Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/July 1888/The Teaching of Psychology
|THE TEACHING OF PSYCHOLOGY.|
IN giving the name of Experimental and Comparative Psychology to the chair into which it has transformed its ancient chair of the Law of Nature and of Nations, the College of France has sought to give it a title broad and comprehensive enough to accommodate itself to all contingencies. To have called it physiological psychology would have made physiology too prominent, and the chair might then eventually have become a mere annex of that science. Physiologists have done much, but they have not done everything, for experimental psychology. An intelligent magistrate who has thoroughly studied the moral and mental state of criminals; a philosopher versed in ethnological or in animal psychology; a pedagogue who has observed human faculties from an educational point of view; a pure psychologist, acquainted to the bottom with all parts of the science, but capable of including them in a single philosophical synthesis—might all compete for such a chair, which would not then be the exclusive domain of any one specialty. The real name for this science would be objective psychology, if that term were not too pedantic for common use. There are, in fact, two psychologies: one which is constructed by the inner sense, and is the basis of the other, which might be called subjective psychology; and the other formed by outward observation by the study of other men and of animals, or of the nervous system, which is the objective psychology of which we are speaking. The second psychology has always existed to a greater or less extent; but it is something new to treat it in and for itself, disengaged from the other, and to constitute it an independent science. One among the different parts of which it is composed seems to be more advanced than the others, and more nearly ready to claim to be a positive science. It is physiological psychology, or the science that studies the organic and physiological conditions of the mental faculties; and it is in its turn divided into two parts, accordingly as it studies the sound man or the diseased man. The former is physiological psychology properly called, the other pathological psychology. This distinction is, however, more ideal than real, because so far the whole study has proceeded rather by the pathological road than by the direct observation of the healthy condition; but it is, nevertheless, correct in principle.
The matter of the new science comprises a number of facts not yet connected or co-ordinated, but which have been determined, to a certain extent. Among them are cerebral localizations, aphasia in particular, the muscular sense, heredity, suggestion, double consciousness, etc., besides others which have been longer known.
The theory of cerebral localizations was suggested by Dr. Gall and the phrenological school, who, however, compromised it by associating it with an untenable system, for which they did not offer a shadow of positive proof. Flourens approached the subject in a scientific manner, with experiments on the brains of pigeons, from which he deduced that the brain participates in the functions of thought and feeling as a single whole. He nevertheless opened the way to localizations by distinguishing various organs in the brain, and employing the distinctions of the spiritual philosophy between sensation and thought, seating the latter in the brain and the former in the spinal marrow. The theory of localizations has become much more precise since Flourens. Not only has it been possible to seat the motor functions and their various disorders with a quite novel precision in their several parts of the brain and spinal cord, but the mental faculties also have begun to yield to efforts to localize them. Thus, the faculties of pure thought have been placed in the gray matter, and the plurality of the cerebral organs and the diversity of their functions appear to have been established in the surest and most brilliant manner in the theory of the seats of language, in which the faculties relating to speech, reading, writing, and hearing are severally assigned their specific quarters. In this we have one of the clearest and most precise of the data of psycho-physiological science. The object of this science is the determination of the physiological or organic conditions of the mental faculties. In the present case the mental faculty is language; the plurality of seats is the organic condition; and this plurality explains the singular separations that are made in certain morbid cases between groups of phenomena absolutely homogeneous, as, for example, between reading and writing. Yet it is doubtful if we can go on to say that this explains language itself in so far as it is a psychological faculty. It is a case of cerebral topography and correlation, but nothing more.
