from Power, Form, and Mind by Arthur Berndtson (1981) Lewisburg, Bucknell University Press; London and Toronto: Associated University Press

 

4. Power

 

1. The Meaning of Power

The discussion of change in the preceding chapter was a morphology and not an aetiology of change, to use the terms applied by Schopenhauer in another context. The discussion set forth the nature of change but did not consider the cause of change. The major thesis of this book is that the cause of change is power. Change and power have a reciprocal relationship. The being of change depends on the being of power, as this chapter will attempt to show in some detail. And the meaning of power depends on that of change. In a domain entirely alien to change there would be no reason to inquire into power. Eternal and timeless universals and relations of universals would have no beginning and no operation to require power, and they would face no threat of destruction to be met with power. The same would be true of infinite mind similarly described, if it is timeless and not everlasting; and if it had power, but remained changeless by hypothesis, it would have no service from the power, whether to feel and think, or to create and govern the world. It will appear presently that power divorced from change is almost a contradiction in terms, since power tends inherently toward change and is restrained only by contrary power with the same inherent tendency; for infinite mind coupled with infinite power, the divorce would be self-contradictory, since there could be no contrary power. (83)

To develop the thesis that power is the cause of change, change will be considered under the type of positional change in space, or motion. Formal change is more complex than motion: it presupposes motion and adds to the apparatus of power and motion further requirements which will be considered in the chapter on creativity. (83)

Before power is analyzed in detail, some distinctions of level can be made, which may prevent unnecessary ambiguity. "Power as such" will refer to the basic and universal nature of power, a being particular and concrete located equally and indifferently in each of the succeeding levels. It is formless, though in many of its locations it is associated with form. Primordial power is one, presumably infinite, interpenetrating in a primitive space, and formless. It is the logically first level of power, due to its simplicity. It is the analogue of matter uniformly dispersed, as in a nebula of sufficient simplicity and rarity. Whether power in the primordial mode has being, or is merely a logical and ideal limit, is not a matter on which this chapter makes any judgment. Finite power is many and spatially distinct; it occurs prior to form and in association with form, as in bodies and in feelings; when referred to simply as "finite power," it is considered as prior to form or in abstraction from any form it may have. When power or powers are referred to in this chapter, without further qualification, the referent will be a finite power or finite powers, prior to form. Physical power is power differentiated according to the forms appropriate to the several kinds of physical energy or force, such as electricity, magnetism, gravitation, and heat. Bodies are physical powers formed spatially with shape, size, and fixed or rigid boundaries; they are particles or unions of particles. Feelings are powers formed under the generic form of consciousness; they reveal within themselves finite power but not bodies or physical powers; they are regarded in this book as dependent upon the latter proximately and upon finite powers ultimately. Power formed physically, materially, and mentally will be considered in later chapters. (84)

In this section the analysis of power will be made with two initial terms, finite power and change. Although based on materials from ordinary experience, the analysis will be dialectical in procedure, assembling concepts for a coherent and sufficient account of the meaning of "power." The problem of the reality of power will be taken up in a later section. (84)

The meaning of power begins with the conception of power as cause in relation to change. Following Bergson, the two major conceptions of causality can be labeled dynamical and statical. (84)

The dynamical conception asserts that the cause has an efficacy by which it produces the effect; since the productive efficacy is sufficient to constitute a causal relationship, the theory does not depend on uniformity in the relationship, and may assert it or not do so. The statical conception denies productive efficacy and asserts uniformity or law in the relationship as the meaning of causality. It is clear that power as cause falls under the dynamical label: power has productive efficacy and it alone supplies meaning to that phrase. In the usual application of the dynamical theory, causes and effects are bodies or feelings, which consist of forms conjoined with obscure instances of power; the forms are epiphenomena of the powers and signs of each other; and the transition from one form to another is effected by the underlying powers. At the present highly general level of discussion, formed beings and multiple powers are not yet in view. What are involved are a given finite power, a given positional change without form or in abstraction from form, and a causal relation between them. The power is the productive cause of the positional change, or motion. The relation also conforms, to some extent at least, to the uniformity of connection asserted by the statical theory. Finite power is uniformly connected with change, as the ensuing analysis will show, except when prevented by contrary power. Lacking such contrariety, primordial power is always engaged in change. Whether a given finite power is always followed by a given motion will be discussed later, as will the question of necessity in the causal relationship . (85)

