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through all changes, is for Hobbes not matter, but the ·body,' which only changes its accidentia, that is, is now conceived by us in one way and now in another. But at the bottom of this changing conception there lies something permanent, namely, the motion of the parts of the body. And therefore when an object changes its colour, becomes hard or soft, breaks into particles, or combines with new particles, the original quantity of the corporeal thing persists; we name, however, the object of our perception differently in accordance with the new impressions that it makes upon our senses.
Whether we suppose a new body to be the object of our perception, or only attribute new qualities to the old body, depends merely upon the language in which we express our conceptions, and so indirectly from our own will, since words are but counters. And thus, too, the distinction between body (substance) and accident is a merely relative one, dependent upon our conceptions. The real body, which, by the continual movement of its parts, excites the corresponding movements in our organ of sensation, is subject to no other change whatever than the mere motion of its parts.
It is worth remarking here that Hobbes, by means of his doctrine of the relativity of all concepts, as well as his theory of sensation, does in fact outrun Materialism much as Protagoras outran Demokritos. That Hobbes was not an Atomist we have already seen ; but looking also at the whole connection of his ideas as to the nature of things, he could not possibly have been an Atomist. As he applies it to all other concepts, so he applies the category of relativity to the idea of 'great' and 'small' in particular. The distance of many of the fixed stars from the earth is so great, he says, that, as compared with it, the whole distance of the earth from the sun appears as a mere point ; so also is it with the particles which to us appear small. There is in this direction also an infinity; and what the human physicist regards as the smallest particle, because he needs to assume it for his theories, is in its turn a world with innumerable gradations from the greatest to the smallest 30
In his theory of sensation, we have already in germ the sensationalism of Locke. Hobbes supposes that the movements of corporeal things communicate themselves to our senses by transmission through the medium of the air, and from thence are continued to the brain, and from the brain finally to the heart.31 To every movement corresponds an answering movement, in the organism, as in external nature. From this principle of reaction Hobbes derives sensation; but it is not the immediate reaction of the external organ that constitutes sensation, but only the movement that starts from the heart, and then returns from the external organ by way of the brain, so that an appreciable time always elapses between the impression and the sensa
30 De Corpore, iv. 27 (i. 362-364, ed. a reaction against the impact of the obMolesw.). Here also occurs (p. 364) a ject takes place instantaneously in the very noteworthy pissage in respect part first acted upon, yet this by no of method : Agnoscunt mortales means hinders the propagation of the magna esse quaedam, etsi finita, ut motion under ever new actions and quae vident ita esse ; agnoscunt item reactions towards the inward parts, infinitam esse posse magnitudinem where the motion can become regreseorum quae non vident: medium vero sive. Let us suppose, for example, esse inter infinitum et eorum quae vi- for simplicity's sake, a series of elastic dent cogitantve maximum, non statim balls placed in a straight line, A, B, nec nisi multa eruditione persuaden- C,... N, and let us suppose that A tur.” When, indeed, the theoretical impinges directly upon B, the imquestion of divisibility, and of the re- pulse being then propagated through lativity of greatness and smallness, no c and so on to n; let n strike at right longer comes into view, Hobbes has angles against a fixed wall, then the no objection to make to describing the motion will return right through the “corpuscula" as "atomi,”as, for in- whole series, without being hindered stance, in his theory of gravitation, by the circumstance that sometime beDe Corpore, iv. 30 (p. 415).
fore B has also reacted against A, thus 31 A more particular inquiry into the limiting its movement. It must, how. doctrine of .conatus' as the form of ever, of course, be allowed to the orimotion here referred to is beyond our ginator of the hypothesis to identify present object. For a fuller exposition with the sensation not the first (limitsee in Baumann, Die Lehren von ing) reaction of B against A, but the Raum, Zeit und Mathem., i. S. 321 returning impact from B to A, a view ff. The special fault found with the which, there can be no doubt, suits theory at S. 327, that the sensation is the facts incomparably better. Comp. only produced by the conatus return, the remarks in & 4 (i. p. 319 sq., edlo ing from the heart, seems to me to be Molesw.) on the effect of an interrup not wholly justified; for even al- tion of the communication. though, according to Hobbes's theory,
tion. By means of this regressiveness of the movement of sensation, which is an 'endeavour' (conatus) towards the objects, is explained the transposition outwards of the images of sense.32 The sensation is identical with the image of sense (phantasma), and this again is identical with the motion of the conatus' towards the objects ; not merely occasioned by it. And thus Hobbes by a bold phrase hews asunder the Gordian knot of the question how the sensation as a subjective condition is related to the movement; but the matter is thereby made none the clearer.
The subject of the sensation is the man as a whole; the object is the thing which is felt: the images, however, or the sense-qualities, by means of which we perceive the thing, are not the thing itself, but a motion originating within us.
