ND   Jacques Maritain Center : Psychology / by Michael Maher, S.J.



Immortality and Psychology. -- We have now proved that the soul is a simple, spiritual, substantial principle; and we have criticized at some length the chief counter theories. The truths thus far established, though interesting in themselves, derive their main importance from their bearing on the question of a future life. This topic, however, cannot be isolated and kept strictly within the boundaries of psychology proper, for it is inseparably bound up with problems of other branches of philosophy. Immortality of the human soul presupposes the existence of God; and the most convincing arguments of a future life are deduced from ethics. But this fact merely evinces the solidarity of the great metaphysical questions, whilst the philosophical science of the human mind seems clearly to be the place where the discussion of its destiny ought to be undertaken.

Immortality and Theism. -- Moreover, although rigid demonstration of a future life presupposes the existence of a Divine Ruler, -- for were there no God, the present question would be idle and meaningless, -- still it is worthy of note that some of the proofs of Immortality are amongst the most forcible arguments for the existence of the Deity. Anyhow, the considerations to be advanced here are of a purely rational character, and prescind altogether from the assured certainty of an everlasting life which we have guaranteed by Revealed Religion.

Teleological Argument. -- Our first proof will be that deduced from the nature of the faculties, aspirations, and yearnings of the human mind, and the manner in which they point to another sphere of existence in which they are designed to enjoy their appropriate objects. Notwithstanding the seeming success which temporarily marked the first assault of the theory of natural selection on the doctrine of final causes, it is now becoming more and more evident every day that the attempt to explain the universe and all it contains in a purely mechanical fashion, as the fortuitous outcome of the collision of blind forces, has completely failed; and that the theory of Evolution is hopelessly incompetent to solve even the simplest biological problems without ultimately falling back on a teleological conception of the world. At all events, evolutionists themselves are fully as insistent as pre-Darwin physiologists on the axiom that there is no organ without its function, that no activity or faculty is to be found in the kingdom of organic life which has not its fitting object, its appropriate end to serve. The eye would never have been developed unless there were in existence light and material objects to be seen. The mechanism of the ear would never have been evolved save to operate in a universe of sound. The senses of smell and taste exist only because there are real stimuli to exercise them. And each instinct discovered in the animal kingdom points infallibly to some real object by which it is to be gratified. "Everywhere in nature there is evident the law of correlation, of finality of harmonious reciprocity, of appeasement of real needs, and satisfaction of natural tendencies."{1} Even the rudimentary organ is held to establish conclusively the reality of the past or future occupation for which the member was made. In fact, all the evidence gathered in behalf of Evolution, when impartially viewed from a larger and higher standpoint, merely confirms the main thesis of Natural Theology that the Author of the world is a Being of infinite wisdom who governs it in harmony with reason and according to law. If we now turn to Psychology for an accurate account of our mental aptitudes and tendencies, we shall learn that the Mind is the subject of activities and powers rising altogether above the needs of the present life; and that exhibits talents and aspirations which find not their proper satisfaction here, but stretch out beyond the present existence, demanding a future state in which they may attain adequate realization.

Aspirations of the Intellect. -- Man alone, of all creatures upon earth, has the power of looking back into the past and forward into the future. His mind, by the indwelling energy of its peculiar nature, strains and gazes out across distant epochs of time. Unlike that of the mere animal, its interest is not confined to the present Now. It naturally rises to the concept of endless duration. The mystery which surrounds this notion has ever been a stimulus to thought and speculation. It lies at the source of man's most universal and deep-seated intellectual cravings; whilst the most ardent admirers of the sagacity of the lower animals do not venture to suggest that the idea of a never-ending future exercises their intelligence or troubles their peace of mind. There is a similar attraction for the intellect in the notion of space. Thought is conscious of the power and the impulse to transcend the physical boundaries and impediments which fetter the bodily frame. It feels that, unlike material energies, it can in an instant reach out and soar beyond the utmost frontiers of the created universe. The conception of the possible, the necessary, the universal as the schoolmen insisted, is the special fruit of man's intellect. The more the human mind is developed and perfected, the more it feels its affinity with realities which lie behind and beyond sensible experience. (See pp. 471, 472.){2} Higher rational activity, in fact, proclaims that the true and sufficient object of the yearnings of the soul must lie beyond the confines of this life circumscribed by corporeal conditions. If every organ has its fitting function, and every instinct its appropriate object, it is incredible that the highest aspirations of reason should be aimless, and the noblest energies of man should be ever emptying themselves into a void.

