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Bertrand Russell: The Analysis of Mind
15. LECTURE XV. CHARACTERISTICS OF MENTAL PHENOMENA
At the end of our journey it is time to return to the question from which we set out, namely: What is it that characterizes mind as opposed to matter? Or, to state the same question in other terms: How is psychology to be distinguished from physics? The answer provisionally suggested at the outset of our inquiry was that psychology and physics are distinguished by the nature of their causal laws, not by their subject matter. At the same time we held that there is a certain subject matter, namely images, to which only psychological causal laws are applicable; this subject matter, therefore, we assigned exclusively to psychology. But we found no way of defining images except through their causation; in their intrinsic character they appeared to have no universal mark by which they could be distinguished from sensations.
In this last lecture I propose to pass in review various suggested methods of distinguishing mind from matter. I shall then briefly sketch the nature of that fundamental science which I believe to be the true metaphysic, in which mind and matter alike are seen to be constructed out of a neutral stuff, whose causal laws have no such duality as that of psychology, but form the basis upon which both physics and psychology are built.
In search for the definition of "mental phenomena," let us begin with "consciousness," which is often thought to be the essence of mind. In the first lecture I gave various arguments against the view that consciousness is fundamental, but I did not attempt to say what consciousness is. We must find a definition of it, if we are to feel secure in deciding that it is not fundamental. It is for the sake of the proof that it is not fundamental that we must now endeavour to decide what it is.
"Consciousness," by those who regard it as fundamental, is taken to be a character diffused throughout our mental life, distinct from sensations and images, memories, beliefs and desires, but present in all of them.* Dr. Henry Head, in an article which I quoted in Lecture III, distinguishing sensations from purely physiological occurrences, says: "Sensation, in the strict sense of the term, demands the existence of consciousness." This statement, at first sight, is one to which we feel inclined to assent, but I believe we are mistaken if we do so. Sensation is the sort of thing of which we MAY be conscious, but not a thing of which we MUST be conscious. We have been led, in the course of our inquiry, to admit unconscious beliefs and unconscious desires. There is, so far as I can see, no class of mental or other occurrences of which we are always conscious whenever they happen.
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