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									           Reid on Causation and Explanation in the Philosophy of Mind


                                  Rebecca Copenhaver
                                 Lewis & Clark College


§1. Reid’s Pessimism

       The latter part of the modern period in philosophy is marked by a deep impression

the new science made on those who, like Hume and Kant, recognized that if philosophy

were to survive, it must do so as a science, a science whose method would have to be

explicitly Newtonian.    Thomas Reid was no less impressed.         According to Reid,

QUOTATION 1: “all our knowledge is confined to body and mind…And to one or

another of these branches, the principles of all the sciences belong.” (EIP 12) The

progress made by the new science on body is indisputable. QUOTATION 2

       …[M]echanics, astronomy and optics…These are really sciences, built
       upon laws of nature which universally obtain. What is discovered in them
       is no longer a matter of dispute: future ages may add to it, but till the
       course of nature be changed, what is already established can never be
       overturned. (IHM 16)

Reid‟s optimism about the physical sciences, however, stands in stark contrast to what

can only be called pessimism about a science of the mind. QUOTATION 3:

       That our philosophy concerning the mind and its faculties, is but in a very
       low state, may be reasonably conjectured, even by those who have never
       narrowly examined it. Are there any principles with regard to the mind,
       settled with that perspicuity and evidence, which attends the principles of
       mechanics, astronomy and optics?…When we turn our attention inward,
       and consider the phaenomena of human thoughts, opinions, and
       perceptions, and endeavor to trace them to the general laws and first
       principles of our constitution, we are immediately involved in darkness
       and perplexity. (IHM 16)

This darkness and perplexity are made worse, according to Reid, by the ideal theory, or

theory of ideas, which posits needless entities – ideas – in the search for causes. Ideas


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that, in the final analysis, are entirely insufficient for explaining the operations and states

of the mind. The theory of ideas leads to something far worse than darkness and

perplexity:   skepticism.    Indeed, the previous section in Reid‟s Inquiry leads to a

crescendo of despair: QUOTATION 4

       Philosophy! daughter of light! parent of wisdom and knowledge! if thou
       are she! surely thou hast not yet arisen upon the human mind, nor blessed
       us with more of thy rays, than are sufficient to shed a darkness visible
       upon the human faculties, and to disturb that repose and security which
       happier mortals enjoy, who never approached thine altar, nor felt thine
       influence! But if indeed thou hast not the power to dispel those clouds and
       phantoms which thou hast discovered or created, withdraw this penurious
       and malignant ray; I despise Philosophy, and renounce its guidance: let
       my soul dwell with Common Sense. (IHM 18)

Strong words. And yet it appears that Reid‟s pessimism with regard to applying the

methods of the new science to the mysteries of the mind is not simply located in his

criticism of the theory of ideas. QUOTATION 5

       But, whatever be the nature of those impressions upon the organs, nerves,
       and brain, we perceive nothing without them. Experience informs that it is
       so; but we cannot give a reason why it is so. In the constitution of man,
       perception, by fixed laws of nature, is connected with those impressions;
       but we can discover no necessary connection. The Supreme Being has
       seen fit to limit our power of perception; so that we perceive not without
       such impressions; and this is all we know of the matter. (EIP 76)

It looks as though Reid thinks that there is something special about the mind itself such

that it is, as Reid says, QUOTATION 6 “hid in impenetrable darkness” (EIP 326a).

Nicholas Wolterstorff interprets Reid‟s mysterianism not as pessimism but as a kind of

Christian humility, which he lauds. (Wolterstorff: 2001: 261) James Harris accepts

Wolterstorff‟s mysterian interpretation of Reid and differs only in being dissatisfied, as I

would be, with such humility. (Forthcoming)




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        I shall diverge both from Wolterstorff and Harris by arguing that Reid does not

hold that the mind, unlike body, is fundamentally resistant to explanation by the new

science. I will not dispute that Reid repeatedly states that the causes of the operations of

the mind, such as perception and conception, are inexplicable. It is Reid‟s position, as

Wolterstorff writes, that QUOTATION 7 “When we have dug down to the deepest

stratum of our human understanding, what confronts us is mystery.”           (Wolterstorff:

2000: 213) I will argue that, according to Reid, the same is true of the deepest stratum of

the material world. For Reid, the mind is no more mysterious than the body. The

physical sciences have progressed while the science of the mind has foundered because

physical scientists, unlike philosophers, have given up the vain search for causes. Such

an understanding of Reid allows us to square his pessimism with the fact that he spent

much of his life in the pursuit of a science of mind and with his repeated, but often

overlooked, optimism about such a science.