Causes may be classed as transitive causes and originative causes. A transitive cause requires for its causal function that it be the effect of a preceding cause, which may have the same requirement in indefinite regress. An originative cause is the source of its causal function and does not require a preceding cause for that role, though it may still require another cause for its being. Statical causes generally are transitive causes, since nothing distinctive is claimed for the cause in relation to the effect and the emphasis is on the de facto uniformity of relation; an exception occurs if the statical theory is accompanied by a claim that the effect can be deduced by reason from the cause. A dynamical cause properly understood in regard to power is an originative cause of motion. The sufficient cause of the motion in question is the finite power, which contains in itself, as power, all that is needed to produce the motion. This thesis of originative causation will not be extended to forms produced by powers, as a later discussion will show. As originative cause of motion, power will be called the source of motion. (85, 86)

The deficiency of the factor of cause or source in the relation of power to motion is that causes and effects ordinarily are thought to have some degree of separateness from each other. The separateness occurs in space in the partial or complete impenetrability of bodies and in action at significant distance. It occurs in time in the frequent assumption of temporal succession between cause and effect, which involves a gap in time no matter how small it may be. It occurs in nature by the identification of causes and effects by their respective associated forms, which are determinate and thus mutually bounded. Power as cause is related to change more intimately than the bare notion of source indicates. The first token of this intimacy is the factor of ground: power is the ground of the effect, or motion. Like soil in relation to a plant, power underlies the motion and remains with it in continuing support. But a ground transcends its effect, and power does not have that degree of separateness from the motion. To the notion of ground must be added that of immanence, so that the power penetrates the effect without losing its distinctive nature. Power does not transcend change but is immanent in it. It produces change not by a rupture of essential detachment, but by an inherent commitment to change. Where it does not produce change, that is because it has been blocked by contrary power, or has assumed organizing and disciplining forms: these alternatives concern later stages of the theory of power. This is to say that motion is power moving: motion is a contingent attribute of power, in which power inheres when the motion occurs. But immanence does not take us to the heart of the source of change. Penetration of change does not take us within power, and inherent commitment does not describe the nature of what inheres within power. Power as source thus needs a term beyond ground and immanence and peculiar to power: the term is tendency within power to produce change. (86)

Tendency may be pursued in several stages. Tendency in power contains the factor of genesis or beginning, which can be described loosely as a transition from power to motion. The description is loose, for transition in its literal sense is a kind of change, and that is not intended here. By virtue of genesis, the mobility of motion, as distinct from the extents occupied by motion, grows without breaks from power. Genesis is meant to secure continuity between power and motion, of a kind more supple and complete than a continuity based on repetition of original terms by intermediates of like kind. The continuity in genesis should not be confused with the continuity in mobility, for genesis is part of tendency toward change, which is distinct from change. But the second continuity stems from the first, for mobility is power mobile, and any interval of power moving is the effect of power tending toward that motion and may contain tendency toward further motion: the suppleness of power tending is the source of the suppleness of mobility. (86, 87)

Genesis presupposes a directional or vector factor in tendency, which is based in power and ends in change. The vector is very slight. It implies no goal for power in change: a goal belongs to valuation and mind, which are later formations of power. It implies no accumulation or consistency of directions: these require forms capable of an hierarchical pattern: but forms, and still more patterns of forms in evolutionary order, are beyond the scope of bare motion. The essence of the vector is direction beyond the place at which the tendency began. It may be illustrated by the radiation of physical energy outward from a center. Terms drawn from space are appropriate in describing tendency toward motion, for motion is in space. But transit in a simple feeling does not involve space, but it contains a vector factor. For greater generality, the directional factor can be spoken of as a transcending toward another. (87)

Direction in turn implies a factor of anticipation in tendency. This aspect of tendency does not consist in an idea, however obscure and tentative, of change or direction toward change: symbolic function is a form that belongs to the class of forms called mental and is not available to power as such. The nature of anticipation may be sought in the relation of potential to actual. Power may be thought to contain in a potential condition what change subsequently is in actuality. Potentiality embraces two very diverse motifs. One is the advance edition of the actual being, which was mentioned in the account of change in the preceding chapter. The other is a principle of growth from the potential to the actual conditions. The second element is congenial to the philosophy of power, but it tells us nothing about tendency in power: growth is a kind of change and the principle of growth is power accompanied by the forms that define life. The first motif also fails to shed light on tendency. The advance edition consists of forms which resemble, in a diminished way, those which define the actual condition; but forms are not available for tendency toward bare motion. Forms may be disposed of, but the potential condition must still resemble in some degree the actual condition in order to be called the potential for the actual. Resemblance could only be claimed between the tendency toward motion and the motion: that is, by converting tendency, at least in part, into motion. The conversion leads to repetition of motion in the term designed to explain it: the repetition does not explain, but begs the question. The conversion also leads to diminution or elimination of tendency and so of power: to the extent that the conversion is admitted, the power is denied which alone can generate motion. Contrary to a tradition which identifies power with a potentiality or capacity for acting (or for suffering, which is correlative with a capacity for acting elsewhere), the aspect of potentiality must be deferred to a later stage in the history of power, in which forms indicate the containment of power in a society of powers. It is possible for tendency toward motion to be contained so that it does not lead to motion, but it is not possible for tendency to generate motion if it is merely a potential for, and advance edition of, motion. Anticipation must be simpler than idea or potentiality. Its nature is elusive when comparisons are sought with other terms: but the experience of power seems to include an experience of anticipation as the culmination of tendency prior to change. (87, 88)