This same line of reasoning is accepted by as thoroughgoing an evolutionist as A. R. Wallace. He has written thus: "Those faculties which enable us to transcend time and space, and to realize the wonderful conceptions of mathematics and philosophy, or which give us an intense yearning for abstract truth (all of which were occasionally manifested at such an early period of human history as to be far in advance of any of the few practical applications which have since grown out of them), are evidently essential to the perfect development of man as a spiritual being, but are utterly inconceivable as having been produced through the action of that law (of Natural Selection) which looks only, and can look only, to the immediate material welfare of the individual or the race. The inference I would draw from this class of phenomena, is that a superior intelligence has guided the development of man in a definite direction and for a special purpose." (On Natural Selection, p. 359.)

Yearning of the Will: Insatiate desire of Happiness. -- But the intellect is not the only faculty which speaks to us of another life; the conative side man's being insists not less urgently on the same truth. In each living creature the collective tendencies which issue from its internal constitution form the complete expression of its nature or essence, and manifest the end which it is designed to realize. The specific tendency of the human being is rational appetency. This is the characteristic outpouring of man's being; through it, his true self-realization is to be accomplished. But since rational appetency follows upon intellectual cognition, and since this latter activity tends towards the universal and the infinite, ever insatiably conceiving better and more perfect objects than those presented by experience, so rational desire can never rest content with the goods and pleasures of this life.

We are not dependent, however, on abstract reasoning for the establishment of this fact. Our own consciousness, along with the sages, poets, and philosophers of every age, all iterate the same truth. There is implanted in our nature a yearning for happiness which can never be satisfied in our present sphere. This rational instinct exhibits itself in the lowest and hardest conditions of human existence; but the wealth, the comforts, the luxuries, the art and the science which civilization brings, are impotent to appease it. The power of conception ever exceeds the present reality. With each successive stage of mental development the craving becomes more and more conscious of itself, and it grows and expands, proclaiming ever more clamorously that it is not to be satiated with any finite creature. The brute animal lives normally in a state of content. Its faculties and instincts find their proper nutriment, and it is satisfied. But for man "the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." Though master of the rest of creation, he is condemned throughout this life by the very constitution of his rational nature to be un-satisfied with his lot! Is it possible, that of all living beings on earth, man alone -- and in his highest powers -- is to be aimlessly dis-proportioned and mis-adapted to his environment? Is this highest of rational instincts destined to be universally frustrated? Are the loftiest and best yearnings of the noblest and best work in this rational universe to be for ever vain and illusory? and more vain and disappointing precisely in proportion as by moral and intellectual culture he developes and perfects his highest faculties?{3}

Ethical Argument. -- It is, however, from the department of Ethics that reason puts forth the most irresistible demand for a future life.{4} Morality is an essentially rational phenomenon. The reality of right and wrong, of duty and virtue, of merit and responsibility, are amongst the most certain convictions of our rational nature. That what is seen to be clearly wrong must not be done, notwithstanding the temporal disadvantages which may ensue, is an axiom to which the intellect gives complete assent, however feeble the will may be in actual practice. But in the judgment that conduct entailing a sacrifice ought to be pursued, there is implied the further judgment that it cannot be ultimately worse for the agent himself to do that which is right. Our intellect, in fact, affirms that right conduct is always reasonable. The supposition that virtue can finally result in a maximum of misery for the agent; or that wickedness may effect an increase in the total quantity of his personal happiness is seen to be in conflict with reason, and to be destructive of all morality. It is impossible that perfect and fully enlightened reason can recommend us to do that which conscience categorically forbids. But if so, our permanent real interests cannot be injured by right conduct. Duty cannot be in irreconcilable war with rational self-love.

In the concrete. -- The issue becomes clearer when we face the question in the concrete. Can it be equally well in the end for the successful swindler who amasses a fortune by the plunder of his clients, and for the upright man who honestly struggles through a life of poverty, and resisting temptation, dies in want? Can it be ultimately the same for the forger or slanderer and the innocent man, whose life he has ruined? Is there to be no difference, when the last breath is breathed, between the murderer and his victim, the adulterer and the chaste, the martyr or the saint and his malicious persecutor? History affords plenty of examples of bad men, with hardened conscience, prosperous to the end of their lives, and of virtuous men who, owing to their honesty, have died with the stamp of failure on their earthly career. Our whole rational moral nature affirms that this cannot be the final outcome of things: that it cannot in the last resort be as well or better for those who violate the principles of justice, and those who faithfully observe the moral law seeking to conform their conduct to the ideal of right and holiness. The first postulate of physical science is that the universe is rational. Its most fundamental axiom, the law of uniformity, is based on this assumption. Would it be a rational universe if vice is to be rewarded and virtue to be punished in the end? Is it a rational universe if the moral life of mankind be founded on an illusion? Can the holiness of the world's saints, the virtues of its best heroes, the moral life of the mass of mankind have had their source and origin, their never-failing food and support in one huge hallucination?

