C. J. Ducasse -
A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death
Hypophenomenalism: The Life of Organisms as Product of Mind
THERE IS a conception of the relation between mind and body which is in a certain respect the converse of the epiphenomenalistic and which might therefore be termed Hypophenomenalism (Gr. hypo = under + phainomai = to appear.) It is, in brief, that the living body is a hypophenomenon of the soul or mind or of some constituent of it - an effect or product or dependent of it, instead of the converse of this as epipheomenalism asserts.
Conceptions of this type have appeared several times in the history of thought, but they have been presented as parts or corollaries of certain cosmological speculations rather than as conclusions suggested by the results of observation.
1. Two hypophenomenalistic: conceptions
In Plotinus, for example, who conceived the universe as arising from the ineffable One, God, by a series of emanations, the soul is the penultimate of these, two degrees below God; and the lowest is matter. Thus, the soul is not in the body, but the body is in, and dependent upon, the soul, which both precedes and survives it, and whose forces give form and organization to the matter of which the body is composed.
Schopenhauer's conception of the relation between body and soul" is somewhat similar to this, but he does not speak here of soul or of mind but more specifically of "will," which he does not regard as a part of the psyche. Except in cases where the will has kindled to itself the light we call intellect, that impersonal will is blind as to what specifically it craves but nonetheless creates. Schopenhauer accordingly conceives the body, or more exactly the body's organization, as objectification of the will-to-live; the hand, for example, being an objectification of the unconscious will to be able to grasp. He writes that "what objectively is matter is subjectively will ... our body is just the visibility, objectivity of our will, and so also every body is the objectivity of the will at some one of its grades."(1) And elsewhere he speaks of a certain part of the body, to wit, the brain, as "the objectified will to know."(2)
(1) The World as Will and Idea, Supplements to Bk II. Ch. XXIV p. 52. Haldane and Kemp Transl. Vol. 3. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. London 1906.
(2) The Will in Nature, tr. Mme. Karl Hillebrand, London, George Bell and Sons, 1897, p. 237.
2. Biological hypophenomenalism distinguished from cosmological
In philosophical discussions of the mind-body relation, the type of theory of which two classical examples have just been cited, and for which the name Hypophenomenalism is here proposed, has received relatively little attention as compared with epiphenomenalism, materialism, idealism, parallelism, or interactionism. We shall therefore have to provide here ourselves the formulation of it that would seem most defensible. It will unavoidably have to be fuller than in the case of the familiar other theories of the mind-body relation.
The first thing we must do is to distinguish between what may be termed, respectively, cosmological and biological hypophenomenalism. Cosmological hypophenomenalism would contend that not only the living body, but also all other material objects are hypophenomena of minds, i.e., are products or objectifications of psychical activity or, as Schopenhauer had it, of Will.
Biological hypophenomenalism, on the other hand, concerns itself only with the material objects we term "living," and contends only that the life, which differentiates living things from dead or inorganic things, is a product, effect, or manifestation of psychic activity and more particularly of conation. This is the hypophenomenalism which alone we shall have in view, for it is the one directly relevant to the central problem of the present work, namely, that of the relation between the individual's mind and the life and the death of his body. This relation is different both from the ontological relation between mind and matter in general and from the epistemological relation between them, which constitutes mind's knowledge of matter.
Biological hypophenomenalism does not occupy itself with the question whether matter in general, or in particular the matter of the body as distinguished from its life, is a product or objectification of mind. It has to do only with the relation between the life of the body and its mind; but whereas epiphenomenalism maintains that both the occurrence at all of consciousness and the particular states of it at particular times are products of the living brain's activity, biological hypophenomenalism on the contrary maintains that the life of the body and of its brain is an effect or manifestation of psychic activities and in particular of conations - these being what "animate" living organisms.
3. The life processes apparently purposive
The fact from which hypophenomenalism starts is that not only the distinctively human life activities and the life activities typical of animals, but even the vegetative activities - where life is at its minimum - seem to be definitely purposive. And hypophenomenalism, on the basis of an analysis of the notion of purposiveness more careful than the common ones, contends that the life activities, even at the vegetative level, do not just seem to be purposive but really are so.
Most biologists, however, are averse to employment of the notion of purpose on the ground that it is a subjective, psychological one, inadmissible in a biology that strives to be as wholly objective as are physics and chemistry. They therefore speak instead of the "directiveness," or of the "equifinality" of biological processes or, as does Driesch in the formulation of his Vitalism, of an "entelechy" which, however, is not psychic but only "psychoid." But the question is whether, if these terms are not just would-be-respectable-sounding aliases for purposiveness, what they then designate is ultimately capable of accounting for the facts it is invoked to explain. For the sake of concreteness, let us therefore advert to some examples of those facts.
The peculiarities that differentiate living things from inanimate objects include not only the fairly obvious characteristics - metabolism, growth, reproduction, adaptability to environment - by which we ordinarily identify the things we term "living"; but also various more recondite facts. An example would be that "when ... one of the first two cells of a tiny salamander embryo is destroyed, the remaining one grows into a whole individual, not a half, as one might expect." Again, that "two fertilized eggs induced to fuse by artificial means were found to produce one animal instead of two." The facts of regeneration similarly challenge explanation: "The leg of a tadpole, snipped off, may be restored, or the eye of a crustacean"; and so on. In sum, "if the organism is prevented from reaching its norm of 'goal' in the ordinary way, it is resourceful and will attain it by a different method."(3)
(3) E. W. Sinnott: Cell and Psyche, the Biology of Purpose, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1950, pp. 6, 29, 33.
Facts such as these strongly suggest that the life processes are purposive. But that a process or activity is "purposive" is commonly taken to mean that it is incited and shaped by the presence together of three factors in the agent: (a) the idea of an as yet non-existent state of affairs; (b) a desire that that state of affairs should eventually come to exist; and (c) knowledge of diverse modes of 'action respectively adequate in different circumstances to bring about the desiderated state of affairs. And, obviously, such an explanation of the biological occurrences in view is open to several prima facie serious objections. These, even when they have been merely felt rather than explicitly formulated, have been responsible for the reluctance of biologists and physicists to accept a teleological explanation of the facts cited, notwithstanding the difficulty, which they have also felt, of doing altogether without it. Let us now state and examine each of those objections.
4. Objections to a teleological explanation of, life processes
(a) The first objection is that it is scientifically illegitimate to ascribe processes which, like those in view, are material, to the operation of factors which, like thought, desire, and intelligence, are mental.
The sufficient reply to this objection, however, is that, as David Hume made clear long ago, only experience can tell us what in fact is or is not capable of causing what. The Causality relation presupposes nothing at all as to the ontological nature - whether material, mental, or other-of the events that function as its terms. That a material event can be caused only by an event also itself material is not a known fact but merely a metaphysical dogma. To look for a material explanation of every material event is of course a legitimate research program and one which has yielded many valuable fruits; but to assume that, even when the search yields no material explanation of a given material event, nevertheless the explanation of it cannot be other than a material one is, illegitimately, to erect that legitimate research program into a metaphysical creed - the creed, namely, of pious ontological materialism.
(b) The second objection is that a teleological explanation of biological processes is superfluous because all their peculiarities can be adequately accounted for by ascribing them to the existence and operation, in the organism we call "living," of various servo-mechanisms; that is, of mechanisms whose attainment and maintenance of certain results (to wit, growth of the organism to a normal form, restoration of it when it gets damaged, preservation of a normal equilibrium between its internal processes and the changes in its environment, etc.) is due to guidance of the mechanism's activity at each moment by elaborate feed-back channels that are constituents of the mechanism itself.
The reply to this objection is that, although some servo-mechanisms are known to exist in the organism, and although the existence and operation of additional servo-mechanisms would indeed be theoretically capable of accounting for those results, nevertheless servo-mechanisms that would be specifically such as to insure all those particular results are not in fact independently known to exist in organisms. Hence, unless and until their existence is established by observation of them, or by observational verification of predictions deduced from the supposition that they exist and are of specifically such and such descriptions, invocation of them to account for all biological processes is nothing but invocation of a deus ex machina.
This means that the possibility of a teleological explanation of biological processes is as yet left entirely open; and in turn, this underlines the general requirement that, for an explanation to be acceptable, the cause it invokes must be of a kind not just postulated ad hoc, but independently known to exist; and further, known to be capable in some cases of causing effects similar to those which it is invoked to account for in the case of biological processes.
Moreover, the fact that some servo-mechanisms - though not ones adequate to explain all the particular facts in view - are known to exist in living organisms leaves the existence there of these known servo-mechanisms themselves to be accounted for. And, to explain their existence as being the end-product of the operation of some "more fundamental" servo-mechanism is not really to explain it at all unless the existence of the latter is not just postulated but is independently known, and itself then somehow explained.
(c) The third objection to the ascribing of purposiveness to biological processes is that presence of the three factors of purposiveness mentioned - an idea of an as yet non-existent form or state of the organism, a desire for its existence, and knowledge of what means would, under varying circumstances, bring it into existence - is dependent on presence of a highly developed brain and nervous system; which, however, is altogether absent at the biological level of the processes here in view.
To this objection, the reply is that conjunction of those three factors is characteristic not of all purposive activity, but only of certain kinds and levels of it. More specifically, it is characteristic of purposive activity that is both consciously and skillfully heterotelic, but not of purposive activity that is blind, as in the case of the vegetative life activities.
5. The nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity
But the force and the implications of the above reply to the third of the objections considered can become fully evident only in the light of an analysis of purposive activity and of its various kinds and levels. The branch of philosophy which occupies itself thus with the theory of purposive activity has no current name but might be called Prothesiology (from Gr. πρόθεσιѕ = purpose, resolve, design.) Kant's discussion of the teleological judgment, in Part II of his Critique of Judgment, would belong to it. In his discussion, however, he considers chiefly man's judgments of purposiveness in Nature rather than the nature, kinds, and levels of purposive activity itself.
