An investigation of some recent efforts to justify metaphysical statements derived from science with special reference to physics

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A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the School of Philosophy University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy

by Bernard Lawrence Ramm June 1950

UMI Number: DP2962Q

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T h is d isse rta tio n , w r it t e n by

Bernard Ramm u n d e r the g u id a n c e o f M s

F a c u lt y C o m m itte e

on S tudies, a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l its m em bers, has been p resen ted to a n d accep ted by the C o u n c i l on G r a d u a te S tu d y a n d R e search, in p a r t i a l f u l ­ f i l l m e n t o f re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f DOCTOR



D a te .A Eril_2J.,..1950

C o m m itte e on Studies












METAPHYSICS AND IN METAPHYSICAL SYSTEMS. N a t u r a l i s m ...........................


R e a l i s m .............................


Northrop1s physical theory .............



Eddingtonfs subjectivism ................. IV. V.



46 72


R e a l i s m ..............................

74 79

A l e x a n d e r ...................... .........



E v a l u a t i o n ............................




I n t r oduction........................... P r e d i c t i o n .........................

89 91

Heisenberg's Principle ................. Statistical l a w s ...................

92 93

Philosophical consequences ............... I ntrod u c t i o n .......................

94 94


PAGE Su b j e c t i v i s m ............................


Causal i t j ..............................


F r e e - w i l l ..............................


The existence of atoms. . ..............


Spiritualization of matter . . . . . . .


VII.ENTROPY AND M E T A P H Y S I C S ..................... VIII.

125 ,






Positive contributions ...................


C o n c l u s i o n s ..............................

I54 •


B I B L I O G R A P H Y ......................................


CHAPTER I THE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Bertrand Russell has said that every significant difference between the modern world and the Renaissance "whether for good or evil” is traceable ultimately to the influence of science, and that "nothing that goes against science has any chance of lasting success in the modern world.This phers.

dictum is of special interest to philoso­

Due to this great impact of science upon western

culture each philosopher must make his peace with science. This increasing role that science is playing in western thought stands in need of analysis.

There are at least

three types of influence that science has had upon our culture. (1).

Science, in its theoretical aspect, has had

very marked success in every territory it has investigated.

^ Bertrand Russell, Selected Papers (The Modern Library; New York: Random House [n. d. J), p. xiv. Compare this with a remark by Moore: "While it would certainly be an over simplification, it would not be a misstatement to say that the thesis which underlies these lectures [of Mead] . . . is this: .Science, with its demand for freedom, with its demand for the substitution of rational authority for the arbitrary authority which characterized the medi­ eval period, is the outstanding fact not simply of the nineteenth century, but of all thought since.” George H. Mead, M ovements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century (edited by Merrill H. Moore; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1936), p. xi.

2 Muller has rhetorically said that science Is "the Jehovah p of the modern world," and It has, to some extent, earned that title on the basis of Its conquests In scientific theory.

Although it is a technical and involved story,

the march of scientific theory from Galileo to quantum mechanics is a glorious record.

Its two most renowned

achievements are relativity theory and atomic theory.


confirmations of relativity theory have taken it from the realm of pure theory and placed it firmly upon empirical groundings.^

The atomic bomb is a somewhat spectacular,

but nevertheless scientific, confirmation of the Empirical validity of atomic theory. This advanced state of theoretical science has had its influence felt in philosophy, and western mentality as a whole.

Modern physics, comprising relativity theory,

and quantum mechanics, is ranked as one of the most influ­ ential ideas that the western mind has ever entertained and has caused "the most profound reorganization of scientific

2 Herbert J. Muller, Science and Criticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943), p. '5§~. 3 Einstein*s own discussion of this is in his work, Relativity (translated by R. W. Lawson; New York: Henry Holt, 1931), Appendix III, "The Experimental Confirmation of the General Theory of Relativity."

theory the world has ever s e e n . A .

E. Murphy^ indicates

that the very preoccupation of such men as Whitehead, Eddington, and Bridgman with the epistemological features of modern science means that a new situation has arisen. Dingle, the English physicist, observes that "from the philosophy of Samuel Alexander to that of the logical positivists, the influence of this central concept of Einstein's relativity has been profound,"

and Inge,'

quoting Muirhead with approval, believes that the most pressing problem for idealism is to co-ordinate its meta­ physics with the recent physics and says that it is neces­ sary for realism to do likewise. (2 ).

Science has had a very practical success in

our modern life which has in turn enhanced its standing. Industry, transportation, medicine, and home life have all felt its magical and labor-saving touch.


^ Oliver L. Reiser, Philosophy and the Concepts of Modern Physics (New York: The Macmillan" Company, 1935), P. *>7. 5 A. E. Murphy, "The Anti-Copernican Revolution," Journal of Philosophy, 26;282, May 23, 1929. 6 Herbert Dingle, "The Philosophical Significance of Space-Time," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 48:154, 1947-W: 7 William Ralph Inge, God and the Astronomers (Warburton Lectures, 1931-33) London: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1933), P. 6 .

4 efforts in advertising built around the expressions "doctors say" or "science has proven" indicate the extent scientific methodology has impressed the hitherto untouched masses. (3).

By far the most serious impact of science upon

western culture has been that of metaphysical scepticism. The most significant proof of this is the new standard of evidence that prevails in our culture.

The type of evi­

dence that was satisfactory to the schoolmen is now dis­ placed by the tough, factual, experimental, unequivocal type of evidence that modern scientific scholarship uses.® There is a hostile suspicion of everything substantiated by intuition, emotion, or sentiment. modern minds," writes Whitehead,

"This new tinge to

"is a vehement and pas­

sionate interest in the relation of general principles to irreducible and stubborn facts. Collier, furthermore, states that the logical result of this emphasis on evidence is scepticism— which of course is usually first felt in metaphysics.

Metaphysics is now

undergoing its most serious trial since the days of the

Q K. G. Collier, "The Impact of Science on the Wes­ tern View of Life, Hibbert Journal, 47:160, January, 1949. 9 Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (Pelican Mentor Books; New York: The New American Library, 1925), P. 3.

5 ancient Greek sceptics.

Hall1*** gives a rather extended

excursus as to the present disrepute of metaphysics.


first cause he gives is the actionism of our times which considers metaphysics as an impractical effort.

Part of

the argument of actionism is based on the success of science. The second cause is the intense specialization of our day as contrasted with the generality of metaphysics and in specialization the scientist is the paragon for imitation. Finally, there is the revival of positivism in the form of scientism.

At all three points science is either the lead­

ing actor, or a leading actor, in the current discrediting of metaphysics. Few writers in recent times have pointed out with such relentless logic coupled with historical perspective that the present godless, purposeless,

"materialistic" mood

among the educated of today is due to the extensive en­ croachment of modern science upon our most basic attitudes and philosophies of life, as W. T. Stace in his famous article in The Atlantic.11

The very breath is being choked

10 Everett W. Marshall, "Metaphysics," Twentieth Century Philosophy (edited by D. D. Runes: New York: The Philosophical Library, 1943), pp. 143-94. H W. T. Stace, "Man Against Darkness," The Atlantic, 182:53-57 , September, 1948.

6 out of any religious or idealistic metaphysics.

This is

clearly seen in the report of the 1948 International Con­ gress of Philosophy.

The dearth of metaphysical thought

that prevailed in the pre-World War II congresses was due to the Influence of logical positivism.

The motto for those ip

years Heinemann says was "Metaphysics Forbidden."


evidence for an impasse In metaphysics is not difficult to find.

Barnes says that the average man of science has "an

instinctive dislike of

m e t a p h y s i c s , ”^



R u s s e l l ^ claims

that science is showing an Increasing disrespect for philo­ sophy; Cohen asserts that "scientists have not been afraid to lay their secular hands on the sacred ark of meta15 physics;" ^ Winn points out that the modern emphasis on fact makes "metaphysical speculation appear unreliable, epistemological discussions futile, aesthetic doctrines arbitrary, ethical analyses impracticable;"^ and finally,

12 F..H, Heinemann, "The West in Search of a Meta­ physics," IU1bbert Journal, 47:132-7, January, 1949. 13 Ernest William Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Gifford Lectures, 1927-b ; Cambrldge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), P. 532. 1^ Leonard Russell, "Philosophy and Science," Philosophy, 1:293, July, 1926. 15 Morris H. Cohen, Studies in Philosophy and Science (New York: Henry Holt and Company, T549), p. 140. 16 Ralph B. Winn, "Philosophic Naturalism," Twentieth Century Philosophy, p. 516.

7 More indicates that modern thought considers it an impossi­ bility to relate the laws of nature to "metaphysical rea­ soning. Due to this three-fold impact on culture in general and metaphysics in particular, philosophers have cast about for methods of harmonizing science and metaphysics.


example, one group of philosophers admit the validity of the metaphysical scepticism imposed by science and makes the function of philosophy the logical analysis of scien­ tific statements, e.g., logical empiricism.

"There are no

boundaries between science and philosophy," writes the neo­ positivist Frank," if one only formulates the task of 18 physics in accordance with the doctrines of Ernst Mach." Another group conventionalizes science admitting its value in its own sphere but denying it any validity in meta­ physics, e.g., Le Roy, A. E. Taylor, and Bergson.


groups attempts to make peace by taking the situation firmly in hand and professes to derive metaphysics from science. concerned.

It is with this group that this dissertation is Representative men in it are Tennant, Edding-

ton, Jeans, Compton, Northrop, and Alexander.

This group

17 Louis Trenchard More, The Limitations of Science (New York: Henry Holt and Company, I9I5 ), p. 17 Philipp Frank, Between Physics and Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 194TJ, p. 103.

8 finds cues in science that are full-orbed in metaphysics; it takes inferences from science that lead to metaphysical statements; or, it finds in science justification for meta­ physical assertions. three-fold:

The purpose of this dissertation is

(l) To investigate the contemporary relation­

ship between metaphysics and science, especially those efforts to derive metaphysical cues, inferences, or justi­ fications from science, with special reference to physics. The purpose of this is part historical, and part illustra­ tive.

It reveals the efforts that have been made to har­

monize science and metaphysics.

(2) To present those argu­

ments that have been set forth by philosophers to limit the scientific method, especially in reference to metaphysics; and, conversely, to set forth what science can suggest positively to any system of metaphysics.

(3 )*To defend

the solution of the rapprochement of science and metaphys­ ics presented in the writings of F. R. Tennant.


system is an empirical rationalism that conserves the valid elements of metaphysical thought and scientific method.

The goal is to attempt to discover what services

science may be to metaphysics, and metaphysics to science at this time of crisis in the west.

In the analyses of

these most crucial issues we feel is the justification of this paper. This dissertation is limited to the physical

9 sciences, and to what passes for strict scientific method­ ology; and to the opinions of scientists and philosophers of science, although this has not been uniformly possible. After a presentation of the importance of physics to metaphysics there is presented a discussion of the use of science in metaphysical systems, e.g., naturalism, realism, and idealism.

The purpose of this is to show how philoso­

phers have endeavored to overcome the metaphysical scepti­ cism of science by the actual use of science in metaphys­ ical systems.

This is followed by discussions of particu­

lar elements of science (teleology, relativity theory, atomic physics, and entropy) in which philosophers of science again counteract the metaphysical scepticism of science by deriving metaphysical statements from these items.

Following this the paper concluded with an evalua­

tion of science in reference to metaphysics.

In this it

will be delineated why certain philosophers do not believe in the unrestricted use of the scientific method with the express purpose of leaving room for methods of through and knowledge that enable a philosopher to make valid meta­ physical assertions.

Secondly, the manner in which science

can contribute to any system of metaphysics will be given to show that science is not to be completely conventional­ ized or restricted.

Finally, the dissertation will con­

clude with a defense of Tennantfs empirical rationalism as

10 the basis for an adequate rapprochement between science and metaphysics. The research has been done in British and American periodicals; in specialized volumes in science and philo­ sophy of science; and in general philosophical literature.19

19 A. C. Benjamin, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (New York: The Macmi1lan Company, 1937) lists TEe t h r e e m a i n territories of the philosophy of science. This paper is concerned with what he gives as the first: the study of the implications of scientific knowledge for the whole of reality or a pervasive part of it. P. 33.

CHAPTER II THE IMPORTANCE OP PHYSICS FOR METAPHYSICS As much of the following exposition will he concerned with physics its precise importance needs to be delineated. There is no question that physics is considered the most fundamental of all the natural sciences.

The mood of cur­

rent philosophers of science is to limit logic and mathe­ matics to the purely formal realm.

This is the result of a

movement in the nineteenth century that climaxed with the now famous conclusions of Russell and Whitehead, chiefly, that mathematics can be derived from logic.


is no longer considered the science of magnitude and number or quantity but is concerned with the necessary relations between certain symbols.1

This leaves physics as the first

natural or empirical science.

Millikan calls it "the most

fundamental of the natural sciences”2 and in referring to the unusually large place physics is given in positivism

1 Carnap defends the purely symbolic, i.e., abstract nature of logic and mathematics. Rudolph Carnap, "Founda­ tions of Logic and Mathematics.” International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, no. 3. ^ Robert Andrew Millikan, Evolution in Science and Religion (Terry Lectures; New Haven; Yale University Press. 1£27), p. 3.

12 and empiricism Laird speaks of the ”idolatry of


There are at least two reasons why physics occupies the place it does. (1). mature.

Historically physics was the first science to

The scientific movement from Galileo to Newton

made its greatest achievements in physics and from Newton to the year 1900 physics was in advance of all the other sciences.

Biology, anthropology, psychology, and chemistry

did not hegin to approach refinement of theory to any sig­ nificant degree till the nineteenth century.

In contrast

was the view of the Victorian scientists who considered that Newton had written down the eternal laws of physics and all there was for physicists to do was to draw out the more detailed inferences.

Physics, therefore, had a two-

century lead over the other sciences. (2).

As a scientific system physics is the most

advanced of all the sciences.

Sullivan has written that

"physics looks as If it is approaching finality in the sense that it is approaching a stage of complete unifica­ tion.

This advanced state of physics is borne witness

3 j. Laird, "Positivism, Empiricism and Metaphysics," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 39:208, 1936-3 9 . ^ J. W. N. Sullivan, The Limitations of Science (Mentor Books; New York: The New American LiT5rary,1933), P. 187.

13 to repeatedly, e.g., Sparrow says that as a body of ab­ stract knowledge, Mthe science of modern physics towers above all other creations of the modern



asserts that physics is the most advanced of all sciences in its abstract formulations.

Russell notes that physics

is "the most advanced science in the present day, and one which seems to throw the most light on the structure of the w o r l d , a n d Lindemann claims that only in physics has the "scientist's image of the Physical World reached any degree of perfection. Naturally the systematic and theoretical advance of physics has far greater weight with the philosophers than the historical priority of physics.

The profound importance

of the systematic advance of physics cannot be readily dis\ missed as is seen from the following observations. (a).

To begin with physics deals with two of the

most controversial of categories, space and time.


^ C. M. Sparrow, "Determinism and Modern Physics,” The Monist, 40:213, April, 1930. ^ Dorothy Wrinch, "Aspects of Scientific Method— With Special Reference to Schrodingerrs Wave Mechanics," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 29:928. 1928029. 7 Bertrand Russell, Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (New York: Simon Schuster, 1948), p . T4T ^ F. A. Lindmann, "The Place of Mathematics in the Interpretation of the Universe," Philosophy, 8:14, January, 1933. ----------

14 so much of experience comes apparently located in space and time these two categories have received considerable atten­ tion from the Pre-Socratics to contemporary philosophy.


cruciality of space and time has been well stated by Urban: 'The problems of space and time,' Mr. E. D. Fawcett rightly says, 'compel a philosophy to declare itself.' When a philosopher says that space or time is real or ■ unreal, he has hereby expressed himself, not only on the fundamental questions of philosophy, but, by implication at least, on the significance of philoso­ phy itself. Scarcely any problem has been so thought over as this. Every other world problem, one might almost believe, hangs from this— the ultimate nature of space and time. The reasons are not far to seek. However we may ultimately think space and time tech­ nically, whether entity or relation, as form of thought or form of being, they are in some sense, at least, all pervasive aspects of experience, and our decision as to their reality or unreality is deter­ minative of our interpretation of reality itself.9 (b).

What Urban has just said about space and time

(relativity theory) could even more be said of modern the­ ory of matter (quantum theory) for, as will be indicated in subsequent discussion, most philosophers of science con­ sider the revolution in theory of matter greater than that in theory of space and time, i.e. relativity theory.


relativity deals with the categories of space and time, quantum theory has something to say about the category of substance.

9 Wilbur Marshall Urban, The Intelligible World (Hew York: The Macmillan Company, l92 9), pp. 232-33. He agrees with Alexander that relativity theory is of great­ est importance.

15 (c).

The concluding reason for the enormous impor­

tance of the systematic and theoretical advance of physics is that philosophers, engaging in reductionism, try to reduce all other sciences to physics.

Even a most cursory

investigation of the literature of logical positivism reveals that to them physics is the science to which all other sciences are to he reduced even though currently it is not as yet possible to do so.^°

But they insist that

the difficulty is practical not theoretical.


speaks for a great number of philosophers of science when he asserts that "it is the theoretical goal of every science to be absorbed into physics. For these reasons changes in physical theory are to be taken with the most serious concern.

Changes at this

point have a far greater effect on philosophy than changes in any other science, and thus physics receives far greater attention by philosophers as a group and philosophers of science in particular.

They would assent to Russellfs

words when he writes that "In passing from physics to biology one is conscious of a transition from the cosmic

^ Cf. Rudolph Carnap, "Encyclopedia and Unified Science," International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I , no.” I , pp. 50-b l . ^ Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook (New York: W. W. Norton, 1931), p T T 2*”

16 to the parochial.w1^ Sullivan1^

Commenting about a similar theme,

indicates that chemistry and biology do not have

the theoretical value of physics.

The value of chemistry

is practical, with its theoretical importance lost to phys«*


Biology claims to be a' science, but as for psychology

and sociology, Sullivan wonders if they should be associated with the name of science.

Their weakness is not precision,

but there is not one single universal law from biology through sociology.11*'

12 Ibld-, P- 121. 13 j. W. IJ. Sullivan, op. cit., p. 184 ff. 14 However, not all accept the so-called 'Idolatry' of modern physics. Although physics is admittedly the most advanced of the sciences Barnes believes that ’’there are possibly vast regions of the phenomenal world to which its methods, so far as they have been developed, do not apply.” Ernest William Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Gifford Lectures, 1927-2 9 ; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), p. 11. J. S. Haldane also objects to the sovereignty of physics on the basis that physics cannot handle biology. Physics misses life and in so doing omits a great section of reality. He writes: ’’Those who claim that physical interpretation corresponds to objective reality have thus no justification for their claim. J. S. Haldane, The Philosophical Basis of Biology (New York: Doubleday "Doran, I931), p. 10. I.e., did the Critique of Teleological Judgment admit the failure of the universal^ ity of the Critique of Pure Reason?


(1) the advance

of science in western thought has been a cause of current metaphysical scepticism, and (2 ) that the dominating science of this period has been physics.

Philosophers of

science do not always clearly indicate what they mean when they use the word 1science1 but it would not be amiss to say that they have physics in mind as the paradigm science, or the scientific method as most clearly exhibited in physics. It Is the purpose of this chapter to investigate the use of science and physics in metaphysical systems and by £o doing exhibit the various methods science Is assimilated to a system of metaphysics t or turned in favor of a system of metaphysics.

By so doing the impact of science on wes­

tern thought will be made manifest, and the manner of parrying the metaphysical scepticism of science will be made apparent.

To be specific, in naturalism is found the

effort to derive the categories of metaphysics from the categories and vocabulary of science; in realism there Is a strong appeal for the existence of unperceived objects as based upon the methodology of physical science; in

18 Northrop is discovered an effort to defend the physical* view of nature; in Eddington is found a new brief for idealism based on his interpretation of the nature of modern science. Naturalism and realism represent movements to merge philosophy of science with philosophy with the parallel tendency of identification of the findings of science with metaphysics.

This assertion will become evident in the

subsequent exposition.

Northrop*s work represents a more

classical effort to extend scientific statements to first principles (metaphysics).

Eddington*s effort is a distinct

move to turn science in favor of an already existent meta­ physical system. science:

Here are three types of response to

(a) to merge with science;

(b) to extrapolate from

science to first principles; and (c) to turn science into the service of a metaphysical system established by some other means.

A. (1).


Historical Introduction.

Present day natural­

ism is an outgrowth of biological naturalism and materialism of the nineteenth century.

Materialism was one of the

philosophical developments of the mechanical physical sys­ tem of Newton, although as a philosophy it existed in

19 modern times prior to Newton.

Mechanism in science extra­

polated into philosophy becomes materialism which in turn is a denial of both supernatural and idealistic categories. The rise of biological evolution in the nineteenth century greatly aided materialistic philosophy for now there was a scientifically propounded theory as to the very origin of man within nature.

This placing of man complete­

ly within nature by means of the theory of evolution is the historical origin of the term naturalism.1 The biological moorings of nineteenth century natur­ alism have remained steadfast but the moorings in physical science have been severely shaken.

With the new formula­

tions in physics has come the end of the mechanical pro­ gram in science.

Materialism had to think its way to a

new position to bring itself in accord with the newest in physics.

The philosophers reinterpreted their philosophy

grounding it in the more recent science and to make this clear many of them used the word naturalism to replace the

" 1Naturalism1 came into vogue as the name for a recognized philosophical position during the great scien­ tific movement of the nineteenth century, which put man and his experience squarely into the Nature over against which he had hitherto been set." John Herman Randall, Jr., "The Nature of Naturalism," Naturalism and the Human Spirit (Yervant H. Krikorian, editor; New York:" Columbia University Press, 1944), p. 356..

20 older title of materialism,2 It is this shift in naturalism that is our concern. Naturalists are careful to point out that such a shift has taken place in naturalism along with the shift in


Just as the older materialism was a graft of philosophy on science, so the new materialism is in reference to the new physics.

2 Terminological differences are not uniformly obser­ ved. Modern naturalists are still called by some *material­ ists. * It has also been called 'the new materialism. 1 But in that materialism suggests mechanical science the trend is toward the more systematic use of the word naturalism as evidenced by the volume, Naturalism and the Human Spirit. However, in a very recent publication, R o y V o o d Sellars, V. J. McGill, and Marvin Parber (editors), Philosophy for the Future: The Quest of Modern Materlalism (Efew York:“"TEe Macmillan Company, 19^*57, the editors mark themselves off from naturalists. They define materialism as follows: "Modern materialism . . . asserts the following: The inor­ ganic pattern of matter is prior to living, minded and pur­ posive organisms, which arise gradually and only as a result of a complete evolutionary development . . . As to the nature of matter, the materialist as a philosopher has nothing factual to add to the account of the scientist.” P. vi. They differentiate themselves from the naturalists on the following basis: "This passage [from Naturalism and the Human Spirit] will serve clearly to distinguish current naturalism from frank materialism described above. Whereas this type of naturalism is reluctant to commit itself to a positive theory of the world, materialism endeavors to set forth a synoptic view of man and the universe in the sci­ ences at the present state of development.11 pp. ix and x. 3 Dennes mentions this shift four times in two pages. "The Categories of Naturalism" Naturalism and the Human Spirit, pp. 270-71. Note als.o the title of'the article: Hoy Wood Sellars, "Why Naturalism and Not Materialism,” Philosophical Review, 36:216-25, May, 1927. However, if materialism be redefined in view of modern physics he does not object to the term.

21 (2).

Redefinltlon of naturalism.

The New natural­

ism has certain fundamental agreements with the older materialism and nineteenth century naturalism.

The first

of these is the complete confidence in the scientific method as the only reliable way of acquiring knowledge. The second is the exclusion of idealistic, mentalistic, and spiritualistic categories and entities from metaphysics. The third is the basic priority of the science of physics. In fact, Urban calls the priority of the space-time uni­ verse "the essence of n a t u r a l i s m . S e l l a r s ^ states that naturalists take physics as the basic empirical science at the inorganic level, and in another connection says that the ,5Naturef of naturalism is the space-time-causal system which is studied by science. However, due to the changes in science certain items of the naturalistic program have undergone change.


first is to redefine Nature so as to avoid the mistakes of the older materialism.

The Nature of naturalism is not

^ Wilbur Marshall Urban, "Whitehead1s Philosophy of Language and Its Relation to Metaphysics," The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (Paul Schilpp, editor; Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1941), p. 326. 5 Roy Wood Sellars, "Causality and Substance," Philosophical Review, 52:1, January, 19^3. As noted supra Sellars is more friendly to materialism than naturalism, however. Roy Wood Sellars, ialism," p. 217 .

"Why Naturalism and Not Mater­

22 the mechanical Nature of the materialists.

It ceases to be

based upon a particular theory of Weltstoff.

