Jacques Maritain Center : General Metaphysics / by John Rickaby, S.J.

General Metaphysics

Book II.

Explanation of Some Notions Next in Point of Generality to Transcendental Being.


(A) THE second part of this work has an aim like that of the first, so far as it takes up some of those perpetually recurrent notions upon which certain writers have managed to throw very dark shadows. Bringing these forward to the open daylight, it tries to show plain men that they can understand them and be sure of their real validity. The opponents whom we shall seek to encounter will be mainly our English Empiricists, because they represent the most natural aberrations of British intellect; whereas other aberrations are of an imported character, being borrowed especially from Hegel. Lest, however, we be accused of hiding away that luminary from the sight of our readers, we will give a summary statement of his doctrine about the ideas with which we are going mainly to deal; and should this summary seem inviting to readers, they will be set on the task of investigating for themselves, with what results we will leave them to find out for themselves. Mr. Wallace shall furnish the synopsis:{1} "If the first branch of Logic was the sphere of simple Being in a point or series of points, the second is that of difference and discordant Being, broken up in itself. The progress in this second sphere -- of Essentiae or Relative Being -- consists in gradually overcoming the antithesis and discrepancy between the two sides of it -- the Permanent and the Phenomenal." Here precisely are the notions with which we, in our own way, are going to deal, while Hegel follows his way thus: "At first the stress rests upon the Permanent and true Being, which lies behind the seeming, upon the Essence or Substratum in the background, which lies behind the seeming, on which the show of immediate Being has been proved, by the process in the first sphere, really to rest. Then, secondly, Existence comes to the front and Appearances or Phenomena are regarded as the only realities with which science can deal. And yet even in this case we cannot but distinguish between the phenomena and their laws, between force and its exercise; and thus repeat the relativity, though both terms of it are now transferred into the range of the Phenomenal world. The third range of essential Being is known as Actuality, where the two elements in relation rise to the level of independent existences, essences in phenomenal guise, bound together, and deriving their very characteristics from that close union. Relativity is now apparent in actual form, and comprises the three heads of Substantial Relation, Causal Relation, and Reciprocal Relation." Substance, Canse, Relation, and others are the notions we now want to investigate; but we shall not use the Hegelian method, though the fact of its existence we cannot now be accused of having failed duly to advertise. We can claim no more than to have advertised it, for to make its meaning plain is more than we profess to be able to accomplish. At least the reader will recognize the notions which Hegel wants to interpret to him to be those which we also discuss in the following chapters; and furthermore, he will have a specimen page, to show him what very tough material Hegel offers for the philosopher's mastication. In detail we shall seldom recur to Hegel; for our best way of refuting him is to make the clearest and most convincing exposition we can of our own positive doctrine; to which work without further preface we proceed.

The course we have yet to travel over is not quite settled either by the nature of things or by common agreement; but under the guidance of "sweet reasonableness," after having brought Ontology in its stricter sense, as the doctrine of Being, to its close, we must survey those other grounds which General Metaphysics may fairly claim to occupy. Next to Being the scholastics generally place in the treatise a selection from the highest genera, such as they are declared to be by the Aristotelian categories; for these come nearest in their generality to the "transcendental" term which is confined within no one genus however high. The categories are Substance, Quantity, Quality, Relation, Where? When? Posture, Action, Passion, Habit. Of these Substance and Action will claim the lion's share of our attention; Cosmology deals with nearly all the others as well as with the two just mentioned; but we shall merely add to the latter a few notions as to Time and Space. At once it will be perceived that the second part is divided from the first by no very hard and fast line; for in the former, after we had considered Being in its rigorously transcendental characters, we went on further to consider it in its determinations as actual and possible, necessary and contingent, infinite and finite. The chief difference now is, that we are going to borrow the determinations from some of the Aristotelian categories, and consider Being as substantial and accidental, as active in opposition to passive, as relative in opposition to absolute, as spacial and as temporal. So that if any one wants a more accurate partition of our work, he may have it under three headings -- Being as quite undetermined or transcendental, Being as determined by highly general characters not contained in the Aristotelian categories, and Being as determined by highly general characters contained within those categories.

If we may make here one remark as to a matter of precise terminology, the schoolmen do not usually rank God under the categories; yet they apply analogously to Him the terms Substance, Relation, Action. With this understanding we shall make some provision for the application of Substance and Action to God.

(B) (1) The whole of Being is divisible into Substance and Accident; but how these differ it will take us some time to settle, for we shall have much to do in the way of refutation before we come to our own positive doctrine. To begin with, we may make short work of certain definitions which tend to limit, or do actually limit, substance to a single instance, and so favour pantheism. Thus Descartes lays it down{2} that "substance is a thing which exists of itself, in such sort that it needs for its existence no other thing; and, indeed, the substance needing absolutely nothing else can be but one, namely, God." Though the author does not himself teach that God is the only substance, but rather that God is the only perfect substance, yet he leads the way to the pure pantheism of Spinoza,{3} who writes, "By substance I understand that which is in itself and is conceived by itself; in other words, that the concept of which does not need the concept of anything else to aid its formation." That there may be no mistake about his meaning, he plainly declares that no substance can produce another, and that only one substance can exist, of which all other things are either attributes or modes. We should allow to these definitions the element of truth that the completely independent substance is only one; that God is a substance with a perfection wherewith no created thing is a substance; still as we cannot tolerate that finite objects should be regarded as real parts of God, either His attributes or His modes, we dislike the definition of Descartes, while that of Spinoza we wholly repudiate.

(2) The next error about substance will cost us much more labour in its discussion, for we shall have to enter somewhat minutely into the history of opinions. Some may shrink from such minutiae, but perhaps they will have the courage to overcome their repugnance if they are reminded of the importance of the issue. There is a traditional English philosophy which has much vogue in our country to-day; its boast is that it has brought the scholastic notion of substance into utter contempt -- in fact has put it out of all reasonable consideration.

This verdict is widely accepted by numbers who have no notion of the real meaning of the controversy. Hence it is worth while to trace at some length the course of this revolution in thought; and no apology for repeated quotations will be wanted by those who understand that if they are to judge a weighty and intricate case, they must have the patience to hear the witnesses. After the evidence shall come a clear verdict; but it is unwise to precipitate the decision. Moreover, the accused shall speak for themselves, and not through reporters, who often report inaccurately. Locke leads the way in the departure from sound doctrine, but as in the case of essence,{4} so too in the present case, he builds up again with one hand what he had pulled down with the other: he is only a half-hearted destroyer. There are indeed sentences in the 23rd chapter of his second book which seem to prove him a thorough-going iconoclast; for instance this: "Not imagining how simple ideas can subsist by themselves, we accustom ourselves to suppose some substratum wherein they do subsist, and from which they do result; which therefore we call substance. So that if any one will examine himself, concerning his pure notion of substance in general,{5} he will find that he has no other idea of it at all, but only a supposition of he knows not what support of such qualities as are capable of producing simple ideas in us, which qualities are commonly called accidents. The idea of substance being nothing but the supposed, but unknown support of those qualities we find existing, which we imagine cannot subsist sine re substante, without something to support them, we call that support substantia." There are two radical errors here: first, the usual blunder of Locke, that because all actual things are singular, general names do not stand for realities, but are "fictions of the mind;" and, second, the error of fancying that the primary notion of substance is some hidden-away support, really distinct from the accidents which it holds together. As we shall see later, the radical notion of substance is preserved, even though it should prove true that it is substance itself which immediately acts on our senses, manifesting its own qualities as modes of its own activity. Locke himself, whose errors are often rather those of confusion than of complete misrepresentation, gives, in his reply to Stillingfleet, the most ample assurances that in spite of appearances he still believes in the reality of substance.{6} "It is laid to my charge that I took the being of substance to be doubtful, or rendered it so by the imperfect or ill-grounded idea I have of it. To which I beg leave to say that I ground not the being, but the idea of substance on our accustoming ourselves to suppose some substratum: for it is of the idea alone that I speak there, and not of the being of substance. And having everywhere affirmed and built upon it, that a man is a substance, I cannot be supposed to question or doubt of the being of substance. Further, I say, 'Sensation convinces us that there are solid, extended substances, and reflexion that there are thinking ones.' So that I think the being of substance is not shaken by what I have said; and if the idea{7} of it should be yet (the being of things not depending on our ideas) the being of substance would not be shaken by my saying we had but an obscure, imperfect idea of it, and that that idea came from our accustoming ourselves to suppose some substratum; or, indeed, if I should say that we had no idea of substance at all. For a great many things may be, and are granted to have a being, of which we have no ideas. The being then of substance being safe, let us see whether the idea of it be not so too. I have said that it is grounded upon this, 'That we cannot conceive how simple ideas of sensible qualities subsist alone, and therefore we suppose them to exist in, and be supported by, some common subject, which subject we denote by the uame substance.' Which I think is a true reason, because it is the same your lordship grounds the supposition of a substratum on in this very page; even on the repugnancy to our conceptions that modes and accidents should subsist by themselves." Thus Locke takes up the not very clear position, that whether or not he has any real idea of it, there is such a thing as substance; and, moreover, that he has a real idea of it, because of his "custom to suppose a substratum, not imagining how simple ideas can subsist by themselves:" indeed on no account will he be thought "almost to discard substance out of the reasonable part of the world." What he really wants to teach us is, that we understand no more of the admitted reality, substance, than that it is a something -- we know not what -- which is always needful to account for the groups of phenomena brought under our experience; that beyond this generic conception of substance we cannot advance; that being known as a substratum, but otherwise unknown, it may be called "the unknown substratum," which is "fiction of the mind" simply because it is "a general idea."

