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


(1) WE are now about to enter upon questions on which once more differences of theory about the origin of knowledge make themselves very conspicuously felt. To the pure empiricist, Relation, Space, and Time are ideas that result from complex conditions of sensation; to the Kantian they are a priori forms; to us they are general ideas which have a foundation in experience, but are generalized only by the abstracting intellect.

We will begin with our English empirics. To the mind that loves concrete images, and does not see the need of any subtler inquiries, the Aristotelian treatment of Relation, Space, and Time seems singularly obscure in contrast to the plain handling of the subject by Brown, who gives us a vivid picture of an infant brandishing its little arms and kicking about its little legs in Space and Time. It thus acquires feelings of relation; and the feeling of the relations of co-existence give the notion of Space, while the feelings of the relations of succession give the notion of Time.{1}

And yet we have but to read on a little, and we shall find the plain terms of the empirical school giving place to obscurities on each of the three ideas which we want to investigate. Each becomes matter of controversy, and this fact it is well to bring out, for the benefit of those who fancy that the experience philosophy has made quite plain what centuries of scholasticism only involved in deeper and deeper obscurity. As to the first, Brown himself{2} draws a distinction between "feelings which arise in simple succession, without involving any notion of the relation of preceding feelings," and therefore are called "phenomena of simple suggestion;" and, on the other hand, "feelings which consist in the mere perception of relation," and therefore are called "phenomena of relative suggestion." Mr. Spencer concurs in making much of these "feelings of relation," as distinct from the mere feelings which are related. John S. Mill, however, declares,{3} "The simplest of all cases of relation are those expressed by the word 'antecedent' and 'consequent,' and by the word 'simultaneous.' If we say, for instance, that the dawn preceded sunrise, the fact in which the two things, dawn and sunrise, were jointly concerned, consisted only of the two things themselves; no third thing entered into the fact or phenontena at all. Unless indeed we choose to call the succession of the two objects a third thing: but their succession is not something added to the things themselves, it is something involved in them. Our consciousness of the succession of these sensations is not a third sensation or feeling added to them: we have not first the two feelings, and then a feeling of their succession. To have two feelings at all implies having them successively or else simultaneously. Sensations, or other feelings being given, succession and simultaneousness are the two conditions, to the alternative of which they are subjected by the nature of our faculties; and no one has been able, or needs expect, to analyze the matter any further." The writer's doctrine of relativity would seem to compel him to use this language. His colleague, Mr. Grote, takes an intermediate or a conciliatory view.{4} He objects to the elder Mill for calling Space and Time abstract terms. In regard to Time, for instance, he thinks those wrong who call it "an abstract name for the pastness, the presentness, and the futureness of our successive feelings," instead of "a collective name for our feeling of their succession -- that is, for what James Mill himself calls the part of the process "which consists in being sensible to their successiveness," to express which, he declares, "we have not a name." Grote, then, continues his comment precisely on the point upon which we are examining the divergent doctrines of the empirical school -- namely, upon their views as to that which it pleases them to style the feeling of relation. "This taking notice of the successiveness of our feelings, whether we prefer to call it a part of the feelings themselves, or another feeling superadded to them, is yet something which, in the entire mass of feeling which the successive impressions give us, we are able to discriminate and to name apart from the rest. A perception of succession between two feelings is a state of consciousness per se, which, though we cannot think of it separately from the feelings, we can yet think of it as a completed thing in itself, and not as an attribute of either or both of the two feelings. Its name, if it had one, would be a concrete name. But the entire series of these perceptions of succession has a name -- Time, which I, therefore, hold to be a concrete name." For those who take an intelligent interest in these discussions, and who are not indulging simply the delusion that they can freely pronounce upon them, without any real work in the way of study, it cannot but be striking to observe how empiricism is not such plain sailing as to the superficial reader it appears. Even on one of the ideas which is so all-important in its system as is Relation, obscurities begin to make themselves felt, and some of the minutiae, which are popularly supposed to be mere scholastic subtleties, are equivalently acknowledged to call for an examination into their nature.

Again, the assertion that Space may be analyzed into relations of co- existent feelings, and Time into relations of successive feelings, does not satisfy some of the empirics themselves. To start with, co-existent feeling obviously need not give spacial co-existence; and if it fails to give Space, it fails to give just what was required of it. To say that one feeling is outside another simply in the sense of other or different from it, does not furnish the outsideness of Space. The idea of co-existence is by Mr. Spencer{5} analyzed into the idea of succession under special circumstances. His tendency to regard consciousness as made up rather of successive than of coexistent states, naturally leads him to pronounce the feeling of succession to be more primitive than the feeling of co-existence, and to derive the latter from the former. Of things exciting successive sensations we are able, on his theory, to predicate co-existence on condition that we are able to reverse the order of succession. Thus a cow and a horse co-exist, if at will we can pass without strain and with vividness from horse to cow and from cow to horse; and the same holds of the several objects that make up an outspread landscape. The objects are represented by successive sensations, but the power to vary the order of succession proves their co-existence. Lastly, not to be diffuse in these illustrations of the differences between empiric doctrines, we may mention that while he does not give up the above analysis of Space and Time as wrong, Mr. Bain does admit that there is a certain inadequacy in it, so that he is not so peremptory in his condemnation of innate ideas as some might expect. He contents himself with affirming that there is no proved necessity to have recourse to so unwelcome a theory, and that future labours may complete an analysis which at present is incomplete{6}