§ 2. Reid’s Account of Causation

        On first glance, Reid‟s theory of causation appears straightforwardly Humean.

Reid agrees with Hume, for example, that causation proper is not an object of sense.

QUOTATION 8 “Causation is not an object of sense. The only experience we can have

of it, is in the consciousness we have of exerting some power in ordering our thoughts

and actions.”    (EIP 499) Reid also follows Hume in making a distinction between

causation proper, and a loose and popular sense of causation as constant conjunction.

Such regularity is an sensible fact, but causation itself is not.

        However, unlike Hume, Reid holds that we do indeed have an idea of causation

proper, even though causation is not an object of sense. We gain this idea, instead, by


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observing our own active powers. According to Reid, one of the original principles of

our constitution is that every effect has an efficient cause. QUOTATION 9 “The second

metaphysical principle [of necessary truths] I mention is, That whatever begins to exist,

must have a cause which produced it.” (EIP 497) Reid holds that this principle is a

necessary, rather than contingent truth, and as such it is not discoverable by observation,

since he holds that no necessary truths are discoverable by observation. Reid‟s first

principles are regulative, that is, they are the general rules and conditions by which the

mind operates. The principle that every effect has an efficient cause does not by itself

provide us with an idea of causation – the principles themselves are rarely objects of our

attention and function instead as laws that, in particular circumstances, generate

particular ideas and conceptions. Although we are not born with an idea of causation

proper, we are born with a principle of the mind that guarantees that when we observe

our earliest, instinctive exertions – say, exerting our will to reach for a shiny thing – and

observe the effects of such exertions – say, grabbing the shiny thing – we will form the

idea of our own active power of exertion as a cause. QUOTATION 10

       I am rather inclined to think that our first exertions are instinctive, without
       any distinct conception of the event that is to follow, consequently without
       will to produce the event. And when we know or believe that the event
       depends upon our exertion, we have the conception of power in ourselves
       to produce that event.
               This account of the origin of our conception of power, makes it to
       be the fruit of experience and not innate; though it must be as early as any
       deliberate voluntary exertion to produce a certain event. (OP 3)
               Thus I think it appears that, from our own active exertions, we very
       early get the conception of active power, and of an efficient cause. (OP 8)

       Why does this regularity, and not, for example, the regularity of billiard balls give

us an idea of causality? According to Reid, only agents may be causes, because only

agents possess the property of an active power to produce a effect. When we observe our



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earliest exertions, we observe a property of ourselves, namely active power, by which we

are causes. A cause is a substance with the property of having an active power to

produce an effect. QUOTATION 11:

       But let it be observed that by a cause I mean only an efficient cause which
       by its active power produces the effect. (OP 9)
       The word „cause‟ is not only as ambiguous as the word „power‟ but has a
       very near relation to it. And perhaps if we were to give a general
       definition of it, we might say that a cause is that which has power to
       produce the effect. If in this definition the word „power‟ be taken in all its
       latitude, I apprehend the definition may apply to everything that is called a
       cause as well as the…principle of change. (OP 6-7)

According to this conception of causality, only substances that have active powers, that

is, only substances with wills, may be causes. SEE QUOTATION 12 These substances

are immaterial. When we speak of the cue ball causing the eight ball to fall into the

corner pocket, or of gravity causing the book to fall, we are speaking only

metaphorically. QUOTATION 13:

       A man‟s power is measured by what he can do if he will…In this sense,
       which I take to be the only proper sense of the word, it is evident that a
       being which has no will can have no power. And when we impute power
       to dead matter it must be understood in some popular or analogical, and
       not in the proper sense. Power in the proper sense is under the command
       of him who has the power, and we cannot infer the act from the power
       because there is no necessary connection between them. (OP 10-11)

       Body, unlike mind, is, Reid writes, QUOTATION 14 “a dead inactive thing” (EIP

215). Minds – immaterial substances – are the only proper causes. Reid‟s position that

only agents may be causes leads him to a radically non-necessitarian account of

causation. An agent is a cause only insofar as the agent possesses an active power to

produce or not produce an effect by an exertion of will, and such a power requires a kind

of liberty incompatible with necessity. Causation in the metaphorical sense is a mere

regularity, and we take this regularity to be necessary, and in a sense on which I will