Nature is

defined as the totality of reality, or, as Randall puts it: "For present day naturalists ’Nature’ serves as the allinclusive category, corresponding to the role played by fB e i n gf in Greek thought, or by ’Reality1 for the ideal­ ists."?

From the words of Randall it is apparent that

naturalism does not profess to be dealing with matter, not at least as a gross, palpable stuff, but with the totality of relations in Nature.

The older materialistic

and mechanical stuff is gone and in its place are relations that occur according to certain laws or periodicities that are the province of science to discover.® This suggests the second change, namely, that matter must be redefined.

The naturalists feel that an

injustice is done to them if they are classed as material­ ists if this implies the derivation from the mechanical theory of nature with its cold, lifeless, inert matter. Matter is now free from its "low, base, inert properties'1^

? Randall, og. cit. , p. 357. ® "The scientist turns out to be dealing with the relations of events; he never deals immediately with a gross palpable stuff called matter." Irwin Edman, Four Ways of Philosophy (New York: Henry Holt, 1937), p. 243. 9 John Dewey, "Antinaturalism in Extremis," Naturallsm and the Human Spirit, p. 3 .

23 and has a dynamic character. This new conception of matter in electrical terms has caused a further break of the new naturalism from the older materialism.

Randall’1'0 declares emphatically that

whereas the older naturalism was given to reductionism the new naturalism is anti-reductionistic.

Sellars calls

his naturalism evolutionary naturalism for the very pur­ pose of avoiding the reductive implications of the older materialism. Turning now from the emendations of the older mater­ ialism to the positive platform of present day naturalism we find none have summed up their platform so concisely as Winn: (1) We maintain that the subject-matter of philo­ sophy is identical in scope with that of science; it is nothing short of entire r e a l i t y t h e ultimate source of all information . . . (2) We maintain . . . that science and philosophy should be legitimate partners in thepursuit of truth, both equally naturalistic, the former investigating the phenomenal aspect of problems, the latter the conceptual one . • • (3 ) W© maintain that contemporary philosophy has the duty to clarify and assimilate in conceptual terms much of what has been discovered by recent science.11

1° Randall, op. clt., pp. 362-62. Randall calls this anti-reductiorilsm the second leading feature of new naturalism. 11 Winn, o p . clt. , pp. 533-4.

Italics are ours.

24 An analysis of this statement reveals:

(a) that ex­

clusion of the transcendent from nature and philosophy, (b)

the practical equating of philosophy with the philo­

sophy of science,

(c) the tacit priority of the statements

of scientists over philosophers, and (d) the extension of the scientific method to the totality of experience. Science and naturalism are hereby firmly wedded.


alism is the inevitable philosophy of science,” is the opinion of Sellars.^2

Further evidence of this union is

to be found in Gotshalk's definition of naturalism. Naturalism may be viewed as a methodology or an ontology. Methodologically, it might be defined as reliance upon or acceptance of scientific method. As an ontology it is usually defined as a system of "statements about~the nature of thingsTiased simply on the findings'"of th~natural sciences.13 (3).

Naturalism and the scientific method.


ing out more closely the precise relationship of naturalism to science we notice first the most vigorous espousal of the scientific method by naturalists. tended to all fields of inquiry.

This method is ex­

One of the definitions

12 Sellars, ibid., p. 217. Hocking disagrees. He claims that science does not take naturalism as its philo­ sophy; but naturalism takes science. William Ernest Hock­ ing, Types of Philosophy (revised edition; New York: Charles ScrTBner"*s Sons, 1929), p . 47. -*•3 D. W. Gotshalk, "A Suggestion for Naturalists,” Journal of Philosophy, 43:5, January 1, 1948. Italics ours.

of naturalism is that it is the philosophy that extends the scientific method into every field.14

Williams puts

it even more forcibly when he says that naturalism, as a method,

f,consists in unequivocal allegiance, down the whole

gamut of belief, in every department of life and knowledge, to experience and logic, particularly the scientific logic of empirical inquiry. "15

Roelof s says that "the primacy ■j ZT

of this [scientific] method is absolute,”

in naturalism.

Randall declares that "this insistence on the universal and unrestricted application of the scientific method is a theme pervading every one of these essays [in Naturalism and the Human Spirit].”1^

Dennes avers that "there is for

naturalism no knowledge except that of the type ordinarily 1o

called *scientific, *"*LO and goes on to state that the scientific method cannot be restricted to any limited field but applies to history and fine arts as well:

14 Randall, op. clt, , p. 358. 15 Donald Williams, "Naturalism and the Nature of Things,” Philosophical Review, 53:417, September, 1944. Italics are ours. 16 H.D. Roelofs^, "The Predicament of Naturalistic Empiricism,” Mind, ii.s., 44:302, July, 1935. Italics are ours. 1^ Randall, op. clt., p. 358. 16 Dennes, Italics are ours.

Italics are ours.

"The Categories of Naturalism,” p. 2 8 9.

26 For whether a question is about forces fwithin the atom, 1 or about the distribution of galaxies, or about the qualities and pattern of sound called Beeothovenrs Second Rasmoski Quartette and the joy some men have found in them— in any case there is no serious way to approach controlled hypotheses as to what the answers should be except by inspection of the relevant evidence and by inductive inference from it.19 (4).

Naturalism and the categories of metaphysics.

The union between naturalism and science is further exhi­ bited in the study of the metaphysical categories of the naturalists.

To adduce evidence for the contention that

naturalists closeiy identify statements in science, espe­ cially in physics, with statements in metaphysics we shall consider a typical naturalistic discussion of the categor­ ies, namely, Dennes1.

His essay in Naturalism and the

Human Spirit is entitled "The Categories of Naturalism, 11 He indicates that the new physics has caused a change in naturalistic categories so that the three basic ones now are process (or, event), relation (or, space-time), and quality.

The terms admitted into the categories must have

one of the following characteristics: visible, audiblet or otherwise sensible. ^








jt is apparent right at this point


20 Dennes, op. cit. , p. 2 7 1 .

27 that the case for categories has been given over to the sciences for in the case of naturalists to be empirical-as the above terms are— is to be scientific.

Meaning is

next defined as associating a term with an entity or set of entities.

Although using somewhat different terminology

this parallels what the logical empiricists call designa­ tion.

It is quite obvious that the only categories admitted

by naturalists are those of scientific-empirical nature, for to them a category is a type of term prescribed by the association theory of meaning.

Dennes engages in con­

siderable exposition to buttress up this contention claim­ ing that the metaphysical categories are at the mercy of experience.

By adopting differing sets of categories we

do not make our world different.

Therefore we must derive

our categories out of our experience of the world which is another way of saying that metaphysical categories must be extrapolated from science. x

21 That this latter statement is the situation is evident from both the general tenor of the categories chosen and from the specific delineation of the categories by Dennes. For example, he says that modern naturalism chooses the category of event, or process, as over against the materialistic category of matter. The cases are quite parallel. Just as materialism took that which science was supposedly dealing with, matter, and made it a basic category, so modern naturalists take the subject matter of current physics, events, and make it a basic category. This change to event indicating that Nature is fundamentally process is "scientifically well-established.M P. 2 7 9 . The specific nature of events is to be determined scientifically.

28 For his first category, process, he takes his cue from the current emphasis in physics upon events.


second category is the scientific category of space-time but he calls it relation instead to avoid too close a proximation with the scientific category for there is the possibility that there will be further revision of such concepts.

Relation deals with observable connections

among events and is free from the wider implications and possible logical and material difficulty with a specific space-time doctrine.

But it cannot be denied that his

philosophical category of relation is deeply imbedded in the scientific concepts of space and time. The third category is that of quality.


indicates that the naturalists take a much more generous view about qualities thah nineteenth century materialists in that there is no effort to engage in reductionism.


there again the definition of quality is taken directly from science.

Qualities can only be defined ostensively

and must be inter-subjective.^ In summary, Dennes derives metaphysical categories

^ This is, of course, parallel to the position of logical positivism again. In fact there is a close paral­ lel between Dennes* essay and Rudolph Carnap*s "Testibility and Meaning," Philosophy of Science, 3:419-71, 4:2-40, October, 1936, and January, 1^37.

29 for naturalism by suing the same criteria and procedure as used in science.

His criteria (visibility, audibility,

sensibility, and intersubjectivity) are basic in scienti­ fic methodology.

The categories presented are derived from

science (process, quality, relation).

Our accusation that

Dennes equates the principles of metaphysics with the principles of science is verified by his own words on the subject Evaluation.

There are three major criticisms to

offer against the naturalist’s program in metaphysics. (a) His close identification of philosophy with the philo­ sophy of science is inadequate to the full scope of exper­ ience.

He must either generalize his definition of scien­

tific method beyond recognition if he wishes to be true to the totality of facts, or if he confines himself within the strict boundaries of the scientific method he is no longer true to the complete range of experience.


He adopts

the complete validity of the scientific method in philo­ sophy but in reality this method is dependent upon (i) the

23 Cf. Dennes, op. cit., p. 2 9 3 . He claims that if by metaphysics is meant speculations apart from the scien­ tific method, then naturalism is not metaphysical. But if a philosopher accepts the scientific description of the world accompanied by philosophical analysis then naturalism is metaphysical.

30 general rationality of man, of truth.

(ii) ethics, and (iii) theory

All three of these factors are prior to the

scientific method and upon which it rests.

Therefore the

naturalist must expand his methodology if he wishes to have adequate justification for the scientific method even for science.


If Dennes applied his three categories to

all of experience he would find himself in the same pre­ dicament of Kant.

They are inadequate for the same reason

that the Critique of Pure Reason could not cope with ethics, beauty, and teleology. In commendation of naturalism it may well be said that their respect for science and the scientific method is healthy.

As it will be later stated there is a definite

service that science can be to metaphysics and although naturalists concede too much to science their regard for science is a step in the right direction.

B. (1).


REALISM The word "realism” in philoso­

phy has two primary references.

The first is the doctrine

that ideas, or universals, have a "real” existence.


other usage of the term is in the realist-idealist context In which it means that the objects of perception exist when not perceived, i.e., they have a real existential status independent of thought or perception.

The issue

31 is sharp because idealists have claimed that metaphysical idealism is the only logical metaphysics for epistemological idealism.

If the objects of perception partake of a mental

nature, then they obviously can only exist in a nature of a corresponding character.

Realists, who are frequently

naturalists, wish to break up this close connection of epistemology and metaphysics. All existential realisms have one proposition in common, namely, the affirmation that objects exist when not perceived.

Our concern is with realism's appeal to science

to justify this metaphysical tenet-, and secondly, its reference to science to describe the type of reality these objects exist in. •

Realism professes to imitate the scientific

method in philosophy.

At this point, naturalism and. real­

ism are one, as is evident from the statements of such realists as Holt, Spaulding, and Russell.

Holt maintains

that one of the major purposes of the new realism is to "justify and to extend the method of logic and of exact science in g e n e r a l . T h e union between the two is made

2 2i

Edwin Holt, et al., The New Realism (New York: The Macmillan Company,“ 1923), p. 2b. Cohen notes that the new realism takes what science says literally, i.e., it does not consider it as merely a construction of the human mind. Science has the valid method for discovering the nature of Reality. Morris R. Cohen, Studies in Philosophy and Science (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 19^9),“ p. Xl8 .

32 so close by Holt that he says that the new realists may use the findings of the individual sciences as they stand. Equally emphatic as Holt is Spaulding whose essay on the defense of analysis is a thorough and genuine effort to 25 carry the methodology of science into philosophy. Russell avers that philosophy has renounced any specific method of its own and had adopted that of science. The philosophical use of the method differs only from the scientific in the generality of its use.

Realism "conceives

that all knowledge is scientific knowledge to be ascertained by the methods of science." (3 )•


Hew realism, in turn, insists that scientific

methodology -is based upon the position of existential realism.

In the analysis of the procedures of scientists,

realists claim the scientists experiment on the basis of existential realism.

Physics, biology, and astronomy are

named as sciences that operate on such a basis.


example, Perry, referring to the mean velocity of Jupiter says that it "neither contains nor implies the cognitive relation" for it can be deduced from "the celestial

Edwin Gleason* Spaulding, Ibid., p. 154- 247 .

"A Defense of Analysis,"

Bertrand Russell, "Philosophy of the Twentieth Century," Twentieth Century Philosophy (D. D. Runes, editor; Hew York: The Philosbphical Library, 1943), pp. 225-4 9 .

33 27

gravitation system without reference to cognition."


further argues, in agreement with Hobhouse, that the uni­ versality of natural law, and the nature of causality, are evidence for existential realism for in neither case is the validity of either dependent on cognition for existence. In substantial agreement with Perry and Hobhouse is Max Planck.

Science is not intelligible on the positivistic

or idealistic basis, but upon the realistic alone.


whole structure of science is dependent on the proposition that ,f_there _is a real outer world which exists independently 28 of our act of knowing.,f (4).

Realists believe in the metaphysleal Importance

of physics and maintain, in turn, that it Is conducted on a realistic basis.

They follow the advance of physics very

closely and anticipate further light on metaphysics--as they define it— as physics progresses.

Although he is not

sure at the moment of all the significance of the new theories of matter and thermodynamics Marvin is sure that "their great importance to metaphysics seems assured.

Ralph Barton Perry, ,!A Realistic Theory of Know­ ledge,” The Hew Realism, pp. 98-I5I. Cf. also, Walter T. Marvin, "The Emancipation of Metaphysics from Epistemology,” Ibid.. p. 49. Max Planck, Where is Science Going? (New York: Norton and Company, 1932), p. 79~» Italics are his. Marvin, op. clt., p. 8 6 .

34 Spaulding is perhaps even more emphatic fthen he claims that the entities and atoms that physical hypotheses denote r,are accepted as real in the same sense as are the data which they explain. If3° Russell^l

in agreement with this is

who accepts the space-time of relativity as being

ontological in nature, and further accepts the quantum mechanics definition of matter. In reference to the methodology of physics and realism Planck writes that "theoretical physics is based on the assumption that there exists real events not depend­ ent upon our


Even the positivistic physicists

must employ this principle he claims. In that realists have pledged themselves to the sci­ entific method they have confined their metaphysical state­ ments to the data provided by the sciences.

The meta­

physical outreach of science is central in their philoso­ phy.

Sellars, for example, holds that physics has onto­

logical significance because "it throws light upon

30 Spaulding, op. cit., p. 228. 31 Russell, op. cit., p. 241. He also claims veri­ fication from physics for his doctrine of neutral monism. 32 Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics (Hew York: W. W. Horton, 1936), pT“2 0 .

35 existence.”33

Even more revealing is that in the mutual

descriptions of an object by & psychologist and a scien­ tist, the description of the scientist is to be preferred to that of the psychologist because "for us atoms, elec­ trons, and protons are as real as chairs and tables. are not constructs."3^


in another connection, in speaking

of the existential value of scientific knowledge he says that "its facts and theories inexorably involve an onto­ logy for their reference and philosophical meaning."35

33 Roy Wood Sellars, The Philosophy of Physical Realism (New York: The Macmillan Company, 11532), p. 239. 34 ibid., p. 97. 35 Roy Wood Sellars, "Causality and Substance," Philosophical Review, 52:21, January, 1947. Science and realism face each other again in the existential character of concepts and objects of scientific research. Those taking the realist position are Joseph Ratner, "Scientific Objects and Empirical Things," Journal of Philosophy, 32: 393-408, July, 1935. Alfred North WhiteEead/Science and the Modern World (Pelican Mentor Books, New York: fhe Wew American Library, 1925), pp. 14 and 92. Bernhard Bavink, The Natural Sciences (fourth edition; New York: The Century Company, 1942;, p. 2 2 5 . Cornelius A. Benjamin, "Science-Existential and Non-Existential," Philosophical Review, 3 6 :331, July, 1927. Barnes, a theist, defends a moderate realism in science. Ernest William Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Gifford Lectures, 1927-29; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), P. 9. Fulton J. Sheen, Philosophy of Science (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1934 J, p. 847 Inge pleads with the idealists that the world is not the work of our own minds. William Ralph Inge, God and the Astronomers (Warburton Lectures, 19313 3 ; London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1933), PP. 6-7.

36 Evaluation.

In the use of realism of science for

metaphysics there are three criticisms to be noted. (a) What has been said in our discussion of naturalism and the scientific method holds true for the realist*s posi­ tion.

(b) The uncritical use of the natural sciences and

especially of physics apart from epistemological and meta­ physical analyses is a mistake of shortsightedness.


haps it may prove true that metaphysics may use science but not just as it is.

There is too much contributed by

the subject in both perception and theory construction for a metaphysician to take the sciences just as they are. (c) The emphasis on physics is an exaggeration of its importance for metaphysics.

It is conceivable that the

very generality and abstractness of physics are the very features that prevent it from being of significant service to metaphysics. In the assertion that science follows the principle of existential realism, realism Is close to the truth.


35 (continued) Contrary to those defending the notion that science works on a realistic basis are the phenomenalists, e.g., Lenzen, V. F. Lenzen, "The Metaphysical Import of Scien­ tific Facts," Studies in the Nature of Facts (University of California Publications in Philosophy, Vol. 14; Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1932), p. 154. The Nature of Physical Theory (New York: John Wiley and Sons, I93I), p p . 4 and ~5~. Agreeing with Lenzen is F. Russell BIchowsky, "The Basic Assumptions of Experimental Science," The Journal of Philosophy, 1 8 :296 , May 26, 1921.

37 subjects manufacture their own experiences it is a most mysterious process.

The processes of experimentation and

the objects of experimentation both argue for at least what has been called a "moderate realism.,T Science is not as yet prepared to affirm absolute existential realism.



Science and First Principles, Northrop36 presents an effort to go from the data of science to first prin­ ciples, i.e., to metaphysics.

The principle thesis of the

volume is that there are three major theories as to the metaphysical undergirding of science that first appeared in ancient Greek speculation, and that have modern repre­ sentatives in the domain of science and first principles, and that modern science is most consonant with the physi­ cal theory of science.

The physical theory was the mater­

ialistic synthesis by Leucippus and Democritus of the concepts of change and being, and is defended by Northrop as most in keeping with current science.

The second

theory is the functional, anciently defended by Aristotle and in modern times by Whitehead; and the third is the

36 p. S. C. Northrop, Science and First Principles (New York: The Macmillan Company, I93I ) .

38 mathematical, anciently defended by Plato, and now by Jeans.

Tracing the entire history of science, and sci­

entific developments, Northrop claims to show the gradual triumphal emergence of the physical theory.

The physical

theory states that a dynamical "stuff" is the essential Weltstoff of reality, and as such is prior either to math­ ematical construction, or to space and time.

He is very

convinced that relativity theory, both special and general, imply the physical theory.

The special theory, for exam­

ple, only makes sense within a system of physical objects, clocks, and rods.

Positivistic and mathematical theories

do not do justice to the theory. In reference to the general theory he states that "It is to be noted, therefore, that the general theory of relativity is a more thorough-going physical theory than any which science has previously known."37 reason for this is that space and its properites are now completely defined by physical objects.

"Even space,

time, and space-time which have been previously regarded as independent of matter, are discovered to be relations

37 ibid., p. 8 3 .

39 between physical objects. 113® The metaphysical conclusion from modern physics is the physical theory of nature, which is not merely a theory as bo the nature of science but a first principle. Northrop develops in connection with this his concept of the cosmic atom presenting a bi-polar universe.


this peculiar concept developed in this volume has not been advocated in his writings since then. Evaluation.

There is considerable strength in the

arguments of Northrop.

Perhaps the physical theory and

the organic theory are not mutually exclusive.


modern science is not developed enough as yet to enable us to pass judgment as to correctness nor incorrectness of Northropfs views.

Atomic physics and molar physics

have too much unknown territory yet to be explored for us to attach a definite metaphysical system to them.


such efforts as Northropfs are commendable as they keep before the philosophical world one possible choice for future metaphysical construction.

^ rbid., p. 8 8 . Cf. also, "Certainly a theory which defines space-time in terms of matter in this fashion makes the physical theory of nature primary and cannot use space-time to define what it means by the atomicity and motion of that matter."p. 9 3 .

40 E.


In an elaborate exposition in his Tarner L e c t u r e s ^ Eddington argues for a subjectivism in physical theory that leads to an idealistic metaphysics.

The professed

theme of the lectures is the over-lapping territory between science and philosophy which he names scientific eplstemology. (1).

Planting the seeds of subjectivism.


The first seed of subjectivism is to be found

in his definition of the world. says,

"Physical knowledge," he

"has the form of a description of a world.


define the physical universe to be the world so described."4° Here at the outset the universe Is given an epistemological definition which is one of the principle methods of establishing metaphysical idealism. (b).

The second seed of his consequential subjec­

tivism is linking all physical knowledge to observation, calling the latter "the supreme Court of Appeal.

39 a . S. Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science (Tarner Lectures, 1938; Cambridge:~“Cambridge University Press, 1939). Ifrld-* * P« 3« w

Ibid., p. 9.

Italics are his.


41 in true idealistic tradition the observation does not become the control for science, but determinative of the subject matter of science, i.e., psychological, hence subjective. If we make sensory observation the foundation of physics and subject everything to an observational test, then flwe impose a selective test on the knowledge which is ,t2i2

admitted as physical.”

This, as he terms it, selective

subjectivism for the act of observation is dependent on the sensory and intellectual equipment of the scientist. His conclusion, quite radical in recent philosophy of science, is: rfIt is to such subjectively selected knowledge, and to the universe which it is formulated to describe, that the generalisations of physics--the so-called laws of nature--apply.f|43

Such laws have a greater certainty than


those laws reach empirically.

The knowledge gained by

epistemological considerations is a priori and that by observation is a posteriori.

However, Eddington says that

the former cannot be divorced from the latter.44

42 Ibid., p. 1 7 . ^

Loc« cit.

44 Ibid., p. 17 and 24. Unless this is understood Eddington may be easily misinterpreted.

42 (c).

His third seed for subjectivism is the claim

that, in full view of modern scientific theory, science does not investigate entities but knowledge.

The simple

proof of this is that all of modern science is grounded in observation.

The grounding of modern science in epis-

temology is the direct conclusion of its observational nature.

He writes:

I believe that the whole system of fundamental hypotheses can be replaced by eplstemological prin­ ciples. Or, to put equivalently, all the laws of nature that are usually classed as fundamental can be foreseen wholly from eplstemological considera­ tions. They correspond to a priori knowledge, and are therefore wholly subjective.45 He claims that this very unique conclusion has a purely scientific basis, and that in addition to the laws of nature, he can add the constants of physics which can be deduced from eplstemological consideration. (2).

The metaphysical conclusions.

The seeds of

subjectivism are now brought into metaphysical bloom in terms of a Kantian idealism. writes Eddington,

"Now it is to be remembered,11

"that whatever is accounted for episte-

mologically is ipso facto subjective; it is demolished as part of the objective w o r l d . T h e r e f o r e ,

^5 Ibid., pp. 56-7 . 46 Ibid., p. 5 9 .

Italics are his.

the world-

43 picture of science is not the metaphysical-picture of reality.

The metaphysical-picture is to he derived from

what alone can now he called reality, the realm of the personal. It seems to me that the Enlarged* physics which is to include the objective as well as the subjective is just science; and the objective, which has no reason to conform to the pattern of systematisation that distinguishes present-day physics, is to be found in the non-physical part of science. We should look for it in the part of biology (if any) which is not covered by biophysics; in the part of psychology which is not covered by psycho-physics; and perhaps in the part of theology which is not covered by theophysics. The purely objective sources of the objective element in our observational knowledge have already been named; they are life, consciousness, spirit. We reach then the position of idealist as opposed to materialists, philosophy. The purely objective world is the spiritual world; and the mater­ ial world is the subjective in the sense of selective subjectivism.47 This is, by Eddington*s own confession,^ a variety of Kantianism.

His closing remarks is practically Kant*s

thesis of limiting knowledge to make room for faith.


indicates that the function of consciousness in science is not its only exhaustive function.

Its greatest purpose is

self-fulfillment, and the desire for scientific knowledge

^ b i d . , pp. 68-9. Italics are his. Cf. "It seems probable that wherever effects of objective govern­ ance have appeared they have been regarded as an indica­ tion that the subject is ’outside physics’, e.g., conscious volition, or possibly life." p. 105.

48 It>ld-• PP- 188-89.

44 is but one of the instincts "which claim the same accep­ tance, proceeding alike, from a mystic source welling up in our nature."^9

The problem of knowledge--science--is

the outer shell; the inner shell is the problem of values, and this science does not touch, and so he concludes with a typically Kantian statement: In particular, the realization that physical know­ ledge is concerned with only structure points the way by which the conception of man as an element in a moral and spiritual order can be dovetailed into the conception of man as the plaything of the forces of the material w o r l d . 5 0 Evaluation.

The positive contribution of Eddington

is that he clearly demonstrates that in science there are elements of human elaboration and anthropic coloring.


that he has made this evident, he has made a genuine con­ tribution.

Unless a scientist realizes this he is very

naive when he writes philosophy.

