Eino Kaila's monism

Published in/Publicerad i/Julkaistu

von Wright-Niiniluoto-Sintonen, eds., Eino Kaila and logical empiricism. Acta Philosophica Fennica 52, 1992.

©The von Wright Heirs/ von Wrights arvingar/von Wrightin perikunta

The Georg Henrik von Wright Online Collection, Filosofia.fi (Eurooppalaisen filosofian seura ry), ed./red./toim. Yrsa Neuman & Lars Hertzberg 2009.Inskanning & transkribering/Skannerointi & litterointi/Scan & transcription: Filosofia.fi Ville Hopponen

Georg Henrik von Wright

Eino Kaila's Monism


Eino Kaila's Monism 



1. In several works from his later years Kaila describes an episode which he calls his "philosophic awakening". As far as I know, the description first occurs in the most personal of Kaila's writings, the book Tankens oro (the Swedish title could be rendered in English as "The Disquietude of Thought") of the year 1944.1With some variations it recurs in a paper published nine years later2 and then, once again, in a posthumously published chapter of his unfinished book with the next to untranslatable Finnish title Hahmottuva maailma" - roughly "The World as a Structured Whole". The episode is located to a beautiful summer day when he was sixteen years of age4 and lay floating in a rowboat on a Finnish lake watching the clouds drifting in the sky.
   Then it seemed to him suddenly - these are his words - "that everything which there is is in some very deep sense a unified whole, so to say an 'all-unity', a self-structuring totality".5 This self-structuring whole he calls in another of the descriptions, with a reference to Spinoza, natura naturans. It exists to the exclu­sion of everything "super-natural" from the world.6 It also entails the rejection of "all kind of dualism".7 There is no "unbridgeable gap" separating the so-called material from the so-called spiritual, the lifeless from the living, the bodily from the mental.8 With a note reminiscent of Leibniz he says9 that the difference between all these contrasts is only one of degree, not one of kind, and that there are between them hidden bonds which connect them to inseparable wholes.
   The task, Kaila says10 of "clarifying, supporting and proving true this monis­tic or unitarian conception" is the one task which has kept him engaged through all the years which passed after his awakening to become a philosopher.

2. Before following Kaila on his lifelong journey to clarify the meaning and nature of his early monislic vision, let us stop for a moment to consider what might have been its roots. It is obvious that a monistic view of the world such as Spinoza's - also with its pantheistic tenor - had a strong resonance in Kaila's personality. This was a rare combination of critical and visionary powers - the ideal intellectual equipment for a philosopher, one might say. But it is also obvious that both early reading and influence of a prevailing "climate of opinion"


contributed to the way in which he was going to make use of his gifts.
   The only book which is mentioned in the descriptions of his "awakening" is Friedrich Paulsen's Einleitung in die Philosophie,which was at the time in common use as a university text-book.11 But he also says that he received his strongest impressions from Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant.12 He saw in the joint achievement of these three great thinkers that which in the posthumous fragment already mentioned, he called the "classical view" of the mind -body problem and which, in substance, he identified with his own. One is struck by the fact that he does not mention Descartes, who gave to the problem its modern form. But by being a dualist Descartes also created the difficulties which his successors through the centuries tried to overcome in what might be called, vaguely, a "monistic synthesis".
   This view of our "classic" philosophic inheritance is in tune with the general cultural atmosphere which prevailed, particularly in the arts, in Finland and Scandinavia during the decades round the turn of the century. It is sometimes referred to with the name neo-romanticism and contrasted with the preceding period of naturalism which had culminated in the 1880s. In Finland it is also known as the era of national romanticism. It was the time when the "classics" in Finnish literature, painting, music, and architecture were active. Young Kaila's great artistic sensibilities could not fail to be deeply touched by what was going on; he was also personally associated with the galaxy of artists whose brightest star was Jean Sibelius. No person has made a deeper impact on Kaila than the master of Finnish music.
   The Weltanschauung which looms in the background of this cultural situation - most strongly reflected in the literature of the time - is a pantheistic feeling of man as a member of a world in which the naturalistic and the spiritual elements are inseparably knit together. 13
   These sentiments are widely reflected also in the philosophical literature of the period. A writer who was much read in Finland was the Danish philosopher Harald Høffding. He defended a neo-spinozist psycho-physical parallel-theory. He certainly had a formative influence on young Kaila's way of thinking. One of Kaila's first published papers was a presentation of Høffding for the Finnish reading public
   Since the late 1880s a lively debate had been going on in the Philosophical Society of Finland between supporters of Cartesian dualism and supporters of the then fashionable parallel- or identity-theory of the mind-body relationship. The chief combatants had been the Society's founder and chairman Thiodolf Rein and our renowned moral philosopher Edvard Westermarck. Both defended in turn the


one and then the other position, much to each others' consternation.14 It is actually in the context of this debate that we see Kaila first enter the philosophic arena. On 4 November 1910 he read in the Society a paper about Hugo Münsterberg's work Philosophie der Werte. In the ensuing discussion, according to the minutes, he defended, with a reference to Mach, the empirio-criticist view that the immediate experience does not rnake a distinction between the physical and the psychical. Rein and Westermarck were both present and seemed to have regarded the views of the young speaker with some scepticism.Mach was, with Avenarius, the most prominent defender of a monistic philosophy known as empirio-criticism in the early days of the century. How deep its impact was on Kaila we cannot exactly tell. I have found only a passing, though approving, reference to Avenarius in his writings.15
   Mach, on the other hand, is a writer with whose thoughts Kaila throughout his mature career con­fronted his own. This confrontation, however, was also polemical. Kaila was always critical of Mach's phenomenalism which in Finland had an eloquent defender in the philosopher Rolf Lagerborg. Particularly in the much later work Ûber den physikalishen Realitätsbegriff which is perhaps the most accomplished of his contributions to the philosophy of the natural sciences Kaila criticizes Mach's positivist and phenomenalist approach to physics as running "counter to some of the deep tendencies of physical research over the last four centuries".16 These tendencies, as Kaila understood them, were decidedly monistic or unitarian but not necessarily in agreement with the empiric-criticism of Mach. Still, he never concealed and often professed his high admiration for Mach.17
   Another monistic philosophy of the time which young Kaila emphatically rejected was the one whose chief proponents were Haeckel and Ostwald.18 It flourished in the form of a movement with a strong - as one would say nowadays - "scientistic" ethos and also with marked anti-clerical and reformist social tendencies. In one of his earlier printed papers,19 Kaila criticized the "scientific world-view" of the Haeckel/Ostwald type of monism as being "philistine and superficial natural science" bordering on vulgar materialism. A few years later he wrote polemically against Lagerborg,20 who took a not uncritical but still decided­ly favourable view of the program of the monistic movement. Kaila expresses astonishment that anyone could take seriously the, as he calls it, "conceptual chaos" of Haeckel.


