Essays on Truth and Reality

By F. H. Bradley


The present volume consists mainly of articles which have appeared in Mind. I have added a paper first printed in the Philosophical Review, and there are also some essays which have not before been published. With three exceptions the whole belongs to the last five or six years. The parts of this work have been called chapters mainly for convenience in reference, but also because most of them represent more or less the chapters of a book which I once intended to write.

The title indicates, I think, the principal subject and aim of the contents. I am not offering a formal treatise on the nature and criterion of knowledge, truth, and reality, and yet this main problem recurs and in some form is perhaps present throughout. The imperfection and incompleteness, too evident to the reader, may, I hope, be forgiven if these pages serve to emphasize the need and possibly even to stimulate the pursuit of the above inquiry. There has seldom, I imagine, been a time when the general question as to the criterion was more pressing, or when the answer, attained or attempted, promised better results. But I have myself little to contribute here beyond that which I have urged in former years. For the inner connexion which, I hope, unites the various parts of this volume, I would refer to the remarks appended to the closing chapter.

|vi| I have been unwilling to include so many pages on Pragmatism. The subject certainly does not occupy a corresponding space in my mind. But the reader perhaps will recognize that, having been in a manner forced here to write in self-defence, I am no longer free merely to consult my own wishes. He will find, I trust, that the discussion, if too long, throws light on some points of interest; and in any case the remedy remains in his power. On the other hand, I should be sorry if the examination of ‘Radical Empiricism’ were left unread.

It is a satisfaction to me, when approaching the end of my own career, to note (whatever school or tendency may from time to time be in fashion) the increasing devotion amongst us to metaphysical inquiry. There has been, I think, a rise in the general level of English philosophical thought such as fifty years ago might well have seemed incredible. I am the more resigned to add that the best which I can now myself expect to do is to collect some other scattered writings, as well as perhaps to republish those early volumes which I can no longer hope to re-write.

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Chapter I. Introductory

Everything is subordinate to the Good, if that is taken in the widest sense, but no partial aspect of life is good perfectly (1-4). This shown, (a) of pleasure (5), (b) of practical activity (6-7), (c) of beauty, (d) of intelligence (8), (e) of social and other unions of individuals (9-10). On the other hand, every partial aspect has its own sphere of relative supremacy (10). This shown of philosophy with regard to morality and religion (10-15). How philosophy must in a sense rest on faith (15-17).

|1| 1 Every aspect of life may in the end be subordinated to the Good, if, that is, we understand the Good in a very wide sense. Everywhere in life we seem forced, sooner or later, to ask the question Why. And the answer to that inquiry seems everywhere to be found in the fact of contentment and absence or suppression of unrest. We may appeal from one thing to another thing, but it is to this aspect of things, and it is to things as more or less possessing this aspect, that we are brought at last. And we are led to conclude that, so far as anything in the above sense is good, there is nothing else in the world which can pretend to stand above it.

The claim of reason and truth to be an exception here will not hold. For, if you ask what is truth, you are led to answer that it is that which satisfies the intellect. The contradictory and the meaningless fail to be true because in a certain way they do not satisfy. They produce a special kind of uneasiness and unrest; and that on the other side which alters this unrest into an answering contentment, is truth. It is truth, we may say, where the intellect has found its good.

Whatever a man is engaged in, whatever he feels or does or apprehends or pursues, this, so far as it satisfies him, is |2| good in itself. 2 It possesses what you may call, if you please, the ultimate quality of goodness. So far as anything satisfies, there is no possible appeal beyond it, and nothing has any rational claim against that which in itself is fully satisfied. With regard to philosophy, for example, it is now an old saying that it must presuppose the will to think, and that if any one is ready to contradict himself, philosophy can have no concern with him.

All thinking, in brief, rests on the agreement, tacit or expressed, to accept a certain test. It consists, in other words, in the pursuit of one kind of satisfaction, and its arguments appeal to no one except so far as he is engaged in this pursuit. And, as in philosophy, so everywhere throughout life the same principle holds. Whether it is an affair of mere enjoyment and liking, or a matter of moral and religious conviction and preference, or again of aesthetic perception and taste, throughout these differences we find everywhere in one point the same thing. So long and so far as that which occupies you is able to give you rest and contentment, that thing, whatever it is, has goodness. And there is nothing which from the outside has against this thing any claim upon you. So long as remaining there, wherever you are, you find yourself satisfied and at one with your own being, so far, apart from mere violence, 3 you |3| are secure in yourself. Here, if in the camp there is no division, the enemy will not penetrate. A man, we all know, should not be shamed out of his reason, and he cannot rationally, we also know, be argued out of his feelings.

But on the other hand it is an old experience that nowhere is perfect good. Goodness does not really reside where perhaps we tend first to place it. There is nothing, in other words, in life which, taken in and by itself, completely satisfies. Our life has several main aspects, and, even within each aspect, we are led for ever in some point to desire something better and beyond. And we find in the end that no one aspect by itself can have goodness and be unmixed good. 4 Everything in life is imperfect and seeks beyond itself an absolute fulfillment of itself. And thus everything in life, we may say in the end, is subordinate, and subordinate to the Good.

We have been led in the above reflection to a twofold result. On the one hand every side of life, so far as it is good, is justified in itself, while on the other hand the perfect good is found in none of them. We are hence mistaken when we attempt to set up any one aspect of our nature as supreme, and to regard the other aspects merely as conducive and as subject to its rule. And it is worthwhile perhaps to deal at some length with this error.

The Good, we agreed, was satisfaction; and satisfaction, wherever found, we agreed was, so far, the Good. But if any one goes on to urge, ‘Well then, here is satisfaction; I have, for instance, found it here in my practical activity. And therefore this is the supreme good to which all else |4| is subordinate,’ we cannot accept this. Such an argument would illustrate the error we have mentioned. For, in the first place, what has been found is certainly not altogether and completely good. And in the second place, beyond this, there certainly are other aspects of life, where satisfaction and the Good are no less to be found. The perfect Good resides in each, but in each it exists imperfectly, and none therefore is supreme. On the one hand we can experience and feel our nature as a whole, and, as against this whole, we can realize the inadequacy of any one side of life. And, because this is so, we cannot identify our whole being with one of its aspects, and take everything else as subject to a one-sided supremacy. On this point the verdict of those who know most of life has been passed long ago, and, later or sooner, this finding must at some time have come home to us as true. We can feel that life has failed if it is all inactive pleasure or contemplation, or if it consists solely in moral struggle or religious emotion, or again in mere labour or in any activity without rest and enjoyment. We can be sure that our truth is not the full possession of reality, we can know that there are ends beyond aesthetic achievement and joy, and something again of value beyond life in society and in the family. Such things, we feel, are good, but there is not one of them which includes all the rest. There is none of them which possesses unqualified goodness, and hence there is not one of them to which all the others can be subject.

I will go on from this to consider briefly the various aspects of life, and to show the imperfection inherent in each. 5

I. (a) If first we take pleasure, we are impressed at once by its claim to be the Good. From whatever source it comes, so long and so far as it is intense and pure, it seems to give us a sense of absolute reality. But on the other side, apart |5| from any doubt as to pleasure’s purity, it is the commonest experience that life cannot be taken as included in one moment, or comprised within a single feeling. And, again, mere pleasure is an abstraction which we make from what is pleasant. Hence we seem unable in the end to say anything about pleasure, unless the pleasant, unless, that is, other things, are brought into the account. And it seems impossible to show either that, or how, these other things are really dependent on and subject to pleasure. And if any one replies that he for his part has chosen so to take them, that is no proof, I apprehend, that his choice need be considered. We are forced in reason to distinguish between pleasure and that which is pleasant, and, so far as I see, we cannot in reason make the second of these to be subject to the first. We may put it otherwise by saying that, where pleasure exists, it is the whole man who feels the pleasure, the whole man with all his practical and other activities and the complete range of his emotions. The Hedonist puts on one side this rich complexity, and on the other side he puts pleasure by itself, and he tells us that the entirety of the first exists for the sake of the second, and that nothing in the world excepting pleasure is good at all. But this assertion, unreasonable and arbitrary in itself, would appear to lead in the end to a further consequence. For if everything, as we have seen, in the end is subject to the Good, the Good (it seems to follow) must be the one and supreme Reality, and there will therefore be in the end nothing real but pleasure.

But to any such consequence the ordinary Hedonist is blind. He has not seen that, in denying value to all other aspects of life, he is from the first in collision with common sense, and he does not understand that to make the whole of life subordinate to pleasure as the Good, results in the end in a position which is incapable of defence. 6

|6| (b) In practical activity, to take that next, a man may feel that certainly here at last is both goodness and reality. But the attempt to take practice in itself and by itself as good, must lead us once more to an untenable consequence. Practice clearly is the alteration of existence by me, and this alteration, taken by itself, is an abstraction which, I suppose, no one could desire. To make the Good consist in mere doing, or in the bare quantity of mere doing, independent of and without regard to any quality in what is done, or to anything which accompanies the doing, is a position which, when understood, can hardly be maintained. Life, I presume, we all feel to be in some sense a qualitative whole, and we therefore cannot subordinate life to the aspect of bare alteration of existence. 7

There is again inherent in practice a well-known inconsistency. Practice I take to imply and to depend on an unrealized idea. It contains the idea of a ‘to be’ and a ‘not yet’, a something which has to be carried out in fact, but which, as soon as it is carried out, has ceased forthwith to be practical. Practice is the perpetual undoing of the condition which is implied in its own existence, and it cannot therefore offer by itself a satisfaction which is ultimate. The inconsistency is plainly visible from the side of the idea. The idea, since it is taken as a ‘not here’, does not qualify ‘my world’, but on the other hand, since after all an idea qualifies something, 8 the idea is real in a world which is other than mine. Either then there is a world outside practice, and practice does not cover the whole of things, or on the other side practice is somehow a passage and a transportation between two worlds which |7| seem to have no real unity. This difficulty is brought out in a striking form by the postulate made in religion, in any religion, that is, which is not imperfect. The Good, which in religion is the complete Good and the supreme Reality, must be carried out in practice, and yet, in order to be made real, it is presupposed. The Good, that is, cannot in religion be taken as unreal or as merely real elsewhere; for, if so, the Good would be no longer supreme. The Good therefore must be taken by faith as already real here. But, with this, it has become clear that, while practice consists in alteration, the alteration which it makes does not, as such, qualify the reality. In other words, if you regard the Good as entire or supreme, the Good ceases before your eyes to be merely practical. It is idle here to reply that a Good, however inconsistent with itself, may after all be complete if it satisfies me fully. For internal inconsistency is sure by the nature of things to work out into practical discrepancy and dissatisfaction. And that which really satisfies in the inconsistent process, so far as it satisfies me, is not the mere process. It is the realization of ends which, while entering into the process, are also above and beyond it.

(c) And to seek in the beautiful for perfect or unqualified good leads once more to disappointment. A man may feel assured that, in one form or in many, beauty, as he would say, is all the world to him. And yet it is too plain that all the world, if so, is but a part of the reality. The beautiful, even when attained, is not all beauty, and again there is toil and anxiety in the pursuit, and the pursuit may and even must entail more or less of disappointment. And, if beside beauty there is no other end and joy in life — and other ends and other joys there surely must be — there is at least together with beauty more or less of ugliness and of care and pain in existence. In short there undeniably are things which are not beautiful, and life has aspects which are not beautiful and cannot become so. There is perhaps |8| nothing which cannot be made beautiful in art, and m the artistic vision which abstracts from the crude whole which it perceives. But in any case the art and the vision, even if perfect themselves, must leave something outside, and there are elements which refuse persistently to own their supremacy. It is only in ‘some world far from ours’ that the consummation is reached, and ‘music and moonlight and feeling are one’. And the lover of beauty, like the lover of morality, is condemned to fall back on faith. To him the whole after all, if we could see it, is certainly beautiful. But since on the other hand to be beautiful is to be an object for some sense, some sense which is other than that which it perceives, this all-inclusive and ideal beauty could nowhere be realized. Or, if it is at once real and supreme, it has ceased forthwith to be merely beautiful.

(d) With regard to intellect and the intelligible world we do not need many words. Science in its widest sense is a pursuit, and it never becomes wholly an attained object. It is but one side of life which is entangled with other sides, and again, as a pursuit, it has a practical aspect, and it therefore itself is burdened with the inconsistency of practice. In any case, its object, even so far as that is attained, is the world of mere truth, and does not include all reality. To understand, as it is given to us, or given to any one, to understand, is not wholly to possess even in apprehension, and still less is it the same as to enjoy and to do.

Knowledge, taken apart from being, has no goodness or reality at all, and, further, a mere knowledge of being cannot satisfy by itself. For, if it is not to pass beyond knowledge, it is forced to leave being more or less outside. It is in short one thing to know and another thing to be; and hence our knowledge cannot satisfy even itself, and much less the whole man.

For faith it is true once again that complete knowledge is realized. What is sought can be found, and it is itself |9| waiting there to be found. But, with this, since the pursuit, as a pursuit, has lost ultimate reality, and since it is in the pursuit that philosophy lives, with such an end there is also an end of mere philosophy. 9

(e) When we dismiss these abstractions we may be led finally to place our ultimate good in some higher totality of life. In the love and friendship between individuals, and in the social union which we find in the family and in wider wholes, we may claim to have reached at last the concrete and all-inclusive good. But, though in this position there is much truth, it seems impossible to accept it as final. For, if we judge by what we can perceive, the individual members, in whatever higher unity, are more or less the sport of change and accident. And the whole, in which they are united, has itself the defects of finitude. Its existence seems more or less precarious and subject to chance, and on the other side its inward being more or less suffers from narrowness. When you consider even our human aspiration in its breadth and in its intimacy, it is difficult to set this down as owned entirely by any common life that we know. And it is hard to see how its satisfaction could be merely the fulfillment of any known higher unity. And hence our common life and our supreme good escapes once more to take its place in an invisible world. It is in some city of God, in some eternal church, that we find the real goodness which owns and satisfies our most inward desire. But on the other side such a reality exists only for faith. This does not mean that we cannot know at all the supreme good and reality. It means that we are ignorant as to the variety of those forms of finite soul which may make part of its life, and it means that in the end we do not know how they, together with all their inward and outer diversities, reach harmony within it. I am therefore forced to deny that the chief good is merely |10| social. 10 Or, from the other side, if I take the Good as the extension of any common life that I know, I am driven to admit that the extension is only for faith. And I do not know, at the point where the desired consummation is reached, what will, at that point, have become of the starting-place. I am ignorant, in other words, as to how far the individuals themselves may have been essentially modified and transformed. 11

We have seen that every aspect of life has goodness and realizes the Good, and we have seen, on the other hand, that no one aspect has goodness by itself and that none is supreme. The various sides of our nature appear to be connected, and more or less this connexion everywhere shows itself. But the complete truth as to this connexion seems not to be within our grasp. And hence the main aspects of our being must be allowed, each for itself, to have a relative independence. If I could think that I understood our essence, throughout and from the bottom upwards, I might conceivably follow those who judge otherwise here. But for me, as I am, every aspect within its own realm is in a certain sense supreme, and is justified in resisting dictation from without. I do not, however, propose to develop this main result except in reference to philosophy.

The supremacy of philosophy within its own field might be assailed from various sides, but I shall confine myself here to the attack made on behalf of morality and religion. The claim of practice, it may be said, will apply to the whole of life, and must hold good therefore in the case of |11| philosophy. But this claim, we must reply, though it is well founded and though it covers the whole of life, is subject to a very serious limitation. 12 Wherever we have to do with non-practical activity or enjoyment, the regulation of this by practice must be external. Morality, that is, can dictate to me within what limits I am, for instance, to. pursue art or philosophy, but within those limits it cannot dictate to me the nature of the pursuit. Religion and morality, we may say, are so far in no better position than are choice and caprice. You may choose or not choose to philosophize or to paint, but you certainly cannot altogether paint or philosophize as you choose. Whether and how far you will do these things, you may from the outside determine according to what you think moral. But it is only from the inside that you are able to learn the right method of doing them, and that method is independent of anything which may count as right outside. My will and my conscience can in short no more tell me how I ought to pursue truth, than they can show me how to ride a horse or to play on a piano.

It is difficult for morality, and it is still more difficult for religion, to recognize its own limits with regard to art or philosophy. 13 I can enter here no further on this matter than to express my opinion that to invade the region of philosophy is contrary to the interest of a sound morality or religion. Any such invasion is likely to lead to a disastrous conflict within our nature. The independent pursuit of beauty and of truth feels its own sufficient justification; and, if it is forced into a collision with duty and goodness, there may be a revolt and a rejection of goodness and duty. And we have seen that morality and religion are too incomplete, and too much weakened by internal defect, not to suffer when such a contest has been provoked.

Philosophy aims at intellectual satisfaction, in other |12| words at ultimate truth. It seeks to gain possession of Reality, but only in an ideal form. And hence it is the realization of but one side of our being. Now among the various aspects of our nature we have seen that not one is supreme, but that each within its own limits has a relative supremacy. And hence you cannot carry over conclusions and results from morality or religion which, as admitted results, are to be received and accepted by philosophy. These results for philosophy can be no more than material. It will recognize them as it has to recognize every species of fact, but to judge with regard to final truth belongs to itself alone. Certainly I agree that if philosophy were to contradict either morality or religion, these, or either of them, would be fully justified in refusing to give way. In such a case we should have a conflict where there is right on both sides. But I do not think, myself, that a true philosophy will conflict with a sound morality or religion. In my opinion a true philosophy certainly does not contradict the postulates required for conduct. It will or it may understand them otherwise — as to this I do not doubt — but I cannot admit that to understand otherwise is necessarily to deny. It is surely possible to take a view as to the principle on which a man acts, a view with which he would not agree, and yet neither really to contradict him nor in action to dissociate oneself from him. So much seems clear; but whether on the other hand a true philosophy will be able to guarantee and to justify the postulates of conduct, is another question altogether. What I desire to insist on here is that neither a different understanding, nor even a failure to justify, need amount to anything like a real contradiction. If a man is assured on the part of philosophy that his religious belief is false, he is warranted, at least formally, in replying that this is so much the worse for philosophy. But the position becomes different when, without any such assurance, and perhaps even against a contrary assurance, a man insists that some |13| philosophy contradicts his moral or religious belief. He may doubtless here be right, but, if he is right, it is because he himself, so far, is the better philosopher. He in any case has carried the question away from practice into the realm of theory, and has so far left the limits within which theory could have no hold against him. There are two questions in short which it is common but most dangerous to confound. The first asks about the sense of a doctrine as a working belief, while the second investigates the ultimate meaning and theoretical guarantee of that doctrine. The second inquires into the position of something in the universe at large, while the first asks merely how it stands to my heart and conscience.

In philosophy we must not seek for an absolute satisfaction. Philosophy at its best is but an understanding of its object, and it is not an experience in which that object is contained wholly and possessed. It is the exercise and enjoyment, in other words, of but one side of our nature. I do not forget that philosophy has often been made into a religion. From time to time it has been taken as the one thing needful, as the end and rule of our lives, and as all the world to its worshippers. But the same thing, we must remember, would be true again of art and perhaps of other pursuits. It must be an unhappy world where a man can say that, if he had no philosophy, he would be left destitute of practical belief. And the philosophy that is led to take up such a burden must be weighted in its course, and tempted perpetually to lose sight of its main end. 14 A true philosophy cannot justify its own apotheosis. Nay, from the other side the metaphysician might lament his own destiny. His pursuit condemns him, he may complain, himself to herd |14| with unreal essences and to live an outcast from life. It is three times more blessed, he may well repeat, to be than to think. 15 But in such a mood the man would so far fall away from philosophy. A true philosophy must accept and must justify every side of human nature, including itself. Like other things it has its place in that system where at once every place and no place is supreme. The mastery of that system in thought, however far we carry it, leaves philosophy still the servant of an order which it accepts and could never have made.