The terms used to describe tendency do not complete the analysis of power. They presuppose something which tends. This something has its first manifestation in tendency, but it is not exhausted in that condition. It is the inner nature of power. Various terms may be proposed for the elucidation of that nature. Impulse and thrust, which differ from each other as subtle and gross, have relevance here; they are inadequate because they dilute the meaning of what tends in the direction of tendency. Force and energy, taken loosely, are synonyms for power and in that capacity embrace the aspects of cause, immanence, and tendency as well as the something that tends. Taken precisely, they specify power as physical and are too narrow for the present purpose, which is to account for power as such. In physics they have syntactical meaning from their place in equations and allied theory; but the inquiry into their referential meaning is problematic, and needs more help from the theory of power than it can give the theory. (88, 89)

A more promising candidate for the something that tends is effort, which is often mentioned by proponents and opponents of the theory of power. Effort may occur in the lifting of a weight. Muscular contraction occurs and with it kinaesthetic sensation of the muscular activity. If the weight is light, lifting takes place without any experience of effort in the kinaesthetic report. If the weight is heavy, resistance is reported and, in reply to it, effort is experienced as a compensatory factor. The effort may be successful or not in lifting the weight. In either case it is experienced as tending toward the willed outcome, whose stages are the adequate contraction of the muscle, the movement of the arm, and the desired change in the position of the weight. The distinction between effort and tendency is evident in the observation that tendency is equally present in unsuccessful and successful effort against the same resistance, while the magnitude of that which tends, or effort, increases for successful effort. Effort thus is more than tendency. But it falls short of being power as such. Effort is conjoined with resistance and can be certified of power only in that conjunction. The resistance is furnished by contrary power. Power as such exists in individual powers apart from the contingency of social relations, of opposition and cooperation. In addition, effort is a response to resistance in the volitional sphere, which implies the forms of mind. Its transfer to physical power, which involves the forms of matter or of energy as physical, and to power as such, which involves no forms, is dubious: it appears to involve what has been called a "category mistake." (89)

What is left for the something that tends when effort is put aside is an essence which, for want of a better name, may be called intensity. This term may be applied equally to an emotion, a sensum, a muscular effort, or an electromagnetic field. It inherits no parochial characters from these areas; on the contrary, intensity in these places is a borrowing from power as such, which is pure intensity. Intensity appears to stand at the center of what tends, and to have at once a nature of its own and tendency from that nature toward change. It appears to be the substance of what tends, rather than the most proximate description of it. (89, 90)

The intensity at hand is radically indeterminate. It is the source of positional change but is not itself change, though it is tendency toward change. Through positional change it is the source of formal change but is not itself any form. The source of form can be a source only if it lacks the form in question, and the form can have a source only in something that is prior in nature to the form. A version of the logic of the indeterminateness of the foundation of the determinate was stated by Plato in the Timaeus in a passage concerning the receptacle, or space, which is distinguished alike from eternal forms and changing particulars: (90)

For if the matter were like any of the supervening forms, then whenever any opposite or entirely different nature was stamped upon its surface, it would take the impression badly, because it would intrude its own shape.... In the same way that which is to receive perpetually and through its whole extent the resemblances of all eternal beings ought to be devoid of any particular form. (90)

The Platonic receptacle is the recipient and "nurse" of particular forms but is not the source of them. The requirement of indeterminateness is all the greater when the source of changes and forms is at hand: this thesis will be expanded later, in the discussion of creativity. (90)

Because of its radical indeterminateness, power is not readily identified in its essence. Change is relatively indeterminate, and its own nature as distinct from that of its terms has been shown to be elusive. Power is radically indeterminate, since it is prior in simplicity to both the terms and the relation in change. Probably the most obvious instance of power is effort as apprehended by kinaesthesis. But muscular sensation does not have the dramatic richness and clarity of vision or hearing. A red color lies on the surface of the public world; its hue contrasts sharply with other hues; it can be intuited in well-defined spatial relations to other colors, and perceived as part or sign of useful or interesting things. Kinaesthesis has little quality to allow contrasts for ready discernment; it reports positions, directions, and magnitudes of changes of muscles and limbs, and the subtle mobility that spans the extent between positions; its report on power is mingled with the other reports, like gray on gray. Its basic indeterminateness, and not its alleged absence from experience, accounts for the rejection of the notion of power by not a few philosophers. (90, 91)