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elaborate below, it is.   However, causation proper, as agent causation, is always a

contingent relation between agents as causes and effects as the free exertions of an active

power of that agent. QUOTATION 15

       Another difference between the power that is properly so called and that
       which is not, is that the first implies no necessary connection with the act.
       Because a man has the power of walking it does not follow that he walks
       at this moment; on the contrary, a power to walk implies a power not to
       walk…For power properly so called is inconsistent with necessity. On the
       contrary the powers which we ascribe to inanimate things are always
       conjoined with necessity, and must, without a miracle, be exerted to their
       utmost whenever circumstances concur which by the laws of nature are
       necessary to their exertion. (OP 11)

       The so-called „powers‟ that we ascribe to material objects are simply particular

instances of general laws of nature, the sorts of things discovered by Galileo, Newton,

Boyle and the other new scientists. The laws of nature cannot themselves be causes

because they are not agents, but we call them causes because they serve an explanatory

purpose. When we discover the laws of nature, we may not learn the causes of

phenomena but we do learn the rules by which phenomena proceed. When we say that

gravity causes a book to fall, we do not intend to use the proper sense of the term

„causation‟ but only intend to refer to the law of nature of which the book‟s falling is an

instance. QUOTATION 16:

       By the cause of a phenomenon, nothing is meant but the law of nature, of
       which that phenomenon is an instance, or a necessary consequence. The
       cause of a body‟s falling to the ground is its gravity. But gravity is not an
       efficient cause, but a general law, that obtains in nature, of which law the
       fall of this body is a particular instance…In natural philosophy, therefore,
       we seek only the general laws, according to which nature works, and these
       we call the causes of what is done according to them. But such laws
       cannot be the efficient cause of anything. They are only the rule according
       to which the efficient cause operates. (L 57)




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       If causes themselves are not necessary, are the laws of nature by which causes

operate necessary? Reid writes that the powers we ascribe to material objects, unlike

active powers, are “conjoined with necessity” and must be “exerted to their utmost”.

According to Reid, if Newton has correctly captured laws of nature, and Reid thinks he

has, and if those laws of nature are in force, then when I drop a book, and nothing is in its

way, it must, necessarily, fall. Here it looks as though we have a remarkably Kantian

picture of two realms: a material realm ruled by necessity and an immaterial realm that

operates freely as a first and only cause.

       It is necessary, according to Reid, that if a particular law of nature holds, then

instances of that law will hold of necessity in the relevant circumstances. However,

according to Reid, that the laws of nature that govern the actual world hold, is itself not

necessary. The laws could have been otherwise than they are, and could, on some other

possible world, be otherwise than they are. Reid‟s non-necessitarianism extends beyond

his account of agent causation to his account of the laws of nature as well. That this

should be so is evident from Reid‟s position that the laws of nature are merely the rules

by which agent causation manifests itself, albeit the causation of a very special agent.

The laws of nature are mere conventions, but they are God‟s conventions. QUOTATION

17:

       The physical laws of nature are the rules according to which the Deity
       commonly acts in his natural government of the world; and whatever is
       done according to them, is not done by man, but by God, either
       immediately or by instruments under his direction. These laws of nature
       neither restrain the power of the Author of nature, nor bring him under any
       obligation to do nothing beyond their sphere. He has sometimes acted
       contrary to them, in the case of miracles, and, perhaps often acts without
       regard to them, in the ordinary course of his providence. Neither



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       miraculous events, which are contrary to the physical laws of nature, nor
       such ordinary acts of the Divine administration as are without their sphere,
       are impossible, nor are they effects without a cause. (EAP 628)

       The proper object of science, including philosophy, is to discover the laws of

nature, the laws by which God exerts his active power on the world. Since these laws are

the conventions set up by a purely free will, they cannot be necessary.



§ 3. Reid’s Newtonianism

       Reid‟s first principles are regulative conditions for the functioning of the human

mind. They cannot be undermined by reason, for example, because reason itself is

regulated by them; it presupposes them. They are also productive rules. For example,

the first principle that QUOTATION 18 “those things do really exist which we distinctly

perceive by our senses, and are what we perceive them to be” (EIP 476) is a law of our

constitution that generates a belief in the present existence of objects of perception.

However, because the first principles reliably regulate a properly functioning human

mind in normal circumstances, they will generate errors if, for instance, the mind is

damaged, or if circumstances fail to be normal. Such errors are, Reid thinks, perfectly

natural and to be expected of any system that functions according to such general rules.