Certainly from its own nature philosophy must be conversant with the highest things, and, unless it is false in itself, it must recognize these things in their proper character. And such familiarity, it is clear, must have some effect on the mind. But it is hard to anticipate in any given case the amount of this force, nor is it easy to foresee its nature and direction. Familiarity, here as elsewhere, may under some conditions lead to contempt. And it cannot, I think, be denied that even genuine philosophy may be practised in a spirit which is immoral or irreligious. The same thing will be true once again of art and of all study of human nature either from the side of body or mind. If we take such instances as the novelist, the poet, the painter or the anthropologist, it is well known that any of them is liable to immoral inspiration. All that need be said here is that, while on the one hand every pursuit fixes its own limits, on the other hand every pursuit is by the same principle bound to sincerity and single-mindedness. No pursuit can justify a lapse from its own code of honour, or a search or a love for alien ends and effects. And thus an immoral |15| spirit in the philosopher is, I presume, certain, unless kept in check, more or less to injure his philosophy. But from the other side the same thing holds of an unusual gift of conscientious or religious feeling. Unless such a gift is controlled and regulated, it may more or less injure or even ruin the work of the philosopher or artist.

What I have been trying to say comes perhaps briefly to this. Philosophy like other things has a business of its own, and like other things it is bound, and it must be allowed, to go about its own business in its own way. Except within its own limits it claims no supremacy, and, unless outside its own limits, it cannot and it must not accept any dictation. Everything to philosophy is a consideration, in the sense that everything has a claim and a right to be considered. But how it is to be considered is the affair of philosophy alone, and here no external consideration can be given even the smallest hearing.

I will go on from this to add another preliminary remark. Philosophy demands, and in the end it rests on, what may fairly be termed faith. It has, we may say, in a sense to presuppose its conclusion in order to prove it. It tacitly assumes something in general to be true in order to carry this general truth out in detail. And its conclusion, further, is not, and never could be, carried out in detail actually and completely. Thus philosophy stops short of a goal which it takes nevertheless to be somehow reached. And, if philosophy has to admit that in the end it fails to see and to understand exactly how this goal is attained, the end of philosophy is realized outside philosophy and, in a sense, only for faith. The meaning and justification of this remark I will not discuss further here, and we may content ourselves with a more evident aspect of the same truth. Philosophy, we saw, was a search, a search for that which in the end is true. And we observed that, so far as a man stands outside of this pursuit, it cannot in the end justify its existence |16| against him. He may decline, to some extent at least, to enter into the pursuit, and the decision, at least to some extent, lies with his own choice or caprice. How far in the end it is possible actually so to remain outside, I shall not offer to discuss, though on this point self-deception, it is clear, is both easy and common. I will content myself with stating the doctrine, which I have to urge, in a hypothetical form. A man may enter on the pursuit of truth, or he may abstain from this pursuit; but, if he enters on it and so far as he enters on it, he commits himself inevitably to a tacit assumption.

The want of an object, and, still more, the search for an object, imply in a certain sense the knowledge of that object. If a man supposed that he never could tell when possession is or is not gained, he surely never would pursue. In and by the pursuit he commits himself to the opposite assumption, and that assumption must rest on a possession which to some extent and in some sense is there. Naturally I do not mean that at the start the philosopher has propositions which he lays down in advance. 16 I mean that his action has no sense unless he does assume, or, if asked, would assume, that, when he has got propositions, he is able to judge of them, and can then tell whether they do or do not put him in ideal possession of reality. Negation, we may remind ourselves, must presuppose and always must rest on a positive ground. 17

|17| Hence the only scepticism in philosophy which is rational must confine itself to the denial that truth so far and actually has been reached. 18 What is ordinarily called philosophical scepticism is on the other hand an uncritical and suicidal dogmatism. For it undertakes to know and to judge as to possible knowledge, while really itself assuming the knowledge which it seeks to deny and to disprove. This procedure is far too easy and too plausible ever to go out of fashion, though in principle it has now long ago been exploded. But, in speaking of philosophical scepticism, we must remember always that this is a different thing from mere scepticism about philosophy. The latter scepticism, however rational it may be, stands outside of philosophy itself. It addresses itself, we may say, and it appeals to the human person, while for the philosopher, so far as he has engaged himself in his special pursuit, it has no relevant word.

Passing to another point I would end this chapter by remarking on at least one advantage possessed by philosophy. We should all agree that, except within limits, doubt is an evil; and one remedy against doubt, we know, consists in its extrusion. This is the way in which, in our lives, doubt is banished or controlled, and, while it is a necessary way, in principle it is not satisfactory. The doubt in itself and in its root may remain unattacked, and all that perhaps has happened is that the ground has been invaded and overgrown by something else. Certainly this counter-occupation may in the end destroy the doubt through inanition. On the other hand, being temporary, it itself may die down, and the doubt, undestroyed in its root, may appear as before. But in philosophy, so far as philosophy succeeds, the case is otherwise. The doubt here is not smothered or expelled but itself is assimilated |18| and used up. 19 It becomes an element in the living process of that which is above doubt, and hence its own development is the end of itself in its original character. And even if philosophy fails partially, as it may fail, yet still it furnishes, I think, something of a remedy against doubt. A scepticism that has tried to be thorough tends, we may say, to weaken doubt by spreading it and making it more general. The doubt, if really it is intellectual and not a mere disease of the will, loses strength and loses terror by losing its contrast. By widening and extension it may have become so attenuated and so feeble as in a particular application to have no working force. But the reader may feel that I have indulged myself now too long in preliminary reflections.


1^ This chapter was written in December 1906, as an introduction to a book which I then had in contemplation (see the Preface), and, though with some hesitation, I venture now to publish it. It has been altered by certain additions and by much larger omissions, but on the whole it remains in its original character.

2^ Goodness, worth, and value, are of course all the same thing. The definition of the Good given in my Appearance I have now for some time ceased in one point to consider correct. I do not think that desire should be included in the definition. Wherever, and so far as, I feel myself positively affirmed, there, so far, is goodness. Desire, at least in the ordinary course, will necessarily supervene, but it is wrong to take it as being from the first essential; and indeed so much as this was admitted in my volume, pp. 403-4. We can realize this truth perhaps most plainly if we consider the case of beauty. As to the inclusion of pleasure in the Good, I will say nothing here. And the question, how far, and in what sense, an idea is implied there, I wish at some time to reconsider. Perhaps at a future date I may be able to deal more fully with the general nature of Goodness.

3^ I do not here enter into the question whether in the end there can be any mere external force. But, so far as the individual is concerned, this, for practical purposes, obviously exists.

4^ With regard to anything which claims to be good we may ask these questions, (i) Does this thing possess nothing but goodness? Is its goodness in this sense unqualified? (ii) Does it, so far as it is good, possess goodness simply in its own right, or through a qualification more or less external to itself? Is its possession in this sense unqualified? (iii) Does it possess all goodness? Is anything else good? The above three questions are to my own mind different aspects of the same question, i.e. Is the thing of which we speak identical with the Good.

5^ In what follows I am to some extent repeating what has been said in Appearance, pp. 458 ff.

6^ Cf. Appearance, pp. 373-4, and Chapter XI of the present volume. It will, of course, be understood that the remarks in the text do not apply to the Hedonism which contents itself with using pleasure merely as the mark by which to discover goodness, without denying that other things really are good.

7^ For further explanation on this point see Chapter IV of the present volume.

8^ This point is discussed hereafter in Chapter III.

9^ Later on, p. 15 and elsewhere, I shall return to the above point.

10^ Here to my mind is the objection to taking love as ultimate. There is no higher form of unity, I can agree. But we do not know love as the complete union of individuals, such that we can predicate of it the entirety of what belongs to them. And, if we extend the sense of love and make it higher than what we experience, I do not see myself that we are sure of preserving that amount of self-existence in the individuals which seems necessary for love.

11^ Cf. here my Ethical Studies, pp. 200-3, and Appearance, p. 415.

12^ For a further discussion of this matter I must refer the reader to Chapter IV.

13^ There is some further discussion of this point in Chapter XV.

14^ It would be easy to enlarge on this theme. I will note one consequence which may follow where a man turns his philosophy into a religion. A difference in opinion in this case between rival philosophies may more or less drift into the practical antagonism of conflicting creeds. And in the interest of philosophy such a situation is not to be desired.

15^ I may perhaps illustrate this by transcribing one of those notes in which, some twenty years ago, I used to attempt to fix my passing moods. ‘The shades nowhere speak without blood, and the ghosts of Metaphysic accept no substitute. They reveal themselves only to that victim whose life they have drained, and, to converse with shadows, he himself must become a shade.’

16^ Cf. here Chapter XI.

17^ It may be replied here that a rejection need not, in psychology, start from and presuppose any positive basis which is mental. Without offering here to discuss the whole matter, I should answer that, at the stage of reflection which we suppose above to exist, the objection will not hold. When at this stage I reject an untruth, I feel that I am asserting something positively, though I could not say what that is. The suggested idea does not simply disappear after having first perhaps become unpleasant. The idea, on the contrary, is banished, and in its banishment I feel that I gain positive assertion, if only for the moment. My natural expression for the process is not merely ‘That is gone’, or, again, ‘I will not have that’. My natural expression here is something like ‘I know better’.

18^ On this point Chap. v.

19^ Though the case is not wholly parallel, we may recall here the difference between attempting to combat a morbid fixed idea from the outside, and its removal through internal modification under hypnotic suggestion.

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Chapter II. Faith 1

Faith, relation of to knowledge and doubt (19-20). It does not always originate in action (21-2), and whether it must always issue in action seems very doubtful (23-4). The above illustrated in detail (24-6). Philosophy and faith (267).

|19| The object of these pages is to inquire as to the meaning of faith. They will be concerned, not merely with religious faith, but with faith in general. I will endeavour first to fix loosely and within limits the sense of the term, and will go on next to state and to explain a narrower view which has much to recommend it. I shall have, however, to point out, thirdly, that this view is not in accordance with all the facts. Unless, that is, we take it as a definition more or less arbitrary, it requires modification. From this I shall proceed to adduce by way of illustration a number of instances, and will finally ask how philosophy and faith are connected. I may, however, add that for myself the inquiry as to the meaning of our term possesses no great importance. As long, that is, as some definite sense is attached to the word, I do not for myself much care how it is defined,

I. It is obvious that faith is in some way opposed to knowledge proper, but it is obvious also that faith implies some kind of believing and knowing. If you descend, that is, below a certain intellectual level, the word ‘faith’ becomes inapplicable. It is therefore not knowledge but knowledge of a certain kind which is excluded by faith, or which, |20| to speak more accurately, falls outside of that which constitutes faith’s essence. Mere feeling (I do not ask here if this is to be called knowledge) is certainly not faith. I do not deny that a man may have faith in that which he feels, but in any case his faith must go beyond mere feeling. And the same thing must be said once more of sensible perception. You cannot have faith in what you see, so long as you have nothing but seeing. And again everything that can be called intellectual perception must, as such, be external to faith. The mere apprehension of a principle or of a logical sequence is certainly not that which, taken by itself, we should call faith. And we may go on generally in the same sense to exclude all knowledge so far as that is grounded in ideas or is verified in facts.

On the one side, the object of faith must be ideal. To believe in a person, for instance, is, however vaguely, to believe something about him. In order to have faith I must, that is, entertain an idea. On the other side, not every such entertainment is faith. For faith is limited to that ideal region where, apart from faith, doubt is possible. Its positive essence lies in the overcoming or prevention of doubt, actual or possible, as to an idea. And the doubt further, as we have seen, must be excluded in a way which cannot in the ordinary sense be called logical. The nonlogical overcoming from within of doubt as to an idea, or the similar prevention of such doubt, appears, so far, to be the general essence of faith.

II. I will now proceed to state a meaning in which faith may be more narrowly understood. We have here a view which, except as an arbitrary definition, will not cover all the facts, but which nevertheless is instructive and in great part tenable. There are two questions which are naturally asked as to the nature of faith. How in particular is faith able to prevent or to overcome doubt, and what is the result |21| of faith’s presence? I have spoken of these two questions as two, because in the end, as I think, they must be divided. But for the view which I am about to state briefly, no such division exists.

Faith according to this view will exist so far as an idea is a principle of action, whether theoretical or practical. 2 The doubt is not first removed or prevented before we act, but by and in the process of our acting. And our state in thus acting remains faith so long as and so far as the idea is not verified. Thus, to take theory first, an attempt to reconstruct the world ideally might, and, we may even add, must begin in faith, but the process ceases to depend on faith so far as it visibly succeeds. And, if our theory ever became intelligible throughout, faith would have ceased wholly to exist in it, since no further doubt as to that theory’s beginning or end would be possible. On the other hand, apart from such complete verification, faith must always remain, since your doubt, actual or possible, is removed only because, and so far as, you resolve to act in a certain manner. What overcomes your doubt, therefore, is in the end action and not vision. And on the practical side the same account holds good. For practical success tends to banish doubt as to those ideas on which we act, and therefore, so far as it goes, tends to remove the condition of faith. But because neither in theory nor in practice is a complete success attainable throughout and in detail, we are left, so far as this aspect goes, still dependent on faith.

Even on such a view, the reader will have noticed, faith is not essentially practical, if that word is taken (as above) in |22| its more ordinary sense. On the other hand, all faith both in its origin and its result will (upon this view) be active. Doubt, that is, will be overcome always by that which I may be said to do, — to do, if not in practice, at least theoretically. My contemplation even may be called active, and must everywhere, so far as doubt is removed by action, imply faith. So that, if we like to use ‘practical’ in the widest sense as equivalent to ‘active’, faith (on this view) will be essentially practical. But the view, however much truth it contains, cannot in my opinion be defended. It does not throughout answer to the facts. Even in the widest sense of practice I cannot find that faith is always practical in its origin or even always in its issue.

(a) The origin of faith, it seems to me clear, may be what we call emotional; and, even perhaps apart from emotion, faith can arise through what may be termed a non-active suggestion. The reason why I have come to believe in an idea must in some cases be said to be aesthetic, and in others sympathetic and social; or again it may be found in the magnetic force of a commanding personality. To maintain that in every one of such cases I believe because of something that I do, and that faith arises through action, would surely be contrary to fact. And the objection that in such cases there is no possibility of doubt, and that there is therefore no faith, seems once more untenable. To me it seems clear that I may believe in ideas the opposite of which I am able to conceive, and that my possible doubt is overcome by an influence which is not properly intellectual, and yet which certainly does not consist in action. And I do not see how to deny that such a process is faith. If and so far as I go on to act, the action, I agree, will and must affect the source from which it arises. But we have here a subsequent reaction, and to conclude from this to the nature of the first origin seems illogical.

(b) Hence, even in the widest sense of the term, the origin |23| of faith is certainly not in all cases practical. And it may be doubted whether even the result can in all cases be called action. For example (to take first action which is practical in the narrower sense) I may believe that tonight it will rain because some one in whose opinion I trust tells me so. And this belief may, so far as I see, in no way influence what I call my conduct. And to urge that under other conditions that influence would be there, and that therefore it is there, to myself seems not permissible. Hence the issue of faith need not always be called practical, if that term is to keep its ordinary meaning.

And even if we extend that meaning so as to embrace every kind of mental action, a difficulty may still remain. If I believe upon faith that tonight it will rain, my conduct, we saw, may remain uninfluenced. A difference of some kind will, however, have been made in what in the widest sense I may call my mental furniture. And, since I always in some way am acting theoretically, the difference made by any belief, however seemingly irrelevant, in my mental furniture, must affect every subsequent theoretical action, and therefore may be said to consist in activity. So far as I really and actually believe that tonight it will rain, so far any judgement of mine with regard to anything in the universe will be affected, and the result of my faith will thus be action. To this extreme contention I may naturally object that, whether I believe that it will or will not rain, may make apparently no visible difference. Still I may be asked, in reply, why and how the idea of rain is kept before me at all unless it is connected with some subsequent mental action? We should thus be brought to the question, whether, and if so in what sense, I have faith so long as I do not exercise it, and so long as there is no actual idea before my mind.

I do not wish to discuss this here, but must insist on the conclusion that the first origin of my belief must in some |24| cases be passive. Again, as to the result, it is questionable how far in some cases we can speak of any actual result at all. We may infer a result on general grounds, but there may be nothing that we can verify in detail. And, further, an action resulting from faith need not be practical. We must therefore conclude that certainly faith does not in all cases arise from action, and that, whether it issues necessarily, in act, even a theoretical act, seems highly doubtful.

If we pass from faith in general to religious faith, this conclusion must be altered. Religious faith consists, I should say, in the identification of my will with a certain object. It essentially is practical and must necessarily be exercised in conduct. I do not contend that in its origin all religious faith must be practical. On the contrary, it may be generated, I believe, in a variety of manners. But, except so far as the accepted idea is carried out practically, the belief (we should perhaps most of us agree) is not properly religious. And of course the practical exercise of a belief must react on its origin. But, unless we wish to lay down a definition which is more or less arbitrary, I do not see that we are justified in arguing from the nature of religious faith to that of faith in general. For reasons that have been given I could not agree that everywhere faith involves the identification of my will with an idea.

III. It may perhaps help the reader to judge as to the truth of the doctrine we have laid down, if I go on to offer some applications in detail. And a certain amount of repetition may perhaps be excused. It is not, for instance, faith where I draw deductions from a principle accepted on faith. So far as the sequence is visible, faith so far is absent. Further, an unverifiable assumption as to detail — an assumption made because a principle demands it — seems hardly to be faith, unless so far as the principle itself is taken on faith. Wherever a principle is seen and grasped apart from |25| faith, my confident acting on this principle should not be called faith. And from the other side, where through weakness of will I fail to act on my knowledge, we must not everywhere identify this defect with want of faith. In the first place, the knowledge itself may or may not rest on faith, and again, the knowledge itself may still be faith even if it apparently is followed by no action. It is only, we saw, in the case of religious faith that this must be denied. The apparent fact of my failure to act upon knowledge will always, I presume, create difficulty, since the detail in each instance may vary and is hard to observe correctly. In some cases my failure may have its origin in doubt, in doubt, that is, not with regard to the principle but as to the detail of its application here and now. And, so far as the right ideas would be secured and the contrary ideas banished by knowledge or faith, my want of action may be attributed to a defect in faith or knowledge. But there are other cases where such an account of the matter seems not to answer to the facts. 3 To pass to another point, when we hear that ‘the infant, who has found the way to the mother’s breast for food, and to her side for warmth, has made progress in the power of faith’, 4 we are at once struck by the inappropriateness of the phrase. The action in such a case need not arise from any kind of belief and idea. And in the second place, where there is an idea from which the action proceeds, the conditions may exclude the possibility of faith. Where an idea, suggested by perception or otherwise, cannot be doubted, faith is obviously inapplicable. Faith, in the proper sense, cannot begin until the child is capable of entertaining a contrary idea.

At the risk of wearying the reader I will add some further illustration. When serving on a jury a man may come to |26| a decision in various ways. If he accepts and rejects testimony, and in the end judges according to probability and by what he knows of the world, the process so far is not faith. If he is influenced by another man simply because he infers that the other man knows better, faith once more is absent. If he is influenced by the other man otherwise, let us say morally and emotionally, and in consequence follows the other man with belief, this is certainly faith. But we cannot call the same thing faith where, and so far as, the belief is absent. The influence of another person on my conduct tends, we may say, normally to influence my belief, but this consequence may be absent, and, if so, we cannot speak of faith proper. Finally, if our juryman cannot decide rationally, and if he says, ‘Since I must decide in some way, I will take the plaintiff as being in the right,’ that again certainly is not faith. The man’s doubt here is not overcome, nor is there any principle, rational or otherwise, which he accepts as the ground of his particular decision.

IV. I will end by asking whether and, if so, in what sense faith is implied in philosophy. The question how far in philosophy we can be said to go to work with our whole nature, and not merely with our intellect, need not here be discussed. 5 But, to pass this by, philosophy, I should say, in a sense must depend upon faith. For we do not rest simply on a datum, on a given fact or a given axiom. On the contrary, we may be said to depend on a principle of action. We seek, that is, a certain kind of satisfaction, and we proceed accordingly. In and for philosophy (I do not ask if this holds also in the separate sciences) truth in the end is true because I have a certain want and because I act in a certain manner. The criterion may be said in the last resort to involve my act and choice. And thus in the end truth is not true |27| because it is simply seen or follows logically from what is seen. Further, philosophy in my judgement cannot verify its principle in detail and throughout. If it could do this, faith would be removed, and, so far as it does this, faith ceases. But, so far as philosophy is condemned to act on an unverified principle, it continues still to rest upon faith.