A last quotation we will give as strongly illustrative of Locke's position, not only as to substance, but as to essence also -- two subjects which authors generally treat in a kindred spirit.{8} "Had we such ideas of substances as to know what real constitutions produce those sensiblc qualities we find in them, and how those qualities flow from thence, we could, by the specific ideas of the real essences in our minds, more certainly find out their properties, and discover what qualities they had or had not, than we can now by our senses; and to know the properties of gold it would be no more necessary that gold should exist and that we should make experiments upon it, than it is necessary for the knowing the properties of a triangle, that a triangle should exist in any matter. But we are so far from being admitted into the secrets of nature, that we can scarce so much as even approach the first entrance towards them. For we are wont to consider the substances we meet with, each of them as an entire thing by itself, having all its qualities in itself, and independent of other things; overlooking for the most part the operations of those invisible fluids they are accompanied with, and upon whose motions and operations depend the greatest part of these qualities which are taken notice of in them, and are made by us the inherent marks of distinction whereby we know and determine them. Put a piece of gold anywhere by itself, separate from the influence and reach of all other bodies, it will immediately lose all its colour and weight, and perhaps malleableness too; which, for aught I know, would be changed into a perfect friability. Water, in which to us fluidity is the essential quality, left to itself would cease to be fluid. But if inanimate bodies owe so much of their present state to other bodies without them, that they would not be what they appear to us, were these bodies that environ them removed, it is yet more so in vegetables . . . and animals . . . . We are then quite out of the way when we think that things contain within themselves the qualities that appear to us in them; and we in vain search for that constitution within the body of a fly or an elephant, upon which depend those qualities and powers we observe in them."

Enough now has been done to give a view of Locke's position; and our next labour must be to find out how Hume took up some of Locke's sceptical hints, and carried them further than his predecessor ever dreamt of going with them. Hume reduces man{9} to a series of "perceptions," which are divisible into "impressions" and "ideas," the impressions being further subdivisible into "sensations" and "emotions" or "passions." The emotions are termed "reflexions."{10} The test of an "impression" is its liveliness as compared with an "idea," which is its "faint copy," and the test of the reality of an "idea" is the possibility of tracing it back to some "impression" as its source. All that can be said of this source itself is, that "sensations arise originally in the soul from some unknown causes:" they are in our regard ultimates. Moreover, impressions and ideas cannot be said to have any substance to hold them together: we are in a position to assert only the bond of phenomenal association.{11} "Were ideas entirely loose and unconnected, chance alone would join them; and 'tis impossible the same simple ideas should fall regularly into complex ones (as they commonly do) without some bond of union among them, some associating quality by which one idea naturally introduces another. This uniting principle among ideas is not to be considered as an inseparable connexion; for that has been already excluded from the imagination; nor yet are we to conclude that without it the mind cannot join two ideas; for nothing is more free than that faculty; but we are only to regard it as a gentle force which commonly prevails. The qualities from which this association arises, and by which the mind is conveyed from one idea to another, are three, namely, Resemblance, Contiguity in time and place, and Cause and Effect." Thus the perceptions themselves are made all in all: they are the acts of no substantial soul; they come and go by their own mutual affinities. Not to real outer substances, but to association of impressions and ideas, is attributed what we know of the arrangements called the order of physical nature: inasmuch as "the senses, in changing their object, are necessitated to change them regularly, and take them as they lie contiguous to each other." Yet Hume does not wholly fail to distinguish "a natural world" from "a mental world": for he says, whatever may be the consistent meaning of his words,{12} that "there is a kind of attraction which in the mental world will be found to have as extraordinary effects as in the natural, and to show itself in as many and in as various forms." One would think that he had pretty nearly identified the two worlds for all purposes of human knowledge. Yet, as though he had been a common realist, he is at pains to assure us of the correspondence between the two, as between two different orders.

We are brought next explicitly to Hume's doctrine on the notion of substance. He tells{13} us to renounce the quest of causes, and to be content with analyzing effects, dividing our "complex ideas" into "Relations, Modes, and Substances." An examination of the last will show us "that we have no idea of substance distinct from the collection of particular qualities. The idea of Substance as well as that of Mode is nothing but a collection of simple ideas that are united by the imagination, and have a particular name assigned to them, by which we are able to recall, either to ourselves or others, that collection." Commonly indeed, but by a "fiction," "the particular qualities are referred to an unknown something in which they are supposed to inhere."

Thus, whereas Locke had maintained that we could not in reason deny substance, though we knew no more about it than that it was a something in which attributes inhered as in their subject, Hume goes beyond his predecessor and declares that reason demands no such bond. He is content with "perceptions," and their laws of association. He is so little concerned with Locke's great question about perceptions, namely, the question of innate ideas, that he dismisses the whole business with a short reference to his own psychology; it is a mere matter of the difference between vivid and faint states of consciousness.{14} "Understanding by innate what is original or copied from no precedent perception, we may assert that all our impressions are innate, and all our ideas not innate." Even admirers of Hume, can hardly withhold their confession that this treatment is too off-hand for so serious a controversy. It is shallow, as is much else in the same author. His thoroughly perverted notion of substance is only part of a perverse system. The reason why Hume cares very little for the word "innate" is obvious: for besides his denial of efficient causality, he leaves no mind wherein ideas may be innate: he has only ideas themselves, and of course it is useless to inquire whether these are innate in themselves. On this point Mr. Huxley, who seems to take his author so much more seriously than that author took himself, gives us most apposite quotations:{15} "What we call the mind is nothing but a heap or collection of different perceptions united together by certain relations." "The true idea of the human mind is to consider it as a system of different perceptions, or different existences which are linked together by the relation of cause and effect,{16} which mutually produce, destroy, influence, and modify each other. In this respect I cannot compare the soul more properly to anything than to a republic or commonwealth, in which the several members are united by the reciprocal ties of government and subordination, and give rise to other persons who propagate the same republic in the incessant changes of its parts." The members of a state are separate substances, living on a substantial part of the globe, and so they can manage to keep up their connexion: but how Hume's unsubstantial perceptions are to hold together in orderly existence without a substantial mind, baffles all conception. The supposition that they do so cohere, offers, as a basis for psychology, a hypothesis on which no solid system can possibly be built.

Hume's very words, and many of them, have purposely been given because of the conviction that, if seriously weighed, they will utterly discredit their author. It is a fact that numbers of people go on swallowing, as a child will swallow poison which is sweetened over with sugar, the reiterated assertion that Hume thoroughly unmasked the fiction of substance, and proved it to be the idlest of scholastic dreams, for which he substituted a thoroughly scientific conception. Whereas the fact is, that his theory stands a very portent of unscientific construction for any one who will examine the case by pulling to pieces the ill-compacted monstrosity. Hume did not believe in his own extravagances. Though he speaks of sensations "as innate," and "rising originally in the soul from unknown causes," yet when forced to retreat from this position, he takes shelter under the ordinary derivation of them, and declares that "an impression first strikes on the senses; of it there is a copy taken by the mind." What gives the impression is "body," and in the reality of "body" we have got to acquiesce, whatever speculatively may be our doubts. For{17} "a man must assent to the principle concerning the existence of body, though he cannot pretend by any arguments of philosophy to maintain its veracity. Nature has not left this to his choice, and has doubtless esteemed it an affair of too great importance to be trusted to our uncertain reasonings and speculations. We may well ask what causes induce us to believe in the existence of body: but 'tis vain to ask whether there be body or not; that is a point which we must take for granted in all our reasonings." This Body, if analyzed, will turn out to be material Substance, and with regard to it Hume's instruction to us is: If you believe what I have been pleased to call my philosophy, you won't believe in body: but the fact is you can't help believing in body, and making it the very basis of your reasoning on corporeal things. Therefore, in practice, yield to the superior force of nature over my philosophy: but all the same respect my philosophy from grounds of high speculation where practical impossibilities may be disregarded.