Any metaphysical dogma

based upon either the plate-glass theory of perception, or of the supposed actual reading of the laws of nature from nature like they are read from a book, is erroneous. However, it is not proper to proceed from (a) the anthropic elements in observation and theory construction

49 Ibid.,





223 .


45 to (b) arguments from psychological idealism, to (c) idealistic metaphysics.

Empirical law is a combination

of objective and subjective elements and the construction of a metaphysics on the basis of the subjective elements is as inadequate as a metaphysics of absolute existential realism based on the objective elements.

The rapproche­

ment of science and metaphysics will not be affected by the use of psychological idealism.

CHAPTER IV THE NEW TELEOLOGY OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES One of the traditional methods of passing from the data of science to metaphysics has been by teleology. Such arguments have always captured the imagination of the popular mind, and have managed to attract the admiration of not a few of the scientists.

Rightly or wrongly the

specific strength of the teleological argument Is its use of the calculus of probability.

Modern teleological argu­

ments represent a strong argument contrary to the scepti­ cism of modern science. polation,

As an argument it is an extra­

It is neither a merging with science, nor a

turning of science to use In a previously adopted meta­ physical system.

It procedes from the data of science to

metaphysics on the grounds of the calculus of probability. It represents, therefore, one of the most significant modern efforts to derive metaphysics from science. (1).

Introduction to teleology.*

Teleology has

Its roots deep in Greek, Hebrew, and Christian thought. It received one of its most renowned statements in Paleyfs

^ A magnificent historical and critical summary of teleology is William Fulton, "Teleology,'1 Hastings Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, XII, pp. 215-3 2 ,

47 Natural Theology which was a required text at Cambridge p University for years. The entire subject came under the skillful and penetrating analysis of Kant in his Critique of Judgment.

However> it has been generally conceded that

Darwin's theory of evolution did to the teleological argu­ ment what Kant did to speculative metaphysics.

Since then

appeals to design have not had a ready hearing among scientists or philosophers. But the teleological argument is enjoying a current revival, for, as Compton has written, the argument from design . . . though trite has never been adequately refuted. On the contrary, as we learn more about our world, the probability of its having resulted by chance processes becomes more and more remote, so that few indeed are the scientific men of today who will defend an athe­ istic attitude.3 Whereas the majority of previous design arguments centered about organic systems, the new arguments depend

Ernest William Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Gifford Lectures, 1927-2 9 ; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), P. 597. ^ Arthur H. Compton, Freedom of Man (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1935), P. TT* also: "The rejection of teleology in pure physics is in fact to be regarded simply as a characteristic of the method; it should be taken as asserting not the absence of teleological factors in nature but simply their irrelevance to the physical viewpoint.” Ralph S. Lillie, "The Problem of .Vital Organi­ zation," Philosophy of Science, 1:298, July, 1934. Italics are his.

48 on Inorganic systems.

It could be argued that organisms

can make Interior adaptations to their environment that appear as designed, but it Is Incredible that the organism could alter the "cosmic” environment to suit Its needs. The design of the environment for the organism Is based on physical systems, and arguments on this new basis have been called "the new teleology,'1 the "wider teleology," the "teleology of collocations," and "cosmic teleology." (2).


The man who created the renewed

Interest in teleology is L. J. Henderson, a geochemist. Although it has been generally granted that Paleyfs work on teleology is the definitive statement in modern times, it is actually the famous Bridgewater Treatises2* that give a truly comprehensive system of teleology including refer­ ence to the inorganic realm.

In Its volumes, Including such

authors as Whewell and Bell, It surveys almost the entire range of science at that date.

Its Importance will be

subsequently mentioned. With the work of Darwin came the refutation of Paley.

What was heretofore considered to be design was now

viewed as the sum of countless minor adaptive variations


/ Bridgewater Treatises (12 Vols.: London: William Pickering; 1833-36). ---------

49 organisms.

Scientists and philosophers considered that the

philosophical validity of the teleological argument, bro­ ken by Kant, was now shattered scientifically by Darwin. However, the teleology which the scientists and philosophers discarded was not that of the Bridgewater Treatises.

Henderson1s work is a critical revision of many

of the points made in the Treatises.

Henderson is aware

of this work, quotes it, and indicates that he is now able to more accurately carry out some of its suggestions.^ What the Treatises suggested, and what Henderson so remark­ ably demonstrated, was that there is an amazing connection between the factors of physical nature, and the require­ ments for life.

It is with these collocations between the

organic and inorganic that Henderson so remarkably investi­ gates, and that form* the most general background of the latest movement in teleology.

Although Henderson refuses to

come to any positive assertion as to the metaphysical or

5 Lawrence J. Henderson, The Fitness of the Environ­ ment (New York: Macmillan Company, 1$I3), pp. 3~Fri., 5 fn., 52 f n . , 105 fn., 107 fn. , 131 fn. After having made our own connection between Henderson the Treatises we came across the following: "In fact, when we compare his Order °** Nature with, say, Proutfs volume In the Bridgewater Treatises, we perceive that his argument is in principle that of the Bridgewater Treatises--but with the science brought up to-date and with God left out." R. F. Hoernle, Matter, Life, Mind, and God (New York: Harcourt Brace, and Company, I922), pp. 123-?Jjr;

50 philosophical implications of his work, a survey of his findings are imperative if one is to grasp the force of the teleological arguments that are derived from his work.


his two works3 The Fitness of the Environment is the more foundational, The Order of Nature being more a recapitu­ lation of the former. In The Fitness of the Environment Henderson takes up in order, water, carbonic acid, the ocean, and chemistry, and shows how their unique properties are related to organic life. facts presented

After reading the veritable cavalcade of there is no wonder that Henderson*s work

has been so respected and quoted, e.g., by such writers as Fulton, Boodin, Tennant, Northrop, Barnes, Heard, and Dampier. The conclusion of Henderson is rather curious.


admits that the probability of these collocations being chance is incredible, and beyond all such possibility. for a positive metaphysical statement he is agnostic.

But He

believes that the collocations are not matters of mere c.

Commenting on this very point Heard says that 11if part of the argument is- quoted the whole must be cited.n Gerald Heard, Is God Evident? (New York: Harper Brothers, 1948), p. 5 9 . “H e a r d points out that Henderson has re­ versed the Darwinian trend in teleology and calls Henderson's work profoundly original.

51 contingency for the calculus of probability is against such a conclusion.

In The Fitness of the Environment he

declares that there is not "one chance in countless mil­ lions "7 that all these countless properties of the chem­ icals should so exist and be so connected.

He writes:

There is no greater probability that these unique properties should be without due cause uniquely favorable to the organic mechanism. There are no mere accidents; an explanation is to seek. It must ^ be admitted, however, that no explanation is at hand.** The last sentence of this quotation indicates his agnosti­ cism concerning any metaphysics and teleology.

He even

goes so far as to admit that such a situation in human affairs is the result of "the effective operation of p u r p o s e "9

but he will not commit himself to any metaphys­

ical teleological statement. Other men have taken the data, and the general ap­ proach to the subject that Henderson did, and have devel­ oped teleological interpretations of nature. (3).


Northrop has worked with Henderson

7 Ibid., p. 2 7 6 . ® L o c . cit.

Italics are ours.

9 Ibid., p. 2 7 9 . Fulton says that Henderson along with Haldane is a good Aristotelian in that he accepts the dictum: "Not mechanism or vitalism, but mechanism and teleology." Ibid. , p. £26. Italics are his.

52 in laboratory research in reference to breathing.


Lavoisier and Henderson have isolated out the inorganic, chemical, and cosmic factors of the breathing process.


is a function that cannot be completely contained within the organism and is a type of situation that Darwinianism does not touch. In noting the action of the blood stream as It deposits oxygen where needed and picking up carbon dioxide where it is concentrated and delivers it to the lungs, Northrop says "Could anything be more teleological?"^ However, his principle point Is that the balance of life is not completely within the organism but is related to a field just as an atom is to its field.

"Organism and

environment are factors in a single system," he affirms.11 The work of Henderson and Northrop Is summed up in a biological chart adapted from the physical scientists and known as a nomogram.

It is a correlation In graph form of

the complex factors of breathing. organic and inorganic.

These factors are both

The mutuality of these factors

presents to Northrop a strong teleological situation, a case of cosmic teleology.

He writes:

10 F. S. C. Northrop, Science and First Principles (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931), p7 1767 11 Ibid., p. 177.

53 The idea which one simply must grasp, is that the invisible atmosphere, which we breath and the whole atmosphere of the earth which determines its tensions, is just as much part of bur bodies as the bones which give them their rigidity of the flesh which we seen and touch.12 Any view of biology cannot be limited to the tradi­ tional territory of biology, the organism.

The work of

Henderson in America and Haldane in England definitely shows that biological studies must be directly related to the entire cosmos.

Biological life is deeply rooted in

inorganic life, and the stability of life is the equili­ brium between the two. To account for such a situation by reference solely to microscopic atomic particles, i.e., to materialism in which accident plays the leading role "places slightly too much of strain upon o n e fs credulity.m13

jn agreement with

Henderson Northrop says that his collocation "involves an extremely improbable type of p e r m u t a t i o n , i f looked upon as mere chance.

The situation calls for a retreat to first

principles, i.e., to metaphysics.

At this juncture he

supplies us again with his theory of the cosmic atom, "a

12 Ibid., p. 1 92 . 13 Ibid. , p. m . 14 ibid., p. 1 98 .

54 huge, hollow, spherical atom surrounding all the tradition­ al moving microscopic atoms of the whole of nature."*^ Later in his hook this cosmic atom is identified with God, so his argument from the cosmic nature of breathing leads to the metaphysical concept of God. (4).

F. R. Tennantfs Cosmic

T e l e o l o g y .



is in the solid British empirical approach in his treat­ ment of philosophy and science.

To him teleology must be

grounded in empirical fact, and any argument for the exis­ tence of God must be empirical.

His guiding principle is

that ''Natural theology . . . sets out from fact and induc­ tions; its premises are as firmly established and as uni­ versally acknowledged as any of the stable generalisations 17 of science." His goal is not complete coercive.demonstra­ tion, but reasonable belief. He labels his teleology ’cosmic teleology’ or ’wider o teleology1X0 to differentiate it from the older teleology. He builds his teleology on the "conspiration of innumerable

Ibid.. p. 202. F. R. Tennant, Philosophical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1937), Vol. IT, Chapter IV: "The Empirical Approach to Theism: Cosmic Teleology." Ibid., II, 79. •*■8 Loc. cit.

55 causes to produce, by their united and reciprocal action, and to maintain, a general order of Nature."1^ This asservation involves two problems:

(a) we deal

only with the knowable world; and (b) we deal with only a fragment of an immense universe.

He answers (a) by saying

that if we can at least prove design in this world we can prove the existence of a Designer for this world, the problem of the rest of the universe being irrelevant. (b)


is far more serious and in reply to it Tennant states

that (i) the teleological argument is not based on the principle of the inconceivability of the opposite but upon the positive evidence from the known; and (ii) the fragment must be representative of the universe for it exists in it and appears to be like the rest of it; and (iii) the tele­ ological argument leads to the ethical and moral purposes and values in life which,

in turn, makes the immensity of

the mere spatiality of the universe lose its importance.20 Cartesian teleology he rejects as it is based upon


Loc« cit.

20 A. E. Taylor, Does God Exist (New York: The Mac­ millan Company, 1947), builds his teleological argument on moral and ethical grounds. Tennant argues in the same spirit as Kant when he undergirds the teleological argu­ ment with reference to the moral and value features of experience.

56 the structure of the mind and the designs of abstract thought.

A true teleology is constructed on richer grounds

than either abstract thought or scientific knowledge.


rejects Paley's type of teleology for the usual reasons but insists, however, that evolution does not touch wider teleology.

The changes in evolution are a given datum

and their forthcomingness must be accounted for.


a wider version of Paley's teleology is still conceivable. Having surveyed and rejected in turn Cartesian and Paleian teleology, Tennant associates himself with the teleology of Aquinas who, Tennant claims, first looked for adaptations in the inorganic realm.

Tennant does not take

precisely this view as he, paying reference to the works of Henderson, states that the design of the inorganic realm is crucial.

He writes:

The vast complexity of the physico-chemical condi­ tions of life on the earth suggests to common sense that the inorganic world may retrospectively receive a blocentric explanation, which, if 1unconscious purpose * do but restate the facts rather than account for them, and ungrounded coincidence to be as humanly incredible as it is logically unassailable, becomes a teleological explanation. . . . The fitness of our world to be the home of living beings depends upon certain primary conditions, astronomical, thermal, chemical, etc., and on the coincidence of qualities apparently not causally -connected with one another, the number of which would doubtless surprise anyone wholly unlearned in the sciences; and these primary conditions, in their turn, involve many of secondary order. Unique assemblages of unique properties on so vast a scale being thus essential to the maintenance of life,

57 their fortheomingness makes the inorganic world seem in some respects comparable with an organism.21 It could be objected at this point that life would have emerged in different fashion under different condi­ tions but Tennant rebuts

that the complexity of circum­

stances is so great that in order for any kind of life to emerge there must be more involved than blind forces or pure mechanism.

Nor can science use the world fevolution*

to explain the entirety of the cosmic process for this (a) assumes the truthfulness and sufficiency of Darwinianism, and (-b) must define evolution in a sense it does not have in organic evolution.

"Presumably," he concludes, ^

"the world is comparable with a single throw of dice.


common sense is not foolish in suspecting the dice to have been loaded. The logician makes two objections:

(a) a most for­

tunate result can be made with just one throw of the dice so that our world may be such a cost of the almost infinite possibilities, and (b) this world is one of a kind so there can be no intelligible talk about probability.

The latter

is considered by Tennant to be the most dangerous.

To the

logician Tennant states that logic deals with mathematical

21 Ibid., II, 8 6 . 22 Ibid., II, 87.

58 probability whereas the question in hand is the "alogical probability which is the guide of life, and which has been found to be the ultimate basis of all scientific induc­ tion. ”^3

At this point science and theology walk hand-in-

hand and it is unfair to reprimand the theologian and say nothing to the scientist.

This type of supposition is the

type that all scientific knowledge relies upon and there­ fore it is not true "that science rests on reason, while, in a corresponding sense, teleology rests on unreason. Tennant concludes his argument by likening it to a suit of chain-armour in which all parts contribute together to make a very substantial garment rather than to a chain which is weakest at its weakest link and if snapped there renders all the other links useless. Finally, to keep teleology from being divorced from science he insists that it must be an extrapolation from science: All causal science is, in the last resort, but reasonable and postulatory* teleology is therefore a development from science along its own lines, or a continuation, by extrapolation, of the plotted curve which comprehensively describes its knowledge. And this is the apologia of theism such as professes to be reasonable belief for the guidance of life, when

2 3 XjQc. c i t .

2>t- Ibid., II, 8 9 .

59 when arraigned by science and logic--or by more pretentious theology.2 5 45).


Jeans is the most outspoken of the

physicists in his derivations of metaphysical propositions from the mathematical nature of modern physical theory. Although it might sound strange at first to call Jeans1 famous mathematical argument teleological, we feel that it is the very nature of the case. design.

It is a frank appeal to

The design in this case is not mechanical in na­

ture, as for example, could be argued from the leversysterns of the human body, or hydraulics of the heart; nor is it the "clever contrivance” argument as could be made from the structure of the eye or ear.

It is, rather, the

argument of logical Platonism: the existence of mathema­ tical form so universal can only be the result of a mathe­ matically minded God--in Platonic philosophy, a geometri­ cal God.2 ^

This is simply to say that Jeans* argument

for the existence of the Pure Mathematician takes the form

25 Ibid., II, 120. 26 In The Mysterious Universe (revised edition; Hew York: The Macmillan Company, 1944), Jeans refers to Plato as having the same position as his and even favorable quotes "God forever geometrizes,” p. l60.

6o of traditional design arguments.^7 (a).

Modern science as mathematical.

It is the

general assumption of scientists that the ideal law of science Is mathematical form* science," writes Lenzen,

"The goal of exact empirical

"is the expression of natural laws

as functional relations between numerical values."28


goal has been most nearly attained in the physical sciences, especially in astro-physics. Whatever be the meaning or significance of the pre­ sent nature of law in physics, it Is admitted by all that modern physics is mathematical in form.

Eddlngton is in

agreement with Jeans at this point as exhibited in his con­ cept of 'pointer readings.'29

Surprisingly D ’Abro not only

27 Cf. the words of Jeans himself: "We discover that the universe shews evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds— not, so far as we have discovered, emotion, morality, or aesthetic appreciation, but the.tendency to thinic in the way which, for want of a better word, we describe as mathematical." Ibid., pp. 186-8 7 . Italics are ours. However, fnge is the gloomy dean at this point. "Nothing puzzles me more than Jeans' belief that the downfall of mechanism . . . favors a pan-mathematical theory of the universe." William Ralph Inge, God and The Astronomers (London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1933), p. 64. 28 victor F. Lenzen, "Procedures of Empirical Science," International Emyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, no. 5 P. "13".


2 9 However, Eddlngton derives no metaphysical sig­ nificance- from the mathematical form of physics and differs sharply with Jeans’ position. A. S. Eddlngton, The Philo­ sophy of Physleal Science (Tarner Lectures, 1938; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1939), PP. 7^ and 137.

61 states the truism that modern physics is mathematical in form hut even confesses that his convictions are close to those of Jeans.

D'Abro does not believe that the new

quantum theories can be called phenomeno1ogical but they must be called mathematical theories.3Q

He quotes Jeans

as a substantiating authority for this asservation.31 D fAbro further indicates that one of the assumptions of science is the mathematical assumption--that mathematics is applicable to the physical world with objective ground in nature itself which makes this possible.3? Jeans himself writes that "all the pictures which science now draws of nature, and which alone seem capable of according with observational fact, are mathematical pictures."33

He also had said that the goal of science is

to discover a pattern of events, and this pattern "will be capable of description only in mathematical terms."3^ These mathematical formulae constitute "our knowledge of

3^ a . D*Abro, The Decline of Mechanism in Modern Physics (New York: Van "Nostrand, T 9 3 9 ) , p. 55. Ibid., p. 101. 32 Ibld-, p. 24. 33 jeans, op. cit., p. I5 0.

Italics are his.

3^ James Jeans, Physics and Philosophy (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1944), p~ l7T^ Italics are ours.

62 the physical



This means that physics is mathematical in form in the identical sense that Newtonian physics was mechanical in form.

The new physics is not merely a successful ex­

tension of the mathematical instruments of the older phys­ ics, but it is a rejection of the mechanical picture for mathematical form. 3^ (b).

Metaphysleal conclusions.

If mathematics

seems to ”fit” nature in so many instances and in such an increasing degree of precision, the implication Is that nature is constructed mathematically by a mathematician. The universe appears as one vast mathematical cob-web as evidenced by Jeans1 statement that ”we live in a gossamer universe; pattern, plan and design are there In abundance, but solid substance is rare.”37 Jeans argues that if the great success of modern physics is due to its mathematical form, we must infer that nature is mathematical.

* P« 9*

Now if nature is mathematical it

Italics are ours.

3^ cf. Jeans1 words: ”The history of theoretical physics is a record of the clp^bhing of mathematica]L~£ormula£_which were right, or very nearly rigfrtf, with physical interpretations which were often badly wrong.” Ibid., p. 190. 37 James Jean, The Universe Around Us (third edi­ tion; New York: The Macmillan Company, I93TF, p. 124.

63 is the work of a mathematician.

Mathematics is the result

of pure thought, and is in the realm of pure thought, so the Creator of the universe is a Mathematical Thinker and the universe is a thought universe.33 pressions are:

Typical of his ex­

"nature seems to he conversant with the

rules of pure mathematics;"39 "the universe appears to look more like a great thought than like a great machine; "the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician;"^ "from the intrinsic evidence of his creation, the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure m a t h e m a t i c i a n ; " i f the universe is an act of thought, then its creation must have been an act of thought."^3 In buttressing his position Jeans claims that no other pictorial model will due, e.g., an engineer, or

3® Cf. Philipp Frank, Between Philosophy and Physics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, I941), pp.~TU6 ^ff i ^

Ttxe Mysterious Universe, p. 154. Ibid., p. 186.


Ibid., p. 156.

*2 Ibid., p. 165. ^3 Ibid., p. 181. However, a word of caution is necessary here as this position sounds somewhat Kantian but Jeans informs us that in Kant*s philosophy mathematics comes in from below, i.e., the human mind; but in his system it comes in from above, i.e., from God. Ibid., p. 159.

64 biologist, and that his view is consonant with epistemological considerations. representationalism.

He defends a form of dualism or

The human mind is confined to the

brain and only ha3 access to the external world through the senses.

He frequently likens the mind to a man shut iiii up within a prison. ^ Man's only contact with the outer world

is by "the messages we receive . . . through the

windows of our senses."^5

We cannot have so-called "plate-

glass vision" of reality but we can know ratios, and ratios and pure numbers.

"We can, then, acquire real knowledge

of the external world of physics but this must always consist of ratios, or in other words, of numbers. There is by this mean an escape from agnosticism inherent in epistemological dualism.

Agnosticism is further alle­

viated by the triadic arrangement of the Mathematical God, the mathematical physicist, and the mathematical universe. (c).


Criticisms of Jeans can generally

be grouped under three different headings. (i).


The first class of criticisms are those that


Physics and Philosophy, op. cit., pp. 6

and 8 . 45 Ibid,, p. 8 . ^ Loc. cit. Italics are ours. However, the world is not my private construct. Ibid., p. 192.

65 claim that mathematics is purely formal in nature.


who hold to this position accept, in general, the conclu­ sions of the Principia Mathematics.^? (ii).

The second class of refutations deals with the

conviction that the mathematical nature of physics is simply a manifestation of its abstract nature.

Infeld, Lenzen, and

Mace view the situation in this m a n n e r . I f

the mathe­

matical nature of physics simply means that physics has approached a high degree of abstraction then no such claims as Jeans1 are valid.

^7 Mathematics has been traditionally thought of as the study of discrete magnitude (numbers) or continuous magnitude (geometry). Russell and Whitehead professedly reduced mathematics to logic and thus made mathematics a form of a deductive system. How a formal system is related to an empirical science has been part of the work of logi­ cal empiricists. Cf. Rudolph Carnap, ’’Foundations of Logic and Mathematics,” International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, hoi He first sets up a logical system with its symbols and rules for formation and transformation. Next he forms a system of semantics with rules of designa­ tion. He then takes a science, e.g., physics and adds its content to the syntactical (logical) and semantical systems, and has an Interpreted system. That system of mathematics is used which fits the system, and is chosen from a variety of competing systems. Its justification is its usefulness. Such a view of mathematics is of course out of harmony with Jeans1 position. This is also the position of Frank, Bridgman, and Russell. Leopold Infeld, The World in Modern Science (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1934) * PP. ^36^377 V. F. Lenzen, "The Philosophy of Nature in the Light of Contemporary Metaphys­ ics, ” Essays in Metaphysics. (University of California Publications In *FHilosophy, Vol. 5 ; Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1934), p. 46. C. A. Mace, "Physicalism,’’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1936-37, P. 38.


The most serious refutation is that the

mathematical nature of physics is a result of the sclent


tist’s own impositions upon Nature, or, as Bridgman states it, ’’what Jeans might have said is that Man is a mathe­ matician, and reflected that it is no accident that he forms nature in his own image.

Sullivan is of the same

opinion for he says: On the other hand there seems some reason to believe that any universe containing several objects can be brought within some sort of mathematical web, so that the mathematical character of the universe is a fact.. . of no particular significance.5° (d).


Jeans is aware that the latter is a

typical disclaimer that would be brought against his argu­ ment so he rises to defense at this point.51

Jeans reasons

that if this were the ease long ago it would have been apparent that we were reading our own nature into Nature,

^9 Bridgman, op. cit., p. 6 7 . 5° J. W. N. Sullivan. The Limitations of Science Mentor Books; New York: The New American Library, 1933), p. 10. He also objects to the mathematical argument on the basis that the "universe possesses aspects other than its mathematical aspects. The artist and the mystic are concerned with aspects of the world which are not mathe­ matical. ” P. 143. 5-*- "This statement can hardly hope to escape chal­ lenge on the ground that we are merely moulding nature to our pre-conceived ideas . . . S o , it may be suggested, the mathematician only sees nature through the mathematical blinkers he has fashioned for himself." The Mysterious Universe, pp. 156-5 7 .

67 but Nature steadfastly refused to adjust to any of our previous anthropomorphisms.

rBut when Nature was treated

mathematically, she gladly yielded her secrets.


the mathematics must be in nature and not merely in the scientistsf heads. He follows this by saying that the use of mathe­ matics in commerce and engineering is not the type of thing, he is talking about, but rather he is referring to the Platonic notions of the God who always geometrizes and who orders all things by measure.