You may indeed object that here there can be no faith since here doubts are impossible, but this objection, I think, will hardly stand. The doubts may be said to be impossible only because of our principle of action. And, if it were not for our faith, we have perhaps a right to say that the other ideas, now meaningless, might at least in some irrational sense be entertained. But how we are to decide on this point, and whether we are to assert or to deny that philosophy in the end rests on faith, is to my mind of no great consequence.


1^ This chapter appeared first in the Philosophical Review of March 1911. It was written, so far as I remember, some four years previously. The reader will notice that the scope of the inquiry is limited. Faith is treated here merely from what may be called the formal side. The aim has been simply to define faith so as to enable one to ask, in any particular case. Is this faith or not? What may be called the material aspect of faith — the question as to what truths of various kinds can, and how far they should, come by way of faith — has been throughout ignored.

2^ The reader is not to identify this view with what is called Pragmatism. Pragmatism, as I understand it, is merely a one-sided perversion of the more complete view. Its essence consists in the attempt to subordinate every aspect of mind to what it calls practice, the meaning of practice not having been first ascertained. But, in reprinting the above, I should like to qualify the statement as to the ‘essence’ by the proviso ‘if it has any essence’. For the distinction between theory and practice see Chap. IV.

3^ I have discussed this difficult question in an article in Mind, n.s., No. 43.

4^ Bain, Alexander. The Emotions and the Will, Ed. III, p. 506.

5^ See Chapter VIII.

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Chapter III. On Floating Ideas and the Imaginary 1

Object of this Chapter (28). Floating Ideas. An idea, what (28-9). No ideas float absolutely. More worlds than what we call our real world, and to these worlds ideas are referred (30-2). Explicit judgement not necessary (32-4). Imaginary ideas (34-6). Ideas in imperatives and questions (36-7), and in supposition. Hypothetical Judgement, what (37-40). Ideas in Negation. On Contradictory Ideas (40-2). Real and Imaginary, difference between them said not to lie in content (43). This doctrine is untenable (43-6). The Imaginary, what. It involves reference to the real world, and that world depends on content (46-9). No hard and fast line between real and imaginary. Degree of reality is degree of value (49). Play, what, implies sense of earnest. Earnest, what (50-2). But no hard division between the two. This shown in detail (52-7). Play and make-believe no necessary connexion between them (57). The sense of restraint in play need not involve contrast with the real world (58-63). General Result (63-4).

In this chapter 2 I shall attempt to deal briefly with several subjects or perhaps aspects of one subject. My aim throughout is to advocate the same main conclusion, but no satisfactory treatment of the questions opened is possible within these limits. The first discussion will be about the existence of floating ideas, the next will examine the difference in content between the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary’, and the third will inquire as to the relation between imagination and play, together with the distinction between play and earnest. The conclusion to be urged or suggested in each case is that a hard division between the real and the imaginary is not tenable. The true nature and criterion of reality must hence be sought and found elsewhere.

I. I will take first the question as to floating ideas. This should be preceded by a discussion of the nature of ideas in general, but such an inquiry is obviously not possible here. I must content myself here with referring to the conclusion which I have advocated elsewhere. 3

Every idea 4 essentially qualifies reality, but no idea on the other hand does this simply and bodily. Every idea has its own existence as a fact, and with this side of its being it, as an idea and so far, does not qualify reality. Its essence, we may say, lies in ignoring or in discounting this side of itself. And thus |29| everywhere truth and ideas have a double aspect. But every idea, used as an idea, must so far attach itself as an adjective to the real, and hence in the end there will be no such thing as an idea which merely floats.

This conclusion is very commonly rejected as false. Its falsehood is at times even silently assumed against those who maintain its truth. And certainly at first sight any such doctrine seems open to grave objection. ‘An idea’, it may be said, ‘always, if you please, refers in some sense to the real world, and always, if you please, neglects or discounts its own private existence, if, that is, it possesses any. But on the other hand there are ideas which plainly do not qualify the real. When an idea is taken as false it may even be repelled and denied. And, apart from this, ideas may be recognized as merely imaginary, and, taken in this character, they float suspended above the real world. The same thing happens wherever we deal with questions, with ideal experiments, and again with those suggestions which we merely entertain without pronouncing on their truth. And how, when you do not know that an idea is true, or when you even know that it is not true, can you say in such a case that the idea qualifies reality? In such cases the idea, it is plain, can do no more than float.’ There is force in this objection, and with myself, I admit, the objection at one time more or less prevailed. 5 I will now, however, attempt to show briefly that it rests upon misconception. |30| The misconception is in short a false assumption as to the limits of the real world. Reality is identified with the world of actual fact, and outside of this world floats the unsubstantial realm of the imaginary. And actual fact, when we inquire, is in the end the world which is continuous with my body. It is the construction which in my waking hours 6 I build round this center. My body, taken in one with my present feelings and with the context which in space and time I can connect with this basis, is regarded by me as actual fact while all else is unreal. Thus my dreams are facts so far as they take their place as events in the real series, while the contents of my dreams are not real since they cannot so be ordered. The real world on this view is a group and series of actual events, and the test in the end is continuous connexion with my felt waking body. This is the doctrine which consciously or unconsciously underlies our common view as to the actual world. And it is this doctrine, I think, which usually is asserted or implied when the existence of mere floating ideas seems plausible.

I do not purpose here to discuss formally the truth and consistency of this view of reality’s limits. 7 The doctrine is in trouble at once with regard to the actual existence of past and future. It fails wholly to explain the position given to the sphere of general and of abstract ideas. And to say that, when confronted with the facts of the spiritual world, with art and science, morality and religion, it proves inadequate, is to use a weak expression. The truth is that no one except for certain purposes really believes in such a view, and that no one for other purposes can fail, however unawares, to reject it. And, without pausing to consider any possible attempts at defence, I will proceed to offer another view which seems at least more in accordance with fact.

|31| Every man’s world, the whole world, I mean, in which his self also is included, is one, and it comes to his mind as one universe. It necessarily does so even when he maintains that it truly is but plural. But this unity is perhaps for most men no more than an underlying felt whole. There is, we may say, an implicit sense rather than an explicit object, but none the less the unity is experienced as real. On the other hand above this felt totality there is for the average man an indefinite number of worlds, worlds all more or less real but all, so far as appears, more or less independent. There are the facts perceived by the outer senses, and there is the inner realm of ideas and intimate feelings and passing moods. And these regions more or less may correspond, but they do not correspond wholly. Then there is my present actual world, and the ambiguous existence of what has been and is about to be. There are the worlds of duty and of religious truth, which on the one side penetrate and on the other side transcend the common visible facts. And there are the regions of hope, desire and dream, madness and drunkenness and error, all ‘unreal’, if you please, but all counting as elements in the total of reality. The various worlds of politics, commerce, invention, trade and manufacture, all again have their places. Above the sensible sphere rises the intellectual province of truth and science, and, more or less apart from this, the whole realm of the higher imagination. Both in poetry and in general fiction, and throughout the entire region of the arts and of artistic perception, we encounter reality. Things are here in various ways for us incontestable, valid and ‘true’, while in another sense of the word ‘truth’ these things could not be called true. But this multiplicity of our worlds may perhaps be taken as a fact which is now recognized. 8 The diversity and even the division of our various worlds is indefinite and in a sense is endless. And, without entering further into detail, I will |32| state at once how this diversity bears on our problem. Because there are many worlds, the idea which floats suspended above one of them is attached to another. There are in short floating ideas, but not ideas which float absolutely. Every idea on the contrary is an adjective which qualifies a real world, and it is loose only when you take it in relation to another sphere of reality.

On the one side the whole Universe or the Absolute Reality is the subject to which in the end every idea is attached. On the other side (and this is the side on which we have to dwell here) the reality qualified by an idea depends always on a distinction. The subject in a judgement is never Reality in the fullest sense. It is reality taken, or meant to be taken, under certain conditions and limits. It is reality in short understood in a special sense. 9 And hence when an idea floats above, and is even repelled by, one region of the world, there is available always another region in which it inheres and to which as an adjective it is attached. And everywhere, where we seem to find ideas which float absolutely, we can discover the ground to which really they are fixed.

I will go on to point this out in a variety of instances, but, before proceeding, I must lay stress on an important distinction. If ‘judgement’ is used in its ordinary sense of explicit judgement, where we have a distinct predicate and subject taken one as applied to the other, then it certainly is true that apart from judgement we have ideas. And if the issue is raised thus, and if not to be so predicated means to float, then inevitably we shall be forced to believe in floating ideas. For in doubt and in denial, to take obvious instances, we should find the evidence that they exist. But the issue, if so raised, I must go on to urge, is raised wrongly. We have not to choose everywhere between an idea which is predicated |33| and an idea which simply floats. On the contrary, an ideal content can qualify and be attached to a subject apart from any predication in the proper sense or any explicit judgement. And by virtue of such an attachment the ideas which relatively float are everywhere from another point held captive. The idea comes before my mind as in suspension and as loose from a certain subject, and so far it floats. But none the less as an adjective it qualifies another subject. It is not predicated of this other subject, but it comes as attached to it or as inhering there. This other subject may be more or less specialized or more or less vague and general, and the union again between this subject and the idea may be more or less implicit. It may amount to little more than the immediate inherence of one aspect in a felt whole. But in every case of a floating idea this other subject and its attachment can be found. The idea in short, held free from one subject, coalesces more or less immediately with another subject from which in varying degrees it is distinct.

Thus in negation the idea denied is not in the proper sense predicated of another subject. But this idea in every case qualifies an alternative more or less distinct, and hence nowhere floats absolutely. The idea repelled is, in other words, felt to fall somewhere else. It may qualify another alternative more or less specified before the mind, or it may coalesce with that vague whole which comes to us as the residue of the Universe. But to existence unsupported within a void it never attains.

This qualification apart from explicit judgement can by reflexion everywhere be turned into formal predication. Whether before that we should speak of judgement I need not discuss. The point is that apart from predication ideas can qualify a subject. Hence you cannot conclude that, where predication fails, ideas, if present, must float, since the possibility of informal union between ideas and reality destroys this conclusion. The reader may now have realized |34| the bearing and the importance of the above distinction, and I will go on to explain and justify it in detail by considering various instances of floating ideas. We find obvious examples in negation and supposition, in the use of imperatives and questions, and in the world of imagination and of mere idea. I will deal first with the case of imaginary ideas.

The imaginary in general is defined by exclusion from the real. It is something which positively possesses the character of this or that real world and hence suggests its inclusion there, but on the other hand is shut out from the limits of the world in question. And the world which excludes is primarily the world of actual fact. This world, we saw above, is made by construction from my real body. It is the region, in short, which is taken as continuous with that basis. 10 Whatever, having more or less the character of this series, nevertheless falls outside it, is imaginary, or, taken more generally, the imaginary is whatever is excluded by actual fact. And in a secondary sense the imaginary is what in the same way falls outside of any kind of world which is taken as actual. Now if an idea is admitted to be imaginary (which we have seen means unreal), how, it will be objected, can such an idea be the adjective of reality? And this problem is solved, we have seen, by the plurality of real worlds. The idea is repelled from one sphere but qualifies another, and in this other sphere is real. Reality, we feel, is a whole which extends beyond any special world. It is something which comes to us as wider than the distinctions we make in it. Hence, wherever an idea is repelled by a subject, there remains another field which in some sense is real. In this field the idea falls positively, inheres in it and qualifies it, and, when we reflect, we can express this inherence in a judgement. The idea, before we so reflect, is not a predicate, but the idea on the other hand is still not free. It is in the |35| air, if you will, but you must add that it qualifies this air which is its support and reality.

Consider for example the world inhabited by the characters in some novel. Things not only here are so or otherwise in actual literary fact, but beyond this fact we recognize a world of reality. And this world does not consist in or depend on the mere event that Balzac or Thackeray chose to write down this or that detail. 11 It is the same elsewhere and in every world of the arts. The imaginary, we all say, has its laws, and, if so, we must go on to add, it has its own truth and own life, and its ideas, floating in reference to common fact, are hence attached to this its own world of reality. Thus again in abstract science, where we should refuse to say that truth is imaginary, we could hardly assert the existence of any and every truth as an actual fact. On the other hand, whatever we might protest, we feel and know that truth somewhere must be real. Nay, even in the practical relation of desire and will, ideas are felt somehow to be real. Indeed, their reality in collision with their non-existence makes the conflict in which we suffer. We suffer there most where most we feel that the idea has reality superior to the existence which excludes it. Our will is moved by, and it unawares insists on, the reality in another world of that idea which it brings here into fact. The star that I desire does not wander outcast and naked in the void. My heart is drawn to it because it inhabits that heaven which is felt at once to be its own and mine.

In the end and taken absolutely (to repeat this) there can be no mere idea. Reality is always before us, and every idea in some sense qualifies the real. So far as excluded it is excluded only from some limited region, and beyond that region has its world. To float in the absolute sense is impossible. Flotation means attachment to another soil, a |36| realm other than that sphere which for any purpose we take here as solid ground and as fact. Now the region which we oppose to fact may be a distinct world, or may be a residue more or less unspecified. It may be this or that province of the ideal, or it may be no more than the undefined space which falls beyond what we distinguish as fact. But the province, or the mere residual space or vague background, is still reality felt as positive, and to this reality the idea is bound. 12

We may deal rapidly with the position of the idea in imperatives and questions. The nature of an imperative has been discussed by me elsewhere (in Mind, n.s., No. 49, pp. 4 and 5), and we have no need to enter on that general topic. But with regard to reality it is with the idea here as in the practical relation generally. The idea, ordered to exist in our world, qualifies already the world of ideas and has reality there. The same thing holds again in interrogatives. In a question we have some known aspect of reality before us, which we regard, at least here, as actual fact. We have next the suggestion of an idea, more or less specified or again undefined, which we assume to be somehow connected with our known fact. We have finally a demand for further knowledge in this direction. The demand is addressed to another mind, or even secondarily to our own, or again to material nature. The further knowledge (of which we have the idea) is absent from our known fact. But on the other hand this knowledge, the answer to our question, is not fetched from nowhere. We take it to be truth which already is there and which in some sense exists. 13 It already, that is, qualifies another realm of reality, and to this realm it is attached.

|37| We may pass from this to consider the case of supposition and hypothetical judgement. In supposition we use an idea which in one connexion is true and is real. This ideal truth we bring into relation with a ‘fact’ taken in another sphere, in order to discover what result comes in a certain direction. This result is truth which is considered now, as before, to qualify and to be rooted in the ideal world. Supposition in short presupposes that the actual or real fact is not the whole of reality. It implies that there are other spheres, or other provinces of the same sphere, all connected in a wider Universe. Hence ideas once more never float except relatively. Their suspension involves a positive attachment to a point of support taken elsewhere.

I may perhaps be allowed to dwell somewhat longer on the problem raised by hypothetical judgement. It is obviously impossible for me here to discuss this fully in regard either to its psychological origin or logical value, and I must content myself with calling attention to a point which is essential. In a hypothetical judgement we have an assertion, and it is really idle to dispute this. If you suppose something then something follows, and, unless you know that this is so, you cannot say it. There is an assertion, but this assertion (properly) is not of actual fact. On the other side you have before you a datum which in some sense you take to be fact and actually real. And there is some connexion, you assume, between this fact and your ideal truth. But in spite of this connexion the fact is not the subject of your judgement, or rather it never is so except improperly and through mere implication.

In order to understand the hypothetical judgement we must keep in mind the following essential aspects, (1) The |38| subject of this judgement is never the actual fact. (2) On the other hand the actual fact to some extent enters into the judgement. And (3) in many cases the judgement contains an unavowed implication. It more or less covertly implies, that is, a certain connexion between its subject and the actual fact.

(1) In every hypothetical judgement there is actual fact to which the subject is opposed. This actual fact may be a perceived existence, or again it may belong to some ideal or imaginary world. But in every case the use of ‘if’ marks a distinction between what we think and what is otherwise real. If a square could be round then something follows, which does not follow from an actual square. And ‘if you attacked that man he would defend himself’ does not make its assertion about that man. The man is not attacked, the square is not round, and you do not even suggest that either is so. And in ‘if he goes there he will succeed’ you do not say that he will go there. From him, as you know him, that predicate is absent, and your ‘if’ means that you are not speaking of the known actual man. In every case you are speaking of that which you suppose, and whatever you suppose you ipso facto oppose to what you take to be real. Otherwise there would be no sense in supposing and no meaning in ‘if’.

(2) On the other side your assertion clearly in some sense refers to the actual fact. For otherwise, and if there were no connexion, who could think of supposing? If your assertion had positively or negatively nothing to do with your actual reality, it would be meaningless or at least must lose its hypothetical form. Thus on the one side you are dealing in some sense with actual fact. The subject of your judgement on the other hand is not an actual fact. But the actual fact is referred to and to some extent it enters into the subject of the judgement. We have first the actual man who is not attacked and who is not the subject, and we have |39| next the supposed, the ideal, man of whom the judgement is true. If these two men are the same, our ‘if’ at least implies that we do not know this, while on the other side our ‘if’ implies that these men are connected. There is in short enough known identity between the two men to warrant a supposition. We thus assert about the ideal man but also refer to the other man. Our reference assumes that certainly between the two there is a partial identity, while our supposition means that, for anything we really know, there is a difference which on the whole is superior and prevails. 14

(3) So much as the above belongs to the essence of hypothetical judgement. Many cases, however, present an additional aspect, which has given rise to difficulty and to error. We have often a further implication as to the amount of identity between the ideal subject and the fact, and, owing to this implication, the judgement, while hypothetical in form, may assert or deny of the actual. In si vales bene est {if you are well} there is an implied identity, between the supposed and the actual, sufficient to justify the use of est. On the other hand in si tacuisses philosophus esses {if you remained silent, you would be a philosopher} we assume a known difference, between the two cases of yourself, sufficient to warrant a denial of the conclusion in fact. This implied identity or difference can exist in a variety of degrees, and the actual meaning conveyed by the judgement may depend upon this implication. But this implication, we must not forget, falls outside the hypothetical form. It is often absent from it, and when present it may even be said to contradict it, since it involves knowledge on a point where the use of ‘if’ assumes ignorance. Hence this accidental meaning conveyed by some hypothetical judgements |40| is foreign to the essence of the hypothetical form. And a want of clearness on this point must everywhere, I think, preclude an understanding of that essence.

With these brief but, I fear, too lengthy remarks, I must pass from the hypothetical judgement. Assuming everywhere, as that does, various realms of reality and truth, the consideration of it has tended to confirm our main conclusion. The ideas which float have in every case another world in which they are based and secured.

When we pass to the alleged existence of floating ideas in the case of negation, we find a subject too intricate and too difficult for discussion here. I must content myself with a summary statement of the conclusion which I adopt. 15 By negation I understand a denial of the intelligible and not a mere refusal to entertain the unmeaning. And the main point here is this, that all negation is relative. Negation, whatever else it is, is repulsion, repulsion not absolute but from a subject formed by distinction within reality. reality therefore is always wider than the subject which negates, and beyond this subject we have always a region taken in some sense to be real. And the idea, which is repelled from the subject, falls within this other world and qualifies it.

I do not mean that in all negation the alternative is distinct. The alternative on the contrary may be unspecified in various degrees. Our other world may amount to no more than that vague residue which remains after the subject has been selected. But, however undefined this other may be, it is the region into which the banished idea is sent. The idea never floats, like Mahomet’s coffin, between both worlds, or somehow hangs nowhere. And the idea once more belongs to and qualifies that world which it inhabits. I do not mean that the idea, when repelled from one subject, must be predicated of another subject. Predication, we |41| have seen above, is not asserted wherever floating ideas are denied (p. 33). The union of the repelled idea with the other world may be no more than a coalescence in feeling, and in various degrees may be immediate. But this union, we have seen, is a qualification and amounts to a bond. And with this summary result I must pass from the claim of floating ideas to exist in negation. 16

|42| I have now in various instances attempted to justify the denial of floating ideas. If the principle has been made clear to the reader, I think that further detail would be superfluous. Ideas float, but they float relatively, and there is another ground always which supports them, and of which they are adjectives. They need not be predicated of this ground, and, if such a necessity is assumed, then the denial of floating ideas, I agree, is untenable. But this necessity rests, I urge, upon a false alternative. Without predication an ideal content can qualify more or less immediately a subject from which it is distinct. And such a qualification is all that our conclusion requires.

