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



Individuality of the Human Soul. -- There still remain sundry problems Concerning the relations of soul and body, but the limits of our space compel us to compress our treatment of them into the smallest possible compass. On the individuality of the soul there is little to be added to what has been already urged in establishing its persisting identity (pp. 464, 465), and in criticizing James's view (pp. 485, 486). The conviction that I have an individual mind, insulated and complete in itself, distinct and separate from all other minds, rests on the testimony of self-consciousness, corroborated by the witness of other men concerning their own similar experiences. To those who reject this argument we can only put the question: By what other conceivable kind of evidence could the fact be better demonstrated?

Pantheism of mediaeval Arabs. -- Aristotle's obscure language concerning the nature of the nous poiêtikos or Intellectus agens, afforded occasion to a philosophical heresy already alluded to (p. 309), which prevailed widely amongst Arabian philosophers of the middle ages. Aristotle speaks of this faculty as being "separate" from the body. The explanation of the paragraph offered by St. Thomas is, that the Intellectus separatus is held by Aristotle to pertain only to the spiritual soul, and so, unlike the sensuous powers, is understood to be intrinsically independent of the organism. The Arab philosophers interpreted the epithet "separate" literally, and assumed the existence of one common or universal Intellect superior to all men, which in some mysterious way operates in the mind of each, and illuminates or excites it to intelligence. Only the Intellectus agens is made separate by Avicenna, but both Intellectus agens and patiens seem to be viewed as extrinsic by Averrhoes. Strange and fantastic as this doctrine appears, it has affinity to modern forms of Pantheism. Thus Spinoza taught that our minds are only modes of one infinite mind, which is itself but one of an infinite number of attributes that go to constitute the one, infinite, all-embracing Substance. Hegel held that all human consciousnesses are but transient moments or stages of the Absolute Spirit. According to Cousin, we know all things in the Universal Reason. Even the Vision en Dieu of Père Malebranche, and the Hyperphysical Idealism of Bishop Berkeley, bear some relationship to the Arabian conception. In this last view, what seem to be our intellectual operations are really the result of the working of the one common eternal Active Intellect. In the theory of the French Abbé, our mental acts are really our own, though their immediate objects are ideas in the one, all-embracing Divine Mind. Berkeley stands opposed to both in denying the extra-mental existence of material objects; he also looks on God as the cause, and apparently the external cause of all our cognitive states, sensations, as well as intellectual ideas. A common objection to all monistic theories is that they reject or distort the clear, distinct, and immediate testimony of experience for the sake of some dubious and obscure postulate of unity, or of some even more dubious a priori assumption that it is impossible for mind and matter to interact.

Unicity of the Soul in Man. -- Plato allotted to the human body three really distinct souls, -- the nous, in the head, the Thumos within the breast, and the epithumia in the abdomen. Some modern authors teach that there is in man distinct from the rational sentient soul a vital principle, the source of vegetative life. This theory used to be styled Vitalism, though that term now includes Animism and all doctrines which maintain the reality of a vital principle superior to the chemical and physical properties of matter. Others make the rational soul numerically different from the common subject of sentient and vegetative activities. In opposition to these various hypotheses the Peripatetic doctrine, sometimes called Animism, holds that in man there is but one actuating principle, the rational soul, which is, however, capable of exerting the inferior modes of energy exhibited in sensuous and vegetative life. In this view the plant possesses merely a "vegetative soul," the brute a "sentient soul," containing virtually, however, the faculties of the vegetative principle. It is hardly necessary to remind the reader here that the proof of a spiritual principle in man is independent of all theories regarding the nature of vegetative "souls."

In Man the rational and the sentient soul are one. -- This is proved by various considerations. (1) We have the testimony of consciousness to the most perfect identity between the mind which thinks and the mind which feels. Introspection assures us that it is the same being who understands or reasons, and is subject of sensations. (2) I can compare intellectual operations with sensitive states, and affirm the former to be more painful, more pleasant, more exhilarating, more depressing, more enduring, or more transitory than the latter. But this can only be effected by the two compared states being apprehended as modifications by one and the same indivisible subject. (3) The intimate interdependence of thought and sensation is inexplicable if they are activities of diverse subjects. In particular, no reason can be assigned why it is of objects apprehended through sense that the first intellectual concepts are elaborated by the understanding.

