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Activity Of Consciousness
Aim And Method Of Naturalism
Autonomy Of Spirit
Consciousness Of The Ego
Constructive Criticism
Contrast Between Darwinian And Post-darwinian Views
Creative Power Of Consciousness
Criticisms Of The Mechanistic Theory Of Life
Crities Of Darwinism
Darwinish In General
Darwinism And Teleology
Darwinism In The Strict Sense
De Vries's Mutation-theory
Differences Of Opinion As To The Factors In Evolution
Eimer's Orthogenesis
Evolution And New Beginnings
Feeling Individuality Genius And Mysticism
Freedom Of Spirit
Fundamental Principles Of Naturalism
Goethe's Attitude To Naturalism
Haeckel's Evolutionist Position
How All This Affects The Religious Outlook
How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict
Individual Development
Intuitions Of Reality
Is There Ageing Of The Mind?
Lamarckism And Neo-lamarckism
Machnical Theories Criticism
Mind And Spirit The Human And The Animal Soul
Mystery : Dependence : Purpose
Natural Selection
Naturalistic Attacks On The Autonomy Of The Spiritual
No Parallelism
Other Instances Of Dissatisfaction With The Theory Of Descent
Pre-eminence Of Consciousness
Preyer's Position
Religion And The Theory Of Descent
Spontaneous Generation
Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Time
The Antimony Of The Conditioned And The Unconditioned
The Characteristic Features Of Darwinism
The Conservation Of Matter And Energy
The Constructive Work Of Driesch
The Contingency Of The World
The Dependence Of The Order Of Nature
The Development Of Darwinism
The Ego
The Fundamental Answer
The Law Of The Conservation Of Energy
The Mechanics Of Development
The Mystery Of Existence Remains Unexplained
The Organic And The Inorganic
The Position Of Bunge And Other Physiologists
The Problema Continui
The Real World
The Recognition Of Purpose
The Religious Interpretation Of The World
The Spontaneous Activity Of The Organism
The Supremacy Of Mind
The Theory Of Descent
The True Naturalism
The Two Kinds Of Naturalism
The Unconscious
The Unity Of Consciousness
The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider
The Views Of Botanists Illustrated
The World And God
Theory Of Definite Variation
Theory Of Life
Various Forms Of Darwinism
Virchow's Caution
Virchow's Position
Weismann's Evolutionist Position
What Is Distinctive In The Naturalistic Outlook
What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook

Constructive Criticism

Those whose protests we have hitherto been considering have not added to
their criticism of the mechanical theory any positive contribution of
their own, or at least they give nothing more than very slight hints
pointing towards a psychical theory. But there are others who have sought
to overcome the mechanical theory by gaining a deeper grasp of the nature
of "force" in general. Their attempts have been of various kinds, but
usually tend in one direction, which can perhaps be most precisely and
briefly indicated through Lloyd Morgan's views, as summed up, for
instance, in his essay on "Vitalism."(94) In the beginning of biological
text-books, we usually find (he says) a chapter on the nature of "force,"
but it is "like grace before meat"--without influence on quality or
digestion. Yet this problem must be cleared up before we can arrive at any
understanding of the whole subject. In all attempts at "reducing to
simpler terms," it must be borne in mind that "force" reveals its nature
in ever higher stages, of which every one is new. Even cohesion cannot be
reduced to terms of gravitation, nor the chemical affinities and molecular
forces to something more primitive. They are already something "outside
the recognised order of nature." In a still higher form force is expressed
in the processes of crystallisation. At the formation of the first crystal
there came into action a directing force of the same kind as the will of
the sculptor at the making of the Venus of Melos. This new element, which
intervenes every time, Lloyd Morgan regards, with Herbert Spencer
("Principles of Biology"), as "due to that ultimate reality which
underlies this manifestation, as it underlies all other manifestations."
There can be no "understanding" in the sense of "getting behind things":
even the actions of "brute matter" cannot be "understood." The play of
chance not only does not explain the living; it does not even explain the
not-living. But life in particular can neither be brought into the cell
from without, nor be explained as simply "emerging from the co-operation
of the components of the protoplasm," and it is "in its essence not to be
conceived in physico-chemical terms," but represents "new modes of
activity in the noumenal cause," which, just because it is noumenal, is
beyond our grasp. For only phenomena are "accessible to thought."

Among the biologists who concern themselves with deeper considerations,
Oscar Hertwig,(95) the Director of the Anatomical Institute at Berlin, has
expressed ideas similar to those we have been discussing, little as this
may seem to be the case at first sight. He desires to oust the ordinary
mechanism, so to speak, by replacing it by a mechanism of a higher order,
and in making the attempt he examines and deepens the traditional ideas of
causality and "force," and defines the right and wrong of the
quantitative-mathematical interpretation of nature in general, and of
mechanics in particular. He follows confessedly in Lotze's path, not so
much in regard to that thinker's insistence upon the association of the
causal and the teleological modes of interpretation, as in modifying the
idea of causality. O. Hertwig puts forward his own theories with special
reference to those of W. Roux, the founder of the new "Science of the
Future"--the mechanical, and therefore only scientific theory of
development, which no longer only describes, but understands and causally
explains phenomena ("Archiv fuer Entwicklungsmechanik"). There are two
kinds of mechanism (Hertwig says): that in the higher philosophical sense,
and that in the purely physical sense. The former declares that all
phenomena are connected by a guiding thread of causal connection and can
be causally explained. As such, its application to the domain of vital
phenomena is justifiable and self-evident. But it is not justifiable if
cause be simply made identical with and limited to "force," if the causal
connection be only admitted in the technical sense of the transference and
transformation of energy, and if, over and above, it is supposed to give
an "explanation," in the sense of an insight into things themselves. Even
mechanics is (as Kirchoff maintained) a "descriptive" science. Hertwig
agrees with Schopenhauer and Lotze in regarding every primitive natural
"force" as unique, not reducible to simpler terms, but qualitatively
distinct,--a "qualitas occulta," capable not of physical but only of
metaphysical explanation. And thus his conclusions imply rejection of
mechanism in the cruder sense. As such, it has only a very limited sphere
of action in the realm of the living. The history of mechanical
interpretations is a history of their collapse. The attempt to derive the
organic from the inorganic has often been made. But no such attempts have
held the field for long. We can now say with some reason that "the gulf
between the two kingdoms of nature has become deeper just in proportion as
our physical and chemical, our morphological and physiological knowledge
of the organism has deepened." Mach's expression "mechanical mythology,"
is quoted, and then a fine passage on the insufficiency of the
mathematical view of things in general concludes thus: "Mathematics is
only a method of thought, an excellent tool of the human mind, but it is
very far from being the case that all thought and knowledge moves in this
one direction, and that the content of our minds can ever find exhaustive
expression through it alone."