3. As we have seen, even before Kaila had tried to articulate clearly his own monistic philosophy, he had criticized the monism most en vogue during his years


as a young student. He was always acutely aware of the difficulties of stating his monism in a clear and convincing way - and it is probably right to say that he never succeeded in this completely.

   Kaila's monism can be said to rest on two pillars which, however, stand apart from each other and do not necessarily support the same edifice of thought. One is psycho-physical parallelism or the conviction, in Spinoza's words, chat ordo ei connexio idearum idem est ac ordo et connexio rerum. The other is the unity, at the level of concepts and theories, of the scientific picture of the world.21 The first is, so to say, a metaphysical oneness of the "stuff of which the world is made". The second again is a oneness of that which, in Goethe's words "die Welt im innersten zusammenhält", i.e. the laws and principles governing the Weltgeschehen or world process.
   A metaphysical monism has to be on its guard against certain charges or dangers.
   One is the charge of not being able to overcome metaphysical dualism. If the order of things and that of ideas answer to or reflect one another - for example neural events and sense impressions — how can they be correlated except by mutual causal connection? This problem seems never seriously to have worried Kaila. To him dualism was "out", once and for all. This attitude is, I think, a reflection of the situation in philosophy when he grew up - and also long after. He did not live to see the revival of interest in Cartesian dualism and the problems connected with it which we have witnessed in the second half of our century. Kaila would presumably have regarded it an aberration and relapse into already conquered positions.

   A danger with monism of which he was acutely aware, however, is that of reductionism. If mind and matter are, somehow, one, does it not mean that the mind is material as the materialists would have it? This was the charge notoriously directed against Spinoza. But on the other hand, does not monism equally mean that matter is at bottom mental, as the idealists and phenomenalists maintain. This was the accusation which Lenin levelled against the empirio-criticists. Materialism (physicalism) and idealism (phenomenalism), one could say, are the Scylla and Charybdis of a monistic philosophy. Kaila tried to steer his way clear of the two. His monism is emphatically anti-reductionist. As we have already noted, he criticized Mach's phenomenalism. And he certainly was never in danger of the materialistic pit-falls of Haeckel's and Ostwald's philosophy of nature.
   Even though Kaila's monism can be said to have been in origin a "metaphysi­cal" vision of psycho-physical parallelism and the unity of mind and matter, his own both earliest and latest efforts to support it with arguments relies on the


second of the above mentioned "pillars" or the idea of the unity of the scientific world-picture. In the 1953 paper where he describes his awakening to philosophy he says in so many words that "a unitarian or monistic philosophy is - in essence intimately connected with one of the life-nerves of the natural sciences, viz. the tendency to unification of scientific theory formation"." As an example he there gives the Danish physicist Christian Ørsted's discoveries of the connection between "galvanism", as it was called in former days, and electricity. Ørsted's (and Faraday's) discoveries were the basis of the unified electro-magnetic field-theory later developed by Maxwell. This was one of the greatest achievements of 19th century theoretical physics. Kaila finds the example impressive because Ørsted’s research had been guided by a firm conviction of the fundamental unity of all forces in nature - including those governing the mind. Ørsted's work Aanden i Naturen - in German Der Geist in der Natur - was at the time one of the most influential specimens of the early 19th century tradition of Naturphilosophie. Kaila thought of his own work as a latter-day revival of that same tradition.  


4. Kaila's earliest attempt to state his philosophic position is a little book of the year 1920 called Sielunelämä biologisena ilmiönä, in English "Mental Life as a Biological Phenomenon". Kaila was then 30. His earlier published work had been in experimental psychology or else of a belletristic and semi-journalistic nature.

   The professed aim of Sielunelämä is an attack on the position known as vitalism in biology and psychology. Kaila argues for something he calls "the mechanistic principle". It says that the state of a material system at time t depends in a lawful manner solely on the state of the system and its environment at the immediately preceding time-differential.23 This principle governs all phenomena. There is no special causation operating in the realm of the mental or psychic.
   The idea of mechanistic causation which Kaila here defends must not be confused with that form of mechanism which maintains that all natural phenomena are "reducible to the movements of bodies and all natural laws to laws governing those movements".24 Kaila is decidedly against this reductionist view.25 Moreover, he thinks that the laws of chemistry are not reducible to the laws of physics, nor the laws of biology lo those of physics and chemistry.26 But the laws governing psychological phenomena, he thought, are but special cases of laws of biology. On the mental level they manifest themselves as laws of association and reproduc­tion." They reflect underlying physiological principles.28 This is so because of the strict parallelism which, he assumes, obtains between mental and bodily phenom-


ena.29 With this Kaila gives to his position in the philosophy of science a meta­physical underpinning. The alternative conception, which he rejects,30 is that body and mind causally interact.