The principle of vegetative life in man is identical with this rational sentient soul. -- This doctrine involves two theses: (A) That there is in man an active principle, which is the root of the vegetative functions; (B) That this active principle is not really different from the rational soul. We will begin with the former:

(A) The vegetative principle in man, and in fact in all living organisms, is a special force or energy superior to the chemical and mechanical properties of matter. This proposition is established by examination of the characteristic differences which separate the animate from the inanimate world. These are amongst the chief:

Origin and Reproduction. -- "Omne vivum a vivo:" The whole weight of scientific authority in recent times confirms Harvey's dictum that life proceeds only from life. Formerly, owing to the imperfect means of experiment, it was generally supposed that spontaneous or equivocal generation was a matter of every-day occurrence. Improvements, however, in the microscope, and advance in the science of Chemistry have completely discredited such a view. We now find scientists, like Tyndall and Huxley, affirming that living beings are produced only by living beings. The property of life comes only from a living agent, and such agents continue their race by the generation of other beings specifically like unto themselves. In lifeless matter nothing of this sort takes place, but new bodies may be formed by the accidental or artificial combination of almost any kind of stuff.{1}

2. Nutrition, Growth, Conservation, and Decay. -- The living being from conception to death passes through a fixed cycle of changes constituting its life-history, and generically distinguishing it from all forms of inanimate matter. Starting from a single germ-cell the animate organism builds itself up after a regular process which is practically the same throughout the animal kingdom. By its peculiar inherent energy the fertilized ovum appropriates and adapts to its own use the surrounding nutritive matter. Assimilating this substance it grows, and then divides into two distinct though connected cells. Each of these subdivide and by repetition of the process the number of cells soon becomes enormous. But this multiplication of cells speedily begins to reveal that the energy of the primitive germ is throughout all the operations working after a systematic plan. The embryo commences to take a definite shape. The new masses of cells, so rapidly being manufactured, are gradually formed into spinal chord, viscera, heart, sense-organs, etc.; and as time goes on the specific type becomes more and more distinct until we can recognize the well-marked form of the particular animal -- the fish, the bird, the elephant, or the man. It used to be maintained by the older advocates of Organicism against Vitalists that life is merely the result of the organization of the living being; and it was believed that the future organization was contained in some way, "encased" or "pre-formed" in the primitive germ, and required merely to be evolved. But the progress of science and the establishment of the fact that the living body is built up by the accretion of a vast number of cells has rendered such a view untenable. Indeed every advance in science makes it more and more certain that organization is the effect not the cause of the vital energy. The fertilized ovum is not a ready-made miniature organism with differentiated members merely needing to be unfolded and magnified. On the contrary, it is a microscopic ball of protoplasm containing no rudiment of any organ. But this tiny spherical mass of living matter possesses the marvellous power of dominating the physical and chemical properties and affinities of other matter, of converting this into cells like itself, and of multiplying these and arranging and distributing them until it has built up the complete fully developed animal. The germ-cell thus makes its own organism. Throughout life a process of metabolism, of waste and repair is continued; and according as one or other is more active, we have growth or degeneration. The living being is ever actively adapting itself to changes in its environment. If any part of the organism accidentally suffers injury, this vital energy which compenetrates the entire mass at once lays a levy upon the remaining parts and combines their forces to repair the evil; and they all show sympathy and contribute out of their resources, or lessen their own demands till the damage is made good or the wound healed. This cycle of life has absolutely no counterpart in inanimate matter. The conservation of the latter is effected by a state of changeless repose. If increased it is by mere external addition or juxtaposition of similar substance. A mass of lifeless matter possesses no real unity -- no part having more than an accidental connexion with any other part. This is well illustrated even in the case of the crystal, so favoured by some anti-vitalists. (Vitalism has been discussed at length under the title "Life" in the American Catholic Encyclopedia.)