 

2. Power, Freedom, and Compulsion

The analysis of power into cause, tendency, and intensity is a definition of power, or statement of its necessary and sufficient traits. Several related terms remain. The relation of power to law, necessity, and spontaneity will be considered in chapter 6, which will have the benefit of the theory of form and of creativity. Substance, endurance, and the causation of power will be taken up in the final section of this chapter, after the reality of power has been dealt with. Two terms can be discussed in principle at this point, and should not be postponed. These are freedom and compulsion. Since power often takes the form of compulsion and domination, and may suggest an ethics which sanctions these, it is important to assert that compulsion is not inherent in power, and that power can be a cornerstone of an ethics of universal sympathy. Such a role in ethics appears in Aquinas, Spinoza, and Tillich, but without an adequate analysis of power to support the role, and with the influence of Nietzsche, perverse as well as saintly, to confuse the matter. (91)

Power is free to the extent that its tendency is executed in change, and that it is the sole cause of the changes in which it participates. Power is compelled to the extent that its tendency is blocked so that change does not occur, and that other power causes the changes in which the power participates. There are reasons to believe that the provision regarding tendency is secondary. Insofar as powers can be distinguished from each other, there may be sufficient distance between them so that interference by other power will be after and not before the execution of tendency in change. Domination is not directed to immobility in a power, but to control of the changes or operations of a power. In practice, then, only the second half of the two definitions is needed: power is free to the extent that it is the sole cause of the changes in which it participates, and it is compelled to the extent that other power causes the changes. Secondarily and derivatively, change is free or compelled as the participating power is one or the other. Activity is the fused condition of power, change, and freedom: a condition of change as issuing from free power, or of power freely operating in its proper changes. Passivity is a similar condition of power, change, and compulsion. Bare change is neither active nor passive. Power is one or the other, but only as engaged in change. (91, 92)

Compulsion implies the overcoming of resistance to secure the effect that takes place. The scope of compulsion is more limited than it may appear to be. It has been seen that changes are compelled only derivatively, by extension from the powers at hand. More significantly, the compulsion of one power by another is not total. Different powers dominated by the same power operate differently, and the difference has its source not in the initial power but in those that are compelled, which retain some freedom amid the compulsion they suffer. Freedom can be destroyed only when the power is destroyed. But it will appear presently that power as such cannot be destroyed. Only a mode of formation of power can be destroyed, and with it the freedom of that mode. Thus every finite power is guaranteed a minimum of freedom. But freedom is of value only for minds, which are complex formations of power or presuppose them, and do not as minds share the guarantee of being. And they can be deformed, and debased, if their freedom is significantly reduced amid compulsion. (92)

Complete freedom can exist only in a being that has no limits and therefore is infinite. Primordial power, if it exists or has existed, is the original possessor of freedom, though the freedom is barren from want of form to give it diversity and unity. This freedom is lost to finite powers and to formations of power. If the power of others is not inflicted upon them, they still are blocked or inhibited by it, or depend on it for actions that exceed their own power. Here minds have an advantage over finite powers and bodies. Through sympathy and reason, which belong only to minds, powers can be united with regard to ends and means, so that confrontation, compulsion, and indifference can yield to shared encounter and cooperation. Since resistance is not necessary to the being of power, and the overcoming of resistance is not necessary to its operation, there is no categorial need for compulsion and servitude. But limits to shared encounter are set by the contingent forms of beings and situations. The hungry wolf will eat the lamb instead of lying down beside it, and the lamb will shrink from a peaceable wolf. Whether power is the primary being or not, there is no magic formula for the good, on whose behalf the formed powers that love the good must struggle with only modest assurances. (92, 93)

 

