The Philosophy of Mind; an Essay in the Metaphysics of Psychology

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PROF. LADD'S latest book opens with two excellent chapters on the connection between psychology and, the philosophy of mind, which lead one to hope great things of the rest of the work. It is refreshing to find an author deliver an energetic and effective protest against the “water-tight compartment” theory—that science, and even the science of psychology, can get on without metaphysics—and then turn round and declare in favour of a good healthy realism. It is a psychological fact which is well worth keeping in mind, that we all naturally are, and, even in spite of philosophic training, in our ordinary life remain, dualistic realists. This metaphysical position is implied in all the language of science; so that, in particular, it is well-nigh impossible to interpret the results of psycho-physics in any other sense. His arguments against the view of consciousness as a mere series of passive states, which he attributes to Prof. James, are well worthy of attention, and further great expectations will be raised in the mind of the reader by the heading of the fifth chapter—“The consciousness of identity, and so-called double consciousness.” For surely; it is time that professed psychologists should give up ignoring the alleged facts of multiple personality and the various phenomena connected with “suggestion” and “hypnotism.” Whence are we to learn about the psychological import of these things if not from them? But the expectation is unfortunately doomed to disappointment. After making some show of attacking the question, and expressing a pious belief that “the explanation of double-consciousness, when the facts are ascertained and the explanation is made, will be found in extension rather than reversal of the principles already known to apply to the normal activity of body and mind” (p. 168), he “feels obliged for the present to maintain a position of reserve.” He admits, indeed, that if an individual should alternate from one condition to another, between which no actual connection by way of self-consciousness, memory, or thought could be traced (and, presumably, à fortiori, if both conditions should co-exist and manifest them-themselves by different channels, e.g. by speech and so-called “automatic” writing), we should have a true case of “double Ego.” But he goes on to declare that “no such case, so far as the evidence is as yet sifted and understood, has ever occurred.” It cannot be supposed that a professor of psychology has never come across the evidence; we can, therefore, only suppose that he relies upon the efficacy of his saving clause; for such cases have certainly been reported in abundance, though it may be that the evidence with respect to them is not yet thoroughly “sifted and understood.”

The Philosophy of Mind; an Essay in the Metaphysics of Psychology.

By G. T. Ladd, Professor of Philosophy in the Yale University. (Longmans, Green,. and Co., 1895.)

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DIXON, E. The Philosophy of Mind; an Essay in the Metaphysics of Psychology. Nature 52, 172–173 (1895) doi:10.1038/052172a0

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