One of the most obscure and complicated questions of physiological psychology is the theory of the muscular sense. Destutt de Tracy maintained that without motion we could not have knowledge of the existence of bodies; for it is arrested movement that gives the sensation of resistance. The essential point in the theory is to distinguish the sense of effort from purely passive muscular sensations. If consciousness is a good judge in these matters, says Alexander Bain, we may say that in voluntary effort we have the feeling of a faculty experienced from within outward and not that of a sensible surface stimulated by an external agent and transmitting an impression from without to within the nervous centers. The sense of effort would then seem to be the feeling of the production of motion rather than of motion produced. It is anterior' and not posterior to the motion. Without going into detail, we can, according to Bain, refer all muscular sensations to two great classes: the sensation of tension, and that of motion. Tension is an act of effort in so far as it meets an invincible resistance, for example when it endeavors to raise a weight that is beyond its strength, or to stop a galloping horse. We can distinguish three distinct sensations in that of tension: pressure, traction, and weight. The first occurs when we wish to crush an object, as a nut, with the hands; the second, when we wish to lead an object, as a horse, or a man who is resisting us; and the third, when we lift a weight. The first is an effort of ourselves on the exterior object; the second, of the exterior object on us; and the third, an upward effort. The feeling of tension is the same, whether the extensor or flexor muscles are involved. It is in a certain manner the feeling of force in equilibrium with the exterior force, but at its limit, and unable to go farther.
It is surprising that Bain, in discussing what he called the sensation of motion, did not first ask if such a sensation exists. Without doubt, since we effect motion, there must be something in the consciousness that corresponds to it; but does that something resemble what we call a motion—that is, a displacement in space? We see that the question of the sensation of motion is closely bound with the idea of the perception of space, or with the most obscure and complex question of metaphysics. Without this notion of space, the muscular sensation could not even take the name of tension or of contraction, for these terms imply motion, and motion implies space. The only peculiar characteristic of muscular sensation appears to be fatigue. Effort is an internal fatigue distinct from the external fatigue which is imposed by causes foreign to us. It consists in giving one's self a fatigue by the production of a desired act. We thus see how apparently the most elementary questions are complicated with those of the highest order. What, for example, is a desired act? The study of the simplest sensation, therefore, involves a theory of the will.
One of the most delicate questions of the theory of muscular sensations is that of defining tactual sensations. Having abstracted from touch all that relates to the sense of effort, what is left to constitute touch proper? Sensations of temperature, and what we call sensations of contact. But can there be sensations of contact without there being more or less of pressure, traction, etc.? Is simple contact felt, otherwise than as heat or cold, when we abstract all muscular sensation? Might we not simply revert from it, as did Biran, to the distinction between passive touch and active touch, the latter including the effort? But there appear to be pathological cases where the touch persists while the muscular sense is abolished, as, for example, where the patient with his eyes closed can not tell where his limbs are, whether his arm is raised up or lying down, etc.; but these cases relate to the localization of sensations, another of the most complex questions, and to that of the perception of our body, which is no less so.
There is left the physiological question proper, that of the seat of muscular sensation, on which there are two theories. According to what is called the centrifugal theory, the feeling of muscular effort is connected with the outgoing current of the motor influx. According to the other, the centripetal theory, it is produced by the sensations returning from the member in motion to the centers. Both of these theories find points of support in experiments made upon hysteric patients, who have in these days become veritable analytical machines for the use of psychology. On the one side are hysterics who, having lost the muscular sense, and shut their eyes, have no knowledge of the passive movements that are impressed on their limbs; and yet this loss of muscular sense takes away none of the precision of the motions which the subject executes; an observation which is interpreted by some authors as favoring the centrifugal theory; because, centripetal sensations being abolished with these patients, there must exist some condition of consciousness regulating their movements, and that condition of consciousness can be determined only by the outgoing current of the motor influx. There are, on the contrary, other hysterics who, losing consciousness of the passive movements, lose also that of active motions, and become incapable of executing a single act with shut eyes, which is interpreted as meaning that voluntary motions are impossible when centripetal sensations are abolished. This interpretation would indicate that there exists no feeling allied with the motor discharge and competent to regulate motions in the absence of centripetal sensations. It is apparent that physiology has yet very far to go before it can pretend to have solved these questions. But, as facts, the experiments in question are very interesting; and it happens very frequently in the experimental sciences that we possess facts without being able to connect them by theories.