3. The Reality of Power

The elucidation of the meaning of power sets the stage for inquiry into the reality of the power sketched in that analysis. But the problem of the reality of power can be. reduced by a procedure which bypasses the analysis. Power can be defined as the cause of change, and its reality can be inferred from two premises: the reality of change and the necessity of a cause for it. The first premise is beyond dispute for this book. The claim of necessity for a cause is a rationalistic claim, which reason does not demonstrate. As stated in the opening chapter, rational necessity can be maintained only for analytic propositions. But the notions of cause and of change are distinct notions, which cannot be embraced in an analytic statement. The notion of cause is the analytic reciprocal of the notion of effect, but it would be begging the question to identify the concept of change with that of effect. The concept of cause appears to be part of the concept of experience in Kantian philosophy, with a correlated exclusion of bare feeling on the one hand and noumena on the other: a high price to pay,for the validation of causality, which occurs at the level of bare feeling or Bergsonian intuition and should not be excluded from the ultimately real. And if a necessary cause for change should be granted, the power defined as the cause of change would be entirely unknown in its own nature: "power" would be merely a label for whatever it might be that is the cause of change. Given such problems and so slight a result, the economical procedure in question will be rejected. (93, 94)

Assuming the meaning of power developed in this chapter, the problem of the reality of power may be pursued in four areas: the Psychical, the psychophysical, the physical, and the metaphysical. Power is experienced introspectively in the Psychical and psychophysical loci, and the experience yields a content or nature for power and a referential meaning for the word. The question arises as to whether the content experienced is a mere appearance or a reality, the illusion of power or the substance of power. Power is not experienced in the physical area. Under the partial synonym of force, it is inferred in mechanics as the source of motion and specifically of acceleration. The inferred term has syntactical meaning from its place in equations, but it has no referential meaning independent of power as found in other areas. Power is not experienced in the metaphysical locus either, except perhaps by a mystical experience which cannot define its nature or relate it to its similars in other areas. For metaphysics, power is inferred as the source of change in general, and it is given content by a dialectical process including abstraction and generalization from the content given to introspection. In the order of knowing, then, the problem of the reality of power begins with the Psychical and psychophysical contexts, where a content is experienced and the question of its reality can be handled with maximum directness. (94)

If a short interval of consciousness is considered apart from the stream that precedes and follows it, from the self that may inhabit or underlie the stream, and from special qualities that may distinguish it in character from other intervals, the interval has certain characteristics that have significance for power. (94)

The interval appears to be in a process of coming to be, enduring briefly, ceasing, and further coming to be and ceasing. It renews itself continually, and the renewal is a series of novel feelings, apart from novelty in qualities that may be illustrated in the interval. This flux may be more readily acknowledged if the contribution of memory to the interval is dropped from consideration. Without memory, feeling occupies only the immediate present available to nonsymbolic awareness, without recollection of the past or anticipation of the future. Each present moment therefore is new, as is the feeling identified with the moment. The addition of memory does not annul the novelty, but tends to obscure it. This inherent flux in consciousness stands in contrast to the persistence and rigidity of the particle of classical materialism. But the flux is not simply chan e. A given moment of feeling betrays a tendency beyond itself which is fulfilled in the new moment. The tendency in turn is felt to belong to something that tends, which occurs within the scope of consciousness. The something is apparent power: here a slight intensity which tends toward the subtle changes of feeling. (94, 95)

The most interesting of the qualities that may inhabit the interval of consciousness is pleasure. A feeling of pleasure shares with other instances of consciousness the relation to power sketched in the preceding paragraph. But the pleasure has a relation to value which introduces further relations to power. A feeling of pleasure displays a quality which belongs to all pleasures amid apparent differences of quality in pleasures. This quality is a process of immediate valuation, which is prior to discursive valuation in reflective thought and is positive. The process values proximately the object of pleasure, such as a poem or a friend, and ultimately its own quality, affirming both. Pleasure thus is a value as well as a valuation. (95)

Intrinsic value is the consciousness of the fulfilment of power in freedom, and pleasure is the quality in consciousness of the fulfilment. Pleasure therefore has a relation to power that other qualities of consciousness do not have: the flux of consciousness is in them, but pleasure in addition is felt as pervaded by power. This condition underlies the opinions of Aristotle, that pleasure enhances the activity that it accompanies; of Spinoza, that it is the emotion by which the mind passes to a greater perfection ;5 and of Nietzsche, that pleasure is a symptom of the feeling of increased power .(95)