Professor Sidgwick merely expressed this truth in the most moderate terms when, after all decorous hesitations and qualifications and sub-qualifications, he conceded that "the existence of a Supreme Being who will adequately reward me for obeying this rule of duty or punish me for violating it," is "a matter of life and death to the Practical (Moral) Reason," and finally concluded with the truest philosophical statement in his work. "The whole system of our beliefs as to the intrinsic reasonableness of conduct must fall, without a belief in some form or other that the Moral Order which we see imperfectly realized in the actual world is yet actually perfect. If we reject this belief, we may, perhaps, still find in the non-moral universe an adequate object for the Speculative Reason capable of being in some sense ultimately understood. But the Cosmos of Duty is reduced to a Chaos, and the prolonged effort of the human intellect to frame a perfect ideal of rational conduct is seen to be foredoomed to inevitable failure."{5}

Immortality makes Morality always reasonable. -- On the other hand, if the present life be, as the Schoolmen taught, only the antechamber to eternity; if the happiness of Heaven means the perfection of man's highest powers and the satisfaction of his highest aspirations in a blissful union with the infinite source of all beauty and all good by contemplation and love; and if a life of virtue here consists in the perfecting of our nature and the preparation of it for that union with God, then we have an adequate foundation for all our ethical notions. And we are provided with an ideal of moral life and a conception of man's end, which explain and harmonize our ethical conceptions among themselves, and their relations with the facts of our temporal life.

Actual sanctions imperfect. -- It is true, of course, that the present life is not devoid of moral sanctions, that extreme courses of vice generally meet with retribution, and that, as a rule, honesty is the best policy -- at least where the police system is efficient. But it cannot be seriously pretended that this is always the case; and still less that each individual act of virtue, and every noble sacrifice for the sake of duty gains its just recompense. It is indisputable that in the lives of the great majority of men a certain judicious mixture of unscrupulousness would secure to the agent an increase in the dividend of the sources of happiness. It is urged also that the sanctions of conscience and of public opinion, compensate for all other deficiencies. We should be very sorry to unduly depreciate the value of a good conscience: but the assertion cannot stand the test of experience. It is generally only in the virtuous that conscience is sensitive; and good men probably suffer sharper pangs for smaller faults than the wicked do for grievous crimes. Indeed, the more abandoned the criminal, the fainter the internal moral chiding becomes; whilst agreeable elation or complacent self-satisfaction over his meritorious performances is not a kind of pleasure in which the truly virtuous man is wont to indulge. Finally, if belief in a future retribution be recognized as illusory, both the menace and the promise which make up the chief part of the sanction of conscience are annihilated. The claim put forward on behalf of public opinion as an adequate supplementary sanction is equally invalid. For, firstly, the censure of society cannot reach secret sins and a very large part of man's moral life; whilst it is extremely likely to err regarding motives on which the goodness or badness of conduct essentially depends. Secondly, the only public opinion for which the individual cares is that of his own class or neighbourhood; and this not infrequently is opposed rather than favourable to virtuous actions.

Formal Theistic Proof. -- Formally assuming the existence of God as independently established in Natural Theology, the argument for a future life may now be thus enunciated: An infinitely wise and benevolent God could not have implanted in all men a yearning for happiness whilst intending this natural desire to be necessarily, finally, and universally frustrated. Nor could He as a just and holy legislator have imposed upon mankind His Moral Law whilst leaving it incomplete and imperfect through defective sanction. But if there be no future life for man, God has done this: hence we are bound to conclude that God has designed to continue the soul's conscious existence after death.

Argument from Universal Belief -- Another argument upon which much stress has always been laid is the practical universality of the belief in a future life. Such a conviction in opposition to all sensible appearances must spring, it was urged, from man's rational nature, and must be allowed to be true unless we are prepared to hold that man's rational nature inevitably leads him into error in a matter of fundamental importance to his moral life. To admit this, it was argued, logically leads to scepticism Adequate treatment of this argument would require considerable space.

Scholastic Metaphysical or Ontological Argument. -- In addition to the arguments just given, the schoolmen deduced a proof of the soul's future preservation from its nature as a simple spiritual being. This ontological demonstration, it must be admitted has not the persuasiveness with the modern mind which it possessed in the schools. Nevertheless, when properly understood, its defensive value is considerable. It enables the spiritualist to meet all materialistic attacks by showing that the subject of our conscious life is constructed to resist the destructive agencies which corrupt material beings; and it furnishes a conception by which a future life becomes more intelligible. We shall briefly state it in its scholastic shape.