   It is interesting to note here that Kaila later came to abandon the peculiar form of anti-reductivism in the philosophy of science which he defends in Sielunelämä. Under the impact of more recent developments in microphysics and molecular chemistry, he rejected that view that the laws of chemistry are "autonomous" in relation to the laws of physics. For a long time, however, he insisted on the autonomy of biology in relation to the physico-chemical basis of life phenomena.31 In the end, however, he abandoned this position too - in view of later advances in biophysical science.32 But these moves of his in a reductionist direction did not mean that he had accepted a mechanistic view either in the classic sense of reducing all natural phenomena to bodies in motion or in the sense of the deter­minism of his early principle of mechanistic or initial causation. What made the reductivist concessions acceptable for Kaila was his growing conviction that the field-theoretic laws of micro-physics offered a possibility for a unified non-mechanistic natural science. In a polemical paper of the year 1952, directed against what he saw as a revival of mechanistic ideas in the study of self-regulat­ing mechanisms in the then new science of "cybernetics", he expresses his conviction that life for its explanation requires a quantum biology.33Itis in quantum theory that physics, chemistry, and biology meet and become unified. This rejection of "mechanism" is equally a rejection of "vitalism" which had been Kaila's polemical target in the 1920 publication.


5. The mechanism which Kaila professed in Sielunelämä reflects the theoretical background of his early work in experimental psychology. He was an adherent of the then current associationist psychology. But soon after, a change took place with him. He became, first acquainted with and then deeply influenced by the new current of Gestalt-psychology the leading figures of which were Wertheimer, Kohler, and Koffka. In the most voluminous of all his writings, the synoptic work Sielunelämän rakenne ("The Structure of Mind") of 1923, he gave a sympathetic presentation of their views, without yet completely rejecting his earlier asso­ciationist position. But a few years later he is fully "converted" to the Gestalt-view. It dominates his second systematic attempt to articulate a monistic philoso­phy. This is the book Beiträge zu einer synthetischen Philosophie of the year 1928. The title is characteristic. Synthesis, along with "monism" and "unifica­tion", is what Kaila aimed at.


Gestalt-theory was for Kaila much more than a position in psychology.34 It is a monistic philosophy in nuce which embraces inorganic nature as well as life and mental phenomena. Kaila calls this a "monism from above".35 This is an allusion to the non-additive character of the Gestalten. They are wholes governing their parts in the sense that the law for the whole cannot be derived from laws about the pans considered in isolation. The whole, therefore, is not a mere "sum" of its parts. It has features peculiar to it. This point is related to the theory of emer­gence, entertained by Lloyd Morgan and others, to which Kaila makes sympathetic reference in the book.36

   Kaila's concern in Beiträge is basically with the metaphysical and not with the unification of science aspect of monism. And here he also encounters grave philosophical difficulties. They are caused by his anti-reductivist stand which he is anxious to maintain.
   Though a professed adherent of psycho-physical parallelism, Kaila neither wanted to say that mind and matter are "identical" nor that mental and physical phenomena were of different nature. He approvingly refers to the "neutral stuff" monism of Avenarius and Bertrand Russell (of that period).37 He is looking for a conceptual standpoint "beyond the cleavage in 'mind' and 'matter'" ("jenseits des Gegensatzes von 'Geist' und 'Materie'"), he says.38 But in which sense can the neutrality or unity of the world-stuff be maintained? An idea which he entertains in Beiträge is that from the point of view of qualify everything is mental ("Geist"), but from the point of view of relation (or structure) everything is material ("Materie").39 So in a sense everything that there is is both matter and mind. The thought recurs often in his writing and is even the title of the much later paper in which he criticizes cybernetics.40 It would be good, he says, to eliminate these two heavily loaded concepts ("diese schwerbelasteten Begriffe") from philosophy.41 But therewith he has not solved his problem.
   As just noted, the mind-matter duality is for Kaila closely tied to the quality-relation or quality-structure distinction. Physical science deals with relations or structures only.42 This idea resembles thoughts of Carnap and Schlick. But there is no indication that Kaila at this stage of his development had got his inspiration from them.43 To the extent that one can speak of an influence, it is rather Russell who seems a source, particularly through his Analysis of Matter.44 The terms of the relations which science clarifies, however, are ultimately things or phenomena of qualitative nature, Kaila thinks.45 Thus if relation presupposes quality, there is also a sense in which matter can be said to presuppose mind - and the phenomenalistic ghost which Kaila in defense of realism is anxious to exorcize46 is still lurking in the background.


 The problem of the qualities and the possibility of eliminating them from the scientific world-picture remains a Leitmotiv throughout Kaila's thinking — and we shall, after a detour in partly other directions, later return to it. In Beiträge he proposes, somewhat tentatively, a solution according to which the qualitative or phenomenal is a field-slate (Feldzustand) co-ordinated with processes in the living brain.47 The phenomenal and the physical are, as it were, two modes in which this field-state exists. With this idea we touch the core of psycho-physical parallelism.

   If there is parallelism between the phenomenal and the physical then it would seem that there ought to exist non-additivity also on the physical side. Kaila was deeply convinced that this was, in fact, the case. 48 Köhler's theory of "physical Gestalten" in the brain had been an attempt to vindicate this idea. Kaila was fascinated by Kohler's views. But he was also critical of them - in Beiträge and later. There is a detailed exposition and criticism in Beiträge, terminating in the conclusion that Köhler's supposed neural equivalents of the Gestalts were, after all, additive, and not "holistic", wholes.49 Non-additivity on the neural side had to be sought "deeper", in a field-theoretic conception of the microstructures of the brain. Psychology, pace Köhler, is still awaiting its Faraday and Maxwell, who, says Kaila,50 were the "Gestalt-theorists" of physics. (A good comparison.)