We have now got a fairly adequate sketch of Hume's vagaries on the question of substance; with the exception that we have not yet quoted his admission that even on the principles of speculative philosophy there are substances, if calling substance no longer a substratum, we define it as{18} "something that can exist by itself." Because, when the time comes, we shall make this our own primary idea of substance -- id quod per se stat -- the declaration of Hume is important, and to some extent we shall agree with our adversary; though we shall have to disagree with his application of the definition which leads to the result that "every perception is a substance, and every distinct part of a perception is a distinct substance."

To the point raised here we shall recur later; at present we will only recapitulate the whole of Hume's most objectionable doctrine in a very few words from Ueberweg:{19} "We have no clear ideas of anything but impressions: a substance is something quite different from an impression: hence we have no knowledge of substance. Inherence (inhesion) in something is regarded as necessary for the existence of our perceptions; but in reality they need no substrate. The questions whether perceptions inhere in a material or in an immaterial substance cannot be answered; neither has it any intelligible meaning." It is the acceptance of this doctrine by so many of the philosophers in England that is a disgrace to the sound sense of the nation. The theory would not be received if its real nature were better understood; and therefore so many pages have been expended in its statement.

Having traced an error from Locke to Hume, we will add a few words about its recent champions. As on of the chief propagators of Hume's bad philosophy in our own generation stands Mill. Not quite unwaveringly, but characteristically, he is an idealist with regard to matter, and assigns to it no known reality outside the senses.{20} "Matter may be defined as a permanent possibility of sensation. If I am asked whether I believe in matter, I ask whether the questioner accepts this definition of it. If he does, I believe in matter, and so do all Berkeleians; in any other sense I do not." So much for his profession of belief as to matter; mind he reduces similarly to actual and possible states of consciousness, with the important addition, that between these there must be some real, though undescribable bond, a bond not required for the connexion of material objects.{21} "The theory which resolves mind into a series of feelings, with a background of possibilities of feeling, can effectually withstand the most invidious of the arguments directed against it. The remembrance of a sensation, even if it be not referred to any particular state, involves the suggestion and belief that a sensation, of which it is a copy, actually existed in the past; and an expectation involves the belief, more or less positive, that a sensation, or other feeling to which it directly refers, will exist in the future. Nor can the phenomena involved in these two states of consciousness be adequately expressed, without saying that the belief they include is, that I myself formerly had, or that I myself shall hereafter have, the sensations remembered or expected. If, therefore, we speak of the mind as a series of feelings, we are obliged to complete the statement by calling it a series of feelings aware of itself as past and present, and we are reduced to the alternative of believing that the mind, or Ego, is something different from the series of feelings, or possibilities of them, or of accepting the paradox that something, which ex hypothesi, is but a series of feelings, can be aware of itself as a series." So deep-seated is Mill's horror of substance that he prefers to take up the paradox, which he calls, "an ultimate inexplicability," such as in last analyses, he says, we must come across because we can explain no further. The same is Mr. Spencer's plea for calling all ultimate scientific ideas "inconceivable," or "unknowable": to "know" is "to comprehend," that is, to rank under some more ultimate idea; but ultimate notions themselves cannot be ranked under more ultimate; they must be accepted with a vague consciousness, but they cannot be known. Mill, therefore, summons up his resolution to make an act of faith "that something which has ceased, or is not yet in existence, can still be in a manner present; that a series of feelings, the infinitely greater part of which is past or future, can be gathered up, as it were, into a single present conception accompanied by a belief of reality." Truly this is "a paradox" on Mill's principles, and may well require the qualifications "in a manner," and "as it were," or some other saving clause to help it out.

In a later edition{22} Mill was driven to make more explicit acknowledgment of the real bond that is requisite to unite together the several states of consciousness. "The inexplicable tie or law, the organic union which connects the present consciousness with the past one, of which it reminds me, is as near, I think, as we can get to a positive conception of self. That there is something real in this tie, real as the sensations themselves, and not a mere product of the laws of thought, without any fact corresponding to it, I hold to be indubitable. Whether we are directly conscious of it in the act of remembrance, as we are of succession in the fact of having successive sensations, or whether, according to the opinion of Kant, we are not conscious of self at all, but are compelled to assume it as a necessary condition of memory, I do not undertake to decide. But this original element which has no community of nature with any of the things answering to our names, and to which we cannot give any name but its own peculiar one without implying some false or ungrounded theory, is the Ego, or self. As such I ascribe a reality to the Ego -- to my own mind -- different from that real existence as a permanent possibility, which is the only reality I acknowledge in matter."

It would not be easy to declare exactly what was the view either of Hume or of Mill; for they both labour under a certain degree of inevitable obscurity; but at any rate the tendency of their teaching has been sufficiently indicated, and we shall possess a fairly clear idea what it is that we have to refer when we seek to establish controversially our knowledge of substance. Mill might suffice as the exponent of Humism in the nineteenth century; but his great ally, Mr. Bain, may usefully be quoted, because some of his utterances will discover to us still more fully the enemy's position, before we make our onset.{23} "Substance is not the antithesis of all the attributes, but the antithesis of the fundamental, essential, or defining attributes, and such as are variable or inconstant.{24} From the relative character of the word attribute, the fancy grew up that there must be a substratum, or something different from attributes, for all attributes to inhere in. Now as anything that can impress the human mind -- Extension, Resistance, &c. -- may be and is termed an attribute, we seem driven entirely out of reality if we find a something that could not be called an attribute, and might stand as a substance. Substance is not the absence of all attributes, but the most fundamental, persisting, inerasable or essential attribute or attributes in each case. The substance of gold is its high density, colour, lustre -- everything that we consider necessary to its being gold. Withdraw these, and gold itself would no longer exist; substance and everything else would disappear." Mr. Bain is not wholly wrong in some of these assertions; for it is true that, in the wide sense of attribute, we can put almost anything into the shape of an attribute,{25} saying even that it is the attribute of a certain object to be a substance; for we can predicate of it that it is a substance. But while we can go with him a certain way, he makes it clear to us that we cannot go with him the whole length of his doctrine. For after telling us that the substance of matter is inertia or resistance, he declares that the substance of mind is feeling, will, and thought; and that "the supposition of an Ego, or self, for the powers to inhere in, is a pure fiction, coined from non-entity by the illusion of supposing, that because attribute applies to something, there must be something which cannot be described as an attribute." Finally, in Mind Mr. Bain has declared that to him "the word substance has no meaning." He cannot therefore allow that behind phenomena "there is anything to scrutinize;" and, he is confident that "certainly in respect to matter we seem to know all that is to be known, as far as regards ultimate properties," and that "if there be anything beneath all this which a grudging power hides from us, we need say nothing about it: to us the curtain is the picture." So we are to give up hankering after a revelation of "an unknown and unknowable substratum," because this is "an idea we cannot possibly obtain by experience.{26}

Our English philosophers in their denial of substance have a following in France, where M. Taine{27} declares his opinion that "there is neither spirit nor matter, but only groups of movements actual and possible, and groups of thoughts actual and possible; there are no substances, but only systems of facts, . . . substance and force being relics of scholastic entities: there exist only facts and their laws, events and their relations." The only legitimate sense which he allows to substance is that "substance is the whole of which the qualities are the constituent parts," or "the different points of view," taken singly and by abstraction from the rest. The empirical school, in their denial of substance, were opposed by Hamilton and his school; but he rests his cause on his very awkward law of the Conditioned, which is so often dragged in to decide a controversy. By this law we are supposed to be forced to pass beyond the phenomenal to the noumenal.{28} "Take substance. I am aware of a phenomenon -- a phenomenon be it of mind or of matter; that is, I am aware of a certain relative, consequently conditioned, existence. This existence is only known, and only knowable, as in relation. Mind and matter exist for us only as they are known for us: and they are known only as they have certain qualities relative to certain faculties of knowledge in us, and we certain faculties of knowledge relative to certain qualities in them. All our knowledge of mind and matter is thus relative, that is, conditioned." But we cannot think mind or matter as only thus conditioned, but "are compelled by a necessity of nature to think that out of this relativity it has an absolute or irrelative existence -- an existence as absolute or irrelative, unknown and incomprehensible; that it is the known phenomenon of an unknown substance." It is very troublesome to have to believe an object which we declare unknown: and therefore we will try to give an account of substance which shall make it the known object of our conceptions as well as of our belief. We will endeavour to show that it is a notion quite intelligible in itself, to which reality answers on the side of the object, and which is derived from the most ordinary use of our understanding.

(3) The work now before us, which is not a slight one, is gradually to disengage the essential idea of substance, and to show that this idea represents something real.