In these two instances of feeling, power appears within the scope of consciousness and has an assignable content and place. But it may be held that it is a mere appearance which, when identified with reality, is an illusion. It was asserted in chapter 3, section 3, that an illusion is a being which is subjective or an effect and is taken as objective or a cause. Since the phenomenon of power is attributed to consciousness rather than to an external being, there is no problem here of erroneous attribution of a subjective essence to an objective essence, as there is for a dualist in the ascription of a red color to an apple. The proposal that the phenomenon of power is merely an effect and not a cause in the conscious interval is refuted by two data of the awareness in question: changes occur in the feeling in sequel to the operation of the power in the feeling, and the experience of the power is an experience of the efficacy of the power in bringing about the changes. This experience of efficacy, to which Whitehead attested so acutely, is complete in one particular instance, and does not require the dubious judgment of reason on a universal connection which goes beyond present and past particulars. Despite these refutations of the claim of illusion, it may be that the claim has in mind something more radical: that the phenomenon of power contradicts itself, or contradicts other realities duly accredited. Neither contradiction is evident. The meaning of power may be incomplete, as in the analysis of tendency, and some of its terms may have no similars elsewhere for conceptual fixation, but it has no irreconcilable members. To its credit, the theory of power does not attempt to explain or generate change by repeating change in advance: a procedure which appears to be self-contradictory. And the phenomenon of power does not contradict other realities in the feeling. For bare consciousness the reality other than power is change, and for pleasurable consciousness it is the quality of pleasure. Neither of these in its own essence, as an essence abstracted from the associated power, contradicts power. On the contrary, each is open to power in any account that may be made of its origin and cause. With the foregoing arguments in mind, it is evident that the appearance of power in the area of consciousness can be accepted as reality by reflective thought. (96)

Systematic theory will add a further test: coherence with a general system of theory. Since such a system is made of forms, and power is not a form, power can not be integrated with the system in any deductive sense. But there is a need in any theory of changing phenomena for an explanation of change, and the concept of power alone fills that place without merely repeating change in the explanation. In addition, a general theory of creativity can be formulated, according to which power creates form in encounter with other power. In these respects power coheres with systematic theory. However, the idea of power in feeling may conflict with a special theory regarding the epiphenomenal status of consciousness. This theory is stated not only by materialists, for whom consciousness is an epiphenomenon of material substance and does not influence the course of matter. It is stated also by Nietzsche, for whom consciousness is an epiphenomenon of volitional substance and does not influence the course of will. The present theory of power takes an intermediate position. As will be proposed in the next section, the only substance is power, and consciousness, like all form, is an epiphenomenon of power. It is not a source of change, whether in its own stream or elsewhere. But consciousness, like all form, has a bearing on the nature of change through its relation to power. This thesis will be developed in the chapter on mind. (96, 97)

The reality of power is also evident in the psychophysical stage, which comprises feeling in intimate relation with the "interior" of the human body. The interior is the body as known by organic sensation, kinaesthesis, and cutaneous sensation when one has in mind not the report of one's moving finger on one's skin, but the report of the skin moved on: a report one does not have when the same finger moves on the surface of a table. The exterior of the body is the same body, presumably, as known by the external senses, with emphasis on vision and touch, with the stipulation that the moving finger reports on the body as it would on the table. The exterior includes the body opened by the surgeon to the external senses. (97)

The interior of the body for organic sensation is a sea of ill-defined changes and tendencies toward change, as though it were an analogue of primordial power. More localized and available to inspection are muscular changes reported by kinaesthesis, as in the lifting of the weight discussed in the first section of this chapter. The contracting muscle may be felt to contain effort, as discussed above, where it was shown that a phenomenon of power acting against resistance occurs. Effort is not needed for that phenomenon, for a man walking smoothly and rhythmically for a short distance on level ground may experience, in his muscles and in his body more diffusely, tendency toward change. Effort or not, the power here may be of comparatively large magnitude on the scale of the body. Power in a muscle under dissection is not discerned by the external senses any more than it is discerned by them in a moving ball, but it is reported intimately by kinaesthesis. (97, 98)

There is no reason to dismiss this phenomenon as illusory. For the reasons given under the Psychical area, there is no reason to speak of power in the muscle as contradictory or as merely an effect. The forms that define muscular tissues include those of nourishment, fatigue, and rest, which imply the acquisition and depletion of sources of energy: the energy is at least compatible with power, and will later be considered as a derivative of power as such.8 Relevant changes do occur after the experience of power, as though the power were their cause. But the question may be raised whether the reported power is actually in the muscle, or in the kinaesthetic sensation. It is incongruous to shift power from a highly probable location in the muscles to a highly improbable location in the feeling of the muscular change. The feeling does not claim such a location, and it lacks the muscular forms needed to sustain the alleged location for power. It may be concluded, then, that power attributed to the muscles is objective for that context rather than subjective. (98)

Systematic theory may raise a final question. In kinaesthesis, a physical change influences a Psychical change, in contradiction of the theory that body and mind are distinct substances, which cannot influence one another because of their radical disparateness in nature and the resulting conservation of their energies within their respective borders. This theory will be evaluated later.9 It may be noted here that the theory of power and form undercuts at least part of the theory: the premise that mind and matter are different substances. For this book, mind and matter are not substances, but are forms created by power, which is one substance present in all change. Apart from the theory of substance, the objection raised by the theory is too sweeping to be accepted by any philosophy that emphasizes the importance of sensory experience: for all sensation contains feeling caused in part by bodily stimulus. (98, 99)

