29 avr. 2018

The algebra of Alice

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll continues to attract new readers ever since it was told to three sisters on a summer afternoon during a boat ride on the Thames. The apparently whimsical fairy tale charmed its listeners on its first telling but the story was expanded by Carroll into the Alice of today. On the 152nd anniversary of the classic’s publication on November 26, 1865, as a Christmas release in England, let’s consider the book as a mathematical puzzle.
Lewis Carroll in the preface to the work ‘All in the Golden Afternoon’, claimed to have invented the story on demand from Alice Liddell, and her two sisters, daughters of an Oxford don – Carroll himself taught mathematics at Oxford – during the boat ride. However, the profusion of mathematical puzzles, logical paradoxes and innuendoes throughout the body of the text tell a different story. While there is no doubt about the fact that it was created for, and to be told to children and young adults, what 21st century readers read today is a cleverly crafted tale to poke fun at the mathematics in Carroll’s time and its practitioners.
Carroll, a nom de plume of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a mathematics tutor at the Christ Church College in Oxford, was actually not a front-ranking mathematician. He swore by Elements, the famous geometry text by Euclid. Carroll waged a long battle with his peers who were revolutionising Victorian mathematics. Projective geometry, imaginary numbers, quaternion were turning the old-world of algebra and geometry upside down. Mathematics was no longer tied to the ground insofar as it was becoming more abstract, and logic that appealed to Carroll and his ilk could not be used to demystify the new avatar. Carroll was a Euclidean geometry orthodox who did throw the gauntlet at the new kids on the mathematics block but lost out. These were the times when Alice Liddell asked the young mathematics tutor to tell a story.

Close to a decade and a half later, in 1879, Carroll, under his real name, published Euclid and his Modern Rivals. Written in the form of a play, it was Carroll’s way of telling the world that Euclid’s Elements is the best textbook for teaching geometry. Carroll’s introduction lays out his purpose and why he went about it the way he did. His words on writing for a non-scientific audience still sound particularly relevant. “It is presented in a dramatic form,” writes Charles Dodgson in the introduction, “partly because it seemed a better way of exhibiting in alteration the arguments on the two sides of the question; partly that I feel myself at liberty to treat it in a rather lighter style than would have suited an essay, and thus to make it a little less tedious and little more acceptable to unscientific readers.” Not many now are even aware of this curious publication but this can be seen as an extension of Carroll’s thought process that started with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

There is, however, no direct evidence that Carroll actually planned such a tale. Martin Gardner notes is his book, The Annotated Alice, the definitive edition, that Reverend Robinson Duckworth, who accompanied Carroll and the Liddell sisters on the boat ride, says in his account of the trip: “…when three Miss Liddells were our passengers, and the story was actually composed and spoken over my shoulder for the benefit of Alice Liddell…I remember turning round and saying, “Dodgson, is this an extempore romance of yours?” And he replied, “Yes, I’m inventing as we go along.”” That story, on the insistence of Alice, was turned into a manuscript and presented to her by the Oxford mathematician.
By now, the content of the story is presented in disguised form with the use of riddles, apparently meaningless poems, puzzles, puns, and a lot more that is ostensibly nonsense. Carroll was surely not the first to use such devices.
Several examples of puns and riddles are found in nursery rhymes, and folk tales for children. The mastery of Carroll over this kind of recreational mathematics and logic takes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to a different league – it is not without reason that the story continues to inspire mathematical puzzles and word-game designers even today.

Raymond S Smullyan wrote a delightful little book titled Alice in Puzzle-Land: a Carrollian Tale for Children Under Eighty in which Alice and her friends return for another trip through Wonderland and the Looking-Glass. The book has 88 engaging puzzles, paradoxes, and logic problems. Smullyan’s characters speak and behave like the Carroll creations, and their puzzles abound in typical Carrollian word-play, logic problems, and dark philosophical paradoxes.
The rich tapestry of puzzles and paradoxes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a lifelong fascination for Carroll that in some way brought his ‘fairy tales’ closer to Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. In his 1965 essay “Wittgenstein, Nonsense, and Lewis Carroll,” philosopher George Pitcher’s talks about striking similarities between the philosophical writings of Wittgenstein and the children’s stories of Carroll. According to Pitcher, both were concerned with nonsense and language puzzles. While Wittgenstein was tortured by these things, Carroll appeared to be delighted by them.
Reverend Dodgson had a playful approach to mathematics that he imported into the Alice stories. He was known to use little puzzles in his lessons to make mathematics class more engaging. For instance, here is one of his classics (many versions of this puzzle now can be found all over the web): A cup contains 50 spoonfuls of brandy, and another contains 50 spoonfuls of water. A spoonful of brandy is taken from the first cup and mixed into the second cup. Then a spoonful of the mixture is taken from the second cup and mixed into the first. Is there more or less brandy in the second cup than there is water in the first cup? (If you are scratching your head for an answer, it is equal.)

In that famous conversation with the Cheshire Cat, who wants to convince Alice that they both are mad, the feline tells her that she “…must be, or you wouldn’t have come here”, but Alice refuses to believe him and in turn asks how the cat knows that he is mad. The next set of conversations that appears in Chapter IV of the book shows how deep is the logic play in this work. Here Carroll has employed the so-called modus ponens, or affirming the antecedent logic.
“To begin with,” said the Cat, “a dog’s not mad. You grant that?”
“I suppose so,” said Alice.

“Well, then,” the Cat went on, “you see a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.”

One can read the above dialogue without even realising that one is trapped in a logic web spun by Carroll. Here, the Cheshire Cat’s argument may appear sound but it is invalid. Here is how Carroll constructed the trap.
Suppose P and Q are two sentences; here, P is ‘an animal growls when angry and wags its tail when pleased’ and Q is ‘it is not mad’. Let us see what the cat says: ‘If an animal growls when angry and wags its tail when pleased, it is not mad.’ This means, if sentence P is true, then Q is also true.
‘I growl when pleased, and wag my tail when angry.’
Here the cat is not saying what P says.
‘Therefore, I am mad.’
So if the cat’s statement does not agree with P then how can it say Q is true?
One interesting aspect of Carroll’s work is that in the world of literature, especially literary criticism, a lot of emphasis has been on the psychoanalytic aspects of characters. There have been critiques highlighting Carroll’s own personal psychological and sexuality issues but almost nothing on reading the tale as a mathematical text. In 2009, Melanie Bayley, of the University of Oxford, published an article in the popular science magazine New Scientist titled “Alice’s Adventures in Algebra: Wonderland Solved”.
In the article Bayley says that Carroll added a lot of material to the illustrated manuscript he personally made for Alice before it was sent for publication. It is in these parts that Carroll took on the proponents of new mathematics, ridiculing their methods and questioning their rigour. The Cheshire Cat becoming a grin, according to the Oxford researcher, was Carroll’s way of portraying increasing and damaging abstraction in mathematics. In the Mad Hatter’s tea party, Bayley discovered the writer’s satire on Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton’s discovery – the quaternion.
There are other similar discoveries made by the Oxford researcher. In the scene where Alice is troubled by growing taller or shorter and meets the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, the creature tells Alice “keep your temper.” This Alice interprets as keeping cool but here Carroll is using an older meaning of the word ‘temper’ which was used for “the proportion in which qualities are mingled.” Bayley interprets this as the Caterpillar telling Alice irrespective of her body size she should maintain her body in proportion. If that is true, this reflects Carroll’s love of Euclidean geometry. In this geometry, absolute magnitude does not matter, it’s important to know the ratio of one length to another.
For a little more than 155 years after the story was first told to Alice, Lewis Carroll’s bestseller continues to throw new conundrums. No one can be absolutely sure whether Carroll actually plays those devious games with his readers. The reverend who stammered a lot and enjoyed the company of young girls did love his logic and Euclid like a fanatic. He is not remembered for his mathematics but for puzzles, logic games and biting satire. It is therefore not surprising that some of it made its way into his boat-ride story.

Debkumar Mitra

11 avr. 2018

Wilfrid Sellars

(Consists of two lectures given at the University of Pittsburgh in December
1960. First published in Frontiers of Science and Philosophy (Robert
Colodny, ed. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1962. Reprinted
in Wilfrid Sellars, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1963, pp. 1-40. Pagination here follows the

THE aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things
in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest
possible sense of the term. Under 'things in the broadest possible sense' I
include such radically different items as not only 'cabbages and kings', but
numbers and duties, possibilities and finger snaps, aesthetic experience and
death. To achieve success in philosophy would be, to use a contemporary
turn of phrase, to 'know one's way around' with respect to all these things,
not in that unreflective way in which the centipede of the story knew its
way around before it faced the question, 'how do I walk?', but in that
reflective way which means that no intellectual holds are barred.
Knowing one's way around is, to use a current distinction, a form of
'knowing how' as contrasted with 'knowing that'. There is all the difference
in the world between knowing how to ride a bicycle and knowing that a
steady pressure by the legs of a balanced person on the pedals would result
in forward motion. Again, to use an example somewhat closer to our
subject, there is all the difference in the world between knowing that each
step of a given proof in mathematics follows from the preceding steps, and
knowing how to find a proof. Sometimes being able to find a proof is a
matter of being able to follow a set procedure; more often it is not. It can
be argued that anything which can be properly called 'knowing how to do
something' presupposes a body of knowledge that; or, to put it differently,
knowledge of truth or facts. If this were so, then the statement that 'ducks
know how to swim' would be as metaphorical as the statement that they
know that water supports them. However this may be, knowing how to do
something at the level of characteristically human activity
presupposes a great deal of knowledge that, and it is obvious that the reflective
knowing one's way around in the scheme of things, which is the aim of
philosophy, presupposes a great deal of reflective knowledge of truths.
Now the subject-matter of this knowledge of truths which is presupposed
by philosophical 'know-how', falls, in a sense, completely within the scope of
the special disciplines. Philosophy in an important sense has no special
subject-matter which stands to it as other subject-matters stand to other special
disciplines. If philosophers did have such a special subject-matter, they could
turn it over to a new group of specialists as they have turned other special
subject-matters to non-philosophers over the past 2500 years, first with
mathematics, more recently psychology and sociology, and, currently, certain
aspects of theoretical linguistics. What is characteristic of philosophy is not a
special subject-matter, but the aim of knowing one's way around with respect
to the subject-matters of all the special disciplines.
Now the special disciplines know their way around in their subject-matters,
and each learns to do so in the process of discovering truths about its own
subject-matter. But each special discipline must also have a sense of how its
bailiwick fits into the countryside as a whole. This sense in many cases
amounts to a little more than the unreflective 'knowing one's way around'
which is a common possession of us all. Again, the specialist must have a
sense of how not only his subject-matter, but also the methods and principles
of his thinking about it fit into the intellectual landscape. Thus, the historian
reflects not only on historical events themselves, but on what it is to think
historically. It is part of his business to reflect on his own thinking—its aims,
its criteria, its pitfalls. In dealing with historical questions, he must face and
answer questions which are not, themselves, in a primary sense historical
questions. But he deals with these questions as they arise in the attempt to
answer specifically historical questions.
Reflection on any special discipline can soon lead one to the conclusion
that the ideal practitioner of that discipline would see his special subjectmatter
and his thinking about it in the light of a reflective insight into the
intellectual landscape as a whole. There is much truth in the Platonic
conception that the special disciplines are perfected by philosophy, but the
companion conception that the philosopher must know his way around in each
discipline as does the specialist, has been an ever more elusive ideal since the
scientific revolution began. Yet if the philosopher cannot hope to know his
way around in each discipline as does the specialist, there is a sense in which
he can know his way around with respect to the subject-matter of that
discipline, and must do so if he is to approximate to the philosophic aim.
