Abstract by John Kapp



63 page book of the Riddell memorial lectures, given at the University of Durham by Reginald Kapp, published by Oxford University Press 1955

Abstract by his son, John Kapp, 22, Saxon Rd, Hove, BN3 4LE
Tel: 01273 417997,           Email: johnkapp@btinternet.com

The audience for these lectures was predominately a religious one, so believed in the dual nature of reality (matter and spirit) Not many scientists will admit to believing this, as my father did, which was why he was invited to deliver these lectures. The following extracts, italicised, give a flavour of his approach and conclusions.

My theme is the question whether reality in its entirety consists only of the material universe, as is claimed by those philosophers who are called ‘monists’ or whether it consists of two interacting parts, of which one comprises the material universe and the other non-material influences, as is claimed by those philosophers who are called ‘dualists’.

You must be ready to accept to accept the evidence of hard facts, even though the evidence refutes cherished convictions, even though it reverses conclusions that have the sanction of long established tradition. Facts are hard taskmasters. They have to be met with courage, particularly the unwelcome ones, those that threaten our complacency. And it is so much easier to dodge them than to face them. Logic is a still harder taskmaster. It demands that we interpret the facts according to its strict rules, and not according to our inclinations.

The scientific, the austerely intellectual, approach to the nature of reality must inevitably lead occasionally to a conflict between facts and faith. It is sometimes, most oddly said that this is the same thing as a conflict between science and religion. It is taken for granted that the theologian ignores the evidence of facts and bases his view of reality on faith alone, while his materialist opponent is in complete logical conformity with all the facts that science has succeeded in discovering. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is not true that fact-dodging is practised more assiduously by idealists than by materialists, more by dualists than monists. Indeed it can be shown that every one of the sundry ‘isms’ that are or have been fashionable depends for its plausibility on ignoring some obvious facts. Quite a lot of simple faith goes into the making of all the isms, be they idealistic or materialistic.

Materialism is a theory about the nature of matter. It asserts that it can accomplish everything that can be observed or experienced. ‘He (the materialist) sees in material systems the capacity to create order. The laws of physics suffice to explain all those things which the theologian attributes to the laws of God. He says that we consist of nothing but our material bodies, and to think otherwise is a mere delusion. In saying this he implies that matter, among its many accomplishments, has a capacity for entertaining delusions.

But we must realise that the materialists belief in the power of uncontrolled material systems to create order, to plan for the future, to think and feel, to entertain delusions, is really based on pure faith just as much as the theologian’s belief in the omnipotence of his God. The properties that the materialist ascribes to matter are not listed in textbooks on physics. The materialist’s faith is not supported by facts.

I show that there is a contradiction between a number of scientific facts and the materialist’s faith in the power and accomplishments of matter. The contradiction is so complete that every form of monistic philosophy must be discarded. There is no similar unavoidable contradiction between any known facts and a dualistic view of reality. It is arguable that dualism cannot be proved right; it is certain that monism can be proved wrong….I doubt whether monism is bad religion; but I am sure that it is bad science.

There is advantage in having a collective word for the various non-material influences that can have a place in a dualistic philosophy. Such a word should be non-evocative. For this and other reasons I have used the word ‘diathete’

Dualism is the belief that the whole of reality is composed of two parts, one named matter
(defined as everything with location in space) and the other diathetes. Some events are held to happen because these two component parts act on each other. …They act on certain material systems and in doing so produce specific results; the effect is to create order. When the diathete is a mind, for instance, and the material system acted upon is a human body, the result is the person’s controlled behaviour.

How do you know that diathetes exist if they have no physical attributes by which they can be detected? The observation is not conducted by physical means or objective process but by subjective process, by self-knowledge. Subjective experience is real experience and must have a place in a complete view of the nature of reality. The fact that it has no place in the physicist’s world does not prove that it is not real. It proves that the physicist’s world does not comprise the whole of reality….The dividing line separates all living from all lifeless substance. A diathete can exercise direct control over any living substance.

There are cogent, indeed irrefutable reasons for the assumption that some events are random and others are ordered. Matter is, by its nature, incapable of creating order. So only the random events can be attributed to the unaided action of matter on matter. When order is observed, its cause must be some non-material influence, a diathete. As space is inseparable from matter, diathetes cannot have their existence in space.

The notion of a non-material influence without location is probably by far the biggest obstacle to acceptance of any dualistic philosophy.
A number of purely objective facts provides evidence of the reality of the class of diathetes called life. The evidence shows that this diathete exercises so detailed a control over living substance that the arrangement of individual atoms is subjected to a specified order. Except in the rarest instances the diathete life operates completely unconsciously. The exceptions are a small fraction of the activities of man, and perhaps some of the higher animals.

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