These various features mark off by an impassable barrier the living organism from dead matter: and constitute against Organicism a cogent proof of the existence in living beings of a special dominating principle or energy superior to the properties and forces of inanimate substances.{2} The several processes of nutrition, growth, conservation, and reproduction constitute a group of operations completely transcending the chemical and mechanical powers of matter. The innate tendency to build itself up according to a specific type, to restore injured or diseased parts, to conserve itself against the agencies perpetually working for its dissolution, and to reproduce its kind, manifest an internal principle which unifies, dominates, and governs the entire existence of the being. On the strength of the axiom that every effect must have an adequate cause, we must admit a special ground for vital phenomena in those material substances which possess life. It is true, of course, that life is subject to the conditions imposed on its existence by the chemical and mechanical properties of matter; and that many processes which take place in the living organism illustrate laws of chemical and mechanical action; but this is quite a different thing from saying that life is only the result of these properties. The more we know of chemistry and physics on the one hand, and the better we understand the nature of cellular activity on the other, the more hopeless do physicochemical theories of life become.{3} We are justified, then, in assuming a new internal energy, a directing force which determines and governs the stream of activities described as the phenomena of life. This force is what is meant by the so-called "vegetative soul" or "vital principle:" and all the arguments proving its presence in the lower animals a fortiori demonstrate its existence in man.

We can now establish our second proposition: (B) In man this vital principle is identical with the rational sentient soul. The intimate union and mutual interdependence subsisting between the sensuous and vegetative activities cannot be accounted for on the supposition that two distinct agents or principles are at work. Organic changes and sensations arise simultaneously, and the extinction of vegetative life puts an end to consciousness The vital principle is the force which governs the evolution and development of the organs of sensibility from the primordial germ cell; and pleasurable or painful excitations of these organs react on the vigour of the vegetative activities. Fear, hope, joy, anger, may instantaneously affect the action of the heart, stomach, liver, lungs, or the state of the nervous system generally; whilst conversely the atmosphere, narcotics, the action of the stomach, of the liver, circulation, and indeed nearly all physiological functions may modify the colour of our mental life.

In a word, the arguments put forward to reduce the rational sentient soul to the condition of an aspect or function of the organism contain this much truth, that the ultimate root of physical life is identical with the subject of intelligence, and that the two classes of activities consequently condition each other. Finally, if the rational soul in man were a new entity superadded to the living being already animated by a sentient or vegetative soul, man would not be a single individual. He would be no longer essentially one, but two beings.

The facts concerning the origin of life, to which reference has been made in the present chapter, furnish another decisive argument against materialistic evolution. There is an impassable chasm between living and inanimate substances; there is another similar division between sensation and all purely physical phenomena; and lastly, there is a still greater gulf between the spiritual activities of self-consciousness and free-volition on the one side, and all merely sensuous states on the other. The attitude of men like Huxley and Tyndall on the problem of life, is an interesting psychological phenomenon. These writers vehemently insist upon experience as the only legitimate foundation for belief. They allow that experience does not afford a shred of evidence to indicate that life ever arises except from a living being. And then they conclude that life did arise spontaneously from dead matter in the distant past! The theistic alternative would, of course, be intolerable.

Scholastic Definition of Life. -- The scholastics defined life as, activitas qua ens seipsum movet -- the activity by which a being moves itself. The word move, however, was understood in a wide sense as equivalent to all forms of change or alteration, including the energies of sentiency and intellectual cognition as well as local motion. The feature insisted on as essential is the immanent character of the operations. An immanent action is one which proceeding from an internal principle does not pass into a foreign subject, but perfects the agent. All effects of non-living agents are, on the contrary, transitive. Notwithstanding the multitude of attempts made by successive philosophers and biologists, the definition of the schoolmen has not been as yet much improved upon.{4}