6. One year after Beiträge Kaila published a book with the title Nykyinen maailmankäsitys, (in English "The Contemporary World-View"). It is one of his several semi-popular, synoptic works for a broader academic public. In the Preface Kaila tells the reader that the book is an attempt to present the view of the world at which he had arrived after a decade of research in "logic, psychology, and philosophy of nature". For two reasons, he says, he calls this view "contem­porary". One is that it is based on recent findings in physics, biology, and psychology. The other is that it has affinities with "some important trends of thought in contemporary philosophy". He mentions, in addition to Russell and the Gestalt-psychologists, also Reichenbach's philosophy of space and time and Carnap's Der logische Aufbau der Welt. This last appeared the same year as Kaila's Beiträge, in 1928. Kaila immediately studied it. It seems that Kaila had received a copy from the author in return for Beiträge and another one of his writings.51 Later in the year he wrote to Schlick, asking Schlick's assistance with the publication of comments he had written on Carnap's book - possibly together with a reply by Carnap himself. This plan did not materialize, but Kaila's Der logistische Neupositivismus which appeared 1930 is presumably an extended version of the comments mentioned in the letter to Schlick.


With these events begins a new era in Kaila's philosophical development. Simultaneous with them is his appointment to the chair in theoretical philosophy in Helsinki, after ten intellectually lonely years as professor of philosophy in the Finnish university at Turku. In 1929 he paid a first visit to Vienna, and he returned there, on Rockefeller grants, 1932 and 1934. He got to know several members of the Vienna Circle and took part in its meetings.

   It is surely remarkable that a professor working in what nowadays would be regarded as deadening isolation in a Finnish provincial university52 could have reached for himself and on his own a position which was on a level with a revolutionary breakthrough in one of the great centres of the intellectual and scientific life of Europe. But it should also be remembered that Kaila always preserved a critical attitude to the movement initiated by the Wiener Kreis. He never called himself a logical positivist. For his own position in philosophy he had as early as in the mid-1920's coined the name "logical empiricism".53 This was later adopted also by others who worked in the tradition of the Vienna Circle, but who perhaps thought, with Kaila, that the label "positivism" was too strongly suggestive of a trend in nineteenth-century philosophy and of reductionist ten­dencies from which they wanted to dissociate their own position. Nor did Kaila accept for himself the term "analytical philosophy" when after the war it became current for the several outgrowths of what was originally known as logical positivism. He insisted that his philosophy was synthetic, not analytic.
       It should also be noted that the idea of "unity of science", which became another label for the movement starting in Vienna, is rather different from Kaila's idea of a unified scientific view of the world. Kaila's idea was not so much one of a conceptual and methodological unity of the sciences as of their unification through scientific theories primarily those of physics — of very general scope and applicability. He was looking forward, one could say, to a modern version of the mathesis universalis or scientia generalis envisaged of yonder by such great scientist-philosophers as Descartes and Leibniz. He was, therefore, as can be expected, also critical of the claims of the Baden-school and of Dilthey of met­hodological autonomy for the Geisteswissenschaften in relation to the Naturwissenschaften.54


7. In Kaila's literary output the beginning of the new period in his creative life is marked by his monograph Der logistische Neupositivismus of the year 1930. Its title contains the earliest occurrence known to me of the term "neo-positivism" which soon gained currency as a name of the new movement in philosophy. But


contrary to what the title may let us expect, Kaila's book is not a presentation of the message of the Vienna Circle. It is an exposition and critique of some main ideas in Carnap's Aufbau. (Cf. above p. 78.) Kaila was convinced of the impor­tance of Carnap's book. He goes as far as to say that it bears a relation to exact thinking in our time somewhat analogous to that of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason to Newtonian science of nature. 55 But he also finds several details of Carnap's conceptual constructions debatable. His criticisms called forth some friendly polemics in correspondence with Carnap and Hempel.56

   Kaila's own later contributions to the new trend centre almost exclusively round the problem of a "logical constitution" of reality. They culminate in two books, the maturest I would say in his entire output. The first, from the year 1936, is called Über das System der Wirklichkeitsbegriffe, ein Beitrag zum logischen Empirismus;the second, from 1941, is entitled Über den physikalischen Realitätsbegriff, zweiter Beitrag zum logischen Empirismus. Between and very much in tune with them is another of Kaila's synoptic works, Inhimillinen tieto, mitä se on ja mitä se ei ole (in English "Human Knowledge, What It Is and What It Is Not"). It appeared simultaneously with a Swedish translation in 1939 and was for a number of years used as an advanced text in Finnish and Swedish univer­sities.
   Kaila's own "constitution theory" is original and rather different from Carnap's. It is much to be regretted that it never attracted the attention interna­tionally which, in my opinion, it amply deserves. To this contributed no doubt the intervention of the war and the "emigration" of a whole tradition in philosophy from the German to the English-speaking world. The only noteworthy trace which Kaila's contributions have left are with Alfred Ayer, who in his Foundations of Empirical Knowledge acknowledged indebtedness to Kaila.57 Ayer's book was published in 1940.
   Carnap's effort in Aufbau can with full right be said to aim at a monistic philosophy.58 But it is a monism of a rather different kind both from what I have here called the metaphysical monism centering round the idea of psycho-physical parallelism and from the scientific monism of a unified theory covering all natural phenomena. The Carnapian version of monism could be called conceptual or epistemological, or why not simply, logical monism. It entertains an idea of a common ancestral tree for all concepts concerning what is real and of some form of logical interconnectedness of all types of discourse about empirical reality.
   Kaila's contributions to constitution-theory are also a facet of his craving for a monistic philosophy. But, as far as I can see, he never uses the name "monism" for it. Instead another term now becomes prominent in his writings. This is the


term invariance.

