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—'The Leader' clears the way to faith in the existence of a Creator, by an attempt to obscure our evidence of the existence of a material Creation! We cannot prore the existence of matter; but we accept its existence as an hypothesis: Therefore, tho we cannot prove the existence of God, we may yet credit his existence! No wise Theist, we think, will accept such an aid to his faith. The argument is either a mere play upon the word proof,—understanding by that term a mere syllogistic formula,ếor it is worse than vain. If we have real evidence for the existence of the Deity—then we have proof (unless proof be, different from evidence, or what makes clear);--and if we have no evidence, then let us be honest and consistent, and reject every baseless `hypothesis.' Truth is the correspondent and expression of Fact ; and fact is ascertainable only thrö Observation and Experience. If the existence of a Supreme Intellect be not either an attested Fact, or a logical Inference from such, it is not credible.
The Idealism of Berkeley and his school has been well refuted by two acute and able writers, of different countries and sexes: by Lady Mary Shepherd in her admirable ‘Essay on the perception of an External Universe' (1827),—and by Mr. Jobert, in an invaluable and original book on 'Ideas' (1849). In this latter work, Mr. Jobert referred to the challenge put forth in Universal Immaterialism,' which elicited, in 1849, a letter from Mr. T. C. Simon, of London, who, without avowing himself the author of that work, professed his readiness to take
up the cudgels in support of its doctrine. Mr. Jobert, for professional reasons, declined any desultory discussion; and, after nine letters had been interchanged, Mr. Simon proposed that his correspondent should state his arguments on SOUND, submit them to six umpires, three to be chosen by each party, undertaking to pay Mr. Jobert £500 in case the whole six should admit that lie had proved sounds not to be pure sensations. The remainder of the preliminary matter, definitions, etc., will be found in the tract on ‘Pure Sounds,' which displays great felicity of illustration and analytic skill. Both combatants, in selecting Sound as the matter of argument, agree that what is true of sounds is true of the effects upon our other senses.' In the language of Mr. Simon, . the issue involves the doctrine that “this Universe or congeries of sounds depends on the last gnat' that hears it!
In ‘Pure Sounds' the reader will find nine pages of acute reasoning in reply to Mr. Simon's proposition, based upon the accredited meaning of the word *Sound,' as inclusive, not only of the sensation, but of the thing perceived—'the object of hearing' (as given in Bailey and Blackie), not merely hearing itself. We quite agree that if sound is only a sensation, then the sensation teaches nothing, gives no information, and makes the proposition equal to the truism 'a sensation is-itself!'-whereas it clearly tells us of something else beyond us.
Then follows an interesting and destructive disquisition on the Idealism embodied in Mr. Osborn’s ‘Philosophy of Human Knowlege,'-in which it is shown that the arguments of that work, like those of The Leader, amount to questioning the truth of the Truth—or, in other words, are attempts to reason against the grounds of reason--our primitive and invincible beliefs.
The ‘ARGUMENTS' (pp. 10-19) were eventually submitted to the first of the umpires selected—who declared his opinion that Mr. Jobert bad failed in his
attempt, only because he had not proved that 'the ringing of the ears is not a pure sensation !!
The verdict seems strange in the extreme, and would lead one to suppose that the objective existence of brain, nerves, and ears was denied by somebody! or required proof in the opinion of the umpire. The matter was not placed before the other umpires, Mr. Jobert preferring an appeal to the public. The portions of the unpublished correspondence and criticism we now give :
To the Editor of the Truth-Seeker. Dear Sir,-I take the liberty of enclosing a second Postscriptum to 'Pure Sounds,' which contains new argument against the doctrine involved in the challenge for the £500, and I should feel greatly obliged if you could find room in your excellent Review for these discussions between myself and my opponent. I remain, very faithfully yours, March 10th, 1851.