Difficulties. -- The solution to an objection often raised in various forms against the doctrine of the last chapter, as well as against that of the present or of the next, may also he indicated here. It is argued that a corruptible principle must be really distinct from an incorruptible one; but sentient and vegetative principles are admittedly corruptible; therefore the rational spirit in man cannot be identical with the root of inferior life. Or, if it is, then it must be mortal. To this it may he answered that a soul or vital principle capable of merely sentient or vegetative activity perishes on the destruction of the subject which it informs, and is accordingly corruptible; but that this is not the case with the root of the inferior species of life in man. Sentiency and vegetation are not in him activities of a merely sentient subject. They are, on the contrary, phenomena of a rational soul endowed with certain supra-sensuous functions, but also capable of exerting lower forms of activity. There can he no reason why a superior principle cannot virtually include such inferior faculties. Scholastic philosophers have always taught that the virtue of exerting organic functions is inherent in the human soul, but that these activities are suspended when the soul is separate from the body after death. In the case of man, therefore, the root of sentiency and vegetative life is not corruptible.

It is sometimes urged, that the existence of a struggle between the rational and sensitive powers shows that both proceed from diverse roots. The true inference, however, is the very opposite. The so-called "struggle" is, of course, not a combat between independent beings within a supposed arena of the mind. It is one indivisible mind which thinks, feels, desires, and governs the vegetative processes of the living being. But precisely because the subject of these several activities is the same they mutually impede each other. Violent excitement of any one kind naturally diminishes the energy available for another.

Union of Soul and Body. -- We have criticized at some length (c. xxiii.), the accounts of the union of mind and body furnished by Monism: we must now turn to those of Dualism. Of spiritualist theories the most celebrated are: (1) that of Plato, (2) Occasionalism, (3) Pre-established harmony, (4) the doctrine of Matter and Form. The first three are all forms of exaggerated Dualism; the last alone recognizes the essential unity of man.

Ultra-dualistic Theories. -- (1) The rational soul, according to Plato, who historically comes first, is a pure spirit incarcerated in a body for some crime committed during a former life. (p. 255.) Its relation to the organism is analogous to that of the rider to his horse; or of the pilot to his ship. Since it is not naturally ordained to inform the body, the soul receives nothing but hindrance from its partner. This fanciful hypothesis, it is needless to say, does not receive much favour at the present day. There is no real evidence of such a pre-natal existence; and the doctrine would make man not one, but two beings accidentally conjoined.

(2) Geulincx and Malebranche, logically developing Descartes' doctrine of the mutual independence of soul and body (pp. 256-259), explain their union by the theory of Occasionalism or Divine Assistance. Soul and body are conceived in this system as two opposed and distinct beings between whom no real interaction can take place. It is God alone who effects changes in either. On the occasion of a modification of the soul He produces an appropriate movement in the body; and vice versa. All our sensations, thoughts, and volitions are immediate results not of the impressions of material objects upon us, but of God Himself; and similarly our actions are due not to our own, but to the Divine Will. We have here the theory of psycho-physical parallelism plus the Divine Agency. The doctrine of Occasionalism, however, is not confined by Malebranche to the interaction of soul and body. No created things have, in his view, any real efficiency. The First Cause is the only operative cause. The establishment of the genuine activity of secondary causes in general, we leave to the volume on Metaphysics;{5} here it is enough to point out the errors of Occasionalism within the sphere of Psychology. This theory is superior to those criticized in chapter xxiii., at least in this, that it certainly provides an adequate cause for the events of life. But in doing so it renders purposeless the ingenious machinery of the various sense-organs. It makes illusory the testimony of consciousness to personal causality in the exercise of volition and self-control. It conflicts with the irresistible conviction, based on the experience of our whole life, that our sensations are really excited by the impressions of external objects, and that our volitions do really cause our physical movements. Finally, Occasionalism involves the gratuitous assumption of a continuous miracle, removes responsibility from man, and makes God the author of sin.

