« PreviousContinue »
ratus of this kind is, that, when extraordinary expenditures are needed for any cause, the good will and active interest of the public are most easily enlisted in it.
It may be more difficult in general to find for this branch of instruction the requisite ability to teach — teachers who are at home in the various departments; and I have heard from various sides the difficulty urged, that many gymnasia, in one respect the most of them, are in this feature deficient. And truly what has long been neglected cannot be made up in a moment. Still, where the former demand is met, this requirement will also be satisfied to a reasonable extent, if the claim is fulfilled, that the teachers should not stop with the education obtained at the university. This would imply, in relation to the question before us, that among them both the representatives of classical philology and the teachers of religion, if they have before made themselves familiar exclusively with the literature, should educate themselves further in the monumental branch, of their science. With regard, however, to the filling of vacant places, there are doubtless in the department of philology young men everywhere to be obtained, who are also trained in archaeology. Very favorable for this purpose is the Prussian stipend, established in 1860, which furnishes annually two able young philologists with means to complete their archaeological studies in Rome. A deficiency is more likely to be found in the theological department, owing in part to the faculties, which in monumental theology have been to some extent guilty of dereliction to duty. But if only the gymnasia demand from the universities teachers thus trained, they will soon be sent. For the inward impulse of science, when united with such an outward demand, works in all directions irresistibly.
And this working will also be traceable in the youth. In their instruction, importance should be indeed attached to the matter which they are required to learn in this department, though with the difference that, while at the university it is presented in its proper connection, it comes up in the schools more incidentally and by way of applica
tion. But the chief advantage of this study I would seek in its moral effect, that there may be awakened in the youth a reverence for the world of mind which is stamped on the monuments of ancient and modern times, and a desire to obtain possession of this wealth ; that this desire may spring up as a germ, to find in more mature years full satisfaction.
CAUSE AND EFFECT.
BY REV. JOHN BASCOM, PROFESSOR IN WILLIAMS COLLEGE.
It is not uncommon in philosophy to build structures on foundations whose existence is denied. His action, who, mounted on a pyramid of boxes, requested his companion to pluck away the first and pass it up, that he might by means of it climb higher, though too coarse a joke for practical life, is often realized with the more subtile, illusory supports of metaphysics. The juggler, at the end of a surprising performance, shows his hands still tied as satisfactory proof that he has had no part in it; yet remove him bodily and his tricks are sure to go with him. Many a fine-spun philosophical theory is indebted for its very existence to faculties whose function and office it is its chief business to disprore. Bind the mental powers beyond escape that have played an unobserved part in the construction of these hypotheses, and they would lose all coherence and firmness, and pass from sight
The illustration of this class of theories which we have more particularly in mind, is that which denies .the validity of the notion of cause and effect; which regards it as merely the unverified force assumed in explanation of the observed fact of stated antecedents. Sequence is all that is seen, all that is known, and any notion of a necessary link between
the consequent and the antecedent, a dependence on the one upon the other, is a mere notion arising in the mind as something beyond what it knows-a fictitious solution which it gives to phenomena in themselves naked and void of the idea. This denial is most essential and central to idealism, and leads to those other denials which so completely divorce this philosophy from common experience, sympathy, and even comprehension. This school of metaphysicians emasculate knowledge at once by this rejection of the primary nexus of things. They may go on with Mill to construct a logic of the inductive sciences; yet these sciences will owe their entire interest and growth to the discarded idea of cause and effect, to a belief in forces that may be known, and whose action may be duly experienced. They may proceed with Herbert Spencer to give first principles, to treat psychology and biology, and still their language will be dripping full of the rejected notion of efficient forces. It is superfluous to give passages from writers of this class implying this idea of force, when their entire works, with the exception of a few eccentric and guarded definitions, are filled with them; when it is impossible for them to use current or to invent and steadily employ a new speech excluding the speech notion of causation.
We may define matter as “the permanent possibility of certain phenomena," but we shall never handle it, use it, scientifically investigate and discuss it, without regarding it as in the exercise of forces which produce these phenomena, without distinguishing between effects and their causes, between sensations and that which occasions them. Take from thought, these, its habitual forms of discrimination, and how instantly would all its subject matter fall together, collapse into chaos, the waters above and below the firmament rushing again to each other's embrace, surging confusediy and wildly, with no lines or currents of forces, and, hence, with no distinctions by which the mind could grasp and understand the scene before it! We may define mind as "a series of phenomena in consciousness," but the moment we
Vol. XXIV. No. 94.
discuss these phenomena, and combine them into a science, we shall do so by virtue of a permanent interior nexus between them all; we shall think of them as faculties and capacities, the power of something to act and to suffer action. Responsibility, merit, guilt, growth, retrogression, attention, recollection, will all instantly and necessarily cause to appear in our philosophy the idea of an agent whose conditions and acts these are. Forbid us this, and our philosophy futters a little in a few faint definitions, and then either falls, or surreptitiously slips its wings from their confinement, and soars, forgetful with what it soars. So, too, we may in the frenzy of speculation arrive with Spencer at this definition of life: “A continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations,” thus looking at what life does, not at what life is. But this definition will not prevent our speaking a little later of " the connection of cause and effect,” our
ascribing results to a play of forces,” our adding “ to assert otherwise is to assert that there can be an effect without a cause, which is to deny the persistence of force.” Science is indeed impossible without the practical recognition of the notion of cause and effect, involving, as it does, that of force. Put in its place that of a fixed sequence, and the calculations of mechanics would rest on a pure fiction ; equally would those of natural philosophy be resolved into mere phantoms, shadows of the mind. Astronomy, hydraulics, optics, accoustics, would present no forces, and hence no opportunity for marking the laws of their action. The permanence and transmutations of the power expressed in heat, light, electricity, chemical, mechanical action, would become a delusion. All that would remain to science would be the statics of the world, to mark position in space and time, and external resemblances, while dynamics, - movements, events, and dependences, — as implying occult and denied causes, would be removed beyond its pale. There would be no opportunity to distinguish between conditions and causes, between accidental accompaniments of force and its true exponents. The only query would be the constancy of connections, and this,
not as indicating dependence, but as a mere statement of facts. It is impossible at once to conceive how utterly dissolved and lost thought would be by the practical acceptance of such an hypothesis. A shadow flits on the ground before us; we may not ascribe it to the flight of the bird in the air above. We suffer from a sudden fall; the connection is merely one of time. We send an invitation to our neighbor, and he responds to it; there is, however, no connection between the two events. The link is everywhere lost, and there is no more intrinsic relation in one line of events than another. Iron is not stronger than clay; the sensations which suggest the metal happen to be accompanied by those which suggest strength.
To proceed, then, in an investigation of the inductive sciences while denying the validity of the notion of cause and effect, is to substitute the tricks of a metaphysical juggler for open, sincere effort; is to affirm the value of results reached by faculties whose existence or truthfulness has been denied.
The nature, office, and limits of this important, regulative idea, of which all make use, though many deny its validity, we propose to discuss.
The nature of a cause is essentially that of force. Whenever we observe phenomena we inevitably regard them as effects; that is, as occasioned by something unseen, unheard, unfelt, back of them. Our idea is never exhausted by what is actually lodged in the organ of sense. This is the ground of a further and inevitable conclusion to something which has not itself appeared in sensation, but still beyond and out of the organ, has occasioned the feeling in it. These forces, these causes, are always present, yet always deeper, more central, than the phenomena under which they lie. Of these we never have a direct knowledge. We are immediately cognizant of effects, not of causes. A cause in order to be known must affect an organ, and this effect is not identical with the cause. The sensation is not the very object of perception, but that by which we reach an external cause