Moreover, the "mechanism" he contrasts with purposiveness is mechanism conceived in terms only of motion of material objects or particles, and thus leaves out of consideration such psychological processes as are not purposive but mechanical, i.e., automatic. Also, he erroneously conceives teleology as a different kind of causality instead of, properly, as causality in cases where the cause-event (not the causality relation) is of a special kind. Kant's discussion of teleology therefore does not furnish us with the analysis and conspectus we need at this point. We shall introduce it by considering first a concrete case of purposive activity of the type in which the three factors mentioned above operate - say, the case of our shaking an apple tree for the purpose of getting one of the apples it bears. In this activity, we discern the following five elements:
1) The idea we have, of our as yet non-existent possession of one of the apples.
2) Our desire that possession of one by us shall come to exist.
3) Our knowledge, gained from past experience, that shaking the tree would cause apples to fall into our possession.
4) Causation in us - by the joint presence to our mind of that idea, that desire, and that knowledge - of the act of shaking the tree.
5) Causation in turn, by this act, of the imagined and desired eventual fall of apples into our possession.
This analysis of the example is enough to make evident already that, contrary to what is sometimes alleged, purposive activity involves no such paradox as would be constituted by causation of a present action by a future state of affairs. For obviously what causes the act of shaking the tree is not the as yet non-existent possession by us of an apple; but is, together, our present thought of our future possession of one, our present desire for such future possession, and our present knowledge of how to cause it to occur. By the very definition of Causality, the cause, here as necessarily everywhere else, is prior in time to its effect.
6. Conation: "blind" vs. accompanied by awareness of its conatum
Let us, however pursue the analysis of purposiveness by considering next the various respects in which examples of purposiveness may, without ceasing to be such, depart from the type of the example analyzed above.
One possibility is that factor (1) in that analysis - to wit, an idea of the state of affairs to be brought about - should be absent. In such a case, factor (2) would properly be describable not as a desire, but only as a blind conation or craving-blind as to what sort of state of affairs would satisfy it. A new-born infant's craving for milk would be an example of this. "Desire," then, is conation conjoined with an idea of its conatum; whereas "blind conation" is conation unaccompanied by any idea of its conatum.
The activity incited by blind conation is even then purposive, but not consciously purposive; and it is: (a) relatively random and therefore successful, i.e., satisfying, only by chance; or (b) regulated automatically (within a certain range of conditions) by some somatic of psychosomatic servo-mechanism and therefore successful notwithstanding variations that do not go beyond that range, as for example web building by spiders; or (c) stereotyped irrespective of its appropriateness or inappropriateness to the special circumstances that may be present in the particular case as when, for example, the hungry neonate cries, irrespective of whether anybody is there to hear him or not.
7. Desire, and ignorance or knowledge of how to satisfy it
When the inciting conation is a desire, i.e., is coupled with awareness of the nature of its conatum - then termed its desideratum knowledge of a form of action that would bring about occurrence of the desideratum may either be lacking or be possessed. If it is lacking, the purposive activity incited is then of the consciously exploratory, "trial-and-error," type. If on the contrary that knowledge is possessed, the activity it incites is then not only consciously purposive but in addition skilled, or informed, according as the knowledge shaping it is present in the form of "know-how," or in conceptualized form.
8. Autotelism and heterotelism
Purposive activity - whether induced by a blind conation or by a conation conjoined with awareness of the nature of its conatum - may be autotelic, instead of heterotelic as in the example analyzed. That is, what satisfies the conation may be the very performing of the activity, not some ulterior effect caused by the performing of it. Examples of purposive activity that is thus autotelic would be sneezing, coughing, yawning, stretching; and, at a more elaborate level, the various play activities. In all such cases, what we crave is to do these very things. The doing of them of course has effects, but the activities are not, like the heterotelic ones, performed for the sake of those effects, but for their own sakes.
9. What ultimately differentiates purposiveness from mechanism
The foregoing survey of a number of ways in which telic activity may depart from the type illustrated by the example of the shaking of the apple tree makes evident that the one factor essential, i.e., necessary and sufficient, to purposiveness in an activity, is that what directly incites the activity should be either wholly or in part a conation.
It then becomes evident that causation of an activity or of any other event is on the contrary "mechanical" if and only if the direct cause of it does not consist, either wholly or in part, of a conation. Moreover, this analysis of the essence of "mechanical" causation applies irrespective of whether the activity or event caused be a physical or a psychical one. Much of what goes on in our minds occurs not purposively but mechanically; for example, occurrence of ideas that had become associated with others by contiguity or by similarity; rote recollections; orderly mental activities so habitual as to have become automatic; etc. The mechanical character of such psychological processes, and similarly of some psychosomatic and of some somatic processes, holds if what directly incites them is not a conation; and holds even if a mechanism being directly caused to function at a given time by something that is not a conation, came itself to exist as end-product of a purposive activity that aimed to construct it. (One's knowledge of the multiplication table would be an example of a psychological mechanism that was so instituted.)
A servo-mechanism is a mechanism so provided with feed-backs that the functioning of it does, notwithstanding disturbances of certain kinds and magnitudes, automatically insure attainment or maintenance within certain limits of a certain effect. A simple instance of a servo-mechanism is an oil-burning furnace controlled by a thermostat which maintains the house temperature within specific limits.
The point essential here to bear in mind in connection with servo-mechanisms is that although, to an observer struck by the similarity of their behavior to that of the behavior of a man actuated by a purpose, their behavior seems purposive too, nevertheless it is wholly mechanical. The purpose which the observer infers from his observation of the servo-mechanism's behavior is not entertained by the servo-mechanism itself, but is the purpose which the constructor of the mechanism intended that it should be capable of serving, and which the user of the mechanism is employing it to serve: the thermostat's action, which turns the furnace burner on or off, is not caused by a craving or desire in the thermostat to maintain the room temperature within certain limits. Although the existence of the thermostatically controlled furnace is artificial, i.e., came about through somebody's purposive constructional activity, nevertheless once the mechanism has come to exist, its operation is just as wholly mechanical as is operation of the increase or decrease of the quantity of water pouring over the natural spillway of a natural mountain lake, in maintaining the level of the lake constant within certain limits.
But although the action of the thermostat in turning the burner on or off is not itself purposive, it is nevertheless purpose-serving - the purpose served being of course the householder's purpose of maintaining the house temperature approximately constant. On the other hand, as the case of the mountain lake shows, an activity, in order to be capable of serving somebody's purpose, does not need either to be the activity of a purposive agent, or to be the activity of a purposively constructed mechanism.
11. Creative vs. only activative conations
In the various types of telism considered up to this point, the effect of the conations involved was to activate some preexisting psychological or psychosomatic mechanism; either, autotelically, for the sake of its very activity; or, heterotelically. for the sake of an ulterior effect which the mechanism's activity automatically causes.
What we must notice next is that, instead of or in addition to being thus activative, a conation may be both creative, and blind as to the determinate nature of that whose creation would satisfy the conation.
An example would be the imaginative creation of the poem, drama, or musical or pictorial composition which issues out of the composer's "inspiration," i.e., which is "breathed into" his consciousness by the specific conation operating in him at the time. The creative process is here usually a step-by-step one, in which ideas of portions or features of the composition are spontaneously generated by the conation; these ideas, when they turn out to be such as to satisfy it, being then embodied by the composer in perceptible material-words, tones, colors, etc., as the case may be.
Other examples would be those constituted by discovery of the solution of some intellectual problem; for instance the problem of discovering a proof that no cube can be the sum of two cubes. The correct solution, if it comes, is - like the incorrect ones that come - generated spontaneously by the intense conation to solve the problem; which conation, however, is satisfied only by advent of the correct solution and awareness that it is correct.
Another category is that of instances where what the conation generates is a psychological or psychosomatic servo-mechanism g
such that possession of it constitutes possession of a skill. Instances of this are of special interest in the present connection because part of what is then created is an elaborate set of connections among neurons in the brain and the cerebellum; and the fact that the conation to acquire a skill thus has a creative somatic effect lends plausibility to the supposition that the somatic phenomena of organic growth to a normal form, of regeneration, of adaptation, etc., are similarly manifestations of conations that are somatically creative, but are autotelic and blind as to what will satisfy them. This would mean that the tadpole's new leg, restored after the original one had been snipped off-and indeed the original one too - is, as Schopenhauer would have put it, an "objectification" of, i.e., a spontaneous somatic construction by, the blind conation for capacity to swim; and the crustacean's restored eye similarly a spontaneous construction by the conation for capacity to see.
12. The question as to how conation organizes matter
It might perhaps be objected, however, that anyway we do not understand how a conation manages to organize or to shape matter. If so, the pertinent reply would be that the puzzle is a wholly supposititious one. For wherever, as in this case and in many others, what is in view is not remote but proximate causation, i.e., causation of one event by another not through causation of intermediary other events but directly and immediately, then the question as to the "how" of the causation is strictly absurd. It is absurd because in any such case it loses the only meaning it ever has, which is: "Through what intermediary causal steps does A cause B?" and hence to ask this, i.e., to ask "how," in cases of direct causation, is to ask what the intermediary causal steps are in cases where there are none!
13. Telism ultimately the only type of explanation in sight for the life processes
The supposition formulated above - of organization as direct effect of conation - has the merit that it invokes a kind of cause, to wit, conation, of which - by introspective attention to our psychological experience - we know that some cases exist; a kind of cause, moreover, which we know to be sometimes creative; and indeed sometimes somatically creative.
On the other hand, our examination of the objections to teleological explanation of the life processes showed that each of the three objections is without force. Moreover, no explanation of those processes, other than a teleological one, is in sight; for to speak (as do E. S. Russell, R. S. Lillie, and others) of the "directiveness" of the life processes; or (as does Driesch) of an "entelechy" that is not psychic but "psychoid"; or (as does von Bertalanffy) of the "equifinality" of the life processes; and so on, is either to bring in purposiveness itself, under an alias; or else it is to invoke the operation of servo-mechanisms whose existence, however, even if it were observed instead of only postulated, would itself stand in need of explanation. That the explanation could ultimately be only in terms of purposiveness follows from two considerations.