According to Kant's law, all our sensations are intensive quantities; that is, they are matters of degree. Can we, then, apply precise mathematical measures to their intensity? Every sensation does, in fact, present itself to us as being more or less strong, and consequently as a magnitude. Then why can we not measure it, like any other magnitude or any quantity? But we must mark a difference between psychological or physiological measures and the physical measures of physicists. As physics measures sounds, light, and heat, it might appear that we should already have been able to measure sensations. But it is obvious that physics measures these qualities only as objective properties of bodies, while the psychological measure of sensations is a quite other question. The present question, for example, is whether two quantities of light, physically and objectively equal, produce equal sensations, and unequal luminous causes produce unequal sensations—or whether, in short, the proportion existing between the causes also exists between the effects. "There is no one," says M. Ribot, "who has not compared two sensations and remarked that one is stronger and the other weaker. We declare without hesitation that there is more light at noonday than in moonlight, and that a cannon-shot makes more noise than a pistol." So far consciousness is sufficient; but this is not what we call measurement from the mathematical point of view. To measure a magnitude mathematically is to find how many times it is contained in another magnitude taken as unity. Has the sun a hundred or a thousand times more light than the moon? Does the cannon make a hundred or a thousand times more noise than the pistol? Such questions can not be answered by the consciousness, which can not tell us how many times one sensation is contained in another. It would naturally occur to the mind that sensation increases in proportion to the excitation, as when Herbart thought that two lights would give twice as much illumination as one. But this is not true. We hear distinctly sounds in the night, or in solitude, which are imperceptible in the daytime or in the hurly-burly of business. A double volume of sound is not produced when the number of instruments or of singers at a concert is doubled. A question is involved, calling for careful discussion in determining the proportion in which sensation is augmented or diminished with the excitation. This is one of the objects of what is called psycho-physics.
The question of heredity is another of the new matters which physiological psychology has introduced into philosophy. Till recently, the factor of heredity has been omitted in psychological treatises. In the schools of Condillac, Reid, and Jouffroy, the individual was considered as an absolute whole, sufficient in himself, and having no roots in the past. But the theory might almost be established a priori, for it is certain that heredity plays a part in the physical man. Every one recognizes the existence of hereditary diseases and the resemblance of children to parents. It is also generally acknowledged that the physical exercises a certain influence over the moral; it follows, therefore, that what is transmitted by the physical may be communicated, in a certain measure, to the moral. Yet much precaution is needed in the interpretation of these facts, for the law of heredity has to compete with another psychological law, that of imitation or of contagion by madness, the delusion, and the same delusion, is communicated to another by contagion and not by heredity. Undoubtedly, if the case is one of mother and daughter, it might be maintained that heredity plays a part; but, in the case of two sisters, there example. It is necessary, therefore, in discussing the facts on which the thesis of psychological heredity is supported, to select those with which it is possible to disengage these two elements from one another.
The fact of hypnotic suggestion, which has been so much talked of recently that it has nearly become wearisome, is nevertheless one of the most certain and best established facts. It causes astonishment solely by the extraordinary consequences which have been seen to be produced by it; for, at bottom, it was not unknown. It is a familiar fact that there can always be more or less of communication, in normal sleep, between the sleeper and the persons around him. No one is surprised, for example, that when music is performed in the presence of a person who sleeps through it without waking, he will say on waking that during his sleep he attended a concert of angels. The sensation has been entangled with the sleep, and has suggested by association a series of images which have a relation to it. It is known, also, that we can, in some cases, act upon the sleeping man, and obtain responses by speaking, or excite and direct his dreams by some other mark. This elementary fact, exaggerated and developed in certain organizations, and in particular diseases, especially in hysteria, has become the extraordinary fact of suggestion with all its consequences. It is not impossible to find its origin in the normal state. If we tell an infant that the murmuring wind is the voice of a weeper, or that a pale reflection of moonlight is a ghost, it will hear voices and see ghosts. The same fact, in hypnotism and hysteria, produces surprising phenomena. Movements, sensations, and more or less complex acts may be suggested to the hypnotized patient. Illusory sensations, and consequently hallucinations, can also be provoked. Like effects can be obtained without a real object, and by virtue of speaking alone, or even by the simple association of ideas. Suggestion can even be brought to bear upon purely physical phenomena, as, for example, paralysis. We speak now of subjective burnings, of suggested blisters; and possibly the strange phenomena of stigmatics may have their origin in something of the kind. The suggestions of acts are the most important in this category, because they are what most cause somnambulists to resemble wakeful men, while passing from the domain of sleep into that of waking. They provoke the grave question of responsibility. Suggestions of this kind can be relegated to three groups: suggestions made during sleep of acts to be accomplished during sleep; suggestions made during sleep of acts to be accomplished during the wakeful condition; and suggestions during the wakeful condition of acts to be accomplished while awake. Here suggestion appears in its most wonderful manifestations; for examples are cited of suggestions enduring three months of incubation. Nothing is, without doubt, easier than to suppose a simulation under such circumstances; and our professors of hypnotism do not make efforts enough to invent counter-proofs and traps against imposture. But the number of facts bearing upon the matter is so considerable, and they are verified by so many examples, that a universal deception would be as hard to understand as the fact itself.