By death is understood cessation of life in living beings. Such cessation of life might conceivably be brought about by either of two causes: annihilation of the living being, or corruption of its vital principle. Annihilation means the reduction of the object into absolute nothingness A creature is, strictly speaking, annihilated only when it so ceases to be that no element of it remains. A being is said to be incorruptible when it is incapable of perishing either by dissolution into the constituent parts or elements which may compose it, or by destruction of the subject in which it inheres or upon which it depends for its existence. Corruption from the philosophical point of view may thus in scholastic language be of either of two kinds, corruptio per se, essential corruption, or corruptio per accidens, accidental corruption.{6} In corruption per se there is a dissolution of the being into its component principles, as in the death of a man and the combustion of firewood. A being was said to suffer corruption per accidens when put an end to indirectly by the destruction of the subject on which it depends. An accident perishes in this way when the subject in which it inheres is broken up or changed in such a manner as to be no longer a fit support for it, as in the case of the disappearance of the shape and colour from a ball of melting snow or butter. According to the opinion most commonly received among the schoolmen, the extinction of the vital activity of brute animals and plants is an instance of corruptio per accidens.

Now the ontological argument claims to prove three propositions: (A) that the human soul is both per accidens and per se incorruptible; (B) that it can be annihilated neither by itself nor by any other creature; (C) that no sufficient reason can be assigned for supposing that God will ever annihilate it. It should be clearly understood that Almighty God could by an exercise of His absolute power{7} annihilate the human soul or any other creature. For every creature continues to exist and act only in virtue of the constant conservation and concurrence of God. But the argument proves that the soul is fitted in its nature to survive, and that God is the only Agent by whom its destruction could be accomplished.

(A) The Soul is incorruptible. -- It has been already demonstrated (1) that the soul is a substantial being, (2) that it is simple or indivisible, (2) that it is spiritual or not intrinsically dependent on the body for its action or existence. (c. xxi.) But a simple substantial being is incapable of corruption per se, for it is not composed of distinct parts or principles into which it might be resolved; and a spiritual substance is exempt from corruption per accidens, since it does not intrinsically depend on the body for its existence. Therefore the human soul is incapable of corruption in either of these alternative ways. Incorruptibility is thus a consequence of immateriality. If the mind were a function of the brain, or an aspect of nervous processes, then dissolution of the organism would necessarily involve destruction of the soul. The refutation of these hypotheses in our first three chapters has, consequently, removed the chief argument against the possibility of a future life.

(B) The Soul cannot be annihilated either (1) by itself or (2) by any creature. -- Annihilation is the reduction of something to nothing. But this result cannot be the effect of any positive action; for every positive action must terminate in a positive reality. A positive act, other than that of creation, can only change the state of the materials upon which it operates. It cannot make them disappear altogether. Any action accordingly, whether of the soul itself or of another creature, could at most effect merely a change or modification in the soul. Annihilation is possible only by the withdrawal of the conserving or creative power which has sustained the being in existence. Now, as creation and conservation in existence pertain to God alone, He only can cease to preserve; and, therefore, He alone can annihilate. The argument has been thus concisely stated: "Inasmuch as it is a simple spiritual substance, the soul can come into existence only through the creative act of God; and, therefore, only through annihilation by God can it perish. Annihilation consists in the refusal of any further creative conservation: accordingly, He alone who preserves and sustains a being can let it sink back into nothing. In fact, no created force can subdue Omnipotence exercising creative conservation, so as to reduce into nothingness that which God preserves in existence. Divine creation and conservation consists merely in the effective volition that something be. Now, either God wills that the soul exists longer, or He does not will it. If He wills it, then His will can be overcome by no finite power. If He does not will it, then it ceases of itself to exist without any other agency being cause of its cessation. Consequently, the soul can in no way be destroyed by any finite power."{8}

(C) There is no reason to suppose that the Soul will ever perish. -- It has been now proved by the ethical and teleological arguments that the soul will not perish at death, and by this ontological argument that it is of its own nature incorruptible, and that it can be destroyed neither by itself nor by any created being; it only remains to be shown that there is no ground for supposing that God will ever annihilate it. The ultimate end and purpose for which the Almighty conserves the soul in existence is His own extrinsic glory, both objective and formal.{9} But this end remains for ever; therefore the act of conservation ought to be everlasting.

