Aladdin was the only son of a poor widow who lived in China; but instead of helping his mother to earn their living, he let her do all the hard work, while he himself only thought of idling and amusement. One day, as he was playing in... Read more of Aladdin And The Wonderful Lamp at Children Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational

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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

Creative Power Of Consciousness

To this insight into the underivability and pre-eminence of consciousness
over the world of external reality there must be added at this stage a
recognition of its peculiar creative character. We have here to recognise
that consciousness itself creates its world,--that is, the world that
becomes our own through actual experience, possession, and enjoyment. We
are led to this position even by the conception now current in natural
science of the world as it is, not as it is mirrored in consciousness, and
the theory of the "subjectivity of sensory qualities." The qualities which
we perceive in things through the senses are "subjective"; philosophy has
long taught that, and now natural science teaches it too. That is to say,
these qualities are not actually present in the things themselves; they
are rather the particular responses which our consciousness makes to
stimuli. Take, for instance, tone or colour. What we call tone or sound is
not known to acoustics. That takes cognisance only of vibrations and the
conditions of vibration in elastic bodies, which, by means of the ear and
the nerves of hearing, become a stimulus of consciousness. Consciousness
"responds" to this stimulus by receiving a sense-impression of hearing.
But in this, obviously, there is nothing of the nature of oscillations and
vibrations, but something quite different. What outside of us is nothing
more than a complex process of movement according to mathematical
conditions, blossoms within us to a world of sound, tone, and music. The
world itself is soundless, toneless. And the same is true of light and
colour; "light" and "blue" are nothing in themselves--are not properties of
things themselves. They are only the infinitely rapid movements of an
infinitely delicate substance, the ether. But when these meet our
consciousness, they spin themselves within us into this world of light and
colour, of brilliance and beauty. Thus without us there is a world of a
purely mathematical nature, without quality, charm, or value. But the
world we know, the world of sound, light, and colour, of all properties
whatsoever, of the ugly or the beautiful, of pain and pleasure, is in the
most real sense the product of consciousness itself, a creation which,
incited by something outside of itself and of a totally different nature,
which we can hardly call "world," evolves out of itself and causes to
blossom. No part of this creation is given from without; not the blue of
the heavens, for outside of us there is no colour, only vibrations of the
ether; not the gold of the sun nor the red glory of the evening sky.
External nature is nothing more than the stimulus, the pressure upon the
mind, which liberates from its depths the peculiar reactions and responses
to this stimulus, and calls them forth from its own treasure-stores.
Certainly in this creating the consciousness is entirely dependent on the
impressions stamped on it from outside, and to that extent upon
"experience." But it is by no means a tabula rasa, and a merely passive
mirror of the outer world, for it translates the stimulus thus received
into quite a different language, and builds up from it a new reality,
which is quite unlike the mathematical and qualityless reality without.
And this activity on the part of consciousness begins on the very lowest
stages. The simplest perception of light or colour, the first feeling of
pleasure or discomfort, is a reaction of the psychical, which brings about
something entirely new and unique. "The spirit is never passive."

That the psychical is not derivable from the physical, that it does not
arise out of it, is not secondary to it, but pre-eminent over it, is not
passive but creative; so much we have already gained to set over against
naturalism. But its claims are even more affected by the fact of real
psychical causality. We need not here concern ourselves with the difficult
question, whether the mind can of itself act upon the body, and through it
upon the external world. But in the logical consistence of naturalism
there was implied not only a negative answer to this last question, but
also a denial of the causality of the psychical, even within itself and
its own domain. This is well illustrated in the figure of the cloud
shadows. In consciousness state follows upon state, a upon b, b upon c.
According to naturalism, b is not really the result of a, nor c of b, for
in that case there would be independence of phenomena, and distinctness of
laws in the psychical. But as all the states, a, b, and c, of the cloud
shadows, depend upon states a, b, and c, of the clouds themselves,
but do not themselves form a concatenation of causes, so all the states of
the mind depend upon those of the body, in which alone there is a true
chain of causes because they alone have true reality.