So much by way of specimen from the empiricists. On the other side, Kant boldly ranks Relation, Space, and Time among the a priori categories of the mind which no experience could give, and which no valid ground in reason warrants us in applying to things-in-themselves, as they exist outside the mind. Hegelians abolish the things-in- themselves, but do not on that account succeed in giving a real basis to these fundamental conceptions. To teach equivalently that there is no reality but thought, will not satisfy those who are bent on seeking a more genuine reality for their thoughts than the undoubted fact that thought itself is real.

Our course will be a mean. We shall rely neither upon mere accumulated, related sensations, nor upon innate forms; but we shall take such ideas as they arise out of experience, in a mind that has the consciously possessed power of seeing into what is objectively evident, and recognizing it as the real.

(2) There is almost a superstition connected with the term Relation: indeed superstition consists in asserting a relation between two objects which is out of all proportion, so that the effect assigned to a cause is quite beyond its natural powers. It is, therefore, superstitious to think that a man's destiny is settled by the star under which he is born. Mill has much right on his side when he affirms his inability "to see in what respect Relation is something more recondite than any other attribute; indeed it seems to be so in a somewhat less degree."

A relation is defined to be the way one thing holds itself in regard to another -- habitudo unius ad alterum. It therefore requires three elements, that which is related, that to which it is related, and that whereby the relation is constituted. The first is the subject, the second the term, and the third the foundation of the relation. All agree in making the subject and the foundation intrinsic to the relation: but the term to which the subject is related, is by some deemed extrinsic, inasmuch as it is that to which the relation is directed, not the relation itself. At least in all created things a relationship can be reversed, the term becoming subject and the subject becoming term; in which process we must observe whether the same denomination applies to both members, as when A is brother to B, and B is brother to A, or whether the denomination is different, as when A is father to B, and B is son to A: as also whether both members are existent, or one existent and the other merely ideal.

The conditions of a real relation are easily assignable; there must be a real distinction between the subject and the term -- at least such distinction as holds between a whole and its part -- and the foundation must be real. There is, however, an ambiguity about the foundation; sometimes it is considered inadequately as it affects the subject only, at other times it is considered adequately as it affects the term also. In the real relation of teacher to taught the adequate foundation is all that passes mutually between master and pupil in their respective charncters as such. Thus we are thrown back on a remark like that which we had to make in reference to causation; what we roughly speak of as simply "the cause" often includes a multiplicity of causes, and what we roughly speak of as simply "the relation" often includes a multiplicity of relations. A sculptor's relation to the statue which he produces entails every single stroke of his chisel, and more besides. Indeed, whenever we have a difficulty about a relationship, the obstacle is not from the special nature of relation as such, but from obscurity as to the facts involved in a particular case.

Real as a relation may be, it is often true that, as the formation of it is a past event, it is only by its preservation in the memory that it can be known. We cannot read in a man's outward frame that another has been in past time a benefactor to him. Still the relation is real, not merely mental. A mental relation is one which is not constituted except by an act of the mind distinguishing in objects what is not really distinct. Thus, according to our view, the relation between the individuality in a living man and his specific nature, as that nature exists in the concrete, is mental, for there is no real distinction between the two. Also, it is said that the relation between object known and person knowing, though real on the side of the latter, is not so on the side of the former, because this is in no way altered by the fact. A man is neither fatter or leaner simply for being known. Nevertheless, inasmuch as a material object acts on the senses to produce a knowledge of itself, it establishes a real causal relation on its own part. Also the relation of similitude between any idea and its object, though it comes under the definition of mental relation so far as it is "constituted by the mind," yet is not described by these words in their intended signification; it is rather a real relation, for the idea is real: its object is real and really other than the idea, and the foundation is real. Besides real and mental relations, philosophers also enumerate on another principle of division transcendental and predicamental. The former are so called because they are found in all things without exception; everything by its own nature, without additional modification, bears some relationship. This is true even of God, as we see in the revealed doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. It is true that the schoolmen are not uniform in their account of the "transcendental" relation; but the simplest way is to take it as we have said, for a relation which is essential to a thing because it is what it is. Thereby the contrast is brought out, for the opposite to transcendental is the predicamental relation, an accident which may come and go, and which derives its name from the fact that it is the pros ti of the Aristotelian predicamenta. Such a relation is one that may or may not be present, that is not simply essential to its subject, but superinduced upon it, not necessary to it, but contingent, as to be President of the United States, whatever be a man's inborn ability for that office.

