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be a state of his own mind, and the latter to be no such state ; he does, in that analysis, and without saying one other word, avow himself to be a thorough-going representationist. For his analysis declares that, iu perception, the mind has an immediate or proximate, and a mediate or remote object. Its perception of matter is the proximate object, the object of its consciousness; matter itself, the material existence, is the remote object. But such a doctrine is representationism, in the strictest sense of the word.' *
He states his argument still more fully and clearly in reference to a passage which he quotes from Stewart in exposition of Reid's doctrine. • The mind is so formed that certain impres' sions produced on our organs of sense, by external objects,
are followed by corresponding sensations, and that these sensations (which have no more resemblance to the qualities of matter, than the words of a language have to the things they denote), are followed by a perception of the existence and qualities of the bodies by which the impressions are made.'f There is here a clear assertion of matter, or external objects per se, being the cause, first of sensation, then of perception. Passing over the intermediate steps, the substantial meaning of the assertion is that'real objects precede perceptions ; that perceptions follow when real objects are present. Now,' he proceeds with his argument, 'when a man proclaims as fact such a sequence as this, what must be first of all have done? He must have observed the antecedent before it was followed by the consequent; he must have observed the cause out of combination with effect; otherwise his statement is a pure hypothesis or fiction.' ...Now, did Reid, or did any man, ever observe matter anterior to his perception of it? Had Reid a faculty which enabled him to catchmatter before it had passed into perception ? Did he ever observe it, as Hudibras
“ undressed” ? Mr. Stewart implies that he had such a faculty. But the notion is preposterous. No man can observe matter prior to his perception of it; for his observation of it presupposes his perception of it. Our observation of matter begins absolutely with the perception of it. Observation always gives the perception of matter as the first term in the series, and not matter itself.'
Ferrier's conclusion is that the analysis of the perception of matter must be given up. The moment we begin to analyse it we find ourselves separating matter from mind; but matter cannot be conceivably separated from mind. The mental or perceptive element recurs do what we will; we cannot think it away; it returns upon us in the very thought of not thinking
* Remains, p. 415.
it. Perception, therefore, is to be accepted as an indissoluble unity, incapable of division or analysis :
• The perception of matter is the absolutely elementary in cognition, the ne plus ultra of thought. Reason cannot get beyond, or behind it. It has no pedigree. It admits of no analysis. It is not a relation constituted by the coalescence of an objective and a subjective element. It is not a state or modification of the human mind. It is not an effect which can be distinguished from its cause. It is not brought about by the presence of antecedent realities. It is positively the FIRST, with no forerunner. The perception-ofmatter is one mental word, of which the verbal words are mere syllables.” (Remains, vol. ii. p. 411.) The recognition of this doctrine, in Ferrier's estimation, is the foundation of all Metaphysic.
Nor is this to tumble once more into a mere system of Idealism, and to deny the existence of an external world. No one denies the existence of an external world ; no philosopher, in his senses, disputes the reality of matter. Berkeley was certainly far from doing this. The only question in dispute is, as to the kind of matter or external world. It is a mere begging of the question to say that the verdict of the natural consciousness is in favour of matter per se, or a world divorced from mind:
* When a man consults his own nature in an impartial spirit, he inevitably finds that his genuine belief in the existence of matter is not a belief in the independent existence of matter per se, but it is a belief in the independent existence of the perception of matter which he is for the time participating in. The very last thing which he naturally believes in is, that the perception is a state of his own mind, and that the matter is something different from it, and exists apart in naturâ rerum. He may say that he believes this, but he never does really believe it. At any rate he believes, in the first place, that they exist together, wherever they exist. The perception which a man has of a sheet of paper does not come before him as something distinct from the sheet of paper itself. The two are identical, they are indivisible; they are not two, but one. The only question then is, whether the perception of a sheet of paper (taken as it must be in its indissoluble totality) is a state of the man's own mind, or is no such state. And, in settlement of this question, there cannot be a doubt that he believes, in the second place, that the perception of a sheet of paper is not a modification of his own mind, but is an objective thing which exists altogether independent of him, and one which would still exist, although he and all other created beings were annihilated. All that he believes to be his (or subjective) is his participation in the perception of this object. In a word, it is the perception of matter, and not matter per se, which is the kind of matter in the independent and perma
nent existence of which man rests and reposes his belief. There is no truth or satisfaction to be found in any other doctrine.
*This metaphysical theory of perception is a doctrine of pure intuitionism ; it steers clear of all the perplexities of representationism, for it gives us in perception only one, that is, only a proximate object; this object is the perception of matter, and this is one indivisible object. It is not, and cannot be, split into a proximate and a remote object. The doctrine, therefore, is proof against all
. the cavils of scepticism. We may add, that the entire objectivity of this datum (which the metaphysical doctrine proclaims) makes it proof against the imputation of idealism, at least of every species of absurd or objectionable idealism.'
