Friday, January 2, 2015

From George Henry Lewes' 'Spiritualism and Materialism (Part I)' (Fortnightly Review, New Series v. 19 [1876]: at 492):
The human consciousness is reflected in and guides every individual's acts. ... The Nation has no consciousness of Self. It is on this 'sense of personality' that Spiritualism relies. Nor am I disposed to underrate its value, since it was this which nearly converted me. But without pausing here to trace the genesis of this Self-consciousness, it is enough to point out that so far from being an initial principle, it is a very late product of evolution. It arises through the slowly-evolved consensus of the organism, and the syntheses of experience. This is shown in those abnormal cases familiar to students of mental pathology, in which the disturbance of the organic connexus leads to a 'double consciousness,' or to a 'changed personality.' The patient refuses to recognise his own voice and his own person as belonging to himself.
From Part 2 of Lewes 'Spiritualism and Materialism' [Fortnightly Review 'Spiritualism and Materialism (Part II)' (New Series v. 19 [1876]: at 715-716)]
We must protest against the interpretation of mental phenomena by movements in the brain, however important such movements may be as factors in the complex group of biological and sociological conditions. Although personal and selfish impulses are indispensable agencies in Moral Life, the attempt to reduce Moral Life to these impulses alone, without the co-operation of unselfish impersonal impulses, and the mighty influence of social conditions, is the Materialism against which Organicism protests. In a word, Organicism is distinguishable by its consistent carrying out of the hypothesis that the organic phenomena grouped under the terms Life and Mind are activities not of any single element, in or out of the organism, but activities of the whole organism in correspondence with a physical and a social medium. Just as it is the organism which lives, so is it the organism which moves and feels. ... When I say it is the man, and not the brain that thinks, I by no means suggest that the brain is not the crowning factor essential to the process. Without a Nervous System there could be nothing like what we know as Feeling; without a Brain or supreme nervous centre, there could be little or nothing of that complex grouping of sensitive states, which we know as Emotion, Thought, and Will. But Brain and Nervous System are only parts of a living organism, and their functions are only specialisations of the general properties of that organism; separate the Brain from the vital processes going on throughout the organism, and it is no instrument of Consciousness. The materialist asserts that the Brain feels and thinks, as the Stomach digests, and the Lungs breathe. I answer, Yes: but the Stomach does not digest, the Lungs do not breathe, except when these organs form parts of a living organism. An idea will arrest digestion, a little surplus of carbonic acid will arrest respiration, for the same reason that an arrested secretion will fill the mind with gloom, an excess of carbonic acid will stupefy it, a worm in the intestine will distract it, a plugged artery will obliterate it.
Lewes gave us the term 'emergence'.

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