One is that since what differentiates living material, even in its most elementary forms, from non-living material is the prima facie purposive character of its processes, this character of all living material cannot be accounted for by the hypothesis of chance variations or mutations in living material, and of survival of those fittest to survive.
The other consideration is that the adequacy of that hypothesis to account even for the differentiation of species within' already living material is to-day seriously questioned by a number of biologists for several reasons. One is: (a) that mutations are "rare, isolated, occurring in but one out of thousands or tens of thousands of individuals, and hence have but infinitesimal chances to propagate themselves and to persist in such a population." Moreover, (b) mutation "does not recur sequentially in the same form, and hence cannot be cumulative" and thus cannot produce the continuous and harmonious change which the hypothesis of progressive evolution depicts. Besides, (c) "by the very laws, which govern crossings in sexual reproduction, mutants have but infinitesimal chances to survive and to propagate their type." Furthermore, (d) "mutation is almost always a depreciative, noxious, or pathological phenomenon." Again, (e) "mutation never affects any but relatively minute details, and never traverses the limits of the species... In brief, mutation is at the most a factor of variation within a species ... it certainly cannot transform the existing species into novel ones."(4)
(4) Louis Bounoure: Determinisme et Finalite, Flammarion, Paris, 1957, Ch. II pp. 70-72. Note also Raymond Ruyer: Neofinalisme, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1952; especially chs. IV, V, XVI, XVII. Also, H. Graham Cannon: The Evolution of Living Things, Thomas, Springfield, Ill. 1958, and Lamarck and Modern Genetics, Manchester Univ. Press, 1958 - See, however, E. Schroedinger: Mind and Matter, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959 - Ch. 2.
14. Conation in the vegetative, the animal, and the human activities
The eminent author from whose chapter on "Evolutionism: An illusory science" the preceding observations are quoted considers in another chapter entitled, "Do cells have a soul?", the neo-finalism of Ruyer, and criticizes it.
According to Ruyer, the apparent preordination of biological processes to specific ends is owing to a dominating, essentially active and dynamic "primary organic consciousness," whose sole intent, or ideal, consists of the forms and capacities of the organs it constructs. This primary organic consciousness would thus be concerned basically with the vegetative processes of living things; and the processes of animal and of typically human life would be eventual derivatives from it.
Ruyer contends in addition, however, that a similar consciousness, though at more elementary levels, operates also in individual molecules and atoms, since they are not mere aggregates but are systems. His hypophenomenalism. would thus be not biological only but cosmological. But - leaving aside that additional contention of his - the "primary organic consciousness" he invokes to account for the apparent purposiveness of biological processes would seem to be much the same thing in essence if not perhaps in its details, as the conations which we found to be the constituent alone indispensable and therefore essential in the only actions whose purposiveness is, not inferred, but directly and intimately observable by us. These are, of course, our own purposive actions, whose motivation we can scrutinize introspectively; whereas external perception, as we pointed out earlier, has no way to distinguish between action really purposive, and action automatically regulated by servo-mechanisms.
Bounoure criticizes Ruyer's hypothesis, by emphasizing that the processes that go on in living organisms are triggered at every stage by determining conditions - chemical stimuli, mitogenetic causes, etc., of which he describes various interesting examples in some detail.
This determinism, however, which is beyond question, does not account for the organism's inherent capacity to respond to those determinants and to variations in them in a manner so adaptable as to attain a fixed result. Possession of such capacity is the characteristic of servo-mechanisms, but it does not account for its own existence. Indeed, Bounoure himself points this out when he writes that "finality is implicate in organisms, but implication does not constitute explanation. What needs to be accounted for is not organization already existent, but the activity that constructs and organizes life" (p. 216). Immediately after, however, he dismisses as futile and anthropomorphic Ruyer's postulated immanent agent-consciousness.
What then does Bounoure himself ultimately offer us instead? Unfortunately, only a statement that, in the organism, "the preordination of phenomena and ... the vital value of their concatenation" are "marvellous characteristics of life;" or a reference to the "essential mystery of life;" or an "acknowledgment, in the organism's development of a veritable marvel." In effect, nothing but virtuously emphatic avowals that he has no explanation whatever to offer!
As we shall see in the next chapter, however, some biologists no less distinguished, among them H. S. Jennings, whose observations on the behavior of paramecium Bounoure has occasion to cite - have not shared Bounoure's metaphysical prejudice against the possibility of psycho-physical causation.
15. Hypophenomenalism vs. epiphenomenalism
How now do the merits of the hypophenomenalism we have formulated compare with those of epiphenomenalism?
Epiphenomenalism as we saw, has two defects. One is that although it acknowledges that states of consciousness are not material events, nevertheless it describes their relation to brain activity - which activity it alleges generates them - only in terms of the in fact non-analogous relation between an activity of a material object and generation by it of another material object.
The biological hypophenomenalism we have described, on the other hand, does not suffer from any corresponding defect, for it does not contend - as would a cosmological hypophenomenalism - that purposive mental activity, i.e., conation, generates the matter of which the body consists, but only that it "animates" or "enlivens" this matter, i.e., organizes it purposefully.
Again, epiphenomenalism is, we pointed out, altogether arbitrary in its dogma that causation as between consciousness and brain is always from brain states to states of consciousness, but never causation of brain states by states of consciousness. In the contentions of hypophenomenalism, on the contrary, there is nothing to preclude causation of particular changes in the state of the living brain by particular changes in the state of consciousness; nor is there anything to preclude causation in the converse direction. The biological hypophenomenalism we have described is hospitable equally to both possibilities; for the causality relation does not require that both its cause-term and its effect-term be material events, nor indeed that either of them be so; and what unprejudiced observation reveals is not only instances of physicophysical causation, but also instances of psycho-physical, of physico-psychical, and of psycho-psychical causation. This, however, brings up interactionism, which will be the subject of the next chapter.
16. Hypophenomenalism and experimentation
Each person whose body is functioning normally is in position to make perceptual observations of it and of the bodies of others; to act physically upon it and upon them; to observe introspectively in his own case the psychological effects of physical stimuli on his body, and, in the case of other human bodies, to infer the psychological effects of such stimuli more or less well from the behavior of those bodies. Also, situated as we are, each of us is in position as occasion arises to observe human bodies unconscious as well as conscious, dead as well as alive, and being born as well as dying. It is because we have been in position to make these and related observations of human bodies and of other physical objects and events, that we have been able to gain such knowledge as we have of physico-physical causation in general, and of physico-physical causation upon, by, and within the human body. These last facts of causation are what in particular has invited, and has been used as an empirical and experimental springboard for, the speculative leap of epiphenomenalism, which, as we saw, goes far beyond those facts.
For the sake of healthy philosophical perspective, it is necessary now to point out the respects in which our situation would need to be different from what it is during life, in order that it should provide us with an analogous empirical and experimental springboard for the hypophenomenalistic speculative leap.
In order to have such a springboard for this, we would need to be discarnate minds, instead of as now minds possessed of and confined to a physical body. We would need, as discarnate minds, to be able to communicate with and act upon other discarnate minds directly, i.e., without, as now, physical bodies as intermediaries; perhaps also, to some extent and exceptionally, to be able to communicate with and act upon some incarnate minds likewise directly. We would need to be able to observe the "spirit birth" of a mind, i.e., its advent, at bodily death, into the world of discarnate minds; and conceivably also its "spirit death", if bodily birth should happen to consist of incarnation of an already existing "spirit" or "germ of a mind."
The situation of a discarnate mind as just depicted is of course more or less what Spiritualists believe to be that of the minds of persons whose bodies have died. They speak, however, of "spirits" rather than of discarnate minds - apparently meaning by a "spirit" a mind or "soul" which although discarnate is clothed with a "spiritual," more subtle kind of body. Spiritualists hold that such discarnate minds can on exceptional occasions describe to us, in terms of the observations and experiments which minds are able to make when discarnate, a mind-body relation which, although not labelled by them hypophenomenalistic, is yet essentially this; those occasions being the rare ones on which, purportedly, a discarnate spirit borrows for the moment the body or part of the body of an entranced "medium," and by its means communicates with us whether vocally, or by automatic writing, or typtologically. Such paranormal incursions by a discarnate mind into the world of living bodies would be the analogues of the paranormal incursions of incarnate minds into the world of spirits, which Swedenborg and some other psychics have claimed to have made.
It is interesting to note in this connection that if, at or after death, a then discarnate spirit should lose the memories of the incarnate life he left at death, he would then probably be just as skeptical of reports as to the existence of an earth world and of physical human bodies as now we, who have no memories of a spirit world, are skeptical as to the existence of one and as to our having had, or being eventually to have, a life in one!
These remarks are of course not intended to prejudge the question of survival after death; but only to make clear why the hypophenomenalistic speculative leap cannot, our minds being situated as now they are in a physical body, be made from an empirical and experimental springboard analogous to that which, situated as they now are, they can use in making the epiphenomenalistic leap.
Attention to beliefs such as those of Spiritualism, which seem to us queer or even paradoxical, can have the value of freeing to some extent our imagination from the unconscious parochialism of its outlook, which naively terms "unrealistic," or "contrary to commonsense," or perhaps "unscientific," anything that clashes with our existing habits of thought.
Of course, readiness to consider paradoxical ideas must not generate readiness to accept them without adequate evidence; but readiness to consider them can well turn out to generate awareness that some of the ideas currently orthodox whether in science or elsewhere are being accepted without adequate evidence.
Mind and Body as Acting on Each Other
THE CONTENTION considered in the preceding chapter was that the processes constituting the living body's minimal, i.e., vegetative, life are autotelic objective expressions of blind cravings of mind or minds to organize matter. Such of these blind cravings as are present in the human mind might be termed its vegetative conations, as distinguished from its distinctively animal and human ones.
The hypophenomenalistic contention was of interest to us primarily because of the superiority, in the respects we noticed, of the alternative it provides to the contention that the life of living things is a purely physico-chemical process and that a mind and its various conations and states are mere epiphenomena of those processes in the living brain. We shall not, however, need to occupy ourselves further with hypophenomenalism since the question to which it is an answer is different from the question central for us in these pages.