And thus there does not proceed from shining bodies any light, or from sounding bodies any noise, but only certain forms of motion from each. Light and sound are sensations, and first arise as such within us as reactionary motion proceeding from the heart. From this results the sensationalistic consequence that all so-called sense-qualities, as such, belong not to things, but originate only in ourselves. Coupled with this, however, is the Materialistic principle that even human sensation is nothing but the motion of corporeal particles, occasioned by the external motion of things. Hobbes never thought of abandoning this Materialistic principle in favour of a consistent Sensationalism, because, like Demokritos in antiquity, he started from the mathematical and physical consideration of external things. Therefore his system remains an essentially Materialistic system, in spite of the germs of Sensationalism which it bears within it.
With regard to his view of the universe, Hobbes con32 De Corpore, iv. xxv. 2 (i. p. existit phantasma; quod propter co318): “Ut cum conatus ille ad intima natum versus externa semper videtur ultimus actus sit eorum qui fiunt in tanquam aliquid situm extra orga. actu sensionis, tum demum ex ea num.” reactione aliquandiu durante ipsum VOL. I.
fines himself exclusively to the phenomena which are knowable, and can be explained by the law of causality. Everything of which we can know nothing he resigns to theologians. A remarkable paradox is contained in the doctrine of the corporeality of God, which is, of course, since it contradicts an Article of the Anglican Church, not exactly asserted, but only suggested as a very possible inference 33 If one could have overheard a confidential conversation between Gassendi and Hobbes, one might perhaps have caught a dispute on the question whether the all-animating heat or the all-embracing ether must be regarded as the Deity.
33 Compare as to this especially the idea of God would be very intelligible Appendix to the “ Leviathan," c. i., if we conceived Him either as a body where it is insisted that everything or as a phantasm, that is, nothing ; possessed of real independent exists and that the whole incomprehensibleence is body. Then it is suggested ness is due to this, that we have ever that even all spirits, such as the air, been bidden to speak of God as "incorare corporeal, although it may be poreal.” Comp., inter alia, Opera, with infinite gradations of fineness. iii. 87, 260 sq., 282 (here, in particuFinally, it is pointed out that such lar, the words are very clear: “ Cum expressions as incorporeal sub- natura Dei incomprehensibilis sit, et
or “immaterial substance," nomina ei attribuenda sint, non tam are nowhere found in Holy Scripture. ad naturam eius, quam ad honorem, It is true that the first of the Thirty- quem illi exhibere debemus congruen. nine drticles teaches that God is tia."
The quintessence of without “body” or * parts,” and, Hobbes's whole theology is probably, therefore, this will not be expressly however, most clearly expressed in a denied; but the twentieth Article passage in the “De Homine,” ii. 15, says that the Church may require Op. ii. 347 sq., where it is bluntly nothing to be believed that is not said that God rules only through founded upon Holy Writ (iii. 537 ff.). nature, and that His will is only an
The result of this obvious nounced through the State. We must contradiction, then, is, that Hobbes not indeed conclude from this that insists, at every opportunity, upon Hobbes identified God with the sum the incomprehensibility of God, attri- of nature-pantheistically. He seems butes to Him only negative predi- rather to have conceived as God a cates, and so on ; while, by the cita- part of the universe-controlling, tion of authorities such as Tertullian universally spread, uniform, and by (iii. 561), by frequent discussions of its motion determining mechanically Biblical expressions, and especially the motion of the whole. As the by the cunning employment of pre- history of the world is an outflow of misses whose final conclusion is left to natural laws, so the power of the be drawn by the reader, he tries every- State is, as the actually effective where to excite the feeling ilet the night, an outflow of the divine will.
THE LATER WORKINGS OF MATERIALISM IN ENGLAND.
THERE is almost a full century of interval between the modern development of Materialistic systems, and between that reckless authorship of a De la Mettrie, who dwelt with special pleasure on just those aspects of Materialism which must be repugnant to the Christian world. It is true, indeed, that even Gassendi and Hobbes had not entirely avoided the ethical consequences of their systems; but both had contrived a means of making their peace with the Church-Gassendi by his superficiality, Hobbes by an arbitrary and unnatural inference. If there is, in this respect, a fundamental distinction between the Materialists of the seventeenth and those of the eighteenth century, yet the chasm between them, apart from purely ecclesiastical dogma, is by far the broadest in the sphere of ethic. Whilst De la Mettrie, quite in the manner of the philosophical dilettanti of ancient Rome, with a frivolous complacency made desire the principle of life, and by his low conception still tainted the memory of Epikuros after thousands of years, Gassendi had in every way brought forward the more serious and deeper aspect of the Epikurean ethic. Hobbes, though only after curious subterfuges, ended by adopting the current semi-Christian, semi - bourgeois morality, which he regarded indeed as narrow, but as justifiably narrow. Both lived very simply and honestly, according to the ordinary ideas of their time.
In spite of this great distinction, the Materialism of the seventeenth century, with all its affinities even to the