Next we may inquire whether anything can be purely a relation and not also something absolute. Some of the schoolmen go near to affirming a purely relative thing when they assert that a real relation is a sort of diminutive entity, intermediate between the terms related, and really distinct from each and from the foundation of the relationship. It seems better to submit this doctrine to the edge of Ockam's razor, Entities are not to be multiplied unnecessarily. But we may go further, and say that all relation is founded on the absolute, and no purely relative Being can exist. Absolute, however, has a variety of meanings which need some discrimination. It may mean the independent, that which in reference to any other is absolved or free from all tie or obligation both physical and moral: and so it would apply pre-eminently to God. It may mean also that which is complete in its own nature, which is finished and perfect: God again is thus absolute inasmuch as He is infinite perfection. But as opposed simply to the relative, the absolute is that which is taken in itself and on its own account. Everything in the order of logical if not of chronological priority, first of all is, and then is in reference to something else: it has thus its absolute and its relative aspect, and the one cannot be without the other. Of course before a real relationship is complete there must be some real other to complete it; and this is all the truth that is to be found in Locke's words,{7} "Relation is not contained in the real existence of things, but is something extraneous and superinduced." Every absolute thing has its foundation on account of which it is apt to enter into a transcendental relation, without any change in itself, as soon as the other term is posited; also by means of of various activities and passivities a variety of other relationships can be contracted. But in every case there is no reality beyond the absolute agents and the absolute activities and passivities, though these at the same time that they are absolute are also relative. There is no contradiction here, for it is under different aspects that they are at once absolute and relative. They exist each of them in their own nature, but they exist each in connexion with other natures. So much is admitted even by so stout a defender of the relativity of all knowledge as Mr. Spencer, with the exception that he allows us only an "obscure consciousness," not strictly a "knowledge" of the absolute element. "The existence of the non-relative," he says, "is unavoidably asserted in every chain of reasoning by which relativity is proved."{8}

Here is an appropriate place to declare our objection to the Hegelian doctrine that the mind is the only relating faculty, while all objects of sense are isolated and without order. We object also to the excess of relativity in writers like Mr. Bain, who, much probably to his own dissatisfaction, has been claimed on this score as a Hegelian. "I end with the remark," says Mr. F. H. Bradley,{9} "that it would be entertaining and an irony of fate if the school of experience fell into the cardinal mistake of Hegel. Professor Bain's Law of Relativity, approved by J. S. Mill, has at least shown a tendency to drift in that direction. 'Our cognition, as it stands, is explained as a mutual negation of the two properties. Each has a positive existence because of the presence of the other as its negative.' I do not suggest that Professor Bain in this ominous utterance really means what he says, but he means quite enough to be on the edge of a precipice. If the school of experience had any knowledge of facts, they would know that the sin of Hegel consists, not at all in defect, but in excess of Relativity. Once say with Professor Bain that 'we know only relations:' once mean (what he says) that those relations hold between positives and negatives, and you have accepted the main principle of orthodox Hegelianism.

The safe course is to give each side its due: individual objects are absolutely in themselves, but they are not only absolute; they also enter into real relations of causality and dependence, of likeness and unlikeness. The same things are both absolute and relative; and in a closely interconnected world like ours, where actions and re-actions are so multiplex, where the transformations of energy are so perpetual, attention has of late been so much called to the relative aspects of things, that the absolute have been either overlooked or denied, in spite of the pretty obvious truth, that the relative implies the absolute.

(3) In turning next to the predicament or category Ubi -- Where, we come across the idea of Space, about which so much mystery has been made, and so much also really must exist. For we ourselves fully allow the very imperfect knowledge we have on this subject, as is proved by certain puzzling questions that can be proposed, and also by certain mysteries of our faith which bring us to be acquainted with possibilities in Space, at least under preternatural conditions, which we should not have suspected, and which, even when revealed, leave us unable to understand their possibility. What we have to do is to take the natural conditions of body in Space, not the preternatural, and to make such assertions as the evidence of the case justifies. We shall find, as usual, that something is left to agreement about the use of terms, and that not all significations are precisely settled on the ground that there is only one way of looking at things; often there are more ways than one.