The multiplication of sciences and disciplines is a familiar feature of
the intellectual scene. Scarcely less familiar is the unification of this
manifold which is taking place by the building of scientific bridges
between them. I shall have something to say about this unification later in
this chapter. What is not so obvious to the layman is that the task of 'seeing
all things together' has itself been (paradoxically) broken down into
specialities. And there is a place for specialization in philosophy. For just
as one cannot come to know one's way around in the highway system as a
whole without knowing one's way around in the parts, so one can't hope to
know one's way around in 'things in general', without knowing one's way
around in the major groupings of things.
It is therefore, the 'eye on the whole' which distinguishes the philosophical
enterprise. Otherwise, there is little to distinguish the philosopher
from the persistently reflective specialist; the philosopher of history from
the persistently reflective historian. To the extent that a specialist is more
concerned to reflect on how his work as a specialist joins up with other
intellectual pursuits, than in asking and answering questions within his
speciality, he is said, properly, to be philosophically-minded. And, indeed,
one can 'have one's eye on the whole' without staring at it all the time. The
latter would be a fruitless enterprise. Furthermore, like other specialists,
the philosopher who specializes may derive much of his sense of the whole
from the pre-reflective orientation which is our common heritage. On the
other hand, a philosopher could scarcely be said to have his eye on the
whole in the relevant sense, unless he has reflected on the nature of
philosophical thinking. It is this reflection on the place of philosophy itself,
in the scheme of things which is the distinctive trait of the philosopher as
contrasted with the reflective specialist; and in the absence of this critical
reflection on the philosophical enterprise, one is at best but a potential
It has often been said in recent years that the aim of the philosopher is
not to discover new truths, but to 'analyse' what we already know. But
while the term 'analysis' was helpful in its implication that philosophy as
such makes no substantive contribution to what we know, and is concerned
in some way to improve the manner in which we know it, it is most
misleading by its contrast to 'synthesis'. For by virtue of this contrast these
statements suggest that philosophy is ever more myopic, tracing parts
within parts, losing each in turn from sight as new parts come into view.
One is tempted, therefore, to contrast the analytic conception of philosophy
as myopia with the synoptic vision of true philosophy. And it must be
admitted that if the contrast between 'analysis' and 'synthesis' were the
operative connotation in the metaphor, then a purely analytic philosophy
be a contradiction in terms. Even if we construe 'analysis' on the analogy of
making ever smaller scale maps of the same overall terrain, which does more
justice to the synoptic element, the analogy disturbs because we would have to
compare philosophy to the making of small-scale maps from an original largescale
map; and a smaller scale map in this sense is a triviality.
Even if the analogy is changed to that of bringing a picture into focus,
which preserves the synoptic element and the theme of working within the
framework of what is already known while adding a dimension of gain, the
analogy is disturbing in two respects, (a) It suggests that the special disciplines
are confused; as though the scientist had to wait for the philosopher to clarify
his subject-matter, bring it into focus. To account for the creative role of
philosophy, it is not necessary to say that the scientist doesn't know his way
around in his own area. What we must rather say is that the specialist knows
his way around in his own neighbourhood, as his neighbourhood, but doesn't
know his way around in it in the same way as a part of the landscape as a
(b) It implies that the essential change brought about by philosophy is the
standing out of detail within a picture which is grasped as a whole from the
start. But, of course, to the extent that there is one picture to be grasped
reflectively as a whole, the unity of the reflective vision is a task rather than an
initial datum. The search for this unity at the reflective level is therefore more
appropriately compared to the contemplation of a large and complex painting
which is not seen as a unity without a prior exploration of its parts. The
analogy, however, is not complete until we take into account a second way in
which unity is lacking in the original datum of the contemporary philosopher.
For he is confronted not by one picture, but, in principle, by two and, in fact,
by many. The plurality I have in mind is not that which concerns the
distinction between the fact finding, the ethical, the aesthetic, the logical, the
religious, and other aspects of experience, for these are but aspects of one
complex picture which is to be grasped reflectively as a whole. As such, it
constitutes one term of a crucial duality which confronts the contemporary
philosopher at the very beginning of his enterprise. Here the most appropriate
analogy is stereoscopic vision, where two differing perspectives on a
landscape are fused into one coherent experience.
For the philosopher is confronted not by one complex many-dimensional
picture, the unity of which, such as it is, he must come to appreciate; but by
two pictures of essentially the same order of complexity, each of which
purports to be a complete picture of man-in-the-world, and which, after
separate scrutiny, he must fuse into one vision. Let me refer to these two
perspectives, respectively, as the
manifest and the scientific images of man-in-the-world. And let me explain
my terms. First, by calling them images I do not mean to deny to either or
both of them the status of 'reality'. I am, to use Husserl's term, 'bracketing'
them, transforming them from ways of experiencing the world into objects
of philosophical reflection and evaluation. The term 'image' is usefully
ambiguous. On the one hand it suggests the contrast between an object, e.g.
a tree, and a projection of the object on a plane, or its shadow on a wall. In
this sense, an image is as much an existent as the object imaged, though, of
course, it has a dependent status.
In the other sense, an 'image' is something imagined, and that which is
imagined may well not exist, although the imagining of it does—in which
case we can speak of the image as merely imaginary or unreal. But the
imagined can exist; as when one imagines that someone is dancing in the
next room, and someone is. This ambiguity enables me to imply that the
philosopher is confronted by two projections of man-in-the-world on the
human understanding. One of these projections I will call the manifest
image, the other the scientific image. These images exist and are as much a
part and parcel of the world as this platform or the Constitution of the
United States. But in addition to being confronted by these images as
existents, he is confronted by them as images in the sense of 'things
imagined'—or, as I had better say at once, conceived; for I am using
'image' in this sense as a metaphor for conception, and it is a familiar fact
that not everything that can be conceived can, in the ordinary sense, be
imagined. The philosopher, then, is confronted by two conceptions, equally
public, equally non-arbitrary, of man-in-the-world and he cannot shirk the
attempt to see how they fall together in one stereoscopic view.
Before I begin to explain the contrast between 'manifest' and 'scientific'
as I shall use these terms, let me make it clear that they are both
'idealizations' in something like the sense in which a frictionless body or an
ideal gas is an idealization. They are designed to illuminate the inner
dynamics of the development of philosophical ideas, as scientific
idealizations illuminate the development of physical systems. From a
somewhat different point of view they can be compared to the 'ideal types'
of Max Weber's sociology. The story is complicated by the fact that each
image has a history, and while the main outlines of what I shall call the
manifest image took shape in the mists of pre-history, the scientific image,
promissory notes apart, has taken shape before our very eyes.
The 'manifest' image of man-in-the-world can be characterized in two ways,
which are supplementary rather than alternative. It is, first, the framework in
terms of which man came to be aware of himself as man-in-the-world. It is the
framework in terms of which, to use an existentialist turn of phrase, man first
encountered himself—which is, of course, when he came to be man. For it is
no merely incidental feature of man that he has a conception of himself as
man-in-the-world, just as it is obvious, on reflection, that 'if man had a
radically different conception of himself he would be a radically different kind
of man'.
I have given this quasi-historical dimension of our construct pride of place,
because I want to highlight from the very beginning what might be called the
paradox of man's encounter with himself, the paradox consisting of the fact
that man couldn't be man until he encountered himself. It is this paradox which
supports the last stand of Special Creation. Its central theme is the idea that
anything which can properly be called conceptual thinking can occur only
within a framework of conceptual thinking in terms of which it can be criticized,
supported, refuted, in short, evaluated. To be able to think is to be able
to measure one's thoughts by standards of correctness, of relevance, of
evidence. In this sense a diversified conceptual framework is a whole which,
however sketchy, is prior to its parts, and cannot be construed as a coming
together of parts which are already conceptual in character. The conclusion is
difficult to avoid that the transition from pre-conceptual patterns of behaviour
to conceptual thinking was a holistic one, a jump to a level of awareness which
is irreducibly new, a jump which was the coming into being of man.
There is a profound truth in this conception of a radical difference in level
between man and his precursors. The attempt to understand this difference
turns out to be part and parcel of the attempt to encompass in one view the two
images of man-in-the-world which I have set out to describe. For, as we shall
see, this difference in level appears as an irreducible discontinuity in the
manifest image, but as, in a sense requiring careful analysis, a reducible
difference in the scientific image.
I have characterized the manifest image of man-in-the-world as the
framework in terms of which man encountered himself. And this, I believe, is
a useful way of characterizing it. But it is also misleading, for it suggests that
the contrast I am drawing between the manifest and the scientific images, is
that between a pre-scientific, uncritical, naive conception of man-in-the-world,
and a reflected, disciplined, critical—in short a scientific—conception. This is
not at all what I
have in mind. For what I mean by the manifest image is a refinement or
sophistication of what might be called the 'original' image; a refinement to
a degree which makes it relevant to the contemporary intellectual scene.
This refinement or sophistication can be construed ander two headings; (a)
empirical; (b) categorial.
By empirical refinement, I mean the sort of refinement which operates
within the broad framework of the image and which, by approaching the
world in terms of something like the canons of inductive inference defined
by John Stuart Mill, supplemented by canons of statistical inference, adds
to and subtracts from the contents of the world as experienced in terms of
this framework and from the correlations which are believed to obtain
between them. Thus, the conceptual framework which I am calling the
manifest image is, in an appropriate sense, itself a scientific image. It is not
only disciplined and critical; it also makes use of those aspects of scientific
method which might be lumped together under the heading 'correlational
induction'. There is, however, one type of scientific reasoning which it, by
stipulation, does not include, namely that which involves the postulation of
imperceptible entities, and principles pertaining to them, to explain the
behaviour of perceptible things.
This makes it clear that the concept of the manifest image of man-inthe-
world is not that of an historical and bygone stage in the development
of man's conception of the world and his place in it. For it is a familiar fact
that correlational and postulational methods have gone hand in hand in the
evolution of science, and, indeed, have been dialectically related;
postulational hypotheses presupposing correlations to be explained, and
suggesting possible correlations to be investigated. The notion of a purely
correlational scientific view of things is both an historical and a
methodological fiction. It involves abstracting correlational fruits from the
conditions of their discovery, and the theories in terms of which they are
explained. Yet it is a useful fiction (and hence no mere fiction), for it will
enable us to define a way of looking at the world which, though disciplined
and, in a limited sense, scientific, contrasts sharply with an image of manin-
the-world which is implicit in and can be constructed from the
postulational aspects of contemporary scientific theory. And, indeed, what
I have referred to as the 'scientific' image of man-in-the-world and
contrasted with the 'manifest' image, might better be called the
'postulational' or 'theoretical' image. But, I believe, it will not be too
misleading if I continue, for the most part, to use the former term.
Now the manifest image is important for our purpose, because it
defines one of the poles to which philosophical reflection has been drawn.
It is not only the great speculative systems of ancient and medieval
philosophy which are built around the manifest image, but
also many systems and quasi-systems in recent and contemporary thought,
some of which seem at first sight to have little if anything in common with the
great classical systems. That I include the major schools of contemporary
Continental thought might be expected. That I lump in with these the trends of
contemporary British and American philosophy which emphasize the analysis
of 'common sense' and 'ordinary usage', may be somewhat more surprising.