Therefore the accusation

that we are reading our naturae into Nature is non sequitur. And he need no more have troubled about the crit­ icism that the mathematics he had discovered resided ,merely in his own mathematical spectacles, then the angler who catches a big fish by using a little fish as bait need be worried by the comment--*Y e s , but I saw you put the fish in yourself. 1

The proposed effort to communicate with Mars fur­

nishes further evidence for his position.

When it was

decided to try to communicate with Mars the problem of symbols arose.

The adopted suggestion was to construct

the Pythagorean triangle out of huge bonfires on the Sahara desert.

Mathematics was considered the one possible

inter-pianetal language.

And so, the one positive language

from the "world out there" to the "world in here" is

52 ibid., p. 1 6 2 .

68 mathematics.

The world is not the work of a "biologist, nor

an engineer, but of "a pure mathematician,"53 and that is the metaphysical undergirding that makes mathematical physics possible. Evaluation.

Although there are some problems in

Ibid., p. 165. It is of interest to note that Weyl agrees with Jeans. Herman Weyl, The Open World: Three Lectures on the Metaphysleal ImpIlcati.ons~~of Modern Science (New Y o r k : Yale University Press, 1932). Speaking of the finger of God in nature he writes: "The world is not a chaos, but a cosmos harmoniously ordered by invio­ lable mathematicaT laws." P .21 . Italics are his. On the long r o a d o f experience throughout the following cen­ turies this belief has always found new and surprising fulfillments in physics, the longer the more, the most beautiful perhaps in the Maxwell theory of electromagnetic field. No general notion concerning the essence of the external world can be placed parallel to this one in depth and solidity." P. 24. "The harmony of the universe is neither mechanical nor psychical, it is mathematical and divine.” p. 2 6 . Other arguments for teleology will be found in the writings of Boodin, Du Nuoy, and Barnes. Du N u o y fs argument is based on the calculus of probability as applied to the possibility of the formation of the first cells of life. The chance formation of a basic, simple protein molecule is one in 2.02 x 10-321 or practically nil. Human Destiny (New York: Longman*s Green and Company, 19^7), p. 33 ff. Boodinfs arguments are of the general nature of cosmic teleology. He defends a position he calls empiri­ cal realism and cosmic idealism. The order of the universe is such that it cannot be accounted for on any chance basis but on the grounds of cosmic interaction. For the order in nature he appeals to the physical sciences: the structure of the atoms, the structure of the molecule, the periodic law of elements, the mathematical order of nature, and the dynamic adaptiveness of matter. Teleology is the result of emergence by guidance. John Elof Boodin, Gpd and Creation (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1934); Cosmic

69 connection with teleology, its probability of being valid is very great.

As far as problems are concerned there is

the difficulty of adequately defining the concept of chance. There are many instanoee of dysteleology that must be accounted for.

Making inferences from a part to a whole,

and from one instance to a universal generalization, is indeed a knotting problem both in science and metaphysics. In favor of the argument it may be stated that there is the possibility of the application of the calculus of probability.

As science discovers the factors necessary

for life it makes it increasingly possible to apply the calculus of probability.

An argument capable of some type

of mathematical formulation is potentially a strong argu­ ment.

For example, as the science of psycho-physics grows

it reveals pari passu the number of factors involved in the act of perception for the sense organ under study.


,5^ £continued) Evolution (New York: The Macmillan Company, 19§§); and Three Interpretations of the Universe (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1934). Barnes also defends a form of cosmic teleology. He looks for no clever contrivances to prove teleology but reasons from the grand scope of nature. He appeals in turn to the order and symmetry of atomic physics; astronomy; and ' natural law to verify his assertion. Ernest William Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1533)”.

70 further evidence are similar studies performed in reference to the lower organisms.

The bat maneuvers by a complicated

sonar system; the pigeon finds its way "home" by a sensi­ tivity to the earth?s magnetic field--at least according to one recently propounded theory; fish are able to avoid objects by the sense organs on the side sensitive to minute variations of pressure; grunion have a most complicated breeding process that is remarkably timed1with the highest waves of the highest tide of the year.

In such cases it

is not a matter of internal adjustments of an organism to an environment but it is the making manifest of types of structures and activities that to duplicate involves ad­ vanced scientific and engineering training on behalf of human beings. Knowledge of insect social life has been greatly enlarged.

Bees have a communal existence that could not

gradually emerge.

There are so many factors Involved that

the whole communal arrangement must exist all at once or else it cannot exist at all. The teleological concept is very vital and may prove to provide one of the most satisfactory channels of passing from the data of science to metaphysics. The arguments in refutation of Jeans are valid. (a) Jeans must show the Inconsistency of the present theory of the relationship of mathematics to science, namely, that

71 that geometry or arithmetical system is used which prag­ matically fits the facts.

Jeans must present a far more

trenchant rebuttal of the criticism that the apparent mathematical character of nature is the result of m a n ’s reading such into nature.

(b) In that his mathematical

argument is a form of logical Platonism the latter must be established to some degree independent of science. (c) There is also need to demonstrate that the mathematical form of modern science implies mathematical essence.


brief, the teleological argument of Jeans is dependent for its validity upon the demonstration of some form of logical realism.

CHAPTER V RELATIVITY THEORY AND METAPHYSICS With, the announcement of the general theory of relativity by Albert Einstein, philosophers of science found themselves confronted with a most important task, v i z ., to determine the philosophical consequences of the theory--if any,

If there were no clearly demonstrable

metaphysical aspects to it, philosophy would have to con­ tinue its quest with no help from relativity theory.


on the other hand, it could be shown that it has metaphys­ ical worth, then whatever metaphysics it would be conjoined to would share some of the certainty of the relativity theory.

It is the purpose of this chapter to investigate

those efforts to turn relativity to the verification of some metaphysical doctrine, or metaphysical system. The special theory was announced in 1905 and dealt with unaccelerated systems; the general theory was set forth in 1915 and is concerned with any system, accelerated or n o t .1

1 For a discussion of the implications of relativity theory in the scientific universe of discourse cf. F. S. C. Northrop, Science and First Principles (New York: The Mac­ millan Company, 19^9), pp. 74-5. The practical difference between Newtonrs system and Einstein1s is small. It is expressed by the small ration of

73 The experimental verification of Einstein2 has taken the theory out of the realm of theoretical speculation and has entrenched it firmly among the accepted laws of science.3 Because of the brilliance of theoretical thought by Einstein and the remarkable confirmations, relativity theory has been the center of much metaphysical speculation.

The problem is

somewhat complicated by the very fine and elaborate analyses of experts, but our concern is with what metaphysicians have done with the theory.

First to be considered are those

(continued) the square root of the velocity of light divided by the speed of the planet which in reference to Mercury is 0. 000 000 03. Einstein did notreplace Newton, he refined his system. The experimental verification is threefold: (1) the bending of starlight discovered aththe famous clipse of 1919 as Einstein predicted; (2) the calculations of Einstein con­ cerning Mercuryfs perihelion were only one second off from its known rotation, whereas every effort to adjust this to the Newtonian system failed; (3 ) the red-shift is considered as evidence for his claim that in strong gravitational fields atoms should vibrate slower. Cf. Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (New York: Henry Holt, 1921), p. 148 f'f~ William Cecil Dampier, A History of Science (third edition; New York: The Macmillan Company ,~T9^4\J > P • ^26 . 3 Dorothy Wrlnch says that relativity has "taken up an almost unassailable position in the fabric of science, a position it is entitled to" because of its experimental con­ firmation and its ability to correlate an immense number of facts. Dorothy Wrinch, "Scientific Methodology with Special Reference to Electron Theory," Proceedings of the Aris­ totelian Society, n.s., 1926-2 7 , pp. 47-48. Similar remarks are made by l)fAbro, The Evolution of Scientific Thought (New York: Boni and Liveright, 19277, p. ix; and J.W.W. Sullivan, Aspects of Science (second series; New York: Alfred A. KnopFT”1 W 6 T 7 ~p T"’’53 .

74 that argue for idealism on either the basis that (a) rela­ tivity re-enstates subjectivity, which in turn leads to idealistic metaphysics, or (b) that relativity ends the mechanical system of Newton and is therefore in accord with the type of universe idealism proposes to be.

Second to

be considered are the realists who argue for existential realism from relativity theory.

Third for consideration

is Alexander's metaphysical notion of space-time. (1).


J. Laird4 has made a fairly

exhaustive list of all the arguments presented by idealists for their position in modern physics.

Under the caption of

"Arguments concerning space and time" he gives the follow­ ing:

(a) in that space and time are inter-relative they are

by the same token subjective;

(b) in that all spatio-

temporal measurements are relative to an observer they are subjective;

(c) in that physics deals with measured dis­

tances with mentefacts as the units of measurement, it is subjective; and (d) our mastery of nature is so successful that it must be a mastery of our own mind, not of stubborn Nature. "Arguments concerning time and continuity" are the

^ J. Laird et al., "Realism and Modern Physics," Knowledge, Experience and Realism (Aristotelian Society Supplementary Vol. T3!, I929), PP* 112-61.

75 nature of Bradleian criticisms to show that the theory cannot be literally true, and hence must be subjective: (a) in that the velocity of light is finite this theory has us say that the present sun is really the past sun; (b) the theory cannot be literally true for it talks of the fullness of space and time, and the emptiness of atoms; and (c) there is such a vast difference between the laws of atomic and molar physics--although there is at least some basis to question this now with Einstein*s recently announced Unified Field Theory. (a )«


Carr has been one of the most outspoken

of the idealists in forming metaphysical conclusions, from relativity theory.

Relativity theory, to Carr, destroys

the objectivity of science and ushers back the factor of subjectivism. (i).


Magnitude loses in objectivity in

relativity theory in that it makes "the exact determination of magnitude impossible" and with the demise of objective magnitude comes the demise of the independence of the uni­ verse. 5

This re-enstates the subjectivistic belief that

"there is no way of presenting an object of knowledge in

5 W.H. Carr et al., "The Problem of Simultaneity," Relativity, Logic, and““Mysticism (Aristotelian Society Supplementary V o l . Ill, 1924), p. 21.

76 complete detachment from the conditions of knowing. (*■*•)•

Point of reference.

Traditionally science

operated on the basis of existential realism and epistemological dualism which places the point of objectivity in Nature.

But relativity theory reverses this and makes

the previously subjective, the objective (the observer); and the previously objective (Nature) a construct.


point of reference is now placed in the Individual, which is in harmony with idealism and fatal to materialism.


relativity theory is a return to the philosophy of Leibniz for relativity theory is in complete accord with neo-ideal­ ism and "in complete disaccord with the fundamental stand­ point of every form of neo-realism."? (iii).

Psychological idealism.

Science tradition­

ally took nature as objective as indicated by its doctrines of space and time.

When relativity theory first appeared

it looked like a mere methodological principle, but upon examination it contains "the most fundamental philosophical concepts of the nature of the universe" the essence of

^ Loc. cit. 7 H. Wildon Carr, et al., "The Idealistic Inter­ pretation of Einstein’s THeory, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society n.s., 22; 123, 1921-22.

77 which is to introduce subjectivism into the "arcana of science.”^

The argument form psychological idealism is

therefore impossible to avoid.

"The new principle is that

every observer is himself the absolute," Carr writes,


not, as has been hitherto supposed, the relative center of the universe. Further confirmation of this is to be found in Zeno's paradoxes. table.

If objectivism is true Zeno is Irrefu­

But relativity theory reveals that there are no

objective independent spaces, distances, and times, but that such are variable with each observer.

Therefore rela­

tivity theory, being subjectivistic, enables us to escape the logical trap of Zeno which the objectivist is caught In. (c).

It is Jeans1 conviction that relativity theory

Is evidence directly and indirectly for mentalism.

8 Herbert Wildon Carr, The General Principle of Relativity (New York: The MacmTTTan Company, 1920), p. 21 ^ » P« 23« 7t is of Interest to note that Joad concurs with the subjectivists for to him modern physics makes the realist theory of perception an Impossibility. The world of perception Is vastly different from the world of modern physics. Not only is the external world now made a mystery by the doctrine of substance being in such a state of flux, but the trend to mathematicism is such that the Pythagorean dream might become a scientific fact. Modern physical theory, at the moment, fosters a dualistic epistemology which is embarrassing to the realist. Modern physical theory engenders a psychological sclipsism. J. Laird, C.E.M. Joad, et a l M op. clt., p. 130 ff.

78 (i).

Relativity ceases to talk about matter in

materialistic terms. (ii).

Matter is now a mental construct.10

Relativity is mathematical in form making

the universe the work of a pure mathematician.

"The rela­

tivity theory," he writes," "because of its close associa­ tion with pure mathematics seems to carry us yet further along the road from materialism to mentalism. (iii).

Relativity theory is anti-mechanical, which

in turn removes the scientific objection to a spiritualis­ tic metaphysics.

Relativity, with its substitution of

chrono-geometry for gravitational force, cannot be mech­ anically represented.

In addition to this, relativity is

anti-mechanical because the relativity of simultaneity makes direct action at a distance impossible for mechanical action through a medium is rejected in relativity theory. The latter is true because of the relativity of each Ksystem (accelerated


10 James Jeans, Physics and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942), pp. 14 and 200. 11 , The Mysterious Universe (new revised edition; New l^ork: The Macmillan Company, 1944), P* 188. 12 Ibld», P- 2°1. 13 Sir J.H. Jeans et al., "The New Physics and Meta­ physical Materialism," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 43:189, 1942-43. Men who have controverted subjectivism in relativity theory are Turner, Russell, Frank, Boodin, Sellars, Whitehead, and D fAbro.

79 (2).


Opposed to the subjectivists are the

objectivists (realists) who maintain that relativity theory substantiates their existential realism.

Turning to the

Aristotelian Society Symposium on relativity we note that Nunn believes that relativity theory and neo-realism are in accord.

He mentions Alexander and Whitehead as evidence

to prove that neo-realism and relativity are mutually com­ patible as refutation to the subjectivistic insinuation that they are not.

To the contrary, neo-realism is the

very effort to harmonize relativity theory and epistemology. Whitehead,

in the same symposium, remarks that events form

the stuff of the universe which is far more compatible to realism than to idealism for it permits happenings when no mind is present, or to use Whiteheadfs expression,

"so far

as we know, there is not enough mind to go r o u n d s H i s conclusion is that so far as modern relativity theory has any influence "it is all to the advantage of such philoso­ phical systems [realisms] .."16

Dorothy Wrinch says that the

propositions of science involve concepts that in turn


H. Wildon Carr, A.N. Whitehead, op. cit., p. --—






16 Ibld- ■ P- 132 -

80 involve the doctrine of external relations which is realistlc.17 S e l l a r s ,


a physical realist, takes the ontological

status of relativity theory seriously.

He admits that

Einstein cast his theory in a positivistic mold hut Sellars claims that the category of existence cannot he dismissed. The hasis of the measurements of relativity theory is an underlying naturalistic [and realistic] ontology. Bussell's opinion is that uthe fundamental assumption of relativity is realistic" in the sense that when all observers agree as to a measurement, the phenomenon measured must be regarded "as objective, and not as contributed by the observers."^9 (3).


One of the most pronounced of

modern efforts to justify metaphysics from relativity theory is the work of Samuel Alexander.20

Typical of the

^ » P« 135. However, the rest of her argument is apparently positivistic as she talks of the "reality of sensations" and of the constructs made from these sensa­ tions . Roy Wood Sellars, "Materialism and Relativity," Philosophical Review t 5 5 :25-5 1 , 1946. 19 Bertrand Russell, "Relativity: Philosophical Consequences," Encyclopaedia Britannica, XIX, 100, four­ teenth edition. 20 Samuel Alexander, Space, Time and Deity (2 Vols.: Gifford Lectures, 1916-18; London: Macmillan Company, 1920).

81 complimentary remarks about Alexander are the words of Collingwood who calls these Gifford Lectures "one of the greatest triumphs of modern philosophy.,l2^

In understand­

ing A l e x a n d e r s system, two things are to be noted:

(a) he

places science and philosophy close together; the differ­ ence between the two to be neither of subject matter nor generality.

It is the nature of philosophy to generalize,

and it is the nature of science to be comprehensive.


more comprehensive at science becomes the closer it comes to philosophy, so that it may become difficult to say where pp

science leaves off and philosophy begins.”

time are absolutely crucial for his system.

(b) Space and He writes:

It is n o t , I believe, too much to say that all the vital problems of philosophy depend"”for their solution on the solution of the problem of what Space and time are and more particularly how they are delated to each other ,23~~^ This puts relativity in the very center of the metaphysical circle as one of the most serious of pretenders.

In Alex­

ander we have a philosopher who accepts Space-Time as having metaphysical importance of the first order. so is this that as Smith says,

So much

"If that basis proves

21 E.G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945), p. 164. 22 Alexander, op. cit., p. 122. 2 3 Ibid., I, 3 5 .

Italics are ours.

82 o jx unsound, the whole superstructure confessedly crumbles.” The precise thesis of Alexander is that philosophy by method of analysis, arrives at the same conclusions that physicists have experimentally.

The difference is that

with philosophy the conclusion is a metaphysical one but with the scientists it is mathematical.

The beginning of

the metaphysical chain of argumentation is events in space and time.2 5

Space and time, in which events occur, come

to us by sensation and are extended by thought,


and times are apprehended in the first instance just as other things are, if not by sense, at any rate through p £1


Space and time are then operated by thought and

become intellectual constructs2? for "sense has no mono­ poly on reality.”2^

Upon investigation it is discovered

that one cannot exist without the other. cannot catch either in isolation.

Empirically you

Space without time is a

blank; time without space is a mere "now.” there would be no points to connect.”2 9

,fWithout Time

Therefore we must

J.A. Smith, "Professor A l e x a n d e r s Notion of Space-Time," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, h. s. , 25:41, I924-2 5 . 2 5 Alexander, op. clt., I, 1. 26 Ibid., I, 40. 27 L o c . clt. 28 Ibid., p. 42. 29 ibid., I, 48.

'83 write Space-Time. metaphysics.

Here is the primary fundamental of all

"Alexander rejects Kantian subjectivism and

Bradleian illusion of the finite mind as to space. is metaphysically real," writes


And what is to

be said of Space, is to be said of Time. "the real e x i s t e n t . I t


Space-Time is

is not substance, but stuff.32

Space and Time are the simplest characters of the world and Space as Qualified with Time is "the matrix of all being."33 Alexander realizes that Space-Time could readily end in the staleness of a Parmenidean plenum so he adds to it the touch of Heraclitus and says that Space-Time be called Motion were It not for the Qii

tions with the word.-*

could also

traditional associa-

To add further color to the color­

less categories of space and time he says that Space and

3° Harry Huja, "Samuel A l e x a n d e r s Concept of SpaceTime," Philosophy of Science, 2:191, April, 1935. Italics are ours. 31 Alexander, loc. cit. 32 Ibid., I, 148, ^

fbid., I, 61.

fn. Italics are ours.

3^ Ibid. , I, 61. Ingefs remark is of interest. "Pro­ fessor Alexander would not wish to be classed as a Bergsonian, but his famous Gifford Lectures are unquestionably a philosophy of movement." William Ralph Inge, God and The Astronomers (London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1933), p. 116.

84 Time are always full, and that they are full of each other, and that as such they form a perfect continuum with a com­ plete, absolute density.

It is from this plenum as an

infinite continuum of pure events or point-instants that the universe evolves. things are made.

"Space-time is a stuff out of which

This is A l e x a n d e r s very original contri­

bution to metaphysics," notes Ruja at this point.35 "a growing universe," expounds Alexander,

jt is

"and is through

and through historical" and it is this feature that saves it from the staleness of Eleatlcism.36 Having presented his metaphysics by route of analy­ sis he now seeks to justify it by recourse to physical science.

He calls our attention to the works of Minkowski,

for In them was the proposed union made between space and time.

Alexander claims to arrive at the same conclusions

metaphysically that Minkowski did mathematically. We have thus by purely analytical or metaphysical and non-mathematical methods applied to a subjectmatter presented In experience, arrived at a notion of Space-Time which at least in spirit is now differ­ ent from the notion of a world In Space and Time which was formulated by mathematical methods by the late H. Minkowski,in 1908.37

35 Ruja, op. clt., p. 194. 36 Alexander, £p. clt., f, 6 6 . 37 ibid., I, 158.

85 The scientific Space-Time universe is in juxtaposi­ tion with the metaphysical Space-Time universe. is a difference between the two.

But there

Minkowski professed to

have only ai.mathematical formula for purposes of measure­ ment but Alexander looks at Space-Time as a metaphysical principle of the first order.

If space and time are meta­

physical then they possess content that they do not have in mere mathematical formulation.

In mathematics the substance

of electricity is taken for granted but "On our hypothesis, whatever substance there is must be a fragment of the one stuff of Space-Time, and therefore it is now to be assumed within the metaphysical account of Space-Time."38

in these

last words the fuller nature of the metaphysical status of Space-Time becomes apparent.

By the way in which Alexander

analyzes space and time he gets points which become events which in turn become the traditional objects of experience. There is no such derivation possible in the mathematical formulation of Minkowski. Subsequent to his discussion of Minkowski he dis­ cusses relativity theory and indicates that Einstein took over Minkowski*s union of space and time.

If Alexander's

theory agrees with Minkowski*s by the same token it agrees

38 Ibid., I, 60.


with. Einstein*s theory.39

Furthermore, Alexander announces

that the problem of simultaneity and the Lorentz trans­ formations and theory of contraction agree with his meta­ physical version of Space-Time.

But the main thrust of

relativity theory, namely, the measuremental interdepen­ dence of Space and Time,

is in full accord with the meta­

physical interdependence of Space and Time.

But, like

Minkowski, so Einstein has only a mathematical theory whereas Alexander’s is metaphysical. words,

To use Alexander’s

"it is the truth that the world is not a geometrical

but a physical one, and that Space and Time are indissoluble. This seems to me a result of last importance and fundamental to metaphysics.

This is an outright claim that rela­

tivity theory has underwritten a metaphysical t h e o r y . ^

39 Cf. "And it would be strange . . . if our meta­ physical doctrine should be in conflict with it considered as a mathematical doctrine." Ibid., I, 8 7 . 40 Ibid., I, 9 1 . Tbe basic criticism of Alexander is that he derives far too much from space and time. Inge writes that ,lthe unearned increment in the union of Space and Time is enormous." Op. cit., p. 212. Boodin says that he gets metaphysics Trom "wooden abstractions," and proceeds to get far too much from the mere union of space and time. John Elof Boodin, Cosmic Evolution (New York: The Macmillan Company, 192 5), p. bb. Boodin calls the work of Alexander a book of magic not logic. "And a magnificent magician Alexander is. His book makes the Arabian Nights’ Tales tame to one who can follow . . . The rest of us, at any rate, no matter how we manipulated the abstract concepts of

87 Evaluation,* We believe that the arguments for the defense of a subjectivistic metaphysics on the grounds of the place of the observer in relativity are not valid.


relativity of the relativity theory is not that of observers but of physical systems.

Many writers on the subject state

that relativity is interested in the o b s e r v e r s body not his mind.

By this they mean that Einstein1s theory is concept

concerned with objects in space-time and not with the epistemological problem of perception.

In this I think they

are right. As far as realism is concerned I do not believe there are any special arguments from relativity theory except the type of argument that can be made from the general procedures of the empirical sciences. (continued) space and time, seem to get nothing but space and time out of them. P. 90. Boodin adopts a position similar to that of Weyl as far as space is concerned, i.e., in the final analysis it is some kind of "stuff”. Herman Weyl, The Open World (New Haven: Yale Univer­ sity Press, 193^), P~ 16 f f . , reasons that ether is some kind of ethereal medium or stuff. Newton's system, he claims, leaves place for a physical concept of space. In discussing relativity theory he argues that the very notion that matter can warp space proves the contention that space is in some sense a stuff. The space of Einstein is "a real entity . . . denoted by Einstein for good historical reasons by the old name of ether.” P. 20. Cf. also, ”And to present-day natural philosophy it is still a profound enigma, and to my mind the deepest mystery with which it is confronted, how this powerful dominance of ether in its interaction with matter is to be understood.” P. 21. Italics are his.


With the judgments against Alexander I concur.


agreement with Boodin, I would say that his derivation of all from space-time is more magic than philosophy. The one type of argument that has some validity is that suggested by Jeans that the mechanical conception of the universe has been ended in part by relativity, and that there is now the possibility of another notion to replace it.

But in general I concur with those writers

that see in relativity theory, as it stands today, only a remarkable calculating device that has not great import to metaphysics.