Great noise is sometimes raised about the mode in which we come to know extension. Strained efforts are made to evolve the conception out of simpler elements of sensation, or else to show{10} such evolution impossible and so to discredit the notion altogether as unreal. But in truth, if, as the facts stand, we have an extended, sensitive body and live in the midst of other extended bodies, and have a mind capable of intelligent reflexion, it does not seem so very extraordinary that we should be convinced of extension as an actual reality. What is the use of raising imaginary difficulties against a clear verdict of experience? especially when the difficulties are urged on the strength of convictions, to say the least of it, not a whit better established than the conviction they are intended to upset. When we are solemnly assured, in opposition to the derivation from experience, that the idea of space is not given in the sensation of body, we answer that no idea is ever given in any sensation, if thereby is meant that the sensation already contains the idea as such. But if we take the right doctrine about the validity of intellectual perception of objects that have passed through the medium of sensitive cognition, we shall find no reason to distrust our knowledge of space by ordinary experience, and shall be very little disturbed by the assurances of Hamilton and Reid,{11} that extension cannot be analyzed into sensation. We shall listen unmoved to the latter's usual cry of "mystery:" "How the notion of extension comes into the mind is utterly inexplicable. It is true that we have feelings of touch which every moment present extension to the mind; but how they come to do so is the question, for these faculties do no more resemble extension than they resemble justice or courage -- nor can the existence of extended things be inferred from those feelings by any rules of reasoning; so that the feelings we have by touch can neither explain how we get the notion nor how we come by the belief of extended things." Of course a feeling by touch contains neither an intellectual conception nor an intellectual belief; but if man has been created a rational Being that acts by sense and intellect, when the sensitive part is touched by an extended body and sensitively perceives it, it is no wonder if the mind is prompted to elicit the idea of extension. This is a more satisfactory account than Reid's favourite device of "natural suggestion," though that phrase might be meant to convey all we mean. Usually, however, "suggestion" is not the word we use for the origination of fresh ideas, but rather we employ it to signify the calling up or the putting together of old ideas by associated conceptions. Extension has been defined, Partium extra partes positio -- "The position of parts outside parts," which is not strictly a definition, because it cannot be said to consist of terms simpler than the one to be defined. Even if we leave the word "part" undiscussed, at least "outside" means spacial outsideness, that is, it implies the idea of extension, and is not a simpler element out of which extension is compounded. We may be excused then, if for the sake of clearness, we go straight on with our explanation, and do not stop to consider those perversely ingenious theories, which have for their practical result, either to throw doubt on Space or very much to mystify a notion which, as far as it goes, is simple enough.

Assuming, therefore, that we know extended bodies, we might consider, in the abstract, all the real{12} extension in the material universe; then if we named this Space, we should be assigning to the word a possible meaning, and not only a possible but an actually received meaning. For Locke says that real Space is the really extended universe, and Cartesians make a similar use of the word. Descartes himself we leave out, because of his unfortunate identification of body with extension; an error from which many of his followers have shaken themselves free. To them we allow the possibility of understanding under the name of real Space the actual extension presented by created matter, and under the name of ideal Space, the extension that might be presented if more matter were created. On this theory, however, any vacuum between parts of the universe would have to be regarded as ideal Space; an exception which Descartes provided against by the assertion of necessary plenum, and by saying that two bodies between which no other body intervenes must eo ipso be in contact. Against the above view of Space stands the fact that it does not square well with the ordinary usages of speech, according to which things are in Space as the contained within the containing. This idea of Space as a container is better preserved by the old Peripatetic school of philosophers, whose view Cartesians ought to regard as at least permissible. What it is will appear if we begin from Aristotle's definition, not of Space, but of place{13} to tou periechontos peras akinêton prôton -- a celebrated phrase which is rendered into Latin, Corporis ambientis terminus immobilis primus, or into English, "The superficies of the containing body considered as immoveable and immediately contiguous to the body located." In other words, the place of a body immersed in water is the immediate watery surface which touches it all round, and which is considered, for convenience, as unchangeable. A fossil immoveably imbedded in a rock, if it were suddenly annihilated would leave a perfect definition of its place; while a body on the very confines of creation for want of a containing superficies, would have no real place on that side by which it was turned towards vacant space. A single body existing alone, if we may make such a supposition, would have no real place at all in the Aristotelian sense. Later writers have added, that it would have no extrinsic place, no place marked by an extrinsic superficies, but would have an intrinsic place, marked by its own superficies. To avoid the inconveniences which come from the perpetual changes of place that are ever going on, all over the known universe, we are obliged to take certain relatively fixed boundaries as equivalently immoveable. Absolute fixity of place is impossible for us; but no serious inconvenience to our calculations happens on that score. If, then, Aristotle's definition cannot be applied with physical nicety, it has a moral applicability which makes it sufficient. Our big ship, the world, sailing on the ocean of ether, does not rock so that we cannot be as if at rest on its surface. We may repeat the doctrine about place in the words of Cardinal Zigliara.{14} "Place is conceived as a bounding object, the outer surface of which shuts in, as it were, the room which the thing located has occupied; and though this outer surface really changes, yet equivalently and in so far as the circumscribed limits are the same, it remains identical. Hence we say that a man standing in a stream abides in the same place, in spite of the constant flow of the water which surrounds him."

Having determined upon a meaning of place, we shall easily settle one for Space. They are not so much two different notions, as two notions each with the same total content, yet reversing the order in the part of it which is to be emphasized, and the part which is insinuated. Place is emphatically the bounding surface, with a reference to the interval, or voluminal distance, included within it; while Space is emphatically this interval, or voluminal distance, with a reference to the bounding surface. The place of a man immersed in mid-ocean, and supposed stationary, is the bounding surface of the water with a reference to the room which it encloses and the man fills; his Space is the same room in reference to the surface of water that defines its limits. Space is real, no matter whether it be filled or not with substance, if only the bounding superficies is real: it is imaginary if the bounds are not real but imaginary. Here the schoolmen mean by "real" not all tnat the word signifies in its wider sense, but what it means in its narrower sense, when it stands for the actually existent. We can give no sense to our words if we take as our absolute Space a purely imaginary extension, without any reference to the actual; but if we start from the given, actual Space, we can assign a definite sense to imaginary Space. Thus if a man goes in fancy to the confines of creation, he can there imagine an extension reaching out a thousand miles in this or that direction. If, however, he neglects all consideration of given objects in Space, and merely asks himself, where a single atom would be if created alone, he can only say that it is where it is. He has no co-ordinates to which he can refer it; hence he can describe it only on its own account.