(a) Roughly it is said that substance is what exists by itself and does not inhere in another: but this declaration is open to misconstruction until it is more precisely limited. For a spoon inserted into some preserves is a substance, though it inheres in something else. Upon this earth of ours, where nothing seems to stand by itself, but everything is supported by some other objects, we need a more accurate determination of substance than simply to say, it is that which exists of itself without being sustained by another. Not only may substance rest on substance, but the schoolmen speak of substantial forms, which are obviously not accidents, yet which inhere in matter, as, for instance, man's soul in his body; and they speak also of substantial forms still more dependent on matter, so that they could not exist alone, as does man's soul after death. To put before ourselves a clear notion of the mode of inherence which distinguishes an accident, we had better select a class of real accidents about which there can be no dispute. A man may dispute whether his faculties are really distinct from his soul: but that the acts of these faculties, his thoughts and volitions, are in some real sense distinct from his soul is a truth which St. Thomas says no sane person can dispute.{29} Ideas and wishes come and go: they so depart as to leave habits formed, and memories of themselves afterwards recallable: they are joined to a continuous consciousness in the unity of the Ego, or I; the successive states are real, and the mind to which they belong is real, and the contrast between the two gives, on reflexion, the two different notions of substance and accident. It is irrational, after the teaching of Hume, to regard each "perception" or mental phenomenon as a distinct substance, and it is equally irrational to regard it as an activity or state belonging to no substance. Wandering thoughts we may have in one meaning of the phrase, but it is nonsense to talk of thoughts existing apart from a thinking substance, or, as Mill puts it, "a series of states aware of itself as a series." This will appear more clearly when we declare what we mean by substance. The like contrast between substance and accidents is shown indisputably between an organism and its sensations, a projectile and its velocity, a carriage and its motion. No one can intelligibly maintain that sensation, velocity, and motion are realities of no sort, or that they are realities not inherent in substance, or that they are realities quite identified with the reality of their substance as such. The examples chosen have all been of the more incontrovertible order: for whether there exist those more than mere modal accidents, as they are sometimes called, that is, quantity and qualities which most theologians suppose to be proved capable of a separate existence by the mystery of the sacramental species in the Holy Eucharist, -- this is a question which we way leave to Theology, for it is chiefly thence that the philosophic theory has been derived. But in the case of thoughts, volitions, and motions we have manifest instances of what we mean by real accidents: for these even by Divine power could not exist at all unless they had a subject of inhesion. On the other hand, no substance rests upon another as in a subject of inhesion: the substance exists per se, and the best way to fix in the mind the distinction between the two modes of existence is steadily to contemplate the case of mind with its thoughts and volitions, or of body with its movements at different velocities. "Substance is Being inasmuch as this Being is by itself; accident is that whose Being is to be in something else (tanquam cujus esse est inesse)." Such is the definition of St. Thomas formed in accordance with the method of discrimination above explained.{30}

As repetition in these matters is useful, the account already given shall be given again in the words of a scholastic writer who is not at all inclined to exceed in his scholasticism. "As soon as we begin," says Tongiorgi,{31} "to reflect upon our experience, whether inner or outer, we obtain the notion of substance and accident, even though the philosophic names be unknown to us. For in truth so many changes, and such constant succession in things, straightway show us that there must be something which is recipient of these -- which gains and loses them -- which is their subject. For example, the wax which I handle is now warm, now cold; first hard, then soft, and finally liquid; by the pressure of the fingers it acquires first one shape, and afterwards another: yet throughout it is the same piece of wax. There is, therefore, a subject permanent under the successive changes: it is one while they are many; it can be without any particular set of them, they cannot be without it, for they are precisely its modifications. Similarly as regards the experience of our inner consciousness: amid the multitude, variety, and succession of the ways in which we are consciously affected, we perceive something which is one, the same, and constant, namely, that which is the subject of the different states, and which experiences them as its own. Thus experience, outer as well as inner, furnishes us the idea of something which is per se and of something which is in altero; the former is substance, the latter accident. And between these two conditions of Being there is no medium: there is no Being which does not belong to the one or the other category." Hence substance is said to be id quod est, while accident is said to be id quo est: substance is that which is: accident is that whereby substance is modified. Of the two orders of experience, internal and external, the former is the most telling: the merest rustic is convinced that he has some permanent self, which undergoes the real vicissitudes of joy and sadness, of love and hatred, of heat and cold, of hunger and satisfied appetite. The unity is necessary for the comparison, and the variety of conscious affections is necessary to furnish the materials of comparison.

When, therefore, it is said that analysis or reflexion is necessary to draw out from experience the distinction between substance and accident, it need not be strictly a philosophic process: common sense is adequate to the task, though philosophy may do it more perfectly. Reid{32} introduces an unnecessary mystery into the grounds for the judgment that qualities imply a subject; whereas it is an obvious interpretation of facts, when we assert substances and accidents, and declare the latter to depend for their existence upon the former, or to be inherent in their respective subjects. We maintain the distinction to be given by a most rational analysis of experience, within the competence of any fairly educated man: whereas Reid attributes it to unaccountable "suggestion," or to "an inference" which we cannot logically defend. "If any man should demand proof that sensation cannot be without a mind or sentient Being, I confess that I can give none; and that to pretend to prove it seems to me almost as absurd as to deny it."{33} Then he falls back as usual on the mysterious process of nature which no man can account for:{34} "Leaving Hume's philosophy to those who have occasion for it, and can use it discreetly as a chamber exercise, we may still inquire how the rest of mankind, and even the adepts themselves, except in some solitary moments, have got so strong and irresistible a belief, that thought must have a subject, and be the act of some thinking Being: how every man believes himself to be something distinct from his ideas and impressions -- something which continues the same identical self when all his ideas and impressions are changed. It is impossible to trace the origin of this opinion in history, for all languages have it interwoven in their original construction. All nations have always believed it. The constitution of all laws and governments, as well as all common transactions of life, suppose it. It is no less impossible for any man to recollect when he himself came by this notion; for, as far back as we can remember, we were already in possession of it, and as fully persuaded of our own existence, and the existence of other things, as that one and one make two. It seems, therefore, that this opinion preceded all reason, and experience, and instruction: and this is the more probable because we could not get it by any of these means. . . By what rules of logic we make the inference it is impossible to show; nay, it is impossible to show how our sensations and thoughts can give us the very notion either of a mind or of a faculty." Reid's mystery is merely the mystery, how there can be such a thing as reason at all; but if we take the fact on the abundantly sufficient evidence which comes before the consciously active reason that is within us, all will go well. We must reach an end of explanations somewhere, and if that before which we are brought to a standstill is self-evident truth, there is no room for decent complaint; it is not as though we stopped short at Mr. Spencer's "inconceivable ultimates." The analysis by the reflecting mind of its own experience into acts or phenomena which are transient, and into subjects of such acts or phenomena, giving to them their connexion, rests ultimately on intuitively evident data. Therefore it is a rational process with which we ought to rest content. We have already in part described the process: but more remains to be done before we have adequately established the idea of substance.

(b) It is necessary to explain more fully what is meant by existing per se, and what by existing in alio. There is a sense in which God alone exists per se, that is, independently of all else; and there is a sense in which every created substance exists in alio, for in God "we live, move, and have our being." Not only did God create all finite things, but He is omnipresent to them, and ever conserves them in existence, or else they would be annihilated. "For how could anything endure if Thou wouldst not? or be preserved if not called by Thee?"{35} By agreement, then, the schoolmen have settled that they will not mean by per se the self-existence which is proper to God alone. To mark the distinction, St. Thomas even rejects, with an explanation, the definition of substance, which under another explanation might be accepted. "The definition of substance," he writes,{36} "is not Being per se without a subject" (ens per se sine subjecto). At first sight the words appear to deny what we want to prove, namely, that to be per se is just what we ought to mean by substance. But the divergence simply turns on a double use of Being, either for existence or for the thing or quiddity which may exist: St. Thomas is speaking of the former, we are keeping our original engagement to abide by the latter. He says that absolutely to exist per se is peculiar to the Divine substance; but that hypothetically, if a created substance exist, it will exist per se (quidditati seu essentiae substantiae competit habere esse non in subjecto). On a like supposition St. Thomas, in another place,{37} defines substance as "a thing to the nature of which it is due that it should not exist in a subject" (res cujus naturae debetur non esse in alio). The schoolmen, in order to leave per se applicable to both uncreated and created substance, have chosen a se to signify the special character of the former. When they affirm that some created things must exist per se, they do not deny that these things are from God, but they assert that the created world is not a mere series of accidents, one inherent within another, and the whole either left without any subject or assignable to God as a subject. Such a series, whether it is regarded as finite or infinite, and such an inherence of all creatures in God as their substance, both involve impossibilities. Therefore our conclusion is that there are created substances, which in their own order are ultimate subjects, and do not inhere in other subjects: so far they exist per se. They are the entia, while their accidents stand in regard to them as entia entium. The doctrine is as old as Aristotle, who teaches that substance is "primarily and simply Being" (to prôtôs on, kai haplôs on),{38} while accidents are "not simply Being" (oud onta, hôs haplôs eipein).{39} St. Thomas repeats the same doctrine. Even Hume, in a passage already quoted, says that he admits the reality of substances in the sense of things that exist by themselves: his error is to declare "perceptions" to be substances of this kind. Accordingly we are safe in our definition and in our understanding of it: substance is that which exists per se, or which has its own proper Being (id cui ratione sui convenit esse, cui competit esse non in alio); and thus it is opposed to accident, which exists in alio, or which at least naturally, whatever may happen preternaturally, has its Being only by inherence in a subject.