This is a complete distortion of the facts of the case. It would never be
possible to persuade oneself or any one else that the arm, for instance,
did not bend simply because we willed that it should. And it is still less
possible to doubt that there are sequences of causes within the psychical,
that in the world of thought and feeling, of desire and will, one thing
calls up another, awakes it, impels it onwards, and influences it. Indeed,
the mode of influence is peculiarly rich, subtle, and certain. Mental
images and experiences arouse joy or sorrow, admiration or repulsion. One
image calls up another, forces it to appear according to quite peculiar
laws, or may crowd it out. Feelings call up desires, desires lead to
determination. Good news actually causes joy, this is actually
strengthened to willing, and the new situation gives rise to actual
resolves. All this is so obvious and so unquestionable that no naturalism
can possibly prevail against it. It has also long been made the subject of
special investigation and carefully regulated experiment, and it is one of
the chief subjects of modern psychological science. And especially as
regards the different forms of "association of ideas," the particular laws
of this psychical causality have been established.

It cannot be denied, however, that this psychology of association has
itself in a deeper sense certain dangers from the point of view of the
freedom of the mind, and it is apt to lead, not indeed to naturalistic
conceptions, but to views according to which the "soul" is reduced to the
level of a passive frame and stage, so to speak, for the exhibition of
mental mechanics and statics. "Ideas" or thoughts, or states of feelings,
are sometimes represented almost as actual little realities, which come
and go in accordance with their own laws of attraction and repulsion,
unite and separate again, by virtue of a kind of mental gravitation, move
and crowd one another, so that one must almost say "it thinks," as one
says "it rains," and not "the mind thinks" or "I think." But more of this
later. This psychological orderliness is in sharp antagonism to pure
naturalism. It describes the laws of a sequence of causes, which have
nothing to do with the physical, chemical, or mechanical, and clearly
establishes the uniqueness, independence, and underivability of the
psychical as contrasted with the physical.

The individuality and incommensurability of this psychical causality shows
itself in another series of factors which make even the form of the
psychical process quite distinctive, and produce phenomena which have no
parallel in the material sequences of the world, indeed, conflict with all
its fundamental laws. The great psychologists of to-day, Wundt in
particular, and James, have frequently emphasised these factors. We can
only briefly call attention to a few points, as, for instance, Wundt's
theory of the creative resultants through which the psychical processes
show themselves to be quite outside of the scope of the laws of
equivalence which hold good in the physical. If, in the realm of the
corporeal, two components of energy, a and b, come together, they unite in
a common resultant c, which includes in part a new movement, in part
transformation into heat, but always in such a way that c remains equal to
a and b. But it is otherwise in the psychical. Here there occurs what may
be called an increase (and a qualitative change) of the psychical energy.
If we take the notes, c, e, and g, and call the sensation- and
perception-value of the individual notes x, y, z, when they come together,
the resulting sensation-value is by no means simply x + y + z, for a
"harmony" results of which the effect is not only greater than the mere
sum of x + y + z, but is qualitatively different. This is true of all
domains of psychical experience. The parallels from mechanical operation
cannot be applied in any case. These only supply inadequate analogies and
symbols which never really represent the actual state of the case.

Let us take, for instance, a motive, m, that impels us towards a
particular action, and another, n, that hinders us. If these meet in us,
the result is not simply a weakening of the power of the one, and a
remaining motive of the strength of m minus n. The meeting of the two
creates an entirely new and peculiar mental situation, which gives rise to
conflict and choice, and the resultant victorious motive is never under
any circumstances m-n, but may be a double or three-fold m or n.
Thus, in the different aspects of psychical activity, there are factors
which make it impossible to compare these with other activities, remove
them outside of the scope of the law of the equivalence of cause and
effect, and prove that there is self-increase and growth on the part of
psychical energies. And all such phenomena lead us away from the
standpoint of any mere theory of association.

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