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duty and happiness, order and progress, opinion and emotion, will be reconciled and caused to work together for the good alike of the individual and of society. It sets before itself, in a word, an aim of the very largest and grandest kind conceivable; and as Comte believed that he had been signally successful in performing his mighty task, we need hardly wonder that he should have boldly claimed to have rendered to his race the services both of a St Paul and an Aristotle.
Is the system as consistent as it is undoubtedly comprehensive ? Comtists themselves cannot agree as to the answer which ought to be given to this question. A few of the more enthusiastic and thoroughgoing among them — such as Dr Bridges, Mr Congreve, and, in a lesser degree, perhaps, Mr Harrison-reply in the affirmative, and accept the system as a whole. A much larger number, of whom, since the death of Mr J. S. Mill, M. Littré is the most conspicuous representative, answer in the negative, and will have nothing to do with the positivist religion. I have no wish to take part in this controversy, which is of no very great importance, and in regard to which, besides, I have elsewhere stated the conclusion at which I have arrived. As, however, the philosophy and religion of Comte are both anti-theistic, and yet, in my opinion, inconsistent with each other, I must consider them
separately,—the one in so far as it would simply push theism aside, and the other in so far as it would provide a substitute for it.
What, then, is the attitude of the positive philosophy towards religion? As represented by Comte, it may be thus described. We know, and can know, nothing except physical phenomena and their laws. The senses are the sources of all true thinking, and we can know nothing except the phenomena which they apprehend, and the relations of sequence and resemblance in which these phenomena stand to one another. Mental phenomena can all be resolved into material phenomena, and there is no such thing discoverable as either efficient or final causation, as either an origin or purpose in the world, as, consequently, either a creative or providential intelligence. The mind in its progress necessarily finds out that phenomena cannot be reasonably referred to supernatural agents, as at a later period that they cannot be referred to occult causes, but that they must be accepted as they present themselves to the senses, and arranged according to their relationships of sequence or coexistence, similarity or dissimilarity. Wherever theological speculation is found, there thought is in its infancy.
Now, the first remark which this suggests is, that it is not consistent even as a theory of positivism. It is to a considerable extent a mate
rialistic theory, and so far as it is materialism it is not properly positivism. Materialism supposes matter to be more than a phenomenon. It supposes it to be a substance and a cause. The positivist may answer that such phenomena as feelings and thoughts are not resolved into material substances or causes, but into material phenomena. The self-contradiction, however, is not thus to be got rid of. If we know merely phenomena, we never can be warranted to say that those which we call mental can be resolved into those which we call physical. We can only be warranted in saying that the two classes of phenomena are related as coexistent or successive, similar or dissimilar. Comte went far beyond this, and therefore far beyond a self-consistent positivism-i.e., phenomenalism.
Further, the limitation or reduction of pheno mena to material phenomena is unwarranted. We have a direct and immediate knowledge of thinking, feeling, and willing, and simply as phenomena these are markedly distinct from the phenomena called material. They are never, as material phenomena always are, the objects of our senses. But we are at least as sure of their existence as of the existence of material phenomena, and to deny or overlook their existence is to reject or ignore that which is most indubitable. There is no testimony so strong as the direct immediate testimony of consciousness. When we feel or think or will, when we perceive or remember, love or hate, we know that we do so with a certainty the most absolute. The consciousness which a man has of any state of mind at the moment when he experiences it, is not sufficient to inform him whether the state be simple or complex, original or derivative — whether it be coextensive with human consciousness or extend into the consciousness of the lower animals, or be peculiar to the consciousness of a portion of the human race or to the individual himself; nor is it sufficient to establish whether there be anything outwardly corresponding to it, but it is sufficient to establish beyond all doubt that there is such a fact in the mental experience of the individual. The most thorough scepticism cannot challenge its evidence when limited to this sphere. It is only, in fact, at this barrier that absolute scepticism is arrested. Absolute scepticism refuses to admit that in external or sense perception things appear to us as they actually-i.e., in themselves
-are, but not that internal or self consciousness apprehends its objects as they really exist. In external perception what apprehends is mind, and what is apprehended belongs to an altogether different world, which may or may not correspond to it; whereas in internal perception the object itself falls within the consciousness, exists only as it is known and is known only as it exists, consciousness and existence being here coincident, and in fact identical. Internal consciousness thus carries with it stronger evidence than sense. The so-called positivism, therefore, which affirms that the objects of sense are the only phenomena apprehended, instead of keeping close to facts, as it pretends to do, contradicts the facts which the experience of every moment of conscious existence testifies to in the most direct and decisive manner. Its most obvious characteristic is the disregard of facts. A number of the adherents of positivism have, consequently, left the company of Comte at this point. They have insisted, very properly, that mental states are positive facts, and the appropriate data of science no less than physical processes.
The attempt to defend Comte's position by maintaining that the phenomena of thought, feeling, and volition are not denied, but only referred to the bodily organisation, and thereby included among material phenomena, fails in two respects. In the first place, it cannot justify what it maintains. Mental states may have physical conditions and antecedents, but no mental state has ever been resolved into what is physical. In the second place, if consciousness could be fully explained by organisation, that would prove the truth of mate
1 See Appendix XX. .. .