The Ubi of a body or its ubication, is what constitutes it in its place. We must distinguish what constitutes the ubi from what is its efficient cause. Thus the force of a bow may send an arrow into a target and so be the efficient cause of the change from the old place to the new; but it is not the constituent of the new ubication, namely, the presence of the thing located to its place, or containing superficies. Space as thus explained is shown to be an idea derivable by abstraction from ordinary experience,{15} and to have the reality which belong to other ideas generalized from concrete individual things. Space, then, is not, as Cousin supposed, itself a universal a parte rei; nor is it, as Kant imagined, an a priori subjective form of the senses, without any objective validity that we can make certain of; nor is it, as Newton and Clarke contended, one of God's attributes, namely, the Divine immensity; nor finally is it, as Gassendi taught, a distinct creation, serving as the recipient of other extended creatures. All these views are sufficiently refuted by a clear statement of the correct view, which carries with it its own evidence. Space thus shows itself to be neither a distinct entity nor a non-entity; neither a purely real nor a purely ideal object; it has the reality proper to a term generalized by abstraction from actual existences. But the generalization must be effected by a genuine power of intelligence; it cannot be done, as our English empirics suppose, by repeated sensations.

Just as an illustration how a slight change of aspect does not affect the truth of doctrine, we may mention that some would not be satisfied with real boundaries as constituting real Space, even when the interval between them is a vacuum. We have taken that view for its convenience. Cardinal Zigliara requires the interval to be occupied with body. "Real Space," he says,{16} "is real extension, and hence body really extended between two other bodies, or between two parts of the same body." Without attacking the possibility of this definition, we have preferred another, which insists on the reality of the bounding surface only, while it allows the contained volume to be either a plenum or a vacuum, as long as its size remains the same in both cases.

(4) It is usual to introduce the subject of Time with a quotation from St. Augustine: "What is Time? If no one asks me I know, but if some one asks me, and I try to explain, then I don't know." Nevertheless, we must try to frame an answer to the question, after the same manner in which we proceeded in regard to Space. But at once we must notice a difference. Space is made up of co-existent parts, Time is continuous succession, and as it is always on the move, it has no actual parts in extension. Some have devised the word protension for it; but this does not help much, except as a reminder to beware of differences.

In order to show the reality of Time, and to confute such opinions as we find in Kant, that Time is an a priori form of internal sensibility, the best way is to take the elements whence we derive the notion. If occasionally instead of rigorously defining terms by terms still more simple, we are able only to substitute synonyms one for another, the elementary character of the notions with which we are dealing is the satisfactory account of the proceeding. To begin with, we are evidently on real ground when we say that things have duration, which is described as "the perseverance of an object in existence." On the strength of another treatise, we are justified in asserting an external world; we are equally justified in asserting that its objects actually and in themselves endure. Duration, however, may be of two kinds: an object may endure without any intrinsic change whatever, and such is the eternity of God: it is existence all together and perfect; or an object may endure with intrinsic change, with a movement of succession within itself. There is manifestly such a succession in some of the accidents of a substance; also in those changes which the schoolmen call substantial, and attribute to "the generation and corruption of substantial forms." There is succession here, though the transformation itself is supposed to be instantaneous, not a continuous movement. Next it is asked whether this duration has a reality. Some reality it undoubtedly has because it is embodied in concrete facts. But is it a reality distinct from the thing which endures? In God certainly not. But what about creatures? They might absolutely have existed not when they do, but at far distant times; they might have a longer or a shorter duration. Furthermore, their duration depends on the continuance of God's conserving power, for no finite object, by its sole creation, is endowed with the attribute of independent duration. Thus, though the duration of creatures be not a distinct entity apart, added on to things, it is not completely identified with their substance.

Some straightway affirm that Time is successive duration in creatures: it is the movement of objects in the course of the world; or, as Locke says, it is especially the movement of human thoughts one after another.{17} As, however, we had to point out, that whatever be the possibility of understanding by Space the actually extended universe of matter, it does not answer to ordinary modes of speech about Space, so we have again to call attention to the fact, that whatever be the possibility of calling Time the successions in the course of created existences, this is not exactly the common acceptation of the word. For commonly Time is considered as a continuous flow without interruption: Time stops for no man; Time is neither quick nor slow, but always uniform. Whereas movements take place in Time, they do not simply constitute Time, they are interrupted, and of variable velocity. These are familiar expressions, and they do not fit in with the view just mentioned, which is often called the Cartesian, though Descartes himself inclines to call time a modus cogitandi, a way of thinking about things as having duration, which way of thinking is unchanged, whether the duration be successive or not.{18} It is much disputed what sort of succession, or whether any succession, is presented by angelic substance in its continued existence{19} but apart from such disputable matters many objects certainly present us no evenly continuous motion such as would suffice for Time. Hence we take the movements of the heavenly bodies as affording us the most even and uninterrupted movement we can find, and from them we get our measure of Time. If according to this explanation there is no real entity which is simply and formally Time, yet Time is clearly founded in reality; it has a reality in the real motion of things, and is not a mere Kantian form of inner experience.