We can give only a bare outline of the facts here and will merely add that the question of suggestion raises many others; among them that of the relation of hypnotism to hysteria; that of hypnotic phases (lethargy, catalepsy, and somnambulism), which are affirmed at Paris and denied at Nancy; that of the passage from the normal to the suggestive state, and vice versa; the philosophical questions that are more or less involved in the discussion, such as those of free-will and responsibility, and the question of double personality.
The fact of sleep may of itself have already suggested the idea of two distinct persons, for we certainly are not the same sleeping and waking. Yet, in sleep, we have recollections from the waking state, and we can remember from sleep when awake. There is, therefore, an essential connection between the two states. There are in natural somnambulism at the same time more and less of analogy with the wakeful condition. In one respect it more resembles wakefulness; for while, in natural sleep, the dream is absolutely incoherent, the somnambulist plays out his dreams; that is, he executes a system of co-ordinated movements having a beginning, a middle, and an end, or a certain coherence. On the other hand, somnambulism is further separated from wakefulness in the fact that the man awake wholly loses the recollection of what the sleeping man has done, while the somnambulist can remember what he has done in a previous sleep. There are, then, in some fashion, two lives, and the hypothesis dreamed of by Pascal is very near to being realized: "If we dreamed every night the same things, it would affect us as much as objects that we see every day; and if an artisan were sure to dream during the twelve hours of every night that he was a king, I believe that he would be almost as happy as a king who should dream for twelve hours that he was an artisan," Pascal speaks here only of dreaming, but it must not be forgotten that somnambulism is composed both of dream and reality. The somnambulist performs actions that take place in the real world; he walks, he writes, he does nearly everything that he does while awake, and is even able to speak and reply. Hence we have only to represent to ourselves somnambulism gaining more and more upon the waking condition, encroaching upon it, and at last becoming a second waking alternating with the other, and retaining only one feature of somnambulism—the loss of recollection on waking. Take the case of Felida, the celebrated subject on whom this double personality was observed for the first time. She (who I believe is still living) has two succeeding and alternating existences, in each of which she has a different character and different trains of thought; but above all remains the characteristic fact that, in the part of her life that corresponds with the former normal condition (for we can now hardly detect a difference between the two states), she does not recollect from her other existence, while in the latter she often remembers from the former. From this we have the expressions secondary condition applied to the second waking, and primary condition applied to the first waking, or original normal state. There are then two selves superposed in a fashion and alternating with one another. If at any moment the memory should disappear from the former state, the rupture would be absolute, and we should be in the situation imagined by Leibnitz: "If we could suppose that two separate, distinct, and incommunicable consciousnesses were acting by turns in the same body, the one during the day and the other during the night, I ask if, in such a case, the man of the day and the man of the night would not be two persons as distinct as Socrates and Plato?"