The only conceivable grounds which can be suggested for the cessation of God's preserving action are, (a) the incapacity of the soul to act when separate from the body, with its consequent inability to apprehend, to praise, or to love God, and (b) the unworthiness of the souls of the wicked to exist. As regards (a), the ethical argument proves that the soul must live at least for a time after death, and be capable of experiencing reward or punishment. It must, therefore, be endowed with intelligence and will, and so be capable of contributing to the formal glory of God. The mode, however, of its action, following the mode of its existence, must be different from that of its present state. (b) As for the wicked, it is at least possible that they may be preserved for ever to vindicate by their punishment the justice and offended majesty of God; though that this is a fact cannot be proved by philosophy alone. For, absolute certainty of eternal punishment, as of everlasting reward, is afforded us only by the infallible testimony of Holy Writ. The congruity of such unending punishment was deduced by scholastic theologians from consideration of the infinite majesty of the Person offended, and the infinite claims which He possesses over His creatures. The rebellion and ingratitude of the creature constituting an offence under a certain aspect infinite was held to be -- even in the light of pure reason -- not unfittingly punished by a penalty finite in intensity but unlimited in duration. The adequate treatment, however, of this difficulty would lead us into the territory of dogmatic theology.

Objections against the doctrine of a Future Life. -- As the proofs of Immortality are nowadays attacked from various standpoints, it is most desirable to define accurately how much each can really establish. A want of clearness and precision on this point is not infrequently exhibited by defenders of a future life; and they sometimes forget that the use of an unsound argument, or the misuse of a sound one, has often seriously damaged a good cause. To us it seems best to admit frankly that whilst each of the ordinary proofs has some special merit, it is also subject to some particular defect or limitation; and that it is only by their collective combination that the complete doctrine can be satisfactorily established.

(1) The ethical argument demonstrates that there must be a future conscious existence; but it hardly proves that this must last for ever. For it would be difficult to show that God could not adequately reward and punish virtue and vice in a finite period. (2) The teleological argument also proves a future conscious existence in which the higher aspirations of Intellect and Will can be satisfied. And although it may not rigidly demonstrate that the future life must be endless, it points to that conclusion, at least in the case of the good. But it is more complex than the previous argument: it presupposes the formal establishment of the law of finality by Natural Theology or Science; and so its persuasive power is less. Further, respecting the future existence of the wicked, its logical force is distinctly weaker.

(3) The argument from universal belief is subject to these same limitations. All three proofs merely establish the fact of a future existence. None of them suggest how this is to be reconciled with the tendency to decay witnessed in all living organisms. They simply leave us with the antinomy or seeming conflict between experience and reason unsolved. (4) Here the ontological argument comes to our aid. It removes the conflict by showing that the objections based on the corruption of material beings lose their force when directed against the subject of thought and self-consciousness. It also shows that continuity of existence is natural to the soul; that is, that the soul is apt to endure, and that it is not liable to destruction by any created agency. But since this continuity of existence is a contingent fact, depending on the free-will of God, the simplicity or spirituality alone cannot prove that this continuity will be certainly realized. To secure this recourse must be had to some form of the teleological argument. Further, since in our experience consciousness is liable to interruptions; and since, as far as our knowledge goes, mental states are always accompanied by cerebral changes, the ontological argument, without still further help from teleology, would be unable to prove that the soul will be capable of eliciting conscious acts when separate from the body.

1. The answer to sundry difficulties will now be comparatively easy. Thus, for example, Professor James writes: "The substance (of the soul) must give rise to a stream of consciousness continuous with the present stream, in order to arouse our hope, but of this the mere persistence of the substance per se offers no guarantee. Moreover, in the general advance of our moral ideas, there has come to be something ridiculous in the way our forefathers had of grounding their hopes of immortality on the simplicity of their substance. The demand for immortality is nowadays essentially teleological. We believe ourselves immortal because we believe ourselves fit for immortality." (Op. cit. p. 348.)