(3) The theory of Pre-established Harmony, invented by Leibnitz, substitutes for the never-ceasing miracles of Occasionalism a single miraculous act at the beginning. Soul and body do not really influence one another, but both proceed like two clocks started together, in a divinely pre-arranged correspondence. Leibnitz's system is the most thorough and consistent reasoning out of the theory of psycho-physical parallelism; and it excels the hypotheses of Clifford and Höffding in that it offers an intelligible explanation of the parallelism, whilst they give none at all. But it does so by invoking a miracle. Our objections to this theory are substantially the same as to the last. In both, the union between mind and body is accidental, not essential; and we have in man really two beings instead of one.{6}

The Aristotelico-Scholastic Doctrine. -- The most satisfactory theory is the old Peripatetic doctrine. This explanation was formulated by Aristotle, and later on adopted by St. Thomas and all the leading Scholastic philosophers. The soul is described by these writers as the substantial form of the living being. This being is conceived as the resultant of two factors, -- the one active and determining, the other passive and determininable. The first is called the Form, the second the Matter of the being. The general problem of the nature and relations of Matter and Form, which runs through the entire Scholastic system of Philosophy, belongs especially to Cosmology. Here we shall merely offer a few brief words on the question, and refer the English reader desirous of obtaining a thorough grasp of the subject to Father Harper's Metaphysics of the School, especially Book V. chapters ii. iii.

Aristotle's four Causes. -- Aristotle resolves all kinds of causes into four great classes; the final cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause, and the material cause. The last two are intrinsic, the first two extrinsic to the effect. The final cause is the end in view -- the good for the sake of which a thing is done. An efficient cause is a being by the real activity of which another being is brought into existence. The material cause is the reality out of which the complete bodily substance is made. The form or formal cause is that reality in the complete bodily substance which gives to it its proper being or essential nature. These four species of causes are easily distinguished in the production of a statue. The material principle is the iron, bronze, or stone -- the stuff out of which the particular statue is wrought. The formal principle is the determining figure or shape, by which the statue is made to represent Napoleon or Nelson.{7} The efficient cause is the sculptor, his hammer, chisel, etc. The final cause is the satisfaction, fame, or money which the artist has in view in the production of the work.

Scholastic development. -- Now, all things are created by God for His own greater glory. They are manifestations of His excellence, exhibitions of His power and wisdom; or, in the case of intelligent beings, they both manifest and recognize His excellence. We have thus in God the first efficient cause, and the ultimate final cause of every creature. Furthermore, in the Scholastic system all material beings are viewed as the product of two con-created constituent factors -- the one passive and recipient, the other active and determining. The first is styled the matter, the second the form, and both are called substantial principles inasmuch as by their coalescence they constitute one complete substantial being.{8} The form is the factor which determines the essential nature of each being. Thence proceed all its specific activities. As in Aristotle's view the prima materia, the ultimate substratum, is alike in all substances, their specific differences are due to dissimilarities of kind in the actuating co-efficient. The distinctive properties of iron, carbon, and gold have thus their root in the different formal elements entering into the constitution of each.

The Soul the "Form" of the living being. -- In living organisms the vital Principle is the substantial form. It is this determining factor which defines the essential nature of the plant or animal; and from it proceed the activities by which the being is separated from other species of things, whether animate or inanimate. A substantial form is accordingly defined as a determining principle which by its union with the subject that it actuates constitutes a complete substance of a determinate species. It should, however, be clearly understood that the proposition, "The soul is the form of the body," stands on a quite different footing from the general doctrine of "Matter and Form" as applied to inanimate substances.

Argument. It has already been proved that there must be in each living being, and therefore a fortiori in man, a vegetative soul, or vital principle, to which is due the natural unity of activity comprising the phenomena of his life. And it has been also shown that this principle must be different from, and superior to, the properties or forces of inanimate matter. But such a principle must be the substantial form of the living human being. For, since actio sequitur esse -- since every action of an agent flows from the being of that agent -- the principle which is the root of the natural activity of a substance must be the determinant of its being and nature. Consequently, as the vegetative soul is the source of all vital activities, it must be the determining or actuating principle of the living being; but this is equivalent to saying that it is the substantial form of the living being.