To the phenomena of succession, are added those of simultaneous doubling of the personality. M. Taine cites an example of this in his work on "Intelligence," from the observations of Dr. Krishaben. A patient had lost the consciousness of his own existence, and had afterward reached the feeling that he was some other one than himself. "It seemed to me," he said, speaking of his first state, "that I was no longer of this world, that I no longer existed; but I had not then the feeling of being another." Of the second state: "I felt myself so completely changed that I seemed to have become another being. This thought imposed itself upon me without my forgetting for an instant that it was illusory." We once saw, in the asylum of Stephansfeld, near Strasburg, a patient who was in the first state and had not yet reached the second, or who had perhaps passed it and had no longer strength enough to believe himself other than himself, for, according to his fancy, he had died in the night. He said to us: "You are very happy, you other people; you have a me, I have no longer a me." He did not even perceive the contradiction, and then we reminded him that he was living, and existed as much as we did. "No," he said, "it is the external powers that sustain me and cause me to live, but not myself." The poor fellow felt that life was escaping him and held only by a thread, that it was hung to some external condition, and expressed the thought in metaphysical terms, having probably made some studies in philosophy; he had at last exteriorized his consciousness, and was very near being some one else than himself. An example occurs in Gratiolet of a patient who imagined that he was in two beds at the same time. In cases of suicidal mania, it is not rare to see the subject doubling himself and hearing voices commanding him to kill himself. He resists; he replies, making the objection and the response at the same time, but he does not believe that it is himself doing both. This is what happens also in spiritualism and in the case of writing or speaking mediums. But in all the preceding cases we perceive that, of the two personalities, one is illusory. A case is presented of optical illusion of the consciousness as there is an optical illusion of the senses; a false interpretation of the phenomena of consciousness, which refutes itself. In the recent experiments in provoked somnambulism, however, we have come to the point of separating distinctly two consciousnesses, one of which seems to be as real as the other. A person converses with you while he is writing a letter, or making a complicated calculation, one of the two personalities not knowing what the other is doing, but each being aware of what itself is doing. This is the most advanced and at the same time the most obscure point of the question.
These are the principal facts with which psycho-physiological science occupies itself. There are many others which it would be tedious to recite; the law of association between ideas and motions, the unconscious motions, the theory of which M. Chevreul began in his work on turning tables; the theory of physiognomy, of which Duchesne de Boulogne has established the physiological basis, and from which Gratiolet and Darwin have drawn psychological results; researches on memory, the theory of hallucination, and the whole domain of mental pathology. Here is a vast field for study for which we are better equipped to-day than ever. There is certainly in it the material for a science, and consequently the basis for a system of instruction. Yet suspicions and scruples, explainable but exaggerated, have been raised against these new studies. It will be well to point them out and estimate them in order to fix, as far as possible, the principles of the question.
It is remarked, first, that physiological psychology is not yet a made and established science. It is, they allege, only a confused mass of doubtful facts and arbitrary opinions; only a collection of hypotheses that have no authority at all in science, and therefore no right to be taught. I admit that there is much in physiological psychology that is conjectural and arbitrary, and that there is too much haste to rush to conclusions and doctrine; but the assertion that there are no certain facts in it, nor a certain number of positive laws, or at least of legitimate researches, appears to me to be refuted by the preceding summary. There is, therefore, a science in a nascent state, a science in the course of formation. The question now is, whether such a science ought to be taught. Instead of seeing an objection in the transitory condition of the science, I see in it only an additional reason for teaching it. The nascent science is the one that needs to be taught. There was great reason for creating in the Faculty of Sciences the chair of Microbiology, although that science was only born yesterday, and changes from day to day to such an extent that the professor may often find himself between one day and another in the presence of unexpected facts that will constrain him to modify his previous assertions. But there was all the greater need of such a chair; for where could any one desiring to occupy himself with this science, and to work for its further progress, prepare himself for it? So with psycho-physiology. Suppose a young philosopher or physiologist, attracted by studies of this character, and wishing to devote himself to them; where could he learn the elements of this science? They are scattered in thousands of volumes of philosophy and medicine, where they are mingled with everything else. Only to examine these books is an infinite task. Add that they are not always easy to get, that no one has them all in his library, and that most of them are written in foreign languages; and, further, that frequently the most important facts are not in special books, but in the memoirs of academies, in the collections of scientific societies, and in scattered pamphlets; and all this without connection, unity, or method. How can any one acquaint himself with it without a guide, without a leading thread? The object of the new chair is to furnish such a guide. Teaching is, therefore, the precise thing necessary to bring the science out of the nascent state.