If there is import to metaphysics in rela­

tivity theory it has yet to be satisfactorily demonstrated.^2


There are quite a number who either Interpret the positivistically, or who deny it any metaphysical worth. Cf. Albert Einstein, The Meaning of Relativity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1945), p ’ 2'. Wrinch, op. cit., p. 134. Ernest William Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Gifford Lectures, 1927- 3 8 ; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), p. 562. F.R. Tennant, Philoso­ phical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1937), II, 8 . J.E. Turner, "Some Philosophic Aspects of Scientific Relativity," Journal of Philosophy, 18:214, April, 1921. Herbert Dingle, "THe Philosophical Signifi­ cance of Space-Time," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 4 8 :115-T3T7~IWF-TO. V.F7 Lenzen, "The Philosophical Value of the Theory of Relativity," Issues and Tendencies in Contemporary Philosophy (University of California Publications in Philosophy, Vol. 4; Berkeley; University of California Press, 1923), PP* 135-64. Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind (New York: The Philoso­ phical Library, 1946), note 5 , pp. 301-03.



We have observed In the last chapter that although relativity theory was a major event in saience it has not led to any major conclusion in metaphysics.

It has brought

a more careful analysis of time, space, and events but it has not been made the key to any metaphysical system apart from Alexander.

Atomic physics has been even more revolu­

tionary in scientific theory than relativity theory.

As a

result a great number of metaphysical statements have come from an investigation of it.

Some of these proposals are

mergers with science, e.g., modern materialism that accepts the scientific definition of matter at its face value.

Others are extrapolations such as defending psy­

chological indeterminism from impossibility of strict prediction in science.

Some are even the turning of

science upon itself, e.g., that atomic formulas are of such a nature that they cannot represent the real state of affairs, which in turn means that science cannot deny

90 a spiritualistic metaphysics.1 The result of the investigation of modern physics in reference to matter is a conception of the atom in terms of an undulating mechanism of a very complex nature.


tists may use either the mathematical apparatus for par­ ticles (Heisenberg), or for waves (Schrodinger).


particle aspect of matter, as indicated by de Broglie, is at the point of greatest re-enforcement in a train of p waves. The elements causing a shift in theory of matter

1 No new and basic data has resulted from work on the atomic bomb. It was a matter of technical achievement only. Cf. Lincoln Barnett, "J. Robert Oppenheimer," Life, 27:121, October, 19^9. It is claimed-that Einstein's new unified field theory will take four to six years for con­ firmation. For a study of the history of atomic physics of* H.T. Pledge, Science Since 1500 (New York: Philoso­ phical Library, 194?). Hans Relchenback, Atom and Cosmos (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931). Leopold Infeid, The World in Modern Science (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, n.d.77 F.BTC". Northrop, Science and First Principles (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931). Vllllam Cecil Dampier, A History of Science (third edition; New York: The Macmillan Company, 1944}. W.H. Werkmeister, A Philosophy of Science (New York: Harper Brothers, 19407. James Jeans ,"The Growth of Physical Science (New York: The Mac­ millan Company, 1948)” A. D fAbro, The Decline of Mechanism in Physics (New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1939)^ 2 According to the latest reports from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study the atomic particles are arranged as follows: there are five basic groups--the nucleons, electrons, mesons, massless particles, and prob­ able particles. Under each of these various subdivisions are a total of fifteen supposed particles.

91 are: (1).


It was assumed in classical

physics that if instruments could be perfected, and experi­ ments carried on with finesse and precision the results would be determinate, but modern atomic physics has shown this to be an impossibility.3


variety of experiments are

now known in which determinate prediction is impossible. These experiments are, for the most part, of nature in which a group of atomic particles are distributed in terms of percentages.

Hence the distribution of individual

particles cannot be determined, i.e., the path of one particle cannot be predicted.

In the reflection of light,

in the diffraction of electrons in a crystal, in the dif­ fraction of light through a pinhole, and in the bombard­ ment of gold foil with particles, per centage distribu­ tions prevail rather than prediction of Individual par­ ticles.

"Nature does not obey exact laws.

On successive

trials, photons of light which traverse the slits do not always enter the same photoelectric cellM is Compton’s conclusion in reference to one of the diffraction

3 Cf. Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1935J, p. 50 f f .

92 experiments. ^

The new experimental data on prediction

calls for a complete re-examination of the concept of causality. (2).

Heisenberg1s Principle.5

The principle,

broadly speaking states that in the mathematical formula­ tion of atomic theory there is connected two hitherto uncon­ nected parameters, namely, velocity and position.


product of the probability of the measurement of uncer­ tainty of the velocity and the position is equal to or greater than Planck’s constant.

Velocity and position

stand in inverse relation to each other so that the increase of the certainty of the one is done at the sacri­ fice of the certainty of the other. Thus in classical physics the increase of precision

^ Arthur H. Compton, The Freedom of Man (New Haven: Yale University Press, 135J* P. 3$^ Italics are his. Cf. also Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942), p. 295 ff. 5 it was originally named by Eddington as nthe prin­ ciple of Indeterminacy.'' A.S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (New York: The Macmillan Company, l929y7 p, 220 . He explains later that this was before Heisenberg wrote, and that the correct title is Principle of Uncer­ tainty.' A.S. Eddington et al., "Indeterminacy and Indeter­ minism, " Indeterminism, Formalism, and Value (Aristotelian Society Supplementary, V o l . X, 1931~TT~p. 174. Good expo­ sitions of the principle will be found in D'Abro, op. cit., PP. 637-73; Infeld, op. cit., p. 264 ff; Philipp Frank, "Foundations of Physics," International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, n o . 7* P P . 4 6 - 5 0 Helchenba'cTc, op. cit., p. I f f , is the most valuable and clearest we Have "found in the literature.

93 of the one factor does not prevent the increase of preci­ sion of the other, but in the mathematical formulation (psifunction) of atomic physics if the one is increased the other is "flattened" oub.

Thus Heisenberg's principle may

be called the "law of inverse correlation of the probabil­ ity distributions of momentum-and position. (3).

Statistical laws.

Directly implied in both

the inability to predict the course of individual atomic particles and the Heisenberg principle, is that atomic law must now be statistically formulated.

The first suggestion

of statistical law was by Maxwell, but the first demonstra­ tion of such a law was by Boltzmann who showed the statis­ tical formulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.


was Born who demonstrated the necessity of formulating atomic laws statistically.

Therefore, the strict deter­

minative or causal laws are now replaced by statistical laws.

The Brownian movement, entropy, quantum mechanics,

energy, heat, laws of gasses, and radium disintegration are now all formulated in terms of statistical law.


apply these conceptionsv to a single quantum is like reading the Riot Act to one man," is Eddington*s rather literary

^ Reichenbacb, _op. cit., p. 11.

Italics are his.

7 Max Born, The Restless Universe (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936), pp. 163-64.

94 Q way of stating the situation.

B. (1).



Most philosophers of science

think that the import of the new physics for metaphysics is great hut they feel that it will take a long time to know just what.that importance is to he.

In commencing

his famous Gifford Lectures Eddington says that atomic theory h a s ■far more scientific and philosophical import than relativity theory.

Commenting on Rutherford he says

that he "introduced the greatest change in our idea of matter since the time of Democritus."9

The revelation by

modern physics of the void within the atom/ 1 he continues, "is more disturbing than the revelation of astronomy of the immense void of Inter-stellar space.

It is admitted

even by Einstein that atomic physics brings to pass a greater revolution than his own relativity theory wrought. H

® The Nature of the Physical W o r l d , p. 201. 9 Ibid.', p. 1. 10 L o c • clt. , Cf. also Millikan's identical position. Evolution in Science and Religion (New Haven: Yale University Press,"”1927), pp.“T T - T 2 . H Max Planck, Where is Science Going? W.W. Norton, 1932), p T T T T

(New York:

95 De Broglie writes that the crisis in atomic physics is severe and "has shaken the entire ancient structure of our IP scientific knowledge." Noting that such scientific con­ cepts as causality and identity have undergone fresh exam­ ination he concludes by remarking that "it seems certain that this major crisis . . . will be'the source of philo­ sophical consequences which cannot yet be clearly per­ ceived. "^3 Five different efforts are made to derive meta­ physical data from atomic physics:

(a) new arguments for

subjectivism; (b) the declaration that the statistical nature of law is consonant with a spiritualistic meta­ physics ; (c) a new brief for psychological indeterminism based on the indeterminacy in atomic physics;

(d) the con­

ventionalizing of atomic particles in interest of spirit­ ualistic metaphysics, or their reification in interests of realism; and (e) the spiritualization of matter based upon its supposed dematerialization in modern atomic physics. (2).


Heisenberg1s principle indi­

cates clearly that any experimentation with atomic

12 Broglie, og. clt. , p. 225. Ibid., p. 3 6 .

96 particles will interfere with original conditions.

Due to

the psi-function, and the minuteness of atomic particles, they cannot be experimented with apart from disturbance. The scientist is no longer exploring a desert from the van­ tage point of an airplane, observes Jeans, but he is like a hiker that raises clouds of dust as he goes. Trying to observe the inner workings of an atom is like plucking the wings off a butterfly to see how it flies, or like taking poison to discover its conse­ quences. Each observation destroys the bit of universe observed, and so supplies knowledge only of a universe which has already become past history.14 The older physics could make a partition between the observer and the observed but quantum mechanics cannot enjoy this luxury.

Quantum mechanics can make connections between

facts but it can never divorce its conclusions from its instruments, and this is especially accentuated by the realization that it must state its law statistically.


world of the infinitely small cannot be described indepen­ dently from the investigator, and it is at this point that the new brief for subjectivism is made. Jeans and Eddington both assert the validity of this argument.

The position of Eddington was reviewed in Chapter

III, and need not detain us here.

Jeans contends that the

^ Sir James Jeans, The New Background of Science (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1933)s P. 2.

97 new physics must make room for mind as well as matter, and so the new picture of modern physics "must be more mental In character than the fallacious picture which preceded it. fll5

The net result to Jeans is to re-establish in a new

way Berkeley1s esse est per d p i . (3).


It is conceded that an absolute

test of strict causality is an impossibility because such could only be done In a perfectly Isolated system, with precise instruments that do not disturb the system, and such conditions simply do not o b t a i n . ^


physics is on a statistical basis and this means that the doctrine of strict, mechanical causality is seriously challenged.

Muller claims that the statistical formulation

of physics involves "the fundamental principles of causation.”17 The proposed metaphysical Implication Is if the

5 Ibid., p. 2 8 3 . Cf. Max Born, The Restless Universe, for the fact of subjectivity in atomic observations. Both Frank and Reichenbach strenuously oppose any subjectivism in atomic physics, or any subjectivistic arguments derived from the same. Cf. Philipp Frank, Between Physics and Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University PFess, I93TJ, p. I13 ff; "Foundations of Physics," op. cit., p. 54. Reichenbach, op. cit,, p. 1 5 . Many writers on the subject state that instruments may be substituted for observers thus refuting the subjectivistic argument. D'Abro, op. cit., p. 5 5 . ^•7 Herbert J. Muller, Science and Criticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943), P. 8 0 .

98 strictness of Newtonian mechanical causality is now re­ placed by a somewhat "loose" statistical causality then Universe becomes more spiritual, or admits place for the spiritual.

For example, Jeans writes:

At any rate, the concept of strict causation finds no place in the picture of the universe which the new physics presents to us, with the result that this picture contains more room than did the mechanical picture for life and consciousness to exist within the picture itself,^together with the attributes which we commonly associate with them, such as free­ will and the capacity to make the universe in some small degree different by our presence. Because the issue is sharp and has been so clearly raised philosophers of science have taken definite sides. There are (a) those who state that the principle of causality is undisturbed in spite of statistical formu­ lation; and (b) those that state that the statistical formulation means that strict causality is no longer ten­ able.

In the second group there are two further divisions:

(i) those that believe that strict causality is replaced with a probability formulation; and (ii) those that state that the termination of strict causality is sufficient grounds for the re-affirmation of a spiritualistic meta­ physics. (a).

Representative of that group of thinkers

retaining strict causality are Einstein, Planck, and

PP. 35-36.

James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe, op. cit., Italics are ours.

99 Margenau.

Einstein, as D fAbro^9 observes, should conceive

of causality in the same relativistic way he thought of the relativity of velocity but to the contrary he teaches a strict causality in physics.

Planck agrees that the prob­

lem between statistical and causal concepts is acute but believes that the physicist must adhere to dynamic causality. And here I must definitely declare my own belief that the assumption of a strict dynamic causality is to be preferred, simply because the idea of a dynam­ ically law-governed universe is of wider and deeper application than the merely statistical idea which starts off by restricting the range of discovery; because in statistical physics there are only such laws as refer to group events.20 There are two types of concepts, according to Margenau,21 that are not exclusive for the statistical study of gases on the premise of a causal grounding has proven successful.

Therefore causality is to be retained.

Physics retains the concept of causality but puts the conpp

nection with the world on a statistical basis. ^


substitution of probability for deterministic uniqueness

-*•9 D'Abro, op. cit. , p. 5 6 . 20 Planck, Where is Science Going? o p . cit. , p. 100. 21 Henry Margenau, '’Causality and Modern Physics," The Monist, 41:3, January, 1931. ^ , "Methodology of Modern Physics," Philosophy of Science, 2:30, January, 1935.

100 offers no grist for philosophical mills, hut to the con­ trary,

"Causality appears to be a valuable postulate which

is profitable to retain,"^3 (b).

Reichenbach and Bridgman, both operation-

alists, insist that terms and categories mean only what they signify in experimental contexts.

If in experimenta­

tion we must work on a statistical level we must therefore talk in statistical terms, and not extrapolate our evidence x into strict causality.

To postulate causal laws as behind

statistical laws is, in Reichenbach*s opinion, to assert an "unverifiable s t a t e m e n t . T h e

verifiability theory

of meaning excludes all statements that are not directly verifiable and causation in the older sense is one of them. "Causation is an empty assertion which cannot be converted into relations between observational d a t a . T o

the con­

trary, the probability formulation of modern physics is no ad hoc arrangement but is deeply imbedded in the mathematical and experimental groundwork.of quantum mech­ anics.

The possibility of absorbing statistical law into a

larger causal

system is to be rejected because the very

mathematical formulation of atomic physics (the psi-function)

^3 Margenau,

"Causality and Modern Physics," op. cit.,

P. 36. 92- clt** P* Loc. cit.

101 prohibits it.

The psi-function is so much a part of quantum

mechanics that it may be considered as much well-founded as ,!all other general theorems of physics. Bridgman's reasons for rejecting strict mechanical causality are:

(1) cause is not intuitive, but an induction

from experience;

(ii) recent experiments with electrons

reduces their activity to pure chance;

(ii) and the evi­

dence from the Heisenberg principle is against a strict causation.^ (c).

Agreeing with those that claim that the

statistical formulation is not only ultimate in science, but permits the entry of a spiritual metaphysics unmolested by the law of mechanical causation are Jeans and Eddington. Eddington categorically states that "determinism has dis­ appeared altogether from the basis of modern physics. pQ

This is a statement of fact, not a prophecy."


to Planck's adherence to causality, Eddington remarks that Planck is talking about what he hopes to be, not what he is, but to the contrary,

"The law of causality does not

exist in science today . . .

It exists only in the

26 Ibid., p. 14. 7 However, for a point by point refutation of Bridgman see M.V. Metcalf, "The Reality of Cause in the Physical Universe," The Monist, 45:78-99, January, 1935. pQ


"Indeterminacy and Indeterminism," p. 1 76 .

102 anticipations of certain scientists.”2 ^

The result is that

in eliminating causality from physics ”_it leaves us with no clear distinction between the Natural and the Super­ natural ,”3^ Jeans is as emphatic as Eddington. sality has been dethroned.31

The law of cau­

when discontinuity walked in

one door, causality walked out through the other.32


causality is eliminated, so is the rigid uniformity of Nature, and the doctrine that like causes produce like effects.33 In summary, the most general metaphysical claim for the statistical nature of modern physics is that it gives us a universe in which spiritualistic metaphysics ”may freely breathe.”

The present conception of the universe

is now like the kind of universe we would imagine would be if spiritualistic, or idealistic, or mentalistic, meta­ physics were true.

29 New Pathways in Science (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1535)1 P- 300. 3° The Nature of the Physical World, p. 300. Italics are ours. *Pke Mysterious Universe, p. 2 3 . 32 Ibid., p. 1 27. 33 For some very sharp remarks against the indeterminists and statistical law as ultimate see Planck, The Philosophy of Physics t pp. 24 and 6 3 . 7

103 (4).

Free-w i l l .

In classical physics it was assumed

that if initial conditions were known the subsequent states could be predicted. Newtonian system.

This is theoretically possible in the The ability to accurately predict is

based upon a closed, or determined system.

This determinis­

tic principle is clearly stated by Infeld: The basis of deterministic reasoning in physics can thus be stated as follows: If we know the initial state of a system and the laws wEichi govern it, we can predict its status at any other moment and verify our prediction by measurement ,3*E This strict physical determinism was extrapolated into psychological determinism, for, as Eddington says, "A complete determinism of the material universe cannot be divorced from determinism of mind."35

The average intel­

lectual man and scientist of the nineteenth century believed in psychological determinism and considered mind or con­ sciousness an epiphenomenon. But the new physics terminated the mechanism of the older physics and as Infeld remarks the new physics . "burst the bonds of deterministic reasoning.

Belying the

expectations of a whole array of physicists and philosophers, it has developed on new and undreamt-of lines."36 3^ The World In Modern Science, p. 22. are h i s . ^


Mature of the Physical W o r l d , p. 31°*

36 infeld, op. cit., p. 2 3 .

104 Everything stated supra concerning prediction, statistics, Heisenberg1s principle, and causality is evi­ dence for indeterminacy in modern physics.

However the

Heisenberg principle i3 singled out for most attention for in the other cases there might possibly come to light further laws or concepts of evidence that will once again bring the phenomena within causal interpretation, but it seems that the psi-function of the Heisenberg principle is an ultimate in that it informs the scientist of the exact limitations of his precision. In reference to the current ,lcrisis,, in physics, as some are wont to call it, the philosophers of science may be classified as follows;

(a) those who believe that

the situation calls for a new affirmation of human freedom, e.g., Jeans, Eddington, and Compton;

(b) those who believe

that human freedom exists in its own right, atomic theory being irrelevant to the problem; e.g., Milllkan and Lewis; and (c) those who reject any metaphysical statement about psychological freedom as reasoned from atomic physics, e.g., Einstein and Planck. •

Group I .

Physicists admit that atomic physics

has a measure of indeterminacy, however; they may interpret it.

"The quantum theory represents the physical order as

105 indeterminant11 writes


idealistic metaphysics.

who is not known for his

Even such a scientist as Bridgman

thinks that there is something new in atomic physics-something philosophical.

Atomic systems cannot he experi­

mented upon without serious interference with the system by the experimentation which Bridgman calls . . . a curious and perhaps unavoidable combination of physics and philosophy. The recognition that knowledge of a system without which no theory is possible, is meaningless, unless there is an observer, is philosophical in spirit.38 In his writings Jeans gives considerable exposition to the shift from the deterministic and mechanical system of Newton to the indeterminacy and probability formulations of the new physics.

In the deterministic system all action

of organisms is due to external stimuli, and if this is true then there is no activity that is free, i.e., from Internal stimuli.

Thus by defining determinism as response

to external stimuli alone, free will is conversely defined as the ability to respond to internal stimuli. The new physics, with its core of indeterminacy, presents the sort of situation that permits an organism

37 v.F. Lenzen, "Indeterminism and the Concept of Physical Reality," Journal of Philosophy, 30:328, May 2 5 ,

1933. 38 p.w. Bridgman, The Nature of Physical Theory (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1^38), p. 121.

106 to respond to Internal stimuli, i.e., free will.


can no longer shut the door on the possibility of free will for "she has no longer any unanswerable arguments to bring against our innate conviction of free will."39 Eddington informs us that "physics is no longer pledged to a scheme of deterministic law. D e t e r m i n i s m has been dropped out of the new physics and it is ques­ tionable if it is ever to be brought back.

It may therefore

be said that "science thereby withdraws its moral opposi­ tion to free-will. Although the deterministic wall has been cracked,

39 Tfcie Mysterious Universe, p. 3 6 . However, in The New Background of Science Jeans is very reticent to make any claims aboul^indeterminism and free will. In fact, he takes a completely different turn. He resolves the prob­ lem by stating that modern science presents matter in terms of events which in turn invests with a great deal of subjectivity. Therefore matter and spirit are not dis­ parate but are of the same kind. He quotes for proof Bertrand Bussell who finds evidence from the same data for his neutral monism. The free-will problem is thus resolved by removing the rigid Cartesian dualism of mind and matter. In Physics and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1^42) his position Is more sympathetic to The Mysterious Universe than The New Background of Science. The physicists admit the Indeterminant nature of the new physics but remain deterministic in their thinking. But what the Indeterminists want "would be found in modern physics." P. 216, italics are ours. The universe of the new physics Is the type of universe that free men may live in. The Nature of the Physical World, p. 2 9 4 . are his. 41 Ibid., p. 2 9 5 .


107 Eddington is careful to delineate its dimensions.

It is

the possibility of a mass of 0.001 mgm. straying not more than 1/5000 mm. in a thousand years.^2

Small as it is the

crack is enough to call for a new orientation of the free­ dom problem especially if by philosophical, psychological, and common sense arguments the crack may be farther opened. Eddington feels strongly that mental indeterminism must be grounded in physical indeterminism so that "if we wish to emancipate mind we must to some extent emancipate the material world also.

There appears to be no longer any iiQ

obstacle to this emancipation.11 J

Because of the indeter­

minacy of modern physics with abandonment of strict cau­ sality we may claim to be relieved of the supposition that "mind is subject to deterministic law of alternatively that it can suspend deterministical law in the material world. If it be argued that a rigid materialistic and deterministic science demands a rigid psychological deter­ minism, by the same token an indeterminant science permits psychological freedom.

Therefore, claims Eddington, in

New Pathways in Science, p. 8 7 . ^3 The Nature of the Physical World, p. 310. ^

Ibid., p. 332.

108 view of the shift in physical theory from the Newtonian to the new physics with its indeterminant element, psycholo­ gical freedom may be asserted without fear of contradic­ tion from science.45 Compton1s argument is different from either Jeans or Eddington.

He accepts the analysis of his colleague,

Professor Carl Eckhart, that Newton presented his science on a phenomenalistic

basis but that his successors con­

verted it into a deterministic system.

It took modern

atomic physics, especially the works of Heisenberg2^


Schrodinger, to re-enstate the phenomenalistic position.47 This physical phenomenalism is, in Compton1s opinion, the correct school of philosophy of science.

But unlike many

in it he does not limit the definition of phenomena but insists that free will is part of human experience that science, in its universality, must account for.


lifting of the hand, a simple act, is sufficient to estab­ lish the freedom of the will because it is so clear and

^5 Eddington, p. 1 62.

"Indeterminacy and Indeterminism,"

46 Speaking of Heisenberg's principle he says: "This statement marks perhaps the most significant revolution in the history of scientific thought. For faith in the relia­ bility of nature is the bedrock upon which the structure of science is built." The Freedom of Man, p. 7. I.e., be is stating that natural phenomena do noH~obey strict law. ^

* PP« 40 and 42.

109 unmistakable to our

c o n s c i o u s n e s s . ^

Furthermore, the

testimony of some instrument like the lie detector depends on the very fact of the liar’s own consciousness for veri­ fication.

Therefore, science must consider all the facts

if it claims to be truly universal and truly phenomenalis-

tic . In relating physical theory to human freedom Compton first points out all the data of modern physics to show that physics is not deterministic.

Secondly, he

applies the indeterminacy of atomic physics to brain states. His thesis is: In order to interpret m e n 1s actions, it appears to me desirable to assume that the matter in our brains may occur in conditions w&ich though physically indistinguishable nevertheless correspond to dis­ tinguished states of consciousness.49 If we were to ’’test” a brain we would get a statistical result of its material state.

But those factors that

determine states of consciousness are so small our statical "grab" lets them slip through, yet they are large enough to actually cause distinguishable states of con­ sciousness.

This is, Compton reasons,

"not contrary to

the spirit of phenomenalist philosophy."5°

Ibid., ^



rblfl• 1 P. 43.

50 Ibid., p. ifi*.

Italics are his.

110 Any refutation on the basis of (a) ignorance, or (b)

that the events allowable in quantum physics are too

small, is not to be countenanced.

For the refutation of

the former, appeal is made to the Heisenberg principle which informs us how close we can get to reality.

For the

latter he appeals to the work of Lillie to show that events as small as Planck’s constant do figure in the activities of organisms.

An organism may take a small event and con­

vert it into a rather large response much after the analogy of a dynamite cap.51 Group II.

The second group feels that free

will is in need of no scientific justification.


does not try to justify free will but declares it to be self-evident.

"There is no basic fact of any of the exact

sciences," he writes"which is so abundantly proved by the evidence of our observations than this freedom of will."52 In agreement with this position is Braithwaite53 and

51 Cf. "The situation is . . . such physical laws as the conservation of energy and momentum, the initial condi­ tions and past history, serve to define limits within which action is possible. Within these limits there may be a wide range wherein a man may do as he pleases without violating any physical law." Ibid., p. 64. Italics are ours. 52 Bilbert N. Lewis, The Anatomy of Science (New Haven: Yale University Press‘7“T93h), p. 2T67 53 c.D . Broad, et a l . , op. cit., p. 1 8 3 .

