24 | CR Book IX, Chapter 3

the organism itself. The organism both affirms and denies simultaneously
the preservation of its own life. Life, as individualised, itself causes its
own death, by the development of its own internal constitution, by an
inner tendency towards self-destruction. The life of an organism must
cease even it is not terminated by external accidents. Whereas the
mechanical conception of life defines it as the "totality of all functions
which resist death", the dialectical conception defines life as the unity of
the forces in the organism which resist death and of the forces which
drive towards death.

Observations on unicellular organisms, and on the clonal propaga-
tion of plants suggest that the living substance as such does not die, and
is immortal if (a) the products of its own metabolism are kept away from
it, and if (b) there is no limit to its growth, or cell-division. In individual
multicellular organisms of a definite form and specific size cell-division
is of necessity limited. Similarly, when many cells are united in one
organism, the waste products of the metabolism cannot be kept away
from other sells of the same organism. Senescence develops through
self-poisoning. Natural death is the price an organism pays for cutting
itself off from the totality of living matter.

Chapter 3 - It is possible, by a restatement of ontological facts in
psychological terms, to show that contradictions permeate the whole
range of our mental life, and that they have their ultimate root in self-
deception. The following analysis claims to give less an empirical proof
than an empirical application of our results. The empirical tradition
of the last centuries has been oblivious to the remark of Herakleitos,
that eyes and ears are ill and unwholesome witnesses for men who have
barbarous souls. Observation can never stand on its own feet. It can
never be the sole basis of knowledge. If people treat it as such, it
becomes, in actual practice, a tool for barbarians, fit only to build toys
for barbarians. Its scientific results lead away from peace, both mental
and social. A good knowledge of reality requires the co-operation of
rational thought, a sympathetic heart, and empirical observation - the
latter not in a leading, but in a subordinate position. We now take our
ontological results, treat them as methodological postulates for psycho-
logical research, and try out how far they are able to explain our mental
processes as we actually observe them, and how far they can show a way
to mental health, i.e. to a way of living which obeys the deeper trends
of our mind.

If the self is essentially one with the not-self, all mental disorder
springs from a threefold isolation* of the self. It is isolated against itself,
society, and reality. The isolated self is essentially in conflict with itself.
Some form of self-negation is always present in it. The self, as we know
it, is essentially divided against itself. It is not at one with itself.

Our self, isolating itself against itself, splits itself, and then turns
against itself. It is in conflict with itself, tries to hurt itself, hates, tortures,
kicks, punishes itself, has a row with itself, disagrees, or is discontented
with itself, criticises, reproaches, abuses, condemns, contradicts itself,
is ashamed of itself, injures itself - all these being incipient forms of

The death instinct is a mental counterpart of the inner organic
development and drive towards extinction. Its existence has been felt

*Book VIII, Chapter 1