An invariance, roughly speaking, is a lawful order, a regularity or stability, which subsumes different phenomena under a common concept or heading and which enables us to anticipate or predict new phenomena under that same heading. All human knowledge aims at finding invariances, says the opening sentence of Inhimillinen tieto. 59Along with this goes a tendency to smooth out minor de­viations from the rule, make the invariance even more perfect than it is in reality. This "smoothening out" Kaila calls idealization or rationalization. "Invariance" and "rationalization" are two key-terms of his philosophy from the mid-1930s on. Kaila distinguishes three levels or segments of reality: the phenomenal or f-level of sensory experience, the physical or f-level of macroscopic things, and the physico-scientific or physicalist level of micro-phenomena and other entities of physical theory. One can also speak of the three layers as three levels of discourse about reality.    The relation between the three levels is roughly as follows: the entities of a higher level are conceptualizations of invariances (invariant relations) among phenomena of the next lower level. Thus, to quote his words "the entire physical theory is nothing more than a precise representation of the more general 'higher' invariances of the physical everyday world."60 Similarly, the physical objects of our "everyday world" are conceptual or logical constructs of invariances in the world of perceptions and sensations. Of the way in which the physical world is "constituted" on the basis of invariances in the flux of sensory experiences Kaila presents an interesting and original theory, the details of which, however, we cannot digress upon here.
   In the original logical positivist conception of an "Aufbau" was contained an idea to the effect that all concepts of a higher level of discourse should be, in principle, eliminable in terms of concepts of a lower level and in the last resort of what Kaila calls the φ-level. This entails the translatability of all "higher type" discourse into the language of sense-experience, the basis of all knwoledge.


   Kaila's idea, as I understand it, of constituting the higher levels of reality in the terms of invariances among lower level phenomena is not necessarily tied to these views about eliminability and translatability. Kaila, however, initially embraced them too. It therefore came to him - indeed to us in Helsinki, I vividly remember - as something of a shock when Carnap in "Testability and Meaning" came up with the since notorious difficulties to eliminability caused by disposition concepts. Kaila in Inhimilitnen tieto tried to overcome Carnap's difficulties - but without success, as Anders Wedberg showed in a review in The Journal of Symbolic Logic. As for the related idea of translatability, Kaila accepts it in the


1936, 1939, and 194I publications although with the obvious limitations imposed by the "smoothing out" process of rationalization which is characteristic of theory formation in the more advanced sciences.

   In the posthumously published The Perceptual and Conceptual Components of Everyday Experience, which was originally a chapter in his unfinished synoptic work Hahmottuva maailma, previously mentioned, Kaila once again returns to the translatability problem. With arguments, somewhat reminiscent actually of those of Carnap in "Testability and Meaning" he now tries to show that translatability fails between the f-language and the φ-language. It fails, roughly speaking, because the antecedents in conditional sentences which are supposed to give the perceptual meaning of a sentence about physical objects, necessarily will have to be themselves (a kind of) physical sentences.61


8. A problem which has presented notorious difficulties to a monistic constitu­tion-theory is the problem of the reality of other minds. According to logical empiricism, Kaila says,62 "the objective meaning of statements about the other-mental consists in statements about the behaviour (in the broadest sense of the word) of other persons." A statement about another person's mind — about what he senses or feels or thinks, etc. — is, somehow, equivalent with a statement about (what is going on in) his body. This may be true; but it immediately also gives rise to an intriguing problem. Kaila posed it in clear terms already in his examination in Neupositivismus of Carnap's position in Aufbau. Here he says:63

   "The question now is whether (his equivalence is analytic, i.e. whether that equivalence is a definition, namely the only possible definition of the 'other-mental states'. If the answer is affirmative the statements about the mental states of others have the same meaning as the statements about certain expressive processes; — This would amount to an epistemological foundation of an extreme 'behaviourism'. Yet, according to customary theory of knowledge, this question is certainty not to be answered affir­matively."    In Neupositivismus Kaila makes a somewhat half-hearted attempt to criticize the "customary theory" and rests content with the fact that from the point of view of constitution-theory the equivalences in question have to be analytic. In System der Wirklichkeitsbegriffe six years later the difficulty is somehow slurred over." He suggests, vaguely, an alternative to the analytic equivalences of logical behaviorism. This alternative is to regard the experienced other-mental - for


example the pain we see in a contorted face or the contempt which we recognize in another person's glance - as an Urphänomen or primitive phenomenon, belonging to our sensory experience or φ-world.65 For Kaila the psychologist the reductivist step involved in radical behaviourism always seemed an illicit and unrealistic simplification.

   In Inhimillinen tieto the problem of other minds is dealt with at greater length. Here, for the first time, he considers the equivalents as obtaining between mental phenomena and brain-states. The question whether these equivalences are analytic or synthetic is, however, not raised. But the problem tormented him — and in two papers from the year 1942 he made a serious attack on it. One paper is called "Physikalismus und Phänomenalismus", the other "Reaalitiedon logiikka" which in English means the logic of our knowledge of reality.    In these papers Kaila accepts what might be called a two-language solution - hinted at already by Carnap in Aufbau and later becoming current under the impact of "physicalism" as an alternative to the "phenomenalism" of early logical positivism. Whereas the latter locates the basis of knowledge, i.e. the Constitution-System, in Kaila's φ-world, the former locates it in the f-world. From the point of view of physicalism, Kaila says,66 the behavioural equivalences are definitional, analytic; from the point of view of phenomenalism, however, they are empirical, synthetic. Physicalism may be said to have the advantage of overcoming the asymmetry between what in German is named with the terms "Eigen-psychisch" and "Fremd-psychisch" which gives to a phenomenalist constitution of the world its solipsistic flavour. But this advantage is gained at the expense of an incom­pleteness, viz. of having a language "in der man aber das eigentliche Fundament unserer gesamten Wirklichkeitsauffassung nicht beschreiben kann, nämlich die — phänomenologische 'Erlebniswelt' in ihrer qualitativen Eigenart".67


9. The two papers mentioned mark the end of an era in Kaila's search for a monistic philosophy, it is the era of his wrestling with the Constitution-Problem. It is also the time of his closest alliance with the movement in philosophy which had its origin in the Vienna Circle and continued in various forms of "analytic philosophy". Later Kaila is again the lonely wolf he was before his encounter with the logical positivists.