Every possible idea therefore may be said to be used existentially, for every possible idea qualifies and is true of a real world. And the number of real worlds, in a word, is indefinite. Every idea therefore in a sense is true, and is true of reality. The question with every idea is how far and in what sense is it true. The question is always whether, qualifying reality in one sense, the idea qualifies reality in another sense also. For, true in one world, an idea may be false in another world, and still more false if you seek to make it true of the Universe.

II. It may serve to throw light upon the whole subject if I go on to discuss briefly a well-known doctrine. We often hear that between an object as imaginary and the same |43| object as real there is no difference in content, or at least that such a difference, where it exists, is not essential. This doctrine is often stated as axiomatic or as at any rate incontestable, and certainly I do not doubt that it possesses truth. On the other hand the truth possessed by it seems partial and limited. And in the end and in principle the doctrine must even be called false.

About its plausibility there is no question. What is the difference, we are asked, between a real and an imaginary shilling, and, if they differ as shillings, how do they differ? Suppose that they differ, then take this point of difference, whatever it is, and in imagination remove it. There will now no longer be any diversity in content between the two shillings, which still remain two. This contention obviously is plausible, and, though there are difficulties — to my mind insoluble — which result from its acceptance, the prevalence it has acquired is not surprising.

On the other hand, when we reflect, the counter-doctrine seems no less plausible. The real shilling, it has been remarked, does things, where the imaginary shilling has no power. The former is an active and in some sense a permanent constituent of the real world. And this difference appears to be essential and to affect the internal content of the shilling. You may perhaps deny this, and may attempt to argue that any such difference falls outside the two shillings. They are to differ, that is, barely in and through their external relations and not at all in themselves; and of course continuance will be a mere matter of external context. But this is to assume that a thing’s relations, which make all the difference to other things, or at least all the difference beyond itself, make no difference whatever to itself. And this assumption, if it is tenable, seems at least not free from difficulty. For in the end the doubt is suggested whether in the end, when you have removed the relations, there is any shilling at all left.

|44| You may answer perhaps that this abstract difficulty leaves you unmoved. At any rate, when the ‘real’ external relations are cut off, what in fact is left is no more or less than the imaginary shilling. But this answer, I will go on to show, apart from any objection based on general principle, is in practice unavailing. For we have not to deal merely with two shillings, the one real and the other fancied. There is not on one side a single ‘real’ world of fact and on the other side a single world that I call ‘imaginary’. On the contrary a man has, as we saw, an indefinite plurality of worlds. 17

Now this diversity of worlds, and the presence of the same object in various worlds, seems to bear on our problem. If on the one side you agree that these worlds are diverse, each through a different content, it seems natural to think that the object’s quality may be affected in each case by this difference. But if on the other side all these worlds are to be diverse without differing in content, such a doctrine, if tenable, has surely at least ceased to be plausible. It seems to commit us to the view that there is an indefinite number of distinctions without any difference, or that there are differences between things which do not really differ. 18 For myself such a conclusion tends to the dissolution of all things, whether real or imaginary, and at any rate there will be few, I think, to whom it commends itself at once as plausible.

If now leaving general considerations we test our doctrine by applying it to special cases, we discover that at least it has limits. The whole distinction in short between the imaginary and the real tends, as we apply it, to become invalid. The first instance I will take is the case of the Universe or Reality, for it is better, I think, here not to use the instance of God. Can we speak of the Universe as being merely real or as being merely imaginary? Is it not on the other hand plain that such a distinction falls within the |45| Universe? If we oppose the real to the imaginary, then clearly the Universe is neither or both. Taken as a whole it falls on neither side of this opposition, and is not comprised in either the real or the imaginary world. Both these worlds on the contrary are contained within the Universe. So far then as we maintain the hard distinction between imaginary and real, we can neither say that All is real nor that All is imaginary. This distinction, and with it the whole doctrine which we are considering, has proved inapplicable or mistaken.

Again, let me take the case of my real self. My real self, as I am now aware of it, appears to be unique, and in contrast with it I have a variety of imaginary selves. Now, if the doctrine in hand is correct, the difference between my imaginary selves and my real self does not rest on content. It must on the other hand somehow consist in mere external relations. But this conclusion, if in the end it is not senseless, seems contrary to what experience here suggests. The distinction between imaginary and real seems, at least here, to rest on a felt difference, and, where there is a felt difference, it is natural to assume a diversity in content. To suppose that my real and imaginary selves are in themselves interchangeable, and that there is no diversity here except in that which falls outside each, seems, in the presence of the actual fact, to be untenable if not unmeaning. Thus, as applied to the Universe, we found that the doctrine which we examine proved invalid, while now in the case of my real and my imaginary self it seems even vicious.

But the doctrine without doubt possesses truth, truth not unlimited but partial. So far as you can abstract from the diversity of your different worlds, whether real or imaginary, you can take their contents as merely the same. And to a certain extent and in many cases it is legitimate and useful so to abstract. But, while the doctrine taken in this sense is true, in any other sense it seems not true. It is, first, not |46| true that the content so abstracted is in the strict sense imaginary. This content on the contrary is so far neither real nor imaginary. And again it is not true that all the diversity from which you abstract must consist in something other than content. You cannot take this diversity as everywhere something external, which leaves objects unaffected in their character. For in the end the whole distinction of imaginary from real fundamentally rests, we shall find, on a difference in quality. If, to repeat, you abstract from the difference between the imaginary and the real, you obviously so far have no difference of any kind between them. But, if on the other hand the difference between them is to be maintained, it must rest in the end on a difference in felt content.

What is the imaginary? 19 This is a question which up to a certain point we have answered already. The imaginary, we saw, is not something indifferent, to which reality could simply be added. The imaginary is qualified by exclusion from real existence, and apart from that exclusion it loses its character. And real existence, I have now to urge, depends on a positive quality.

My ‘real world’, we saw, is a construction from my felt self. It is an inconsistent construction, and it also in the last resort depends on my present feeling. You may protest that its basis is really my normal waking self, but in the end you have no way of distinguishing such a self from the self which is abnormal. In the end my foundation is and must be my present self, whatever that happens at the moment to be. In madness or drunkenness we have the distinction of imaginary from real, and the distinction seems here to be as good as elsewhere. Nay even in dream I may construct another world which is the environment of my dream-body, and may oppose to this reality a mere imaginary world. The basis of the opposition everywhere is, in a word, present feeling, and one present feeling, if you take reality so, stands |47| as high as another. And the conclusion suggested is that the above opposition of ‘real existence’ to ‘mere imagination’ is in the end invalid and breaks down.

But, however arbitrary my procedure, my real world is taken as that which is continuous with my normal waking felt self. And it is by exclusion from this real world that the imaginary is made. Thus if I and a hundred other men were to dream the same dream, and in somnambulism were to act from our dreamt world, this world would remain unreal because not continuous with the world of my self as normal and waking. By virtue of exclusion from this world the realm of the imaginary is defined. And it is only at a stage of mind which is comparatively late that such a division is made. Thus the gulf fixed between imaginary and real existence, however necessary and useful it may be, is at once arbitrary and novel.

And the points to which I would direct the reader’s attention are these, (i) The existence of the imaginary depends upon my real world, and (ii) the existence of my real world depends on a felt quality.

(i) A content is not made imaginary by mere privation and through simple failure. If you abstract from all relation to what is called my real world, you have so far not got the imaginary. Abstract truths, for instance, do not express ‘real’ matters of fact, but they fall elsewhere than in the realm of mere imagination. This realm is made by positive exclusion from the special world which I call real. And in a word if you desire to turn ‘imaginary’ into ‘real’, you cannot effect this by mere addition. You require also to subtract the above exclusion, though, this subtraction being unimportant practically, has been generally ignored.

(ii) And my real world, difference from which and exclusion by which, we have seen, is the essence — on what does that rest? It rests on a quality, on a felt content, on that of which I am aware when I say ‘this myself which is now’. |48| I experience this content when I feel the difference between the mere idea and the actuality of my present self. But it is impossible for me to bring this content wholly before me as an object. With every object I have still the difference felt between this object and my felt self. And, if this were not so, the difference and the relation between subject and object would vanish. And thus what I call my real world, the world which is made by a construction from my self, depends in the end on a content, a content not explicit but positive, not brought before me but felt. If you take away this content, and the exclusion by this content, then at one stroke you have removed the characters of both imaginary and real. And if such a mere felt quality seems but a precarious foundation for our edifice, that is precisely the conclusion which I desire to suggest. For what I call my real world is something other than Reality. It is a construction, required for certain ends and true within limits, but beyond those limits more or less precarious, negligible, and in the end invalid. 20

The imaginary then is made by exclusion from my real world. It rests in the last resort on a felt difference from a felt unique quality, and this, I apprehend, is a difference |49| in content. Such a result, I admit, entails difficulties which I do not here discuss. But, if we reject it, we seem forced to conclusions which to my mind are far less tolerable. For I cannot see how things or orders of things are to be distinct, if they are not different, or what in the end can be meant by a relation which is merely external.

The difference between the real and imaginary thus rests in the end upon content. So far as you abstract from the difference, the content of both worlds is obviously the same. For many purposes the abstraction is permissible and useful, but it is not everywhere valid. And so the doctrine of the identity in content between real and imaginary has but partial truth. When you take the instance of the Universe or again of my real self, the doctrine proves inapplicable or vicious.

We have hence been led once more to the main theme of this chapter. The difference between my world of fact and my other worlds is important and necessary, but the exaggerated value we often tend to attach to it is really illusory. Its pretensions are in practice refuted incessantly by experience of other kinds. And, when we examine its theoretical claim to possess ultimate truth, we find that this is founded on arbitrariness, is built up in inconsistency, and ends in obscurity. The difference for us between real and unreal is vital. This can hardly consist in a division founded on felt quality condemned for ever to be latent, and, while seeking for another foundation, we found none which is intelligible. Hence this difference, vital for us, must be sought and be discovered elsewhere. It must depend on the internal character of those various worlds which claim our allegiance. And our impassable gulf and our hard and fast division will have to give way to degree and to differences in value. 21

|50| III. I propose now to discuss briefly the meaning of play in its contrast with earnest, and to remark on the mistaken view that play is essentially concerned with the imaginary. The following pages will be found, I hope, still to be more or less concerned with our main subject, since the discussion of these topics will tend once more to break down the divisions erroneously forced into life. We shall again discover the mistakes which follow from any attempt to sunder the human world, to divide things from ideas, to identify the real with matter of fact, or to set apart somewhere by itself a superior realm of earnest.

What is play? It is activity, we may say, so far as that is felt to be unconstrained. 22 And hence the activity must in the first place be pleasant. It must be enjoyed and exercised for its own sake, and, so far as it is mere play, it must not be felt as subject to any sort of control. In play I have nothing which I do or seek because I am forced from the outside, because I am driven by desire, or because there is a valuable end which I pursue and which thus is able to dictate. Play is therefore mere amusement, and, so far as it remains mere play, it owns no master but caprice. In playing I realize myself not only apart from the compulsion of force or appetite, but as free from anything that could define and so limit and constrain me. Play is thus incompatible with foreign control, and again it is further opposed to earnest. Where you have something that is valuable and that matters, you have so far no play, or rather you have no play here except within restraint and limits. For, wherever I am in earnest, my activity is |51| defined by an end. And, even if there is no end outside the activity, the control is still present. For where my activity is valuable, its detail is relative to the whole, and its detail is therefore more or less subordinate and subject to restraint. And, so far as I feel this, I lose the sense of mere play and caprice. Play is thus activity spontaneous and agreeable and qualified by the absence of compulsion or earnest.

It may be asked if this contrast is really inherent in the sense of play. The opposition to earnest, it may be objected, need exist nowhere except in the spectator’s mind. There is natural activity which bursts forth apart from any sense of limit and restraint. Such activity we can find everywhere in the young, and we may even imagine it, if we please, as existing in a perfect mind. And here, it will be said, there is a sense of freedom and of self-assertion and of play, uncoloured by any feeling of contrast or restraint. But the above objection turns, I think, upon a question of words. I fully agree that there is such a sense of spontaneous activity, but, apart from a felt contrast, I could not myself call it an experience of play. And at any rate I propose here to use the word otherwise. Where there is play, felt as play, I shall suppose the more or less remote contrast with a more or less withdrawn earnest. I shall assume the presence of a more or less specified sense of something, more or less prominent or in the background, which is felt as control or limit. Restraint, whether as what is forced on me or as what matters, I shall take therefore as a necessary element implied in play. But in what follows I shall confine myself to the consideration of play as limited not by force but by earnest.

If you ask what is earnest and what matters, then in the end it is life as a whole which matters. Every pleasant activity therefore is so far good, and all matters because and so far as it realizes the main end. But on the other hand within the contents of this whole there are degrees of |52| necessity and of importance. In general or in particular, against something that either is indispensable or that matters more, some aspect of life may be unimportant. And any aspect which thus relatively does not matter, can be felt here and now not to matter at all. Here is the province of play in its contrast with earnest. Where there is activity which as a whole or in its detail is thus relatively of no moment, we have a limited sphere of caprice and amusement and, in a word, of play.

But there is no hard division in life between play and earnest, and there is in short no genuine human end which in principle excludes play. The absolute separation in life of optional and necessary, of play and work, leads essentially to error. And the error is palpable where everything except maintenance of life is identified with play. Certainly my bare subsistence is an end which may be said to come first, because everything in life is lost if there is no more living. But on the other hand a mere living which is not good itself or for the sake of something good, is neither necessary nor desirable. Work for the sake of work and practice for practice’ sake are, in fact, ends which no one apart from illusion could accept. 23

And generally the sundering of life into spheres of work and spheres of play is indefensible. It is true that in life there are things which are everywhere necessary. There is a certain amount of physical well-being and a certain degree of mental and moral development which are fundamental. Human life is impossible except on this basis of individual and social virtue. But beyond this common basis are those special stations in social life the occupation of which is more or less a matter of choice. And further there are non-social |53| modes of human self-realization which in a sense are higher and in a sense are still more optional. They are optional in the sense that deprived of them life could be lived, and that with regard to them the individual has a right and a duty to choose. But on the other hand to treat these higher functions as mere play would be obviously absurd. 24 We have in the next place what may be called the minor graces of life, things the detail of which is more or less variable at our pleasure. And finally we end in what are called amusements. Here, where the amusement is mere amusement, the detail is optional. It has no value in itself, but is desirable solely for the sake of its effect on human welfare.

Play may be called necessary in the sense that without play human life is not fully realized, and hence we may speak of a general duty and obligation to play. But on the other hand the obligation stops short of prescribing the details, which in the main are left to our pleasure. Hence we may find here the merely optional, which we may oppose to the merely necessary, and may forget that neither of these in abstraction and by itself is a human end. In short to identify the barely necessary with that which matters and is to be taken in earnest, is in principle indefensible. You cannot in life make a hard division into separate spheres of work and play, for play in a word exists everywhere so far as I am able to play there.

I will point out briefly first how in principle every human activity admits of play, and in the next place how more or less all plays 25 in a sense are serious pursuits.

(i) It is possible first to take a serious pursuit and to amuse myself with it. I may, that is, occupy myself with this activity just so far as it amuses me, and I may treat it as something which, for me, falls outside of what really matters. |54| In comparison with other things the pursuit has no serious claim on me. I am not in earnest with it, I may do with it as I please, and in a word I may play with it. But to distinguish here between mere trifling on one side, and on the other side interests which are serious though limited, is often impossible. There are again interests with which, in the case of this or that man or of every man, no trifling is permissible. But, without attempting further explanation, it is safe to conclude that within limits it is possible and right to play at a serious pursuit. What, however, I here desire to insist on is this, that in principle every human activity, however grave and even sacred, admits of some play. Play is here the expression of certain conquest and of absolute mastery over detail. And this joyous aspect is wholly absent from work only where, as too often happens, the conditions are inhuman. The most serious aspects of human life admit of play in this sense. In religions, not one-sided, there is an element of merry-making and sport, such as comes naturally with a sense of full security and triumph. And the morality which ignores the charm of sportive well-doing, has lost sight of the full ideal of human goodness. To trifle with a principle, to make it the sport of mere self-will, 26 is forbidden. It is another thing to be filled with an implicit sense of relative value, and in the service of a higher principle to enjoy its triumph over the fixed detail and limits of human duties. This is a gracious element seldom absent from the highest wisdom and love.

(ii) There is no serious pursuit, we have seen, which in principle excludes play. And on the other hand play hardly can maintain complete severance from earnest. Mere amusements, it appeared, as general amusement are necessary for our welfare, and in most cases perhaps they are more than mere amusements. Plays may advance some social |55| end, or may develop some individual faculty which in its effects or in itself is really valuable. They tend in other words, so far, to pass into useful performances, or into accomplishments worth having because adding to the sum of human perfection. And again from another side plays are something more than mere playing. They are subject in each case to special restraint by the rule of the game. They are limited not only by a more or less specified world of earnest, but they become in various degrees defined in themselves. And so far as in playing you must not trifle with the rule of the game, your playing has taken on a feature of earnest.

Plays contain usually a large element of chance and caprice, but apart from that, as plays, they keep essentially the following character. They have no individual worth, their detail in itself does not matter, and one of them has, in itself as against the others, no value at all. You are therefore, so far, free to choose amongst them at your caprice. If one of them is your best way of playing, that one has special value for you. But, on the other side, its value is generic merely, and it has worth only as a means to an end. In this point plays differ from accomplishments, which have value so far as they each contribute individually to human perfection. Plays on the other hand, so far as mere plays, have no end but a general end which falls outside of all taken individually. And where this principle is ignored, and where the rule of the game perhaps gains more than a conventional value, we are too familiar with the result. Plays are perverted into the serious pursuits of life, the moral perspective is distorted or destroyed, and the effect on life is, according to circumstances, more or less injurious or even ruinous. The above distinction, however, between mere plays and accomplishments, though clear in principle, is often in practice not easy to maintain.

Play is any activity in life so far as that is agreeable, is |56| unconstrained, and is felt here and now not to matter. 27 Play is not in principle excluded, we have seen, from any aspect of life. And when we come to mere amusements which exist for the sake of playing, they tend, as we have seen, to develop a character, too often perverted, of work and earnest. There is in short no natural separation of life into spheres of necessary work and of mere play. And, when we consider these extremes, we find that, differing otherwise, they share the same essential feature. Neither has its end in itself, neither contributes, individually and in itself, a special element to human value. Each on the contrary is desirable solely for the sake of an effect, particular or general, which it produces.

The division of human existence into spheres of necessary work and of optional play leads therefore, when developed, to confusion and absurdity. The world of play turns out to be the only world which a man could seriously desire, and the world of earnest, when you examine it, proves to be that which by itself has no importance or value. Everything which possesses human interest becomes mere play, while the residue could be an end only for irrational caprice. Any such view breaks down at once when confronted with the facts of actual life. Thus a stage-play, to take that instance, is even to the spectator not mere playing, while to the actor it is the serious business of life. It is not merely the work by which he lives, but it is the main end of his being, the special function by which he at once contributes to humanity and realizes himself. On the other side the necessity of living is no real necessity, unless the life, which in oneself or others it subserves, is really desirable. A mere |57| inhuman subsistence and an empty practice are (I would repeat) things which, except through an illusion, no one could take in earnest.

Play, we have thus seen, is one aspect of life. It is, or in principle it may be, everywhere present. The division of life into spheres of work and play may be most important and even necessary, but any such division after all is not absolute but relative. If you take it otherwise it becomes an error which even practically may have bad results, and which theoretically cannot fail to be more or less injurious. It is parallel to the separation of the world into real and imaginary, matter of fact and mere ideas. And it proves, when we consider it, to be another offshoot of the same fundamental error. It will, I think, tend further to illustrate the same theme if I add some words on the supposed connexion of make-believe with play.

Play has been held to contain essentially the presence of make-believe and illusion. It has been alleged in short to depend upon a sense of the imaginary in its contrast with the real. This doctrine to my mind is in such obvious collision with plain fact, that I think it better to begin by asking how it can come to be adopted. And there is (i) the undoubted presence of make-believe in some playing. This feature, having been wrongly generalized and taken as essential, is then postulated in spite of appearance as existing everywhere. We have again (ii) the so-called imitative actions in young animals. These, or many of these, it is natural to call playing. And our minds are thus insensibly led to regard such actions as performed in imitation and with a consciousness of unreality. And (iii) there is finally the more or less specified sense of limitation and restraint, which, we have seen, is essentially involved in playing. Hence, where the erroneous division of the world into imaginary and real is accepted, the former of these tends to be |58| taken as that which in playing is limited by the latter. Thus we conclude that in play we essentially have a sense of the imaginary as opposed to matter of fact. We shall realize both the character and the extent of this mistake when we ask as to the nature of that restraint which, we agree, is present in play.