QUOTATION 19:

       These [errors] are such as beset the whole human species; so that every
       man is in danger of them. They arise from principles of the human
       constitution which are highly useful and necessary in our present state;
       but, by their excess or defect, or wrong direction, may lead us into error.
       (EIP 528)

       The first principles of our constitution, such as the principle of sufficient reason

and the principle of induction lead all of us – children, the vulgar and philosophers alike




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– into very particular fallacies. For example, the principle of sufficient reason can lead to

animism. Upon observing our own active power some are lead to attribute active powers

to inanimate objects because by a law of our constitution we know there must be some

cause, some substance with active power, for every effect. These errors seep into our

very language. We say things like “The ball hit me”. As a result, the very notion of a

cause becomes corrupted. QUOTATION 20

       We are early conscious of some power in ourselves to produce some
       events; and our nature leads us to think that every event is produced by a
       power similar to that which we find in ourselves – that is, by will and
       exertion: when a weight falls and hurts a child, he is angry with it – he
       attributes power and will to everything that seems to act. Language is
       formed by these early sentiments, and attributes action and power to things
       that are afterwards discovered to have neither will nor power. By this
       means, the notion of action and power is gradually changed…(L 75b)

This is a common mistake, made by ordinary people, and is remedied by a little

philosophy. Unfortunately, according to Reid, the cure here is worse than the disease.

Philosophers know that billiard balls have no free, active powers, but they continue to

regard billiard balls as causes, causes that operate not by active power but by necessity.

Animism cured leads to atheism. The principle of sufficient reason leads philosophers

into further error when, upon observing the regularities in nature, we search for their

causes. This desire to know the causes of phenomena is as natural to humans as a desire

for water, and this QUOTATION 21 “avidity to know the causes of things is the parent of

all philosophy true and false.” (EIP 101) The desire for causes prompts us to posit

theoretical entities – ideas, for example – for which we have no evidence. Our natural

tendencies lead us to one of QUOTATION 22 “the most copious sources of error in

philosophy…the misapplication of our noblest intellectual power to purposes for which it

is incompetent.” (EIP 534). We are fundamentally unable to know any causes except



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ourselves, and our causal powers are not responsible for the phenomena whose causes we

seek.   This holds not only for the causes of our mental operations – perception,

conception, memory – but for all of the causes sought in the material and immaterial

world. QUOTATION 23

        What has been said of this, may be applied to every phenomenon that falls
        within the compass of natural philosophy. We deceive ourselves if we
        conceive that we can point out the real efficient cause of any one of them.
        (EAP 527a)

        It took Newton and the other new scientists to design a scientific method that

avoids these natural fallacies. The new method does not search for causes, but begins by

observing real facts and formulates laws of nature using induction. These laws are then

used to explain phenomena. These laws are explanations not because they are causes, but

because they are general descriptions of regularities. QUOTATION 24

        Sir Isaac Newton…resolves the whole science of physics into two
        problems. The first, from the phenomena of nature to discover by
        induction the laws of nature. The second, from the laws of nature to
        explain or account for the phenomena of nature…Former authors ancient
        and modern not excepting Francis Bacon, have conceived it to be the
        province of physics to discover the causes of the phenomena of
        nature…According to Newton, when physics shall be carried to the utmost
        perfection, there would not be found in the whole science such a
        conception as that of a cause; nothing but laws of nature, which are
        general facts grounded on experience, and phenomena which are
        particular facts, included in the more general, and consequent upon them.
        Some indeed call the laws of nature, ‘causes’. But surely no man that
        thinks can believe that laws of nature can produce any phenomenon unless
        there be some agent that puts the law in execution. (OP 7) (italics added)
        (see also EAP 527)

        According to Reid, a perfected science is one that searches for laws of nature

alone and does not search for causes. This science is bound by two Newtonian strictures:

first, posit no theoretical causes – only observable causes; and second, posit only those

causes that are sufficient to explain the phenomenon in question.i It is clear, from the