Yet this kinship is becoming increasingly apparent in recent years and I
believe that the distinctions that I am drawing in this chapter will make
possible an understanding and interpretation of this kinship. For all these
philosophies can, I believe, be fruitfully construed as more or less adequate
accounts of the manifest image of man-in-the-world, which accounts are then
taken to be an adequate and full description in general terms of what man and
the world really are.
Let me elaborate on this theme by introducing another construct which I
shall call—borrowing a term with a not unrelated meaning— the perennial
philosophy of man-in-the-world. This construct, which is the 'ideal type'
around which philosophies in what might be called, in a suitably broad sense,
the Platonic tradition cluster, is simply the manifest image endorsed as real,
and its outline taken to be the large-scale map of reality to which science
brings a needle-point of detail and an elaborate technique of map-reading.
It will probably have occurred to you by now that there are negative overtones
to both constructs: the 'manifest image' and the 'perennial philosophy'.
And, in a certain sense, this is indeed the case. I am implying that the perennial
philosophy is analogous to what one gets when one looks through a
stereoscope with one eye dominating. The manifest image dominates and
mislocates the scientific image. But if the perennial philosophy of man-in-theworld
is in this sense distorted, an important consequence lurks in the offing.
For I have also implied that man is essentially that being which conceives of
itself in terms of the image which the perennial philosophy refines and
endorses. I seem, therefore, to be saying that man's conception of himself in
the world does not easily accommodate the scientific image; that there is a
genuine tension between them; that man is not the sort of thing he conceives
himself to be; that his existence is in some measure built around error. If this
were what I wished to say, I would be in distinguished company. One thinks,
for example, of Spinoza, who contrasted man as he falsely conceives himself
to be with man as he discovers himself to be in the scientific enterprise. It
might well be said that Spinoza drew a distinction between a 'manifest' and a
'scientific' image of man, rejecting the former as false and accepting the latter
as true.
But if in Spinoza's account, the scientific image, as he interprets it,
dominates the stereoscopic view (the manifest image appearing as a tracery
of explainable error), the very fact that I use the analogy of stereoscopic
vision implies that as I see it the manifest image is not overwhelmed in the
But before there can be any point to these comparisons, I must
characterize these images in more detail, adding flesh and blood to the bare
bones I have laid before you. I shall devote the remainder of this section
and section III to developing the manifest image. In the concluding
sections I shall characterize the scientific image, and attempt to describe
certain key features of how the two images blend together in a true
stereoscopic view.
I distinguished above between two dimensions of the refinement which
turned the 'original' image into the 'manifest' image: the empirical and the
categorial. Nothing has been said so far about the latter. Yet it is here that
the most important things are to be said. It is in this connection that I will
be able to describe the general structure of the manifest image.
A fundamental question with respect to any conceptual framework is
'of what sort are the basic objects of the framework?' This question
involves, on the one hand, the contrast between an object and what can be
true of it in the way of properties, relations, and activities; and, on the
other, a contrast between the basic objects of the framework and the various
kinds of groups they can compose. The basic objects of a framework
need not be things in the restricted sense of perceptible physical objects.
Thus, the basic objects of current theoretical physics are notoriously
imperceptible and unimaginable. Their basic-ness consists in the fact that
they are not properties or groupings of anything more basic (at least until
further notice). The questions, 'are the basic objects of the framework of
physical theory thing-like! and if so, to what extent?' are meaningful ones.
Now to ask, 'what are the basic objects of a (given) framework?' is to
ask not for a list, but a classification. And the classification will be more or
less 'abstract' depending on what the purpose of the inquiry is. The
philosopher is interested in a classification which is abstract enough to
provide a synoptic view of the contents of the framework but which falls
short of simply referring to them as objects or entities. Thus we are
approaching an answer to the question, 'what are the basic objects of the
manifest image?' when we say that it includes persons, animals, lower
forms of life and 'merely material' things, like rivers and stones. The list is
not intended to be complete, although it is intended to echo the lower
stages of the 'great chain of being' of the Platonic tradition.
The first point I wish to make is that there is an important sense in
which the primary objects of the manifest image are persons. And to
understand how this is so, is to understand central and, indeed, crucial themes
in the history of philosophy. Perhaps the best way to make the point is to refer
back to the construct which we called the 'original' image of man-in-the-world,
and characterize it as a framework in which all the 'objects' are persons. From
this point of view, the refinement of the 'original' image into the manifest
image, is the gradual 'de-personalization' of objects other than persons. That
something like this has occurred with the advance of civilization is a familiar
fact. Even persons, it is said (mistakenly, I believe), are being 'depersonalized'
by the advance of the scientific point of view.
The point I now wish to make is that although this gradual de-personalization
of the original image is a familiar idea, it is radically misunderstood,
if it is assimilated to the gradual abandonment of a superstitious belief. A
primitive man did not believe that the tree in front of him was a person, in the
sense that he thought of it both as a tree and as a person, as I might think that
this brick in front of me is a doorstop. If this were so, then when he abandoned
the idea that trees were persons, his concept of a tree could remain unchanged,
although his beliefs about trees would be changed. The truth is, rather, that
originally to be a tree was a way of being a person, as, to use a close analogy,
to be a woman is a way of being a person, or to be a triangle is a way of being
a plane figure. That a woman is a person is not something that one can be said
to believe; though there's enough historical bounce to this example to make it
worth-while to use the different example that one cannot be said to believe that
a triangle is a plane figure. When primitive man ceased to think of what we
called trees as persons, the change was more radical than a change in belief; it
was a change in category.
Now, the human mind is not limited in its categories to what it has been
able to refine out of the world view of primitive man, any more than the limits
of what we can conceive are set by what we can imagine. The categories of
theoretical physics are not essences distilled from the framework of perceptual
experience, yet, if the human mind can conceive of new categories, it can also
refine the old; .and it is just as important not to over-estimate the role of
creativity in the development of the framework in terms of which you and I
experience the world, as it is not to under-estimate its role in the scientific
I indicated above that in the construct which I have called the 'original'
image of man-in-the-world, all 'objects' are persons, and all kinds of objects
ways of being persons. This means that the sort of things that are said of
objects in this framework are the sort of things that are said of persons. And let
me make it clear that by 'persons', I do not mean 'spirit' or 'mind'. The idea that
a man is a team of two
things, a mind and a body, is one for which many reasons of different
kinds and weights have been given in the course of human intellectual
development. But it is obvious, on reflection, that whatever philosophers
have made of the idea of a mind, the pre-philosophical conception of a
'spirit', where it is found, is that of a ghostly person, something analogous
to flesh and blood persons which 'inhabits' them, or is otherwise intimately
connected with them. It is, therefore, a development within the framework
of persons, and it would be incorrect to construe the manifest image in
such a way that persons are composite objects. On the other hand, if it is to
do its work, the manifest framework must be such as to make meaningful
the assertion that what we ordinarily call persons are composites of a
person proper and a body—and, by doing so, make meaningful the
contrary view that although men have many different types of ability,
ranging from those he has in common with the lowest of things, to his
ability to engage in scientific and philosophical reflection, he nevertheless
is one object and not a team. For we shall see that the essential dualism in
the manifest image is not that between mind and body as substances, but
between two radically different ways in which the human individual is
related to the world. Yet it must be admitted that most of the philosophical
theories which are dominated by the manifest image are dualistic in the
substantive sense. There are many factors which account for this, most of
which fall outside the scope of this essay. Of the factors which concern us,
one is a matter of the influence of the developing scientific image of man,
and will be discussed in the following section. The other arises in the
attempt to make sense of the manifest image in its own terms.
Now to understand the manifest image as a refinement or depersonalization
of the 'original' image, we must remind ourselves of tlie
range of activities which are characteristic of persons. For when I say that
the objects of the manifest image are primarily persons, I am implying that
what the objects of this framework, primarily are and do, is what persons
are and do. Thus persons are 'impetuous' or 'set in their ways'. They apply
old policies or adopt new ones. They do things from habit or ponder
alternatives. They are immature or have an established character. For my
present purposes, the most important contrasts are those between actions
which are expressions of character and actions which are not expressions
of character, on the one hand, and between habitual actions and deliberate
actions, on the other. The first point that I want to make is that only a being
capable of deliberation can properly be said to act, either impulsively or
from habit. For in the full and non-metaphorical sense an action is the sort
of thing that can be done deliberately. We speak of actions as becoming
habitual, and this is no accident. It is important to realize
that the use of the term 'habit' in speaking of an earthworm as acquiring the
habit of turning to the right in a T-maze, is a metaphorical extension of the
term. There is nothing dangerous in the metaphor until the mistake is made of
assuming that the habits of persons are the same sort of thing as the
(metaphorical) 'habits' of earthworms and white rats.
Again, when we say that something a person did was an expression of his
character, we mean that it is 'in character'—that it was to be expected. We do
not mean that it was a matter of habit. To be habitual is to be 'in character', but
the converse is not true. To say of an action that it is 'in character', that it was
to be expected, is to say that it was predictable—not, however, predictable 'no
holds barred', but predictable with respect to evidence pertaining to what the
person in question has done in the past, and the circumstances as he saw them
in which he did it. Thus, a person cannot, logically cannot, begin by acting 'in
character', any more than he can begin by acting from habit.
It is particularly important to see that while to be 'in character' is to be
predictable, the converse is not true. It does not follow from the fact that a
piece of human behaviour is predictable, that it is an expression of character.
Thus the behaviour of a burnt child with respect to the fire is predictable, but
not an expression of character. If we use the phrase, 'the nature of a person', to
sum up the predictabilities no holds barred pertaining to that person, then we
must be careful not to equate the nature of a person with his character,
although his character will be a 'part' of his nature in the broad sense. Thus, if
everything a person did were predictable (in principle), given sufficient
knowledge about the person and the circumstances in which he was placed,
and was, therefore, an 'expression of his nature', it would not follow that
everything the person did was an expression of his character. Obviously, to
say of a person that everything that he does is an expression of his character is
to say that his life is simply a carrying out of formed habits and policies. Such
a person is a type only approximated to in real life. Not even a mature person
always acts in character. And as we have seen, it cannot possibly be true that
he has always acted in character. Yet, if determinism is true, everything he has
done has been an expression of his 'nature'.
I am now in a position to explain what I mean when I say that the primary
objects of the manifest image are persons. I mean that it is the modification of
an image in which all the objects are capable of the full range of personal
activity, the modification consisting of a gradual pruning of the implications of
saying with respect to what we would call an inanimate object, that it did
something. Thus, in the original image to say of the wind that it blew down
one's house
would imply that the wind either decided to do so with an end in view, and
might, perhaps, have been persuaded not to do it, or that it acted
thoughtlessly (either from habit or impulse), or, perhaps, inadvertently, in
which case other appropriate action on one's part might have awakened it
to the enormity of what it was about to do.
In the early stages of the development of the manifest image, the wind
was no longer conceived as acting deliberately, with an end in view; but
rather from habit or impulse. Nature became the locus of 'truncated
persons'; that which things could be expected to do, its habits; that which
exhibits no order, its impulses. Inanimate things no longer 'did' things in
the sense in which persons do them—not, however, because a new
category of impersonal things and impersonal processes has been achieved,
but because the category of person is now applied to these things in a
pruned or truncated form. It is a striking exaggeration to say of a person,
that he is a 'mere creature of habit and impulse', but in the early stages of
the development of manifest image, the world includes truncated persons
which are mere creatures of habit, acting out routines, broken by impulses,
in a life which never rises above what ours is like in our most unreflective
moments. Finally, the sense in which the wind 'did' things was pruned,
save for poetic and expressive purposes—and, one is tempted to add, for
philosophical purposes—of implications pertaining to 'knowing what one
is doing' and 'knowing what the circumstances are'.