We will repeat our explanation for the sake of clearness. Time, like Space, is neither a simple reality nor a simple fiction of the mind; it is an idea founded in reality, but not exactly answering to it. Space, we said, does not exist as such; but there do exist extended bodies marking out definite volumes; the volume marked out by the bounds of the actual universe is called real Space, and imaginary Space may be extended beyond this unlimitedly. If the whole universe is moving off in some direction, then even real Space is not a fixture, but we have no other real term against which to measure its direction. Time is very much the same kind of notion, but with peculiarities of its own. For Time especially we must assume the validity of memory, which being granted, we become certain that real changes go on in the world. Not every change involves Time, for in place of one body God might instantaneously substitute another; but change in the stricter sense takes place within the same substance, so that the two successive states are the contradictory one of another. Here it is that the opinion of Balmez is of some use. He traces the notion of Time to the principle of contradiction: "A thing cannot both be and not be simultaneously." If he merely fastens on the adverb "simultaneously," that of course contains the idea of time; but if he fastens on the contrast of being and not being, then undoubtedly there is in successive change such a contrast. That a thing should be in its altered state at the same time that it is unaltered is a contradiction. Nevertheless, we cannot in this way pretend to have simplified Time. We must trust to the power of memory for giving us a before and an after as marked by some change. Thus we come to know that things really endure amid changes. Next we can find out a real process of change, such that, being itself sufficiently regular, it will serve to measure those other changes which are irregular. So far we are dealing with realities. The things are real, the changes are real, the regularities and irregularities of change are real; but we have not exactly come across Time as the abstract, which is "successive duration," apart from all concrete objects, and from all reference to rate of succession or to possible interruption. We can, however, so prescind from all such circumstances as to put before ourselves the idea of a point regarded as moving not simply in Space, but in successive Duration; an indivisible now ever leaving the past behind it and invading the future, yet never itself actually either past or future. There is no actual thing which is this point; the actualities are all objects liable to changes in more or less irregular succession. Ideally we fix upon an even flow of duration, and we call this Time. Time is not a thing, but it marks a real fact in the successions of things.{20} In reference to things it is idealized, as is geometry. The definition which Aristotle{21} gives of Time may now be brought forward with some good prospect of being easily understood. "Time is the number of movement, estimated according to its before and its after " -- arithmos kinêseôs kata to proteron kai husteron. Some refer the before and the after to Space and not to Duration, lest they should seem to be guilty of the fallacy of idem per idem; but we cannot thus derive temporal from local succession. There may be temporal without local succession, as in the flow of thought, and mere place will never give Time. Aristotle says that then we reach the notion of Time, when we reduce to number a succession which is marked by the characters of prior and of subsequent in point of duration. St. Thomas gives a paraphrase of Aristotle's words:{22} "It is clear that we affirm Time to be when in a movement we can fix upon a this term and a that term, with an interval between the two. For when we consider both extremes of an interval, and when the mind perceives two nows, one antecedent, the other subsequent, and counts the before and the after in the movement, then we have Time. . . . Time is nothing else but the number of movement, estimated as before and after, for we perceive time when we number before and after in movement. It is evident, then, that Time is not movement, but is consequent upon movement, when this is expressed by number." It is no fault of the Aristotelian definition that it cannot define terms already simple by still simpler; so that if "before" and "after," which enter into the account of Time, already suppose the notion which they are meant to explain, this cannot be helped. Whether Time is said to have real parts or not, is a matter that depends largely on how we look at the question. As the past is past and the future is yet future, neither of them is actual; but in so far as the past actually has been traversed whereas the future has yet to be traversed, the former has a sort of advantage. It is common, however, to say that only the present is actual; but because the present is a point with no duration, we seem to be thrown across the awkward result that the only actuality in time is very like nothing. But we need not be distressed, for we are already acquainted with the degree of reality that is needful for an idea abstracted from individual conditions. We have a choice between supposing as many different nows as we mark different instants in a long duration, or with St. Thomas,{23} we may regard now "as substantially the same throughout the duration," and still say with the same authority{24} that "Time has no entity except according to the indivisible now." We may compare the course of time to the tracing out of a line by a point travelling in Space. The line indeed so traced has all its parts actually co-existent at the end of the operation, whereas Time has no such co-existence. The comparison, however, consists in this: to each point of Space in the line there corresponds a point in the duration of Time; and if we do not say that each point of Space was traversed during its corresponding point of Time, the obstacle lies in the word during.{25} Nevertheless the points in both orders are really assignable limits; they are not distinct entities, constituting a part of the extension, yet they answer to real truths in the order of Space and Time. The conclusion is, that the indivisibility of a point of Time no more tells against the reality of Time than the indivisibility of the point of Space tells against the reality of Space; and if Time has not co- existent parts as Space has, yet it has parts in the only way possible, to a continuous succession. Its parts are not finite periods of rest, but finite measures of the ever-moving duration, such as the minutes and hours marked by the ceaseless rotation of the earth. Thus no measurable part is ever strictly an actuality; but this does not detract from such reality as we attribute to Time, for our doctrine has been that there is no distinct entity called Time, as there is no distinct entity called Space; and that nevertheless both have real foundations, one in the succession of events, and the other in the extension of bodies. It must have been clear that half the perplexities which beset the question of Time, come from a want of a proper conception of continuous motion; which, being a continuum and a movement, cannot be treated as though it were made up of discrete parts at rest. Aristotle allows that movement is strictly undefinable -- an aoriston.{26} He has, however, attempted such a quasi definition as the case admits of, and thereby, until it is discovered on what principle he was proceeding, he may seem to have justified the oft-made charge, that he has wrapped up a very clear idea in very dark language. He was unwilling to speak of motion as a transfer, or to call it by any other name which was simply synonymous with itself; but he thought that if he could express it in terms of act and potency, he would be using ideas that run through all the categories, divide all Being, and are most fundamental as conceptions. So he defined motion in terms of potency and act, and described it as uniting these two in a very peculiar manner. Motion is in act so far as it is actually started, and no longer exists simply as potential in the cause that was to produce it; but it is in potency inasmuch as it has not yet reached its term and effected its final purpose, that is, its relatively final purpose, for the transmutation effected may rapidly give place to another. Full of these ideas, Aristotle wrote what sounds so strange to some ears, which we need not straightway call "long ears," but at least we may ask that they be willing to open themselves patiently to words that are far from being wholly foolish: "Motion is the act of that which is potential, inasmuch as it is potential " -- hê tou duname ontos entelecheia hê toiouton.{27}