(c) It will give us the key to a host of difficulties if we hold firmly to this as the most radical definition of substance. According to it we see that God is a substance, though He has no accidents, and does not present within Himself the double fact of a permanent essence, modified by perpetual changes of state. Etymologically indeed substance suggests substare accidentibus, "to underlie accidents:" but many a word, when applied to God, has to give up its etymological meaning, which even as applied to creatures often presents a superficial aspect rather than an essential nature. Now the chief attack on substance is made precisely on this misconception, that the inmost essence of the notion is a substratum, hidden away under qualities really distinct from itself, a fixed, unchangeable thing clothed in attributes, some variable, some constant, but all, as was just said, really distinct. Such is the interpretation of the scholastic theory by most opponents: while the schoolmen themselves have held up existence per se as the fundamental notion of substance. For, first, it is clear that they could apply no other definition to God, whom they never regarded as a compound Being, with attributes that were "accidental." Moreover, even with regard to created substance, they were aware of the enormous philosophic difficulty in the proof of what are sometimes called "absolute accidents that are more than merely modal," for the demonstration of which they relied not on mere arguments from reason, but upon consequences which they thought to be involved in the Church's doctrine about the Holy Eucharist. Notwithstanding which dogma, they had among their numbers those who taught that the substance of the soul was the immediate agent in thought and volition, and did not act through the medium of really distinct faculties. In support of this historic assertion about the schoolmen, take the words of an author writing in the thirteenth century, Henry of Ghent:{40} "The substance of the soul, which is really one thing, nevertheless according to its different determinations is said to have different faculties of intellect and sense: but radically its faculties are nothing but its simple substance, the diversity of powers adding nothing over and above its essence, except a reference to the diversity of its activities according as their objects vary." Duns Scotus was another who taught that the substance of the soul was the immediate agent in its activities, without the interposition of really distinct faculties; and he, being the head of a school, had many followers. These words are his:{41} "The substance of the soul is really identical with its faculties; so that while in relation to body the soul is its substantial form, it takes the name of different faculties according to its different operations. Thus the soul is the eliciting principle and the recipient of its own acts, as appears in the act of intelligence: by its own substance it is at once the efficient cause and the subject, not by any faculty which is really distinct." What is here taught in regard to the soul was taught also in regard to material agencies: and Suarez, if not an advocate of the opinion, is at least a witness as to its probability on mere philosophic grounds{42} He says:

"St. Thomas, with a sufficient amount of proof (satis probabiliter) establishes, that in every created nature the immediate principle of action is distinct from the substance, and is, therefore, an accident. To assign a reason for this a priori is difficult, though St. Thomas gives several probable arguments, which Scotus and others impugn, while Capreolus and Cajetan offer a vigorous and wideranging defence. But I think the efforts of these two latter writers unavailing, because in truth their reasons are not conclusive, nor ought a wise philosopher, in a question so recondite, to look for demonstration.{43} For unless it can be shown to be above the degree of perfection possible to a created substance to be the immediate and single principle of an act which is in the order of accidents, we can assign no a priori reason why our present created agencies should always stand in need of an accidental principle whereby to act. That a creature should act proximately and solely by its own substance does not seem to require an infinite perfection in the order of substances; and only infinite perfection seems to be incommunicable to creatures."{44} The purport of these quotations must not be misconceived: we have not got to settle the question of the real difference between substance and the most absolute of the "absolute" accidents, buħ we have got to refute a common error. That error is that the scholastic notion of substance stands or falls with the truth of the supposed substratum, upon which are engrafted qualities or activities really distinct from it, and manifesting themselves to us as the only objects of our immediate experience. Against this theory we are showing that the essential notion of substance is, not that it is such a substratum, but that it is a Being existing per se: and that so far as substance is a substratum, the one class of accidents which are philosophically demonstrable beyond all controversy are modal accidents, such as thought, volition, and motion. Let us see what is meant in the words of a non-scholastic author: Mr. M'Cosh's opinion suffices for substance and for the substratum so far as the authors above quoted undertake fully to prove it apart from theological considerations: "I do not stand up," he says, "for an unknown substratum, beneath the known thing; whatever is known as existing, as acting, as having permanence, I regard as substance." So much reason can establish, putting it beyond a doubt that each distinct agent is a substance; but for the downright proof that there are accidents of quantity and quality which by Divine power might be made to go on existing and acting when their substance was no more, the schoolmen rested on their interpretation of the real species in the Blessed Sacrament. This assertion, perhaps, will sound suspicious without witnesses, but witnesses we have in abundance. Among recent authors Dr. Dupont testifies that not philosophy, but theology, gave rise to the question of accidents which are more than merely modal.{45} Father Mendive{46} puts down the proposition not as indisputably true, but as more probable, and his chief arguments are from the Holy Eucharist and from the condition of grace as an accident in the soul; and Lepidi{47} declares that we owe our knowledge on the matter, not simply to the light of reason, but to an inference from revealed doctrine. Nor are these declarations unsupported by what we actually find in the writings of the old schoolmen, as will appear if we return to the passage in Suarez, which we were lately considering. Having said that the arguments of St. Thomas to prove a priori the real distinction of the active powers of a created object from its substance are not demonstrative, he adds that the a posteriori or inductive arguments are better and lead probabiliter satis to a conclusion; but that the convincing proof is borrowed from the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. We are, then, amply warranted in our assertion that among the schoolmen, the essential idea of substance is independent of the controversy about a really distinct substratum; and that, therefore, the brunt of the enemy's attack on the notion is directed against a mere outwork, the capture of which would leave the citadel safe as ever. He who is vaunted as the great victor over the old idea substance, Hume, is its champion in so far as he says that he believes in the existence of substance as in that which exists by itself.

Whether what exists by itself will be permanent or not is a distinct question: it is possible for a created substance to be annihilated, though we are not aware of a complete instance in point: but at any rate, permanence is not of the essence of substance, any more than the non-permanence or succession of accidents is of their essence: Kant, therefore, and Green, are wrong in the leading position which they assign to permanence.{48} A substance would have been a substance, though its duration had been but for a moment.

(d) After having laboriously extracted from conflicting views the essential signification of the word, we can, if we hold by the true principles of human knowledge, assert that substance is a reality known to us beyond the shadow of a doubt. We may resolutely refuse the fetters offered to us by Mr. Huxley, when he propounds the doctrine that, "whether mind or matter has a substance or not, we are incompetent to discuss." We certainly know, besides God, a real world which cannot all be made up of mutually inherent accidents: there is in creation real Being, and the reality of Being implies substance, as Aristotle in the name of sound sense proclaimed: "It is clear that of the various kinds of Being the fundamental is that which answers to the question, What is it? and this signifies its essence or substance."{49} He adds that always to inquire what a thing is, means to inquire what its substance is. Substance he properly looks upon as a real thing, not as a grammatical term meaning the same as subject in regard to predicate, or substantive in regard to adjective. He does indeed remark, of course without reference to mysteries like the Trinity and the Incarnation, that what he calls the "first substance" as distinguished from the "second substance," or a substance in the concrete and singular as distinginguished from substance in the abstract and universal, cannot be the predicate of anything else. "Socrates," for example, cannot be a predicate except to a synonym; but this observation is not all one with saying that substance means only grammatical subject In a sentence. Moreover, the reality of substance becomes certain to us, not only as regards the conscious self of each one of us, but also as regards other objects, whether personal or impersonal. We reject, therefore, as quite unphilosophical the limitation put by Mansel,{50} that "beyond the range of conscious being we can have only a negative idea of substance," and that "in denying consciousness" we deny "the only form in which unity and substance have been presented to us," while between unconscious things "some kind of unity may exist, or it may not," but at any rate, we cannot come to the knowledge of it.

In the end, then, we are in this position. The adversary thought to stop our assertion of substance by arguing that it is idle to affirm the existence of a mere mysterious, unknown something, which is distinct from all that manifests itself in experience. We elude the attempt so to baffle us partly by making substance independent of the question about a distinct substratum, and partly by showing that at least there are real accidents of the merely modal order which are distinct from their subject. With the exception that he says more of Locke than is unqualifiedly true, Rosmini gives a fair compendium of our doctrine:{51} "In my opinion, substance was denied by Locke through a pure misconception, he imagining that more is required than is really the case. In fact, to have the idea of substance it is enough to know that there can be no modification without a subject modified. Now the idea of this subject is the idea of substance. But you may tell me, you do not know what the subject is: nay, further, that you cannot know it, for to you it is essentially an x. Still you know that it is the subject of such and such modifications, the cause of such and such effects, and what do you want more? It is true that if you strip this subject of its modifications, of its properties, of its effects, you have only the x. remaining; but even then you will still have the idea of it, you know the relation which this x has with its perceived modifications. Such is the knowledge we have of substance considered in the abstract; nor have we a right to require more, since there is enough in that knowledge to give us the idea in question."

