MIND, LIFE AND BODY

by     Reginald O. Kapp

PART I - THE PROBLEM IN GENERAL TERMS

Chapter IV - A SUITABLE TERMINOLOGY


A SINGLE word is needed for those things that I have hitherto spoken of, rather cumbrously, as non-material influences. And this is needed whether the dualistic doctrine in which such influences are postulated is true or false. If a doctrine is to be fairly presented, adequately appreciated, even effectively criticised and refuted, its terminology must be first agreed.

Words sometimes to be heard in a sermon and possibly intended to cover what I am now seeking to define, are "higher powers" or "unseen forces". These have a place in theology and ethics, but not here. One objection is that I am not sure whether those who use these terms mean thereby influences with or without location. As I have just said, I do not think that it concerns them to know whether the things that they call higher powers and unseen forces have location or not. And if these terms can be used to mean things that do have location they are quite unsuitable for the present purpose.

Another objection is that in science the word force should be limited to its physical meaning as rate of change of momentum, as something that does have location and belongs to the material part of reality. And a third objection is that the words "higher" and "unseen" are not to be understood literally but metaphorically. In theology and some branches of philosophy this is no objection. But in science it is a grave one. Technical terms must always have only a literal significance.

None of these objections applies to the term "non-material influences", which I have used already and shall continue to use occasionally. But a new term diathete is, I think, better. I have given my reasons in Science versus Materialism* for choosing this word. The theory that mind and life have an existence distinct from that of the material body can conveniently be expressed by saying that they are both diathetes. If monism is right diathetes do not have a real existence; if dualism is right they do.

A word is also needed to define any structure or configuration that, according to the dualistic theory, is doubly determinate. I suggest diatheme. A diatheme any structure or configuration that comes into existence as the combined result of the action of material forces and of a diathete. Those who say that the production of a poem is a doubly determinate event would call the poem a diatheme. Those who say that a non-material mind contributes to the production of a machine would call that machine a diatheme. Those who believe in the effectiveness of non-material minds would apply the same word to all works that result from man's intelligence. If life is a diathete every living thing, every plant, every animal every micro-organism is a diatheme. And those who believe that a spread of pebbles along the sea shore is the result of mere chance, would deny that this configuration was a diatheme. A suitable expression for it would be adiathetous configuration.

So a question that should be added to the eight that have been formulated in Chapter I is this:

Does the universe contain any diathemes or only adiathetous configurations.

Lastly a word is needed for the process by which a diatheme is produced. I shall use diathesis. Literally the word means the process of disposing things to the requirements of a specification. If mind is a diathete, the process of writing a poem (or of writing anything at all) is a diathesis. So is the process of constructing a machine. If life is another diathete, the process of growth in a living organism is a diathesis. On the other hand a process in which things just shake down, unspecified, unguided, like pebbles along the sea shore, is an adiathetous process. Thus the process of pouring reagents into a test tube would be called a diathesis by those who believe that the controlling mind of the chemist is a diathete. But the random movement of the molecules in the reagents would be called an adiathetous movement.

So much for new technical terms. Their significance may not have become apparent yet. It will, I hope, as this investigation proceeds. It will be found that the various arguments that there are both for and against the view that a thing without location ever acts on a thing with location cannot be adequately presented without the use of new technical terms.

* Published by Messrs. Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1940.

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