A more formidable apprehension is the one that there will slip in, under the name of physiological psychology, not a science, but a doctrine, and this—to call things by their right names—the materialistic doctrine. This objection should be examined to the bottom; it is important to have it removed, not only in the interests of sound thought, but also in those of the science which is concerned. Nothing could be more fatal to the future of this science than to give it a materialistic significance.
In principle, psycho-physiological science is neither materialistic nor spiritualistic. It is, or ought to be, exclusively experimental and scientific. Its disinterested character in this respect is proved by the fact, which has not been sufficiently insisted on, that it was founded by men of spiritual belief: the spiritualist Descartes; after him the mystic Malebranche; and, succeeding them, Charles Bonnet, of Geneva, the most religious man of the eighteenth century. Among contemporary German psychologists, as named by M. Ribot, are Lotze, an avowed believer in spirit, who has revived Leibnitzianism in Germany; Helmholtz, the great physicist, is a Kantian, as also is Wundt, the chief of the school, who declares that physiology can account for the inferior but not for the superior faculties of the human mind; Fechner, the discoverer of the law that bears his name, is an illuminate far more spiritual than materialistic; and Weber is a pure physicist, indifferent as between metaphysical schools. Thus, not one of the most authoritative masters of the new science in Germany is a materialist. The same can not be said of all the physiologists who are occupied with these questions; but the science itself is indifferent as between the two doctrines, and can associate itself with either. Yet, to be just, and not to hold to appearances only, it is clear that a science which occupies itself with the physiological conditions of thought, or with the part played by matter in the operations of the mind, will always have a color of materialism. If Descartes had only written the first part of the "Treatise on the Passions," in what could this treatise be distinguished from Lamettrie's "Homme-Machine"? Suppose, now, that in consequence of the multiplication of objects of study, and through the division of labor, an author should limit his studies to the first order of researches, without adding the corrective, as Descartes did in the third part of the "Passions," should that make him pass as a materialist? Certainly not. All that we can ask of him is to leave such questions open.
A second right that can not be denied to psycho-physiology is that of establishing and affirming facts, whether or not they be agreeable to this or that doctrine. For example, the fact of hypnotic suggestion recently brought to light has a frightful appearance to many minds, who believe that it involves the overthrow of moral and social order. The fear is exaggerated and chimerical; but that is not the point to be considered. A fact is always a fact, whatever may be the consequences. The question is, whether it is true: the student should recognize no other. Many of the facts encountered in our studies are obscure and hard to explain, but that does not prevent their being facts; or at least the chief question should be, to learn whether they are facts. Besides, contradictory facts are the ferment of science. I once asked a distinguished man of science how a certain discovery he had made was getting on. "It is not getting on," he replied. "What is the matter with it?" I anxiously asked. "Why," he said, "I find no facts except those which are favorable to it; and," he added, "it takes contradictory facts to teach us. This is true. The theory will either explain the contradictory facts and be fortified by them as the Newtonian theory has been by all the exceptions that have been opposed to it and which have entered into it; or it will be replaced by a wider and more comprehensive theory. In both cases there is a gain for science, which would not have been obtained if we had hesitated, on account of vain scruples, to seek out and verify the facts in question. In principle, every science should be independent of those which come after it. Chemistry, for example, whether organic or physiological, in studying the chemical conditions of life, is held to one thing only—to seek out and discover those chemical conditions—and has no other function. It is not for it to occupy itself with the interests of vital force nor with anything that concerns the vital. Its right and duty are to push as far forward as possible the chemical explanation, for who else is to do it? Then comes the physiologist. His business is to bring into the light the new element which has been added to the former. Chemistry could have been preoccupied with this only to its detriment. If chemistry had been concerned to take care of the existence of the vital principle, it would not have achieved the splendid discovery of organic synthesis which has made the name of M. Berthelot illustrious. Does this signify that life is not a chemical fact? Not at all. But it belongs to physiology, and not to chemistry, to exhibit the peculiar quality that distinguishes the one science from the other.