It may be replied that the demand for immortality was teleological eight centuries ago in the time of Aquinas, and long before in that of Plato. The philosophers of the middle ages insisted much upon the contingent character of all created things. Not one of them would have put forward the simplicity of the soul as an argument for continuity of existence except on teleological grounds -- as indicative of the intention of a wise and good God. It is an essential tenet of the scholastic philosophy (1) that the continuous existence of every creature depends on its free conservation by God and (2) that all its operations require the free efficient concurrence of the Divine Being. But all inferences as to the future free actions of God must necessarily be based on the doctrine of finality. For the persistence, then, both of "the stream of consciousness" and of the substance of the soul, the schoolmen had to argue from the "providentia divina" or the "consilium Dei," which is merely the Latin for theistic teleology. But in proving the soul to be a simple immaterial being, and thus exempt from corrupting agencies, they believed they showed its conservation to be natural or in harmony with reason; whilst to them it would be evidently incompatible with Divine Wisdom to preserve in existence an inert soul devoid of action and consciousness.{10}

2. The same answer destroys the force of Kant's famous objection based on what he calls "the intensive quality" of the soul, which he thus stated: "The supposed substance (of the soul) if not by decomposition may be changed into nothing by gradual loss (remissio) of its powers, consequently by elanguescence. For consciousness itself has always a degree which may be lessened, consequently the faculty of being conscious may be diminished, and so with all the other faculties."{11}

Undoubtedly if God ceased to conserve the soul it would at once cease to exist; and whether this happened suddenly or after a gradual waning of its activity, matters not a whit. But it would be in conflict with the wisdom of God to suppose that He could conserve the soul in an inert, unconscious condition, devoid of all activity. Further, the argument from Ethics, and the desire of happiness, in so far as they establish anything, prove that the future existence must be conscious. Kant seems to suppose that continuous conscious existence is deduced by the ontological argument as a necessary result of the simplicity of the soul, apart from and independently of the divine conservation and concurrence. The argument may have been employed in this illegitimate way by deists -- certainly not by the schoolmen. For them the aspirations of the intellect, the desire of happiness and the simple immaterial constitution of the soul, which secures its immunity from corruptive agencies, were all so much teleological evidence of God's design to continue the soul's existence and to supply His efficacious concurrence requisite for its conscious activity in the future.

3. A disembodied spirit, it is affirmed, cannot be pictured by the imagination. "A spirit without a body," Büchner assures us, "is as unimaginable as electricity or magnetism without metallic or other substances." Science also refutes our doctrine. "Physiology," says Vogt, "decides definitely and categorically against individual immortality, as against any special existence of the soul." Again Büchner: "Experience and daily observation teach us that the spirit perishes with its material substratum." To observations of this sort we may reply that (a) as far as imagination goes we cannot picture the soul with the body. Neither can we imagine God, nor the ultimate atoms of matter. (b) The comparison of the soul to bodiless electricity is a complete misrepresentation of our knowledge of mind. Electricity and magnetism, as we have already pointed out, are presented to us only through sensible movements, whilst we have an immediate consciousness of the simple nature of mental energy. (c) Vogt's assertion is simply as false as his other dictum, borrowed from Cabanis, that "thought is a secretion of the brain." Physiology can say nothing more than that the action of the soul during this life is affected by the condition of the brain. (d) The final statement cited from Büchner is equally untrue. We most certainly cannot observe or experience the death of the soul; and we trust our arguments have shown that we may infer the contrary.

4. "The soul is born with the body, it grows and decays with the body, therefore it perishes with the body."{12} Modern science has added very little to the argument stated with so much power by the Latin poet. Now, we have repeatedly pointed out that in the Scholastic system the human soul is extrinsically dependent on the body which it informs. Such a condition would completely account for all the correspondence observed, whilst intrinsic or essential independence remains. Such intrinsic independence combined with extrinsic dependence is thus advocated by Ladd: "That the subject of the states of consciousness is a real being, standing in certain relations to the material beings which compose the substance of the brain, is a conclusion warranted by all the facts. That the modes of its activity are correlated under law with the activities of the brain-substance is a statement which Physiological Psychology confirms: one upon which, indeed, it is largely based. All physical science, however, is based upon the assumption that real beings may have an existence such as is sometimes called 'independent,' and yet be correlated to each other under known or discoverable laws. If this assumption could not be made and verified, all the modern atomic theory would stand for nothing but a vain show of abstractions. Upon what grounds of reason or courtesy -- we may inquire at this point -- does Materialism decline to admit the validity of similar assumptions as demanded by mental phenomena?" (Physiological Psychology, p. 607.)

The soul, moreover, as will be proved in a later chapter, is treated, not derived, like the body, from the parents It does not grow in the sense of being quantitatively increased; but, conditioned by the efficiency of the brain and sensory organs, it gradually unfolds its capabilities. It does not really decay with bodily disease, although since its sensuous operations are immediately dependent on the instrumentality of the organism, it must naturally be affected by the health of the latter. The argument can also be inverted. In many instances the mind is most powerful and active in the decrepit frame of the old; and at times, in spite of dreadful havoc from bodily disease, intelligence may survive in brilliant force to the last.