More problematic is the physical area, which consists of bodies, motions, and forces. The term force is used regularly in precise and meaningful statements of physics, the most basic of the empirical sciences; by a fine irony, it is sometimes thought to have no referential meaning and no reality. Newton's three laws of motion are concerned with bodies and forces. As though to emphasize the distinctive nature and reality of forces, the first law, of inertia, speaks of a body "compelled to change" its state of rest or uniform motion by "forces impressed" on the body. But Bertrand Russell characterized force as "a mathematical fiction, not a physical entity," and recent commentators on Newton are uncertain of the status of force in the three laws. Since recent physics has moved to the thesis of the equivalence of mass and energy, it should favor a strict reading of Newton rather than a dilution of his statement. (99)

The problem is partly that physical force is not experienced with the directness claimed for power in the Psychical and psychophysical areas. Two colliding bodies other than the body of an observer have a dynamic interplay which is revealed only in changes of velocity and in displacement of parts, and is inferred from those changes. If one of the bodies is that of an observer, the impact of the other is perceived as force exerted by the other: the observer will say that the projectile "hit him hard" or with great force. It may be objected that the only force sensed by the observer is that of the resistance of his own body to the force of the other, and that the latter force is inferred. As sense perception regularly involves a quick inference from effects to causes, the inference can still be called a perception. Whether perceptual or not, the inference involves nothing more risky than a claim of something in the other body similar to the force felt in the body of the observer. (99)

The other part of the problem is that the latter force is attended by the affective form of pain and the volitional form of effort and strain, which are suitable for the psychophysical complex of the interior of the observer's body, but are alien to the purely physical nature of the projectile. No one will impute pain to the latter, but it is thought that the imputation of force involves, and must involve, effort and strain. That opinion leads to the rejection of the inference and the denial of force in matter. The opinion is based on a mistaken analysis of force or power. The present analysis avoids any use of Psychical forms in the concept of power. In keeping with that analysis, we should say that intensity and tendency in the observer are experienced in conjunction with certain Psychical forms, and that they are legitimately inferred in the projectile in conjunction with the forms appropriate to bodies and to power as physical. If this analysis is correct, power exists in unconscious matter. A further development of this argument will be made in the systematic theory of matter. (99, 100)

The last of the four areas, the metaphysical, in keeping with its high generality, consists of power as such, which is power prior to or abstracted from its commerce with form. Because of its combination of the indeterminate and the infinite and power, primordial power may be thought to be the object of mystical experience. As the final chapter of this book will show, mystical experience is devoted to the holy, which often is thought to have infinite power, and the experience approaches the holy as indeterminate. But primordial power is not the proper object of mystical experience. In addition to power indeterminate and infinite, the holy must have valuation and love, both of which imply mind. Primordial power has neither valuation nor love. If mystical experience were directed to primordial power, it still would not be able to relate it to finite powers and subsequent formations of power, for these require the category of determination, which is found in sensation and introspection and reason but not in mystical experience. (100)

To reach finite power, unformed, the knowing mind takes the clearest instance of formed power, and abstracts from it the forms in question. The clearest instances are found in introspection of feeling, and probably of feeling as pleasurable. Granting that tendency and intensity in feeling are mingled with pleasure and other forms, attention can be focused upon them in their own natures. The attention is an act of abstraction amid full attention to the concrete particular of intensity and tendency. It yields presently to conceptual abstraction, which turns from the particular to words and universals for the benefit of communication and theory. The conceived object is then generalized throughout the areas of power, to form the concept of finite power as such. The warrant for the reality of power at the metaphysical level is thus found in introspective experience, which supplies something that thought cannot invent; in thought processes of attention and conceptual function, which reduce but do not invent; and in the thought process of generalization, which may invent a locus for the generalized nature, but is disciplined by two considerations: that power can be without producing form, and that such power is continuous with power experienced or scientifically inferred. Power in the metaphysical area does not transcend the realm of nature; on the contrary, it is the natural cause of the changes and forms which complete the catalog of nature. (100, 101)

 

4. Power and Substance

Power, primordial or finite, is substance or a substance, and constitutes the necessary and sufficient condition for substance. The concept of substance is not popular in philosophy of the last hundred years, and has been criticized by philosophers as diverse as Nietzsche, Whitehead, and Russell. The criticisms are directed to substance as metempirical, or as transcendent of change and alien to it, or as transcendent of change and related to it by an arbitrary factor. All three criticisms are directed to the bifurcation of what is into substance and the domain of nature. The analysis that follows will attempt, using the concept of power, to avoid the bifurcation and the criticisms. (101)

