The Unconscious

But one has a repugnance to descending into this strange region. And

religion, with its clear and lofty mood, can never have either taste for

or relationship with considerations which so easily take an "occult" turn.

Nor is its mysticism concerned with physiologies. But it is instructive

and noteworthy that the old idealistic faith, "It is the mind that builds

up the body for itself," is becoming stronger again in all kinds of

philosophies and physiologies of "the unconscious," as a reaction from the

onesidedness of the mechanistic theories, and that it draws its chief

support from the dependence of nervous and other bodily processes upon the

psychical, which is being continually brought into greater and greater

prominence. The moderate and luminous views of the younger Fichte, who

probably also first introduced the now current term "the unconscious,"

must be at least briefly mentioned. According to him, the impulse towards

the development of form which is inherent in everything living, and which

builds up the organism from the germ to the complete whole, by forcing the

chemical and physical processes into particular paths, is identical with

the psychical itself. In instincts, the unconscious purposive actions of

the lower animals in particular, he sees only a special mode of this at

first unconscious psychical nature, which, building up organ after organ,

makes use in doing so of all the physical laws and energies, and is at

first wholly immersed in purely physiological processes. It is only after

the body has been developed, and presents a relatively independent system

capable of performing the necessary functions of daily life, that it rises

beyond itself and gradually unfolds to conscious psychical life in

increasing self-realisation. Edward von Hartmann has attempted to apply

this principle of the unconscious as a principle of all cosmic existence.

And wherever, among the younger generation of biologists, one has broken

away from the fascinations of the mechanistic theory, he has usually

turned to "psychical" co-operating factors.