Applying these principles to psycho-physiology, all the clouds that obscure the question are dispelled. The function of psychophysiology is not to establish the existence of the soul; that belongs to pure psychology and metaphysics. How can we expect to find the soul, personality, freedom, in the study of the organs? The interests of the soul would therefore be very badly placed in the hands of psycho-physiology. They are better confided to other hands; and in touching upon these higher questions, that branch would be doing an injury to the cause which it assumed to serve. Flourens thought he had found a triumphant argument against materialism when he concluded that the brain was a simple and not a multiple organ, the unity of the brain appearing to him to be the proof and the security of the unity of the self. If his argument had been sound, the spiritual doctrine would to-day have been condemned by its own acknowledgment, for it now seems certain that the brain is not a simple but a composite organ.
This kind of independence is generally conceded to all the other sciences which are recognized and have had a long existence. Thus, we do not require political economy to establish the principle of duty, or history to prove the existence of a Providence. There is or there is not a Providence; but the historian knows nothing about it. There is or there is not a principle of duty; but the economist, as an economist, has no cognizance of it. We often even regard as culpable doctrines which make morals intervene in political economy, such as the socialist doctrines which aim to impose devotion and fraternity upon economical transactions. We admit that the law of competition is cruel, but we do not wish as economists to introduce a law of charity to correct it. That is a matter of morals, not of political economy. It is by observing such precise distinctions that political economy has succeeded in constituting itself as a science, This independence is useful not to political economy only, but to morals as well, which has no interest in seeing its peculiar principle confounded with the peculiar principle of the former science, which is mere utility.
The same is the case with history as related to theodicy. Surely, if there is a Providence, it should manifest itself in the series of human events. But no historian of the present, not even the most pious and most Christian, would think of bringing the name and action of God into his history. We explain all historical events by second and profane causes, often also by material or geographical conditions, as when the whole history of England is accounted for by the fact that it is an island. The intervention of gross passions is brought in; sometimes fortuitous encounters or physical needs are invoked; as when the invasions of the barbarians are accounted for by the necessity of their finding food. No historian would say to-day, in a book on the "origins" of France, that God urged the barbarians on, as Salvien did in his "De Gubernatione Dei." One might have religious scruples against pronouncing the name of God in the minor events of history; against saying, for example, that God desired that the Abbé Dubois should be nominated a cardinal, or that Du Barry should enter the bedchamber of the king. What would such a historian reply to a critic who should object to him: "You never pronounce the name of God; you never speak of Providence; your science is atheistic"? The historians of the present time would be astonished at such an objection. But it is of the same kind as that which is made when physiological psychology is reproached with not speaking of the soul, of freedom, and of personality, and with only recognizing the physical conditions of phenomena, although that is the only problem which it pretends to resolve.
As a rule, all the sciences that study the conditions necessary to a higher development can be called, in a qualified way, materialistic with reference to the higher sciences. They are certainly so in the sense conceived by Aristotle, to whom matter was only the basis on which was built and to which was added a new form; and it is still a question in metaphysics whether there is any other matter than that. In the Aristotelian sense, chemistry is materialistic in relation to physiology; physiology in relation to psychology; political economy in relation to morality; geography in relation to history , and history in relation to theodicy. Psycho-physiology thus appears to be in the same condition as the other sciences. In itself it is less materialistic than physiology proper, because it adds an element, consciousness, which physiology does not recognize; but it is more materialistic than psychology proper, which studies consciousness itself and in itself.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.
- The hypothesis is really not by Leibnitz, but by Locke, and Leibnitz has only reproduced it in his "Nouveaux Essais."
- See the remarkable experiments of M. Pierre Janet, Professor of Philosophy at Havre; "Revue Philosophique," December, 1886; May, 1887; and March, 1888.