The mention in this extract of "stripping the subject of its modifications" introduces a point yet to be explained as regards the reality of substance: for it is precisely the taunt which the school of Hume makes against us, that we know nothing but the modifications, and that if we take them away there is a blank left: if we remove all the attributes of a thing, then nothing is left. We must distinguish between attributes and attributes, and between removal and removal. Attributes strictly so called are the accidental modes of a substance, attributes in the wider sense include the substantial characters themselves, as when we say it is man's attribute to have a rational soul, or a nature compounded of body and soul, and when we say that it is God's attribute to be an infinite, self-existent Being. Now it would surely be a mere sophism to play up0n the uncertain use of a word, and because attribute in its larger meaning includes substance to pretend that there is no difference between substance and attribute in its narrower meaning. So much as to the two sorts of attributes: next as to the removal from substance of attributes strictly so called; for only with respect to them has the question any meaning. The removal may be physical and it may be metaphysical or logical. Logically, or by mere mental abstraction, it is clear that we can remove the attributes and still have the concept of substance remaining. What must be confessed, however, is that this concept may be only very generic, such as substance, without further determination, material substance, living substance, &c. For as we declared in the chapter on Essences, our knowledge of them is often very imperfect and generic: so that we specify them, not by genuine specific differences, but by accidental differences, which suffice to mark off one kind of thing from another, without precisely indicating wherein the difference of kind consists. If, however, we take up the consideration of a physical removal, we find that some accidents can be removed and leave the substance intact, as when a ball loses its velocity, or a coal its heat, or a mind its thought. Created means suffice to bring about these removals; but how much further Divine power could go on stripping off accidents while the substance endured, we must not pretend to determine. Those who are fond of conjectures might conjecture, though they could not prove the parity of the two cases, that as in the Blessed Sacrament God leaves the accidents of bread without their substance, so He might leave the substance without any of its accidents. Some accidents at any rate He does remove in a way impossible to nature: for example, the quantity of Christ's Body is left without its connatural extension in space: the Sacred Body is just where the small, round Host is, but it does not become correspondingly round and small.

If, however, on matters like these we are powerless to answer the difficulties of objectors, they are equally powerless to make their difficulties effective against anything that we positively hold. They are ignorant, and so are we, in many things; but neither their nor our ignorance is a reason for renouncing the little knowledge that we can attain.

We must not be thought to have conceded more than in fact we have. When we allowed that created faculties of action may, perhaps, be not really distinct from the substance under its dynamic aspect, we were not allowing that substance may, perhaps, be reduced to a continuous series of activities: that would be more like Hume's view, or Lotze's, who says.{52} "Every soul is what it shows itself to be, a unity whose life is in definite ideas, feelings, and efforts." The faculties may be not really distinct from the substance: they may be the substance itself under the aspects of its various activities; but at any rate a substance there is, and in it the faculties are united, and we have not got mere unsubstantial activities by themselves. If by activities some authors mean substance having these activities, then they are on our side.

After all that has been argued it is needless to enter into a special polemic against Kant's theory that substance is not a real object of knowledge, but a category of the understanding according to which we are obliged to think the objects of our experience, without being sure that things in themselves are substances. It is the perversion of all right reason thus to turn our most evident objective conceptions into mere conditions of conceiving, and Kant himself is not always faithful to his extravagant resolution, to call insight into objective truth a mere form in which mind must act by reason of its subjective nature. Here is our great divergence from him: We hold that when we have before the mind the idea "substance," derived in the manner already explained, then to call such an idea a rule of our thinking, and an a priori form which, so far as we can ascertain, is without any counterpart in the region of objects, means simply to abdicate the empire of reason. For of nothing are we more convincingly assured than that such ideas are ideas, and therefore must represent to us some object; so that to degrade them to mere subjective rules would be equivalently to renounce all objectivity. The further urging of this point would require the repetition of nearly all that is laid down in First Principles; so we forbear to say more.

As we conclude this account of Substance we can hardly fail to remark how vague is the attack of the adversaries on the point, how little they have of definite in their theory of substance except that it is an unknown substratum, something other than anything we come across in our experience of things, something which is the antithesis of all that we can predicate of known phenomena, and which therefore it is a contradiction in terms to pretead to know. Whereas we have seen that the primal notion of substance is Being, which exists per se, in contradistinction to such realities as the figure or the velocity of a body, which clearly cannot exist per se. Hume, the great leader of revolt against substance, himself admits that we must affirm existences, per se, and as such he defines his "perceptions." So that while we teach that there is one substance of mind in each man, with many accidental modes, Hume teaches that there are as many distinct substances as there are "perceptions," the several perceptions being bound together by some indescribable law of association which is not a substance, and not an efficient causality, and not anything to which we can give a name except that of association. The unity of consciousness is impossible on these terms; the creations and the annihilations of substances, which must take place while the perceptions come into being and cease to be, are appalling; and the whole theory is manifestly absurd. Still it is accepted as part of modern wisdom, and like much more of modern wisdom, it is accepted with no very precise intelligence of what it means, or of what is the doctrine for which it is the substitute. In the name of right reason we adhere to the old idea of substance, ens per se stans.

The idea thus vindicated will help to solve the difficulty of those who allow that our means of knowledge put us into some phenomenal relation with things outside us, so that we can adapt ourselves to external conditions, but who doubt whether we have herein any real insight into the things themselves. If substance stands to its phenomenal manifestations in the way which we have partially indicated, then since we cannot know the phenomena without knowing something about outer reality, there are no unreal phenomena, either on the objective side or on the subjective side. Even mental illusions, so far as they are acts of mind, represent some objects, actual or possible. The one reality is not the mysterious substratum which nobody comes across: whatever impresses us must be real, as will appear more fully when in the next chapter we explain the doctrine of efficient causality, and as for the substratum, it is not the unapproachable thing which some strangely imagine.

(4) The bulk of what we have to say about accidents has already been said while we were speaking of them in contrast to substance; but a few details have to be added in order to give further insight into the question. The schoolmen divide accidents into different orders, and some keen controversy arises out of the undertaking. They distinguish accidents into absolute and relative, as will be seen by an inspection of the nine Aristotelian categories which belong to accident. In the last chapter we will give the main outlines of the doctrine of relation. The great difficulty, however, springs up when absolute accidents are divided, as by Suarez,{53} into those which are merely modal, so that not even by miracle could they be preserved apart from their substance, and those which by miracle can be so preserved. The latter are hard not merely to imagine, but even intellectually to conceive, nor would their existence be so confidently affirmed if it were not for the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, which according to the more commonly received doctrine, presents an instance of quantity and qualities continuing to exist as accidents when their substance is gone. The question is, how to regard these so as not to make of them at least imperfect substances? For accident is described not as an entity, but as the entity of an entity; not as that which is, but as that whereby a substance is in some way modified. St. Thomas{54} makes a distinction, saying that while "accident neither has the character of an essence, nor is a part of the essence as such," yet "just as it is a Being secundum quid, or after a manner, so it has an essence secundum quid, or after a manner." This is easily illustrated as regards the merely modal accidents; for example, the velocity of a bullet is certainly not identical with the substance of bullet, and yet its reality is to this extent identified with the bullet that it cannot be passed on, as numerically, physically the same velocity, to another bullet. The motion in the bullet may be destroyed, to give rise to other motions in other bodies, but there is no transfer of one identical motion. Now, if the merely modal accident has a reality, though this cannot otherwise be described than after the example just given, how do we know that even a higher reality may not be possible to some accidents without taking away their character of accidents? Certainly we cannot demonstrate the opposite; and if the fact is proved by the Blessed Sacrament -- on which point theologians are not all agreed -- at least reason has nothing positive to object.

Suarez is thought by many to have confused the subject by denying to mere modal accidents even such distinct reality as they have, and by giving to the more than modal accidents a distinction from their substance greater than they have. It is complained that he does not allow to the compound being, which is made up of substance and more than modal accident, its full unity of being; that he asserts too much of an actual distinction between substance and accident, while they are actually united; and that hence he is obliged to bring in his "modes of union" as third realities to unite the other two. These are very subtle questions, which it is suggestive to see stated, for they add to the range of our ideas about substance and accident; but we need not prolong the discussion of them here. Even if they should leave in the mind a sense of inability to come to a clear decision, they would not therefore upset so much of well-ascertained doctrine as we have previously established. That mind is very poorly educated which cannot put up with unexplained residua at the end of an inquiry which at least has explained part of what was being investigated; nor would a mystery, like that of the Holy Eucharst, be a mystery, if it were intelligible throughout. There is, then, no need for going over to agnosticism, because we cannot hunt some notions down to their deepest recesses; just as there is no need to throw away the microscope because it, too, has its limits. A real distinction has been established between substance and accident, and that is a very useful piece of philosophic knowledge; perhaps, an unsolved difficulty has been encountered, and that also is a very useful piece of philosophic experience.