Or the question may be approached otherwise thus: The vital principle is really different in nature from its material co-efficient. Furthermore, the vital principle is not a mere accidental determination capable of removal whilst the substance remains complete. On its extinction the nature of the creature is destroyed, and the living being is changed into a lifeless aggregate of matter -- a substance or substances of completely different species. The vegetative soul is thus a substantial principle upon which the very being of the substance depends. In other words, by its union with its material co-efficient the vegetative soul constitutes the active living being. That is, the vegetative soul, or vital principle, is the substantial form of the living body

If the vegetative soul in living beings is the form of the body, it follows at once that in man, since the vegetative and rational soul are identical, the latter must be the substantial form of the human body. The rational soul must also be the only substantial form in man. For man is one, complete individual being, specifically distinct from all other beings. Were the human body, however, actuated by more than one substantial form, man would be, not one, but an aggregate of individuals, since each substantial form would constitute with its subject a complete substantial being of determinate species.

The Form is source of Unity and Identity. -- It is on the permanence of the substantial form that the identity of the individual depends. The material constituents of the living body are nearly all changed, as we have before stated, in the course of a few years, yet we affirm that the man of sixty is identical with the boy of six: the soul has persisted unchanged. It is the same simple informing principle which reduces the different parts and organs of the body to the unity of a single being. Neither a bale of cotton nor a bucket of water forms one being; each is but a mere aggregate of parts. Even a watch or a steam-ship -- although the parts are unified by its end or purpose -- wants the unity of being which is exhibited in man, in the brute, and in the plant. Though working towards a common end, all the parts of the machine retain their chemical and physical properties in complete vigour and mutual independence. In the living being, on the other hand, there is no such isolation. The various parts are compenetrated by the informing principle, their individuality is merged, their several tendencies unified, their natural properties transformed and subordinated by this dominating and enlivening force.

Complete and incomplete Substances. -- Both Matter and Form are sometimes called substances by the Schoolmen, inasmuch as their coalescence results in a substantial being. Except the human soul, however, no forma or materia prima can exist per se apart. The epithet incomplete is occasionally used of inferior forms to express this circumstance; this adjective more properly, however, connotes the fact that the union of these factors gives rise to one complete composite substance. Even the human soul, though capable of subsisting in itself apart from the body, is styled an incomplete substance, since it possesses a natural aptitude to form with the body a single complete substance. An integral part of one complete being, e.g., a man's hand, is also spoken of as an incomplete substance. The terms constituent principle, or substantial principle, seem less likely to mislead now-a-days than the word substance if employed to designate the essential coefficients of composite substances.

Soul and Body combined into one Nature. -- Moreover, the union of soul and body results in a single nature. The nature of a being is simply its essence viewed as the source of its actions. But in the living animal the various processes of growth, sleep, motion, and sensation, are not operations of the soul or body alone, but the being as a whole. They are activities of one nature. An individual nature conceived as a complete being subsisting in itself, and not communicated to or coalescing with another, is called by the Schoolmen a suppositum or hypostasis. The suppositum is, therefore, the entire and ultimate source of all operations. Hence the axiom: Actiones sunt suppositorum. When the suppositum is endowed with intelligence it is termed a person.

Soul and Body one Person -- Since introspection and external observation establish that our vegetative, sensitive, and rational activities have their source in and belong to one and the same Self, they prove that body and soul are combined in a personal union. A Person is defined in scholastic language as a suppositum of a rational nature, or an individual and incommunicable substance of a rational nature. Some modern writers frequently speak as if the Mind or Soul were the human person; others as if self-consciousness, or memory, or continuity of consciousness and character (p. 488) constituted personality. It is, indeed, not practicable in ordinary language to distinguish constantly between the mind's consciousness of itself and the person's consciousness of self -- nor is it desirable, since it is by the rational mind that the living composite person is capable of self-consciousness. But the theories which identify the soul and the person, or worse, conscious activity and the person, are seriously erroneous. Locke's definition of a Person as a self-conscious substance is also inaccurate. Strictly interpreted this would render a sleeping man or an infant not a person, and an interruption of consciousness would break up the personality of the individual. J. F. Ferrier's language is similarly exaggerated when he asserts that "a being makes itself I by thinking itself I," and that "self-consciousness creates the Ego;" and Professor Ladd seems to us to fall into the same error when affirming, as he frequently does, that the mind is its own conscious activity; that "where there are no mental states there we cannot speak of the real existence of mind." (op. cit. p. 145.) Memory and self-consciousness reveal but do not constitute personal identity; and the true human person is neither consciousness, nor soul, nor body, but the complete Ego -- the living rational being arising out of the substantial union of both principles.{9}

The reasoning in the present question may have been grasped with some difficulty by the reader unacquainted with the Scholastic system. Fortunately, however, the problem of the exact nature of the relations between Soul and Body is of very secondary importance from a philosophical point of view, as compared with the vital questions: Is there an Immaterial Soul at all? and, Is there reason for supposing that such a Soul will have a future life?