5. The argument from universal belief has been attacked on the ground that some peoples, and many individuals, both philosophers and non-philosophers, do not judge there is any future life. It may be observed in answer, that whenever the proof from universal consent is invoked, it only presupposes a moral universality. As regards the nations or tribes who have been asserted to believe in no future life, advancing knowledge does not confirm such a statement. The greatest care is required in interrogating savages regarding their religious opinions. Inaccuracy in this respect has often caused the ascription of atheism to tribes later on proved to possess elaborate systems of religion and hierarchies of gods. Future annihilation, asserted to be a cardinal doctrine of Buddhism, is by the vast majority of the disciples of that sect understood to be not a return to absolute nothing, but an ecstatic state of peaceful contemplation.{13}

Final Objection. -- There remains one sweeping objection which strikes at all the proofs alike. The insatiate desire for happiness, the intellectual demand for final equity, the seeming aptitude of an immaterial soul to survive, it is roundly asserted, afford no guarantee that they will be realized. The mind's inferences to the ultimate perfecting and setting right of things need not be valid; our intellectual craving for completeness, harmony, or symmetry in the universe does not prove their objective reality.

The answer is that the postulate here is not merely the satisfaction of some particular impulse. If those exigencies of our reason which demand a future life are doomed to disappointment, then there is an utter and enormous failure which involves radical perversity in the constitution of things. Science and Natural Theology alike assume as first principle and starting-point the rationality of the universe. But if there he no future life, then the fundamental principles of morality are in irredeemable conflict with the just claims of reason: the fount of seeming law, order, and finality is hopeless discord and senseless strife: the most imperious affirmation of our rational moral nature is one prolonged fraud: the ethical life of man, all that is highest and greatest in this world -- that which alone is truly good -- is a meaningless chaos. Intrinsic contradiction, absolute irrationality is the last answer both of science and philosophy!

It is true that some naturalistic writers adopt a lofty tone on this subject. The old-fashioned view of life and morality, they assure us, was base and ignoble. Virtue, we are told, is its own sufficient reward. Profound contempt is expressed for "the pains and penalties argument" of Christian philosophy. The doctrine of rewards and punishments is an "immoral bribe." Right conduct, we are informed with an unctuous austerity, ceases to be worthy of approval if the prospect of thereby attaining everlasting happiness is allowed to enter as a motive.

The academic philosopher from the university professorial chair -- enjoying a comfortable income and agreeable occupation -- may sneer at the moral convictions of human nature: but to the thoughtful man who gravely looks the stern realities of actual life in the face and contemplates the suffering of multitudes of mankind, such language must seem the most flippant and unworthy trifling. If this life be but a passing period of probation, and if there be a future state and an infinitely good and just God who will there apportion to all their just award, then difficult and obscure though the problem of existence be, a rational solution is possible. But if instead the universe be naught but an iron mechanism -- whether idealistic or materialistic matters little -- aimlessly and remorselessly grinding out tears, and pain, and sorrow; and if, when once this frail thread of conscious life is cut, all is over; then, for vast numbers of human beings hopeless pessimism is the only creed -- and often and often suicide the most rational practical conclusion!

Here is a picture: "I think," says the poor dying factory girl, "if this should be the end of all, and if all I have been born for is just to work my heart and life away, and to sicken in this dree place, with those mill-stones always in my ears, until I could scream out for them to stop and let me have a little piece of quiet, and with the fluff filling my lungs, until I thirst to death for one long deep breath of the clear air, and my mother gone, and I never able to tell her again how I loved her, and of all my troubles, -- I think, if this life is the end, and that there is no God to wipe away all tears from all eyes, I could go mad."{14}

{1} Cf. J. Knabenbauer, S.J., Das Zeugniss des Menschengeschlechtes für die Unsterblickkeit der Seele, p. 5.

{2} Cf. Piat: "Notre pensée n'est pas close, comme celle des bêtes, dans une portion déterminée du temps et de l'espace; son eacute;lan natif l'emporte plus loin: de quelque manière qu'elle s'exerce, de quelque côté quelle se tourne, c'est toujours de l'Eternel qu'elle a en perspective. Or il y a quelque chose de significatif dans cette excellence de notre esprit. En face de l'éternité le temps ne compte pour rien. Si longtemps que nous ayons vécu, tout nous a encore manqué lorsque nous venons à mourir, si nous mourons tout entiers. Quand nous sortons de la vie, l'adaptation de notre pensée à son milieu connaturel ne pas commencé; il reste entre notre ideal et nous une disproportion radicale. Il faut donc, pour que la finalité soit satisfaite, que notre existence se prolonge l'indéfini." (Destinée de l'Homme, p. 159. Paris. 1898.)

