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HIGHEST VALIDITY OF THE TEST,
that any thing in the shape of an interpretation must be subordinate to the laws of consciousness. Every hypothesis he entertains in trying to explain himself to himself, being an hypothesis which can be dealt with by him only in terms of his mental states, it follows that any process of explanation must itself be carried on by testing the cohesions among mental states, and accepting the absolute cohesions. His conclusions, therefore, reached only by repeated recognitions of this test of absolute cohesion, can never have any higher validity than this test. It matters not what name he gives to a conclusion—whether he calls it a belief, a theory, a fact, or a truth. These words can be themselves only names for certain relations among bis states of consciousness. Any secondary meanings which he ascribes to them must also be meanings expressed in terms of consciousness, and therefore subordinate to the laws of consciousness. Hence he has no appeal from this ultimate dictum; and seeing this, he sees that the only possible further achievement is the reconciliation of the dicta of consciousness with one another—the bringing all other dicta of consciousness into harmony with this ultimate dictum.
Here, then, the inquirer discovers a warrant higher than that which any argument can give, for asserting an objeotive existence. Mysterious as seems the consciousness of something which is yet out of consciousness, he finds that he alleges the reality of this something in virtue of the ultimate law-he is obliged to think it. There is an indissoluble cohesion between each of those vivid and definite states of consciousness which he calls a sensation, and indefinable consciousness which stands for a mode of being beyond sensation, and separate from himself. When grasping his fork and putting food into his mouth, he is wholly anable to expel from his mind the notion of something
which resists the force he is conscious of using; and he cannot suppress the nascent thought of an independent existence keeping apart his tongue and palate, and giving him that sensation of taste which he is unable to generate in consciousness by his own activity. Though self-criticism shows him that he cannot know what this is which lies outside of him; and though he may infer that not be ing able to say what it is, it is a fiction; he discovers that such self-criticism utterly fails to extinguish the consciousness of it as a reality. Any conclusion into which he argues himself, that there is no objective existence connected with these subjective states, proves to be a mere verbal conclusion to which his thoughts will not respond. The relation survives every effort to destroy it—is proved by experiment, repeated no matter how often, to be one of which the negation is inconceivable; and therefore one having supreme authority. In vain he endeavours to give it any greater authority by reasoning; for whichever of the two alternatives he sets out with, leaves him at the end just where he started. If, knowing nothing more than his own states of consciousness, he declines to acknowledge any thing beyond consciousness until it is proved, he may go on reasoning for ever without getting any further; since the perpetual elaboration of states of consciousness out of states of consciousness, can never produce any thing more than states of consciousness. If, contrariwise, he postulates external existence, and considers it as merely postulated, then the whole fabric of his argument, standing upon this postulate, has no greater validity than the postulate gives it, minus the possible invalidity of the argument itself. The case must not be confounded with those cases in which an hypothesis, or provisional assump. tion, is eventually proved true by its agreement with facts; for in these cases the facts with which it is found to agree, are facts known in some other way than through the hy.
THE PRINCIPLE OF INHERITED EXPERIENCES.
pothesis: a calculated eclipse of the moon serves as a verification of the hypothesis of gravitation, because its occurrence is observable without taking for granted the hypothesis of gravitation. But when the external world is postulated, and it is supposed that the validity of the postulate may be shown by the explanation of mental phenomena which it furnishes, the vice is, that the process
of verification is itself possible only by assuming the thing to be proved.
But now, recognizing the indissoluble cohesion between the consciousness of self and an unknown not-self, as constituting a dictum of consciousness which he is both com. pelled to accept and is justified by analysis in accepting, it is competent for the inquirer to consider whether, setting out with this dictum, he can base on it a satisfactory explanation of what he calls knowledge. He finds such an explanation possible. The hypothesis that the more or less coherent relations among his states of consciousness, aro generated by experience of the more or less constant relations in something beyond his consciousness, furnishes him with solutions of numerous facts of consciousness : not, however, of all, if he assumes that this adjustment of inner to outer relations has resulted from his own experiences alone. Nevertheless if he allows himself to suppose that this moulding of thoughts into correspondence with things, has been going on through all Time; and that the effects of experiences have been inherited in the shape of modi. fied organic structure; then he is able to interpret all the phenomena. It becomes possible to understand how these persistent cohesions among states of consciousness, are themselves the products of often-repeated experiences; and that even what are known as “forms of thought,” are but the absolute internal uniformities generated by infinite repetitions of absolute external uniformities. It becomes possible also to understand how, in the course of organ. izing these multiplying and widening experiences, there may arise partially-wrong connections in thought, answer. ing to limited converse with things; and that these con. nections in thought, temporarily taken for indissoluble ones, may afterwards be made dissoluble by presentation of external relations at variance with them.
But even when this occurs, it can afford no ground for questioning the test of indissolubility; since the process by which some connection previously accepted as indissoluble, is broken, is simply the establishment of some antagonistic connection, which proves, on a trial of strength, to be the stronger—which remains indissoluble when pitted against the other, while the other gives way. And this leaves the test just where it was; showing only that there is a liability to error as to what are indissoluble connections. From the very beginning, therefore, to the very end of the explanation, even down to the criticism of its conclusions and the discovery of its errors, the validity of this test must be postulated. Whence it is manifest, as before said, that the whole business of explanation can be nothing more than that of bringing all other dicta of consciousness into harmony with this ultimate dictum.
To the positive justification of a proposition, may be added that negative justification which is derived from the untenability of the counter-proposition. When describing the attitude of pure Empiricism, some indications that its counter-proposition is untenable were given; but it will be well here to state, more specifically, the fundamental ob. jections to which it is open.
If the ultimate test of truth is not that here alleged, then what is the ultimate test of truth? And if there is no ultimate test of truth, then what is the warrant for accepting certain propositions and rejecting others ? An opponent who denies the validity of this test, may legiti
A TEST DEMANDED OF EMPIRICISM,
mately decline to furnish any test himself, so long as he does not affirm any thing to be true; but if he affirms some things to be true and others to be not true, his war. rant for doing so may fairly be demanded. Let us glance at the possible response to the demand. If asked why he holds it to be unquestionably true that two quantities
hich differ in unequal degrees from a third quantity are themselves unequal, two replies seem open to him : he may say that this is an ultimate fact of consciousness, or that it is an induction from personal experiences. The reply that it is an ultimate fact of consciousness, raises the question, How is an ultimate fact of consciousness distinguished ? All beliefs, all conclusions, all imaginations even, are facts of consciousness; and if some are to be accepted as beyond question because ultimate, while others are not to be accepted as beyond question because not ultimate, there comes the inevitable inquiry respecting the test of ultimacy. On the other hand, the reply that this truth is known only by induction from personal experiences, sug. gests the query, On what warrant are personal experiences asserted? The testimony of experience is given only through memory; and its worth depends wholly on the trustworthiness of memory. Is it, then, that the trustworthiness of memory is less open to doubt than the immediate consciousness that two quantities must be unequal if they differ from a third quantity in unequal degrees ? This can scarcely be alleged. Memory is notoriously un. certain. We sometimes suppose ourselves to have said things which it turns out we did not say; and we often forget seeing things which it is proved we did see. We speak of many passages of our lives as seeming like dreams; and can vaguely imagine the whole past to be an illusion. We can go much further toward conceiving that our recollections do not answer to any actualities, than we can go toward conceiving the non-existence of Space. But