Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Titel:
Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 2 [lead-zwing]
Person:
Baldwin, James Mark
PURL:
https://digitalesammlungen.uni-weimar.de/viewer/image/lit29448/266/
ORIGIN VERSUS NATURE 
thing arose or came to be what it is ; and the 
* what ’ of the question—what a thing is. 
The problem is brought to the fore by the 
current view that the nature—‘ the what ’— 
of a thing is given in, and only in, its behaviour, 
i. e. in the processes or changes through which 
it passes. The more we know of behaviour 
of a certain kind, then the more we know of 
reality, or of the reality, at least, which that 
kind of behaviour is. And it is evident that 
we may know more of behaviour in two ways. 
We may know more of behaviour because we 
take in more of it at once ; this depends on 
the basis of knowledge we already have— 
the relative advance of science in description, 
explanation, &c., upon which our interpreta¬ 
tion of the behaviour before us rests. In the 
behaviour of a bird which flits before him, 
a child sees only a bright object in motion ; 
that is the ‘thing’ to him. But when the 
bird flits before a naturalist, he sees a thing 
whose behaviour exhausts about all that is 
known of the natural sciences. 
"When we come further, on this view, to 
approach a new thing, we endeavour, in order 
to know what it is, to find out what it is 
doing, or what it can do in any artificial 
circumstances which we may devise. Just so 
far as it does nothing, or so far as we are 
unable to get it to do anything, just so far we 
confess ignorance of what it is. We can 
neither summon to the understanding of 
it what we have found out about the be¬ 
haviour of other things, nor can we make 
a new class of realities or things to put it 
in. All analysis is, therefore, just the find¬ 
ing out of the different centres of behaviour 
which a whole given outburst of reality in¬ 
cludes. 
Yet there is a second aspect of a thing’s 
reality which is just as important. Behaviour 
means, in some way, change. A mere lump 
would remain a lump, and never become a 
thing, if, to adhere to our phenomenal way of 
speaking, it did not pass through a series 
of changes. A thing must have a career ; and 
the length of its career is of immediate interest. 
We get to know the thing not only by the 
amount of its behaviour, secured by examining 
a cross-section, so to speak, but also by the 
increase in the number of these sections which 
we are able to secure. The successive stages 
of behaviour are necessary in order really 
to see what the behaviour is. This fact 
underlies the whole series of determinations 
which ordinarily characterize things, such as 
cause, change, growth, development, &c., and 
which are denoted by the terms ‘ dynamic,’ 
‘genetic,’ &c. 
The strict adherence to the definition of 
a thing in terms of behaviour, therefore, would 
seem to require that we should wait for the 
changes in any case to go through a part at 
least of their progress—for the career to be 
unrolled, that is, at least in part. Immediate 
description gives, so far as it is truly im¬ 
mediate, no science, no real thing with any 
richness of content ; it gives merely the snap- 
object of the child. And if this is true of 
science, of every-day knowledge of things, 
which we live by, how much more of the 
complete knowledge of things desiderated by 
philosophy as an answer to the question, What 1 
It would be an interesting task to show that 
each general aspect of the ‘ what ’ in nature 
has arisen upon just such an interpretation of 
the salient aspects presented in the career 
of individual things. 
A second point in regard to the ‘what,’ 
therefore, is that any ‘ what ’ whatever is in 
large measure made up of judgments based 
upon experiences of the ‘ how.’ The funda¬ 
mental concepts of philosophy reflect these 
categories of origin, both in their application 
to individuals—to ‘ mere things ’—and also 
in the interpretation which they have a right 
to claim; for they are our mental ways of 
dealing with what is ‘ mere ’ on one hand 
and of reaching the final reading of 
reality which philosophy makes its method. 
Of course the question may be asked : How 
far origin ? That is, how far back in the 
career of the thing is it necessary to go to 
call the halting-place * origin ’ 1 This we may 
well return to lower down ; the point here is 
that origin is always a reading of part of the 
very career which is the content of the con¬ 
cept of the nature of the thing. 
Coming now closer to particular instances 
of the ‘ what,’ and selecting the most refrac¬ 
tory case that there is in the world, let us 
ask these questions concerning the mind. 
This case may be taken because, in the first 
place, it is the urgently pressing case ; and, 
second, because it is the case in which there 
seems to be, if anywhere, a gaping distinction 
between the ‘ what ’ and the ‘ how.’ Modern 
evolution claims to discuss the ‘how’ only, 
not to concern itself with the ‘ what ’ ; or, 
again, it claims to solve the ‘what’ entirely 
by its theory of the ‘ how.’ To these claims, 
what shall we say in the case of mind 1 
From the point of view given above, it 
would seem that the nature of mind is its 
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