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ARTICLE IV.-PAUL JANET ON FINAL CAUSES.
M. JANET'S "Final Causes" is, beyond a doubt, a most important work, and, indeed, an almost epoch-making book in Natural Theology. It has attracted much attention from all classes of thinkers, scientific, philosophic and theologic, and has already taken its place as a standard work on the subject. The book was first issued in the original French in 1876, and in the second and revised edition was translated into English by William Affleck and published in Great Britain, and this translation has quite recently been published in this country. In style it is marked by that perfect limpidity and transparency which is almost peculiar to French writers. As to originality, while it is plain that M. Janet has read very widely, it is also plain that the work is no patch-work, no crude and hasty com. pilation, but a carefully wrought out system. He has been much influenced by Leibnitz and later German philosophers. He is also, of course, much indebted to French writers, Bossuet, Fenelon, and later ones. He has also drawn somewhat from English sources, specially Newton, Clark, and Paley.
As to general method and spirit, M. Janet's work is not a polemic, but a philosophical examination and discussion of the subject, and it is conducted throughout with the greatest calm ness and candor. Objections are put and answered somewhat after the Platonic style. The argument is closely knit and thorough. Not a corner but is searched, and there is everywhere the evidence of scrupulous thoroughness, which seems at times almost fastidious. The author does not heap up facts of adaptation after the manner of the Bridgewater Treatises ; but he is concerned in applying a philosophical dialectic to the principle of final causes, to the discussion of the question whether or not the principle of inferring design from adaptation is a valid one, and, as the author expresses it, this is accomplished by “what the English call cross examination."
"The present work," he says, “is not altogether of the same kind as those of which I have just spoken,” (referring to Bridgewater Treatises," "Duke of Argyle's Reign of Law, and Professor Flint's Theism." It is not a treatise of natural theology, but an analytical and critical treatise on the principle of Final Causes itself. Different times require different efforts. Philosophy has, in our days assumed a new aspect. On the one hand, the development of the sciences of nature, which more and more tends to subject the phenomena of the universe to a mechanical concatenation, on the other hand the development of the critical and idealist philosophy that had its center in Germany at the commencement of this century, and which has had its counterpart even in Scotland with Hamilton and Ferrier, and in fine, the progress of the spirit of inquiry in all departments, bave rendered necessary a revision of the problem. The principles themselves must be subjected to criticism. At the present day the mere adding of facts to facts no longer suffices to prove the existence of a design in nature, however useful for the rest that work may still be. The real difficulty is in the interpretation of these facts, the question is regarding the principle itself. . This principle I have endeavored to criticise. I have sought its foundations, authority, limits, and sig: nification, by confronting it with the data and the condition of modern science, as well as with the doctrine of the boldest and most recent metaphysics.” (pp. iv., v.)
The treatise is divided into two books, the first of which treats of the phenomena of finality, and the second, of the cause of finality. Herein is a division of labor in teleology which has been little, if ever, regarded by other writers, and which is considered by M. Janet as of great importance. He says:
"This inquiry divides itself into two problems: 1st. Is finality a law of nature ? 2d. What is the cause of that law?
These two questions are quite distinct, and much obscurity arises from having confounded them. We will treat them sep. arately in two different books." (p. 13.)
M. Janet seeks to show in the first book that there are phenomena in nature characterized by "adaptation to the future, " as, for example, the wing of a bird is in forming adapted to a future action, flight. Such phenomena are not sufficiently explained by physical causation, and we must consider not only
the cause as influencing its effect, but also the effect as influencing its cause either by ideal design or otherwise. We must read organic phenomena not only forward-efficient causation --but backward-final causation—that is, in such phenomena not only does the past control the future, but in some way the future also controls the past. In short, to show that there are means and ends in nature, not only in organic, but also in inorganic nature, that is to show that "finality is a law of nature," this is the object of the first book. In the second book M. Janet seeks to show in what way the ends in nature control the means, that it is not an unconscious instinctive operation, like that of a beaver building a dam, but conscious and intelligent, comparable to the action of an architect building a house. The “first cause" of the law of finality--the law that there are means and ends in nature as well as causes and effects, that the future controls the past, as well as the past the future-is shown to be a Personal Intelligence. To acknowledge finality is one thing, and to acknowledge the cause of finality as lying in the ideal design of an intelligent Being is another thing. One may thus be a teleologist, yet not a theistic teleologist, as witness, for example, Hegel and Hartman.