{3} "Il faut donc ou que l'homme soit dans la nature un monstre incomprehensible on quil y ait pour lui quelque chose de plus que la nature. Il faut ou que la vie de l'homme n'ait aucun sans at n'en puisse jamais avoir . . . qu'elle devienne de plus en plus intolerable au fur et à mesure, que se déployant d'avantage, elle enferme plus de raison; il faut que la vie de l'homme soit impossible en droit on qu'on la conçoive comme la première étape d'une evolution commencée qui doit s'achever ailleurs. Si tout finit avec le dernier soupir, l'homme est un être manqué; il est tel par nature; il l'est d'autant plus qu'il touche de plus près à son point de maturité. Or il n'est pas rationnel de croire une antinomie aussi profonde: on ne peut admettre que cette même finalité qui s'accuse si visiblement dans toutes les espèces inférieures, s'arrête brusquement an plus haut degré de la vie et y fasse à jamais défaut." (Piat, op. cit. pp. 192, 193. Cf. Martineau, A Study of Religion, Bk. IV.)

{4} The ethical proof, resting on divine purpose in the world, is itself teleological, but is conveniently separated from the former proof.

{5} Methods of Ethics (Edit. 1874), Bk. IV. c. vi.; cf. also Balfour, Foundations of Belief, pp. 339-354; and Mallock, Is Life worth Living? c. ix., also 'Immortality," American Catholic Encyclopedia.

{6} "A Being is incorruptible if it does not contain within itself a principle of dissolution; it is indestructible if it can resist every external power tending to destroy or annihilate it. If the indestructible and incorruptible Being is endowed with life, it is called immortal." (Kleutgen, op. cit. § 844.) The signification of these terms varies slightly with different writers. Kleutgen points out that annihilation is always possible to God by the mere withdrawal of His conserving act.

{7} The phrase potentia absoluta denotes the range of the Divine Power abstracting from all self-imposed degrees. Within its sphere is included the production of anything not involving a contradiction, such as would be, e.g., a square circle. Potentia ordinata signifies the range of God's power as conditioned by His free decrees. Thus, if God has once promised a particular reward on the fulfilment of a certain condition, He cannot henceforward retract.

{8} Gutherlet Die Psychologie pp. 314, 315.

{9} The extrinsic or external glory of God is that given to Him by His creatures; intrinsic or internal, is that afforded by Himself. The former is finite, the latter infinite. Both kinds may he either objective or formal. The objective glory of God is that conferred by the mere existence of His perfections, whether manifested in Himself or in His works. The latter is compared to that reflected on the painter by his pictures. The formal glory of God consists in the recognition and acknowledgment of the Divine excellences. whether by Himself or by created intelligences.

{10} As an "encyclopaedic ignorance" of scholastic philosophy widely prevails in English psychological literature of the present day, a few citations may be useful to show that the teleological argument was appreciated by St. Thomas. That all creatures are contingent he proves thus: Hoc, igitur, quod Deus creaturae esse communicat, ex Dei voluntate dependet; nec aliter res in esse conservat, nisi inquantum eis continue influit (infundit) esse, ut dictum est; sicut ergo antequam res essent, potuit eis non communicare esse, et sic eas non facere; ita postquam jam factae sunt, potest eis non influere esse; et sic esse desinerent, quod est, eas in nihilum redigere." (Sum. I. q. 104. a. 3.) But the soul is designed to exist for ever: "Unumquodque naturaliter suo modo esse desiderat; desiderium autem in rebus cognoscentibus sequitur cognitionem; sensus autem non cognoscit esse, nisi sub hic et nunc: sed intellectus apprehendit esse absolute, et secundum omne tempus; unde omne habens intellectum naturaliter desiderat esse semper; naturale autem desiderium non potest esse inane; omnis igitur intellectualis substantia est incorruptibilis." (Ib. q. 75. a. 6.) Again: "Impossibile est naturale desiderium esse inane; natura nihil facit frustra. Sed quodlibet intelligens naturaliter desiderat esse perpetuum, non solum ut perpetuetur secundum speciem, sed etiam individuum." (Cont. Gent. Lib. II. c. 55. Cf. Ibid. c. 79. ad 4.)

{11} Critique of Pure Reason (Meiklejohn's Translation), p. 246.

{12} Lucretius, De Rerum Naturae, Lib, III, vv. 446. seq.

{13} On this argument, see Knabenbauer, op. cit.

{14} Cited in the Grammar of Assent. p. 312.

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