   I think, although this must remain a conjecture, that when Kaila in his 1953 description of his philosophic awakening speaks68 of a "detour" - this is how I translate the Finnish "syrjätaipale" - which lasted some ten years in his life-long efforts to articulate his monistic vision he has in mind the period from roughly


1930 to the early 1940s. The impression of a "detour" gains force from the fact that with the two papers mentioned of the year 1942 he is back at substantially the same problems with which he was wrestling in Beiträge, i.e. the problem of monism both in its "metaphysical" and its "scientific" variant.69

   Kaila clearly noted and emphasized that the middle one of the three layers of reality he had distinguished, viz. the physical level, enjoys a certain "privileged position" in relation to the two extreme ones, the phenomenal and the physicalistic level. Our "natural language" is predominantly an f-language, the predicates and relations of which apply to physical things and events. Yet the basis of our knowledge is sensory experience which is described in the φ -language. This means "dass die natürliche Sprache auf einer verhältnismässig hohen Stufe des 'logischen Aufbau der Welt' erst einsätzt;die unterhalb dieser Stufe gelegenen Daten -— bieiben dabei unberücksichtigt; die natürliche Sprache ist zu einer Beschreibung derselben von Natur aus ungeeignet."70
   It is a merit of Kaila's to have seen that the problem of the relationship between the f-level and the φ -level is not just a question whether physical concepts can be "constituted" on the basis of phenomenological concepts or physical language "translated" into phenomenological language. The question is rather whether there is such a thing as a "phenomenological language" at all. When wrestling with this Kaila comes close to the thoughts which made Wittgenstein, after his return to philosophy in the late 1920s, abandon the idea of a basic phenomenological language. There is some resemblance also with the shift from a phenomenalist to a physicalist position which took place among logical positivists in the early 1930s. But Kaila's critical doubts concerning the φ -world went deeper than theirs. They are foreboded in the two 1942-papers and further developed in two papers from the year 1944. As in the case of the twin-papers of 1942, one is in German, the other in Finnish. The first is called "Logik und Psychophysik", the title of the second would be in English "The Problem of the Gestalt".The concluding pages of Tankens oro, also published in 1944, summarize the position then reached by Kaila.
   The contrast phenomenal-physical is for Kaila related to the dualism quality-structure or quality-relation which had intrigued him in Beiträge. The φ-language is the language of (sensible) qualities, the f-language a language of structures. But any effort to give a phenomenological analysis or description of what we really "sense" seems to fall back on a language of structure. This is best illustrated by the Gestalt-qualities:
   Gestalt-qualities are, for example, the seen straightness of a line or flatness of a surface, or the separation and grouping of lines in a complex drawing. Any


attempt to "analyse" the quality will refer to some relational invariances in the physical material - line, surface, drawing - in which the Gestalt is perceived. There simply is no "pure" phenomenological language available in which the quality can be described. This means, Kaila says,71 that the very notion of "Gestalt-quality" is self-contradictory, a "hybrid" between φ - and f-reality, and therefore something which, in a sense, does not even "exist". What the attempted phenomenological analysis gives us is what Kaila calls72 a "semantic description" referring to the "meaning" which the qualitatively experienced has in physical reality, - for example the impression of flatness of a surface as a sign of the fact that any line which has at least two points common with the surface falls entirely in the surface.

   What we call a Gestalt-qualityis, in Kaila's view, the experienced equivalent of a neural reaction on the relational invariances in a given sensational manifold. "Die 'Gestaltqualitäten'", he says,73 "sind die Korrelate jener Reaktion; in ihnen haben wir die betreffenden Invarianten als 'unmittelbar erlebte' Phänomene."
   In still later writings from the 1950s74 and a posthumously published fragment from the unfinished Hahmoituva maailma,75Kaila extends these observations on Gestalt-phenomena to qualities generally. An experienced colour-quality, for example, is a diffuse, unanalysed sign referring to a place in a relational system of, say, degrees of luminosity, saturation, and shade. Its phenomenological analysis is a "semantic description" of this place in the f-world. Kaila supports his view with a reference to the defective verbal reactions to colours of people who suffer from so-called "colour amnesia". This shows, he thinks, that the normal use of colour-words makes latent reference to the relational structure of colours as physical phenomena.
   Kaila's efforts in the last 16 years of his life to deal with the relation between the phenomenal and the physical, quality and structure, the perceptual and the conceptual, seem to me a very important but sadly neglected contribution of his to the philosophy of psychology. Philosophers who write about these matters usually have but little schooling in empirical and experimental psychology. Psychologists again seem too often to be blind lo the conceptual, i.e. philosophical, dimension of their subject. Specialization in the fields has made the combination which Kaila represented almost unique in our time.
   I shall not try to pass verdict on Kaila's metaphysics of the body-mind or of the quality-structure relation. I do not feel in every respect competent for the task. Many of his thoughts remain for me unclear. But even if he did not succeed in giving a precise sense to the thought that "everything is matter and everything is mind" he certainly succeeded in showing that the body-mind separation is an


unfortunate instance of what he in later writings calls"the schematism of dichoto­mies"76 and that the two Cartesian substances are conceptually inseparably bound together. It does not seem to me certain that a monistic philosophy can go much farther to their unification.


10. Towards the end of his life Kaila tended more and more to view his own work in philosophy as a continuation and revival of the Romantic tradition of Naturphilosophie. (Cf. above p. 75.). This is already apparent from the title of the great work in three volumes which he began to plan in the mid-1950s. It was to be called Terminalkausalität als die Grundlage eines unitarischen Naturbegriffs, eine naturphilosophische Untersuchung. Only the first volume, Terminalkausalität in der Atomdynamik materialized (1956). For the second, Terminalkausalität in der Biodynamik, he had already prepared a vast material of notes. The third, uncommenced, volume he would presumably have called Terminalkausalität in der Neurodynamik.