Mr. James Sully, in a notice of the “Final Causes,” in Mind for January, 1877, disparages this distinction, and asserts that even M. Janet does not keep to it. He says that design is meaningless unless it means “ideal pre-representation." On pages 61 and 92 the author does indeed state “ideal pre-representation” as the method of finality, and in the first instance certainly as being a formal statement of the law of finality, it ought to have been made broader and included unconscious finality. However it is plain from the whole tenor of the first book, and from such passages as on pages 11, 103, 124, 187, etc., that M. Janet does recognize the distinction, and keeps to it, as much as is necessary.
We think that Mr. Sully's criticism on this point is a failure, and Professor Flint, in his preface to the translation, strikes keenly at another criticism which Mr. Sully makes in this same notice.
We can only consider in this paper the first book by way of ex position and criticism.
In the preliminary chapter on the problem of final causes, the author briefly discusses and sets aside the notion of finality as an a priori truth. We think that this portion is hardly as thorough and satisfactory as it might be; but we simply give his conclusion. The idea of efficient cause is plainly, he says, a necessary and universal truth, but not so the conception of final cause.
“Doubtless the human mind can apply the idea of finality even to the preceding cases, and for example, believe that it is for an unknown end that there are mountains, volcanoes, monsters, and so on. I do not deny that it can, I say only that it is not forced to it, as it is in the case of causality properly socalled. Finality in these different cases is for it only a means of conceiving things, a hypothesis which pleases and satisfies it, a subjective point of view, to which it can abandon itself, as it can refuse to do so; or else the consequence of a doctrine which is believed true. On the other hand, causality is a necessary law of the mind, an objective law of all phenomena without exception, a law necessary and everywhere verified by the constant reproduction of phenomena under the same conditions, in a word, to employ the expression of Kant, finality in the examples cited is only a regulative principle, causality is always a constitutive principle.” (pp. 6, 7.)
M. Janet believes that finality "is a law of nature, obtained by observation and induction ;" and he closes the chapter with that statement of the problem as two-fold which we have already quoted. The first book begins with a chapter on the principle of final
He here seeks to show in a general way the insufficiency of any theory of chance or mechanical causation to satisfactorily explain concordance of phenomena to a future phenomenon. The argument may be put briefly in this way: We see certain effects-e. g., human stomach, eye, etc.- which are characterized by "adaptation to the future.” A future operation, viz: digestion is to be performed, and an organ for performing that operation is prepared in nature by coördinating numberless indefinite eledients into the definite result, a stomach. The question then is, how, out of an infinitude of possible combinations, there results this definite effect, a human
stomach, performing a definite work, digestion. The only comprehensible way of answering this question is to acknowl. edge that in some way the effect has influenced the causes, circumscribing and selecting to itself, that is, there bas been finality. Whether the influencing of the causes by the effect bas come about by foreseen plan or blindly is not now to be considered, but is to be discussed in the second book. M. Janet, referring to the examples adduced of the stomach, eye, etc., thus clearly summarizes this view :
* From these examples it is clear what we mean by the de. termination of the present by the future. We will choose in each function its essential and characteristic phenomenon (for instance, in nutrition, assimilation, in respiration, the oxygenation of the blood, etc.). We will commence by considering this phenomenon as a simple result of the properties of organized matter; that is what we call the future phenomenon. Meanwbile, in studying the condition of the production of this phenomenon, we shall find that there must be, in order to produce it, an enormous mass of coincidences, all landing in precisely the same result. This we call the harmony of the phenomena with the future. Now, bow would so many diverse causes happen to converge to the self-same point if there were not some cause which directed them towards that point? Such is the succession of ideas in virtue of which the result becomes an end." (p. 42.)
This chapter is thus a general demonstration of the principle of finality upon the basis of the principle of causality. Accepting causality as a valid principle, we are bound in apply. ing it to certain cases at least, phenomena of organic nature, to come to the theory of finality. In the chapters which follow the validity of this way of inferring is discussed with reference to the facts of nature, the industry of man, and the theories of evolution.
The arrangement of the chapters in the first book after the first chapter is not clearly indicated, and, in fact, there seems to be a misplacing. The second chapter is concerned with the Facts, and this is followed by a chapter on the Industry of Man and the Industry of Nature. Then there is a chapter on Organ and Function, followed by a chapter on the Contrary