SECOND POSTSCRIPTUM TO PURE SOUNDS. Immediately after the publication of my little pamphlet the following correspondence was exchanged between Mr. Simon and myself, which places the subject of the controversy in the clearest light.
Weston Super Mare, August 1st, 1850. Sir,-1 find in your publication mnch groundless bitterness against me--much contradiction of your own words—much misrepresentation of mine—and much irrelevant matter, All the rest of the work, I am happy to find (as indeed I fully expected) agrees exactly with what I have insisted on throughout this controversy. You admit that the ordinary opinion of the learned is that there are auricular sensations—that these are immediately and not mediately perceived—that from them we infer, and by these know of, a vibrating medium--that these auricular sensations are effects produceil in sentient nature onlythat these effects cannot take place without a cause external, real, independent, etc.—that the term 'sound' is applied indiscriminately to this effect as well as to the cause—that the masses know only of the effect—that the cause is unknown to the peasant and known only to those who study it—that what the masses call ‘sound' is only what the masses know of, viz: the effect so-called and not the cause so-called. All this is what I asserted in the letter to which you replied by the single word 'No';—and since you now agree with me upon these points, and even take pains to prove them, I must ask you what the question is which I am to send to the arbitrators when I send your publication to them-ior I cannot allow them to think that I deny these positions, which you are constantly insinuating and sometimes broadly asserting that I do.
I beg to hear from you an explicit answer to that inquiry, before I can take any step respecting what you have written.
Allow me to indicate two misrepresentations, which you really must not expect me to sanction. You represent me as thinking that the word 'sound' means nothing but an auricular sensation. I neither think this nor ever said it. It also means shallow watera part of a fish-and a certain agitated state of the air, —To say then that I consider sound' to be purely one of the four different things koown to be the meanings of it, is, as you well know, not even likely to be true.
You also say that I deny the real independent existence of the external world—I beg to say that I do not, and that you have no more reason for saying or thinking that I do, than I have for saying that you consider yourself an English Peer ;-on the contrary, were it not that it has nothing to do with the question before us, I could easily show you, and most justly state respecting you to others, that you yourself deny this very reality, independence, and externality of the universe ;—but as I say, all such things are beside the present question,—which is (as we now so well understand it), whether the things which we immediately perceive by sense, are or are not sensations; and more particularly whether that which we perceive immediately at the ear is or is not a sensation, -in the affirmative of which proposition I now find that you agree with me. I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
THOMAS COLLINS SIMON.
1, Upper Brook Street, Manchester, August 3rd, 1850. Sir,—You complain of the form of style which I have adopted, but this was forced upon me by the severe tone of your correspondence. I have often tried to soften the rigidity of our mutual communications, but I have always been repulsed with loss—Therefore, after having consulted with myself, I thought it best to express my feelings with sincerity, and I am sorry if I could not tell the truth without wounding your pride.
I have kept all your letters, and I am ready to submit them to the umpires on condition that you will submit my answers to each—This I must insist upon, as in your correspondence you sometimes make me say what I never said, and pretend that you said what I was the first to say.
If you think it useful for your doctrine, or for your interest in the challenge, you can publish a pamphlet against mine, and the public as well as the umpires will take your remarks into consideration before adjudging their award, But in this case I would advise yon to answer my arguments direct, instead of trying to shift your position upon my own ground; and also to refrain from such quibbles and undignified rebukes as you indulge in, in your remarks about the meaning of the word ‘sound' being sometimes synonimous with shallow water, etc.—You complain that I represent you as denying the real independent existence of the external world--which you say you do not. Now, Sir, let us understand each other and speak without any
mental reserve. Do you admit the real independent existence of the external MATERIAL world? I ask you to answer this direct and clearly, because it appears to me that you might have in mental reserve that by the expressions the real independent existence of the external world you understand the immaterial external world, or God '?
