The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider





An outlook and interpretation which Driesch(102) maintained for a while,

but afterwards abandoned, has been developed in an original and peculiar

fashion by Eugen Albrecht, Prosector and Pathologist in Munich.(103) It is

the theory of different ways of looking at things. Albrecht indeed firmly

adheres to the chemical and physical interpretation of vital processes,

regards approximate completeness along these lines as the ideal of

science, and maintains their essential sufficiency. But he holds that the

mechanists have been mistaken and one-sided in that they have upheld this

interpretation and mode of considering things as the sole and the "true"

one. According to our subjective attitude to things and their changes,

they appear to us in quite different series of associations, each of which

forms a complete series in itself, running parallel to the others, but not

intruding to fill up gaps in them. Microscopic and macroscopic study of

things illustrate such separate and complete series. The classical example

for the whole theory is the psycho-physical parallelism. Psychical

phenomena are not "explained" when the correlated line of material changes

and the phenomena of the nervous system have been traced out. Similarly

with the series of "vital" phenomena, "vital" interpretation from the

point of view of the "living organism," runs parallel to, but distinct

from the chemical and physical analyses of vital processes. But each of

these parallel ways of regarding things is "true." For the current

separation of the "appearance" and "nature" of things is false, since it

assumes that only one of the possible ways of regarding things, e.g.,

the mechanical-causal mode of interpretation is essential, and that all

the others deal only with associated appearance.



The idea that only one or two of these series can represent the "true

nature" of the phenomenon "can only be called cheap dogma." Each series is

complete in itself, and every successive phase follows directly and

without a break from the antecedent one, which alone explains it. In this

lies the relative justification of the ever-recurring reactions to

"vitalism."



This theory of Albrecht's has all the charms and difficulties, or

impossibilities, of parallelistic interpretations in general. Its validity

might be discussed with reference to the particular case of

psycho-physical parallelism.(104)



To make a sound basis for itself it would require first to clear up the

causality problem, and to answer, or at least definitely formulate the

great question whether causing (Bewirkung) is to be replaced by mere

necessary sequence--for this is where it ends. The conclusion which, with

regard to biological methods and ideals, seems to make all concessions to

the purely mechanical mode of interpretation, is not sufficiently obvious

from the premisses. If the vital series be a "real" one, we should expect

that a "vitalistic" mode of interpretation, with methods and aims of its

own, would be required, just as a special science of psychology is

required. The assumption that each series is complete without a break, and

that an all-including analysis of vital processes in terms of mechanical

processes must ultimately be possible, is a petitio principii, and

breaks down before the objections raised by the vitalists. The most

central problem in the whole matter, namely, the relation of the causal to

the teleological, has not been touched. These two concepts would, of

course, not yield "parallels," but would be different points of view,

which could eventually be applied to each series.



K. Camillo Schneider,(105) Privatdozent in Vienna, uses the soul, the

psychical in the true sense, as the explanation of the vital. What had

been thought secretly and individually by some of the vitalists already

mentioned, but had, so to speak, cropped up only as the incidentally

revealed reverse side of their negations of mechanism, Schneider attempts

definitely to formulate into a theory. The chief merit of his book on

"Vitalism" is to be found, in Chapters II. to X., in his thorough

discussion of the chemical, physical, and mechanical theories along the

special lines of each.



The list of critics might be added to, and the number of standpoints in

opposition to mechanism greatly increased. This diversity of standpoint,

and the individual way in which each independent thinker reacts from the

mechanical theory shows that here, as also in regard to Darwin's theory of

selection, we have to do with a dogmatic theory and a forced

simplification of phenomena, not with an objective and calm consideration

of things as they are. It is a theory where simplex has become sigillum

falsi.





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