Just as it is important not to confuse between the 'character' and the
'nature' of a person, that is to say, between an action's being predictable
with respect to evidence pertaining to prior action, and its being predictable
no holds barred, so it is important not to confuse between an action's being
predictable and its being caused. These terms are often treated as
synonyms, but only confusion can arise from doing so. Thus, in the
'original' image, one person causes another person to do something he
otherwise would not have done. But most of the things people do are not
things they are caused to do, even if what they do is highly predictable. For
example: when a person has well-established habits, what he does in
certain circumstances is highly predictable, but it is not for that reason
caused. Thus the category of causation (as contrasted with the more inclusive
category of predictability) betrays its origin in the 'original' image.
When all things were persons it was certainly not a framework conception
that everything a person did was caused; nor, of course, was it a framework
principle that everything a person did was predictable. To the extent that
relationships between the truncated 'persons' of the manifest framework
were analogous to the causal relationships between persons, the category
itself continued to be
used, although pruned of its implications with respect to plans, purposes, and
policies. The most obvious analogue at the inanimate level of causation in the
original sense is one billiard ball causing another to change its course, but it is
important to note that no one who distinguishes between causation and
predictability would ask, 'what caused the billiard ball on a smooth table to
continue in a straight line?' The distinctive trait of the scientific revolution was
the conviction that all events are predictable from relevant information about
the context in which they occur, not that they are all, in any ordinary sense,
I have characterized the concept of the manifest image as one of the poles
towards which philosophical thinking is drawn. This commits me, of course, to
the idea that the manifest image is not a mere external standard, by relation to
which one interested in the development of philosophy classifies philosophical
positions, but has in its own way an objective existence in philosophical
thinking itself, and, indeed, in human thought generally. And it can influence
philosophical thinking only by having an existence which transcends in some
way the individual thought of individual thinkers. I shall be picking up this
theme shortly, and shall ask how an image of the world, which, after all, is a
way of thinking, can transcend the individual thinker which it influences. (The
general lines of the answer must be obvious, but it has implications which
have not always been drawn.) The point I wish to make now is that since this
image has a being which transcends the individual thinker, there is truth and
error with respect to it, even though the image itself might have to be rejected,
in the last analysis, as false.
Thus, whether or not the world as we encounter it in perception and selfawareness
is ultimately real, it is surely incorrect, for example, to say as some
philosophers have said that the physical objects of the encountered world are
'complexes of sensations' or, equally, to say that apples are not really coloured,
or that mental states are 'behavioural dispositions', or that one cannot intend to
do something without knowing that one intends to do it, or that to say that
something is good is to say that one likes it, etc. For there is a correct and an
incorrect way to describe this objective image which we have of the world in
which we live, and it is possible to evaluate the correctness or incorrectness of
such a description. I have already claimed that much of academic philosophy
can be interpreted as an attempt by individual thinkers to delineate the
manifest image (not recognized, needless to say, as such) an image which is
both immanent in and
transcendent of their thinking. In this respect, a philosophy can be
evaluated as perceptive or imperceptive, mistaken or correct, even though
one is prepared to say that the image they delineate is but one way in
which reality appears to the human mind. And it is, indeed, a task of the
first importance to delineate this image, particularly in so far as it concerns
man himself, for, as was pointed out before, man is what he is because he
thinks of himself in terms of this image, and the latter must be understood
before it is proper to ask, 'to what extent does manifest man survive in the
synoptic view which does equal justice to the scientific image which now
confronts us?'
I think it correct to say that the so-called 'analytic' tradition in recent
British and American philosophy, particularly under the influence of the
later Wittgenstein, has done increasing justice to the manifest image, and
has increasingly succeeded in isolating it in something like its pure form,
and has made clear the folly of attempting to replace it piecemeal by
fragments of the scientific image. By doing so, it is made apparent, and has
come to realize, its continuity with the perennial tradition.
Now one of the most interesting features of the perennial philosophy is
its attempt to understand the status in the individual thinker of the
framework of ideas in terms of which he grasps himself as a person in the
world. How do individuals come to be able to think in terms of this
complex conceptual framework? How do they come to have this image?
Two things are to be noticed here: (1) The manifest image does not present
conceptual thinking as a complex of items which, considered in themselves
and apart from these relations, are not conceptual in character. (The most
plausible candidates are images, but all attempts to construe thoughts as
complex patterns of images have failed, and, as we know, were bound to
fail.) (2) Whatever the ultimate constituents of conceptual thinking, the
process itself as it occurs in the individual mind must echo, more or less
adequately, the intelligible structure of the world.
There was, of course, a strong temptation not only to think of the
constituents of thinking as qualitatively similar to the constituents of the
world, but also to think of the world as causing constituents to occur in
patterns which echo the patterns of events. The attempt, by precursors of
scientific psychology, to understand the genesis of conceptual thinking in
the individual in terms of an 'association' of elemental processes which
were not themselves conceptual, by a direct action of the physical
environment on the individual—the paradigm case being the burnt child
fearing the fire—was a premature attempt to construct a scientific image of
The perennial tradition had no sympathy with such attempts. It
recognized (a) that association of thoughts is not association of images, and, as
presupposing a framework of conceptual thinking, cannot account for it; (b)
that the direct action of perceptible nature, as perceptible, on the individual
can account for associative connection, but not the rational connections of
conceptual thinking.
Yet somehow the world is the cause of the individual's image of the world,
and, as is well-known, for centuries the dominant conception of the perennial
tradition was that of a direct causal influence of the world as intelligible on the
individual mind. This theme, initiated by Plato, can be traced through Western
thought to the present day. In the Platonic tradition this mode of causation is
attributed to a being which is analogous, to a greater or lesser degree, to a
person. Even the Aristotelian distinguishes between the way in which
sensations make available the intelligible structure of things to man, and the
way in which contingencies of perceptual experience establish expectations
and permit a non-rational accommodation of animals to their environment.
And there is, as we know today, a sound score to the idea that while reality is
the 'cause' of the human conceptual thinking which represents it, this causal
role cannot be equated with a conditioning of the individual by his
environment in a way which could in principle occur without the mediation of
the family and the community. The Robinson Crusoe conception of the world
as generating conceptual thinking directly in the individual is too simple a
model. The perennial tradition long limited itself to accounting for the
presence in the individual of the framework of conceptual thinking in terms of
a unique kind of action of reality as intelligible on the individual mind. The
accounts differed in interesting respects, but the main burden remained the
same. It was not until the time of Hegel that the essential role of the group as a
mediating factor in this causation was recognized, and while it is easy for us to
see that the immanence and transcendence of conceptual frameworks with
respect to the individual thinker is a social phenomenon, and to find a
recognition of this fact implicit in the very form of our image of man in the
world, it was not until the nineteenth century that this feature of the manifest
image was, however inadequately, taken into account.
The Platonic theory of conceptual abilities as the result of the 'illumination'
of the mind by intelligible essences limited the role of the group and, in
particular, the family to that of calling these abilities into play—a role which
could, in principle, be performed by perceptual experience—and to that of
teaching the means of giving verbal expression to these abilities. Yet the
essentially social character of conceptual thinking comes clearly to mind when
we recognize that there is no thinking apart from common standards of
correctness and relevance, which relate what I do think to what anyone
ought to think. The contrast between 'I' and 'anyone' is essential to rational
It is current practice to compare the inter-subjective standards without
which there would be no thinking, to the inter-subjective standards without
which there would be no such a thing as a game; and the acquisition of a
conceptual framework to learning to play a game. It is worth noting,
however, that conceptual thinking is a unique game in two respects: (a)
one cannot learn to play it by being told the rules; (b) whatever else
conceptual thinking makes possible— and without it there is nothing
characteristically human—it does so by virtue of containing a way of
representing the world.
When I said that the individual as a conceptual thinker is essentially a
member of a group, this does not mean of course, that the individual
cannot exist apart from the group, for example as sole survivor of an
atomic catastrophe, any more than the fact that chess is a game played by
two people means that one can't play chess with oneself. A group isn't a
group in the relevant sense unless it consists of a number of individuals
each of which thinks of himself as '/' in contrast to 'others'. Thus a group
exists in the way in which members of the group represent themselves.
Conceptual thinking is not by accident that which is communicated to
others, any more than the decision to move a chess piece is by accident that
which finds an expression in a move on a board between two people.
The manifest image must, therefore, be construed as containing a
conception of itself as a group phenomenon, the group mediating between
the individual and the intelligible order. But any attempt to explain this
mediation within the framework of the manifest image was bound to fail,
for the manifest image contains the resources for such an attempt only in
the sense that it provides the foundation on which scientific theory can
build an explanatory framework; and while conceptual structures of this
framework are built on the manifest image, they are not definable within it.
Thus, the Hegelian, like the Platonist of whom he is the heir, was limited to
the attempt to understand the relation between intelligible order and
individual minds in analogical terms.
It is in the scientific image of man in the world that we begin to see the
main outlines of the way in which man came to have an image of himselfin-
the-world. For we begin to see this as a matter of evolutionary
development as a group phenomenon, a process which is illustrated at a
simpler level by the evolutionary development which explains the
correspondence between the dancing of a worker bee and the location,
relative to the sun, of the flower from which he comes. This
correspondence, like the relation between man's 'original'
image and the world, is incapable of explanation in terms of a direct
conditioning impact of the environment on the individual as such.
I have called attention to the fact that the manifest image involves two
types of causal impact of the world on the individual. It is, I have pointed out,
this duality of causation and the related irreduci-bility, within the manifest
image of conceptual thinking in all its forms to more elementary processes,
which is the primary and essential dualism of the perennial philosophy. The
dualistic conception of mind and body characteristic of, but by no means an
invariable feature of, philosophic! perennis, is in part an inference from this
dualism of causation and of process. In part, however, as we shall see, it is a
result of the impact of certain themes present in even the smallest stages of the
developing scientific image.
My primary concern in this essay is with the question, 'in what sense, and
to what extent, does the manifest image of man-in-the-world survive the
attempt to unite this image in one field of intellectual vision with man as
conceived in terms of the postulated objects of scientific theory?' The bite to
this question lies, we have seen, in the fact that man is that being which
conceives of itself in terms of the manifest image. To the extent that the
manifest does not survive in the synoptic view, to that extent man himself
would not survive. Whether the adoption of the synoptic view would transform
man in bondage into man free, as Spinoza believed, or man free into man in
bondage, as many fear, is a question that does not properly arise until the
claims of the scientific image have been examined.
I devoted my attention in the previous sections to defining what I called the
'manifest' image of man-in-the-world. I argued that this image is to be
construed as a sophistication and refinement of the image in terms of which
man first came to be aware of himself as man-in-the-world; in short, came to
be man. I pointed out that in any sense in which this image, in so far as it
pertains to man, is a 'false' image, this falsity threatens man himself, inasmuch
as he is, in an important sense, the being which has this image of himself. I
argued that what has been called the perennial tradition in philosophy—
philosophia perennis—can be construed as the attempt to understand the
structure of this image, to know one's way around in it reflectively with no
intellectual holds barred. I analysed some of the main features of the image
and showed how the categories in terms of which it approaches the world can
be construed as progressive prunings of categories pertaining to the person and
his relation to other persons and the group. I argued that the perennial tradition
must be construed to include19 PHILOSOPHY AND THE SCIENTIFIC IMAGE OF MAN
not only the Platonic tradition in its broadest sense, but philosophies of
'common sense' and 'ordinary usage'. I argued what is common to ail these
philosophies is an acceptance of the manifest image as the real. They
attempt to understand the achievements of theoretical science in terms of
this framework, subordinating the categories of theoretical science to its
categories. I suggested that the most fruitful way of approaching the
problem of integrating theoretical science with the framework of
sophisticated common sense into one comprehensive synoptic vision is to
view it not as a piecemeal task—e.g. first a fitting together of the common
sense conception of physical objects with that of theoretical physics, and
then, as a separate venture, a fitting together of the common sense
conception of man with that of theoretical psychology—but rather as a
matter of articulating two whole ways of seeing the sum of things, two
images of man-in-the-world and attempting to bring them together in a
'stereoscopic' view.