Change in meaning of terms. -- The terms Matter and Form, with their derivatives, have had as varied and extensive an application as any words in the language. The importance of what is signified by each has been so changed that the original usage is almost completely inverted. The Scholastic followers of Aristotle used these words as equivalent to Potentia and Actus. Potentia signified possibility -- the potential, the unrealized, the incomplete or indeterminate. Forma and Actus, on the contrary, connoted full actuality -- the last complement of reality, the final determination, or complete realization of being. Now-a-days we speak of merely formal observance, unreal forms, and trivial formalities; whilst material is equivalent to important. The transition has been going on for a long time; but in strictly philosophical literature, Kant has done most to bring about the change. Whereas with Aristotle, Matter and Form are ontological or extra-mental principles of real things, with Kant they are constituents of subjective knowledge. The German philosopher, as we have already pointed out, uses the term "form" to denote a purely mental mould or character, which the mind imposes on the "matter" of knowledge. The latter, though of course a mental activity, is supposed to be excited or contributed from without. Formal is thus equivalent to unreal, or objectively non-existent. Material truth is real truth, or agreement with extra-mental reality as far as that is possible; formal truth is mere subjective consistency. Kant, however, retains something of the ancient application of the term in as far as he conceives the "material" element in cognition to be in itself of a chaotic indeterminate nature, requiring to be perfected and wrought into rational intelligibility by the imposition of the subjective determining factor. In addition to Kant's influence, popular experience of the unimportant character of accidental forms, e.g., the shape as contrasted with the contents of a pudding, has also contributed to the change in the meaning of the word.

Aristotle's definition of the Soul. -- We ought now to have rendered intelligible and justified Aristotle's celebrated definition: hê psuchê estin entelecheia hê prôtê sômatos phusikou zôên echontos dunamei, or hê prôtê entelecheia sômatos phusikou organikou -- "the soul is the first entelechy of a natural organized body potentially having life," or "the first entelechy of a natural body capable of life." By entelechy is meant in the peripatetic philosophy an actualizing or determining principle, as opposed to a recipient or determinable subject -- form as contrasted with matter. The epithet, first, implies that the soul is the primary form by which the nature or specific substance of the creature receives its determination in the order of being. It is contrasted with secondary or accidental forms, e.g., heat, colour, motion, which may supervene when the primum esse, the first complete substantial being of the object, is constituted. A natural or physical body, signifies that the subject of the soul is not a mere artificial aggregate. The adjective, organized, expresses the fact that the body is composed of heterogeneous or dissimilar parts adapted for separate functions. The last words of the definition mean that the soul is united not with an actually living being, but with an organism capable of exercising vital activities when informed by the soul.

Readings. -- St. Thomas, Sum. I. q. 76; Father Harper, Metaphysics of the School, Bk. V. cc. ii. iii.; Regnon, op. cit. Livre IV.; Coconnier, op. cit. cc. iv. v. Farges, Mati`re et Forme; Kleutgen. op. cit. §§ 808-842; Mercier, La Psychologie, Pt. III. art. 3.

{1} "I affirm that no shred of trustworthy experimental testimony exists to prove that life in our day has ever appeared independently of antecedent life." (Professor Tyndall, Nineteenth Century, 1878, p. 507.) Huxley declares that the doctrine of biogenesis or life only from life, is "victorious along the whole line at the present day." (Critiques and Addresses, p. 239.) Elsewhere he asserts that "the present state of knowledge furnishes us with no line between the living and the non-living." (Art. "Biology," Encycl. Brit. 9th Edit.) Virchow describes the doctrine of abiogenesis as "utterly discredited." (The Freedom of Science in the Modern State.) Balfour Stewart and Tait state that "all really scientific experience tells us that life can be produced from a living being only." (The Unseen Universe, p. 229.) Tyndall, Floating Matter in the Air, p. 84, shows clearly the fallacy involved in every argument for abiogenesis hitherto advanced. Huxley gives a brief history of the question in his Critiques and Addresses.