But it is better first to illustrate briefly the collision of the above doctrine with fact. When two young dogs are chasing one another or biting, when boys let out of school behave in much the same manner, when a man aimlessly strikes at this or that with his stick, or falls into some other trifling activity where, as we say, he has nothing to do — it seems obvious that make-believe here has no concern in the matter. And when we take part in the athletic pastimes of boyhood or manhood, and play at hockey, football or cricket, or again at such games as cards or chess — how can it be seriously maintained that illusion is present always and essentially? The opposite conclusion, to my mind at least, seems too clear for argument. When for example I play at cricket, what am I pretending to do other than the thing which I do? An outsider doubtless can insist that everywhere we have a mimic battle of this or that kind, but the mimicry surely exists only in the mind of the outsider, and for my mind, as I play, has no existence at all. And if it is objected that in play we have a sense of limit, and that the restraint must come from a sense of the real as against the imaginary, that brings me to the point which I wish to discuss. On the one hand I agree that in play we have some sense of limit, but on the other hand I urge the absence in many cases of anything like make-believe. And I will proceed to show the real nature of that restraint which seems everywhere present in play.

In many cases of play the restraint, we may say in a word, is not theoretical but moral. Consider the natural sporting of a young dog or a child. There are certain natural activities |59| which in themselves are pleasant. To bite, for instance, or to struggle or run is delightful. But — and here is the point — with my playfellow I must not bite beyond a limit. If I go too far and hurt my playfellow the result is unpleasant, unless indeed I am angry and want to fight and am not afraid to do so. Hence I exercise my delightful activities so as to stop short of that result. I need not be thinking of this all the time, but any approach to excess brings on what is discordant with my pleasant condition, both in my own mind and perhaps palpably outside my mind also. Such a result is felt to be incongruous, and, as soon as it is suggested, it suppresses the excess of the activity. If the reader will observe a young dog gnawing the flesh of his hand and watching him to observe if the line is at any time crossed, he will, I think realize my meaning. There is absolutely no illusion here, but there is restraint, a restraint which later may be formulated as the rule of the game. On the other hand when a dog exercises his activity on a stick, the rule of the game, we may say, is simply that he is not to hurt himself. 28

It may be objected that so far we have not the distinction between play and earnest. But so far, I reply, I am endeavouring merely to establish the presence of restraint |60| without illusion. I am pointing out that the limit to pleasant activity may be, in a word, not theoretical but moral. And this result still holds, I now go on to urge, where the specific sense of play is clearly present. In cricket, for example, or in cards I am obviously under restraint, while as obviously, at least to my mind, there is no trace of make-believe. Unless I am a professional or a devotee, I am aware that these activities are optional. They do not matter in themselves, and their scope is limited by that in life which really does matter. And, in the second place, to secure a better exercise of the activity, it is carried on subject to conventional restraints. I am, in other words, limited by the rules of the game, which exclude at once mere trifling and violence, as well as by the consciousness that, as against what is more serious, my activity does not matter. This is the nature of the restraint which, to my mind, is both effective and obvious. Illusion and make-believe on the other hand I am unable to discern.

‘But’ I shall be told, ‘you are ignoring the play in which make-believe is obvious. A girl with her doll, a boy with a wooden sword, are plain instances which confute you. And the actor in stage-plays, you seem to forget, is called a player. And to deny here the presence of every kind of make-believe and illusion is. surely irrational.’ To this I reply that such a denial is no part of my case. All that I have been urging so far is that illusion does not belong essentially or everywhere to play. Playing, on the contrary, we may now go on to see, is of various kinds. And playing of one kind undoubtedly involves make-believe. It implies within limits the treatment of the imaginary as if it were real. If you take make-believe as the playing at practical belief, as our acting within limits as if the facts here and now were qualified, as we know that in fact they are not qualified — then make-believe, it is obvious, belongs to some play. But to argue from this that, where I do not play at believing, |61| I must pretend in order to play, seems clearly illogical. Whether in short, and how far, in any play there is illusion, depends in each case — that is all I urge — upon the nature of the play.

We have seen that in some play there is no pretense or illusion. The exercise of the activity involves no excursion into the imaginary world. But, as can easily be seen with children, this imaginary element soon appears, and in playing it occupies a great space, how great I need not discuss. The perceived facts here do not suffice for the required activity. They are therefore extended by imaginary qualifications, and the activity becomes possible. And at this point a new kind of restraint and limit can be observed.

All playing involves a limit, but in some plays this limit, we saw, was simply what we called moral. Beyond a certain point, that is, I must not. But where make-believe comes in, we find a new sort of control. The child that pretends in play knows that morally it must not cross a certain line. But it knows now also that it has an imaginary world, which is limited by real fact, and again in some cases by conventional suppositions. A schoolboy playing at soldiers knows first (a) that he must hurt no one too much, but he knows also (b) that he is a schoolboy as well as a soldier. And he knows (c) that, so long as certain conventions are observed, no consistency is required even in his imaginary character. 29

The control, in a word, has become theoretical as well as moral. The playing dog knows, we may say, that beyond a certain point he must not. The playing boy knows this in all his playing, and in some cases he knows no more. But in other cases he knows also that beyond a certain point the thing is not. He has here a world of imagination, qualifying |62| the real world but always subject to and restrained by that world. 30b

These two controls, the moral and theoretical, are in much play so joined and blended that to separate their several effects would be hard or impossible. In ‘playing a part,’ on the stage or again in real life, this intimate mingling may be observed. We have first of all the letting go of certain activities subject to a certain moral restraint. But we have in addition the entrance, for ourselves or for others or for both, into the sphere of pretense, make-believe and illusion. This entrance is limited by our consciousness of the real fact, and again by conventional rules, wherever and so far as these exist. And to what extent the control is before the mind, and how far illusion actually is present, depends in every case upon the conditions and the individual. 31

Thus pretense and make-believe do not belong to the general essence of play. They are obviously present often where there is no playing and where they are used consciously as means to a serious end. On the other side there |63| are many plays (we have seen) from which illusion certainly is absent. In other plays again the activity is exercised within an area more or less qualified as imaginary. Lastly there are cases where illusion and pretense are not essential, but where more or less they tend to come in. And the extent here will be determined by the individual conditions.

We have found once more that the ready-made division of our world into matter of fact and ideas, into imaginary and real, has conducted us to error. And we saw that to sunder life into separate spheres of play and earnest is indefensible. Life and the world do not admit those compartments which are blindly fixed by hasty theories. Life and the world offer us an indefinite number of aspects and distinctions, and the worth and reality of these is in every case relative, though, because relative, it may in a given case become absolute.

This is the general conclusion which, I trust, throughout this chapter has been suggested as true. That world of fact which we so confidently contrast with the imaginary, and which we set up as real, has turned out, when we take it absolutely, to be false appearance. And in our practice, where we do not sink into convention or worse, we assume our right to deal freely with such reality, to treat it as of secondary moment, or even, it may be, as illusory. But in theory this illusion tends to cling to us, to hamper us and to blind us, when we endeavor to do justice to the various aspects of life. To be or do anything, we assuredly must maintain and control our bodies, and we depend on the world which is immediately continuous with these. Apart from this foundation we cannot have reality, and with this foundation we must therefore be in earnest. This is truth, and it is a truth, I agree, which must not be ignored. But on the other hand this basis and condition, if you try to take it by itself, is worthless and in the end it proves unreal. In |64| truth it is itself a mere imaginary abstraction. The world of reality, we may say in a word, is the world of values, and values are not judged absolutely but are everywhere measured by degree. 32


1^ This chapter was first published in Mind for April 1908.

2^ The first two divisions of this chapter may be taken as a commentary on various parts of my book Appearance and Reality, see especially pp. 366 ff.

3^ In Appearance (see the Index: {Appearance, Chap. IX, 250 foll., 272-3, 412-13.}) and in various articles in Mind (o.s., No. 49, p. 23; n.s., No. 40, pp. 5, 6; No. 41, p. 17, and No. 44, pp. 27, 28). Cf. Chapters IX and X of this volume.

4^ This holds even of the idea of ‘nothing’. See below, p. 41.

5^ Principles of Logic, p. 4. There are, besides, various more or less objectionable expressions used in the account of ideas which is given there. So far as I know, these expressions have not been used by me since, though I hardly understand how a careful reader of the volume could be deceived by them. The term ‘sign’ or ‘symbol’, for instance, implies strictly, I suppose, the recognized individual existence of the sign. And obviously with an idea this aspect may be absent. There are other expressions also which, if you take them literally, are certainly false, and also inconsistent with what may be called the general doctrine of the book. But I hope that the statements as to ideas, which I have made several times since 1883, are less misleading. I should have added that, from the first and throughout, Prof. Bosanquet has consistently advocated the true doctrine. The debt which philosophy owes to him here has not been adequately recognized.

6^ In the end in my present waking moment. The point is further discussed later in this chapter. Cf. Chap. XVI.

7^ The foundation of this view is exposed in the second part of the present chapter. Cf. Chapter XVI.

8^ Cf. Prof. James’s Psychology, chap. xxi.

9^ It is not possible for me to attempt here to explain and justify the above. I may perhaps in passing point out that, if the subject were the entire reality, no place would be left for the existence of the idea. Cf. p. 41, note.

10^ In the second part of this chapter I will further discuss the nature of the basis mentioned above.

11^ See on this point Prof. Bosanquet’s Knowledge and Reality, pp. 144 ff., followed by Prof. James in his Psychology, ii. 292.

12^ The idea again may be excluded from the subject taken simply and in itself, or again from the subject taken merely as so far known. The negation in the latter sense may, if we please, be called privative.

13^ The reader possibly may object that, in the case of the future which I am to make, the above account will not hold. I reply that it holds here unquestionably as it holds elsewhere, and that otherwise the attempt at prevision would be meaningless. The difficulty is caused by the nature of a real fact which is future, a construction which is full of radical inconsistency. But in any case, if the idea of the future cannot qualify the world of fact and truth, it still does not float but is attached to the imaginary world.

14^ A hypothetical judgement (to state this otherwise) is itself always universal, hut it implies that there is a question of bringing a designated case under this universal judgement. It implies that this question is worth considering, and (taken strictly) it implies that the answer is unknown.
  I should remind the reader that in the above discussion I assume throughout the correctness of the account of existential judgements which I have given elsewhere. See my Principles of Logic.

15^ On the subject of negation I would refer the reader to Prof. Bosanquet’s admirable Logic.

16^ I will deal briefly and in passing with several difficulties, (i) Where the subject, from which the idea is repelled, is the Universe at large, it may be objected that we have no longer here a distinction taken within reality. The answer is that here the Universe as a whole is distinguished from its own partial contents. What we deny is that the idea, which qualifies a finite sphere within the Whole, is in the same sense true of the Whole. (Cf. Chap. XI.) But obviously I cannot here discuss the difficulties which in the end beset the general doctrine of truth and the ultimate distinction of subject and predicate, (ii) It may be asked how the idea of ‘nothing’ can qualify reality. I answer, as before, in general that exclusion from the Universe admits presence in a field of distinction falling within the Universe. And I answer further that ‘nothing’, being always relative, can always qualify such a field. If there were a genuine idea of sheer nothing, the case would be altered. But without entering into further difficulties and into refinements for which there is no space, I may state broadly that this is impossible. We cannot have a consistent idea of nothingness if that is made absolute, (iii) But I may be asked further how an idea, if self-contradictory, can qualify the real, and whether therefore, in asserting that all ideas qualify reality, I am not in conflict with the Law of Contradiction. The question is interesting, and to myself it is even more interesting when followed by another. How, when self-contradictory ideas in some sense exist (as is allowed to be the case), is it possible that such ideas should not in some sense qualify the real? Such questions cannot, however, be properly discussed apart from an inquiry into the ultimate meaning of contradiction. I have undertaken this inquiry elsewhere (Appearance, pp. 562-72, and Mind, No. 20, p. 482), and must here be allowed to take the result reached by it as true. And resting on this basis I reply as follows to the objection just raised (cf. Chapters IX and X). The self-contradictory, as it anywhere qualifies the real, is taken so far not to contradict itself. Incompatibles, such as round and square, if you connect them in another world are not taken as simply united in one subject. And, apart from such a union, they are no longer incompatible. You may suppose a distinction more or less specified in the imaginary subject to which they belong. Or again, without any such positive supposition, you have at least by your repulsion from the ‘real’ world removed the point of identity through which they collide there. The incompatibles hence fall into and coalesce with the residual mass of unspecified conjunction. As qualifying this somehow they are compatible, and you can, if you please, go on to predicate both as true. On the other hand, if even in an imaginary world you seek to unite round and square simply in one subject, they once more cease to qualify this ‘real’ world. They are once more exiled to a further outlying world of mere imagination, in which, being again merely somehow conjoined, they can both together be real. The references given above will, I hope, furnish the explanation of this brief answer. I would, however, once more remind the reader that in any case, by even speaking of contradictories, we tacitly assume them to be somehow conjoined, and I would add that any view of contradiction which fails to deal with this aspect of the case is at best incomplete and is probably defective. The difficulty raised in connexion with the Law of Contradiction will I think, when fully considered, tend to confirm on every side the truth of the main conclusions which I defend.

17^ In a work of fiction, for instance, we have the imaginary worlds of the characters over against their real world, and so on indefinitely.

18^ On this point and on ‘external’ relations compare Chapters VIII, IX, and X.

19^ There are some further remarks in Chapter XII.

20^ It is useless to insist that my real world is real because it is the world where we all meet really through the real connexions of our real bodies. For, as was remarked above, in my dreams my own dream-body possesses its world of things and of other persons; and this order of things, while I dream, is real to myself. Nay an indefinite number of persons might, for all we know, dream a world of identical content, in which each with a difference occupied his proper place. And if you ask for the criterion by which to decide between my dreamt and my waking worlds, something more is required than a mere arbitrary choice. You are led in the end to find that the superiority of my waking world lies in its character, in the greater order and system which it possesses and effects. But, with this, the hard division has turned into a question of degree, and this question once raised will tend to carry us still further.
  I may remark in passing that the real world is by some writers defined so exclusively, that whatever is perceptible but to one person becomes unreal. But obviously any man might under individual conditions have an experience which would not be shared by others, and which would yet belong to the order of events in the real world of fact.

21^ On the nature of the imaginary compare Chapter XII, and on the ‘real world’ see further in Chapters XIV and XVI.

22^ The reader will observe that I am not attempting to deal with the subject of play generally. Neither its origin, nor its varieties, nor its position in the whole of animal and human life can be touched on here. And again from the point of view of education I am not offering to say a word. Even if space allowed it, I am not competent to speak on the whole subject, and the reader must be referred to works such as those of Prof. Groos. I am concerned here with the sense of play, and with play as we experience it in contrast with earnest.

23^ What Prof. Taylor has well called ‘the Gospel of Drudgery’ is still too much with us. But labour without joy in labour is no moral end. It is a necessity, tolerable, if at all, only for the sake of something else. And, preached as in itself a duty, it is nothing short of inhuman nonsense and cant.

24^ In connecting fine art with the play-impulse it is easy, I may remark in passing, to fall into serious error.

25^ This use of the plural is adopted solely for the reader’s convenience and I hope on that ground may be excused.

26^ In other words, to make game of it.

27^ If I play because I am compelled to play, that, so far, and while the sense of compulsion lasts, is not playing. And we must even say the same thing where I play because of a want to play. My playing, that is, to the extent to which, in general or in particular detail, it is felt to be necessary to the satisfaction of a want, so far is not mere playing. But of course the detail of play is seldom felt to be thus necessary, and obviously the feeling tends, if the activity lasts, to disappear.

28^ It is surely only through a course of actual experiment that an animal, such as a young dog, learns how hard he may bite in play. And I should have added that, in the case of a dog, part of the course consists in his biting himself. Dr. McDougall (Social Psychology, p. 111) objects to the account in the text that it is impossible because it implies ‘deliberate self-restraint’ — which in a young animal does not exist. I venture to hope that to the reader it will be even obvious that nothing of the kind really is implied, and that the objection rests on the merest misunderstanding.
  What Dr. McDougall’s own view is, and whence according to him comes the difference of a dog’s behavior when he plays with another dog and then again with a stick, I have not been able to understand. His whole account here seems to myself to have fallen to such a low level that I feel bound in justice to him to suppose that on this subject I have failed to follow him. Whether some such supposition on his side also, where I am concerned, would not have been prudent, I will leave to the reader to decide.

29^ So of course mutatis mutandis with the girl and her doll. On the above point the reader may be referred to Prof. Sully’s Human Mind, i. 384.

30^ I do not mean that in playing the moral or theoretical control must be kept always before my mind. As we saw before, it is enough that this control should be ready at any moment to come in, and that any suggestion of excess should at once bring it before me, or at least bring it into action.

31^ The amount of actual illusion is said, for instance, to differ widely with different actors. See Mr. Archer’s well-known collection of facts in his Masks or Faces. Again flirting, the amatory game, is an instance where it is not easy to distinguish between the two kinds of control, theoretical and moral. The amount of illusion or pretense varies widely in various cases, and in many cases probably amounts to nothing. You may have simply the letting loose of certain sexual feelings and actions without pretense or illusion but within a certain moral limit. The beginning of this is easy to observe, for example, among dogs.
  The main essence of the affair is in short not illusion but limit. That is why (as Prof. Groos rightly observes in The Play of Man, p. 253) we do not in the same way play at eating, for there short of the satisfaction of appetite the means are not by themselves sufficiently agreeable. But to a certain extent, I should say, we may play at eating, for instance at dessert. And children play thus habitually, I suppose because the real satisfaction is out of their power. But here of course the imaginary element comes in and is important.

32^ I should be willing here to add ‘of human values’, so long as ‘human’ is not understood as ‘merely human’. To use the term ‘humanity’ loosely as covering at once ‘all finite mind’ and again ‘merely some of the inhabitants of a certain planet’, may, as a support to certain views, be found convenient or perhaps necessary. But whether such ambiguity is permissible is of course another question. In this note I find myself repeating that which in another connexion I had to urge now many years ago (Ethical Studies, pp. 305-7), and even then, in 1876, the matter was far from new.

Top ↑

Occasion of the following Chapter. Personal Idealism and Pragmatism (65). Claim made for the latter (66). What Pragmatism might have meant (66-7). Pragmatism and Humanity (67-8). Pragmatism and Instrumentalism (68-9). On Will and Knowledge. On idle truths and verification (69-70). Bain’s doctrine recalled. Professors James and Dewey repeat Bain’s mistake (70-1). Pragmatism and the Individual. Apparently it has no principle here, and on the question of Instrumentalism Pragmatists appear to differ radically (71-2). Pragmatism and the genetic or historical view (72-3). General character of Pragmatism (73).

Introductory Note

The following chapter contains the greater part of an article published in Mind, n.s., No. 51 (July 1904). I have removed the beginning, and later on have made omissions which are noted each in its own place. Otherwise the article is reprinted unaltered. What has been left out has been omitted for two reasons. Its interest in the first place seems to myself to have been ephemeral. And in the second place, if now republished, it might be taken as an attack upon writers who at the time were either not in my mind or who were there more or less incidentally.

The occasion of this paper in Mind was the appearance of a volume, supposed to represent a movement called Personal Idealism, together with some periodical writing which I took to be connected with the same movement. I do not suggest that all the writers in that volume knew beforehand of any movement, or had at any rate much of an idea as to its meaning. And Personal Idealism, I imagine, if it ever lived, is today dead. In its place we have now on one side, I presume, the acceptance, partial or complete, of Realism and Pluralism, and, on the other side, we have the tendency to what may be called Irrationalism. The doctrines which group themselves under the name of Pragmatism will fall more or less under each of these heads. Their best exposition is, perhaps, to be found in the works of Prof. Dewey and his followers. These writers, as well as Prof. James, I have never hesitated to criticize; but I should be sorry indeed to give the idea that I associate any of them in my mind with anything that is not wholly creditable.