In his "Theory of Dominants,"(96) Reinke, the botanist of Kiel, has
attempted to formulate his opposition to the physico-chemical conception
of life into a vitalistic theory of his own. Among biologists who confess
themselves supporters of the mechanical theory, there are some who
expressly reject explanations in terms of chemical and physical
principles, and emphasise, more energetically than others, that these can
only give rise to vital phenomena and complex processes of movement, on
the basis of a most delicately differentiated structure and architecture
of the living substance in its minute details, and from the egg onwards.
They have created the strict "machine theory," and they may be grouped
together as the "tectonists." "A watch that has been stamped to pieces is
no longer a watch." Thus the merely material and chemical is not the
essential part of the living; it is the tectonic, the machinery of
structure that is essential. The fundamental idea in this position is
precisely that of Lotze. It is not a "mystical," vital principle, that
sets up, controls, and regulates the physical and chemical processes
within the developed or developing organism. They receive their direction
and impulse through the fact that they are associated with a given
peculiar mechanical structure. This theory certainly contains all the
monstrosities of preformation in the germ, the mythologies of the
infinitely small, and it suffers shipwreck in ways as diverse as the
number of its sides and parts. But it has the merit of clearly disclosing
the impossibilities of purely chemical explanations. Reinke's "Theory of
Dominants" started from such tectonic conceptions, and so originally did
Driesch's Neovitalism, of which we shall presently have to speak.

Reinke's theory has gone through several stages of development. At first
its general tenor was as follows: Every living thing is typically
different from everything that is not living. What explains this
difference? Certainly not the hypothesis of vital force, which is far from
being clear. The idea that forces of a psychic nature are inherent in the
organism is also rejected. The illustration of a watch helps us to
understand. The impelling force in it is certainly not merely the ordinary
force of gravity or the general elasticity of steel. The efficacy of
simple forces such as these can be increased in infinite diversity by the
"construction of the apparatus" in which they operate. Life is the
function of a quite unique, marvellously complex, inimitable combination
of machines. If these be given, the most complex processes fulfil
themselves of necessity and without the intervention of special vital
forces. But how can they be "given"? The sole analogy to be found is the
making of real machines, artificial products as distinguished from
fortuitous products. They cannot be made without the influence and
activity of intelligence. To explain the incomparably more ingenious and
complex vital machine as due to a fortuitous origin and collocation of its
individual parts would be more absurd than it would be to think of a watch
being made in this way. The dominance of a creative idea cannot but be
recognised. An intelligent natural force which is conscious of its aims
and calculates its means must be presupposed, if we are really to satisfy
our sense of causality. It is a matter of personal conviction whether we
find this force in "God" or in the "Absolute."

These views are more fully developed in the theory of dominants expounded
in Reinke's later work, "Die Welt as Tat" (after what has been said the
meaning of the title will be self-evident), and in his "Theoretische
Biologie."(97) Very vigorous and convincing are the author's objections to
the naturalistic theories of organic life, especially to the "self-origin"
of the living, or spontaneous generation. In all vital processes we must
reckon with a "physiological x," which cannot be eliminated, which gives
to life its unique and underivable character. There are "secondary
forces," "superforces," "dominants," which bring about what is peculiar in
vital functions and direct their processes. "Vitalism" in the strict sense
is thus here also rejected. The machine-theory is held valid. There are
"dominants" even in our tools and utensils, in our hammer and spoon, and
the "operation" of these cannot be explained merely physico-chemically,
but through the dominants of the form, structure and composition, with
which they have been invested by intelligence. The association with the
views of the tectonists is so far quite apparent. But the idea of
"dominants" soon broadens out. We find dominants of form-development, of
evolution, and so on. What were at first only peculiarities of structure
and architecture have grown almost unawares into dynamic principles of
form which have nothing more to do with the mechanical theory, and which,
because of their dualistic nature, result in conclusions and modes of
explanation which can hardly be called very useful. The lines along which
the idea has developed are intelligible enough. It started originally from
that of the organism as a finished product, functioning actively,
especially in its metabolism. Here the comparison with a steam engine with
self-regulators and automatic whistles is admissible, and one may speak of
dominants in the sense of mechanical dominants. But the idea thus started
was pressed into general service. And thus arose dominants of development,
of morphogenesis, even of phylogenetic evolution ("phylogenetic
evolution-potential"). New dominants are added, and the theory advances
farther and farther from the "machine theory," becomes ever more
enigmatical, and more vitalistic.

Next: The Constructive Work Of Driesch

Previous: The Views Of Botanists Illustrated

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