In the first page of your last letter you say that I 'admit that the ordinary opinion of the learned is, that there are auricular sensations—that these are immediately and not mediately perceived.' I must protest against such interpretation of my views. I never admitted that the external things which we perceive are our sensations this is the very petitio principii which I oppose-I maintain everywhere that it is the object itself which we perceive through our senses-the whole of my argument in Pure Sounds, and a great number of arguments in Ideas, are specially directed against the very doctrine which you express at the end of your letter, viz: 'that the things which we immediately perceive by sense are sensations'-1, on the contrary, contend that the things which we immediately perceive is the object in itself-for instance, I maintain that gold (a thing that we immediately perceive by sense) is not a sensation ; and so of all things which compose the material external universe. But I will go further than this. Even the pain which we feel in our body I consider as external to our mind, in the same manner as we know ourselves objectively, as when we hear our own voice with our own ears—when we see our own form, size, and color with our own eyes, and feel our own body with our own hand-So the pain which affects our own body is external to our mental Ego, and so truly external and objective, that if not situated in a vital part we often have this pain removed by abstracting the part itself, and even if the pain is situated in a vital part, or in the whole of our body, there is an argument in favour of externality to be found in Suicide! I remain, Sir, your obedient Servant,
(Received on the 20th of August.) Sir,—You quote from Blackie's Imperial Dictionary that sound is the effect of an impression made by the vibrations of the air, and from the Encyclopedia Britannica, that it arises from a sort of concussion or agitation which takes place, etc. In these extracts you restate all that I state and have all along stated as the ordinary opinion-Sound is an effect--a thing which arises from something else- a thing to be distinguished from that which causes it or from which it arises-that that from which sound ariscs is a sort of concussion of the air--and that the effect and its Cause are things quite different from one another. The Encyclopedia Britannica and Blackie distinctly acknowledge these facts quite as distinctly as they are stated in Universal Immaterialism, or in the Anti-materialist, or in any other work on that subject.
I accept the Umpires you have named and only require that they be shown this and my former letter--the whole of each. I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
THOMAS COLLINS SIMON.
August 28th, 1850. Sir,—You endeavour in your last letter to repudiate all connexion between your doctrine and the doctrine of the anonymous author of Universal Immaterialism, but it is easy to perceive that, throughout all your letters, your views almost literally correspond with those of this author; and that you and he produce precisely similar arguments in favour of the doctrine of Berkeley.
Allow me, therefore, to remind you, in a few lines, of the position in which you stand towards myself and the umpires.
A few weeks after the publication of Ideas, (on the 20th of November, 1849,) you proposed to me that we should discuss Berkeley's doctrine upon the same terms which I myself suggested to the proposer of Churchill's prize—three umpires on each side. instead of a prize of £100, you offered to transform this inaccessible prize (a mock prize) into a wager either in books or in money! I offered to answer a little tract of a thousand words that you wished to send to me; but this you did not notice. Shortly after this the discussion assumed another form; you challenged me to prove that 'sourds are not pure sensations, and although at first I remonstrated with you upon the unusual condition that the whole of the umpires should give their verdict in my favour, finally I accepted the challenge on your own terms. According to your express desire I have now published a pamphlet in which I not only discuss the proposition which you had selected as the touch stone of the doctrine of Berkeley, but in which I bring out as many other arguments against the inmaterialistic and spiritualist doctrines as I could possibly condense into the small space allowed me of one sheet of clear print. Let us now consider the result. I have endeavoured to fulfil my part conscientiously and to the letter.
I have no reserve in my mind, I have explained my views as clearly as I could, and have offered to wait for your answer ; although, in the limit of fairness, I could have required that the pamphlet should be submitted to the umpires without any further debate. I left you at liberty to publish a pamphlet against mine, and to follow up the discussion until one of us should feel exhausted. This you declined, and although you wanted me to publish my pamphlet especially as a refutation of the work called Universal Immaterialism, you now endeavour to discard any particular predilection for the doctrine of this work.