Both in the present chapter and in later pages of this volume the reader will find some criticisms on Pragmatism. My difficulty with regard to this doctrine has remained insuperable. And the difficulty arises, I cannot but think, at least in part from real |66| obscurities, obscurities which, if removed, would unmask radical incoherence. I cannot, that is, believe that so-called Pragmatists are really of one mind either as to what they assert or as to what they wish to deny. They are agreed, I suppose, in opposition to Intellectualism — whatever that may be; but, while some of them apparently desire to emphasize the importance and the claim of the individual person as against the Whole, others on the contrary appear at least to lean in the opposite direction. And even the degradation of theory and of fine art to the level of mere instruments seems not to be, after all, a necessary tenet. In short, a gospel of Practice where no one knew, and (I had almost written) no one was to know, what Practice means, has produced its natural result. The disciples for the most part see with different eyes, wherever, that is, they are not simply blind.

A point where all Pragmatists appear to be agreed is this, that at least their doctrine is new; for, whatever else it is, it certainly is preached as revolutionary. 1 But agreement is easier where one does not know in what a gospel really consists. I will therefore proceed to offer some brief remarks both on the meaning of Pragmatism and on its asserted novelty. For further explanation I would refer the reader to later pages of this volume (Chapter V and Appendices.).

1. Pragmatism might have meant something which, if carried out systematically, would, so far as I am aware, be new. It might have taken truth to be mere working ideas, and human interests in their entirety it might have taken as the one end, and as the criterion of knowledge and reality. 2 It might have set these |67| interests out fully, and not merely at the dictation of prejudice and caprice, and might have made them, severally and again collectively, and perhaps even in an order, the test everywhere of truth and value, in science, in art, and in morals and religion. Such a work would indeed be welcome, and, so far as I know, it has not been accomplished. But obviously this is not the task which Pragmatism has even attempted. Obviously Pragmatism, I should say, has never even faced the above problem in earnest, and much less has it ever applied itself to reach a satisfactory solution. But for a justification of this statement I must refer to a later part of this volume. 3

From this point, on which misunderstanding is only too prevalent, I will pass on to deal with some questions of detail.

2. We find in Pragmatism the conception of Society as an organism, a living body in which and of which the individual is a member and a function — an organism which of course develops in time. And I have been led to suppose that there are Pragmatists who believe that we really owe the above idea to Pragmatism. But such a writer as Prof. Dewey would, I cannot doubt, inform such persons (if they exist) that any notion of the kind is baseless. And he would tell them again that there is nothing new in the same idea of organic development as applied to Humanity.

But, this being admitted, it may be said that the real point is the position which Pragmatism gives to Humanity. The novelty achieved by Pragmatism perhaps resides in the way in which it takes the relation between Humanity and the Universe. This is, however, a claim which the outsider is hardly in a position to examine. The question as to exactly how far Humanity is and is not to be identified with Reality, seems certainly vital. To discuss, for instance, the nature of truth when you are ignorant as to your answer to such a question, appears, to me at least, to be futile. But the Pragmatist to myself has seemed content to meet challenges on this point by an attitude of prudent obscurity. And I must be allowed to conclude that he is obscure here because he is insolvent, but that, if he were forced to speak, whatever |68| answer he gave would most certainly not be novel. Nor again, I think, is there any answer which, if stated intelligibly, would be accepted by all Pragmatists.

3. But the organic evolution of Humanity, it may be said, as previously understood was teleological, and the banishment of all idea of End is the novelty brought in by Pragmatism. But surely, after all these years of Darwinism — not to mention the earlier preaching of the ‘mechanical’ view — such a claim, if made, would be monstrous. It would be different if, after having removed from organic development the aspect of Good or End, Pragmatism could point to what it offers to set in the place of that idea. But it can offer nothing, so far as I see, that is not old and familiar. The doctrine that there is no end except what happens, that whatever happens is true and right and good, or at least that there is no sense in asking, about anything else that might have happened, if it really would have been better — such a doctrine surely, whatever else it is, would not be new. And to take the old idea of the organic development of Humanity, and merely to couple this with the old denial of any Human End, would hardly pass, I should imagine, as an original achievement.

4. Nor, once again, can I find anything new in the idea of Instrumentalism. The degradation of philosophy, science and fine art, to the rank of mere means, subserving an end falling outside themselves, is surely nothing novel. And we do not even gain a new attitude if, while denying intrinsic value to these things, we forget to ask what it is that, lying outside them, has itself intrinsic worth.

There is, indeed, a sense in which Instrumentalism, though not novel, would, as I think, be tenable. Everything in the world or in our life can, that is, be regarded as a means. No element apart from all the rest will retain its value, and each therefore, we may say, has worth only in so far as it conduces to the welfare of the Whole. But on the other hand the value of the Whole is not separable from that of its diverse aspects, and in the end, apart from any one of them, it is reduced to nothing. In the above sense Instrumentalism, I should say, is true, so long as you emphasize the fact that everything alike (though not to the same degree) is an instrument, and so long as you insist that there is nothing in life which, viewed otherwise, has value. The instrument in other words is such, only because it is not taken as a means |69| to some end which fails to include itself as intrinsic and valuable. But surely Instrumentalism, asserted in the above sense, would be equivalent to its own denial. ‘Instrumentalism’ in other words, unless it is to be a misleading misnomer, should imply in principle and throughout the acceptance of Mechanism. But, so far as I see, considerations of this kind are ignored by Pragmatism.

5. I do not know if any Pragmatist seriously takes his school to have originated the Primacy of Will. Any such claim would of course ignore the existence both of Fichte and Schelling, 4 and it would be another proof, where unfortunately no other proof is wanted, that to our general public even such a writer as Schopenhauer remains unknown. And as for the idea that the pursuit of truth and knowledge implies a desire for these objects, it is a doctrine in which Pragmatists, like the rest of us, were or might have been brought up. If one had perhaps not learnt it before, one might at least have learnt it from Hegel.

6. My attitude remains the same in presence of the denial of idle or useless truths, and the assertion that a truth apart from its working is not true. If this is Pragmatism, then surely Hegel was long ago the Pragmatist par excellence, and I doubt if any one who knows the facts would venture to deny this. The general view, which others and myself may be said to have inherited, is this — that the criterion lies in the idea of system. An idea is true theoretically because, and so far as, it takes its place in, and contributes to, the organism of knowledge. And, on the other hand, an idea is false of which the opposite holds good. How can there be any question here of separating an idea from its consequences? How could a true idea possibly make no difference to anything else? Of course, if, and so far as, consequences are identified with the consequences which are practical, the case is altered. But as long as we do not know what words like ‘practical’, ‘action’, and ‘working’ are to mean, any claim to novelty here must remain ambiguous.

With regard to what is called verification the same remark holds good. The necessity for, and again the ambiguity of, verification, were topics for discussion long before any Pragmatist began to utter his boasts. What is to verify? Is it to find the object of an idea as a sensible event? Is it to envisage an |70| ideal content clearly and convincingly, or to experience coercion from ideas and their relations? Is it to show that an idea, taken for true, makes the body of our knowledge at once wider and more consistent? To maintain that insistence on verification in any of the above senses is a new thing, would be surely to show oneself grossly misinformed. The only real novelty left to Pragmatism is the claim to verify truth by its practical results. But here we have once more on our hands the question as to what ‘practice’ is to mean. And any serious attempt to define ‘practice’, would, or should, rend asunder the Pragmatist church. Such leaders, at least, as the late Prof. James and Dr. Dewey appear on this vital point to teach doctrines which are in radical conflict. 5

It may perhaps be instructive if we allow ourselves here to digress and go back to a writer whose work on certain topics it is too much the fashion to ignore. More than half a century ago Prof. Bain made belief consist in practice. The difference between having a mere idea and holding it for true, lay, according to him, in our practical action on and from the idea. Now if, starting from Bain’s view, we go on (as he did not) to write truth for belief, we have what I took to be the essence of Pragmatism. Judgment and truth are the practical working out of an idea by me, and they are nothing else at all. Whether in this interpretation I was mistaken or was right, is a point to which I will return, but with regard to Bain I argued long ago that his doctrine cannot stand. 6 It is in conflict with fact, and it is not even held consistently by himself. And what I find instructive is this, that Prof. James and Dr. Dewey have repeated Bain’s inconsistency. Unconscious apparently both of his doctrine and of the objections brought against it, they are forced by the same false principle to the same vicious procedure.

In maintaining that belief consisted in practical action Bain had to face the fact that we sometimes believe in an idea on which we do not act. He answered that here, if we do not act, we at least, if called on, should do so. This he called ‘preparedness to act’, and he considered that by this distinction his theory was saved. To the obvious objection that one cannot at discretion identify the possible with the actual, he, so far as I am aware, did not attempt to reply. The truth is that unless permitted, |71| wherever they please, to treat mere possibilities as actual fact, while never so much as asking what is meant by ‘possible’, Bain and J. S. Mill, together with their whole school, are in principle bankrupt. 7

And, apparently unaware of this open pitfall. Prof. James and Dr. Dewey seek to escape from a like difficulty by the same misleading road. In presence of ideas which do not actually issue in practice, they take refuge in some prospective or potential action, assisting themselves with what I must venture to call mythology or verbiage. The evidence for this fact is given later 8 and I will leave the reader, if satisfied as to the fact, to draw the appropriate conclusion.

To pass from this inconsistency, I shall be told that Pragmatism does not identify truth with the idea which works best for the individual, and that hence the following chapter, or much of it, does not bear on Pragmatism. I fully accept the statement of fact made on this point by Prof. James, 9 but in the matter of principle I remain unconvinced. For, if Pragmatism repudiates the doctrine that the idea which most works practically in and for the individual is true, the question is what foundation, and whether any foundation at all, is left to Pragmatism. On this essential point I have failed to gain assistance from either Dr. Dewey or Prof. James. The idea that works ‘on the whole’ may, so far as I see, conflict with the idea which works in and for me. And for the subordination of one of these aspects to the other I can find no reason in principle. The conflict might indeed be avoided by an external coincidence which everywhere occurs between these two aspects. But the assertion or postulation of such a coincidence I cannot attribute to either of the writers mentioned.

What on the other hand I find is an apparent difference between these two leaders, which, if developed, would lead, so far as I can judge, to open schism. Dr. Dewey, I understand, stoutly holds to Instrumentalism, to the denial of intrinsic worth to theory, and he still maintains the principle that the idea which works practically is the truth. Prof. James on the contrary ended |72| (however he began) by using ‘practice’ as a mere general name for the Good, by the allowing of intrinsic value to theory, and perhaps also to fine art, and in short he seems implicitly to repudiate Instrumentalism, however vague and inconsistent that repudiation may be. Even on the word ‘practical’ he apparently ceased to lay any emphasis. 10 And whether on these heads there is not an actual split between his doctrine and that held by Dr. Dewey, the reader must judge. And, like myself, he may be led to wonder what, if Pragmatism meant no more than it meant at last to Prof. James, has become of Pragmatism. If theory after all, as theory, is ‘practical’, and, as theory, has intrinsic value, the revolutionary Pragmatic Church seems to have been built on something like self-imposture. On the other hand, if strict Instrumentalism remains the orthodox creed, then apparently Prof. James, and those who follow him, have ceased really to be Pragmatists. But perhaps Dr. Dewey, who fortunately is still with us, can show how all this is otherwise.

7. Further, Pragmatism, it may be urged, lays an emphasis on the genetic, on the historical, side of things. The intellectual aspect of human nature is, it insists, to be understood, like every other aspect, apart from abstraction. Knowledge is to be viewed as it arises inseparably intertwined with every other factor in human development. 11 Philosophy must be studied, in short, from the point of view of history or psychology. Now I am sure that such a contention is both useful and welcome, though its claim to be novel, I confess, surprises me. This is, however, a question which I will leave to others, better informed, to discuss. But that such a view is to be identified with Pragmatism to myself seems incredible. For a doctrine like the above is surely as easy to understand and to state plainly, as it is difficult to apply and to carry out in detail; while on the other side the inability of Pragmatism, so far, to make its position generally understood, seems even admitted. And again, whatever else it is, Pragmatism claims to be the denial in principle and the supersession in practice of the mass of previous philosophy. The real essence |73| then of Pragmatism is perhaps to deny that there is anything in truth, in beauty, and even perhaps in reality at large, except its appearance in human development. Nothing, in other words, is at all except as, and just as far as, it occurs as a human event. The inconsistency and irrationality of such a view, when you work it out, soon becomes obvious, and Pragmatism has naturally here preferred to remain obscure and ambiguous. Still that in such a position, if it were made clear, there would be anything new is not easily credited. 12

I would end by repeating that which I remarked at the beginning. Pragmatism seems a collection’ of various tendencies, in part inconsistent one with the other, and to a large extent left undefined. In the minds of some of its exponents it seems identified with blind reaction against other views, themselves imperfectly understood. Pragmatism, so far as it is positive, seems to be not so much a doctrine as the expression of a desire, or rather of two separate desires or half-conscious drifts. The one of these seeks perhaps to find a consistent philosophy of Darwinism, while the other aims perhaps to reach a view which will be just to every side of man’s nature and will satisfy the entirety of human interest. But whether these two ends conflict or are in harmony, Pragmatism does not know, and does not inquire.

There is an opportunity here, I think a great opportunity, for the Pragmatist who is willing, and who is able, to go to work radically and systematically. Such a man will have in the first place to be in earnest with scepticism, and he must know enough to be able to understand what a thorough scepticism means. And he will have learnt to distrust his own prejudices, even when directed against that which he is pleased to call Intellectualism and Absolutism. But whatever else he may discover, such a man will most assuredly find that he himself is face to face with the old question, the unavoidable problem. What is Reality?

The following article, I have already intimated, if taken as a criticism on what is called Pragmatism, is in some points not defensible. In it Pragmatism is too much identified with Personal |74| Idealism, as I understood that movement, and is assumed to be a kind of individualistic voluntarism. But neither individualism nor even perhaps voluntarism seems to be a necessary feature of Pragmatism. I should now doubt if there is a single doctrine which a Pragmatist is called on to hold, so long at least as he abjures Intellectualism — whatever (I once more add) that may mean. In this introductory note, and in later chapters, the reader will find, I hope, a more correct treatment of Pragmatism. But I have judged it better (except for omissions mentioned) to reprint my old article. It contains matter which, I believe, may be useful to the reader, and it is even, I still think, a refutation of the principle of Pragmatism, if, that is, we are able to suppose that Pragmatism has any principle. And for various reasons I have not cared to re-write it. I will add here the greater part of what was the footnote to its opening sentence:

This paper was written in the early summer of 1903, and has been left much as it was. I have, however; since that date made acquaintance with the interesting volume called Studies in Logical Theory. There is much in the position taken here by Prof. Dewey and the other writers which seems to me to be suggestive and valuable. On the other hand that position as a whole has not become clear to me. I agree that there is no such existing thing as pure thought. On the other side, if in the end there is to be no such thing as independent thought, thought, that is, which in its actual exercise takes no account of the psychological situation, I am myself in the end led inevitably to scepticism. And on this point I have so far failed to gain any assistance from Prof. Dewey. The doctrine that every judgement essentially depends on the entire psychical state of the individual and derives from this its falsehood or truth, is, I presume, usually taken to amount to complete scepticism. This is a matter which doubtless Prof. Dewey has considered, and a discussion of it by him would I am sure be welcomed.


1^ I am of course aware that Prof. James stated that there was nothing new about the Pragmatic method. But all I would add is this, that, if the statement in the text is not true, the whole attitude of Prof. James, and still more that of some of his followers, seems to have become inexplicable. But see Chapter V (Appendix I).

2^ Such a position would, however, not entail downright Instrumentalism, so long as the pursuit and possession of truth is itself allowed to be an intrinsic human interest. All that such a position is called on to deny, is the existence of a criterion of truth which is intrinsic and supreme. The criterion of truth, that is, would lie in its contribution to the aggregate of human interests, and, as so contributing, truth might be allowed a value beyond that of an external means or instrument. I am not, however, suggesting that by taking the aggregate of human interests as our end it is possible to reach a consistent view. So far as we keep to a mere collection we are without any principle of order. There are some further remarks on Instrumentalism below, see p. 68. Cf. also Appendix I to Chapter V.

3^ Chapter V (Appendix I). So far as I know Prof. James never even raised the question whether, and how far, truth is compelled to forgo self-consistency. He appears to have simply assumed that truth must be consistent. But here surely is a problem that should have met him, and should have been even obvious, from the first.

4^ I refer specially to the latter’s treatise on Human Freedom.

5^ For evidence of this the reader is referred to Chapter V (Appendix I).

6^ Principles of Logic (1883), pp. 18 ff.

7^ I had to make the same criticism on the same fallacy in connexion with the doctrine of pleasure taught by Bain, Mind, o.s., No. 47, p. 18. I have had to return to this same point again later.

8^ Chapter V (Appendix I).

9^ Ibid.

10^ The reader is referred specially to The Meaning of Truth, pp. 206-11. The strength of the language used there by Prof. James suggests to my mind some awareness on his part of the weakness of his case. Cf. Chapter V (Appendix I).

11^ ‘Il y aura,’ Balzac has said, ‘toujours de l’homme dans la science humaine.’

12^ For a discussion on Genetic Theory in Logic the reader may be referred to Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic (Ed. II), vol. ii, chap. vii.

Top ↑

Chapter IV. On Truth and Practice

Truth is not in any case the mere practical working of an idea (75-82). Practice, what. Truth cannot consist in mere alteration of existence (82-5). What practice for practice sake really means (85-6). Relation of practice to life. Truth and Beauty, how far practical. Though in one sense subject to practice, they are in another sense free (86-92). Attempts to subordinate truth to practice are of various kinds. These stated and discussed in detail. Primacy of Will untenable (92-9). General Result (99-101). Note. On practical and non-practical activity (101-6).

I. In maintaining that truth essentially does not consist in the mere practical working of an idea, I would first of all remove a probable misunderstanding. For myself I have always held that at the beginning of its course the intellect directly subserves practice, and that between practice and theory there is as yet no possible division. I have expressed this belief ong ago, 1 and I have repeated it since, as I believe, unequivocally and plainly. Again I hold that in the end theory and practice are one. I believe in short that each is a one-sided aspect of our nature. And for me the ultimate reality is not a mere aspect or aspects, but it is a unity in which every distinction is at once maintained and subordinated. On the other hand, wherever the word ‘truth’ has its meaning, that meaning to me cannot be reduced to bare practical effect. And at our human level, and throughout at least some tracts of our life, the words ‘true’ and ‘false’ have to me most certainly a specific meaning. The nature of this I cannot here attempt to point out, 2 but I hold that it is other than the mere fact that an idea works or fails practically. It is on account of this denial, I presume, that I am to be termed an ‘intellectualist’, and this denial I will now proceed to justify. The view that truth everywhere subserves practice directly seems to me contrary to fact; but, even where this is the case, truth itself is not merely practical. This distinction appears, as I have said, to be often ignored. At an early and unreflective stage of mind no idea will be retained unless it works practically, or unless at least it practically satisfies me. |76| We can have at this level no reflection on disappointment, failure and falsehood. And hence I agree that here there is no truth except where an idea works practically. But to go from this to the conclusion that truth’s essence even here lies wholly in such working, is a further step which to me seems not permissible. The idea works, but it is able to work not simply because it is there and because I have chosen it. It is able to work because, in short, I have chosen the right idea.

Everywhere in conation {‘the mental faculty of purpose, desire, or will to perform an action; volition’} and will there is an idea which is opposed to existence. And this existence nowhere is characterless, but it is a determinate being. And the character of this being again is not something inert. On the contrary it is an element in the whole situation, and it dictates to my idea as well as submits to dictation. If my idea is the right one, and if it works, this, we may say, is because the nature of the whole situation selected it. My idea, I agree, then reacts, and I agree that it then makes the situation to be different. But to speak as if the entire nature of the situation were first made by the idea seems really extravagant. If my idea is to work it must correspond to a determinate being which it cannot be said to make. And in this correspondence, I must hold, consists from the very first the essence of truth. I will proceed to show this first on the positive side, and then again where in failure and in falsehood we meet the opposite of truth. But I shall take our experience now at a level more removed from its lowest point, and shall consider it at a stage where reflection is possible.