This doctrine of perception is the great solvent which Ferrier uses through the whole range of Metaphysics. It became, after long pondering, a sort of metaphysical charm in his hand, at the touch of which the hardest problems of Knowing' and • Being' seemed to him to resolve and settle into new shape and order. The Institutes of Metaphysic' are nothing more than an elaborate application of the doctrine under the successive forms of a theory of Knowing or Epistemology, a theory of Ignorance or Agnoiology, and a theory of Being or Ontology. The knowable - the only possible knowable—is not
matter, nor yet "mind,' but matter plus mind ;' thingmecum ;'object plus subject.' Along with whatever any • intelligence knows, it must, as the ground or condition of its
knowledge, have some cognisance of itself. In other and explanatory language, “ “ Self” or the “me” is the common centre,
the continually known rallying-point in which all our cogni* tions meet and agree. It is the ens unum, et semper cognitum, ' in omnibus notitics. Its apprehension is essential to the exist‘ence of our, and of all, knowledge. This is the primary law or condition of all knowledge set forth at length under successive propositions and counter-propositions in the first and
* Elements of Philosophy, pp. 445–6. Hume is at one with Ferrier in his assertion that the real world of vulgar belief is not matter per se, but matter-as-perceived. All the unthinking and unphilosophical
part of mankind (he says), suppose their perceptions to be their only objects. It is only philosophers that speak of “existence" as • “double,” as “ internal and external, representing and represented.”' (Of the Understanding, part iv. § 2.) Hume was content to signalise the contradiction between the popular and philosophical belief. Berkeley, and Ferrier after him, maintained that in this case the popular is the true and only philosophical belief,-in other words, that the only external world is the world-as-perceived, that the perception of matter, and not matter per se, is the only kind of matter of which we know or can know anything.
largest section of the Institutes of Metaphysic.' The law of ignorance is not, as might be supposed, the reverse of this ; namely, the want of knowledge of things in themselves, or of objects per se. No; we can only be ignorant of that which we can possibly know. But we cannot possibly know things in themselves :
• To know thing per se or sine me, is as impossible and contradictory as it is to know two straight lines enclosing a space; because my mind by its very law and nature must know the thing cum alio, i.e. along with itself knowing it.' The difference between this and every other system is, that while every other system refers our nescience of matter per se to a defect or limitation in our cognitive faculties, and thus represents us as ignorant of matter per se in the proper sense of the word ignorant, this system refers our nescience of matter per se to the very nature of constitution of all reason, refers it to a necessary law which is the very perfection and essence of all intelligence.'
The true theory of Being’ springs directly out of the junction of these two theories of Knowing and of Ignorance :
Once exclude matter per se from the pale both of our knowledge and of our ignorance, and an ontology becomes, for the first time, possible. Because in answer to the question, What is real and absolute Being? we must either reply, It is that which we know, in which case it will be object plus subject, because this is the only Knowable ; or we must reply, It is that which we are ignorant of, in which case, also, it will be object plus subject.' This, then, is the όντως όν. • Absolute Existence is the synthesis of the subject and object—the union of the universal and the particular--the concretion of the ego and non-ego ; in other words, the only true, and real, and independent Existences are minds—together-with-thatwhich-they-apprehend.'
We feel that it is scarcely fair thus to try to set forth, in a sentence or two, the elaborate thinking of the Institutes of
Metaphysic;' but we have been mainly indebted to Ferrier's own summary of his reasoning in his letter to De Quincey, to which we formerly alluded. Our limits do not permit any further expansion; and his system suffers less from this sort of compression than many others. As he himself said of it; it is • like a telescope which shuts up as short and pulls out as * long as one pleases.' Plainly, it is nothing else than an extended application of his fundamental doctrine of perception. He turns this doctrine, like a revolving light, upon all the successive aspects of the metaphysical world, and they seem to him to grow luminous and intelligible under its rays.
Still less do our limits permit us to enter into any discussion of the merits of Ferrier's system. Our purpose throughout has been to expound, not to discuss or criticise; and we have seen the growth of his system in its polemical relations to the old Scottish school of Philosophy. In what degree his polemic is sound and likely to maintain itself, and in what degree is weak and full of assumption, it would lead us far out of our present way to examine and try to settle. We must be content with remarking that the antagonism between the · Old’ and the New Scottish Philosophy' is an antagonism of vital assumption on both sides, against which argument seems powerless. Do we apprehend matter in itself? Are we face to face with a real world, independent of mind ? Or does the me, or mental factor, cleave inseparably to every object of knowledge as its illuminating condition—the light • of all our seeing ?' The alternative is not so much one of argument as of fundamental hypothesis,-a point on which to stand that we may argue at all. As in the case of all first principles, we are found carrying one or other alternative with us from the beginning; and when we have run out the lines of our reasoning, we are simply where we were when we started. We have been arguing throughout on a dualistic or unitarian hypothesis,—on a basis, as Sir William Hamilton said, of natural realism or speculative idealism. Philosophers seem to be born Realists or Idealists, Aristotelians or Platonists, and what argument can subvert a primary tendency of intellect?
It is singular and highly deserving of notice, that the unitarian and idealistic tendency in philosophy is once more everywhere in the ascendant. Ferrier's lofty spiritual idealism is merely one phase of the tendency in our time. The prevalent Sensational Philosophy, which seems, and is in its essence, the most opposed to his, is yet in its recent developments strangely coincident with his fundamental law of knowledge. It starts like him from an antithesis in unity of the nature of subject-object; but, while with Ferrier the subjective or unifying element is mind in its full stature, or consciousness (apart from consciousness or the fully developed contrast of subject and object, there is no beginning of human intelligence with Ferrier); with the Sensational Philosophy, the subjective is merely a primitive sentiency or germ of mental susceptibility. The two systems run alike to a subjective root; only, in the one case, the subject is the fully developed ego; in the other, it is a mere rudimentary sensation manifesting itself in the twofold antithetic form of continued actual sensations, or sensations proper, and continued possibilities of sensation converted by the natural laws of expectation and association into permanency and objectivity. The two systems are identical in the assertion of a