Aristotle was wrong on one point because he did not know the truth of creation; he asserted the eternity of motion as an evident truth -- d≖lon hô estin aidios kinêsis. The possibility of such a thing is disputed; but leaving this discussion alone, we may turn our attention to the confusion that frequently arises from trying to translate eternity into terms of time. God's motionless eternity is the only actual eternity; we can assert it to be equivalent, and more, to indefinitely prolonged time, but we cannot even approach to a measurement of it by this means. When we say that God knows the future because it is present to Him, as all the circumference is present to the centre of a circle, we must beware lest we pass beyond the warrant which we have for such an expression. There is some truth in it, but it is not true if it is understood to mean that God does not recognize the reality of the succession in events. If it is correct to affirm that the future is present to God, it is also correct to affirm that the future is future to God -- that He knows it to be future, and will not at this moment justify a sinner who is going to repent forty years hence. It would be a marvellous novelty of doctrine in the Catholic Church to allow a man to go to Communion at Christmas on the strength of a good Confession he was to make at the Easter following, the theory being that all time is present to God. Futurity is a fact which God recognizes.

Our labours to explain Time and Space have once more enforced the lessons so often put before us in the course of this treatise; that we can fix upon a deflnite meaning for our most generalized and ultimate ideas, and need not call them, with Mr. Spencer, confused states of consciousness, unfit for the name of knowledge; that we can make sure of their real validity in the region of things; that nevertheless our knowledge is very far from exhaustive, and can be asserted only under its limitations. What mysteries gather round Time and Space, especially in their preternatural manifestations! What greater mysteries round God's Eternity and Immensity! and again, What mysteries in the relations of the first order, which is created, to the second which is uncreated! Yet of each we know something certain, and of their interrelations we also know something certain. General Metaphysics thus proves to be a human science, and has been treated as such throughout these pages -- neither as more nor as less. We have not claimed further insight into truths than that human insight which is manifestly our prerogative as intelligent creatures. But this we have claimed, and boldly claimed, against many whose philosophy consists in little except a plea for denying what we have been affirming. Positive in name, these writers are negative in fact; while we forego the name of positivists, but do in fact hold Metaphysics to be positive -- a positive science.


(1) Systems of Psychology characteristically distinguish themselves by the way in which they deal with the knowledge of relations; and the system to which the late Professor Green was attached, is shown by the following remarks in his Introduction to Hume's Works, § 40: "In making the general idea of substance precede the particular ideas of sorts of substances, Locke stumbled upon a truth which he was not aware of, and which will not fit into his ordinary doctrine of general ideas: the truth that knowledge is a process from the more abstract to the more concrete, not the reverse. Throughout Locke's prolix discussion of 'substance' and 'essence' we find two opposite notions perpetually cross each other; one that knowledge begins with the simple idea, the other that it begins with the real thing as particularized by manifold relations. According to the former notion, simple ideas being given, void of relation, as the real, the mind of its own act proceeds to bring them into relation and compound them; according to the latter, a thing of various properties (i.e., relations) being given as the real, the mind proceeds to separate these from each other. According to the one notion, the intellectual process, as one of complication, ends just where, according to the other notion, as one of abstraction, it began." Many of the schoolmen have propounded a doctrine that the simpler and therefore the more generalized ideas are formed first, and that particularizations follow gradually afterwards; but as they would wholly repudiate the mere subjective forms of Kant, and all innate ideas, so they would reject Green's ideas borrowed from "a universal consciousness," and giving relationship and order to the data of the several experiences, which are themselves a mere unordered multitude. A further result of Green's{28} system, opposed to all the results of our last chapter, is briefly given in a later passage of the same work, but a fuller explanation must be sought in the Prolegomena Ethica. Noting that Locke supposes "the co- existence of real elements over a certain duration," and attributing this to imperfect analysis, the author says: "To a more thorough analysis there is no alternative between finding reality in relations of thought, which, because relations of thought, are not in time, and therefore immutable, and submitting it to such subdivision of time as excludes all real co-existence, because what is real or present at one moment, is unreal or present at the next."