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previous quotation, that Reid is using „causes‟ here in the metaphorical sense. By „cause‟

he means a law of nature, which we have seen, is not strictly speaking a cause at all. The

physical sciences have progressed towards perfection because they have undergone the

necessary revolution; they no longer search for causes. Reid uses Galileo‟s law of the

uniform velocity of falling bodies and Newton‟s law of gravitation as examples of

complete explanations of phenomena.ii        These explanations appeal to no causes

whatsoever; the laws themselves are not causes, and Newton himself, Reid claims, was

well aware that gravity is not a cause. QUOTATION 25

       The grandest discovery ever made in natural philosophy, was that of the
       law of gravitation, which opens such a view of our planetary system that it
       looks like something divine. But the author of this discovery was
       perfectly aware, that he discovered no real cause, but only a law or rule,
       according to which the unknown cause operates. (EAP 527)

       When NEWTON had shown the admirable effects of gravitation in our
       planetary system, he must have felt a strong desire to know its cause. He
       could have invented a hypothesis for this purpose, as many had done
       before him. But his philosophy was of another complexion. Let us hear
       what he says: trans. „I have not as yet been able to deduce from
       phenomena the reasons for the property of gravity, and I do not feign
       hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be
       called a hypothesis; and hypothesis, whether metaphysical or physical, or
       based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental
       philosophy.‟ Newton, Mathematical Principles, General Scholium, p.
       943. (EIP 51-52)

       But while the physical sciences provide complete, satisfactory explanations, the

science of the mind is foundering. It is foundering not because the mind is mysterious,

but because it is still searching for causes, and causes, be they causes of material or

immaterial phenomena, are mysterious. The science of the mind has not undergone the

necessary Newtonian revolution. The theory of ideas in particular falls badly afoul of the




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two Newtonian strictures: ideas are the theoretical entities, not observed entities, and

they are insufficient to explain mental phenomena, for example intentionality.

       James Harris has suggested that Reid may have thought there was indeed a special

problem for a science of the mind independent of its unwillingness to adopt Newtonian

methods. Harris appeals to Reid‟s repeated insistence that we cannot discover any

necessary connections in the perceptual process. QUOTATION 26

       What Reid is claiming is that, even when loose talk of causes which don‟t
       have intellect and wills is allowed, it is still incorrect to talk of causal
       relations between sensations and perceptions. It is incorrect to talk that
       way because we do not understand the laws which govern those relations.
       Since we cannot „discover the cause‟ of any of the „train of operations‟
       involved in perception, nor discover „any necessary connection of one
       with another‟, the proper conclusion is that these operations are „only
       conjoined in our constitution by the will of Heaven‟. Reid appears to be
       saying that we do not understand these laws connecting sensations and
       perceptions because no such laws exist. (Harris, 9, forthcoming)

       Reid does in fact hold that no necessary laws govern the relations in perception.

But Reid also holds that no necessary laws govern any part of nature, material or

immaterial. That the law of gravitation holds is as equally governed by the „will of

Heaven‟ as is the law that sensations immediately suggest conceptions of and beliefs

about material objects and qualities. Reid repeatedly calls the relations involved in the

perceptual process laws of nature.iii QUOTATION 27

       The smell of a rose [a sensation] is a certain affection or feeling of the
       mind; and, as it is not constant, but comes and goes, we want to know
       when and where we may expect it; and are uneasy till we find something
       which, being present, brings this feeling along with it, and, being removed,
       removes it. This, when found, we call the cause of it; not in a strict and
       philosophical sense, as if the feeling were really effected or produced by
       that cause, but in a popular sense; for the mind is satisfied if there is a
       constant conjunction; and such causes are in reality nothing else but laws
       of nature. (IHM 112b-113a)




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       It is a law of our nature, established by the will of the Supreme Being, that
       we perceive no external object but by means of the organs given us for
       that purpose…It is likewise a law of our nature, that we perceive not
       external objects, unless certain impressions be made upon the organ, and
       by means of the organ upon the nerves and brain. But of the nature of
       those impressions we are perfectly ignorant; and though they are
       conjoined with perception by the will of our Maker, yet it does not appear
       that they have any necessary connection with it in their own nature, far
       less that they can be the proper efficient cause of it. We perceive, because
       God has given us the power of perceiving, and not because we have
       impressions from objects. (EIP 95)

Furthermore, Reid holds that the very purpose of philosophy to discover the laws that

regulate the interplay between body and mind: QUOTATION 28

       The body and mind operate on each other, according to fixed laws of
       Nature; and it is the business of a Philosopher to discover those laws by
       observation and experiment: But, when he has discovered them, he must
       rest in them as facts, whose cause is inscrutable to the human
       understanding. (EIP 283)