My present purpose is to add to the account I have given of the
manifest image, a comparable sketch of what I have called the scientific
image, and to conclude this essay with some comments on the respective
contributions of these two to the unified vision of man-in-the-world which
is the aim of philosophy.
The scientific image of man-in-the-world is, of course, as much an
idealization as the manifest image—even more so, as it is still in the
process of coming to be. It will be remembered that the contrast I have in
mind is not that between an unscientific conception of man-in-the-world
and a scientific one, but between that conception which limits itself to what
correlational techniques can tell us about perceptible and introspectible
events and that which postulates imperceptible objects and events for the
purpose of explaining correlations among perceptibles. It was granted, of
course, that in point of historical fact many of the latter correlations were
suggested by theories introduced to explain previously established
correlations, so that there has been a dialectical interplay between
correlational and postulational procedures. (Thus we might not have
noticed that litmus paper turns red in acid, until this hypothesis had been
suggested by a complex theory relating the absorption and emission of
electromagnetic radiation by objects to their chemical composition; yet in
principle this familiar correlation could have been, and, indeed, was,
discovered before any such theory was developed.) Our contrast then, is
between two ideal constructs: (a) the correlational and categorial
refinement of the 'original image', which refinement I am calling the
manifest image; (b) the image derived from the fruits of postulational
theory construction which I am calling the scientific image.
It may be objected at this point that there is no such thing as the
image of man built from postulated entities and processes, but rather as many
images as there are sciences which touch on aspects of human behaviour. And,
of course, in a sense this is true. There are as many scientific images of man as
there are sciences which have something to say about man. Thus, there is man
as he appears to the theoretical physicist—a swirl of physical particles, forces,
and fields. There is man as he appears to the biochemist, to the physiologist, to
the behaviourist, to the social scientist; and all of these images are to be
contrasted with man as he appears to himself in sophisticated common sense,
the manifest image which even today contains most of what he knows about
himself at the properly human level. Thus the conception of the scientific or
postulational image is an idealization in the sense that it is a conception of an
integration of a manifold of images, each of which is the application to man of
a framework of concepts which have a certain autonomy. For each scientific
theory is, from the standpoint of methodology, a structure which is built at a
different 'place' and by different procedures within the intersubjectively accessible
world of perceptible things. Thus 'the' scientific image is a construct from
a number of images, each of which is supported by the manifest world.
The fact that each theoretical image is a construction on a foundation
provided by the manifest image, and in this methodological sense presupposes
the manifest image, makes it tempting to suppose that the manifest
image is prior in a substantive sense; that the categories of a theoretical
science are logically dependent on categories pertaining to its methodological
foundation in the manifest world of sophisticated common sense in such a way
that there would be an absurdity in the notion of a world which illustrated its
theoretical principles without also illustrating the categories and principles of
the manifest world. Yet, when we turn our attention to 'the' scientific image
which emerges from the several images proper to the several sciences, we note
that although the image is methodologically dependent on the world of
sophisticated common sense, and in this sense does not stand on its own feet,
yet it purports to be a complete image, i.e. to define a framework which could
be the whole truth about that which belongs to the image. Thus although
methodologically a development within the manifest image, the scientific
image presents itself as a rival image. From its point of view the manifest
image on which it rests is an 'inadequate' but pragmatically useful likeness of a
reality which first finds its adequate (in principle) likeness in the scientific
image. I say, 'in principle', because the scientific image is still in the process of
coming into being—a point to which I shall return at the conclusion of this
To all of which, of course, the manifest image or, more accurately,
the perennial philosophy which endorses its claims, replies that the
scientific image cannot replace the manifest without rejecting its own
But before attempting to throw some light on the conflicting claims of
these two world perspectives, more must be said about the constitution of
the scientific image from the several scientific images of which it is the
supposed integration. There is relatively little difficulty about telescoping
some of the 'partial' images into one image. Thus, with due precaution, we
can unify the biochemical and the physical images; for to do this requires
only an appreciation of the sense in which the objects of biochemical
discourse can be equated with complex patterns of the objects of
theoretical physics. To make this equation, of course, is not to equate the
sciences, for as sciences they have different procedures and connect their
theoretical entities via different instruments to intersubjectively accessible
features of the manifest world. But diversity of this kind is compatible with
intrinsic 'identity' of the theoretical entities themselves, that is, with saying
that biochemical compounds are 'identical' with patterns of subatomic
particles. For to make this 'identification' is simply to say that the two
theoretical structures, each with its own connection to the perceptible
world, could be replaced by one theoretical framework connected at two
levels of complexity via different instruments and procedures to the world
as perceived.
I distinguished above between the unification of the postulated entities
of two sciences and the unification of the sciences. It is also necessary to
distinguish between the unification of the theoretical entities of two
sciences and the unification of the theoretical principles of the two
sciences. For while to say that biochemical substances are complexes of
physical particles is in an important sense to imply that the laws obeyed by
biochemical substances are 'special cases' of the laws obeyed by physical
particles, there is a real danger that the sense in which this is so may be
misunderstood. Obviously a specific pattern of physical particles cannot
obey different laws in biochemistry than it does in physics. It may,
however, be the case that the behaviour of very complex patterns of
physical particles is related in no simple way to the behaviour of less
complex patterns. Thus it may well be the case that the only way in which
the laws pertaining to those complex systems of particles which are
biochemical compounds could be discovered might be through the
techniques and procedures of biochemistry, i.e. techniques and procedures
appropriate to dealing with biochemical substances.
There is, consequently, an ambiguity in the statement: The laws of
biochemistry are 'special cases' of the laws of physics. It may mean: (a)
biochemistry needs no variables which cannot be defined in terms
of the variables of atomic physics; (b) the laws relating to certain complex
patterns of sub-atomic particles, the counterparts of biochemical compounds,
are related in a simple way to laws pertaining to less complex patterns. The
former, of course, is the only proposition to which one is committed by the
identification of the theoretical objects of the two sciences in the sense
described above.
Similar considerations apply, mutatis mutandis, to the physiological and
biochemical images of man. To weld them into one image would be to show
that physiological (particularly neurophysiological) entities can be equated
with complex biochemical systems, and, therefore, that in the weaker sense, at
least, the theoretical principles which pertain to the former can be interpreted
as 'special cases' of principles pertaining to the latter.
More interesting problems arise when we consider the putative place of
man as conceived in behaviouristics in 'the' scientific image. In the first place,
the term 'behaviouristic psychology' has more than one meaning, and it is
important for our purpose to see that in at least one sense of the term, its place
is not in the scientific image (in the sense in which I am using the term) but
rather in the continuing correlational sophistication of the manifest image. A
psychology is behaviouristic in the broad sense, if, although it permits itself
the use of the full range of psychological concepts belonging to the manifest
framework, it always confirms hypotheses about psychological events in terms
of behavioural criteria. It has no anxieties about the concepts of sensation,
image, feeling, conscious or unconscious thought, all of which belong to the
manifest framework; but requires that the occurrence of a feeling of pain, for
example, be asserted only on behavioural grounds. Behaviourism, thus
construed, is simply good sense. It is not necessary to redefine the language of
mental events in terms of behavioural criteria in order for it to be true that
observable behaviour provides evidence for mental events. And, of course,
even in the common sense world, even in the manifest image, perceptible
behaviour is the only intersubjective evidence for mental events.
Clearly 'behaviourism' in this sense does not preclude us from paying
attention to what people say about themselves. For using auto-biographical
statements as evidence for what a person is thinking and feeling is different
from simply agreeing with these statements. It is part of the force of
autobiographical statements in ordinary discourse—not unrelated to the way in
which children learn to make them —that, other things being equal, if a person
says, 'I am in state [psi]', it is reasonable to believe that he is in state [psi]; the
probability ranging from almost certainty in the case of, 'I have a toothache', to
considerably less than certainty in the case of, 'I don't hate my brother'. The
discounting of verbal and non-verbal behaviour as evidence is not limited
to professional psychologists.
Thus, behaviourism in the first sense is simply a sophistication within
the manifest framework which relies on pre-existent evidential connections
between publicly observable verbal and non-verbal behaviour on the one
hand and mental states and processes on the other, and should, therefore,
be considered as belonging to the manifest rather than the scientific image
as I have defined in these terms. Behaviourism in a second sense not only
restricts its evidential base to publicly observable behaviour, but conceives
of its task as that of finding correlations between constructs which it
introduces and defines in terms of publicly accessible features of the
organism and its environment. The interesting question in this connection
is: 'Is there reason to think that a framework of correlation between
constructs of this type could constitute a scientific understanding of human
behaviour?' The answer to this question depends in part on how it is
interpreted, and it is important to see why this is so.
Consider first the case of animal behaviour. Obviously, we know that
animals are complex physiological systems and, from the standpoint of a
finer-grained approach, biochemical systems. Does this mean that a
science of animal behaviour has to be formulated in neurophysiological or
biochemical terms? In one sense the answer is 'obviously not'. We bring to
our study of animal behaviour a background knowledge of some of the
relevant large-scale variables for describing and predicting the behaviour
of animals in relation to their environments. The fact that these large-scale
variables (the sort of thing that are grouped under such headings as
'stimulus', 'response', 'goal behaviour', 'deprivation', etc.) are such that we
can understand the behaviour of the animal in terms of them is something
which is not only suggested by our background knowledge, but is, indeed,
explained by evolutionary theory. But the correlations themselves can be
discovered by statistical procedures; and, of course, it is important
toestablish these correlations. Their discovery and confirmation by the
procedures of behaviouristics must, of course, be distinguished from their
explanation in terms of the postulated entities and processes of
neurophysiology. And, indeed, while physiological considerations may
suggest correlations be tested, the correlations themselves must be
establishable independently of physiological consideration, if, and this is a
'definitional' point, they are to belong to a distinguishable science of
Thus if we mean by 'earthworm behaviouristics' the establishing of
correlations in large-scale terms pertaining to the earthworm and its
environment, there may not be much to it, for a correlation does not belong
to 'earthworm behaviouristics' unless it is a correlation in
these large-scale terms. On the other hand, it is obvious that not every
scientific truth about earthworms is a part of earthworm behaviouris-tics,
unless the latter term is so stretched as to be deprived of its distinctive sense. It
follows that one cannot explain everything an earthworm does in terms of
earthworm behaviouristics thus defined. Earthworm behaviouristics works
within a background knowledge of 'standard conditions'—conditions in which
correlations in terms of earthworm behaviour categories are sufficient to
explain and predict what earthworms do in so far as it can be described in
these categories. This background knowledge is obviously an essential part of
the scientific understanding of what earthworms do, though not a part of
earthworm behaviouristics, for it is simply the application to earthworms of
physics, chemistry, parasitology, medicine, and neuro-physiology.
