originated in time, while God is eternal, there was, before creation, but One Reality. VI. Im Ethics, the word Monism is very little used. In some German works it is employed to designate the doctrine that the moral law is autono- mous. Christian etliics is essentially hetcronomic: it teaches that all law, even natural law, emanates from God. Kantian ethics and Evolutionistic ethics hold that the moral law is either self-imposed or emanates from the moral sense which is a product of the struggle for existence. In both the Kantian and the Evolu- tionistic systems there is only one source of the power of moral discrimination and approval. For this reason the word Monism is here used in its generic sense. In English philo.sophical literature, however, the word has no such signification. In accounting for the origin of evi\, a problem which, though it belongs to metaphysics, has important bearings on ethical questions, some philosophers have adopted a Dual- istic doctrine and explained that good and evil originate from two distinct principles, the one su- premely good, the other completely and absolutely evil. This was the doctrine of the ancient Persians, from whom it was borrowed by Manes, the founder of the Manichean .sect. Opposed to this is the Monistic view, that God is indeed the cause of all that is good in the universe, and that evil is not to be assigned to any .supreme cause di.stinct from God. Whatever explanation be given of the existence of evil in the world, it is maintained that a supreme principle of evil is utterly impossible and even inconceivable.


VII. CoNTEMPORAnY MoNISTIC MOVEMENTS AND

Schools. — In current philosophical literature, when- ever no special qualification is added, Monism gen- erally means the modified materialistic monism of Haeckd. Modern materialistic Monism in Germany begins with Feucrbach, a disciple of Hogel. Feuerbach was followed by Viigt and Mok-schott. To these suc- ceeded llacckel, who combines Darwinian evolution with a materialistic interpretation of Spinoza and Bruno. Haeckel's works, both in the original and in English translations, have had a wide circulation, their popularity being due rather to the superficial manner in which Haeckel disposes of the most serious questions of metaphysics than to any intrinsic ex- cellence of content or method. Haeckel is honorary president of the Monistenbund (Society of Monists), fountled at Jena in 1906, for the purpose of propagating the doctrines of Monism. The society is openly anti- Christian, and makes active warfare against the Catholic Church. Its publications, "Der Monist" (a continuation of the "Freie Glocken" — first num- ber, 1906), "Blatter des deutschen Monistenbunds" (first number, July, 1906), and various pamphlets (Flugblatter des Monistenbunds), are intended to be a campaign against Christian education and the union of Church and State.

The group of writers in America who, under the editorship of Dr. Paul Carus, have been identified with the "Monist" (Chicago, monthly, first number, Jan., 1891) are not, apparently, actuated by the same animosity against Christianity. Nevertheless, they hold Haeckel's fundamental tenet that Monism as a system of philosophy transcends Christianity as a form of belief, and is the only rational synthesis of science and rehgion. "Religious progress no less than scientific progress", writes Carus, "is a process of growth as well as a cleansing from mythology. . . . Religion is the basis of ethics. . . . The ideal of reli- gion is the same as that of science, it is a liberation of the mythological elements and its aim is to rest upon a concise but exhaustive statement of facts" (Monism, Its Scope and Import, 8, 9). This "con- cise but exhaustive statement of facts" is positive Monism, the doctrine, namely, that the whole of reality constitutes one inseparable and indivisible entirety. Monism is not the doctrine that one sub- stance alone, whether it be mind or matter, exists: such a theory, says Dr. Carus, is best designated as Henism. True Monism "bears in mind that our words are abstracts representing parts or features of the One and All, and not separate existences" (op. cit., 7). This Monism is Positivistic, because its aim is "the systematisation of knowledge, that is, of a description of facts" (ibid.). "Radical free thought" is the motto of this school of Monism; at the same time, it disclaims all sympathy with destructive Atheism, Agnosticism, Materialism, and Negativism in general. Nevertheless, the untrained student of philosophy will be likely to be more profoundly influ- enced by the Monistic criticism of Christianity than by the constructive effort to put sometliing in place of the errors referred to.

All Monism may be described as resulting from the tendency of the human mind to discover unitary concepts under which to subsume the manifold of experience. So long as we are content to take and preserve the world of our experience as we find it, with all its manifoldncss, variety, and fragmentation, wo are in the condition of primitive man, and littje better than brute animals. As soon as we begin to reflect on the data of the senses, we are led by an instinct of our rational nature to reduce manifold effects to the unity of a causal concept. This we first do in the scientific plane. Afterwards, carrying the process to a higher plane, we try to unify these under philo- sophical categories, such as substance and accident, matter and force, body and mind, subject and object.