Ill Millikan.

The latter affirms that the Heisenberg principle

■*-s GQmPletely in the domain of atomic physics which has no application to the realm of gross matter. Now if anybody here is bothered by the reconcilia­ tion of free will and determinism, I shall be glad to state for him my own position as follows: Practical free will, or the sense of responsibility, is to me a brute fact given by direct experience. It is of course true that, strictly speaking, the only absolute know­ ledge that any of us has is the knowledge of his own sensations, and my free will is based upon that sort of knowledge.5^ Group III.

Most philosophers of science see no

basis-for psychological indeterminacy in modern physics. This includes such men as B. Russell, F.R. Hoare, R.S. Lillie, F.H. Seares, C.D. Broad, Max Planck, and Philipp

5^ Robert Andrew Millikan, Time, Matter, Values (Chapel Hill, North Carolina; University of North Carolina Press, 1932), p. 9 6 . In the 1948 Herbert Spender Lectures at the University of Oxford, Whittaker gives a unique twist to the complementary principle of Bohr. Edmund Whittaker, The Modern Approach to Descartes’ Problem (London: Thomas Nelson ana Sons, I948) , pp. 10-11. The complementary principle is that wave-concepts and particle concepts are not antagonistic but compelernentary. Both theories admit of experimental verification. Neither can disprove the other. It is thus suggested that Libertar­ ianism and Determinism are complementaries. "Oh this view, necessitarianism and free will are both true, but they occupy, so to speak, different domains of reality, and a principle analogous to the physical principle of complementarity secures that they do not come into colli­ sion. 11 P. 8 7 . We have found no other notice in the literature that this is B o h r ’s solution to the free will problem.



in that this dissertation is concerned with those

making metaphysical statements from science we omit expo­ sition of the opinions of these men. (5 ).

The existence of atoms.

Upon one occasion

Eddington wrote; I believe that there are 1 5 , 747, 724, 1 36, 2 7 5 , 0 02, 577, 605, 6 53, 961, 1 81 , 555, 468, 044, 717, 914, 527, 1 16 , 709, 3 68, 2 3 1 , 4 25, 076, l8 g, 6 31, 0 31 , 296 protons in the universe, and the same number of electrons.56 In what sense this is true or false rests the most impor4-

tant problem in modern atomic physics.

The^question is not

the number which is derived from the cosmic constant but the reality of the units counted.

Oppenheimer57 has

55 Bertrand Bussell, The Scientific Outlook (New York; W.W. Norton, 1931), p p T “205-TJ7. F~R. hoare, rtIndeterminacy and Indeterminism,” Philosophy, 7:394-403, October, 1943. Ralph S. Lillie, ''Types of Physical Deter­ minism and the Activities of Living Organisms,” Journal of Philosophy, 28:561-73, October, 1931. F.H. Seares, The Uoncept of Uniformity (Washington; Carnegie Institution of Washington, I936), p. 3 9 . C.D. Broad, et al., op. cit., p. 135 ff. Planckfs solution is one of“1 h e mo si; curious in the literature. Max Planck, The Universe in the Light of Modern Physics, pp. 48-109. Einstein's opinions are recorded in Max Planck, Where Is Science Going, p. 201 f f . Frank presents the logical empiricist position on the subject. Philipp Frank, ’’Foundations of Physics,” International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, no. 7, pp. 4b-5 0 . 56 a.S. Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Tress, 1939), p. l7 0 . 57 Barnett, op.cit., p. 122.

At the end of the

113 declared that the great question of physics at the moment Is If modern physics Is actually In touch with the ultimates of the universe, or if our present particles are just another step in an infinite regress. because,

The issue is sharp

in a sense, metaphysical idealism, and materialism,

potentially rise or fall the way this issue is decided. Phenomenalists claim to make no assertion of the existence or non-existence of atoms but profess to relate observables in mathematical formulas; atomic realists believe in the actual existence of the particles; and fictlonallsts and conventionalists consider atomic particles to be mental constructs, which they claim is consonant with mentalism. (a).

The first phenomenalists were Mach and Ostvald

but their attitude was such as to inhibit genuine atomic research.

Heisenberg, differing fundamentally from Mach

and reacting to the pictorialism of Bohr, revived the phenomenalistic approach.

The task of atomic physics is

57 (continued) nineteenth century positivists, e.g., Ostvald, Mach, argued against the literal existence of atoms but in view of sub­ sequent experimentation Ostvald himself capitulated. The isolation of the electron (Thompson), the measurement of its charge (Millikan), and the observation of collisions (Wilson) have reopened the problem as the literal existence of atoms. The size of an electron is smaller than any wave length that can be sensed. The wave-length of violet is 4000 angstroms which is several thousand times larger than the entire Bohr atom, and hence the electron can never literally be seen. Cf. Infeld, op. cit., p. 268. Scien­ tists are confined to the observation of their effects.

114 to correlate mathematics with observations. Bushkovitch says .that Mit is idle . . .

For example,

to speculate on

the existence of such entities as electrons, and elementary particles in general, in the actual world, on their 'real' nature."58

The purpose of such words is auxiliary, namely,

to correlate observable results of experiments. This view has been practically forced on the physicists by the fact that it has become impossible to interpret recently discovered phenomena in the atomic field in terms of visualisable and causally functioning models constructed out of elementary entities against an ordinary space-time background .59 Werkmeister remarks that phase waves and systems of oscillators have no physical existence but are only linguistic devices to connect our data of observation with invariants. The whole development of modern physics thus implies an increasing recognition of the fact that . . . man really understands only the order of relations which he himself has established, and his •pictures,' 'models,' and 'laws,' are but devices for the estab­ lishment of such order. This 'phenomenological trend' in modern physics is unmistakable.°0


A.V. Bushkovitch, "Some Consequences of the Positivistic Interpretation of Physics,l ! Philosophy of Science, 7:98, January, 1940. 59 ibid. . p. 9 8 . 50 W.H. Werkmeister, A Philosophy of Science,p. 458. Cf. also the remarks of CarlTon W. Berenda, "A Note on Quantum Theory and Metaphysics,J; Journal of Philosophy, 30:6 0 8 , October, 22, 1942. For the certi’fude of experimental results cf. Victor F. Lenzen, "Procedures of Empirical Sciences," International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, no. 5 , p. 2b ff.

115 (b).


Millikan, in commenting on his

famous oil-drop experiment, observes that the speed of the electron in the state of suspension is always a whole number multiple from the slowest speed observed.

The im­

plication that he draws from this is that "there is nothing statistical about an electron. T h e

observation in

measuring the speed of these oildrops is less than 1 per cent, hence:

"This experiment is practically equivalent to

seeing one electron.MO

A much more dogmatic statement

than this is Bavink’s: "Atoms are just as real things as cannon balls or grains of sand, as waves on water or mountains. "^3 Almost as strong as B a v i n k ’s atomic realism are the convictions of Miller.

Atoms, in his analysis, are of the

class of inter-phenomena, i.e., that which of necessity is postulated to account for phenomena.

By Mill e r ’s own

definition what is postulated as inter-phenomenal is metaphysical.

This brings him into direct opposition to

the phenomenalists but Miller claims that physics and

^ are his.

Time, Matter, and Values, pp. 44-45.


L o g . cit., italics are ours. ^3 Bernhard Bavink, The Natural Sciences (fourth edition; New York: The Century Company, 1932), p. 2 9 . Italics are his.

116 science have intelligibility only when phenomena are related by interphenomena. he writes,

"Metaphysics [the inter phenomena],"

"whether applied to methodology or to inter­

phenomena, makes an intelligible world possible.”^


fore sub-atomic particles are metaphysically real, and veri­ fied by the effects they produce. (d).


In reference to the existence of

atoms most idealists are fictionalists or conventionalists. In the previous discussion of Eddingtonfs subjectivism, we noticed that the entire physical world is the world of the subjective, and a fortiori atoms are deprived of objective existence.

In the same trend of thought is the opinion

of Flewelling when he writes: The atom as conceived is now generally recognized as a figment of the mind, a symbol to assist the imagination, in something the same way that we use the Arabic numerals or the italic x, y, and z for the unknown quantities in algebra. ^5 However, Jeans is the most convinced fictionalist among the philosophers of science.

The knowledge scien­

tists have of atoms is diagrammatic, fictitious, and conventional.

His argument is three-fold:

(1) In that

David L. Miller, "Metaphysics in Physics," Philosophy of Science, 13:286, October, 1946. ^5 R.T. Flewelling, "Nature Comes to Herself," The Personallst, 2 3 :5--6 , January, 1945.

117 wave-mechanics is in terms of probability statements, the formulas represent our knowledge and not external reality; (2 ) in that waves are conceived of existing in a seven­ dimensional space when two of them intersect, the formu­ lation cannot be taken literally but only as symbolic of our knowledge or method of conceiving physical states;

(3 )

the wave-particle controversy proves that our formulas are our own mathematical devices to organize our experience, and not actually describing literal waves or particles. In every case the subjectivity of our knowledge is pressed by Jeans.66 Idealists make two metaphysical assertions from their view of atomic particles:

(1) Modern physics does not

permit a universe of material representation, and therefore the force of the materialistic metaphysics is or destroyed.


The only live option for the metaphysical

background of modern science is mentalism or idealism. (2) In that modern physics deals primarily with knowledge of states, rather than with existential states the major premise is already made in order to pass from psychological

^ Cf. The New Background of Science, pp. 210, 220, 2 2 1 , and 2 8 7 ; The Mysterious Oniverse, pp. 144, 147* and 177. Physics and Philosophy, p. I3 6 ; and The Growth of Physical Science (New York: The Macmillan Company, 19W T ) , P. 3 3 5 .


idealism to metaphysical (6 ).



Spiritualization of matter.

Two major anal­

yses of matter have been made in western thought:

(a) that

of the materialists that resolved matter down to something like miniature plenums, or to the complex units of all existence as in more refined atomic analysis; and (b) that of Leibniz who analyzed it in terms of active agents, or metaphysical points.

Mechanical Newtonian physics,

materialism, and nineteenth century science favored the materialistic analysis.

Association with this analysis

was some type of pictorialism, e.g., the Victorial billiardball atom; Kelvin’s pucker in the ether; B o h r ’s solarsystem model.

But with the advent of the new physics the

mechanical, pictorial, and material interpretations of atoms was challengedd. Matter has now been electricalized and structuralized. (a).

The electrical or energetic concept of matter.

67 o f course this claim, especially of Jeans, has not gone unchallenged. F r a n k ’s reaction to those who claim that calling de Broglie’s waves fictions is not the true situation for the reality of the waves may be checked by the effects of photons on bodies. Nor does the proba­ bility interpretation of waves mean that they are mental. This claim is based on the psychological theory of proba­ bility, but the probability distributions of atoms is no mere psychological than any other branch of physics. '’Foundations of Physics,” p. 5 6 .

119 The vocabulary of atomic physics has changed from mechanical terms to electrical terms (electron, positron, neutron, etc).

The mass of an electron is its electrical charge;

its inertla is a function of the electro^magnetic field. Barnes calls an electron "a content without a container. "68 ^Matter," he continues, energy.”^9

"may be nothing but congealed

others have said that waves are either bottled

up (matter), or unbottled (radiation). Common sense notionsof matter are at war with scientific concepts, remarks Eddington. they have in common is permanence.

The only thing

The former material­

istic notions have been changed and now matter is "a watered-down substance."^0

The permanence of the modern

atom is in terms of energy and electrical conservation. Or, as Sullivan states it: The first indication to come from modern science that the material universe is not the substantial, objective thing we had always taken it to be [comes from the reduction of the weight of the electron to its electrical charge]. Matter began to thin away into thg completely spectral thing it has now become .71

68 Barnes, op. cit., p. 20. ^

rbih., p. 21.

Italics are his.

70 The Philosophy of Physical Science, p. 129. 7^ J.W.N. Sullivan, The Limitations of Science (Mentor Books; New York: The "Hew American LTBrary, 1933), p. 33. Italics are ours.



Strueturaliz1n g .

Equally radical as the elec­

trical conception of matter, has been its structuralizing, i.e., matter is not considered a ’'thing” but a dependable pattern of events with the emphasis on the word pattern. For example, a material object to Russell is "a string of entities, like the apparently persistent objects in a cinema,” and a "piece of matter is nothing but a series of events obeying certain laws."7^ Eddington, reasoning in a similar vein, claims that matter has been reduced to form, i.e., structure, and this is expressed in terms of wave formulations.73 (c).

Metaphysical implications.

If matter is now

to be thought of in terms of its electralization and structuralization, then it is suggested that only a spirit­ ual metaphysics can lie underneath it, e.g., Zimmer claims that if the substratum of waves is no longer matter, it must be "something of a psychical or spiritual character.

^ -BertrHnd Russell, "Philosophy of the Twentieth Century," Twentieth Century Philosophy (D.D. Runes, editor, New York: The Philosophical Library, 1943), p. 247. Italics are his. ^

The Philosophy of Physical Science, p. 110.

7^ Ernest Zimmer, The Revolution in Physics (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, l93h), p^ 223.



Eddington reasons that since all mechanical

pictures of matter are defunct, there-is only one source left for analogy, namely, human consciousness. he moves to a theory of mind-stuff similar to Russell's neutral monism.

From this

which he claims is The difference is

that Russell, professing to have a neutral stuff actually has a material stuff; but Eddington, professing to be in accord with physics, chooses mind-stuff. (ii).

Jeans' argument is that modern physics has

demonstrated the inadequacy of mechanism in science.


tivity theory sounded the end of the materialistic program in science because (a) it rules out direct action at a distance (non-simultaneity of time), and (b) it rules out mechanical action through a medium (the relativity of intertial systems).

Re-enforcing this is the atomic theory

concept of waves which are (a) non-mechanical, (b) non­ material in the nineteenth century use of the word, and (c)

existent in many spaces proving their purely symbolic


As to the nature of the waves he writes:

'Waves of what?' Here . . . we are confronted with difficulties since the real essence of the 'what* must necessarily remain unknown to us, unless it should prove to be of the same general nature oT something already existent in our minds~ such as a thought or mental“concept, a wIsETor an emotion7T5

75 The New Background of Science, p. 62. Italics are ours. C f . also! "The mosIT*we can say is that the cumulative evidence of various pieces of probable reasoning



(1), Subjectivism.

There is nothing

that is significant evidence for or against subjectivism from atomic physics.

The argument from psychological

idealism is neither strengthened nor weakened by the prob­ lem of atomic observation.

Therefore we do not consider

the present state of atomic physics as proving or verify­ ing metaphysical statements in reference to subjectivism. (2).


It is more difficult to pass judgment on

arguments from causality than from subjectivism.

It is

granted by most philosophers of science that physics works immediately with statistical formulations and only ideally with causal ones.

It may definitely be asserted that

mechanical notions are no longer tenable in physics and by the same token any metaphysical notions dependent upon the mechanical conception of science are annulled.


75 (continued) makes it seem more and more likely that [wave reality] is better described as mental than as material." Physics and Philosophy, p. 203. However, critics give Jeans no rest. Of. Barnes, op. cit., p. 310. J.E. Turner, "Relativity Without ParacTox, " The Monist, 40:13, January, 1930; P. Frank, Between Physics and Philosophy,pp. 4-5, 36; W.H. Sheldon” "Is There Material Stuff?" Journal of Philosophy, 20:544-52, September 2 7 , 1923; L.J. Russell, et "at., Mind, Matter, and Purpose (Aristotelian Society Bupplementary Vol. VTI1, 1928), pp. 99-142. In general the criticisms assert (1 ) that the modern vocabulary of science is as physical as the older; (2) that Jeans takes the terms out of their operational context; (3 ) that the con­ cept of "stuff" is still in science even though changed; and (4) in reality all that has changed is the type of physical law.

123 any substantial demonstration that the new formulation leads to spiritualistic metaphysics has yet to be made. At present it can only be stated that the current views of science are not so hostile to spiritualistic metaphys­ ics as the mechanical views were.



Eddington argued that if mechanical physics could be ex­ tended to materialistic philosophy and psychological de­ terminism then a "spontaneous" physics can be extended to spiritualistic philosophy and psychological determinism. We hardly feel that a mistaken notion of the materialists can be used as the basis for Eddington1s argument.

A doc­

trine of emergence or of levels could admit mechanical action at the most elementary level yet deny any effort to extend it uncritically to all of experience.


argument, though not conclusive, Is far more tenable than that of Jeans or Eddington.


Atomic particles.


argument of the realists is substantially correct but it is not necessarily re-enforced by atomic physics. arguments of the idealists are not valid.


In any scien­

tific law there is the human construction of supplied data into a theory.

The "supplied data" is the objective

element that is presented by observations of nature.


"human construction" are the terms, symbols, and operations that humans supply from their mental processes.

The result­

ant theory is a complex of "supplied data" and "human



The idealist cannot proceed from the

assertion "theories are the result of human construction" to "matter is nothing but a construct."

Nor can it be

argued that the large element of human construction in theory formulation demonstrates the spirituality of matter. (5 ).


The most this feature of atomic

physics can be used for in metaphysics is to once again demonstrate that the mechanical program of physics has been ended.

In agreement with Barnes we say that there is

nothing more spiritual in modern notions of matter than in the older ones.

Of if the modern notions are spiritual

such a demonstration has not been adequately made as yet. There are more possibilities in atomic theory than in relativity theory for metaphysical statements.


least some progress has been made in the cancellation of old fashioned materialism.

It can further be said that

modern physical formulations concerning matter are not as hostile to spiritualistic metaphysics as previous views were.

Nothing too certain may yet be asserted as physics

has yet much more to learn in reference to matter3 and metaphysical analyses must await these developments.

CHAPTER VII ENTROPY AND METAPHYSICS The Second Law of Thermodynamics is one of the great laws of modern science and because of its nature has been grasped by metaphysicians for metaphysical purposes. The metaphysical significance of relativity and atomic physics is rather difficult;?to specifically locate, but the Second Law Is unequivocal as to what it can mean if It is permitted a voice In metaphysics. for a doctrine of creation.

It is a clear brief

(1) It sets a time limit on

the universe and so denies its eternal existence, or at least an infinite regress of present conditions.

(2) The

increasing disorder of energy distribution implies an original, or not Infinitely remote, creative ordering. In summary, the history of the principle is as fol­ lows. 1

Sadi Carnot discovered (1824) that work can only

be done by a machine by a fall in temperature within the machine with the resultant dissipation of energy.


(1842) announced the First Law, viz., that in energy transformations no energy Is lost.

Later Count Rumford,

basing his conclusions on experimentation with the boring

^ F.S.C. Northrop, Science and First Principles (New York: The Macmillan Company, l9$l), p. I42 ff.


of cannons, stated that heat Is "disorganized molecular O motion.H Then the German physicist Clausius noted that in a system of energy the flow is in one direction, that of entropy or disorder.

Hence the universe proceeds to a

maximum state of Entropy.3

Finally, Boltzmann gave the

law a statistical formulation and said that a system changes towards its most probably state.

The analogy used

most frequently to illustrate Boltzmann1s formulation is that of shuffling.

If equal amounts of white sand and black

sand are mixed over a period of time the mixture will be gray, and no matter how much more the mixture is shaken it will persist in its grayness.

If a deck of cards in fac­

tory order are shuffled the probability of getting back the original order is fantastically small. In dealing with the metaphysical possibilities of the Second Law Northrop admits that taking the law literally leads to the concept of design, and thence to a Designer, but he says this is at odds with the entire spirit of modern science.

Further, no student of religion can find

solace in the law that causes such chaos, and so merciless­ ly extends to all living creatures.

Such a law is not

2 Ibid., p. 1 52. 3 "Die Energle der Welt 1st konstant, die Entropie der Welt strebt einem Maximum zu."

127 consistent with the notion of "a Heavenly Father of reli­ gion.

After a somewhat testy introduction to the Second

Law, Northrop states his own conviction.

There are two

laws at work in Nature, the Second Law being one of them. The law of entropy is not a temporal law pointing to a creation or a Designer--but it —


is a logical law indicating

This law of dissipation has its coun­

terpart in the functioning of the Macroscopic Atom which supplies the replenishment principle. Atom is eventually identified with God.

This Macroscopic Thus when Nature

runs down it has played out its maximum entropy, and gives chance for minimum entropy to take place Hsince it [prin­ ciple of minimum entropy, replenishment] represents a possible permutation which has actually existed.”5 He also mentions two other philosophical principles of the theory: first, that the law denies a thorough system of internal relatedness because

its statistical

is one of chance or randomness,

and second,


the operational

method in science has its limitations here due to the fact that one state is as probable as another, i.e., theoreti­ cally at least, we would get different answers for iden­ tical operations.6

^ Ibid., p. 1 5 5 . 5 Ibid., p. 1 6 3 . 6 Ibid., p. 160.


Urban's^ treatment Is somewhat paradoxical.

The law

is metaphysical to physics, but to value--the very heart of philosophy in Urban's system--irrelevant.

He claims

that entropy introduces finality into the world even though o

it is ffa magnificent dysteology."°

Because the law is

metaphysical and significant it has aroused a host of opposition, but nonetheless, the metaphysical validity of the law remains.

The law.puts us in a dilemma.

If we

abandon the law and cling to our cherished doctrine of the inevitability of progress and increase in value, we are in trouble.

The law cannot be denied for it is historical in

principle and "like any history it is essentially metaphys­ ical in its implications."9

if we accept the law, and

cling to value it seems to force us into mysticism. Therefore, before any intelligent solution can be found the full import of the metaphysical nature of the law must be realized.

It is metaphysical because it "stretches

the tentacles of its implications far beyond the physical realm into that of life, mind, and history, squeezing the

T Wilbur Marshall Urban, The Intelligible W o r l d ; Metaphysics and Value (New York; The Macmillan Company, 1$29), Chapter XlT, "The New Gotterdammerung; Degradation and Value," pp. 395-427. 8 Ibid., p. 395. 9 ibid.. p. 3 97 .

129 breath out of them.1,10

It is metaphysical because it is a

judgment of totality upon the world-process itself.

It is

metaphysical because it contains the elements of irrever­ sibility making thi3 world-process unique.

It is meta­

physical because, in Eddington's terminology,

it is an

arrow in time telling us which way time is flowing, and so by "implication at least,

[it tells us] something about a

beginning and an end. This time-arrow is definitely metaphysical, Urban tells us.

It tells us of the aging of the universe which

implies the beginning in time of the universe.

Thus the

universe has had "a beginning, a beginning perhaps im­ measurably remote, but none the less finite in time."***2 Therefore as a principle it greatly disturbs the unhistorical picture that the mechanical sciences paint.


only rebuttal made by the scientist is that the law is merely disoription and must not be made metaphysical. At this point Urban relates the law to value. Entropy does not extend to all the universe, but only to its physical aspect.

Value cannot be made or destroyed so

the Second Law does not touch it.

10 Ibid., p. 398. ^ 12

^ o c . cit. , P« ^0 0 •

One would expect him to


think of the principle operationally, or descriptively, thus leaving value untouched by physics.

But instead he

insists on the metaphysical nature of entropy apparently to condemn optimistic, anti-physical humanism, but then cuts the law short when it comes to trans-temporal value. Eddington writes that "Shuffling is the only thing which Nature cannot undo."^3

This gives the Second Law

unique status among the laws of nature for it' indicates a difference between the past and the future.

The quantum

law and relativity theory make do distinction between time and organization, but the Second Law does, and therefore it alone puts meaning and sense into the world. ^-s Time 1s Arrow. an arrow in time. more organization.

This law

The steady decrease in organization is To travel in reverse is to find more and Hence entropy gives a real distinction

between doing and undoing.

Eddington12* lists three of its

important philosophical meanings:

(1) It is a principle

vividly recognized by consciousness;

(2) our mentality

tells us that if the arrow were reversed that the external world would be made nonsensical; and (3) Time's Arrow only appears in physical science in dealing with organization

AOS. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (The Gifford Lectures” I927; N e w T o r k : The Macmillan Company, 1929), p. 64. Ibid., p. 69.

131 of groups.

"Here the arrow indicates the direction of pro­

gressive increase of the random element."^5

His conclusion

is then that the law holds "supreme position among the laws of Nature,"1^ and any efforL to go to the contrary, either of law or thought, cannot survive. He continues his exposition by stating that if the time of maximum entropy arrived, time would be without direction.

The atoms would vibrate like little clocks by

which we could measure speed and duration but time would have lost its arrow for "like space it extends, but it does not 'go o n . '

Therefore, unless entropy distin­

guishes direction of time, nothing else can.


then asserts that he believes that maximum entropy will be reached.