We must also take into consideration the fact that most of the interesting
constructs of correlational behaviouristics will be 'iffy' properties of
organisms, properties to the effect that if at that time a certain stimulus were to
occur, a certain response would be made. Thus, to use an example from
another field, we are able to correlate the fact that a current has been run
through a helix in which a piece of iron has been placed, with the 'iffy'
property of being such that if an iron filing were placed near it, the latter
would be attracted.
Now it may or may not be helpful at a given stage of scientific
development, to suppose that 'iffy' properties of organisms are connected with
states of a postulated system of entities operating according to certain
postulated principles. It is helpful, if the postulated entities are sufficiently
specific and can be connected to a sufficient diversity of large-scale
behavioural variables to enable the prediction of new correlations. The
methodological utility of postulational procedures for the behaviouristics of
lower organisms has, perhaps, been exaggerated, primarily because until
recently little was known in neurophysiology which was suited to throw much
light on correlations at the large-scale level of behaviouristics. In human behaviouristics,
however, the situation has been somewhat different from the
start, for an important feature of characteristically human behaviour is that any
two successive pieces of observable behaviour essentially involve complex,
very complex, 'iffy' facts about what the person would have said or done at
each intervening moment if he had been asked certain questions; and it
happens that our background knowledge makes reasonable the supposition that
these 'iffy' facts obtain because an inner process is going on which is, in
important respects, analogous to overt verbal behaviour, and each stage of
which would find a natural expression in overt speech. This is a point to which
I shall return later on.
Thus it does prove helpful in human behaviouristics to postulate an
inner sequence of events in order to interpret what could in principle be
austerely formulated as correlations between behavioural states and
properties, including the very important and, indeed, essential 'iffy' ones.
But, and this is an important point, the postulated episodes are not
postulated on neurophysiological grounds—at least this was not true until
very recently, but because of our background knowledge that something
analogous to speech goes on while people are sitting 'like bumps on a log'.
For our present purposes it does not make too much difference whether
we say that human behaviouristics as such postulates inner speechlike
processes, or that whatever their contribution to explanation or discovery,
these processes fall by definition outside behaviouristics proper. Whether
or not human behaviouristics, as a distinctive science, includes any
statements about postulated entities, the correlations it establishes must
find their counterparts in the postulational image, as was seen to be true in
the case of the correlations established by earthworm behaviouristics.
Thus, the scientific explanation of human behaviour must take account of
those cases where the correlations characteristic of the organism in 'normal'
circumstances break down. And, indeed, no behaviourist would deny that
the correlations he seeks and establishes are in some sense the counterparts
of neurophysiological and, consequently, biochemical connections, nor that
the latter are special cases within a spectrum of biochemical connections
(pertaining to human organisms), many of which are reflected in observable
phenomena which, from the standpoint of behaviouristics, represent
breakdowns in explanation. I shall, therefore, provisionally assume that
although behaviouristics and neurophysiology remain distinctive sciences,
the correlational content of behaviouristics points to a structure of
postulated processes and principles which telescope together with those of
neurophysiological theory, with all the consequences which this entails. On
this assumption, if we trace out these consequences, the scientific image of
man turns out to be that of a complex physical system.
How, then, are we to evaluate the conflicting claims of the manifest image
and the scientific image thus provisionally interpreted to constitute the true
and, in principle, complete account of man-in-the-world?
What are the alternatives? It will be helpful to examine the impact of
the earlier stages of postulational science on philosophy. Some reflections
on the Cartesian attempt at a synthesis are in order, for they bring out the
major stresses and strains involved in any attempt
at a synoptic view. Obviously, at the time of Descartes theoretical science had
not yet reached the neurophysiological level, save in the fashion of a clumsy
promissory note. The initial challenge of the scientific image was directed at
the manifest image of inanimate nature. It proposed to construe physical
things, in a manner already adumbrated by Greek atomism, as systems of
imperceptible particles, lacking the perceptible qualities of manifest nature.
Three lines of thought seemed to be open: (1) Manifest objects are identical
with systems of imperceptible particles in that simple sense in which a forest is
identical with a number of trees. (2) Manifest objects are what really exist;
systems of imperceptible particles being 'abstract' or 'symbolic' ways of
representing them. (3) Manifest objects are 'appearances' to human minds of a
reality which is constituted by systems of imperceptible particles. Although (2)
merits serious consideration, and has been defended by able philosophers, it is
(1) and (3), particularly the latter, which I shall be primarily concerned to
First, some brief remarks about (1). There is nothing immediately
paradoxical about the view that an object can be both a perceptible object with
perceptible qualities and a system of imperceptible objects, none of which has
perceptible qualities. Cannot systems have properties which their parts do not
have? Now the answer to this question is 'yes', if it is taken in a sense of which
a paradigm example would be the fact that a system of pieces of wood can be a
ladder, although none of its parts is a ladder. Here one might say that for the
system as a whole to be a ladder is for its parts to be of such . and such shapes
and sizes and to be related to one another in certain ways. Thus there is no
trouble about systems having properties which its parts do not have ;/ these
properties are a matter of the parts having such and such qualities and being
related in such and such ways. But the case of a pink ice cube, it would seem
clear, cannot be treated in this way. It does not seem plausible to say that for a
system of particles to be a pink ice cube is for them to have such and such
imperceptible qualities, and to be so related to one another as to make up an
approximate cube. Pink does not seem to be made up of imperceptible
qualities in the way in which being a ladder is made up of being cylindrical
(the rungs), rectangular (the frame), wooden, etc. The manifest ice cube
presents itself to us as something which is pink through and through, as a pink
continuum, all the regions of which, however small, are pink. It presents itself
to us as ultimately homogeneous; and an ice cube variegated in colour is,
though not homogeneous in its specific colour, 'ultimately homogeneous', in
the sense to which I am calling attention, with respect to the generic trait of
being coloured.
Now reflection on this example suggests a principle which can be formulated
approximately as follows:
If an object is in a strict sense a system of objects, then every property of
the object must consist in the fact that its constituents have such and such
qualities and stand in such and such relations or, roughly, every property of
a system of objects consists of properties of, and relations between, its
With something like this principle in mind, it was argued that if a physical
object is in a strict sense a system of imperceptible particles, then it cannot
as a whole have the perceptible qualities characteristic of physical objects
in the manifest image. It was concluded that manifest physical objects are
'appearances' to human perceivers of systems of imperceptible particles
which is alternative (3) above.
This alternative, (3), however, is open to an objection which is
ordinarily directed not against the alternative itself, but against an
imperceptive formulation of it as the thesis that the perceptible things
around us 'really have no colour'. Against this formulation the objection
has the merit of calling attention to the fact that in the manifest framework
it is as absurd to say that a visible object has no colour, as it is to say of a
triangle that it has no shape. However, tfainst the above formulation of
alternative (3), namely, that the very objects themselves are appearances to
perceivers of systems of imperceptible particles, the objection turns out on
examination to have no weight. The objection for which the British
'common sense' philosopher G. E. Moore is directly or indirectly responsible,
Chairs, tables, etc., as we ordinarily think them to be, can't be 'appearances'
of systems of particles lacking perceptible qualities, because we know that
there are chairs, tables, etc., and it is a framework feature of chairs, tables,
etc., that they have perceptible qualities.
It simply disappears once it is recognized that, properly understood, rse
claim that physical objects do not really have perceptible qualities is not
analogous to the claim that something generally believed to be true about a
certain kind of thing is actually false. It is not the denial of a belief within
a framework, but a challenge to the framework. It is the claim that
although the framework of perceptible objects, the manifest framework of
everyday life, is adequate for the everyday purposes of life, it is ultimately
inadequate and should not be accepted as an account of what there is all
things considered. Once we see this, we see that the argument from 'knowledge'
cuts no ice, for the reasoning:
We know that there are chairs, pink icecubes, etc. (physical objects).
Chairs, pink ice cubes are coloured, are perceptible objects with perceptible
qualities. Therefore, perceptible physical objects with perceptible qualities
operates within the framework of the manifest image and cannot support it. It
fails to provide a point of view outside the manifest image from which the
latter can be evaluated.
A more sophisticated argument would be to the effect that we successfully
find our way around in life by using the conceptual framework of coloured
physical objects in space and time, therefore, this framework represents things
as they really are. This argument has force, but is vulnerable to the reply that
the success of living, thinking, and acting in terms of the manifest framework
can be accounted for by the framework which proposes to replace it, by
showing that there are sufficient structural similarities between manifest
objects and their scientific counterparts to account for this success.1
One is reminded of a standard move designed to defend the reality of the
manifest image against logically rather than scientifically motivated
considerations. Thus it has been objected that the framework of physical
objects in space and time is incoherent, involving antinomies or contradictions,
and that therefore this framework is unreal. The counter to this objection has
often been, not a painstaking refutation of the arguments claiming to show that
the framework is incoherent, but rather something along the following lines:
We know that this collision occurred at a different place and time than that
Therefore, the statement that the first collision occurred at a different place and
time from the other collision is true.
Therefore, the statement that the two collisions occurred at different times and
places is consistent.
Therefore, statements about events happening at various times and places are,
as such, consistent.
This argument, like the one we have already considered, does not prove what
it sets out to prove, because it operates within the framework to be evaluated,
and does not provide an external point of view from which to defend it. It
makes the tacit assumption that if a framework is inconsistent, its incoherence
must be such as to lead to retail and immediate inconsistencies, as though it
would force people using it to contradict themselves on every occasion. This is
surely false. The framework of space and time could be internally inconsistent,
and yet be a successful conceptual tool at the retail level. We have examples
1 It might seem that the manifest framework accounts for the success of the scientific
framework, so that the situation is symmetrical. But I believe that a more
penetrating account of theoretical explanation than I have been able to sketch in
this chapter would show that this claim is illusory. I discuss this topic at some
length in Chapter 4.
of this in mathematical theory, where inconsistencies can be present which
do not reveal themselves in routine usage.
I am not, however, concerned to argue that the manifest image is unreal
because ultimately incoherent in a narrowly conceived logical sense.
Philosophers who have taken this line have either (a) left it at that (Hume;
scepticism), or (b) attempted to locate the source of the inconsistency in
features of the framework, and interpreted reality as an inadequately
known structure analogous to the manifest image, but lacking just those
features which are responsible for the inconsistency. In contrast to this, the
critique of the manifest image in which we are engaged is based on logical
considerations in a broader and more constructive sense, one which
compares this image unfavourably with a more intelligible account of what
there is.
It is familiar fact that those features of the manifest world which play
no role in mechanical explanation were relegated by Descartes and other
interpreters of the new physics to the minds of the per-ceiver. Colour, for
example, was said to exist only in sensation; its esse to be percipi. It was
argued, in effect, that what scientifically motivated reflection recognizes to
be states of the perceiver are conceptualized in ordinary experience as
traits of independent physical things, indeed that these supposed
independent coloured things are actually conceptual constructions which
ape the mechanical systems of the real world.
The same considerations which led philosophers to deny the reality of
perceptible things led them to a dualistic theory of man. For if the human
body is a system of particles, the body cannot be the subject of thinking
and feeling, unless thinking and feeling are capable of interpretation as
complex interactions of physical particles; unless, that is to say, the
manifest framework of man as one being, a person capable of doing
radically different kinds of things can be replaced without loss of
descriptive and explanatory power by a postulational image in which he is
a complex of physical particles, and all his activities a matter of the
particles changing in state and relationship.