A limited conception of substance is found in common and scientific thought. It is probable that in both areas the concept begins with the experience of comparatively great endurance: a table is more substantial than its color or gloss because it endures while these fade, and a chemical element is more substantial than a compound because it endures amid changes of the compound. Power is the most enduring of beings, except for change in general, because it antedates and survives specific positional changes and all forms. The exception is made for change in general due to the reciprocal relation of change and endurance pointed out earlier: power can be without change, but neither it or any other being can endure apart from change. And change can not be without something that endures. That something, in its greatest generality, is power. The power that is the source of change endures amid changes, for the intensity and tendency that bring about changes remain unchanged in their nature. Power is the subject of endurance and the source of change in two interdependent moments, or aspects, of its nature and being. Here there is no bifurcation between power as substance and as source of change. (101, 102)

Common thought also identifies substance with support or substrate. A table is thought to support and underlie its color and shape, and the latter are thought to need such support. The spatial connotation of underlying, or of substrate, is misleading, for the relation of the table to its color is not the same as the relation of the table to the paint that immediately has the color, and reflective thought may extend the notion of support to the relation of feeling to its qualities, where the spatial implication is absent. More difficult is the fact that the table as supporter contains forms that define its wood material to the biologist and the chemist: either these forms need support, or the color and shape do not. A genuine distinction between supporter and supported can be found only in the distinction between the finite powers that "inhabit" the table and the constellation of forms that define the table from the subatomic level upward. Power then emerges as substance in the sense of support of related forms. But the notion of support is obscure and correspondingly arbitrary, once the spatial metaphor in it has been removed. The immanence of power in its changes is all that can be retained of that notion. Power as support of changes and forms is power as immanent in them. Again there is no bifurcation of power as substance and change. (102)

Common thought goes no further with substance than endurance and support. Reflective thought makes two further steps. As the third criterion of substance it asserts the notion of originative cause. Power has that status, since a given power does not depend on any other being for its causation of change, but causes change by the inherent tendency of intensity toward change, unless another power restrains it. This is to say that power is the sufficient condition for its operation in regard to change. The originative status does not separate power as substance from change, since power operates through the tendency toward change which is intrinsic to intensity. And that status does not isolate powers from one another, as though they were islands in an impassable sea. Deplorable as compulsion is in the domain of mind, it signifies contact between powers. Furthermore, single powers do not produce forms. It will be stated later that form is produced by the encounter of powers. (102, 103)

The final trait that may be ascribed to substance is that of self-caused or uncaused cause. This has to do not with the operation of power but with its being. Evidently power can have no external cause for its being. An external candidate without power would be powerless to generate power. An external candidate with power would not be external to power as such in the mode of primordial power. It would be external to another finite power, but it could not bring the latter into being. It would have only its tendency and intensity with which to produce another power; but its tendency is toward positional change and not toward the generation of other power; and its intensity could at best be divided into two powers, whose nature as power would not be brought into being by the division. Power therefore has no external cause. But a cause of power may be sought within power, leading to the thesis that power is a self-caused cause. This thesis requires a cause and effect duality within power. The duality usually assumed by the thesis is one of idea and reality, or essence and existence, or possibility and actuality. The duality probably may be reduced to that of essence as possible and as actual. The difference between an essence as possible and the same as actual is not in the essence, lest an impossible essence is actualized. It can lie only in the abstract difference between possibility and actuality. The causal function of possible essence thus can belong only to the possibility. This will belong to all possibilities or none. Since no one will agree to the first, the second must be granted. The possibility of power contributes nothing to the actuality of power, and the notion of power as a self-caused cause collapses. This is no problem for power as substance. Power needs nothing but itself for its nature and being, and no explanation can be given for them. Power is an uncaused cause. This status does not separate power from the domain of nature and change, since it has no bearing on the operation of power. (103, 104)

The criticism of substance as metempirical does not apply to power. Endurance is an empirical concept and can be ascribed to power if power is experienced. If the discussion of power in this chapter is correct, the immanence of power in its positional changes and the inherent tending of intensity toward change are experienced in the Psychical and psychophysical areas. The immanence and inherent tending are the bases for the substantial functions of support and originative causation. Only the last criterion of substance, having to do with its self-caused or uncaused status, passes beyond experience. The first of these alternatives is eminently rationalistic, since it deduces being or what is from their mere possibility. The theory of power does not claim that prerogative for reason. In this theory, substance can be revived without damage to empiricists or naturalists. The doctrine of substance completes the statement of the meaning and reality of power. (104)