The latter question has to do with the nature of the relation between two terms. One of them is a living human body - no matter whether its being "alive" be a physico-chemical epiphenomenon or be a hypophenomenon of some primitive conations. The other term of the relation is constituted by existence and exercise of the animal and especially of the typically human capacities or "dispositions" in a person's total mind conceived in the manner set forth in Chapter VI. Man's living material body is of course a necessary, even if not a sufficient, factor in the development of his mind from the rudimentary state in which it is at the birth of his body. But our problem is whether on the one hand a person's living body, and on the other the part of that person's mind consisting of the distinctively human capacities peculiar to him, are so related that, once those capacities have been acquired by him, they, or some of them. can continue to exist and to function after that body dies.
Interactionism, as conceived in these pages, answers that no impossibility - either theoretical or empirical - is involved in so supposing. Let us, however, first consider the classical account of mind-body interaction.
1. Interaction as conceived by Descartes
The contention that the human mind and the living human body can, and to some extent do, act each on the other is associated chiefly with the name of Descartes. His account of their interaction, however, is burdened with difficulties that are not inherent in interactionism but arise only out of some of the peculiarities of his formulation of it.
The most troublesome of these is that mind and body are conceived by Descartes as each a "substance" in the sense that, aside from the dependence of each on God, each is wholly self-sufficient. This entails that changes in the state of either cannot without inconsistency be supposed to cause changes in the state of the other. Descartes, in one of his letters, acknowledges this(1). Nevertheless he asserts that such causation does occur: "That the spirit, which is incorporeal, is able to move the body, no reasoning or comparison from other things can teach this to us. Nevertheless, we cannot doubt it, for experiments too certain and too evident make us clearly aware of it every day; and one must well notice that this is one of the things that are known of themselves [Une des choses qui sont connues par elles memes] and that we obscure them every time we would explain them by others."(2)
(1) Letter of June 28, 1643, to Elizabeth. Descartes' Correspondence, ed. Adam Milhaud, Vol. 5:324.
(2) Letter VI, Vol. 2:31.
Yet, as if to mitigate the illegitimacy which, on Descartes' conception of substance, attaches to interaction, he insists that it occurs only at one place. This is at the center of the brain, in the pineal gland, which he holds is the principal "seat" of the soul. The deflections of it by the "animal spirits," Descartes says. cause perceptions in the soul; and, conversely, the soul's volitions deflect the pineal gland and thereby the "animal spirits," whose course to the muscles causes the body's voluntary movements.
But to pack into the meaning of the word "substance" the provision that one substance cannot interact with another is - here as in the historical precedents-quite arbitrary; for no theoretical need exists to postulate any substance as so defined; nor is the term, as so defined, applicable to anything actually known to exist. As ordinarily used, the term denotes such things as water and salt, steel and wood, nitric acid and copper, which can and on occasion do interact. Indeed, all the dispositions (except internal ones) in terms of which the nature of any substance analyzes consist of capacities of the substance concerned to affect or to be affected by some other substance.
Thus, the paradox Descartes finds in the interaction which he anyway acknowledges occurs between body and mind, arises only out of his gratuitously degrading to the status of "modes" the things ordinarily called "substances" - which do interact - and, equally gratuitously, defining "substances" as incapable of interacting.
2. Interaction and the heterogeneity of mind and body
What causes Descartes to find paradoxical the interaction of mind and body and yet to find no difficulty in the interaction of substances such as steel and wood, etc., is that, in the latter cases, the two substances concerned. being both of them material, are ontologically homogeneous; whereas body and mind - being one of them res extensa and the other res cogitans - are ontologically heterogeneous.
But the supposed paradox of interaction between them evaporates as soon as one realizes that the causality relation is wholly indifferent to the ontological homogeneity or heterogeneity of the events figuring in it as cause and as effect. This indifference or neutrality holds no matter whether causality be defined, as later by Hume, as consisting in de facto regularity of sequence; or more defensibly, as in experimental procedure, in terms of a state of affairs within which only two changes occur - one, called "cause," occurring at a given moment, and the other, occurring immediately thereafter, called "effect." All that the causality relation presupposes as to the nature of its cause-term and its effect-term is that both be events, i.e., occurrences in time. Hence, as Hume eventually pointed out and as we have insisted, an event, of no matter what kind, can, without contradiction or incongruity, be conceived to cause an event of no matter what other kind. Only experience can tell us what in fact can or cannot cause what. That, as experiment testifies, volition to raise one's arm normally causes it to rise, and burning the skin normally causes pain, is not in the least paradoxical.
3. H. S. Jennings on interaction between mind and body
The interactionist views of the eminent biologist, H. S. Jennings, are free from the artificial difficulty present in those of Descartes, and are far clearer and more critical than those of most of the biologists who have expressed themselves on the subject of the relation between body and mind.
In an address, Some Implications of Emergent Evolution, which he delivered in 1926 as retiring chairman of the Zoological Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and later in a book, The Universe and Life(3), Jennings sharply distinguishes two conceptions of determinism. He calls them respectively "radically experimental determinism" and "mechanistic determinism." The latter is the one commonly entertained by scientists, and is to the effect that whatever occurs in the universe, whether novel or not, is theoretically explicable in terms of the properties and relations of the elementary constituents of matter; and hence that even radical novelties such as the advent of life in an until then lifeless world are the inherently predictable necessary or probable effects of certain collocations - that is, are predictable in principle even if not in fact by us at a given time for lack of the required empirical data. This - except for the substitution of probabilities for necessities at the subatomic level in consequence of the state of affairs recognized in Heisenberg's principle of indeterminacy - is essentially determinism as conceived in Laplace's famous statement we have quoted earlier, that "an intelligence knowing, at a given instant of time, all forces acting in nature, as well as the momentary positions of all things of which the universe consists, would be able to comprehend the motions of the largest bodies of the world and those of the smallest atoms in one single formula, provided it [i.e., that intelligence] were sufficiently powerful to subject all data to analysis; to it, nothing would be uncertain, both future and past would be present before its eyes."(4)
(3) Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1933. The address appeared in Science, Jan. 14, 1927, and was reprinted with corrections the same year by the Sociological Press, Minneapolis.
(4) Theorie Analytique des Probabilites, Paris, 3d. edition, 1820.
Obviously, however, such a physico-chemical determinism is in fact only a metaphysical creed; for it vastly outruns what theoretical physics and physical chemistry are actually able to predict. What has occurred is that something which in reality was but a program - namely to explain in physico-chemical terms whatever turns out to be capable of explanation in such terms - has unawares been transformed into the a priori creed that whatever does occur is ultimately capable of being explained in such terms. Doubtless, the enthusiasm resulting from the truly remarkable discoveries which have been made under that program is what has brought about the unconscious metamorphosing of the latter into a creed, i.e., into a belief piously held without adequate warrant both by scientists and by laymen awed by the vast achievements of science.
On the other hand, the determinism Jennings terms "radically experimental determinism" does not assume, as physicochemical determinism gratuitously does, that only physical or chemical events can really cause or explain anything. Rather, it holds, as did David Hume, that only experience can reveal to us what in fact can or cannot cause what; and holds further as does the present writer, that, ultimately, the only sort of experience that can reveal what can or cannot cause what is experience of the outcome of an experiment: "The only test as to whether one phenomenon affects another is experiment … the test is: remove severally each preceding condition, and observe whether this alters the later phenomena. If it does, this is what we mean by saying that one condition affects another; that one determines another. Such experimental determinism is not concerned with likenesses or differences in kind, as between mental and physical, nor with the conceivability or inconceivability of causal relations between them; it is purely a matter of experiment."(5)
(5) Some Implications of Emergent Evolution, p. 9 of the reprint. Cf. the present writer's own analysis of Causality in his Causation and the Types of Necessity Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle, 1924, pp. 55-6, and in his later Nature, Mind, and Death Open Court Pub. Co. La Salle, 1951, Ch. 8, Sec. 3, where he insists that Causality is the relationship, which an experiment exhibits, between a state of affairs, an only change in it at a time T, and an immediately sequent only other change in it; and that causal laws are generalizations obtained by attention to the similarities that turn out to exist between two or more experiments each of which, in its own individual right, revealed a case of causation.
Jennings goes on to point out that "if we rely solely upon experiment, the production of mental diversities by preceding diversities in physical conditions is the commonest experience of mankind; a brick dropped on the foot yields other mental results than from a feather so dropped." But "experimental determinism also holds for the production of physical diversities by preceding mental diversities; for experimental determinism of the physical by the mental. One result follows when a certain mental state precedes; another when another mental state precedes ... No ground based on experimental analysis can be alleged for the assertion that the mental does not affect the physical; this is a purely a priori notion. According therefore to radical experimentalism, consciousness does make a difference to what happens ... the mental determines what happens as does any other determiner ... Among the determining factors for the happenings in nature are those that we call mental. Thought, purpose, ideals, conscience, do alter what happens."(6)
(6) Ibid. p. 10. Cf. The Universe and Life, pp. 33-48.
4. What interactionism essentially contends
The interactionism. that seems to the present writer to constitute the true account of the relation between the human mind and the living human body contends, as does Jennings, that each of the two acts at times on the other. Certain brain events, caused by environmental stimuli upon the external sense organs or by internal bodily conditions, cause certain mental events-notably, sensations of the various familiar kinds. On the other hand, mental events of various kinds (and no matter how themselves caused) cause certain brain events - those, namely, which themselves in turn cause or inhibit contractions of muscles or secretions of glands. But that mind and body thus interact does not entail that each cannot, or does not at times, function by itself, i.e., without acting on the other or being acted upon by it. Certainly, many of man's bodily activities-at the least the vegetative activities-can and do at times go on in the absence of conscious mental activity or without being affected by such as may be going on at the time. On the other hand, at times during which the mind is engaged in reflection, meditation, or reminiscence, and is thus in a state of what is properly called "abstraction" (from sensory stimulations and from voluntary bodily actions,) the thoughts, desires, images, and feelings that occur are directly determined by others of themselves together with the acquired dispositions or habits of the particular mind concerned.