(a) The fact which first offers itself is the case of finding means to a positive end. I desire, let us say, to cross a stream in order to gather fruit. The stream is swollen, and there is hence a gap between my idea and its reality. On this let us suppose that I retain my general idea of crossing, and that other ideas as to the particular manner of crossing are suggested. This is in the main what we understand by |77| finding means to an end. Now these ideas, I agree, may all be said to be practical ideas. My end will remain my crossing somehow, and the means will probably consist in my doing something so as to cross. But these means surely must correspond to the actual nature of the stream, and surely to suggest that my ideas manufacture that correspondence is absurd. The stream is wider lower down, so that there I may wade. The stream is full of rocks higher up, so that there I may leap. If I will only wait quietly the stream is falling of itself. If I will only sit still, my companion has promised that he will come with a float. My end is practical doubtless, and my means still are the idea of myself doing something — if at least you stretch that so as to include my waiting till something happens of itself or is done by another. But when you ask what it is which makes each idea right or wrong, you cannot exclude its agreement or its discord with fact other than my will. And to ignore this aspect of the case, or to treat this aspect as if it were something somehow immaterial, to my mind, I must repeat, is wholly unprofitable. In selecting my means I am forced to consider their relation to the facts, and, if my idea works, it is because of this relation which is not made by my idea. And it is in this relation that we have to seek the distinctive nature of truth. Or we may say that the whole situation, inward and outward, dictates to me the selection of such an idea as can work, and that hence to treat this congé d’élire {permission to choose} merely as my act on the situation is a foolish pretense. Let us take again the case where I go hunting and where my end is the capture of some beast. I obviously here may have to reflect carefully on the nature of the means. Where the animal is, and what it is likely to do under certain conditions, all this I may have to infer from a general knowledge of its nature and from a variety of indications that I gather from facts now perceived. And, if others are to cooperate, I have to take account also of their natures and |78| of their probable conduct. The whole of this is fact to which my idea has got first to correspond. It has, that is, first to be true as a condition of its working. On the other side doubtless the idea of the means is dependent on the end, and doubtless, if you remove the end, you remove at one stroke the idea and its truth. But from this you cannot logically conclude that the entire truth was made by your end and your ideas. It would be as rational first to insist that without the given facts there are in fact no ideas and no truth, and then go on to infer that in the end truth and will consist barely in what comes to my mind.

(b) I shall be charged, I do not doubt, with idle insistence on the obvious. But where I understand little more than that there is a denial of what to me are plain facts, no course is possible to me except thus to insist on the obvious. And so I proceed to view the facts from their negative side. When, at a certain mental stage, I fail, I do not at this stage merely try again and again, but I retain my failures and use them to determine my conduct. My being carried away by the stream if I attempt to cross here, my falling amongst the rocks if I try to cross there, my being captured by my enemies if I remain where I am — these ideas remove possibilities and they qualify the situation by narrowing it. They are practical ideas, and in the end they may subserve another idea which actually works. But, taken in and by themselves, you can hardly say that they work directly. On the other hand, however indirectly, they do seem to make an assertion about things which are other than my will. And taken as ideas of my ‘doing’ they have to fall under the head of ‘avoiding’. But that avoidance is based, I submit, on what things do to me. It depends on a character in things which hinders me or even actively makes me suffer. For we are not to say, I presume, that I avoid evils merely because of my desire to do something in the way of avoidance. We may see this more evidently where I am not |79| engaged in any positive pursuit, but where a danger threatens me from which terrified I desire to escape. It is dusk and the man-eating tiger will be coming, and I do not know how to avoid him whether by this course or by that. And surely, in order to find some idea which will ‘do’, I must before all things consider his nature and what he on his side is likely to do. The same thing is evident again where my enemies are human. My end is practical, but surely my ideas about the means must be dictated to me by something which is clearly not myself. And this forced agreement of my ideas with a nature other than my volition is, I presume, that which in general we understand by truth.

And there are moments when nothing works and where every idea fails. I am starving, but I am helpless for I cannot climb to reach the fruit. I am dying of thirst, but my legs are broken and I cannot move to reach the water. I am tortured by an internal pain which I can do nothing to assuage. And here I need not idly repeat my futile efforts until exhaustion and stupor supervene. I may realize my fate and I may become aware that this now is my doom. The nature of that which is opposed to my will has triumphed. Or I may see my companion in the jaws of some inevitable danger where I am impotent. This to me is true, it has whatever truth belongs to death, pain and evil, but I hardly know in what sense it is an idea which works. You may possibly reply that suffering and death are undeniably practical, and that my idea at any rate exactly meets the practical situation. But to me there is more sense in the old view that my idea meets the situation theoretically and not practically. The idea of a failure in another or of failure in myself surely here does not itself produce the failure, and, if it did so, surely that would be the worst failure of all. And to make here the agreement of my idea with facts into a practical success, would be the mark of insanity rather than of philosophy or common sense. The |80| idea of avoidance is here an idea which obviously cannot carry itself out. And the reflection that failure is but the deferred and assured coming of triumph, if such an idea were suggested to creatures in these straits, might seem to them the one idea which above all others neither works theoretically nor practically. 3

There is indeed an ancient doctrine for which no power in the end is mere force, and which finds no evil in the world except for self-will. And the self that can apprehend all force and all suffering as in the end will and love, does |81| itself thus succeed and does triumph even in its own anguish and despair. And the way to this end, however hard, is at least familiar, for it is the open secret that has been revealed by the Teachers of the East, and, whatever you like to say against it theoretically, it is a faith which certainly can work. But this is the way which our new gospel of personal individualism seems to advertise as henceforth closed. At least if my ideas and my will, or the will and the ideas of any man or set of men, are to be the measure of truth, then, so far as I see, the reality cannot he beyond the private ends of individuals. And to realize the self by self-surrender to the supreme will, must, I presume, be set down as at once irrational and immoral. For there is not, I understand, and there ought not to be any will which is supreme, and really sole master of the world, and lord of suffering and of sin and of death. And again in no possible case could any will which is quite external to my own become really and in truth something personal to myself.

But at this point our new gospel, it seems to me, begins to falter, and it seems evasively to point to an ambiguous way of escape. If the world and its power which confront me are the funded accumulations made by striving beings (Mind, n.s., No. 45, p. 94), then after all the world can be no force which is alien to my will. But such a plea to my mind sounds like trifling or like mockery. For to view ourselves as insects on a coral reef is hardly a solution which works. If the world in fact is hostile to my will, then it does not cease to be hostile because others like myself have had the same or a different experience before me. They have altered the world, I know, and they have improved it, if you will, but they have not altered it so that it does not oppose me. 4 No gratitude of mine for past efforts will transform the living fact, and no belief in some happier |82| future, when I am past, can serve to change the actual present. If indeed to me there were no force in the world but the veiled love of God, if the wills in the past were one in effort and in substance with the one Will, if in that Will they are living still and still so are loving, and if again by faith, suffering, and love my will is made really one with theirs — here indeed we should have found at once our answer and our refuge. But with this we should pass surely beyond the limits of any personal individualism. For this we must have more than the mere accumulation of several efforts. We cannot rest in a God who is no more omnipotent than one of ourselves, and who, though animated, I dare say, by the best intentions, cannot answer for the unknown force which confronts himself and us. 5 And, as I understand, the remedy is for us to discard such perverted wants and such unnatural desires. We shall find our glad tidings in the unfailing advertisements of the new way in philosophy, where every doubt and all disease has found its certain cure, and where at last every tub can stand upright on its own bottom.

II. I will pass on to consider another aspect of the case. We often hear a cry which seems to set forth the virtues of practice. But, when before all things I seek to understand in what this practice consists, then I scarce can apprehend a word which to me is intelligible. And, since my ignorance and perhaps my bias is not peculiar to myself, I will venture without apology once more to lay bare the nakedness of my mind.

A young man frequently hears it said, why cannot you take up something practical? Why cannot you, in other words, place your first end in what is called a comfortable life, and seek to eat and to drink and to reproduce your |83| species, while enjoying the social consideration and the amusements of the average man? And the young man may reply that, so far as he sees, this would not bring him happiness. He prefers to place his chief end perhaps in art or in science, or again in the excitement of the chase or of gaming or amours, or possibly, it may even be, in some form of mystical religion. And to seek my happiness, he would exclaim, however far away from what the world calls practical, how can there be for me any course more practical than this? 6 And evidently here there is a failure to use words on each side with a common meaning. Our confusion may be further heightened when we reflect on the one hand that everything in our lives must be practical. For conduct is practical, and nothing that we are and do can possibly, it seems, be external to conduct. But on the other hand in at least some men we seem to discover non-practical wants. We seem to find a desire for the cultivation of truth or beauty for their own sakes, or even a longing for the contemplative absorption in the eternal. And thus while on the one side every desire and every want must be practical, on the other side some practical aims seem to entail the subordination of practice.

These familiar doubts, idle to those minds which have risen far above doubt, to other minds have suggested serious questionings. And I will go on briefly to state that which has served as perhaps a sufficient answer. My practice may be called in general the alteration by me of existence, inward and outward, and ‘existence’ we may understand as what happens or as the series of events. 7 And since, whatever else it is, my whole life certainly is a process in time, certainly everything which I am or do has, or may have, this practical |84| aspect. 8 Our being is realized, we know, by maintaining ourselves and our race against natural accident and decay. We have to eat and to drink and to multiply our kind. Then again there is our life in the family and in society. We are born into and enter into wholes wider than ourselves, and in these the individual finds his own self in its connexion with other men, and has his being in their consideration and also their love for him. But now let us suppose further that a man is able to go even beyond this. Let us suppose him capable of pursuing and of enjoying truth and beauty for themselves, and able to find his own nature realized in the unselfish love of these objects. Such a supposition, I am aware, is in principle contrary to individualism, but our discordance with individualism (by whatever new name it likes to call itself) has begun long before such a point had been reached. However that may be, let us suppose that a man can in fact desire and can enjoy for its own sake what is beautiful and true. These objects on one side exist for his theoretical activity, and they involve obviously and necessarily an alteration of his personal existence. They and their pursuits are therefore practical, how intensely practical is known to all who have experience of the facts. 9 Alteration of existence is implied inseparably in the being of truth, but truth, to confine ourselves here |85| to truth, has another side also. And, when you take in this side, you cannot say that the essence of truth consists in a change made in or made by this or that individual. The angles of a triangle may, if you will, not exist outside of the geometer’s head, but their equality to two right angles is hardly nothing but a present change made in him. The laws of the planets and stars, we believe, in part revealed themselves truly to Newton, but the revelation, if so, was something more than a mere personal event. It is only in poetry that America rose from the waves at the will of Columbus, and even in poetry the America which appeared was a thing found as well as done. There is for us no truth, we may say, save that which discovers itself to us. The finding of truth is on one side an alteration of the world, but this alteration on the other side does not 10 contain the truth itself which is found. It is impossible to make the truth a mere deed and a mere outcome and a mere adjective of the person who discovers or enjoys it. As my theoretical activity it is a practical change in my existence, but as my object it has another character and a different purpose. Its essence cannot lie merely in that which I do either to myself or to the world.

The gospel of practice for the sake of practice, and everything else for the sake of practice, makes, I doubt not, a good cry. But it will satisfy in the end only those who have not asked what practice is. Practice we have found to consist in my alteration of existence. Now, if we take this as our end, we seem to place the end in mere quantity of being and change. Our end must be being and doing, maintained and reproduced, without regard to any quality possessed by it, except of course so far as difference in quality goes to subserve quantity. But such an end is hardly what in general men seek or can desire, and it will, I think, be obvious to any one that in his own case he would not care for mere |86| increase of being apart from quality. We might of course set up mere pleasure in abstraction as our end, and we might endeavor to subordinate consistently every other aspect of our being to this one reality. Truth and falsehood would in this way become mere increase and decrease of pleasure. And these characters would be no facts to be ascertained by an independent intellect, since the whole of their truth and reality would have to consist in their accordance with my present feeling. This is a view which, so far as I know, no Hedonist among us has advocated, 11 and in any case it would hardly square with the gospel of practice. And hence, unless I am to take mere quantity of doing as my end, I can myself find in the end no sense in the cry of practice for practice’ sake.

And, if I may be allowed to put on one side things which I am unable to comprehend, I would venture to state in a few words how I understand the relation of practice to life. The end I take to be the fullest and most harmonious development of our being, and, though I will not deny that this coincides with the largest amount of mere doing, 12 the latter aspect I must regard as but incidental. Now, if our being is to be realized, its main functions must be regarded as ends, and every side of our nature in being realized will thus assuredly be practical. For, to speak in the main, whatever we are and whatever we acquire, becomes and remains ours only on the condition that we are active and doing. Thus everything in life, to speak once more in the main, is a practical end, and every possible side of our life is practical. But among these ends and aspects there is on the other hand an important difference, 13 for we are forced to deny in a sense that some of them are practical. Some of them, that is, do not involve the alteration of existence except |87| incidentally, while with the rest this alteration is, in various senses and degrees, essential and vital. Eating and drinking, and life in the family and in society and the state, may be called practical essentially. Our actual existence in time and in space has in various senses to be changed by all of these functions. And in addition their contents can be said to fall within the world of what we do and make. Their product can be said in the main to qualify that existence which we produce and alter. And further the arts and sciences which subserve these ‘practical’ ends, are themselves, so far as they subserve these, practical also. But the attitude of mere theory and of mere apprehension is on the other hand not practical. It has to alter things, but, so far as it remains independent, its chief end and main purpose does not consist in any such alteration. Truths must exist in a mind, and, to exist in it, they must come there, and, to speak roughly and in the main, they must also be brought there. And so of course, in order to exist, they must alter that mind. But the truth itself does not consist in its existence in me. Neither I nor any other man can make truth and make falsehood what they are. 14 Truth may not be truth at all apart from its existence in myself and in other finite subjects, and at least very largely that existence depends on our wills. But, though I can find in truth the satisfaction of a want, and though I can recognize my own being in the possession of truth, yet on the other side I cannot regard its nature as subject to my will. If for its realization a change in myself is indispensable, I cannot on the other hand say that its main being lies in that alteration of existence. While truth is mere truth, I do not even carry it out into the world. And to make its essence a bare quality or a mere deed of our minds is to destroy that essence.

The same thing holds again of what is beautiful in nature |88| or in art. The nature of that is in principle not subordinate to an external end. We can make it to exist or appear, but we cannot on the other hand make it to be that which it is. Its character is something which is beyond my power, it is something which I must recognize and cannot alter. So far as it is a product it is a product which cannot be taken as the mere adjective of the function or process. Beauty, in other words, is from one side independent of our wills. It is an end the specific nature of which is not subject to our choice, and cannot consist in a relation to anything else which is so subject. And if truth and beauty have this character, and if on the other side truth and beauty are human ends, then clearly we have ends which are not practical. They are practical, that is to say, incidentally, but not in their essence. Thus on the one side these ends may be called independent, though on the other side they must involve human need and desire. And hence, if our life is to satisfy its desires, these ideal ends should be desired and be pursued for themselves. And, viewed in this way, it is clear that, though practical, they are still not subordinate to practice.

If we take things from another side, then all, as we saw, can fall under the practical end. For everything in life is subject to life as a whole, and the end of morality is to develop, to order and to harmonize, our human existence. There is no element therefore to which the moral end is unable to dictate, and even truth and beauty, however independent, fall under its sway. Beauty and truth therefore are at once dependent and free. The moral end dictates to us their pursuit and it sets limits to that pursuit. The space which these objects are to occupy in my life, how far and how long it is right for me to follow them, nay even to some extent the kind of truth and beauty which I should ignore or should follow, all this, it is obvious, is or may be the affair of morality. But the nature of that which is to be |89| beautiful or true falls outside of the moral control. It is the vision, and it is not the object, which is subject to our wills. The ideal does enter into my life and it makes a part of my existence, but it is only in one aspect that I can master it and subject it to my power. And the practical human end is, in very truth, to follow ends which in themselves assuredly are not all practical or all merely human. 15

Any such creed is perhaps as obsolete as it is old and familiar, and, if we believe the advocate of ‘pragmatism’, it is but foolishness and falsehood. And yet in philosophy, if error is to be removed, it possibly after all should be removed by discussion. It is hardly mere darkness to be dispelled by the rising of some luminary however refulgent. And yet, since neither of us seems to understand what the other can be meaning, a rational discussion between the ‘personal idealist’ and any adherent of the old doctrine seems unattainable. There is a view that the independent use of the intellect is impossible, that the intellect has neither freedom nor any being of its own, and that, except so far as it consists in practice or again indirectly squints at practice, the intellect is nothing. This view, to me at least, seems contrary to the plain facts of human nature, and to me at least this view seems to end in nonsense. There is again a view that the independent use of the intellect is possible but is undesirable, and this view again, though less obviously absurd, seems to me indefensible. Certainly on my side I should insist that any one-sided development is not desirable. I should insist that the realization of any aspect of human |90| nature should, to speak in general, be limited by due regard for the whole. But to distort this truth into a vicious error, and to suppress wholly in its specific quality one main function of my being, this is to me a deplorable and inhuman mutilation. If you could show that the science and art which fails to squint at practice is an evil excrescence, and that like sexual aberration it perverts a desirable function, the case would be altered. But the loud assertion of the Personal Idealist 16 will not move those who have learned otherwise from facts. And it will move them the less since they are convinced that the assertor, if he understood his own doctrine, must hold any end, however perverted, to be rational if I insist on it personally, and any idea, however mad, to be the truth if only some one is resolved that he will have it so.

The following of science for the sake of science and of art for the sake of art is, if I may repeat what I have accepted, to be kept within limits. Like every other side of human nature it is thus subordinate to the welfare of the whole, but on the other hand within its own limits it should be perfectly free. This relative freedom is even dictated by the interest of the spiritual commonwealth; and hence this freedom is in the end the most practical course, if we take ‘practice’ in anything but a limited sense. And it will be a mistake in practice after all, when you take our world as a whole, to seek to banish from it the pursuit of unworldly objects and ends. But you do in effect condemn these pursuits, you vitiate their nature and you destroy them, when you sentence them to keep throughout at least one eye upon the world. On the one hand obviously our |91| available supply of energy is limited. On the other hand, if due regard is had to this limit, the independent cultivation of any one main side of our nature promises advantage, for it promises (at least to those who hold to the unity of that nature) to react and to contribute to the general good. 17 We believe in short in relative freedom, and we do not believe in divorce or in one-sided suppression. And we do not believe that the way to advance our human nature is to subordinate all of it to one aspect — I do not care what that aspect is. At the beginning, I agree, there is no distinction between theory and practice, and again I am clear that there is none in the end. But on the other hand our human life is to me assuredly neither all beast-like nor all divine. And, if I am so far condemned to follow a philosopher who lived before the coming of the new light, I am for my part well content to share in his darkness.

But I shall doubtless be told that the intelligence springs from and depends upon need and desire. There is no understanding, it will be urged, and no truth, except where there is an interest; and since interest and want must be admitted to be practical, we have here a clear proof that all in the end is subordinate to practice. To myself, however, this proof adduced by the logic of Pragmatism seems hardly to require any serious discussion. To me it seems obvious that, if some function belongs to our nature, there will be a need and desire which corresponds to that function. Hence, if the free use of the intellect is really one aspect of our being, we shall in consequence have a need and a desire for that use. And how this can prove that no interest is in the end intellectual, I fail wholly to perceive. There is an attempt |92| apparently to pass direct from ‘my want must be practical’ to the required conclusion with regard to the object of my want. But since the doctrine attacked denies this conclusion, and since it holds that interest and want, practical on one side, may nevertheless be directed on an object which in itself is not practical, there is literally, so far as I can see, no argument at all. All that I can find is the sheer assumption that a certain view is mistaken, coupled apparently with an entire failure to apprehend in what that view essentially consists. And you might as well come to me and offer to argue that I cannot want to look at a star, because my vision and my want are always terrestrial. And you might as well demonstrate to me that plainly I can love nothing beyond me, because my love after all must be a piece of myself. But the Personal Idealist, I imagine, is likely to smile at my belated logic.

III. I will now attempt briefly to point out the various senses in which we may try to subordinate truth to practice. We have already learnt the ambiguity of any assertion that truth is practical, but it may repay us to realize this ambiguity more in detail, even if that detail is far from exhausting the subject.