Dualism, of course, denied that either sensation or feeling or conceptual
thinking could in this sense be construed as complex interactions of
physical particles, or man as a complex physical system. They were
prepared to say that a chair is really a system of imperceptible particles
which 'appears' in the manifest framework as a 'colour solid' (cf. our
example of the ice cube), but they were not pcepared to say that man
himself was a complex physical system •Much 'appears' to itself to be the
sort of thing man is in the manifest .stage.
Let us consider in more detail the Cartesian attempt to integrate the
manifest and the scientific images. Here the interesting thing to
note is that Descartes took for granted (in a promissory-note-ish kind of way)
that the scientific image would include items which would be the counterparts
of the sensations, images, and feelings of the manifest framework. These
counterparts would be complex states of the brain which, obeying purely
physical laws, would resemble and differ from one another in a way which
corresponded to the resemblances and differences between the conscious states
with which they were correlated. Yet, as is well-known, he denied that there
were brain states which were, in the same sense, the cerebral counterparts of
conceptual thinking.
Now, if we were to ask Descartes, 'Why can't we say that sensations "really
are" complex cerebral processes as, according to you, we can say that physical
objects "really are" complex systems of imperceptible particles?' he would
have a number of things to reply, some of which were a consequence of his
conviction that sensation, images, and feelings belong to the same family as
believing, choosing, wondering, in short are low-grade examples of conceptual
thinking and share its supposed irreducibility to cerebral states. But when the
chips are down there would remain the following argument:
We have pulled perceptible qualities out of the physical environment and put
them into sensations. If we now say that all there really is to sensation is a
complex interaction of cerebral particles, then we have taken them out of our
world picture altogether. We wiil have made it unintelligible how things could
even appear to be coloured.
As for conceptual thinking, Descartes not only refused to identify it with
neurophysiological process, he did not see this as a live option, because it
seemed obvious to him that no complex neurophysiological process could be
sufficiently analogous to conceptual thinking to be a serious candidate for
being what conceptual thinking 'really is'. It is not as though Descartes granted
that there might well be neurophysiological processes which are strikingly
analogous to conceptual thinking, but which it would be philosophically
incorrect to identify with conceptual thinking (as he had identified physical
objects of the manifest world with systems of imperceptible particles). He did
not take seriously the idea that there are such neurophysiological processes.
Even if he had, however, it is clear that he would have rejected this
identification on the ground that we had a 'clear and distinct', well-defined idea
of what conceptual thinking is before we even suspected that the brain had
anything to do with thinking. Roughly: we know what thinking is without
conceiving of it as a complex neurophysiological process, therefore, it cannot
be a complex physiological process.
Now, of course, the same is true of physical objects. We knew what a
physical object was long before we knew that there were imperceptible
physical particles. By parity of reasoning we should conclude that a
physical object cannot be a complex of imperceptible particles. Thus, if
Descartes had had reason to think that neurophysiological processes
strikingly analogous to conceptual thinking exist, it would seem that he
should either have changed his tune with respect to physical objects or said
that conceptual thinking really is neurophysiological process.
Now in the light of recent developments in neurophysiology, philosophers
have come to see that there is no reason to suppose there can't be
neurophysiological processes which stand to conceptual thinking as
sensory states of the brain stand to conscious sensations. And, indeed, there
have not been wanting philosophers (of whom Hobbes was, perhaps, the
first) who have argued that the analogy should be viewed philosophically
as an identity, i.e. that a world picture which includes both thoughts and
the neurophysiological counterparts of thoughts would contain a
redundancy; just as a world picture which included both the physical
objects of the manifest image and complex patterns of physical particles
would contain a redundancy. But to this proposal the obvious objection
occurs, that just as the claim that 'physical objects are complexes of
imperceptible particles' left us with the problem of accounting for the
status of the perceptible qualities of manifest objects, so the claim that
'thoughts, etc., are complex neurophysiological processes' leaves us with
the problems of accounting for the status of the introspectable qualities of
thoughts. And it would seem obvious that there is a vicious regress in the
claim that these qualities exist in introspective awareness of the thoughts
which seem to have them, but not in the thoughts themselves. For, the
argument would run, surely introspection is itself a form of thinking. Thus
one thought (Peter) would be robbed of its quality only to pay it to another
We can, therefore, understand the temptation to say that even if there
are cerebral processes which are strikingly analogous to conceptual
thinking, they are processes which run parallel to conceptual thinking (and
cannot be identified with it) as the sensory states of the brain run parallel
to conscious sensation. And we can, therefore, understand the temptation
to say that all these puzzles arise from taking seriously the claim of any
part of the scientific image to be what really is, and to retreat into the
position that reality is the world of the manifest image, and that all the
postulated entities of the scientific image are 'symbolic tools' which
function (something like the distance-measuring devices which are rolled
around on maps) to help us find our way around in the world, but do not
describe actual objects and processes. On this view, the theoretical
counterparts of all features of the manifest image would be equally unreal, and
that philosophical conception of man-of-the-world would be correct which
endorsed the manifest image and located the scientific image within it as a
conceptual tool used by manifest man in his capacity as a scientist.
Is this the truth of the matter? Is the manifest image, subject, of course, to
continual emperical and categorial refinements, the measure of what there
really is? I do not think so. I have already indicated that of the three
alternatives we are considering with respect to the comparative claims of the
manifest and scientific images, the first, which, like a child, says 'both', is
ruled out by a principle which I am not defending in this chapter, although it
does stand in need of defence. The second alternative is the one I have just
reformulated and rejected. I propose, therefore, to re-examine the case against
the third alternative, the primacy of the scientific image. My strategy will be to
argue that the difficulty, raised above, which seems to stand in the way of the
identification of thought with cerebral processes, arises from the mistake of
supposing that in self-awareness conceptual thinking presents itself to us in a
qualitative guise. Sensations and images do, we shall see, present themselves
to us in a qualitative character, a fact which accounts for the fact that they are
stumbling blocks in the attempt to accept the scientific image as real. But one
scarcely needs to point out these days that however intimately conceptual
thinking is related to sensations and images, it cannot be equated with them,
nor with complexes consisting of them.
It is no accident that when a novelist wishes to represent what is going on
in the mind of a person, he does so by 'quoting' the person's thoughts as he
might quote what a person says. For thoughts not only are the sort of things
that find overt expression in language, we conceive of them as analogous to
overt discourse. Thus, thoughts in the manifest image are conceived not in
terms of their 'quality', but rather as inner 'goings-on' which are analogous to
speech, and find their overt expression in speech—though they can go on, of
course, in the absence of this overt expression. It is no accident that one learns
to think in the very process of learning to speak.
From this point of view one can appreciate the danger of misunderstanding
which is contained in the term 'introspection'. For while there is, indeed, an
analogy between the direct knowledge we have of our own thoughts and the
perceptual knowledge we have of what is going on in the world around us, the
analogy holds only in
as much as both self-awareness and perceptual observation are basic forms
of non-inferential knowledge. They differ, however, in that whereas in
perceptual observation we know objects as being of a certain quality, in the
direct knowledge we have of what we are thinking (e.g. I am thinking that
it is cold outside) what we know non-inferentially is that something
analogous to and properly expressed by the sentence, 'It is cold outside', is
going on in me.
The point is an important one, for if the concept of a thought is the
concept of an inner state analogous to speech, this leaves open the
possibility that the inner state conceived in terms of this analogy is in its
qualitative character a neurophysiological process. To draw a parallel: if I
begin by thinking of the cause of a disease as a srbstance (to be called
'germs') which is analogous to a colony of rabbits, in that it is able to
reproduce itself in geometrical proportion, but, unlike rabbits,
imperceptible and, when present in sufficient number in the human body,
able to cause the symptoms of disease, and to cause epidemics by
spreading from person to person, there is no logical barrier to a subsequent
identification of 'germs' thus conceived with the bacilli which microscopic
investigation subsequently discovers.
But to point to the analogy between conceptual thinking and overt
speech is only part of the story, for of equally decisive importance is the
analogy between speech and what sophisticated computers can do, and
finally, between computer circuits and conceivable patterns of
neurophysiological organization. All of this is more or less speculative,
less so now than even a few years ago. What interests the philosopher is
the matter of principle; and here the first stage is decisive—the recognition
that the concept of a thought is a concept by analogy. Over and above this
all we need is to recognize the force of Spinoza's statement: 'No one has
thus far determined what the tody can do nor no one has yet been taught by
experience what the foody can do merely by the laws of nature insofar as
nature is considered merely as corporeal and extended.' (Ethics, Part Three,
Prop. II (note)).
Another analogy which may be even more helpful is the following:
suppose we are watching the telegraphic report of a chess game in a
foreign country.
White Black
P—K3 P—QB3
And suppose that we are sophisticated enough to know that chess pieces
can be made of all shapes and sizes, that chess boards can be horizontal or
vertical, indeed, distorted in all kinds of ways provided that they preserve
certain topological features of the familiar board.
Then it is clear that while we will think of the players in the foreign country as
moving kings, pawns, etc., castling and check-mating, our concepts of the
pieces they are moving and the moving of them will be simply the concept of
items and changes which play a role analogous to the pieces and moves which
take place when we play chess. We know that the items must have some
intrinsic quality (shape, size, etc.), but we think of these qualities as 'those
which make possible a sequence of changes which are structurally similar to
the changes which take place on our own chess boards'.
Thus our concept of 'what thoughts are' might, like our concept of what a
castling is in chess, be abstract in the sense that it does not concern itself with
the intrinsic character of thoughts, save as items which can occur in patterns
of relationships which are analogous to the way in which sentences are
related to one another and to the contexts in which they are used.
Now if thoughts are items which are conceived in terms of the roles they
play, then there is no barrier in principle to the identification of conceptual
thinking with neurophysiological process. There would be no 'qualitative'
remainder to be accounted for. The identification, curiously enough, would be
even more straightforward than the identification of the physical things in the
manifest image with complex systems of physical particles. And in this key, if
not decisive, respect, the respect in which both images are concerned with conceptual
thinking (which is the distinctive trait of man), the manifest and
scientific images could merge without clash in the synoptic view.
How does the situation stand in respect to sensation and feeling? Any
attempt at identification of these items with neurophysiological process runs
into a difficulty to which reference has already been made, and which we are
now in a position to make more precise. This difficulty accounts for the fact
that, with few exceptions, philosophers who have been prepared to identify
conceptual thinking with neurophysiological process have not been prepared
to make a similar identification in the case of sensation.
Before restating the problem let us note that curiously enough, there is
more similarity between the two cases than is commonly recognized. For it
turns out on reflection that just as conceptual thinking is construed in the
manifest image by analogy with overt speech, so sensation is construed by
analogy with its external cause, sensations being the states of persons which
correspond, in their similarities and differences to the similarities and
differences of the objects which, in standard conditions, bring them about. Let
us assume that this is so. But if it is so, why not suppose that the inner-states
which as sensations are conceived by analogy with their standard causes, are
in propria persona complex neurophysiological episodes
in the cerebral cortex? To do so would parallel the conclusion we were
prepared to draw in the case of conceptual thinking.
Why do we feel that there would be something extremely odd, even
absurd, about such a supposition? The key to the answer lies in noticing an
important difference between identifying thoughts with neurophysiological
states and identifying sensations with neuro-physiological states. Whereas
both thoughts and sensations are conceived by analogy with publicly
observable items, in the former case the analogy concerns the role and
hence leaves open the possibility that thoughts are radically different in
their intrinsic character from the verbal behaviour by analogy with which
they are conceived. But in the case of sensations, the analogy concerns the
quality itself. Thus a 'blue and triangular sensation' is conceived by
analogy with the blue and triangular (facing) surface of a physical object
which, when looked at in daylight, is its cause. The crucial issue then is
this: can we define, in the framework of neurophysiology, states which are
sufficiently analogous in their intrinsic character to sensations to make
identification plausible?
