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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/418

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

REPLIES TO CRITICISMS.
By HERBERT SPENCER.
II.

OBJECTIONS of another, though allied, class have been made in a review of the "Principles of Psychology," by Mr. H. Sidgwick—a critic whose remarks on questions of mental philosophy always deserve respectful consideration.

Mr. Sidgwick's chief aim is, to show what he calls "the mazy inconsistency of his [my] metaphysical results." More specifically he expresses thus the proposition he seeks to justify: "His view of the subject appears to have a fundamental incoherence, which shows itself in various ways on the surface of his exposition, but of which the root lies much deeper, in his inability to harmonize different lines of thought."

Before dealing with the reasons given for this judgment, let me say that, in addition to the value which candid criticisms have, as showing where more explanation is needed, they are almost indispensable as revealing to a writer incongruities he had not perceived. Especially where, as in this case, the subject-matter has many aspects, and where the words supplied by our language are so inadequate in number that, to avoid cumbrous circumlocution, they have to be used in senses that vary according to the context, it is extremely difficult to avoid imperfections of statement. But while I acknowledge sundry such imperfections and the resulting incongruities, I cannot see that these are, as Mr. Sidgwick says, fundamental. Contrariwise, their superficiality seems to me proved by the fact that they may be rectified without otherwise altering the expositions in which they occur. Here is an instance:

Mr. Sidgwick points out that, when treating of the "Data of Psychology," I have said (in § 56) that, though we reach inferentially "the belief that mind and nervous action are the subjective and objective faces of the same thing, we remain utterly incapable of seeing, and even of imagining, how the two are related" (I quote the passage more fully than he does). He then goes on to show that in the "Special Synthesis," where I have sketched the evolution of intelligence under its objective aspect, as displayed in the processes by which beings of various grades adjust themselves to surrounding actions, I "speak as if" we could see how consciousness "naturally arises at a particular stage" of nervous action. The chapter here referred to is one describing that "differentiation of the psychical from the physical life which accompanies advancing organization, and more especially advancing development of the nervous system. In it I have aimed to show that, while the changes constituting physical life continue to be