       Perhaps the difference between the laws the govern the material world and the

laws that govern the mind and its relations with body rests in their generality. Perhaps no

law governing perception, for example, can be as general as the law of gravitation. The

law of gravitation holds of all middle sized physical objects; we need no special theory of

why rocks fall that is independent of a theory of why leaves fall. But it looks as though

the laws that hold between material objects and impressions, impressions and sensations

and sensations and perceptions, hold with equal generality: SEE QUOTATION 29

       When we perceive an object by our senses, there is, first, some impression
       made by the object upon the organ of sense, either immediately, or by
       means of some medium. By this, an impression is made upon the brain,
       in consequence of which we feel some sensation. (EIP 339b-240a)

       How a sensation should instantly make us conceive and believe the
       existence of an external thing altogether unlike it, I do not pretend to know;
       and when I say that the one suggests the other, I mean not to explain the
       manner of their connection, but to express a fact, which everyone may be




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         conscious of – namely, that, by a law of our nature, such a conception and
         belief constantly and immediately follow the sensation. (IHM 74)


We need no special theory of how furry objects make impressions, and how those

impressions occasion furry sensations, and how those furry sensations signify a furry

object by suggesting a conception of a furry thing and belief in the present existence of

the furry thing, independent of a theory of how this process works when the object is

spiky, smooth or wavy.



§ 4. Reid’s Naturalism


         Reid‟s apparent mysterianism is just that, apparent. The mystery we confront

when examining the mind is the same mystery we confront when examining the motions

of middle sized physical objects.     Our humility, or discomfort, with respect to the

mystery may be more pronounced in the science of the mind than it is in the physical

sciences, but it is self-imposed. It is self-imposed because we are reluctant use the

Newtonian method employed by physical scientists when we philosophize about the

mind.     I would like to conclude by speculating on whether Reid would regard

contemporary philosophy of mind as having transcended this self-imposed limitation. I

think he would not, but for different reasons than he had for criticizing the theory of

ideas.

         I suspect that we are tempted to interpret Reid in a mysterian light because we

assume that, given that Reid is a dualist, he must regard material and immaterial

substances as operating under very different laws and thus requiring very different modes

of investigation. Recall the Kantian interpretation given earlier of a material world



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governed by necessity and an immaterial world governed by liberty, and recall that this

interpretation was misleading – Reid is a non-necessitarian, so to speak, all the way

down. The material world is no more governed by necessity than the immaterial world.

Both material and immaterial substances are governed by contingent laws of nature, and

the laws of nature form one, unified system. QUOTATION 30

       The whole system of bodies in the Universe, of which we know but a very
       small part, may be called the Material World; the whole system of minds,
       from the infinite Creator to the meanest creature endowed with thought,
       may be called the Intellectual World. These are the two great kingdoms of
       nature that fall within our notice. (EAP 11)

       Unlike many contemporary philosophers, Reid would not have regarded an

immaterial mind as an unnatural mind. Reid‟s position is foreign from our perspective:

he is a scientistic, naturalist, dualist. He is a scientistic naturalist in the sense that he

regards both mind and body as wholly natural and wholly explicable by the same science

– a natural science that proceeds from observation. QUOTATION 31

       As all that we can know of the mind must be derived from a careful
       observation of its operations in ourselves; so all that we can know of the
       material system must be derived from what can be discovered from our
       senses. (EAP 120)

       At the end of “What It‟s Like to Be Bat”, Thomas Nagel suggests two possible

philosophical reactions to the explanatory gap. The first is mysterianism. The second is

a reform in our understanding of the meaning of science and naturalism, an understanding

that might leave room for a non-physicalist scientific naturalism. Reid would not have

chosen mysterianism. Long before Nagel called for this reform in our understanding,

Reid presented a vision of a non-physicalist, unified, explanatory, natural science of body

and mind.




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§ 5. Conclusion

       If we visit once again Reid‟s florid condemnation of philosophy in the opening

pages of his Inquiry, “if indeed thou hast not power to dispel those clouds and phantoms

which thou hast discovered or created, withdraw this penurious and malignant ray; I

depise Philosophy, and renounce its guidance: let my soul dwell with Common Sense”

we find that his condemnation is conditional, and after it, he writes: QUOTATION 32:

“But instead of despising the dawn of light, we ought rather to hope for its increase.”

(IHM 18) Reid‟s pessimism is superficial, it masks a genuine hope that philosophy and

the physical sciences may once again become unified.




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