{2} "L'acquisition de la forme chez le cristal n'est en rien comparable à l'acquisition de la forme dans l'être organisé. Dans le premier cas, et ce point est capital, il n'y a pas évolution, acquisition graduelle, création progressive de la forme typique définitive: non, cette forme existe, complète, parfaite dès l'origine, dès la première apparition du cristal, alors quil est microscopique. Cette forme peut croître par juxtaposition de cristaux; main quelque accrue quelle soit, elle demeure absolument semblable à elle-même dans tout le cours de non accroissement. Le cristal en partie brisé se répare mais de la même façon qu'il s'est formé: len cristaux subsistants servent d'appel, de centre de cristallisation; de sorte que la partie détruite se rétablit par juxtaposition. La reparation du cristal n'amène donc pan, comme celle de l'être vivant, une modification plus ou moms notable de forme et de structure: elle n'est jamais imparfaite et relative; elle est jetée dans le moule absolu du cristal primitif." (Dr. Chauffard, La Vie, p. 358. Cited by Coconnier loc. cit. p. 186.)

{3} Cf. Professor Haldane: "To any physiologist who candidly reviews the progress of the last fifty years it must be perfectly evident that, so far from having advanced towards a physico-chemical explanation of life, we are in appearance very much farther from one than we were fifty years ago. We are now far more definitely aware of the obstacles to any advance in this direction, and there is not the slightest indication that they will be removed but rather that with further increase of knowledge, and more refined methods of physical and chemical investigation they will only appear more and more difficult to surmount." (Nineteenth Century, 1898, p. 403.)

{4} Bichat's definition is well known: 'Life is the sum of the functions which resist death." This is not a very great advance if death can only be described as the cessation of life. "Life is the sum of the phenomena peculiar to organized beings." (Béclard.) "Life is a centre of intussusceptive assimilative force capable of reproduction by spontaneous fission." (Owen.) Life is the twofold internal movement of composition and decomposition at once general and continuous." (De Blainville, Comte and Robin.) These definitions, starting from the physiological point of view, aim merely at summing up the phenomena of vegetative life, and exclude intellectual activity. Mr. Spencer with his wonted lucidity, defines life as "the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations."

{5} Cf. Rickaby, pp. 308-313.

{6} See also pp. 262-264. Another theory, that of "Physical Influx," constitutes the union of soul and body in their mutual interaction. This account, however, is either merely a statement of the fact that they do influence each other, or an explanation which would dissolve the substantial union into an accidental relation between two juxtaposed beings. Cudworth invoked the assistance of a plastic medium -- an entity intermediate between matter and spirit -- to solve the problem. But this would merely double the difficulties.

{7} It should be borne in mind that materia prima never exists as such; there is no matter which is in the Scholastic sense actually devoid of all form. The bronze, for instance, which stands in the relation of matter to the Nelsonic form, is conceived as distinguished from iron or carbon by its own specific form.

{8} The substantial form differs from the accidental form in the fact that the one is an essential constituent, the other a mere accidental mode or determination which conceivably might be removed without affecting the nature of the substance, e.g., heat.

{9} For a complete treatment of the notions, persona, suppositum. etc., see Rickaby, Metaphysics, Bk. II. c. 2. The terms substance, essence, nature, severally denote the same object, but connote more especially different features. Substance points to the general fact of existence per se; essence points to the reality of which the being is constituted; nature signifies the essence as principle of activity. Suppositum implies that the substance, essence, or nature subsists in itself in possession of such complete individuality as to be incommunicable or incapable of being assumed into another being. The invention of the term is due to the dogma of the Incarnation. In Christ, the Church teaches, there is one Person, one rational "suppositum," but two natures. The Human Nature of our Lord does not of itself constitute a Person, or subsist in se, but by the subsistence of the Divine Nature.

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