5. Which human body is one's own
In connection with the interactionist thesis, it is of particular interest to raise a question which at first sight seems silly, but the answer to which turns out to be decisive in favor of interactionism. That question is, How do we know which one of the many human bodies we perceive is our own?
We might answer that it is the only human body whose nose we always see if it is illuminated when we see anything else; or that we call that human body our own, the back of whose head we never can see directly, etc. But this answer would not be ultimately adequate; for if a human body, the back of whose head we do see directly, were such that when and only when it is pricked with a pin or otherwise injured, we feel pain; such that when and only when we decide to open the door, it walks to the door and opens it; such that when and only when we feel shame, it blushes; and so on, invariably; then that body would be the one properly called our own! And the body, the back of whose head we never see directly - but whose injuries cause us no pain, and over whose movements our will has no direct control - would be for us the body of someone else, notwithstanding the peculiarity that we never manage to see the back of its head directly.
Thus when, in the question: What is the relation between a mind and its body? we substitute for "its body" what we have just found to be the meaning of that expression, then the question turns out to have implicitly contained its own answer, for it then reads: What is the relation between a mind and the only body with which its relation is that of direct interaction? That is, that the mind-body relation is the particular relation which interactionism describes is analytically true.
Let us, however, now examine a consideration that has been alleged to rule out the possibility of interaction between mind and body.
6. Interaction and the conservation of energy
It has often been contended that the principle of the conservation of energy precludes causation of a mental event by a material one, or of a material event by a mental one; for such causation would mean that, on such occasions, a certain quantity of energy respectively vanishes from, or is introduced into, the material world; and this would constitute a violation of that conservation principle.
Prof. C. D. Broad, however, has pointed out that no violation of the principle would be involved if, each time energy vanished from the material world at one point, an equal quantity of it automatically came into it at another point. Also that, even if all physico-physical causation involves transfer of energy, no evidence exists that such transfer occurs also in physico-psychical or psycho-physical causation(7).
(7) The Mind and its Place in Nature, Harcourt, Brace & Co. New York, 1929, pp. 103, ff.
To this it may be added that if by "energy" is meant something experimentally measurable, and not just a theoretical construct, then the fact is not that causation is ascertainable only by observing that energy has been transferred, but on the contrary that "transfer of energy" is ultimately definable only in terms of causation as experimentally ascertainable. That is, even if it should happen to be true that energy is transferred whenever causation occurs, nevertheless transfer of energy is not what we notice and mean when we observe and assert that a certain event C caused a certain other event E. For, obviously, correct judgments of causation have been made every day for thousands of years by millions of persons who not only did not base them on measurements of energy, but the immense majority of whom did not have the least conception of what physicists mean by "energy." Everyone of the verbs of causation in the common language - to kill, to cure, to break, to bend, to irritate, to remind, to crush, to displace, etc. - acquired its meaning out of common perceptual experiences, not out of laboratory measurements of energy. The Toms, Dicks, and Harrys who have witnessed the impact of a brick on a bottle and the immediately sequent collapse of the bottle judged that the striking brick broke the bottle, i.e., caused its collapse. And they so judged because the impact of the brick was prima facie the only change that occurred in the immediate environment of the bottle immediately before the latter's collapse.
Anyway, as Prof. M. T. Keeton has pointed out, the proposition that energy is conserved in the material world is not known, either a priori or empirically, to be true without exception. The "principle" of conservation of energy, or of mass-energy, is in fact only a postulate - a condition which the material world must satisfy if it is to be a wholly closed, isolated system. And, when interaction between mind and body is asserted to be impossible on the ground that it would violate the "principle" of the conservation of energy, the very point at issue is of course whether the material world is in fact a wholly closed, isolated system.(8)
(8) Some Ambiguities in the Theory of the Conservation of Energy, Philosophy of Science, Vol. 8, No. 3, July 1941.
Thus, the ground just considered, on which the interactionist conception has been attacked, quite fails to invalidate it. Nor does the fact that, up to the time of the brain's death the shaping of the mind has been due in part to interaction between mind and brain, entail that the conscious and subconscious mind - such as it has become by the time the body dies - cannot after this continue to exist and to carry on some at least of its processes.
Interactionism leaves the possibility of this open, but does not in itself supply evidence that such survival is a fact. Lamont however, argues at length in the book cited earlier against any dualistic conception of the nature of body and mind. Examination in some detail of the considerations alleged by him to rule out dualism must therefore be the subject of our next chapter.
Lamont's Attack on Mind-Body Dualism
MOST OF the items, which in Chapter III were cited as together constituting the essentials of the case against the possibility that the mind survives the body's death, are presented in considerable detail by Lamont in his book, The Illusion of Immortality(1). As he proceeds, he points out various difficulties which he regards as insuperably standing in the way of a dualistic conception of the mind-body relation, and as dictating instead a monistic and naturalistic conception of it. Let us now consider some of the chief of his remarks both concerning the dualism he attacks and concerning the monism which he contends constitutes "the verdict of science."
(1) Philosophical Library New York, 1950.
1. Dualism and supernaturalism
A few words are in order to begin with concerning the relation assumed by Lamont to exist between dualism and supernaturalism. Again and again in his characterization of the other-than-bodily constituent of man, which dualism envisages, we find Lamont referring to that constituent as a "supernatural soul" (e.g., p. 116.). He alludes to "the notion that a supernatural soul enters the body from on high, already endowed with a pure and beautiful conscience ..." (p. 95); also to the idea that "a transcendental self or a supernatural soul holds sway behind the empirical curtain;" again, to the supposition that "some kind of supernatural soul or spirit is doing our thinking for us ..." (p. 117); to the notion of "an agent soul or mind somehow attached to the body and somehow doing man's thinking for him" (p. 124); and to the idea that "the personalities of human beings ... enter ready made into this world" (p. 93). In the same vein, he speaks of dualism as paying homage to the human faculty of reason "by elevating it to a superhuman and supernatural plane" (p. 100); and by conceiving ideas as "existing independently in some separate realm" (p. 100).
All that need be said concerning the use of such expressions in characterizing dualism is that - whether or not they be faithful to certain of the speculations which some theologians or theologizing philosophers have put forward on the subject of the constitution of man - those expressions of Lamont's are nothing but smear words if alleged to apply to dualism as such. For they then gratuitously load upon it vagaries that are as foreign to its essence as they are to Lamont's would-be monism.
They can, of course, be inserted into dualism, but they do not constitute an intrinsic part of its conception of mind, any more than, for instance, do atoms as conceived by Democritus constitute an intrinsic part of materialism's conception of matter.
Nor does the hypothesis of survival after death-whatever merits it may otherwise have or lack-have to be formulated in terms of Lamont's "supernatural soul." To attack dualism as painted by him in the expressions quoted is to attack but the freak offspring of an irresponsible affair between dualism and theology.
2. Naturalism and materialism
Lamont's belief that psychophysical dualism is inherently supernaturalistic is only a corollary of his wholly arbitrary equating of naturalism and materialistic monism.
The fact is that a dualism can be just as naturalistic as a monism unless by "naturalism" one tacitly means ontological materialism (or, of course, ontological idealism;) for Nature is simply the realm of events that are effects of other events and that in turn cause further events; and a responsible dualism insists that mental events and processes are nowise "supernatural" but exactly as natural in the sense just stated as are the material events and processes of the human body.
Lamont writes that "ideas ... are not apart from but are a part of Nature" (p. 101); and the responsible dualist too, of course, contends exactly this, but does not, like Lamont, base the contention on the tacit and quite arbitrary equation of Nature and the material world, and hence of Naturalism with ontological materialism. The dualist bases it on the fact that the events denominated "mental" or -psychological" and more specifically "occurrences of ideas" are not anarchistic any more than are those denominated "material" and more specifically "physiological." Both alike are causally determined by some anterior events and in turn causally determine posterior ones-which means that both alike are wholly natural.
3. The senses in which ideas respectively are, and are not, ultimately private
At this point, something must be said concerning Lamont's comments on the connection between dualism and the privacy of ideas, as contrasted with the public character of material events. He writes that although "for the individual who is thinking to himself ideas are private and to that extent subjective ... ideas are also objective in that human beings can communicate them to one another ..." And he goes on to say that "the objectivity and non-materiality of ideas has been a strong factor in impelling philosophers of a dualist bent to set up a realm of ideas or mind apart from and above Nature" (p. 101).
As regards the last words of this statement, we have pointed out in what precedes that ideas are not "apart from and above Nature" unless one arbitrarily equates Nature with the material world as Lamont tacitly does; and does inconsistently with the fact that occurrence of an idea is an event, which has causes and effects, and yet which according to Lamont's own declaration is not a material event. For he tells us that "ideas, which are nonmaterial meanings expressing the relations between things and events, occur inhuman thought" (p. 100).
Concerning, however, Lamont's assertion that ideas can be communicated and hence are not inherently private, it is obvious that his assertion altogether ignores the differences between an idea's being published and its being public. The analysis of it we supplied in Sec. 1 of Ch. V need not be repeated here. But it is worth while to notice that Lamont's failure to distinguish between the sense in which "ideas" are, and that in which they are not, inherently private arises out of the ambiguity of the blessed word, "meanings," in his definition of ideas as "non-material meanings expressing [in a sense he does not specify] the relations between things and events."
The point is that the word "meanings" may designate occurrences of the meaning activity, or may designate the objects meant. This is the distinction between the idea itself and what the idea is of; or, to put it in still other terms, the distinction is between the psychological act of objective reference and the object referred to by it. The former is the idea itself, is a psychological event, and is inherently private. The object meant, on the other hand, is the idea's referent, and can be anything whether material or mental. Two persons may each have an idea of the same object, but the idea of it one of them is having is not only existentially distinct from the idea of it the other is having - which is the case likewise with their bodily movements; but, unlike their movements, which are public, their ideas, being psychological events, remain unalterably private; i.e., accessible only to the introspection of each. What is communicated, when anything is, is what object is meant, not the idea itself, which has it as object. And the communicating of what object is meant consists, on the one hand, in the communicator's "coding" the object's nature into public symbols, usually words, i.e., in his "describing" it; and, on the auditor's part, in then "decoding" the symbols, i.e., "understanding" what object they designate.(2)
(2) The privacy of mental events has been attacked also by Gilbert Ryle in his book, The Concept of Mind. For a pointed criticism of his attack, see a paper by Arthur Pap, Semantic Analysis and Psycho-physical Dualism, in Mind, Vol. LXI: 209-221, No. 242, April, 1952.