(1) Our English philosophers have so fixed on Substance as a matter of discussion, and so perverted the notion, that a little more about their doctrines may be acceptable to readers who have an inquisitiveness concerning the disputes which have gathered round this important topic.

(a) James Mill regards substance as a mental fiction, which we might go on multiplying for ever, asserting subject after subject, inherence after inherence; and he puts the whole down to his favourite process of association, whereby he accounts for nearly everything. By association every event calls up the idea of an antecedent or cause, whether this be conceived definitely or only indefinitely, and in the most general terms.{55} "Of this most remarkable case of association, that which we call our belief in external objects is one of the most remarkable instances. Of the sensations of sight, of handling, of smell, of taste, which I have from a rose, each is an event: with each of these events I associate the idea of a constant antecedent, a cause." Thus the quality of red is regarded as the cause of the sensation of red; the qualities of coexistence and extension as the causes of the sensations of touch; the qualities of odour and taste as the causes of corresponding sensations. Here quality always stands for an unknown cause or antecedent. "Such is one part of the process. Another is that by which the ideas of those sensations are so intimately united as to appear, not several ideas, but one idea, the idea of a rose. We have now two steps of association: that of the several sensations into one idea, and that of the several sensations each with a separate cause. But we do not stop here:" for theoretically we go on ever supposing antecedents beyond antecedents, because we never can regard any antecedent as ultimate, Practically, however, we do stop at the notion of a substratum. "The ideas of a number of sensations, concomitant in a certain way, are combined into a single idea, as that of a rose or an apple. The unity which is thus given to the effect is, of course, transferred to the supposed cause, called qualities: they are referred to a common cause. To this supposed cause of supposed causes we give a name substratum. It is obvious that there is no reason for stopping at this substratum; for, as the sensation suggested the quality, and the quality the substratum, so the substratum as properly leads to another antecedent, another substratum, and so on from substratum to substratum without end. These inseparable associations, however, rarely go on beyond a single step, hardly ever beyond two."

This is known as "the regressive process," and is a sore puzzle to puzzle-headed philosophers, but one entirely of their own invention. On the rational explanation that there is one primal Substance, the creator of secondary substances, and that substance in each case is what exists per se, the difficulty quite vanishes. It may look very terrible at first to hear that thought is within faculty, and faculty within mind, and mind within the soul, and the soul within man, and humanity within substance; but some of these distinctions are logical, not real, and even the logical distinctions must come to an end when any further repetition of them serves no rational purpose. Hence we listen unsympathetically to complaints like that of Green:{56} "From mind, as receptive of and operative about ideas, is distinguished mind as 'the substance within us,' of which consciousness is an 'operation' that it sometimes exercises and sometimes does not: and from this thinking substance again is distinguished the man who 'finds it in himself,' and carries it about with him in a coach or on horseback, -- the person 'consisting of a soul and body,' who is prone to sleep, and in sound sleep is unconscious.

(b) In his Logic, when he tries to keep clear of metaphysical controversies, John S. Mill over and above phenomena allows the knowable existence of the noumenon, about which we can make a few predications.{57} "Sequences and coexistences are not only asserted respecting phenomena; we may make propositions also respecting those hidden causes of phenomena which are named substances and attributes. A substance, however, being to us nothing but either that which causes, or that which is conscious of, phenomena; and the same being true, mutatis mutandis, of attributes; no assertion can be made, at least with a meaning, concerning those unknown and unknowable entities, except in virtue of the phenomena by which alone they manifest themselves to our faculties. When we say Socrates was contemporary with the Peloponnesian War, the foundation of this assertion, as of all assertions concerning substance, is an assertion concerning the phenomena which they exhibit Still the proposition does not assert that alone: it asserts that the thing in itself, the noumenon Socrates was existing, and doing, or experiencing various facts during the same time. Coexistence and sequence, therefore, may be affirmed and denied, not only between phenomena, but between noumena, or between a noumenon and phenomena. And both of noumena and phenomena we may affirm simple existence. But what is a noumenon? An unknown cause. In affirming, therefore, the existence of a noumenon, we affirm causation." This knowledge of the unknown is a curious piece of philosophy, which is not made less curious by the assertion that whereas "of noumena we may affirm simple existence," as also "coexistence and sequence," yet "existence has to us no meaning but one which has relation to phenomena,"{58} for "as we conceive it, it is merely the power of producing phenomena." To noumena he professes to be unable to apply the fundamental principles of identity, contradiction, and excluded middle: the reason being, that "we are entirely ignorant" whether these "laws of thought are laws of existence too." No wonder Mr. Mill is anxious to escape from this perplexed state of things; so that in his Logic he claims a position of neutrality:{59} "With the opinion which denies noumena I have, as a metaphysician, no quarrel: but whether it be true or false is irrelevant to Logic:" in which sentence, it is fair to add, that he is speaking of the "outer world" only, and does not undertake to say that it has any existence outside our sensations. "We know nothing, and can know absolutely nothing, except the sensations which we experience from it: the distinctions which we verbally make between the properties of things and the sensations we receive from them, must originate in the convenience of discourse, rather than in the nature of what is signified by the terms."{60}

(c) Lewes, in his Problems of Life and Mind, suffers from the ordinary scare about an unknown substratum. "All we positively know of matter is what its qualities are: and if we group them into a general synthesis, naming the group matter, we are not entitled to infer anything more than is given in the particulars thus grouped. Metaphysicians are, for the most part, all actively engaged in trying to solve the problem of matter by disregarding the known functions, and theorizing on the unknown quantity, disdaining the observabie phenomena." However, Lewes cannot agree with Hume's reduction of the mind to an unsubstantial series of states; though, as we have seen before, Hume calls each state a substance so far as it is something which exists by itself. "In denying a mental substratum," says the critic,{61} "Hume was left in a condition of absolute scepticism: he gave a logical unity to consciousness, and supposed that this logical unity was all that was meant when men spoke of real unity."

(d) A short sentence from Mr. Spencer will give an insight into his theory of substance:{62} "Existence means nothing more than persistence; and hence in mind that which persists in spite of all changes, and maintains the unity of the aggregate in defiance of all attempts to divide it, is that of which existence in the full sense of the word must be predicated -- that which we must postulate as the substance of mind in contradistinction to the varying forms it assumes. But, if so, the impossibility of knowing the substance of mind is manifest." This "substance of mind" is an "indefinite consciousness," "the raw material of thought," which becomes thought as soon as it receives any definite determination by concrete experience. The Unknown Power is ultimately the substance of all things: a doctrine which we have to bear in mind lest we take as too satisfactory sentences which seem to meet our own views as exactly as does the following:{63} "It is rigorously impossible to conceive that our knowledge is a knowledge of appearances only, without at the same time conceiving a reality of which they are the appearances; for appearances without reality are unthinkable."

(e) In his Prolegomena Ethica, Green says:{64} "Substance is that which is persistent throughout certain appearances. It represents the identical element throughout appearances, that permanent element throughout the times of their appearances, in virtue of which they are not so many different appearances, but connected changes. A material substance is that which remains the same with itself in respect of some of the qualities which we include in our definition of matter -- qualities all consisting in some kind of relation -- while in other respects it changes. Its character as a substance depends on that relation of appearances to each other in a single order which renders them changes. It is not that first there is a substance, and then certain changes of it ensue. The substance is the implication of the changes, and has no existence otherwise. Apart from the substance no changes, any more than apart from the effects any cause. If we choose to say that matter exists as a substance, we merely substitute for the designation of it as consisting in relations, a designation of it as a certain correlatum of a certain kind of relation. Its existence as a substance depends on the action of the same self-consciousness upon which the connexion of phenomena by means of that relation depends." We have shown that permanence under change is not the essential idea of substance, and Green's reduction of material substance to relations constituted by the intellect is too idealistic to meet our approval.

(f) Mr. M'Cosh, in getting rid of the unknown substratum as a mere bugbear to Philosophy, gives three requisites for substance. "In saying that the mind is substance we mean nothing more but that in us and in others there is (1) an existing thing, (2) operating, (3) with a permanence. It is high time that those metaphysicians, who defend radical truth, should abandon this unknown and unknowable substratum or noumenon, which has ever been a foundation of ice to those who built upon it. Sir W. Hamilton having handed over this unknown thing to faith, Mr. Spencer has confined religion to it as to its grave. We never know quality without knowing substance, just as we cannot know substance without knowing quality. Both are known in one concrete act; we may, however, separate them in thought. Taking this view, we cannot, without protest, allow persons to speak of substance as being something unknown, mysterious, lying far down in a depth below human inspection. The substance is known quite as much as the quality. We never see an appearance (phenomenon) apart from a thing appearing (noumenon). I understand what is meant by the thing: it is the object existing. But what is meant by the-thing-in-itself? If Ding-an-sich means that there is a thing in addition to the thing as it manifests itself, and as it exercises property, I allow that for aught I know there may be such a thing; but believing that no other man on mere philosophic grounds knows any more about it than I do, I protest against it being represented as a support of the thing known, or in any way essential to it."