"The whole universe will reach thermodynamical

equilibrium at a not infinitely remote date in the future.3" ^ But Eddington does not immediately press for clear-cut metaphysical conclusions.

He does not see in it a proof

for creation, but the law should be considered as a scien­ tific working principle.

"As a scientist I simply do not

believe that the present order of things started off with

Hoc. cit. Ibld-> P. 74. 17 Ibid., p. 79. 18 Ibid., p. 8 3 .

132 a bang,nl9 he tells us, but then proceeds to add: "I feel equally unwilling to accept the implied suggestion to evade. the deadlock."2°

Unlike John the Baptist having

both, affirmed and denied he ends his exposition by saying that he rejects all cyclical theories, and theories of rejuvenation.

"I am no Phoenix . . .

not a Multiplicationist.

I am an Evolutionist,

It seems rather stupid to keep

doing the same thing over and over again."21


then, in view of this concluding statement, he does accept both the creation and design implications of the Second Law. Inge follows rather closely the views of Urban.


believes that the Second Law implies (a) the impossibility of modernism in philosophy— the effort to substitute the inevitability of human progress for God and heaven, and (b)

creation at a definite moment in time.

tance of the Law of Entropy," he writes,

"The accep­

"seems to drive

us back to the traditional Christian belief of an external Creator, who made a world which had a beginning in time and will have an end in time."22

He is appalled at the lack of

19 Ibid., p. 8 5 . k°c ■ clt*

21 Ibid., p. 86. 22 william Ralph Inge, God and the Astronomers (Warburton Lectures, 1931-33; London: Longman, Greeny and Company, 1933), P. H .

133 interest shown in Entropy for it apparently destroys the validity of the entire mechanical view of the universe, besides sounding the death knell for nineteenth century optimism which "was getting drunk on draughts of extrava­ gant optimism. The effort to find a process of rejuvenation he thinks is good, but as yet, futile.

It has won few adher­

ents and was rejected by the leaders of the 1931 meeting of the British Association.

And like Urban he believes

that Entropy does not affect the great realm of value 2k "nor the spirits who are the bearers of them." Barnes finds metaphysical material in the Second Law.

Unless some creative power intervenes the universe

will stagnate, and reverse speculation points to creation. "We thus seem driven," he writes,

"to the belief that God

lies behind p h e n o m e n a . F u r t h e r m o r e the Second Law re­ establishes the cosmological argument with "utmost direct­ ness and simplicity" for if the universe is finite and disorganizing then there must have been a remote time when it was in a state of maximum organization for "In fact,

2 3 ibid., p. 2 3 . Ibid. , p. TO. 5 E r n e s t ■william Barnes, Scientific Theory and Religion (Gifford Lectures, 192 7- 2 8 ; CJambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), p. 240.

134 there was a time when God wound up the clock and a time will come when it will stop if He does not wind it up again.,l2^ Barnes does not feel that any objection can be brought against the Second Law "but it is characteristic of the temper of our era that few theologians of eminence are willing to sponsor it as it stands."27 The physicists have not let the metaphysical specu­ lations about Entropy go unchallenged.

The metaphysical

use of Entropy is eliminated by giving the theory a purely operational definition.

Typical of the objectors is Frank

who agrees with Bridgman's operationalism at this point. The word universe has no operational definition which makes entropy a mere paper and pencil affair.


all these conclusions concerning the creation and death of the world are results of a loose way of thinking."^8 Following this he suggests that there is no real irrecoverability.

If the pure theory of thermodynamics be substi­

tuted for by the theory of heat which he lists as laws of motion plus statistical hypotheses, then we drop the

26 ibid., p. 596. L o c « cit. 28 Philipp Frank, "Foundations of Physics," International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. I, no. 7 , p. 23:

135 Aristotelian view of nature [teleological] and adopt the Epicurean view [chance; ateleological].

The latter states

that every "tendency toward an end is an illusion" for the real actor in evolution of the world "is a play of chances and the survival of the fittest.

There is no real irrecover-

ability. 1,2^ Milne, the British cosmologist, turns the tables on the theory of Entropy by comparing it to relativity. as time varies with each observer, so does Entropy. writes,

Just He

"It follows that through the universe is running

down for each separate observer, no absolute measure of the amount it has run down at any definite instant of our time can be given."3°

Thus, there is no absolute running down

although parts may so appear to be running down.

The world

"contains experiences for which the process of running down is hardly progressed at all. lives forever."31

The world therefore

His solution to the problem is contin­

uous creation: I commend to philosophers the idea that creation is ever present in the universe; not a new idea, but one to which, in my opinion, we are led by the strictest

2 9 ibid., p. 2 7 . 30 E.A. Milne, "Some Points In the Philosophy of Physics: Time, Evolution, and Creation," Philosophy, 9:35, January, 1934. Loc. cit.

136 interpretation of modern physics and astronomy in the light of their philosophies.32 Russell's treatment of the subject is equivocal.


admits that the Second Law has more metaphysical signifi-


cance than the usual arguments advanced for metaphysics on the basis of modern science, but he does not think that we may have demonstrative certainty for we may find out Entropy does not hold for all places or all times. the universe might not be finite,


"but as arguments go,

it is a good one, and I think we ought provisionally to accept the hypothesis that the world had a beginning at some definite, though unknown, date.”33

However, after having

said that he says that Entropy does not lead us to a Creator even though we must accept a beginning of the world.3^ Recoverability has been mentioned in the exposition of Entropy (Northrop, cosmic atom; Milne, continuous crea­ tion; Frank, Epicurean chance).

The only scientific data

suggested for it has come from Millikan.

Millikan’s sug­

gestion is that matter is forming elsewhere in the universe

32 i b i d - , p- 38. 33 Bertrand Russell, The Scientific Outlook (New York: W.W. Norton, 1931), p.~IT8~ 31*- Loc. clt.

137 which gives rise to cosmic rays.

He feels that these radia­

tions from the very remote stellar regions are indications of recoverability. With radiuun and uranium we do not see anything but decay. And yet somewhere, somehow, it is almost certain that theseeelements must be continuously form­ ing. They are probably being put together now some­ where in the laboratories of the stars.35 Evaluation.

Entropy with teleology provides one of

the most cogent and satisfactory basis for a metaphysical assertion that is possible at the present state of science. The process of entropy can be carefully observed in numer­ ous cases and mathematically formulated. First,

is that there can be no operational defini­

tion of the "universe."

The error at this point is that

all of science works on the principle of the uniformity of nature, and all thetimplications of this principle. Chemicals tested in one laboratory are assumed to test the same in any other laboratory.

Chemicals observed in the

sun are assumed to be the same as those on the earth. Therefore what is said about heat systems on this earth must be applied to all heat systems till the evidence is to

35 Robert Andrew Millikan, Science and Life (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1924),' p. 2 7 . Evidence for this is that ,Tthe spectra of nebulae show that they contain only the lighter elements.rT P. 28.

138 the contrary.

If operationalism were completely thorough

in its principles then science would immediately hopelessly bog down.

Part of the strength of science is its ability

to generalize limited discoveries.

The generalization of

entropy possesses far more intelligibility than the asser­ tion, negative as it is, that no operational definition of the universe may be given. Secondly, Epicurean chance may be suggested.


here again the negative assertion does not have the strength of a positive extrapolation.

The positive evi­

dence is entropy; the probably extrapolation Is to demon­ strate the impossibility of an infinite regress of the present order.

In this light chance is a mere negation

and not the extrapolation of evidence.

CHAPTER VIII EVALUATION OF THE PLACE OF SCIENCE IN METAPHYSICS AND PHILOSOPHY The last chapter concluded the investigation of what philosophers have made of modern science in metaphys­ ical systems.

Some of these efforts have little or no

validity, and some possess a high degree or probability. Some philosophers made inferences from science to meta­ physics, e.g., those philosophers who inferred design from the collocations of nature, or who inferred cosmic entropy from the entropy of local heat systems.


philosophers took cues from science and proceeded to meta­ physics, e.g., the justification of psychological indeter­ minism from proposed physical indeterminism.

Still other

philosophers made justifications from science for metaphys­ ics, e.g., the argument of Jeans that the present state of relativity theory and atomic physics finds in spiritualis­ tic metaphysics its most probablp philosophical counterpart. This chapter will be concerned with three further matters in regard to science and metaphysics.

(l) If a

philosopher does not merge his philosophy and science, at what point or points does he restrict the metaphysical out-reach of science?

How much can science say and at what

140 point does science cease to be authoritative?

This will

involve an investigation of the proposed limitations of the scientific method.

(2 ) On the other hand, it is our

conviction that scienoe cannot be completely convention­ alized as has been done by post-Kantian philosophers and philosophers of religion, e.g., representative men are Le Hoy, Bergson, Sabatier, and H^ffding.

In the second

section we shall discuss what contributions science can make to any system of metaphysics.

(3) Finally, this dis­

sertation will conclude with a defense of the proposed rapprochement between science and metaphysics as suggested in the writings of F.R. Tennant.

It is our concluding

thesis that the system of empirical rationalism of F.R. Tennant is the best option of the present time for the harmonization of science and metaphysics.



Each philosopher who does not follow some form of scientism will limit the authority of science at some point, usually determined by the nature of his own system. However, most of the limitations imposed upon science follow set patterns.

Reasons suggested by various philo­

sophers for the limitation of science in reference to

141 metaphys ics a r e :^ (1).

Science works on a pragmatic basis; and its

statements are probable, not certain.

If this is the

situation then scientists cannot speak with dogmatism about the philosophical problems of the philosophers. Metaphysics then stands on equal footing with science as it too is an effort to explain the universe.


vocal at this point is A.E. Taylor, whose recent work is largely given over to the examination of the relationship of science to metaphysics.2

Science, to Taylor,

is just

one method of explaining the universe, and a very limited method at that.

It is a limited, restricted type of

study, the purpose of which is to discover regular law in Nature.

But "any inquiry thus delimited obviously can

throw no light on the question [does God exist?] which is at s t a k e . Q u e s t i o n s about metaphysics are of such a

^ Two complete books on the subject: J.W.N. Sullivan, The-Limitations of Science (Mentor Books; New York: The New American Library, 1933)* and Louis Trenchard More, The Limitations of Science (New York: Henry Holt and Company, I9l5)• An excellent article on the same is that of Russell L. AJekoff, "Towards an Interpretation of Contemporary Philosophy," Philosophy of Science, 13:131-38, April, 1946. 2 A.E. Taylor, Does God Exist? (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1§4?), 3 Ibid.. , p. 14.

142 general, comprehensive nature that they are outside the bounds of science, to be answered by science in the nega­ tive or the affirmative.

Scientific hypotheses are sor.con-

structed that negative proofs for the existence of God are impossible. (2 )•

Science 1s claim to objectivity cannot be taken

at its face value, for upon examination subjective elements are discovered in science. (a). element.

Scientific law has a substantial subjective

A law is not read off nature but is a combination

of data supplied by observation and experimentation, and human conceptual systems.

Taylor indicates that our scien­

tific theory and our sensory experiences are so different, and this difference reveals the enthropic enlargement in theory construction.

The scientific conceptualization of

the solar system is far different from the actual observa­ tions of the astronomers.^ (b).

The concept of objectivity is a social one.

"Objectivity" means "intersubjectivity."

Objective data is

that which meets the definition imposed by a social group. (c).

The presence of art in science indicates the

4 Ibid., p. 2 5 .

143 presence of the subjective. 5

The invention and selection

of scientific experiments is a matter of art.


the unification of disparate factors into a unified whole is the result of creative imagination. Tennant, for example, argues that the whole process of selection and elimination--without which science would have to laboriously catalogue the entire universe--is an artistic process.

The scientist, as artist, is guided by

Interest in this process, and interest is subjective. Furthermore, there are no rules for concept-formation or else all could learn them and be accomplished scientists; the difference between genius and mediocrity at this point is an artistic difference. (d).

Both "fact" -and ''object'1 in science have large

elements of subjective elaboration.

In this particular

analysis Tennant uses all the skill he learned from his study with Ward.

In brief, what is called "fact" in

science is an entity that has received considerable elabora­ tion from the subject, and is thus literally constructed. These manufactured facts from idia (subjective elements) and posita (objective elements,

impressional data) are

5 Sullivan, op. cit., is the philosopher of science who has done most to indicate the numerous places in sci­ ence that call for artistic skill rather than scientific routine.


converted into the objects of scientific study.


forbids the scientist from turning these highly manufactured products into metaphysical ultimates.6 In summary, science cannot convert its entities and 4aws directly into metaphysics due to the subjective elements in science.

Furthermore, the presence of sub­

jective elements in science suggest the possibility of more to be accounted for by metaphysics than is accounted for by science.


Science must cut off experience at some point,

and therefore cannot tell the comprehensive story that only metaphysics can.

It is granted that (i) value judgments

are not part of the scientific procedure.

In so limiting

its scope science "simply hasnnothing to say about God or goodness or beauty" writes Greene.*^

If we are to be em­

pirical in a genuine sense then we must admit the vivid, sharable, and rationally interpretable moral and religious experience of man, Greene further observes.

(1£) Ethics

is eliminated from science but prominent philosophers have taken ethics as the cue to the meaning of the universe and

^ F.R. Tennant, Philosophical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1$33), I, 333-^3 . 7 Theodore M. Greene, "Man Out of Darkness," Atlantic, 183:46, April, 1949.

145 life, e.g., Socrates, Kant, Fichte, and Royce.

(iii) Pur­

pose and final causation are eliminated; scientists gen­ erally agreeing with B a c o n ’s dictum that they are barren virgins dedicated to God.

But as Kant himself indicated

the teleological argument is a most serious argument.


philosopher has unequivocally demonstrated that immediate causation and mediate causation are exclusive. self is eliminated.

(iv) The

Tennant has made it clear that the

uncritical realism of science brings in Trojan-like fashion the denial of the self, in science’s avowed objectivity-both of purpose and of data--the self is eliminated. Though methodologically permissible for science to do its task, it cannot be converted into a metaphysical tenet. (v) In Tennant’s terminology, the alogical is eliminated, yet the alogical is of great importance to philosophy.


poslta just occur, and are prior to logic and knowledge. That the alogical is rooted deeply in Nature is evident from the fact that Nature is not ordered like a geometrical, mathematical, or logical system.

It is the source of the

w o r l d ’s novelty, and a logically or rationally ordered o

world would be unbearable,

"a world of unreason."


Tennant, op. cit., I, 341, fn. Similar criticisms are made by Whitehead,TIiotta, Greene, and Muller.

146 (4).

Science must engage in reductlonism and there­

fore misses the comprehensiveness of metaphysics. goal of science Is a system.


In a system there must he

basic axioms yielding a deductive system.

The choice of

axioms , the principles of explanation, and the desiradatum for a deductive system all contrive to place a premium on parsimony.

Therefore, data that are actually transcendent

to the system are forced unnaturally into it by the process of reductionism. (5)•

Science is restricted to relations among

phenomena, and therefore it is the task of metaphysics to tell the nature of the relata. studying metaphysics.

Science is not patently

It does not profess to decide the

metaphysical nature of the ultimates of reality,


whether the world is one (monism) or many (pluralism), or whether atoms are plenums (materialism), or monads (spiri­ tual pluralism).

Its laws are phenomenal regularities

leaving to metaphysics to discuss the ultimate nature of reality. (6 ).

Science is dependent on previous knowledge.

Science is not autonomous because it can only function if it accepts the findings of other scholars in other areas of thought, and by so doing admits that there are other valid methods of acquiring knowledge.

Brightman declares

that there can be no science without faith in the general trustworthiness of a human being and his faculties.9 Others have said that science is dependent for its high standards and scholarship on ethics, which in turn cannot be established on scientific grounds.

Tennant is very

vocal in declaring that epistemology is another branch of learning that science must assume.

Taylor insists that

science is just one approach to reality, and a limited one at that being dependent on the general rationality of m a n . There is, he claims, no single experiment that scientists can appeal to, to prove the omnipotence of the scientific method.

Their only court of appeal is the general ration­

ality of man, i.e.,

"common s e n s e . T h e r e f o r e ,

the whole

problem of truth "must rest with metaphysics."11 (7 ). several.

The systematization of science is one of

The purpose of systematization in science is to

thoroughly know the phenomenal sequences of Nature quanti­ fied as much as possible.

As such it makes basic appeal

to causal and mechanical types of systematization.


there is a veritable list of possible types of systemati-

9 Edgar Sheffield Brightman, "The Presuppositions of Experiment," The Personalist, 19:136-43, April, 1936. 10 Taylor, op. cit., p. 16. He adds that this common sense is clarified and educated. H

I b i d . , p. 1 7 .



Therefore science cannot claim the sole type of

systematization nor discredit a priori metaphysical system­ atizations . •

Finally, It is reasoned that science presents

a symbolic knowledge, which is, a fortiori, metaphysically empty. (a).

Eddington says that science gives a symbolic

representation of the universe.

This is evident in the

symbolic form of scientific concepts, which Eddington ca-^s P°^-n^er readings.

The emptiness of scientific know­

ledge is described in the following: Scientific information is summed up in measures . . . The measures themselves afford no ground for a classification of categories . . . The attributes of this world . . . are outside scientific scrutiny.13 In verification of this he claims that this is the view of the scientists themselves concerning scientific knowledge.

Einstein, he asserts, ridded physics of meta­

physical contamination, placing it strictly on a "pointerreading'' basis. readings.

Thus an atom is a schedule of pointer

But the intrinsic nature of the relata of


They are listed by Tennant in Philosophical Theology, Vol. I, Chapter XIII. ^3 A.S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (New York: The Macmillan Company, 193TJ, p. . Italics are ours.

149 pointer readings is the domain of metaphysics.


subsequently identifies it as mind-stuff. (b).

In the opinion of Bergson also scientific

knowledge is metaphysically empty.

Reality is something

mobile, living, moving, emerging, creating.

The novel in

reality is a genuine novelty, not the mere making clear in time what was wrought at the beginning. reality is called duration,


and it is known by intuition.

"To metaphysics, then, we assign a limited object, prin­ cipally spirit, and a special method, mainly intuition, Bergson writes.

Opposite to intuition is intellect.

Intellect evolved to help man solve his practical prob­ lems, and is designed to deal with matter, objects, dis­ organization, and spatialization. method of science.

It is pre-eminently the

But by its very practicality it is

metaphysically empty knowledge, and the effort of scientism to use the scientific method in metaphysics has retarded the progress of metaphysics.15 Intuition is the epistemological method of discover­ ing metaphysical reality; and intellect (science) is the method of coping with the practical problems of survival.

14 Henri Bergson, Creative Mind (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1943), p. 42 T *5 ibid., p. 7 8 .

By the very nature of intellect (science) it can never "catch" metaphysical reality; it can only examine dead endproducts,

i.e., it can never catch the movement of an

interval, only its moments.

Scientific knowledge is good,

commendable, and trustworthy if its domain is carefully recognized, but for metaphysicians it has no service. The basic irrationalism of this system is brought to light when Bergson writes,

"instinct and intelligence are

two radically different types of knowledge,’

and when

he says that to think metaphysical reality we must "do violence to the mind" and go "counter to the natural bent of the intellect.

But that is just the function of philo­

sophy. "^7



Having stated the limitations of science as found among the various philosophers it is now obligatory to note what every philosophical system must attend to in science, or what contributions science can make to every metaphysical system.

Assuming for the moment that it is


D Creative Evolution (The Modern Library; New York: Random House, 1911), p. 156. -> P* 35. Italics are ours. However, some claim Bergson is defending a super-intellectualism rather than an irrationalism.

151 possible to be detached and purely objective, though such Is mythical, what should every system of metaphysics con­ sider seriously in science? (1).

Every metaphysics must pay due attention to

those borderlands between its statements and scientific theories.

Certain problems of metaphysics are extenuations

of certain theories of science, and wherever this occurs the metaphysician must know the corresponding scientific theory. (a).

It is difficult to tell where astro-physics

stops and philosophical cosmology begins.

Therefore, any

philosophical cosmology must take as prime data the last word in astro-physics. (b).

The categories, as listed by Aristotle, Kant,

naturalists, and scientists, overlap.

Every philosopher

must know the scientific categories at the moment.


philosopher must decide to what extent these categories shall govern his own metaphysics, and he must furthermore be prepared to show reason why he either repudiates them, or limits them.

18 Cf. f,The phenomena of the atom, the crystal, chem­ ical bodies, the strata of the earth, once they have been fairly studied by empirical scientists, become the raw material of the science of cosmology. ,f Fulton J~ Sheen, Philosophy of Science (MTIwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, l9§4), p. 15B. italics are ours.

152 (c).

Epistemologists must know modern psychology.

Philosophical psychology, one of the time-worn bridges to metaphysics, cannot be intelligently constructed today if psychological studies in perception and psychophysics are neglected. (d).

Philosophy of science especially must know

science for it mediates between philosophy and science.


is its duty, in part, to correlate such studies as analysis of matter in physics with analysis of matter in metaphysics; the problem of cosmology and cosmogony in science with the ^peculations about origins and beginnings in philosophy; the analysis of such concepts as entropy with a view to their possible use in metaphysics. The necessity of harmony between one's metaphysics and philosophy of science is well stated by Kaiser when he remarks that r,any rationalistic metaphysics, without the support of a rationalistic physics, is almost certainly doomed. ft^9 (2).

As philosophy is the endeavor to give a synop­

tic view of reality, and as the data of science bulks large in human knowledge, every philosophy must pay attention to the entire scope of science.

Thompson indicates that it

^•9 c.H. Kaiser, "The Consequences for Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics," Journal of Philosophy, 37:338, June 20, 1940.

153 is the province of metaphysics to construct a whole system; but this system should not be constructed a priori but should take account of the raw material which the sciences give.

'Vln this way science contributes to metaphysics." v Greene, after a survey of the progress of science in

the past three hundred years, remarks that metaphysics can­ not evade science, nor can science ignore metaphysics when constructed in the light of science. Science also invites, and supports, more embracing philosophical accounts of the nature of the physical world, and no responsible interpretation of reality as a whole can ignore or contradict, careful philosophical generalization, based upon well-established scientific conclusions.21 Muller believes that the findings of science are relevant to spiritual interests.

Statements about values

can only be made in view of the conditions of nature and man as they actually are. op much to say."

"About such matters science has

Furthermore, it is to be doubted if complete ontal indifference can be our attitude about science.


that science is not metaphysics, that does not mean that


u J. Arthur Thompson, Introduction to Science Home University Library; New York: Henry HoTT;, l£ll), p. 131. Italics are his. 21 Greene, op. cit. , p. k6 . 22 Muller, op. cit., p. 7 0 .


what it studies with such pragmatic success has no connec­ tion with the ontal.

Even such stringent symbolists as

Bergson and Eddington admit that science is symbolic about something even though unknown.

In that both metaphysics

and science seek truth, and the truth of all experience, it would seem that the stable elements in our sciences have some ontal value.

The fundamental constants in nature "are

true indicia of certain inherent and permanent features of the underlying reality"2 ^ is the opinion of Lillie.



Western philosophy has had two important recurring themes, namely, an emphasis on Nature resulting in a close association of science and philosophy with a corresponding agnosticism concerning metaphysics and normative ethics, 24 and the emphasis on Geist resulting in some type of

3 Ralph S. Lillie, "Types of Physical Determinism and the Activities of Living Organisms," Journal of Philosophy, 2 8 :561, October 8 , 1931. 2^ This German word is used because of its ambi­ valent meaning of both mind and spirit. The word "Nature" is used to designate what is generally meant by the "universe." By Geist-philosophy we mean any philosophy that takes Its metaphysical cues from the personal (mind, logic, ethics, religion, perception), and by NaturePhilosophy we mean any philosophy that takes its meta­ physical cues from the impersonal (science, matter, the universe, atoms).

155 spiritualistic metaphysics with a corresponding negation of the metaphysical worth of science. However in some systems both themes have been present but the resultant philosophy has not been coherent. For example, Descartes had elements of both but his con-' ceptions of mind and matter were so disparate that his philosophy was seen to be stuck together rather than to logically cohere.

The same was true of Kant whose

Critique of Pure Reason stands glaring very unfriendly toward his Critique of Practical Reason.

He endeavored

to build a bridge from one to the other by the Critique of Judgment but he invested so much validity in the Critique of Pure Reason and so limited the Critique of Judgment that the effort was not a success. Contemporary Giest-philosophy stems in large part from Hegel through successive modifications.

It has strug­

gled hard, but not too successfully, to rid itself of the basic anti-scientific spirit of Hegel.


When the

^5 ,Jwe recall . . . the pitiable shifts to which Kant was put in his endeavor to stretch the categories sufficing for a mechanical explanation of the inorganic world so as to cover the phenomena of life." F.R. Tennant, Philosophy of The Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Tress, 1932), p. 26 ° Tennant traces the interaction of science and metaphysics at this crucial period. He quotes two postKant ian idealists anonymously to show their utter

156 realistic, pragmatic, and naturalistic reaction came through such men as Peirce, James, Dewey, Moore, and Russell, time*

it was against the prevailing Hegelianism of the

Further, this reaction was in the name of science

with the profession that current Hegelianism was incom­ patible with science and that the new movements


naturalism, pragmatism) were on the friendliest terms with science.