The point in this system to which we call special attention, is the reduction of all reality to "relations," which relations are not things in themselves, but are "constituted by the self-distinguishing consciousness, We attach no meaning to reality as applied to the world of phenomena, but that of existence under definite and unalterable relations, which can subsist only for a thinking consciousness." Thus is opened out a whole field of curious speculation which must have puzzled the Oxford students of a recent period, and which still holds sway in our seats of learning.

(2) The same University had previously been puzzled by Mansel's doctrine about the relative and the absolute; and the pith of his theory may be gathered from the following paragraph:{29} "Hamilton, like Kant, maintained that all our cognitions are compounded of two elements, one contributed by the object known, the other by the mind knowing. But the very conception of a relation implies the existence of things to be related; and the knowledge of an object, as in relation to our mind, necessarily implies its existence out of that relation. How far it resembles, and how far it does not resemble, the object apprehended by us, we cannot say, for we have no means of comparing the two together. Instead, therefore, of saying with Kant, that the reason is subject to inevitable delusion, by which it mistakes the regulative principles of its own thoughts for the representations of real things, Hamilton would say that the reason, while compelled to belieye in the existence of these real things, is not legitimately entitled to make any positive representation of them as of such and such a nature; and that the contradictions into which it falls when attempting to do so, are due to an illegitimate attempt to transcend the proper boundaries of positive thought." Hegelians regard this as cowardly on the part of Kant and of Hamilton; they prefer to maintain that the contradictions of thought are also the contradictions of things, and that the whole life of the universe rests on a movement of contradiction and reconciliation.

(3) M. Charles, in his Eléments de Philosophie, Vol. I. p. 239, suggests that though the "primary qualities" of body, or those founded on extension, are necessary to body as conceived by us, they may not be absolutely necessary. As regards bodies existing in some preternatural condition, we know that the character of extension in space may be dispensed with; but the fact does not at all invalidate the reality of extension in nature. A thing does not cease to be real, because it may be made to give place to some other condition of existence; even annihilation hanging over the material universe as its destiny, would not negative its present reality. Still less do preternatural conditions of extended objects in the concrete, take off from the absolute truth of mathematics, concerning extension in the abstract.

{1} Philosophy of the Human Mind, Lect. xxiii.

{2} Ibid. c. xlv. in initio.

{3} Logic, Bk. I. c. iii. § 10.

{4} Note to James Mill's Analysis, Vol. II. p. 534.

{5} Pyschology, pp. 222-224.

{6} Mental Science, Bk. II. c. vi. § 4.

{7} Bk. II. c. xv. ii. 8.

{8} Psychology, Pt. 1. c. iii. § 88.

{9} Principles of Logic, pp. 148, 149.

{10} See the note to James Mill's Analysis, Vol. II. pp. 146, seq., where the opinions of Messrs. Bain, Spencer, and John S. Mill are collected together.

{11} Works, p. 124.

{12} Real is here used in its sense of actually existing, not in the wider sense in which it is opposed to a strictly logical entity, which can exist only as a term of the mind, "a second intention."

{13} Physics Bk. IV. c. vi.

{14} Ontologia, Lib. III. c. iv. § 2.

{15} Mr. M'Cosh does not use his ordinary skill in giving a natural derivation to the idea of space. Hence he exaggerates the need we are under of regarding space as infinite.

{16} Ontologia, Lib. III. c. iv. sit iii.

{17} Bk. II. c. xiv.

{18} De Princip. Philosoph. Pt. I. §§ 15-18.

{19} See the pamphlet, Die Pkilosophische Lehre von Zeit und Reum Von Dr. Schneid.

{20} See Dr. Schneids pamphlet, Die Philosophische Lehre von Zeit und Raum.

{21} Physic, Lib. IV. c. xi.

{22} In Lib. IV. Physic, Lect. xvii.

{23} In Lib. I. Sent. D. xix. q. ii. a. ii.

{24} In Lib. IV. Phys. Lect. xxiii,

{25} A scholiast calls the instant, ou chronos alla atomon tou chronon. Kant argues that "points and moments are only limits."

{26} Physic. Lib. III. c. ii. Laplace says that movement is the srangest and most inexplicable phenomenon.

{27} Physic. Lib. III. c. i. See Die Aristotelische Lehre über Begriff und Ursache der KINÊSIS. Von Matheas Kappes, pp. 9-14.

{28} Ibid. § 98.

{29} Mansel's Philosophy of the Conditioned, pp. 69, 70.

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