The answer seems clearly to be 'no'. This is not to say that neurophysiological
states cannot be defined (in principle) which have a high
degree of analogy to the sensations of the manifest image. That this can be
done is an elementary fact in psycho-physics. The trouble is, rather, that
the feature which we referred to as 'ultimate homogeneity', and which
characterizes the perceptible qualities of things, e.g. their colour, seems to
be essentially lacking in the domain of the definable states of nerves and
their interactions. Putting it crudely, colour expanses in the manifest world
consist of regions which are themselves colour expanses, and these consist
in their turn of regions which are colour expanses, and so on; whereas the
state of a group of neurons, though it has regions which are also states of
groups of neurons, has ultimate regions which are not states of groups of
neurons but rather states of single neurons. And the same is true if we
move to the finer grained level of biochemical process.
Nor do we wish to say that the ultimate homogeneity of the sensation
of a red rectangle is a matter of each physical particle in the appropriate
region of the cortex having a colour; for whatever other difficulties such a
view would involve, it doesn't make sense to say of the particles of
physical theory that they are coloured. And the principle of reducibility,
which we have accepted without argument, makes impossible the view that
groups of particles can have properties which are not 'reducible to' the
properties and relations of the members of the group.
It is worth noting that we have here a recurrence of the essential
features of Eddington's 'two tables' problem—the two tables being,
in our terminology, the table of the manifest image and the table of the
scientific image. There the problem was to 'fit together' the manifest table with
the scientific table. Here the problem is to fit together the manifest sensation
with its neurophysiological counterpart. And, interestingly enough, the
problem in both cases is essentially the same: how to reconcile the ultimate
homogeneity of the manifest image with the ultimate non-homogeneity of the
system of scientific objects.
Now we are rejecting the view that the scientific image is a mere 'symbolic
tool' for finding our way around in the manifest image; and we are accepting
the view that the scientific account of the world is (in principle) the adequate
image. Having, therefore, given the perceptible qualities of manifest objects
their real locus in sensation, we were confronted with the problem of choosing
between dualism or identity with respect to the relation of conscious
sensations to their analogues in the visual cortex, and the above argument
seems to point clearly in the dualistic direction. The 'ultimate homogeneity' of
perceptible qualities, which, among other things, prevented identifying the
perceptible qualities of physical objects with complex properties of systems of
physical particles, stands equally in the way of identifying, rather than
correlating, conscious sensations with the complex neural processes with
which they are obviously connected.
But such dualism is an unsatisfactory solution, because ex hypothesi
sensations are essential to the explanation of how we come to construct the
'appearance' which is the manifest world. They are essential to the explanation
of how there even seem to be coloured objects. But the scientific image
presents itself as a closed system of explanation, and if the scientific image is
interpreted as we have interpreted it up to this point the explanation will be in
terms of the constructs of neuro-physiology, which, according to the argument,
do not involve the ultimate homogeneity, the appearance of which in the
manifest image is to be explained.
We are confronted, therefore, by an antinomy, either, (a) the neurophysiological
image is incomplete, i.e. and must be supplemented by new
objects ('sense fields') which do have ultimate homogeneity, and which
somehow make their presence felt in the activity of the visual cortex as a
system of physical particles; or, (b) the neurophysiological image is complete
and the ultimate homogeneity of the sense qualities (and, hence, the sense
qualities, themselves) is mere appearance in the very radical sense of not
existing in the spatio-temporal world at all.
Is the situation irremediable? Does the assumption of the reality of the
scientific image lead us to a dualism of particles and sense fields? of matter
and 'consciousness'? If so, then, in view of the
obviously intimate relation between sensation and conceptual thinking (for
example, in perception), we must surely regress and take back the
identification or conceptual thinking with neurophysiological process
which seemed so plausible a moment ago. We could then argue that
although in the absence of other considerations it would be plausible to
equate conceptual thinking with neurophysiological process, when the
chips are all down, we must rather say that although conceptual thinking
and neurophysiological process are each analogous to verbal behaviour as
a public social phenomenon (the one by virtue of the very way in which the
very notion of 'thinking' is formed; the other as a scientifically ascertained
matter of fact), they are also merely analogous to one another and cannot
be identified. If so, the manifest and the scientific conception of both
sensations and conceptual thinking would fit into the synoptic view as
parallel processes, a dualism which could only be avoided by interpreting
the scientific image as a whole as a 'symbolic device' for coping with the
world as it presents itself to us in the manifest image.
Is there any alternative? As long as the ultimate constituents of the
scientific image are particles forming ever more complex systems of
particles, we are inevitably confronted by the above choice. But the
scientific image is not yet complete; we have not yet penetrated all the
secrets of nature. And if it should turn out that particles instead of being
the primitive entities of the scientific image could be treated as
singularities in a space-time continum which could be conceptually 'cut up'
without significant loss—in inorganic contexts, at least—into interacting
particles, then we would not be confronted at the level of neurophysiology
with the problem of understanding the relation of sensory consciousness
(with its ultimate homogeneity) to systems of particles. Rather, we would
have the alternative of saying that although for many purposes the central
nervous system can be construed without loss as a complex system of
physical particles, when it comes to an adequate understanding of the
relation of sensory consciousness to neurophysiological process, we must
penetrate to the non-particulate foundation of the particulate image, and
recognize that in this non-particulate image the qualities of sense are a
dimension of natural process which occurs only in connection with those
complex physical processes which, when 'cut up' into particles in terms of
those features which are the least common denominators of physical
process—present in inorganic as well as organic processes; alike—become
the complex system of particles which, in the current; scientific image, is
the central nervous system.
Even if the constructive suggestion of the preceding section were capable of
being elaborated into an adequate account of the way in which the scientific
image could recreate in its own terms the sensations, images, and feelings of
the manifest image, the thesis of the primacy of the scientific image would
scarcely be off the ground. There would remain the task of showing that
categories pertaining to man as a person who finds himself confronted by
standards (ethical, logical, etc.) which often conflict with his desires and
impulses, and to which he may or may not conform, can be reconciled with the
idea that man is what science says he is.
At first sight there would seem to be only one way of recapturing the
specifically human within the framework of the scientific image. The
categories of the person might be reconstructed without loss in terms of the
fundamental concepts of the scientific image in a way analogous to that in
which the concepts of biochemistry are (in principle) reconstructed in terms of
sub-atomic physics. To this suggestion there is, in the first place, the familiar
objection that persons as responsible agents who make genuine choices
between genuine alternatives, and who could on many occasions have done
what in point of fact they did not do, simply can't be construed as physical
systems (even broadly interpreted to include sensations and feelings) which
evolve in accordance with laws of nature (statistical or non-statistical). Those
who make the above move can be expected to reply (drawing on distinctions
developed in section I) that the concepts in terms of which we think of a
person's 'character', or the fact that 'he could have done otherwise', or that 'his
actions are predictable' would appear in the reconstruction as extraordinarily
complex defined concepts not to be confused with the concepts in terms of
which we think of the 'nature' of NaCl, or the fact that 'system X would have
failed to be in state S given the same initial conditions' or that 'it is predictable
that system X will assume state S given these initial conditions'. And I think
that a reply along these lines could be elaborated which would answer this
objection to the proposed reconstruction of categories pertaining to persons.
But even if the proposed reconstruction could meet what might be called
the 'free will' objection, it fails decisively on another count. For it can, I
believe, be conclusively shown that such a reconstruction is in principle
impossible, the impossibility in question being a strictly logical one. (I shall
not argue the point explicitly, but the following remarks contain the essential
clues.) If so, that would seem to be the end of the matter. Must we not return to
a choice between (a) a dualism in which men as scientific objects are
contrasted with
the 'minds' which are the source and principle of their existence as persons;
(b) abandoning the reality of persons as well as manifest physical objects
in favour of the exclusive reality of scientific objects; (c) returning once
and for all to the thesis of the merely 'calculational' or 'auxiliary' status of
theoretical frameworks and to the affirmation of the primacy of the
manifest image?
Assuming, in accordance with the drift of the argument of this chapter,
that none of these alternatives is satisfactory, is there a way out? I believe
there is, and that while a proper exposition and defence would require at
least the space of this whole volume, the gist can be stated in short
compass. To say that a certain person desired to do A, thought it his duty to
do B but was forced to do C, is not to describe him as one might describe a
scientific specimen. One does, indeed, describe him, but one does
something more. And it is this something more which is the irreducible
core of the framework of persons.
In what does this something more consist? First, a relatively superficial
point which will guide the way. To think of a featherless biped as a person
is to think of it as a being with which one is bound up in a network of
rights and duties. From this point of view, the irreduci-bility of the
personal is the irreducibility of the 'ought' to the 'is'. But even more basic
than this (though ultimately, as we shall see, the two points coincide), is
the fact that to think of a featherless biped as a person is to construe its
behaviour in terms of actual or potential membership in an embracing
group each member of which thinks of itself as a member of the group. Let
us call such a group a 'community'. Once the primitive tribe, it is currently
(almost) the 'brotherhood' of man, and is potentially the 'republic' of
rational beings (cf. Kant's 'Kingdom of Ends'). An individual may belong
to many communities, some of which overlap, some of which are arranged
like Chinese boxes. The most embracing community to which he belongs
consists of those with whom he can enter into meaningful discourse. The
scope of the embracing community is the scope of 'we' in its most
embracing non-metaphorical use. 'We', in this fundamental sense (in which
it is equivalent to the French 'on' or English 'one') is no less basic than the
other 'persons' in which verbs are conjugated. Thus, to recognize a
featherless biped or dolphin or Martian as a person is to think of oneself
and it as belonging to a community.
Now, the fundamental principles of a community, which define what is
'correct' or 'incorrect', 'right' or 'wrong', 'done' or 'not done', are the most
general common intentions of that community with respect to the
behaviour of members of the group. It follows that to recognize a
featherless biped or dolphin or Martian as a person requires that one think
thoughts of the form, 'We (one) shall do (or
abstain from doing) actions of kind A in circumstances of kind C. To think
thoughts of this kind is not to classify or explain, but to rehearse an intention.1
Thus the conceptual framework of persons is the framework in which we
think of one another as sharing the community intentions which provide the
ambience of principles and standards (above all, those which make meaningful
discourse and rationality itself possible) within which we live our own
individual lives. A person can almost be defined as a being that has intentions.
Thus the conceptual framework of persons is not something that needs to be
reconciled with the scientific image, but rather something to be joined to it.
Thus, to complete the scientific image we need to enrich it not with more ways
of saying what is the case, but with the language of community and individual
intentions, so that by construing the actions we intend to do and the
circumstances in which we intend to do them in scientific terms, we directly
relate the world as conceived by scientific theory to our purposes, and make it
our world and no longer an alien appendage to the world in which we do our
living. We can, of course, as matters now stand, realize this direct incorporation
of the scientific image into our way of life only in imagination. But to
do so is, if only in imagination, to transcend the dualism of the manifest and
scientific images of man-of-the-world.
1 Community intentions ('One shall...') are not just private intentions (I shall...')
which everybody has. (This is another way of putting the above-mentioned irreducibility
of 'we'.) There is, however, a logical connection between community and
private intentions. For one does not really share a community intention unless,
however often one may rehearse it, it is reflected, where relevant, in the
corresponding private intention.