4. Lamont's position actually an ontological dualism
Let us, however, return to the monism which Lamont tells us is the verdict of science concerning the nature of the mind-body relation.
On examination this monism turns out to be of a very queer sort indeed; for Lamont expressly states, as we have seen, that ideas "are non-material meanings," and endorses the "non-materiality of ideas" (pp. 100/1). In so doing he is, of course, automatically - although seemingly unawares - declaring himself an ontological dualist, since those words of his expressly acknowledge, in addition to the material world, a non-material realm of being that comprises ideas at least, to say nothing of other mental states and processes.
Moreover the ontological dualism automatically embraced when one declares that not only material events but also nonmaterial ideas occur is not in the least done away with or impaired by the particular manner in which mental activities on the one hand, and on the other bodily or more specifically cortical activities, may turn out to be related - for instance by the extent, if any, to which the two may happen to be, or not to be, independent or separable. For the point here crucial is that, unless the relation between them be strict identity, not just "connection" or "conjunction" of some sort, what one then has is not an ontological monism but an ontological dualism. Thus, Lamont's statement that "the experience of thinking or having ideas is distinguishable from man's other activities, but not existentially separable" (p. 101) does not save the monism for which he is arguing. That ideas may be so connected with certain bodily processes as to be existentially inseparable from them is a possibility nowise inconsistent with ontological dualism. Only if the existential inseparability consisted not in connection but in strict identity would dualism be excluded.
More generally, if two things, activities, or experiences are distinct from each other in the sense that neither of them is a constituent part of the other, (as on the contrary an angle is a constituent part of a triangle or a motor a constituent part of an automobile), then the two are not only distinguishable but also theoretically separable. That is, they are separable in the sense that to suppose either to exist without the other implies no contradiction. Then the question arises as to whether, or how far, they are in addition separable existentially, i.e., separable in fact not only in theory. But this question cannot be settled, as in Lamont's quoted statement concerning thinking and bodily activities, by dogmatic negation; nor by declaring, as in the statements quoted from his chapter, that the connection between mind and body is "so exceedingly intimate that it becomes inconceivable how one could function properly without the other," or that "man is a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body so closely and completely integrated that dividing him up into two separate and more or less independent parts becomes impermissible and unintelligible" (pp. 89, 113).
Rather, the only way to settle the question as to the existential separability, in whole or in part, of body and mind is - aside from the experimental way which would consist in shooting oneself in order to observe whether one's mental activity survives that drastic laboratory procedure - the only way, I repeat, is to consider, as we have done in the preceding chapters of Part III, what various types of connection or union between the two are conceivable; and what grounds there may be for concluding that the union of body and mind is of a type that entails or permits, or of one that precludes, their partial or perhaps total existential separability.
In the absence of such an inquiry as basis for the quoted assertions of inseparability, those assertions are merely pseudoscientific dogmatism.
5. The mind as a "productive function" of the body
But, as we shall now see, the strangeness of the monism Lamont professes in the name of science is not exhausted by the fact that it describes the mind-body relation in dualistic terms.
Lamont contends that the mind is a "productive function" of the body; declaring, for example, that "when ideas, which are non-material meanings expressing the relations between things and events, occur in human thought, they always do so as functions or accompaniments of action patterns in the cerebral cortex of a thoroughly material brain" (pp. 100/101). Again, he tells us that the findings of the sciences that deal with man "have inexorably led to the proposition that mind or personality is a function of the body; and that this function is ... productive and not merely transmissive" (p. 113).
To make clear that what he means by a "productive" function is a function in whose case one of the variables stands to the other as effect stands to cause, Lamont offers as example that "steam is a productive function of the tea-kettle and light of the electric circuit, because the kettle and the circuit actually create these effects" (p. 102).
According to these explicit statements, therefore, when Lamont asserts unqualifiedly that the mental and emotional life of man is always a productive function of "action patterns in the cerebral cortex of a thoroughly material brain" (p. 101), what he means is that the latter stand to the former as creative cause stands to created effect.
The facts Lamont refers to as basis for this contention are:
(a) That "the power and versatility of living things increase concomitantly with the development and complexity of their bodies in general and their nervous systems in particular."
(b) That the genes or other factors from the germ cells of the parents determine the individual's inherent physical characteristic and inherent mental capacities."
(c) That, during the course of life, "the mind and personality grow and change, always in conjunction with environmental influences, as the body grows and changes."
(d) "That specific alterations in the physical structure and condition of the body, especially in the brain and cerebral cortex, bring about specific alterations in the mental and emotional life of a man."
(e) And, "conversely that specific alterations in his mental and emotional life result in specific alterations in his bodily condition" (p. 114).
Taken by themselves, the facts under the (a), (b), (c), and (d) headings would support the unqualified contention that man's mental and emotional life is a productive function in the sense stated above, of the activities of his body. But the facts which come under the (e) heading, and on which Lamont dwells at some length, clearly testify that, contrary to that unqualified contention, the causal relationship in their case is in the opposite direction; i.e., that, in their case, it is the bodily state which is a productive function of the mental and emotional state!
Indeed, Lamont writes that his "citation of facts showing how physical states affect the personality and its mental life does not in the least imply that mental states do not affect physical" (p. 87). As examples of the latter, he mentions that we are "constantly altering our bodily motions according to the dictates of mental decisions." Also, he cites "the far-reaching results that optimism or worry, happiness or sadness, good humor or anger, may have on the condition of the body;" also the remarkable bodily effects which can be caused by auto suggestion or by suggestion under hypnosis; and, most striking, the fact that in the case of St. Francis and of a number of other saints or mystics, long meditation by them on the wounds of the crucified Jesus causes corresponding wounds to appear on their own bodies.
It is interesting to note in this connection that Lamont feels called upon to add that "modern psychologists believe that the phenomenon of the stigmata can be explained in entirely naturalistic terms and that it is due to as yet undiscovered mechanisms of the subconscious or unconscious" (p. 89). But what does he mean here by explanation in naturalistic terms? Does he mean in terms of material causes? Or does he mean that stigmatization, like every other event in Nature, is caused by some anterior event - here by the mental event he himself has mentioned, namely, "prolonged meditation upon the passion and crucifixion of Jesus"?
When Lamont considers the stigmata of St. Francis and the other facts he mentions in the same connection, he apparently realizes that they render indefensible the unqualified statement that man's mental and emotional life is a productive function, i.e., a creation, of his bodily states. Accordingly, his then much less radical contention is only that those facts point "to a connection between the two so exceedingly intimate that it becomes inconceivable how the one could function properly without the other" (p. 89). Or again that "as between the body and personality, the body seems to be the prior and more constant entity"; and hence that "it has been customary to regard the body as primary and to call the personality its function rather than the converse" (pp. 113/4). (Italics mine.)
But, as if to mitigate departure even to this extent from his would-be monistic naturalism, Lamont - like the murderer who sought to diminish the heinousness of his deed by observing that the man he had killed was only a small one - Lamont observes at one place that anyway "many of the mental states that exercise an influence on the condition of the body are set up in the first place by phenomena primarily physical" (p. 89).
This is true enough. But it is equally true, as shown by the facts he himself cites, that many of the bodily states that exercise an influence on the condition of the mind are set up in the first place by phenomena primarily mental. For example, among other facts now recognized by psychosomatic medicine, that the painful physical phenomenon of stomach ulcers is in some cases set up in the first place by such mental states as anxiety, tension, and worry. Anyway, just how would Lamont propose to decide in any given case which place constitutes "the first place"?
The upshot of the comments in the present section is that when Lamont attends not only to the facts which come under the (a) to (d) headings of his list, but also to those which come under the (e) heading, the purported monistic psychology of science turns out actually to be an interactionistic dualism! An interactionistic dualism, it is true, that involves no "supernatural soul" but only, besides processes in a material body, various non-material ideas and other mental occurrences. The "supernatural soul" however, which functions as the Devil in Lamont's would-be monistic creed, may well be left to such employment; for a responsible interactionism has no need of it.
6. A supposititious puzzle
As we have just seen, Lamont is definitely committed to psycho-physical interactionisrn by such statements as that on the one hand "physical states affect the personality and its mental life" (p. 87), and on the other that, conversely, "specific alterations in [man's] mental and emotional life result in specific alterations in his bodily condition" (p. 114). It is therefore surprising that, when considering "certain fundamental difficulties that have always characterized the dualistic psychology," he should assert, as constituting one of them, that "it is impossible to understand how an immaterial soul can act upon and control a material body" (p. 102). To the same effect, he speaks of "the insoluble riddle of how the immaterial can be associated with and work together with the material ..." (p. 104).
Two comments on this supposititious riddle immediately suggest themselves. The first is that, as we pointed out in an earlier chapter, the Causality relation is wholly neutral as regards the ontological nature of the events that enter into it. Hence no paradox is involved in the supposition that a mental, i.e., nonmaterial, event causes a material event in the brain cortex; any more than is involved (or apparently found by Lamont) in the fact, which he asserts, that bodily events produce or affect mental ones.
The second comment is that to understand "how" an event C causes another event E never has any other meaning than to know what the intermediary causal steps are, through which C eventually causes E. Hence, where, as in the case of a mental and of the corresponding cortical event, proximate not remote causation is what one has in view, the question as to the "how" of causation loses the only meaning it ever has. That is, the question becomes literally nonsensical, and to ask it is absurd because of this, not because mental and material events are ontologically heterogeneous; for the absurdity of asking for the "how" of proximate causation remains the same no matter whether the two events in view be one of them mental and the other material, or both of them mental, or both of them material(3).