   "Terminalkausalität" is Kaila's name for a unifying explanatory principle. Its precise meaning is difficult to gather from his writings. There is a touch of finality or teleology with the notion of "terminal causation" — but it should certainly not be associated with ideas of purposiveness or striving for a goal in natural pro­cesses. The principle is in some way an "holistic opposite" of the mechanistic principle or determination through initial causation which Kaila in his early work of 1920 had thought of as a unifying explanatory principle valid for all nature. Initial causation may still be important for explaining and predicting macro-phenomena. But in the micro-world of atoms, living cells, and neurons terminal causation reigns. And it is in this world that, according to Kaila, the innermost secrets of a unitary conception of nature are hidden.
   The source of inspiration of Kaila's striving for a "unified theory" was, of course, the grand achievements of relativity and quantum physics. In 1950 he had published Zur Metatheorie der Quantenmechanik and the title of his last complete book, which he did not live to see in print, would be in English "The Einstein-Minkowski Theory of Invariance. Investigations into its Logico-Epistemologlcal Nature and its Significance for a Philosophy of Nature".
   It almost goes without saying that Kaila's program was too ambitious for a single man's efforts to be crowned with success. But we can appreciate it as a grandiose vision of the goal to which Western exact science has been striving for the past four or five hundred years.
   As a motto for his first effort to state his philosophic position, the Sielunelämä


biologisena ilmiönä of 1920, Kaila used the following quotation from Mach's Mechanics: "Die höchste Philosophie des Naturforschers besteht darin eine unvollendete Weltanschauung zu ertragen". To endure an unfinished world-view may be the plight of all deep and serious thinking. To accept this is doubly difficult for one whose craving for a "unified theory" never yields to compromise with recalcitrant facts.


Academy of Finland


1 Kaila 1944(1), p. 104f.

2 Kaila 1953, p. 261f.

3 Kaila 1979(1), p. 436ff.

4 Probably 1907, but might be one year earlier.
5Kaila 1953, p. 261.

6 Kaila 1979 (1), p. 436.

7 Kaila 1953, p. 261.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.

11 Kaila 1944(1), p. 105. Ilike to think that this book played a similar role as a guide to philosophy for Kaila as another well-known text of roughly the same time, viz. Wilhelm Jerusalem's Einleitung in die Philosophie, played for me. Kaila's very first published philosophic writing was, incidentally, a review of Jerusalem's book in the daily paper Uusi Suometar for October 1st, 1910.

 12 Kaila 1979(1), p. 437.

13 The peculiar Zeitgeist of Finnish neo-romanticism round the turn of the
century is perceptively described in Sarajas 1961.

14 For details see von Wright 1983.
15 Kaila 1928, p. 78.

16 Kaila 1941, p. 49; here quoted from the English translation in Kaila 1979 (2), p. 155.

 17E.g. ibid.

18 On Kaila's rejection of this type of monism and on his early position generally on issues in the philosophy of science, see Niiniluoto 1979, pp. 370-409.

 19 Kaila 1911.

20 Kaila 1915.

21 Cf. Kaila 1953, p. 268f.



23 Kaila 1920, p. 10.

24 Ibid., f. 88.
25Ibid., p. 90ff.

26Ibid., p. 77f. and p. 90.
27 Ibid., p. 50.

28 Ibid., pp. 36, 48.

29 Ibid., p. 137.

30Ibid., pp. 10f., 42ff., and passim.

31 Kaila 1948. For some early doubts, see Kaila 1944(1), p. 135.

32 Kaila 1952(1).

33Kaila 1952(2) and Kaila 1952(3), pp. 91-97.
34 Kaila, 1928, p. 91.

35 Ibid.

36lbid., p.115.
37 Ibid., p. 78.
38 Ibid.

39 Ibid., p. 207.

40Kaila 1952.

41Kaila 1928, p. 207.
42 Ibid.,p. 15.

43 There are, however, occasional references to both authors also in Kaila's
publications in the 1920s.

44Ibid., p. 16 and passim.

45Ibid., p. 18.
46 Ibid., p. 49ff.

47 Ibid., p. 79f.
48 Ibid, Ch.III

49Ibid., pp. 93ff.

50Ibid., p. 108. "- die Physik hatte ihre 'Gestalttheoretiker in Faraday und
Maxwell, — entsprechend musste es einmal auch in der Psychologie — zu einem
radikalen Bruch mit solchen Vorstellungen, denengemäss die konkreten Stücke der
phänomenalen 'Felder' die Elemente der Psychologic seien, kommen."

51Letter from Carnap to Kaila of 5 June 1928.

52Kaila in a letter to Schlick of 28 September 1928: "In meiner fernen
Heimat lebe ich aber in einer ziemlich vollständigen geistigen Isolierung".

53 Kaila 1926, p. 35.

54 Kaila's nearly only contribution to questions of scientific method is Kaila 1930(2).

 ss Kaila 1930(1), p. 9.

56 Letters from Carnap to Kaila of 28 January 1929 and 12 December 1930. Letter from Hempel to Kaila of 3 January 1931.


57 Ayer 1940, p. 248 and passim.

58Carnap 1928, § 162.

59 Kaila

591939, p. 13.

60 Kaila 1941, p. 13. Quoted from the English translation in Kaila 1979(2), p. 132.

 61Kaila 1979(2), pp. 294ff.

62Kaila 1936. Also in Kaila 1979(2), p. 120.

63Kaila 1930(1), p. 33. (Quoted from Kaila 1979(2), p. 17).

64Kaila 1936, p. 96ff., (Kaila 1979(2), p. 118ff.)

65Ibid., p. 100. (Kaila 1979(2), p. 121.)
66 Kaila 1942(2), p. 82ff.

67 Kaila 1942(1), p. 123.

68 Kaila 1953, p. 261.

69 An alternative interpretation is that Kaila had in mind the roughly ten years of his tenure of the professorship in Turku. The Finnish word mentioned in the text gives some support also to this interpretation.

 70Kaila 1944(2), p. 108.

71Ibid., p. 107.
71 Ibid., p. 109.
73 Ibid., p. 99.
74 Kaila 1953, p. 274.

75Kaila 1979(1), p. 451ff.

76Ibid., p. 455.



Ayer, A.J.: The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge. Macmillan, London 1940.

Carnap, R.: Der logische Aufbau der Wetl. Weltkreis-Verlag. Berlin - Schlachtensee 1928.

Kaila, E.: "Poroporvari ja kamarifllosofi" ("The Philistine and the Armchair Philosopher"). Aika 5, 1911.

