Mind, Life, and Body
by Reginald O. Kapp
XVIII — A Brief Recapitulation
Some of the material presented here must necessarily be too condensed to bring enlightenment to those who have not read the preceding pages, and for those who have done so it may seem largely superfluous. But not only is it convenient to bring into close association a number of conclusions that had to be widely separated as the reasoning proceeded; some stocktaking also serves a useful purpose in that it helps one to distinguish between those conclusions that call for further critical study and those that do not.
The statements that are made while a line of reasoning is being followed fall into three classes. There are, firstly, those statements that are mere definitions; secondly, facts beyond dispute; and thirdly, speculation. The temptation to confuse these three classes is often a strong one. Those who find the reasoning attractive may accept speculation for fact, while those who find the path unattractive will argue about definitions as though they were facts and attempt to discount unwelcome facts by representing them as mere speculation. A very brief recapitulation in the form of a classified stocktaking may help to prevent both kinds of error and to direct attention from statements about which further argument would be sterile to those about which it would prove fruitful.
Let me begin, then, by repeating the more important statements that are no more than definitions. There are three of them.
I feel sure that many who call themselves dualists would not approve of the above definitions. I feel sure that many who call themselves vitalists and say that life is non-material believe that it has location. I feel sure that many who say that mind is non-material also believe that it could be detected by energy transferred from it to sufficiently delicate measuring instruments, just as magnetic fields can be detected. I feel sure, in other words, that many who object to materialism would, nevertheless, have to be called materialists according to my definition of the word. But the preceding pages have not been concerned with such beliefs. They have been concerned with the question whether those dualists are right who use words with the meanings given them by the above definitions.
- A non-material influence lacks location.
- The word matter includes energy and everything that can transmit energy, and excludes everything that lacks location.
- Dualism is the theory of reality according to which the course of some events is determined partly by the action of matter on matter and partly by the action of non-material influences on matter.
The question that has been studied here is:
Do things that are nowhere influence the course of events somewhere?
Among the well-known facts that are relevant to this question, the following are particularly significant:
So much for facts. There might be some argument as to their relevance; there could be none as to their accuracy. It is only about the conclusions drawn from the facts that legitimate argument may arise. In fallible human hands, logic remains an imperfect instrument. Hence no conclusion, though it appear plausible, should be accepted uncritically. Let me then bring together the more important of the conclusions that have been reached in the preceding pages.
- Every material change requires the transfer of energy to or from the thing that is undergoing the change.
- This energy cannot be transmitted by a non-material influence defined as above.
- Human beings do things in their daily lives that serve a conscious purpose.
- It can be observed that two distinct material systems have to be present whenever a given process serves a conscious purpose. Both systems are so constructed that they can conveniently be spoken of as paths for the passage of a commodity.
- One system serves to supply the requisite energy; I have called it a path for the energy.
- The other system does not supply any energy; I have called it a path for the diathesis.
- The path for the diathesis always consists of mechanisms so arranged that they would, in the language of engineering, be called relays in cascade.
- It is the presence of a path for diathesis that distinguishes between the two ways in which a process may be caused. I have called the one causation with control and the other causation without control.
From the first of the above recapitulated facts, one might without further hesitation decide against dualism; one might declare it to be impossible for a thing that is nowhere to influence the course of events somewhere. But it is not easy to draw the same conclusion from the remaining facts, and I have drawn the opposite ones.
I have said, for instance, that the brain is not the originator of a conscious purpose, but the instrument by means of which the purpose is achieved. Whether I am right or wrong in saying so depends, it seems to me, on the right answer to one question only: Can any material system be the originator of such a thing as a purpose, or even of the illusion of a purpose? Those who wish to study the present theme seriously will have to concentrate their attention on this question. The question concerns the nature of matter and the answer must be based on knowledge of the nature of matter — on physics. It is because I can find no justification whatever for the answer "yes" that I am forced to regard the brain as an instrument, and not as an originator.
I have also said that the first of the mechanisms spoken of as relays in cascade is controlled by an influence without location. I have reached this conclusion because it seems logically impossible either to deny that the control is exercised or to postulate anything with location from which the control can reach the first of the relays; and if the control is not exercised by something with location, it can be exercised only by something without location.
And so we are brought back to Chapter I, in which I asked eight questions. Here are the answers to which our laborious investigation has led:
I have reached these conclusions simply because no others seem to fit the facts. But that does not mean that they should mark the close of the investigation. Every conclusion in science places two obligations on the scientist. One is to make an attempt to shake the conclusion: the other is to follow up its implications.
- A complete list of the causes of a physical change does not necessarily contain only physical forces.
- Our non-material minds do control our material bodies.
- The sort of control that is exercised by the human mind is probably not unique. The structure and behaviour of all living substance is probably subject to the same kind of control by a non-material influence.
- Mind and life are active realities.
- Mind and life are distinct from the body.
- Mind and life are non-material in the sense that they lack location.
- The Universe is a dualistic one.
- An integration of all knowledge would not bring all the sciences within the scope of physics.
I have myself in these pages honestly faced every objection to my conclusions that I could find and I have tried to express every objection as clearly as I could. I am hoping that others may do what I have done and look for further facts and logical arguments by means of which alternative conclusions might be revealed.
There yet remains the second obligation. It seems to me that the most pregnant of the implications inherent in my conclusions concerns those tiny mechanisms, the controlled elements of primary relays. How does the controlled element of a primary relay work? is the great question that calls loudly for an answer. Small as this element must be, vast consequences to science would, I venture to suggest, flow from an understanding of the way it works.