(3) Lamont is of course not alone in overlooking the absurdity just pointed out. Prof. Ryle too among others, does so. He assumes that if mind and matter should be two species of existents instead of merely "existing" in two different senses (as the behaviorism he espouses requires him dogmatically to assert), then interaction between mind and matter would be "completely mysterious;" for one would then have to ask: "How can a mental process, such as willing, cause spatial movements like the movements of the tongue? How can a physical change in the optic nerve have among its effects a mind's perception of a flash of light?" (The Concept of Mind, pp. 23, 52, 19) As we have just seen, however, the "how" of causation is capable either of being mysterious or of being known only where remote not proximate causation is concerned. Hence, to ask "how?" concerning the latter is to be guilty of a "category mistake." But there is no room here to consider the various strange assertions concerning mind, dictated in that book by the caricaturing of contentions attacked, which is employed there as a method.
7. "Verdict of Science?" or "Turning aversions into disproofs?"
We have now examined in some detail Lamont's attack on psychophysical dualism, and have seen, (a) that he tacitly and gratuitously equates naturalism and materialistic monism, and hence, (b) gratuitously assumes dualism to be inherently supernaturalistic; (c) that he misconstrues the communicability of the referents of ideas as entailing that ideas themselves are communicable and hence not inherently private; (d) that, besides material objects and events, he acknowledges also the occurrence of ideas, which he explicitly declares to be non-material; (e) hence that, notwithstanding the monism he proclaims, what he actually sets forth is a dualism; (f) that, having declared without qualification that the mental life of man is a product of his bodily activities, he nevertheless contends - citing facts in support - that not only do bodily states affect mental, but mental states too affect physical; (g) that this entails that actually, what he contends for under the misnomer of "monistic psychology" is an interactionistic dualism; (h) and this notwithstanding that the action of mind on body, which he explicitly declares occurs, is with equal explicitness declared by him to be an insoluble riddle, impossible to understand, that rules out dualism!
What then is to be said concerning the chapter of Lamont's The Illusion of Immortality in which the above mass of inconsistencies and non-sequitur is to be found? Suggestion for an appropriate characterization of it may be found in the title which, in a later chapter, he gives to a section where he cites pointed examples of a procedure to which protagonists of immortality are addicted. The title of that section is: "Turning wishes into proofs." I submit that, correspondingly, the appropriate title for the chapter Lamont entitles "The verdict of science" would have been: "Turning aversions into disproofs!"
Various Senses on the Question Regarding Survival After Death
DOES THE human personality survive bodily death? This question, phrased thus in the terms F. W. H. Myers used in the title of his famous work(1), seems to most of the persons who ask it simple and direct enough to admit of a "Yes" or "No" answer the only difficulty being to find out which of the two it should be.
(1) Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death, 1903.
As will become evident in what follows, however, the question is in fact highly ambiguous. Hence, in order to be in position to judge intelligently what bearing on it given items of prima facie evidence of survival may really have, the first step must be to distinguish clearly the several senses which the expression "survival of the personality after death," can have.
1. The bodily component of a personality
When we reflect on what makes up a human personality, we find first a physical or more specifically a biological component. It comprises the particular facial features, the build and marks of the body, its weight, gait, carriage, voice, and so on. The body's dissolution following death automatically destroys all this. That the physical part of the personality does not survive is definitely known. A closely similar body might conceivably some time miraculously arise again, as the doctrine of the "resurrection of the flesh" contemplates; and this would not require that it should be composed of identically the same material particles which constituted the body at death, for the materials of it anyway change from day to day to some extent, and more or less completely over a period of some years, without the body's ceasing to be recognizably the same. But, aside from the occasional reports - many of them dubious - of materializations for a few minutes of a replica of the body of some deceased person, no evidence at all exists that a person survives after death in the sense that his body gets reassembled and revived, and continues then to live a life somewhere, in the sense in which his now decayed body lived a life on earth between its birth and its death.
2. Survival - of just what parts of the psychological component
As pointed out already in Chapt. 1, what the question of survival essentially concerns is not the physical but the psychological component of the human personality, We saw in Chapt. VI that it consists of various "dispositions, i.e., capacities or abilities - some of them psycho-psychical, some psycho-physical, and some physico-psychical.
Now, some of these might survive and others not. For example, the capacity to remember past experiences might survive, being then perhaps more extensive, or less so, than it was during incarnate life; and yet the capacity for intellectual initiative, critical judgment, or inventiveness might perish. Or again, what survived might be only a person's aptitudes; that is, the capacities he has, to acquire under suitable circumstances various kinds of more determinate capacities such as skills, habits, or knowledge constitute.
But certain of the capacities of a person are organized in particular groups relevant each to one of the chief roles which life calls upon him to play. Each of these groups constitutes what may be called a particular "role-self," which has interests, purposes, beliefs, and impulses more or less different from those of the others. Examples would be the "father" role, the "husband" role, the vocational roles of, for instance, "physician," or "teacher," or "policeman," or "inventor," or "bookkeeper," or "business executive." Any of these roles is in turn different from that of "religious devotee." of "sex hunter," of "bully," of "predator," and so on. A man is thus a society of various "role-selves" all using the same body, and getting along with one another harmoniously or not in various degrees, much as do men in social groups. At certain times, some one of these role-selves is in charge of the body's behavior. Sometimes, two or more of them compete for, or cooperate in, command of it-the predator perhaps competing with the would-be saint; or the latter cooperating perhaps with the father in repressing the would-be Casanova or the thief which the circumstances of the moment would tempt out.
Normally, these various role-selves function together somewhat as a committee, whose eventual action represents the balance of the claims, weak or strong, of the various parties having interests affected by the committee's decisions. But under abnormal circumstances, some one of these role-selves may get strong enough to get temporary dictatorial command uncensorable by the others. This is what occurs in the cases of split personalities, of which the Beauchamp case described by Dr. Morton Prince, the Doris Fischer case described by Dr. W. F. Prince, and recently that of "The Three Faces of Eve," described by Drs. C. H. Thigpen and H. M. Cleckley, are examples.
These cases bring up the interesting question as to which ones of the role-selves, which together make up the total personality of the living man, might or might not survive the death of his body; and also the question as to the nature and the strength or weakness of the connection that could remain between such of them as did survive, once the bond constituted by their joint association with the one body had been destroyed by the latter's death. Survival of the "father" role-self, or as the case might be, of the "mother," or "daughter," or "son," or "friend," etc., role-self would be what the relatives or personal friends of the deceased would automatically look for; but evidences of survival of it would be far from being evidence that the whole or a major part of the psychological component of the personality of the deceased had survived.
Aside from this, the kind of evidence one happens to have, in support of the hypothesis that a particular part of the psychological component of the personality of a deceased person survives, could itself impose limits, minimal or maximal, on the content of the hypothesis. If, for example, the evidence consisted of identificatory facts communicated purportedly by the surviving spirit of the deceased directly "possessing" temporarily the vocal organs or the hand of an entranced medium and expressing itself through them, then this would require survival of the psycho-physical capacity which the mind of the deceased had, to cause speech or writing movements in a living body with which it was suitably related. But this would not be a required part of the hypothesis if the identifying facts were communicated not thus. through direct possession of the entranced medium's organs of expression, but indirectly, through telepathic "rapport" between the medium's subconscious mind and the surviving part of the mind of the deceased. In this case, on the other hand, capacity for such telepathic rapport would be part of the equipment required to be possessed by the hypothetically surviving part of the personality of the deceased.
3. Survival - for how long
Were survival to be for only an hour, or a week, or even a year, then empirical evidence that such survival is a fact would have relatively little interest for most persons. If on the other hand the evidence were that survival is normally for a much longer period - at least for one similar in length to that of a person's normal life on earth - then it would be of considerable interest to most men, and the prospect of its eventual ending at such a distant time would now probably not trouble them much.
But anyway the question, "survival for how long?" necessarily raises the prior one of how length of time after death is to be measured if, as the survival hypothesis usually contemplates, the surviving personality does not have a physical body - the body one revolution of which around the axis of the earth defines "one day"; and around the sun, "one year."
The answer would have to be in terms of hypothetically possible communication by us with that discarnate personality: If (assuming availability of a medium) communication with that personality remained possible during, say, one year, or n years, of earth time after the death of that personality's body, then specifically this would be what it would mean to say that that personality had survived one year, or n years, after death. Of survival forever, which is what "eternal" life is usually taken to mean, there could of course be no empirical test.
4. "Sameness" in what sense, of a mind at two times
The personality of each of us changes gradually as the months and the years pass; but, notwithstanding our acquisition of new capacities and loss of some we possessed earlier, each of us is to himself and to others, in so me sense admitting of more and less, the "same" person at different ages. The question now before us is, in what sense or senses of "sameness" or "personal identity" this is true.
We noted earlier that the human personality includes various bodily traits as well as psychological ones and that, since death destroys the body, the psychological components are the ones directly relevant to the possibility of survival. But the question as to what it means, to say of something existing at a certain time that it is, or is not, "the same" as something existing at another time, will perhaps be easier to answer if we ask it first concerning human bodies - say, one young in 1900, and one old in 1950.
One sense, which the assertion that they are "the same" human body can have is that the relation of the first to the second is the relation "having become." If this relation does obtain between the 1900 body and the 1950 body, then they are "the same" body even if no likeness, other than that each is a human body, is discoverable between them - not even, let us suppose, likeness of pattern of finger prints because the old man anyway happens to have lost his hands.
If, on the other hand, it is not true that the body in view in 1900 has become the one we view in 1950, then they are not "the same" human body even if the likeness between them is so extensive and evident as to make the first clearly recognizable in the second; for it may be that the once young man who has become the old man we now behold is not the young man we knew in 1900 but, perhaps, is his identical-twin brother.
Thus likeness, no matter how great, does not constitute proof of identity unless the characteristic in respect of which it obtains is, and is known to be, idiosyncratic, and hence identificatory. Yet the more nearly idiosyncratic, i.e., the rarer, is the characteristic (or the combination of characteristics) in respect of which the likeness obtains, and the more minute is the likeness in respect of it, the more probable it is empirically that the relation between the human body in view in 1900 and that in view in 1950 is that of "having become," and hence that they are "the same" body.
