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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/419

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REPLIES TO CRITICISMS.

characterized by the simultaneity with which all kinds of them go on throughout the organism, the changes constituting psychical life, arising as the nervous system develops, become more and more distinguished by their seriality: that with the advance of nervous integration "there must result an unbroken series of these changes—there must arise a consciousness." Now, I admit that here is an apparent inconsistency. I ought to have said that "there must result an unbroken series of these changes," which, taking place in the nervous system of a highly-organized creature, gives coherence to its conduct, and along with which we assume a consciousness, because consciousness goes along with coherent conduct in ourselves. If Mr. Sidgwick will substitute this statement for the statement as it stands, he will see that the arguments and conclusions remain intact. A survey of the chapter as a whole proves that its aim is not in the least to explain how nervous changes, considered as waves of molecular motion, become the feelings constituting consciousness; but that, contemplating the facts objectively in living creatures at large, it points out the cardinal distinction between vital actions in general, and those particular vital actions which, in a creature displaying them, lead us to speak of it as intelligent. It is shown that the rise of such actions becomes marked in proportion as the changes taking place in the part called the nervous system are made more and more distinctly serial, by union in a supreme centre of coördination. The introduction of the word consciousness arises in the effort to show what fundamental character there is in the physiological changes which is parallel to a fundamental character in the psychological changes.

Another instance of the way in which Mr. Sidgwick evolves an incongruity, which he considers fundamental, out of what I should have thought he would see is a defective expression, I will give in his own words. Speaking of a certain view of mine, he says:

"He tells us that 'logic.... contemplates in its propositions certain connections predicated, which are necessarily involved with certain other connections given: regarding all these connections as existing in the non-ego—not, it may be, under the form in which we know them, but in some form.' But in § 473, where Mr. Spencer illustrates by a diagram his 'Transfigured Realism,' the view seems to be this: although we cannot say that the real non-ego resembles our notion of it in 'its elements, relations, or laws,' we can say that 'a change in the objective reality causes in the subjective state a change exactly answering to it—so answering as to constitute a cognition of it.' Here the 'something beyond consciousness' is no longer said to be unknown, as its effect in consciousness 'constitutes a cognition of it.'"

This apparent inconsistency, marked by the italics, would not have existed, if, instead of "a cognition of it," I had said, as I ought to have done, "what we call a cognition of it"—that is, a relative cognition as distinguished from an absolute cognition. In ordinary language we speak of as cognitions those connections in thought which