We have here an admirable lesson as to the attitude which Philosophy should take to Theology. Philosophically Mr. M'Cosh sees no proof for the distinct substratum; neither does he see disproof: therefore his attitude ought to be one of ready acceptance of anything which may appear demonstrable from theologic sources in regard to the distinction between substance and accidents,

(2) Lotze,{65} however badly he may define the term, claims substance as distinctly a matter of experience. "It has been required of any theory which starts from the basis of experience, that in the beginning it should speak only of sensations and ideas, without mentioning the soul to which, it is said, we hasten without justification to ascribe them. I should maintain, on the contrary, that such a mode of setting out involves a wilful departure from that which is actually given in experience. A mere sensation without a subject is nowhere to be met with as a fact. It is impossible to meet with a bare movement without thinking of the mass whose movement it is; and it is just as impossible to conceive a sensation existing without the accompanying idea of that which has it -- or rather, of that which feels it, for this also is included in the given fact of experience, that the relation of the feeling subject to its feeling, whatever its other characteristics may be, is in any case something different from the relation of the moved element to its movement. It is thus, and thus only, that sensation is a given fact; and we have no right to abstract from its relation to its subject because this relation is puzzling, and because we wish to obtain a starting-point which looks more convenient, but is utterly unwarranted by experience. In saying this, I do not wish to repeat the frequent but exaggerated assertion, that in every single act of feeling or thinking there is an express consciousness which regards the sensation or idea simply as states of a self: on the contrary, every one is familiar with that absorption in the context of a sensuous perception which makes us forget our personality."

(3) Great stress is laid by adversaries on the assertion that if any substance were made known to us, it would be our own; but that about our own selves consciousness testifies only that there are successive states. We answer that these states are reported to us, not in the abstract, but in the concrete, and that the most simple analysis, by reflexion, of what is involved in them, gives us the two elements -- permanent substance and its variable modifications at successive times. It is enough if we settle that there is some substance of self: for the purposes of General Metaphysics are satisfied if we prove only that the most generic concept of substance is real; as to our knowledge of specific substances, that, after the establishment of substance in general, may be judged by what has before been said in the chapter on Essences. Locke, therefore, allowed what we are contending for when he allowed that we are certain of a substratum and of its reality.

{1} Logic of Hegel, p. cxxi.

{2} Princip. Philosoph. Pt. I. a. 51. Compare Reid's, definition, Works, Vol. I. p. 232.

{3} Ethic, Pt. I. definit. 3. Cousin also allows only one real substance, or one Being, which he defines as that "which in ardor to its existence supposes nothing outside itself."

{4} See Pt. I. c. ii.

{5} It is over the nature of the reality to be found in universal Ideas that Locke is perpetually tripping. It was so over essence.

{6} See note to Bk. II. c. xxiii. In c. i. he says, "We know certainly by experience that we sometimes think, and thence draw the infallible consequence that there is something in us which has the power to think," i.e., "a substance."

{7} Locke should have observed that unless his idea of substance was of substance as a reality, i.e., a real idea of substance, he could have no right to affirm that the being of substance was real. His idea must tell him that, or else he must remain in ignorance.

{8} Bk. IV. c. vi. § II.

{9} Treatise, Bk. I. Pt. I. sect. i. "Those perceptions which enter with most force and violence we name impressions; by ideas we mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning."

{10} Ibid. sect. ii. compare Inquiry, sects. ii. and iii. Hence Mr. Spencer borrows his "vivid" and "faint aggregate" as to the two ultimate divisions in Philosophy.

{11} Ibid. sect. iv.

{12} Treatise, Bk. I. Pt. IV. sect. ii.

{13} Treatise, Bk. I. Pt. IV. Sects. iv. and vi.

{14} Inquiry, sect. ii. note at the end of the section; Treatise, Bk. I. Pt. I. sect. i. in fine.

{15} Huxley's Hume, Pt. ii. c. ii. pp. 63, seq.

{16} Of course on Hume's theory of causation, which excludes all efficiency or genuine causality, yet uses the terms "produce, destroy, influence, modify."

{17} Treatise, Bk. I. Pt. IV. sect. i.

{18} Ibid. sect. v.

{19} History of Philosophy, Vol. II. p. 524. (English translation.)

{20} Examination, c. xi. p. 198. (2nd Edit.)

{21} Ibid. c. xii. pp. 211, 212

{22} Appendix, p. 256

{23} Logic, Vol. I. Appendix C. n. vii. p. 262.

{24} Mill says the same thing, Examination, c. xiii. p. 219.

{25} Spinoza's definition is calculated to identify attribute with substance. "Per attributum intelligo id quod intellectus de substantia percipit, tanquam ejusdem essentiam constituens." (Ethic. definit 4.) He thus distinguishes an attribute from a mode.

{26} Logic, Vol. I. Introduction, n. 16.

{27} Le Positivisme Anglais, p. .14.

{28} Reid's Works, p. 935.

{29} Quaest. Disp. de Spirit, a. xi. ad 1.

{30} "Substantia est ens tanquam per se habens esse: accidens, vero tanquam cujus esse est inesse." (De Potentia, a. vii.)

{31} Ontologia, Lib. II. c. i. art. 1.

{32} Intellectual Powers, Essay ii. c. xix. See too his complaint about the relativity of our knowledge of body. (Active Powers, Essay I. c. i.)

{33} Reid's Works, p. 108.

{34} Idem. p. 110. See too what is said of "suggestion," pp. 111, 122.

{35} Wisdom xi. 26.

{36} Sum. iii. q. lxxvii. a. i. ad 2.

{37} Quodlibet, ix. a. v. ad 2.

{38} Metaphys. Lib. VII. c. i.

{39} Ibid. Lib. XII. c. i.

{40} See the account of Henry of Ghent in Stöckl's Geschichte der Philosophie, Band II. § 204.

{41} Ib. § 225. See also a list of authors quoted by Hamilton, Metaphys. Lect. xx. pp. 5, 6.

{42} Metaphys. Disp. xviii. sect. iii.

{43} Lepidi says: "In this question it seems that nothing can be said for certain." (Ontologia, Lib. III. c. vi. n. vii.)

{44} Of the various views on this point St. Bonaventure says: "Quaelibet opinio suos habet defensores: nec est facile rationibus cogontibus earum aliquam improbare." (In Lib. II. Distinc. xxiv.

{45} Ontologie, Thèse 48, p. 174.

{46} Ontologia, pp. 145-151.

{47} Ontotogia, pp. 184, 185.

{48} Critique of Pure Reason, Vol. II. pp. 130, 160. (Max Müller's Translation.)

{49} phaneron hoti toutôn prôton on, to ti estin hoper sêmainei tên ousian. (Metaphys. Lib. VII. c. i.) Aristotle says that "second substances, that is, genera and species," are not in a subject, but are affirmed of a subject, "whereas first substances," that is, individual substances in the concrete, neither are in, nor are affirmed of, a subject." (Categor. c. vi.)

{50} Prolegom. Log. c. v. pp. 131, 132.

{51} The Origin of Ideas, Vol. I. sect. iii. c. ii. a. i. p. 37, in a footnote. (English Translation.)

{52} Metaphys. Bk. III. c. i. § 245.

{53} Metaphys. Disp. vii. sect. i.

{54} De Ente et Essentia, c. vii.

{55} Analysis, c. xi.

{56} Inroduction to Hume, § 131.

{57} Bk. I. c. v. § 5

{58} Examination, c. xxi. p. 418. (2nd Edit.) Similarly Spencer holds that our ultimate scientific ideas are symbolical of the Ultimate Reality, and may be taken as practically representing it. but not as making known to us its true nature.

{59} Logic, Bk. I. c. iii. § 8, in the note.

{60} Logic, Bk, I. c. iii. § 9. Compare Ferrier's Remains, Vol. II. p. 296.

{61} History of Philosophy, Vol. II. p. 315. (3rd Edit.)

{62} Psychology, Part II. c. i. § 59. We notice that in the Index to the Epitome of Mr. Spencer's philosophy by Mr. F. H. Collins, the word substance is not found worthy of a place in the Index -- a copious Index of twenty-seven pages, double columns.

{63} First Principles, p. 88.

{64} Pp. 55. 56.

{65} Metaphys. Bk. III. c. i. § 241.

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