These remarks concerning the meaning of "the same," and of "not the same," when one or the other of these two relations is asserted to hold between a body at a given time and a body at a different time, apply also in all essentials where minds instead of bodies are concerned: a mind at a given time is "the same mind" as one at an earlier time if and only if the mind in view at the earlier time has become the mind in view at the later time.
5. Conceivable forms of discarnate "life"
Regarding the question, in what sense of "living" could such part of the personality as persisted after death be said to continue living, the following several senses suggest themselves.
(i) The particular set of dispositions one had specified as those in the survival of which one is interested might continue to "live" only in the sense in which a machine - here a psychological robot - continues to exist without losing the capacities for its distinctive functions, during periods when it is not called upon to perform them but lies idle, inactive. Even in the case of the body, it is still alive when in deep sleep or in a faint, but is more alive, or alive in a somewhat different sense or in ways more typically human, when it is awake and responding to visual, auditory, and other stimuli from its environment, and acting upon it.
Similarly, in the case of the psychological part of the personality, it might when discarnate be "alive" only in a minimal sense analogous to that in which the comatose or anaesthetized body is nevertheless alive. At any given time of a person's life, much the larger number of his capabilites exist only in such dormant condition. Probably, at the time the reader was reading the beginning of the present paragraph, the capability he does and did have to remember, say, his own name, was wholly latent. Even the enduring of a personality's dispositions in a dormant state, however, would constitute the basis of the possibility of sporadic brief exercise of some of them if and when direct or indirect contact happened to occur between that otherwise wholly dormant personality and the organism of a medium. Temporary exercise of the dispositions constituting the automatic, mechanical constituents of a mind - to wit, associations of ideas, memories, etc. - is the most which the majority of mediumistic communications appear to testify to.
(ii) A second possibility is that some of the "internal" mental dispositions of the person concerned, i.e., some of his psychico-psychical dispositions, should not only persist but actually be exercised, though without critical control. This would mean mental "life" in the sense in which dreaming or idle reverie is a species of mental life.
(iii) Or, thirdly, mental life of a more active kind might consist in a reviewing of the incidents of one's ante mortem life, with an attempt as one does so to discern causal connections between one's experiences, one's reactions to them, and one's later experiences or activities. Especially if, as psychoanalysis and some experiments with hypnosis appear to testify, memories one is not ordinarily able to revive are nevertheless preserved; and they were accessible in one's discarnate state; then much wisdom that was latent in them, but which one had at the time been too passionately engrossed to harvest, might in that discarnate state be distilled out of them by reflection.
(iv) Or again, one's capacity for intelligent control and purposive direction of creative thought might be exercised. "Life" would then mean, for example, such creative purely mental activity as a mathematician, or a musical composer, or a poet, or a philosopher, etc., can, even in the present life, be absorbed in at times of bodily idleness and of abstraction from sense stimuli.
(v) Or, fifthly, "life" could mean also response - then telepathic or clairvoyant - to stimuli from a then non-physical environment; and voluntary, "psychokinetic," reaction upon the excarnate personalities, or the possibly impersonal constituents, of that non-physical environment.
This would be discarnate post-mortem "life" in the fullest sense. It is the "life" to the reality of which, as we shall see, the so-called Cross-correspondences appear to testify more strongly than do any of the other kinds of prima facie evidence of survival. As C. D. Broad has rightly remarked, "if the dispositional basis of a man's personality should persist after his death, there is no reason why it should have the same fate in all cases. In some cases one, and in others another of the various alternatives ... might be realized. It seems reasonable to think that the state of development of the personality at the time of death, and the circumstances under which death takes place, might be relevant factors in determining which alternative would be realized."(2)
(2) Personal Identity and Survival, The Thirteenth F. W. H. Myers Lecture, 1958. London, Soc. for Psychical Research, p. 31. This lecture provides an admirably systematic, analytical discussion of the various aspects of its topic. The reader is also referred to Ch. 21, "Some Theoretically Possible Forms of Survival" of the present author's Nature, Mind, and Death, Open Court Pub. Co. La Salle, Ill. 1951, pp. 484-502.
6. H. H. Price's depiction of a postmortem life in a world of images
One of the objections most commonly advanced by educated and critical persons against the survival hypothesis is that it is unintelligible - that no conception of discarnate life that is not patently preposterous is imaginable. Our discussion of the meaning of the hypothesis that the human personality survives after the death of its body may therefore turn next to the description Professor Price has given of a clearly imaginable and plausible "Next World" and of what the content of life in it would be - thus effectively disposing of that objection. His description is contained in a lecture entitled "Survival and the Idea of 'Another World'."(3)
(3) Proc. Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. LX:1-25, January 1953.
The "Next World" he depicts would be of the same kind as the world we experience during our dreams. When we dream, we perceive things, persons, and events more or less similar to those which we perceive normally as a result of stimulations of our sense organs by the physical world. In dreams, however, this is not the cause of our perceptions of objects, for no physical objects such as perceived are then stimulating our senses. Yet what we perceive engages at the time our thoughts and emotions. The behavior of the dream objects, of course, is often very different from that of the physical objects they resemble, but the anomaly is not realized until we wake up. So long as the dream lasts, we are not aware that it is a dream but take it to be reality, just as we do the objects and events we perceive while awake.
The "Next World," then would, like our nightly dream world, be a world of mental images. It would, as Price puts it, be an "imagy" world, not one which, like Utopia or Erewhon, is imaginary in the sense of imaged but not believed to exist.
In the experience of a discarnate human personality in that world, imaging would replace the perceiving normally caused by stimulation of the sense organs. It would replace it "in the sense that imaging would perform much the same function as sense-perception performs now, by providing us with objects about which we could have thoughts, emotions and wishes. There is no reason why we should not be 'as much alive,' or at any rate feel as much alive, in an image-world as we do now in this present material world, which we perceive by means of our sense-organs and nervous system. And so the use of the word 'survival' ('life after death') would be perfectly justifiable" (p. 6).
Moreover that image-world would for us be just as real as the physical world is for us now, or as the objects seen in our dreams are real so long as we do not wake up. What one can say of the dream objects is that, although they resemble physical objects, they are not really physical; but one cannot say that they are not real in the sense of not existing. The laws of their behavior are different from those of the behavior of the physical objects they resemble, and this is what makes the dream world an "other" world. But its being other does not make it delusive unless one believes it to be the same world - i.e., unless one believes that the laws of behavior of its objects are those of the behavior of physical objects. And such belief is not a necessary nor a usual part of the dream state.
Moreover, if telepathy should be part of the equipment of the discarnate personality, then that personality's image-world would not be entirely subjective. It would, to some extent, "be the joint product of a group of telepathically interacting minds and public to all of them" (p. 16). Yet each mind would, to a considerable extent, build his own dream world - his memories providing the "material" for it; and his desires, whether conscious or unconscious, determining the "forms" the memory material would be given (p. 17). Thus there would be not just one Next World, but many - some, overlapping to some extent, and others "impenetrable to one another, corresponding to the different desires which different groups of personalities have" (p. 19).
This description of a Next World as a wish-fulfilment world may seem wishfully rosy; but Price makes very clear that it would be so only to the extent that one's wishes happened to be themselves beautiful ones rather than, some of them, disgraceful. And most of us have some of each kind even if we repress and hide the latter from other persons and largely from ourselves too.
7. The architect of a person's heaven or hell
But the words "desires," "wishes," and "aversions," which Price uses to designate the psychological generators of our dream images, are perhaps not the best after all by which to describe the subjective architect of a person's post mortem image world. For the architect we can observe at work in ourselves even now, building up every day for us imaginal and conceptual contents of belief, is rather attitude, emotion and disposition. Suspiciousness, for example, paints as devious the persons it meets. jealousy paints its object as unfaithful; hatred, as hostile; contempt, as despicable. Trustfulness, on the other hand, sees others as honest; magnanimity, as worthy; love, as lovable; friendliness, as well-disposed; considerateness, as respectable; and so on.
It is not so much the "wish," then, that is "father to the thought," as it is the attitude or disposition one brings to one's contacts with others. It determines what one imagines and believes them to be, as distinguished from what one strictly observes and finds them to be. Moreover, what a person imagines and believes another to be affects his own behavior; which in turn tempts the other to play up, or down, to the role thus handed to him! What kind of world each person now lives in therefore depends to some extent on what kind of psychological spectacles he wears, through which he looks at the empirical, truly objective facts. To that extent each of us, here and now, is living in a hell, purgatory, or heaven he himself constructs. How much more, then, is this fatally bound to be the case when he lives wholly in a dream-world - whether an ante or a post mortem one; that is, in a world from which the objective, stubborn facts perception supplies are absent, and absent therefore also their sobering effect on one's subjective imaginings!
8. Life after death conceived as physical reembodiment
There remains to mention, besides the possible forms of discarnate life considered in Sec. 5 above, also the conception of life after death according to which such life consists of reembodiment of the "essential" part of the personality in a neonate human or possibly animal body; and whether immediately at death, or after an interval during which consciousness possibly persists in one or another of those discarnate forms. This is the hypothesis of metempsychosis, palingenesis, or reincarnation, which has commended itself to numerous eminent thinkers, Professor Broad among them. Nothing more will be said about it in this chapter, however, since Part V is to be devoted to a detailed discussion of it.
What has been said in the present chapter will have made evident that any answer based on empirical facts - no matter of what kinds these might be - to the question whether the human personality survives the death of its body, will automatically be as ambiguous, or as unambiguous, as the question itself happens to be as asked by a given inquirer. Whether the answer, when unambiguous, turns out to be that survival - in whatever specific sense is then in view - is certainly or probably a fact, or certainly or probably not a fact, will of course depend on what the empirical evidence on which it is based happens to be. But to have purged of ambiguity the expression "survival after death" will at all events entail that, when one asks whether "survival" is a fact, one will then know just what it is that one wants to know.