But whilst you insist that I have no right to suppose that you do not admit the real independent existence of the external world, you do not take any notice of my remark that you might have in mental reserve ‘that by the expressions the real independent existence of the external world you understand the immaterial world or God,' although you cannot doubt that I understand the material world.
Thus, Sir, in this discussion, which originated on your side in the attempt to defend Berkeley's doctrine, you cannot now answer my inquiry whether you admit the real independent existence of the material world or not! From this I must think that you perceive that you have placed yourself in a dilemma from which there is no safe retreat. If you admit that the external world is material you abandon the doctrine of Berkeley. If you maintain that the external world is immaterial, then you assume that the vibrations of the air are purely spiritual--which is the very petitio principii I oppose in refuting your assertion that sounds are pure sensations. This is the reason why, in your letter of February 5th, you say, 'I am not now calling in question or maintaining the existence of material causes of sensations.'
In your last letter you quote against me, my own quotations from Blackie's Dictionary, that'sound is the effect of an impression made by the vibrations of the air,' and from the Encyclopedia Britannica, that it arises from a sort of concussion or agitation which takes place. I do not deny that the word sound has been sometimes considered as the effect of an impression, or as a sensation. In my first letter I even pointed out to you the different meanings which could be assigned to this word; but cautioned you that if you attached the meaning to the impression of the vibrations on the tympanum, and then used the word as a premiss for a philosophical argument, you then absorbed the idea of both the sonorous body and the vibrating air into the impression on the tympanum, or the cause into the effect, and that therefore in this sense the expression ‘sound is a sensation has no more meaning than the truism 'a sensation is a sensation.' In superadding to this assertion the word pure, you have still more strongly embodied the substance and materiality of the cause of sound into the sensation itself, leaving thus no possibility for you of escaping the evidence that your position is a mere petitio principii.
You continually affirm that you admit the existence of the vibrations of sonorous bodies and of a medium which transmits these vibrations—But like the author of universal immaterialism you mentally consider the vibrations and sonorous bodies themselves as existing only within the sentient substance of our minds. This is evident from your letters, and particularly from your second letter, where you argne that the effects are all the universe the uneducated know of,' and that 'this universe, therefore, or congeries of sounds, etc., depends on the (existence of) the last gnat.' This is exactly the same doctrine as that of the author of Universal Immaterialism which I quote underneath from pages 95 to 96.
“There is no man of scientific attainments of any sect or country who now denies that these things (viz. colors, sounds, tastes, smells, and feels) are sensations, and that a sensation is incapable of subsisting anywhere except within a substance that is sentient like the mind.
“ Inform the peasant then that that portion of the uuiverse whose position within the mind is perfectly ascertained and undisputed is its colors. Its colors ! he will exclaim, do you mean the colors of colored objects on the earth's surface as well as the colors of the skies and stars ? Tell him that it is perfectly ascertained by scientific persons, that these and all other colors are within the mind; and if he accepts this fact, I believe no one can have the least doubt of what the peasant's judgment will be upon all the rest of the universe. Or, instead of the foregoing portions of the universe, let us give him sounds. Let him be informed that it is well known by all who have made the subject their study, that every sound in the universe subsists spiritually, and can only so subsist; that thunder, for instance, is a thing solely within the mind, as well as when the first crash of it is heard in the clouds above our heads, as when its last echoes are dying along the distant mountains.”
Although the Encyclopedia Britannica and Blackie enunciate that sound is the effect of an impression made by the vibrations of the air, these works do not question the real materiality of the vibrations, whilst ‘Universal Immaterialism' affirms that the vibrations are of a spiritual nature. It is exactly in this point that the difference between us lies, and I will add a few arguments to what I have already said against this view.
Independently of the philosophy of Berkeley and the older speculations recapitulated in Sir W. Hamilton's notes, the doctrine that the qualities of external objects exist in the sentient nature of our organism has been lately insused into the modern English literature,