Thus.-Nature-philosophy and Geist-philosophy

were sharply divided at the commencement of the twentieth century, and much of the animus for the reaction by the Naturefphilosophers was on the grounds of the importance of science to philosophy. Adding to the strength of this reaction were the contributions of nineteenth century positivism (e.g., Mach and Pearson) and materialism.

Both were forms of

scientism, i.e., the only meaningful and valid statements are those coming from science.

Scientism can regard meta­

physics only as uncontrolled speculation in contrast to the controlled hypotheses of science, and can only inter­ pret ethics on a description basis, not normatively. Thus at approximately the mid-point of the twentieth

(continued) disrespect for science and notes the negative reaction of the scientists, Maxwell and Tait, toward such statements by metaphysicians. Ibid., p. 137 ff.

157 century Nature-philosoptiers consider metaphysics and ethics to he on very insecure footing.

Nature-philosophy is

either antagonistic to metaphysics or else will only admit as valid metaphysical assertions directly extra­ polated from science.

Furthermore, most of the practicing

scientists think within the boundaries of Nature-philosophy. Geist-philosophers, well aware of the trend to scientism, have struggled for a more sympathetic rapprochement between philosophy and science.

But in spite of the

numerous volumes written to affect the new rapprochement the scientsts and Nature-philosophers are apparently unimpressed. It could be suggested at this point that it be admitted that Nature-philosophy has won the day, but life won't let us.

First, every day each individual has to

make value judgments and ethical decisions that implicitly involve a metaphysics, and these judgments and decisions loom so large in human experience that any effort to write a comprehensive philosophy is short in the degree that it fails to cope adequately with these two significant features of human experience.

Second, as



pointed out, in the 1948 International Congress of

^ F.H. Heinemann, "The West in Search of a Meta­ physics ," HljDbert Journal, 47:132-7, January, 1949.

158 Philosophy logical positivism had no voice in the discussion for the patent reason that as a philosophy it had nothing to contribute to the healing of Europe. On Lhe other hand, Geist-philosophy has been rich in metaphysical thought and ethical formulations.

It could

possibly supply the ethical norms needed, but many contem­ porary scientists and philosophers are not receptive to such suggestions.

The devotion to the scientific method

coupled with the metaphysical agnosticism that usually accompanies it creates an attitude that can regard ethics only in terms of psychological or sociological descriptions. The impasse in metaphysics due to science by the same token prevents any cognitive validity being attributed to ethics.

As a result western culture rich in the techno­

logical developments of science, is unable to affect any international justice. There is needed an adequate metaphysics that will bring together the basic truthfulness of Geist-philosophy and Nature-philosophy paying sufficient and adequate attention to both.

Any Nature-philosophy that restricts .

metaphysics to science is not adequate to the complete range of experience and therefore can only mutilate when it tries to fit all of experience to its Procrustean bed. On the other hand, any Geist-philosophy that thoroughly conventionalizes science will soon find itself tragically

159 divorced from the society of critical scientists— a very key group in western culture.

Such a proposed metaphysics

must contain a methodology that will be in harmony with the rigor of the scientific method, and must present a system that will arrange for the natural relatedness of the valid elements of Geist- and Nature-philosophy. Although we do not accept Jjq toto the system proposed by F.R. Tennant, we believe that his philosophy has the significant ingredients of such a metaphysical system. Concurring somewhat in this is Rufus Jones when he writes that "it will not be likely that any philosophical guide on the empirical path can go farther toward a goal of [metaphysics] and a moral order than Dr. Tennant has . done,"2^

ana c.D. Broad, who remarks that "if a system of

speculative philosophy cannot be established by D r . Tennant1s method, I agree that it is still less likely to be established by any other."3°

pQ ° In our discussion of Tennant we shall substitute occasionally the term "metaphysics" for "theism" in that our thesis is that the form of Tennant’s solution is the correct one. 2 9 Bufus M. Jones, "Tennant’s Philosophical Theology, Vol. II," The Philosophical Review, 40:594, November, 1931. 39 C.D. Broad "Tennant's Philosophical Theology, Vol. II," M ind, 39:4o3, October, 1930. Italics are ours.

l6o Tennant's solution to the problem of metaphysics and science is, in its most general perspective, a union of the strictest empiricism of contemporary science, and a type of Leibnizian empirical rationalism,31 as modified successively by (a) the subsequent movements in modern philosophy,

(b) developments in science,32 and (c) studies

in genetic and analytic psychology, especially the work of Ward.33

By adherence to the strictest of empirical

methodology and control Tennant is able to conserve the valid and necessary contributions of both science and Nature-philosophy.

This fulfills the first requirement

of an adequate metaphysics for our times, namely, the paying of sufficient and adequate attention to valid scientific knowledge.

By his defense of a profoundly

empirical rationalism he is able to save his empiricism

31 It is admitted by historians of philosophy that Leibniz' doctrine of rationalism and innate ideas was a modified rationalism compared to that of Descartes and Spinoza. His concept of the epigenetic development of sensations to thought admits a large empirical element in his rationalism. ^ E.g., as illustrated in K a n t ’s association of his categories with Newtonian science, in turn, embarrassed by developments in relativity theory. 33 Scudder discusses Tennant's philosophical genealogy noting his affinities and differences with Leibniz, Kant, and Ward, Delton Le\-?is Scudder, Tennant's Philosophical Theology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940), p p . 1-16 .

161 from scientism and at the same time save his rationalism from either being mere speculation, or guilty of the usual charges brought against it, e.g., abstractionism, a priorism, or sentimentalism.

Furthermore, his empirical

rationalism enables him to proceed to metaphysics in a manner not reprehensible to the scientist or empiricist. This fulfills the second requirement for an adequatermeta­ physics,

i.e., genuine provision for a natural relatedness

and connectedness of the valid elements of both Geistand Nature-philosophy or, or metaphysical assertion to the world of fact and n a t u r e . ^

For purposes of exposi­

tion and clarity we shall deal, in order, with his empiri­ cism, and then his empirical rationalism. (1).

Tennant's strict empiricism.


Foundational data.

Tennant endeavors to give

philosophy a profound and empirical grounding in fact.


so doing it is necessary to find the location of that information that is foundational to every system of philosophy.

He locates this most ultimate material in what

In that our contention is that the form of Tennant's solution is the correct one, it is not expected that any of all will agree to its content. E.g., with the same essential form Ward constructs a spiritualistic pluralism in contrast to Tennant's theism.

162 he calls presumptive knowledge , and in the alogical forthcomingness^^ Qf the events of nature. common ground for all philosophers.

This forms the It is experience

prior to any type of analysis and Nature prior to any type of schematization.36

jt is the original strata

from which all philosophers must commence, and to which they must return. (h).

Foundational method.

An appropriate method

must be found to accompany the original stratum and this Tennant denotes as analytic and genetic phsychology.


his system the original material of philosophy implies psychology (analytic and genetic) as the foundational method. In that all conceptual and refined knowledge is derived from presumptive knowledge, all concepts used in knowledge must be subjected to an appropriate analysis by psychology.

If this is not done, philosophy, for

example , would rest on tenuous grounds for such analyses

35 q j "alogicalM Tennant means the ordering of either experience or events of nature on other than a strict deductive order. The alogical is the source of the novel in nature and experience. 36 Tennant says that the common ground is "the existence of so-called knowledge of so-called actuality by so-called persons; whatever knowledge, actuality and persons may turn out to be." Philosophical Theology, I, 4.

163 reveal that frequently what Is considered axiomatic is merely the familiar, and that a category that may appear self-evident is really the result of a long genetic pro­ cess (e.g., confusing our notion of substantiality built up through a long genetic process with the category of substance). Furthermore, both philosophy and what is called "Knowledge" is stated in terms of concepts.

But the

psychological pedigree of these concepts must be known, otherwise the concepts are under the suspicion of being uncritical generalizations.

Analytic and genetic psycho­

logy is the fundamental method that discovers the psycho­ logical pedigree of concepts.

This means that the ordo

cognoscendi Is the only route to a known ordo essendi! Psychology "is the fundamental science, the first propadeutic to philosophy, rather than a science to be placed somewhere between chemistry and history."37 (c).

Tennantfs empirical control.

By taking pre­

sumptive knowledge, the forthcomingness of the facts of Nature, and analytic and genetic psychology, as the compo­ nents of the common basis from which all philosophies must

37 Ibid., I, p. 11. In tracing percepts to con­ cepts Tennant'vs empirical rationalism becomes apparent. This will be discussed infra.

164 originate and terminate, Tennant has suggested a control over philosophical statements that parallels the control experimentation has in science.

One of the serious criti­

cisms of metaphysicians is that they have had no adequate control over their statements and therefore subjectivity is admitted in metaphysics on a scale that would be disas­ trous in science.

To guard against such a criticism

Tennant carefully states that the facts of presumptive knowledge are "the sole external control; there is nothing else whereby to distinguish opinion and speculation . . . from knowledge and genuine philosophy . . .


knowledge then, shall here be used as datum and as touchstone."38 Another facet of Tennant's effort to have empiri­ cally controlled statements is his desire to have a philo­ sophy that possesses the same intersubjectivity that characterizes the sciences.

He admits that philosophy and

science differ somewhat as to subject matter and method, but it is not strict empirical procedure (science) as con­ trasted with "eclectic opining11 and "baseless speculation"39 (philosophy).

Philosophy differs from science in that it

3S ibid., I, 4. 39 ibid., II, 2 fn.

165 uses the selfsame data differently.

Metaphysics does not

differ from physics by transcending perceptual experience, e.g., as in mysticism, but in that it discusses the nature of those propositions that physicists must take for granted. I fail to see why, [he writes] there should not be a philosophy as cosmopolitan as is science, as free from individual bias or personal presupposition, and calculated to secure a consensus of experts such as is enjoyed by the sciences. The vagaries of philos­ ophies are chiefly due, it would seem, to their deficient submission to the external control that may be "exerted by fortHcbming fact.'^O Empirical fact, while not in itself ruling out metaphysics,

is a pruning hook for metaphysics.

A meta­

physics constructed with the control of empirical fact is "based on the self same data as are the sciences, and employs as many of the processes involved in the composite thing called the scientific method as the nature of its quest allows. (d).

Science prior to metaphysics.

Ignoring the

problem as to whether any philosophical exposition can be carried on at any level without metaphysical presuppo­ sitions,

it is to be noted in Tennant1s system that a

review of the sciences is necessary before any significant

Philosophy of the Sciences, p. 26. ours. 41 Ibid., p. 2 7 .

Italics are

166 metaphysical statement may he made.

This gives his system

both the control of scientific data, and the valuable con­ tributions of scientific knowledge. Metaphysics, [he writes] is a quest which is dependent on the sciences of the historical and phenomenal. Metaphysical knowledge is the last kind to be attained, if it be attainable, and"the approach To IT is the most precarious. Not until we have passed by way of the sciences to metaphysTcs can we set up a metaphysical system7^^~~ At least two reasons stand out for this assertion.


first is that science has ontal significance so that science must be reviewed in order to locate that sig­ nificance; and second, for metaphysical statements there is no adequate data or knowledge apart from that supplied by the sciences.

The effort to separate metaphysics from

science is suicidal for from science alone "comes the only indisputable facts"43 from which metaphysical gen­ eralizations can be made for metaphysics is but a continuation, by extrapolation, or through points representing further observations, of the curve of "knowledge" which natural science has constructed. In short science and [metaphysics] spring from a common root.44


Tbld,, p. 30.


I b l d - , P.



Ibid., p. 185.

Italics are ours.

167 (e).


In keeping with the profoundly

empirical part of his philosophy, Tennant declares that metaphysical statements are to be made by the same method as the genei’allzations of science, and are to be presented as possessing the same degree of certainty, i.e., they are not absolute certainties but probability statements.^5 He refuses to grant metaphysical assertions an invulnera­ bility but In the tradition of Butler he accords the same type of reasonableness to assertions about metaphysics as accorded to those about nature. Summary.

In Tennant1s profound respect for the

scientific method,the control by empirical fact, and the reliability of scientific knowledge,

is to be found the

first and necessary step in the rapprochement of science and metaphysics.

As Indicated in our statement of Ten­

n a n t ’s position he is not a pure empiricist,

if such is

possible, but on the other hand he endeavors to rid his system of those elements that are usually offensive to the scientist and Nature-philosopher.

Tennant does pay suffi­

cient and adequate attention to the valid elements of

^5 Tennant studied under Johnson, the famous English logician. Chapter XI of Philosophical Theology, Vol. I, PP- 257-305* Is devoted to "Induction and Probability." Tennant defends the subjectivist view of probability.

168 scientific knowledge and Nature-philosophy so as to form the first span of the bridge to an integrated metaphysics. (2). asked:

Tennant's empirical rationalism.

It might be

if Tennant pays such strict attention to the data

and conclusions of science why isn't he a positivist or a naturalist?

The answer is that Tennant is an empirical

rationalist which,

in turn, gives him the method and

vantage point necessary for passing from the descriptive accounts of sciences to metaphysical assertions.

He is

in agreement with Leibniz, Kant and Ward that unless the mind is present in the senses, knowledge would appear miraculous;

it would seemingly come from nowhere.

But he

differs from Leibniz and Kant in that he writes in the light of Ward's profound studies in analytic and genetic pscyhology. It is this empirical rationalism that enables Tennant in form to build bridges where either rationalism or empiricism has failed.

Rationalism has always struggled

with the problem of relating the universal to the particu­ lar, i.e., concept to percept; and empiricism and

^6 ye call it "empirical rationalism" because Tennant does not believe in innate ideas but in innate capacities that may or may not develop; and if they do, they develop according to traceable genetic processes.

169 sensationalism have never been able to satisfactorily explain how nerve sensations constitute knowledge. Tennant’s system, in form, is a genuine effort to conserve the validity of both with the errors of neither. (a).

Tennant1s notion of adequacy.

The first

logical step in passing from the empirical emphasis to the rationalistic and metaphysical emphasis is to pass from the basic explanatory guide of parsimony as found in science, to adequacy as found in metaphysics. There are certain concepts that science omits in its description of the world (e.g., value, purpose, final cause); and there are certain types of explanation that science adheres to, e.g., causal, or mechanical.

But what is eliminated in

science must be accounted for by metaphysics.


science must follow the system of parsimony, metaphysics must be guided by adequacy. The conceptualized world that science depicts is not the world that greets the eye.

Therefore the meta­

physician must introduce categories richer and more numer­ ous than those of science in order that his^description of the world be comprehensive.

Science is dealing in a

special way with a part of experience but metaphysics is

170 dealing with all of experience comprehensively.^7


seeks to make as much identical as possible and must engage in reductionism.

That is appropriate in the formu­

lation of a deductive system which requires axioms of the most general nature, but it makes poor sense in inter­ preting a world with the alogical and novel, a world con­ taining moral agents.

Metaphysics must have categories

that include that which science cannot in order to be truly comprehensive of all experience. It is the very mistake of most scientisms to take the principle of parsimony necessary for science, and to extend it to metaphysics.

In the wish to be scientific

through and through scientism must use the principle of parsimony in metaphysics, but experience will not yield to such treatment.

Tennant is empirical in methodology

but not to the extent that he fails to see that adequacy must be the guide in metaphysics not parsimony.


is thus able to indicate exactly why most scientisms never get beyond the boundaries of scientific knowledge, and he further indicates at just what point the bridge to metaphysics from science is to be constructed. (i).

The purpose of science is to explain in

terms of a deductive system, or in terms of a limited


Tennant, Cf. Philosophy of the sciences, p. 148.

171 concept such as causation or mechanism.

But in so doing

it limits itself to the type of data that fits the method of explanation.

Metaphysics cannot use such a limited

principle of explanation for it strives to be as compre­ hensive as is the totality of experience.^ (ii).

Because Nature and experience are rich with

the alogieal that escapes the type of procedure that science follows metaphysics must include it with more comprehensive categories than science. We again feel that Tennant has isolated out the exact cause of scientism, its weakness, and the precise point at which we pass from scientific knowledge to meta­ physics.

Therefore, in indicating that metaphysics must

follow the rule of adequacy, and not parsimony, Tennant shows how science may feel free to move on to metaphysics, thus making a genuine step in the rapprochement of science and metaphys ic s . (b).

Tennant provides a metaphysical system that

has the teleologlcal connectedness so as to adequately relate metaphysics and science.

The crucial problem is,

after having laid adequate empirical grounds for metaphysics

Cf. Tennant’s masterpiece, ''Explanation," Chapter III, Philosophical Theology, II, 5I-7 7 .

172 in science, to pass over to a metaphysical system that will at the same time be true to the rigor of scientific methodology and yet be true to the complete range of fact. The crux of the problem is to find common roots of what is apparently disparate, and this is the very special service of Tennant1s empirical rationalism.

By the use of empir­

ical rationalism Tennant locates those areas that are apparently disparate, and shows that they have a common root, and thereby make the way from science to metaphysics,, natural. (i).

Rationalism and sensationalism.


as to the method by which a mind acquires its stock of knowledge have varied from the extremes of the Stoics and Locke, to Plato and Augustine.

Tennantfs solution is to

state that the root of sense and of knowledge is the same, and as the infant grows sense and knowledge grow pari passu.

In the most elementary perception of an infant

there is the faint shadowings of abstractionism and idea­ tion, the genetic origin or concepts.

All perception is

germinal conception, and is richer than bare reception. Thus sense and knowledge have a common root.

"The actual

process called sense, is from the first possessed of the promise and potency of thought.,li*9

^9 Philosophical Theology, I, 37.

173 Tennant can give full and adequate place for child psychologists to trace the mental development of the child from infancy to adulthood.

He can also deny any relation­

ship with the type of rationalist that Locke refutes.50 If there were no germinal thought in perception then our percepts would be a string of discreet impressions from which thought could never come; if we were born with full grown innate ideas the whole genetic process of mentality would be a psychological anomaly.

Tennant's solution

refuses to bog down in the scepticism of sensationalism, and does not do violence to the data of genetic psychology. In his effort to find a scientific and defensible locus for the reconciliation of empiricism and rationalism he has moved closer to a genuine rapprochement of science and metaphysics. (ii).

Matter and mind.

The reduction of mind to

matter has appeared to some as crude, and as offensive has been the evaporation of matter into mind. professes to be a tertiam ad quid.

Neutral monism

Tennant tries to find

a locus of reconciliation between these two by a modernized form of Leibniz' monadology.

He does not permit the

obvious spiritualism of a monadology to interfere in any

5° E.g., Lord Herbert.

174 way with the scientific properties of "matter/1^

and he

does not allow matter to be defined as hostile to spirit. The monads are double actors.

What science studies as

matter is a genuine and ontal characteristic of the monads. Matter is not thinned into spirit, nor is spirit grossly reduced to matter.

The defense of this position is as

follows: (aa).

Tennant, a psychological idealist, cannot

permit matter and spirit to be defined so as to be dis­ parate . (bb).

The epistemological analysis of scientific

knowledge reveals that the sharp dividing line between external objects and internal percepts is more apparent than real.

The social object of scientific research is

genetically deducible from the percepts of individuals. Therefore there cannot be any sharp difference between scientific objects and mental percepts.

Cf. "Not a single item of genuinely scientific knowledge would need to be disputed if the real world were proved to be purely spiritual and primarily a realm of ends." Philosophy of the Sciences, p. 186. 52 ujn physicists commonly used to regard as wholly objective we can now discern subjective factors . . . And if this science [theory of knowledge] is unable to proclaim the ultimate dualism of matter and spirit to be false, it is able to maintain that neither physics nor psychology would In anyway be aTfected if matter were the

175 (cc).

The present attitude of the scientists as

manifest in their declaration that they are studying the "relations subsisting among phenomena"53 and not ontology per se permits a spiritual metaphysics to exist side by side in company with the most exacting scientific rigor. The ontal elements of the universe may be heterogenous and living, and if so, it would in no way interfere with science, either in its concepts or its method.

He writes*

Spiritualism is equally compatible with science; and while spirit”T s — underivable from”matter, matter may well be appearance to spirit . . . We can say that spiritualism, singularistic as to substancekind, and pluralistic as to instances of it, is empirically possible: science can neither disprove nor verify it.54 (iii).

Science and metaphysics.

The hostilities

between scientists and scientism with metaphysics was presented in Chapter I.

Tennant’s proposed reconciliation

is to unite teleologically the domain of science and the

^ (continued) appearance of humble spirit, and its inertia were the out­ come of psychic activity; if, in other words, the discon­ tinuity and disparity between matter and spirit, were, from the point of view of metaphysics, non-existent." Ibid., p. 10. Italics are ours. 53 Philosophical Theology, II, 5 1 . 54 Loc. cit.

Italics are ours.

Italics are ours.

176 domain of metaphysics by his doctrine of the Worldground. 55

The two domains stem from the World-ground,

and a fortiori,units in the World-ground.

For example,

immediate causality (science) is the modus operand! of teleological causality (metaphysics).

The latter cannot,

be derived from the former by simple analysis, but they unite in one system as they root in the World-ground. same is true of the study of ethics.


Ethics is founded

empirically in a genetic examination of the ethical exper­ ience.

The psychological structure of the ethical exper­

ience is thereby scientifically founded by genetic and analytic psychology.

This in turn is related to whatever

is discovered by a logical analysis of ethical prin­ ciples.

Tennant refuses to gratuitously graft on an ethi­

cal system to an empirical theism, but insists that ethics be subjected to the same empirical-analytic treatment. Thus ethics does not appear as appended or introduced ad hoc but fits into the general scheme of philosophy and metaphysics.

With ethics grounded upon the same foundations

as the other statements In science and metaphysics the

55 " 'World-ground' denotes that upon which the ontal World, regarded by theism as not self-subs istent, depends for its forthcomingness and its determinate nature; not something from which all else follows with predetermined necessity; because theism ascribes initiation to created being." Philosophical Theology, II, 121, fn.

177 scientist is under obligation to treat ethics with the same confidence of objectivity that he treats other scientific statements.56 If this form of philosophy generally prevailed there could never be the disparity between technological progress and ethics that is now upon western culture.

Science could

not go its way unchecked for if it were believed that both the domain of science and ethics stem from the one Worldground then the ethical demands would keep science within moral bounds. But the World-ground is not uncritically presented by Tennant, but It is established by the same empirical and scientific spirit that characterizes the rest of his work.

Historically the domain of nature and the domain of

metaphysics are united by creation.

The two domains exist

side by side harmoniously together as stemming from one common source.

Philosophically, the two domains are united

by arguments for the World-ground from the examination of the soul and nature, teleology.

Its general orderliness and cosmic

The union of the two is neither arbitrary nor

adlihoc, but is the result of pushing further the

in that our thesis Is that the form of Tennant’s system is the correct one the problem of a particular ethical system Is not relevant except that it fit the general features of the system.

178 significance of empirical fact than most scientists are accustomed to do.

Thus the World-ground uniting the two

realms is an empirical generalization at the end of a long, serious, and careful investigation, and can be received with the same general assurance that scientific generaliza­ tions are accustomed to receive.

This union is carried out

upon the severest empirical, critical, and empirical grounds so that Tennant can rightly claim that it rests on the same general" foundations of reasonable assurance that scientific generalizations enjoy. In Tennant’s philosophy we have at least in form the features of a system that could end the current impasse in metaphysics.

His system endeavors to be in genuine

accord with the valid elements of scientific knowledge without lapsing into scientism; and in turn proposes a metaphysics that saves him from the scepticism of empiri­ cism and provides a natural relatedness of the domains of science and metaphysics. quoted words of Broad:

We agree with the previously

"If a system of speculative philos­

ophy cannot be established by Dr. Tennant’s method, I agree that it is still less likely to be established by any other."57

57 Other recent efforts to unite the domain in some sense are mind-dust theory (Clifford); neutral monism (Russell); mind-stuff (Eddington); and organicism or


57 (continued) "feelingism" (Whitehead). There are three weaknesses that could he suggested in Tennant’s system. (1) Tennant rests too much weight upon arguments from psychological idealism which seems to us a case of either "psychologism" or "the genetic fallacy." Idealists are not so assured of the validity of this type of argument as they pre­ viously were. (2) Although a belief in the genuine place of science and the scientific method, and their validity, at many key-points he is a conventionalist. (3) There is the possibility that even in psychological analyses there is yet a more foundational instrument without which even this psychological analysis would be impossible. Perhaps some system of logic or dialectic underlies all efforts of philosophy and that is the most ultimate fulcrum we seek. This is Blanshard’s criticism. Brand Blanshard, "Tennant’s Philosophy of the Sciences," The Journal of Philosophy. 29:613, October 27, 1932.



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