Kaila, E.: "Replik till dr. Lagerborg" ("Answer to Dr. Lagerborg"). Nya Argus 8, 1915.

Kaila, E.: Ernest Renan. Werner Söderström, Porvoo 1917.

Kaila, E.: Sielunelämä biologisena ilmiönä (Mental Life as a Biological Phe­nomenon). Otava, Helsinki 1920.

Kaila, E.: Sielunelämän rakenne (The Structure of Mind). Werner Söderström, Porvoo 1923.

Kaila, E.: Die Prinzipien der Wahrscheinlichkeitslogik. Annales Universitatis

Fennicae Aboensis, Series B, IV, No. I. Turku 1926.

Kaila, E.: Beiträge zu einer synthetischen Philosophie. Annaies Universitatis


Aboensis, Series B, IV, No. 3. Turku 1928.

Kaila, E.: Nykyinen maailmankäsitys. (The Contemporary World-View). Otava,

Helsinki, 1929. Kaila, E.: Der logistische Neupositivismus. Annales Universitatis Aboensis. Series

B, IV, No. 3. Turku 1930 (1).

Kaila, E.: "Hengentieteellisestä ja luonnontieteellisestä ajatustavasta" ("Ways of

Thinking in the Human and in the Natural Sciences"). In Juhlakirja Yrjö

Hirnin kuusikymmenvuotispäiväksi 7.12.1930. Otava, Helsinki 1930 (2). Kaila, E.: Über das System der Wirklichkeitsbegriffe. Ein Beitrag zum logischen

Empirismus. Acta Philosophica Fennica 2, 1936.

Kaila, E.: Inhimillinen tieto, mitä se on ja mitä se ei ole (Human Knowledge,

What It Is and What It Is Not). Otava, Helsinki 1939.

Kaila, E.: Über den physikalischen Realitätsbegriff'. Acta Philosophica Fennica 4,


Kaila, E.: “Physikalismus und Phänomenalismus". Theoria 8, 1942 (1). Kaila, E.: "Reaalitiedon logiikkaa" ("On the Logic of Knowledge of Reality").

Ajatus 11, 1942 (2).

Kaila, E.: Tankens oro. Tre samtal om de yttersta tingen (The Disquietude of

Thought. Three Dialogues on the Ultimate Questions). Söderström & Co.,

Helsingfors 1944 (1).

Kaila, E.: "Logik und Psychophysik". Theoria 10, 1944 (2).

Kaila, E.: "Hahmoprobleemasta"("On the Problem of Gestalt"). Ajatus 13, 1944


Kaila, E.: "Humanisiinen elamannakemys" ("The Humanist View of Life").

Ylioppilaslehti 11.11.1948.

Kaila, E.: Zur Metatheorie der Quantenmechanik. Acta Philosophica Fennica 5,


Kaila, E.: "Elämän ongelma filosofisessa katsannossa" ("The Problem of Life in

the Perspective of Philosophy"). Valvoja 72, 1952 (1).

Kaila, E.: "Allt är materia, allt ar själ" ("All is Matter, All is Mind"). Svenska

Dagblatiet 6.8.1952 (2)

Kaila, E.: "Kybernetiikan illuusio" ("The Illusion of Cybernetics"). Finnish

translation of 1952 (2) by Veli Valpola. Ajatus 17. 1952 (3).

Kaila, E.: "Laatujen asema suureiden maailmassa" ("The Place of Qualities in a

World of Quantities"). Valvoja 73, 1953.

Kaila, E.: Terminalkausalität als die Grundlage eines unitarischen Naturbegriffs.

Eine naturphilosophische Untersuchung. Erster Teil, Terminalkausalität in der

Atomdynamik. Acta Philosophica Fennica 10, 1956.

Kaila, E.: Einstein —Minkowskin invarianssiteoria. Tutkimuksia sen loogistieto-

teoreettisesta luonteesta ja sen luonnonfilosofisesta merkityksestä (The Ein­stein -Minkowski Theory of Invariance. Investigations into its Logico-Episte-

mological Nature and its Significance for the Philosophy of Nature.) Ajatus


21, 1958.

Kaila, E.: Arkikokemuksen perseptuaalinen ja konseptuaalinen aines (The Percep­tual and Conceptual Components of Everyday Experience). Ajatus 23, 1960.

German translation by H. Henning, Acta Philosophica Fennica 13,1962.

English translation by Ann and Peter Kirschenmann in Kaila 1979 (2).

Kaila, E.: "Filosofian klassillinen käsitys aineellisen ja sielullisen suhteesta" ("The

Classical View in Philosophy of the Relation between Matter and Mind"). In

Aate ja maailmankuva, ed. by Simo Knuuttila, Juha Manninen and Ilkka

Niiniluoto. Werner Söderström, Helsinki 1979 (1).

Kaila, E.: Reality and Experience, Four Philosophical Essays. Ed. by Robert S.

Cohen. D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht-Holland 1979 (2). Vienna

Circle Collection. Vol. 12. Contains English translations, by Ann and Peter

Kirschenmann of Kaila 1930, 1936, 1941, and 1960.

Niiniluoto, I.: "Tigerstedt, Kaila ja Lagerborg: tieteenfilosofian varhaiskylvöä

Suomessa" ("T., K., and L.: Early Philosophy of Science in Finland"). In

Kaila 1979 (1).

Sarajas, A.: Elämän meri, Tutkielmia uusromantiikan kirjallisista aatteista (The

Sea of Life. Studies in the Literary Ideas of Neo-Romanticism). Werner

Söderström, Porvoo 1961.

von Wright, G.H.: "The Origin and Development of Edward Westermarck's

Moral Philosophy". In Edward Westemarck. Essays on his Life and Works.

Ed. by Timothy Stroup. Acta Philosophica Fennica 34, 1983.

von Wright, G.H.: "Introduction". In Kaila 1979 (2). A few passages from this

paper have been incorporated, more or less verbatim, in the present Essay