(1) We may affirm that ‘reason is the slave of the passions’. We may hold that, except to find means to a foreign end, truth is (a) idle and useless or (b) even impossible, (a) The first of these statements does not deny the possibility of a truth which is merely theoretical. It denies it only so far as to insist that such a truth is worthless, and that it therefore does not deserve to be called truth. (b) The second statement on the other hand appears to make an unqualified denial. But it seems inconsistent with itself so far as it assumes an independent knowledge of means; for any such knowledge would appear to contain truth which so far is theoretical. Further the doctrine that the |93| world and my nature are of such a kind that all truth must be practical, appears itself, so far, to be a truth which is theoretical and therefore is no truth.

(2) We may from this proceed to a position with which we all are more or less familiar. Truth, we may hear, is after all nothing but working hypothesis. We have truth when we can say of an idea that it will ‘do’, and an idea will ‘do’ only when, and so far as, it will work. There is, in short, no meaning in truth other than the idea which works best. This general statement, however, admits of more than one interpretation, (a) It might mean that truth is the idea which works best theoretically. There is in other words here no truth in the sense of something which is given as absolute. There are no data which we may assume and on which we may build as certain each by itself. All is material, in short, with which we experiment ideally, and the ideal experiment which in the end best satisfies itself and us is what we mean by truth. It is, however, obvious that, with so much, truth has not become merely practical. Indeed such a position would be consistent with an extreme intellectualism. And on the other hand the doctrine that truth is what works, usually means to make truth the mere servant of something else. We may therefore pass on to consider another meaning. (b) The order and series of my sensations may be taken for granted, and truth may be regarded as a construction which is formed out of these. The end for which the construction is made may remain unspecified, and at present at least this point may be ignored, for in any case the doctrine has failed to make truth merely practical. Truth is our construction, but truth is forced to start with an order of sensations. This order is in the main independent of my choice and my will, and is a given fact which dictates to me and to my choice of means. It is hence hard to see how such a fact can be excluded and left outside of truth, or how again such a fact is merely practical. ‘Reality |94| which in the outer order confronts me is such, that to reach a certain end I am obliged to hold for true this or that’ — a truth like this, I agree, is highly imperfect, but I cannot see that it has ceased to be so far theoretical. Or, if we enlarge our doctrine by ceasing to lay a one-sided stress on what is outer, and if we call truth the ideal construction based on the entire order of what happens, we have still, so far as I see, made no advance in principle. Whatever end we may desire, the means to this end are still dictated by something which we have to call matter of fact; and this knowledge as to matter of fact still remains and must remain at least in part theoretical. And our knowledge further with regard to this entire state of things seems once more truth which has not itself the character assigned by us to all truth, (c) We may go on therefore to seek a remedy in the removal of our one-sided prejudice. We may reject the limitation of knowledge to the mere world of events which happen, and may deny the claim of this world to be taken as an ultimate foundation. Reality, or the Good, 18 will now be the satisfaction of all the wants of our nature, and theoretical truth will be the perceptions and ideas which directly satisfy one of those wants, and so indirectly make part of the general satisfaction. This is a doctrine which to my mind commends itself as true, though it naturally would call for a great deal of explanation. But, with this, evidently truth is not subordinate to practice. It has a practical aspect, no doubt, but its whole essence is not practical. Its end is an element in the general end, and is in this sense subordinate; but its end is not subordinate to any other partial aspect of the whole. And practice on its side will be no more than such a partial aspect. Hence, if truth is to be practical, this whole view must be given up or else must be modified. And it must, |95| I presume, be modified by the denial of any want save that which in the end is practical in its essence. Truth will therefore once more become dependent and subordinate, and will consist in the ideas which serve as external means to the practical end. But, with this, we seem thrown back once more into the midst of our old difficulties. For the nature of things does not seem to depend upon and to consist in subserviency to the practical want and choice of myself or of any set of men. And on the other side truth seems forced to take account of the whole nature of things. In other words I may choose to isolate what I call my practical end, but the means to that end must be prescribed largely by something other than my choice. And since truth is forced to express something which thus dictates to practice, the essence of truth can hardly consist in subservience to the practical end. We may perhaps put the same thing by asking how, if truth has no independence, there is in the end any possibility of real argument or of real error. And our knowledge of the whole situation and of the nature of truth seems once more incompatible with the position which we have thus given to knowledge. 19

(3) A more radical view is the doctrine that reality in the end is will, and that intelligence has somehow a secondary position. A view of this kind was upheld in the first quarter of the last century by more than one well-known philosopher, and it has naturally been subjected to a good deal of criticism. This is a point which our new gospel seems to think calls for little attention, and I could not myself be expected here to enter into it at length, even were I able to do so. I may, however, be permitted to state briefly the |96| main reasons which have always made it impossible for me to accept in any form the primacy of will.

(a) Will in my judgement must imply something in the self or beyond the self which is other than will, and, apart from this ‘other’, I cannot find any sense or meaning in the ‘will’ either of man or of God. There is to me no thinking without something which thinks and again something which is thought of — something in either case which is other than mere thought. And in the same way there is no willing except that which both proceeds from something and changes something — something again in either case which is other than will. And I may add that to me will involves not only perception but also idea, and that I find this hard to reconcile with a secondary position of intelligence.

(b) The necessity for an ‘other’ may lead to an admitted plurality of wills, and in any case without such a plurality the whole doctrine tends in effect to negate itself. But on the other hand the plurality, if admitted, raises difficulties which to my mind are insuperable. If will demands a perceived ‘other’ which it alters, how is this to consist merely in another will? To me it seems that each will must presuppose in the other will something which is more than bare willing. My volition, to me, is a process of passage from idea into existence. Hence, as soon as and as far as that passage is realized, my volition in the proper sense has ceased to exist. The outer existence which is the expression of my will is in a sense certainly my will, but in the strict sense it is not my will. Thus I do not understand how the inner side of another will is to serve as that perceived ‘other’ which my will demands, while again, if the other will is taken as a perceived existence for me, I must understand it to be something which is more than and is other than mere volition. 20 And we have already seen that, if you |97| confine yourself to my will, that demands both an ‘I’ and an ‘other’ as conditions of the process. Further with an admitted plurality of wills there is a difficulty with regard to their relation. The relation (that seems evident) cannot be the mere adjective of either of its terms. But, if it falls beyond each, then neither term by itself is all reality, and there is at once a question on our hands with regard to their ‘togetherness’ or unity. This again apparently must be will; but, if it is will, I do not see how it is in the end to have an ‘other’. If on the contrary it is not will, then, since we hardly can take the unity as barely unreal, reality seems at once to include more than will.

Will in fact implies all reality, and in this it is like thought, for in thinking once more you can find all reality. You can, that is, identify a complex whole with one of its aspects, and then naturally in that aspect you can go on to find everything contained or implied. But for myself I see no advantage in such a procedure. And I see no advantage in rushing blindly from the rejection of one extreme to the acceptance of the other, especially since I have now been acquainted with both extremes for more years than I care to recall.

If further we give to intelligence a secondary place, we have to reconcile this fact with our knowledge that it is so. We may say that Will possesses an awareness of itself, and on this awareness we may base our philosophy of Will. But, not to speak of the difficulty which arises from the evident or at least the apparent fact of other experience and knowledge, it is hard to see how this awareness can justify its position. For we are in a difficulty on one side if we regard it as secondary. On the other side if this knowledge and this truth is to be primary, the secondary pla|98| ce assigned to all intelligence seems hardly intelligible.

(4) I must pass from this attempt to identify reality in the end with will. For the Will, which is reality, is not for such a view my mere individual will. And it is my individual will with which, so far as I understand the matter, we have to do when we come to Prof. James and his followers. At least, if it is not my will which makes reality and truth to be what they are, I hardly see what can be left of the gospel which they preach. 21 I have already noticed what to myself appears a mere endeavor to compromise. If you take the world to be a funded accumulation made by striving beings (Mind, n.s., 45, p. 94), you unite in one creed, it seems to me, every opening to objection. In the first place, since this fact is not your mere individual will, you either are confronted with a reality which is other than your will, or else you must accept a real identity between this existing will and yours. And what then has become of individualism and of pluralism and of ‘personal idealism’ I am unable to guess. 22 And further your knowledge of the fact of this |99| accumulation, on what does that knowledge rest? Is it dictated to you by a fact which is other than your will? Then, so far as I can judge, the whole doctrine has in principle vanished. Does it depend on and consist in your individual want and choice, and is it this which in the end both is and makes all reality and truth? It is strange, if so, that you should seem unable to say what you mean, and should fly for refuge to the unexplained phrase of ‘conditions’. It is useless again to offer a reference to Aristotle and to Fichte, for there is more than one reason why such a reference gives no satisfaction. The preachers of a new gospel should, in short, be ready with payment in cash. And, when they seek to put me off with a cheque drawn on their account with Moses and the prophets, I take it as a practical admission of insolvency. 23

I will recall some beliefs which our new gospel seems called on to meet. Practice is a necessary aspect of human nature and of the whole of things, but practice is not the whole of things nor is it the entirety of human nature. It is a pernicious error to set up one aspect of our being (I do not care what that aspect is) as an end by itself to which everything else is subordinate. Our nature is complex, and on the other hand our nature has and ought to have a unity, but its unity is not to be found by setting up one element as absolute, and by turning all the rest into mere external means. Further it is true that any one-sided expenditure of our limited energy is so far hurtful. And it is true that |100| in the interest of the whole such expenditure must be limited. But it is wrong to conclude from this that within its own limits no element is to have free play, and that the whole in short is best served by the work of slaves. And, before a man lays down the law as to practice, it might be better if he told us what in the end he takes practice to mean. And before we rush or drift from a rejection of ‘intellectualism’ to a setting up of ‘voluntarism’, we might perhaps inquire whether after all we are inevitably condemned to choose between conflicting abstractions. 24

The contention that truth and falsehood depend on my will is to the last degree ambiguous, and it may end in what is unmeaning or is plainly false. To make the whole essence of truth consist in a choice made by this or that person subverts the very nature of truth. On the other hand to treat the will of others, or to treat the result of any past volitions as being my will and choice, seems really a thoughtless attempt at compromise. Finally the essence of will requires an ‘other’ which is not will, and without this ‘other’ bare will, like bare intellect, ceases to be itself. Itself is reduced in either case to vacancy and to nothingness. And the question of this ‘other’ cannot be disposed of by unexplained phrases, and still less can it be met by any |101| appeal to authority. And once more, if knowledge is known to be secondary, the fact of this knowledge itself calls for explanation.

It is well to protest against one-sided intellectualism and to insist on the reality and on the worth of practice. It is well to lay stress on the defects of Monism and on the positive claims of Individualism and Pluralism. Such protests against one-sidedness are perhaps never out of place. Such criticisms, even where they are not deserved, can perhaps do no harm; and they can never perhaps fail to be more or less deserved. But these protests and these criticisms, it seems to me, are one thing, and the setting up and the preaching of some counter-onesidedness is surely another thing. And before anything, no matter what it is, is proclaimed as a new gospel, it will be better, I think, to ask if account has been taken of objections, objections which at least exist, even if they are not old and obvious.

Note: — It may be useful, even at the cost of some repetition, to add a few words on the difference between practical and non-practical activity. The doctrine which I have advocated is briefly this, that the above difference exists and that on the other hand it is not absolute.

There is in the first place no activity which in the end is merely practical, and the merely practical would in the end be nothing real. It would, so far as I see, be the maintenance and alteration of existence in complete abstraction from the quality of the existence and the change. Its end would be to produce the greatest quantity of bare doing. How far such an ideal is in principle self-consistent, I will not inquire, for certainly it is an ideal which no one would accept, no one at least who understood clearly what it means. And the assumption that such a practical activity exists anywhere must be rejected. You will find no creature out of whose life you can strike quality as irrelevant. However low you descend you will reach no stage where the ‘what’, |102| that is sought and done, is subordinate to bare doing, and except as a means to bare doing is worthless.

And that at least not everything in life is thus practical or a mere means to practice seems manifest when we glance at the facts of life. We need not appeal here to that which in the narrower sense is intellectual or aesthetic. The pleasure of rest after accomplished labour, the song that gives vent to the joy in being, the heightened self-feeling from the perceived presence of one’s kind — it seems strange to insist that these things are barely practical. For myself I prefer to think that each creature has its own quality and its especial delight, and that in the quality of that which fills its self it finds and it seeks its own fulfillment.

This is a view which, I admit, I did not learn from philosophy, and, even if it were refuted by philosophy, I could not forget what I imbibed in my youth. I learnt that Jehovah found his work good, and took pleasure in it because it was so, and not merely because his own activity had been something extreme, or because (as a Personal Idealist might say) he had been ‘young strong and virile’. 25 And I learnt from the poets that every life in its own quality partakes of the divine. There is nothing so humble or so vile as to have no nature of its own in which it finds happiness, but every creature realizes, however strangely, what is at once its special being and something beyond it. And every creature rejoices not merely because so much is in doing or has been done, but because its own need is satisfied or because the object of its own particular desire has become reality.

Any such doctrine is divided by a chasm from the creed of the Personal Idealist, the Personal Idealist, that is, who |103| comprehends his own principle. To his mind, when the male creature is drawn towards its mate, there is no feeling of an overmastering end beyond self. There is no object to which passion ascribes, for however fleeting a moment, an infinite worth. Nor is there a common existence where love, however imperfect and rude, gives in an object the abiding sense of an inward contentment. In the view of the Personal Idealist no object counts for any more than a worthless means to one’s own mere activity. The object is recognized as something which is good barely because it serves the turn, as something which in short has value just so far as it is found to be practicable (Personal Idealism, p. 98). The ideal is, in short, the abstraction of activity and of function from the quality of its object. This abstraction represents, perhaps to most of us, the essence of that which is false in theory and sordid in conduct. And the reason why the Personal Idealist is unaware of such a radical collision, is that he has made no attempt to realize the true meaning of his own doctrine. 26

On the one hand no activity is barely practical. There is in the end no activity which exists for its own sake as a process, without any regard for its own nature and quality, and in abstraction from all that can be regarded as a product. On the other hand we may say that in the end all activity is practical. For there is nothing which is apart from process and change in existence. And in one of its aspects it is possible to view the whole Universe as a will which everywhere asserts itself practically. Between that which is practical and that which is not practical we thus seem in the end unable to maintain any difference. |104| And there is in truth no such difference which is absolute. On the other side a relative distinction may be useful and necessary, and I will point out the principle on which this may be drawn. If you like to say that the difference in any given case is a matter of degree, to some extent I am able to accept that contention.

As against a non-practical activity my activity is practical when and so far as its product directly qualifies the existence which is altered. When I am active it is plain that I make a change in my existence. Now can the product of my activity be taken as the adjective of my changed existence? So far as this can be done my activity is practical, and otherwise not so. When I dig the ground I make a change in my world, and it is my world which so far is altered. When I morally order myself, the moral arrangement becomes the adjective of my own existence. When I eat and drink, the result is that food and drink have been consumed, and that on the other side I am changed by having eaten and drunk. When I unite with other men in supporting and developing a social community, the result of what we do is, at least in the first instance, an adjective of our organized existence. Thus and so far the above activities are practical distinctively. On the other side when I perceive a horse that is present, or think of one that is absent, certainly by my so perceiving or thinking my existence is changed, but the alteration cannot be said to consist in the horse. For my perception or thought has not, on any sane theory, brought the horse into being. My activity therefore is so far not practical. And when after digging the ground I contemplate it, and when I say ‘My work is good’, my activity here has ceased to be practical. For I can hardly so far be taken to have altered the ground or myself, and to have given to either of them a new quality not owned before. And, in short, all apprehension, whether theoretical or in the widest sense aesthetic, will fail to be practical except |105| incidentally. It is practical only so far as what comes in it is the adjective of that existence into which it has come and which it has changed. Thus an activity is not practical because existence has been changed by it. It is practical only so far as the changed existence can be taken as qualified by the product of the activity. And again in a secondary sense anything is practical so far as it is taken as subserving a practical change. On the other hand, so far as the change made is, in a word, a revelation, to that extent the change is not practical. Thus the apprehension of an object is never merely practical. Again when I make a spade purely for the sake of digging, the end is practical; and a perception of the means, though not practical itself, is subordinate to practice. But, when I adorn the handle of the spade and so regard it with pleasure, my perception and my pleasure have ceased to be practical. For the spade has now been revealed to me so far as a joy in itself. And it is an object which, apart from desire for its possession, we may call ‘in itself desirable’. Wherever, in short, in the life of the family or of society, wherever in love morality and religion or beauty and truth, I have a product which is more than a mere quality of what is altered, I have something which so far goes beyond practice. I so far have something which is a revelation and is not a mere doing or something done. But we have entered here on a theme which goes far beyond the limits of this Note.

In any case the abstraction of mere doing is not a rational end. The good, in other words, so far as it is good in itself, is so far not merely practical. And as good in itself, we may believe, it is revealed in some measure even to the humblest. And as good in itself, which in different senses and in various degrees is more than the mere adjective of passing events and of finite existence, it is apprehended by and becomes clear to the human intellect. On the other hand I must repeat that no such distinction is absolute. Thus to the |106| religious mind everything which is good is but the bringing to light of God’s perfection and glory; and yet to the same religious mind nowhere is God more really present than in that win for good which in myself and others makes changes in the world. This double nature and aspect of things will remain foolishness to the Personal Idealist, and it cannot be held consistently in human life; but the constant sense of it together with the endeavour to realize it in thought, may perhaps be said to make the life of philosophy. And thus philosophy is hard, while to think one-sidedly and to make theories which ignore the deepest instincts of our nature, is not so difficult. Philosophy always will be hard, and what it promises even in the end is no clear theory nor any complete understanding or vision. But its certain reward is a continual evidence and a heightened apprehension of the ineffable mystery of life, of life in all its complexity and all its unity and worth. And I have not myself cared to ask if philosophy suffers violence, or lavishes after all its best gifts on ‘the young, the strong and the virile’.


1^ Principles of Logic, pp. 459-60. On the position of practice in life see further the note at the end of this chapter.

2^ The reader is now referred to other parts of this volume.

3^ It may be said that every idea, even of failure, works successfully in producing a corresponding attitude or other change in my body or some part of it. I agree that, to speak in general, an idea tends thus to express itself emotionally. This in brief is one aspect of an idea’s general tendency to realize itself. But this way of realization in emotional expression is not to be confounded with the other specific ways which we call thought and will. Everyone, we may say, in practice would distinguish a gesture or a blush from a volition or a judgement. The mere emotional expression of an idea is in short not my act, and you cannot attribute it to my will. Again this emotional expression of the idea, if for the sake of argument we assume it everywhere to exist, cannot possibly, I presume, be more than generic. It must therefore fail to correspond to the individuality of the idea. And again it depends so much upon the psychical liveliness of the idea, that an idea counted false may possibly express itself more forcibly than an idea which is taken to be true. We should in short here have a doctrine in principle the same with Hume’s theory of belief, and open to the objections which seem fatal to that theory. The emotional expression of an idea or of one aspect of an idea is, we may say, a mere incidental result from the strength and dominance of that idea or its aspect. Any attempt to find in it the specific essence of truth and falsehood in the end must break down. But in any case, so far as what is called Pragmatism is concerned, to fall back on such a doctrine would be suicidal. For this emotional expression is plainly not will. It is the working of an idea on me, and it is not my working. We have here a psychical effect and not properly an act of mine. It would (to pass to another point) be interesting to know how our new gospel conceives its relation to Dr. Bain’s theory of belief. It might seem to have taken that theory, and, without considering the objections to which it is liable, to have gone beyond it by simply writing ‘truth’ for ‘belief’.
  Every idea of course works by inhibiting so far the action of other ideas. And, since these other ideas may be practical, every idea, if you please, is practical negatively. But on the other hand surely it is clear that the meaning of truth is something positive. Truth surely can never be barely negative, nor can you find its essence in its mere prevention of the happening of something else. In fact here, as everywhere, it is in the end nonsense to take anything as consisting merely in inhibition.

4^ I shall deal lower down with the apparent claim that my world has thus been actually made and not merely altered.

5^ Instead of ‘a God’ I should perhaps have written ‘a God or a set of gods’. Our new gospel seems not to have decided at present whether monotheism or polytheism is to be the creed of the future. I should be inclined to agree that from a religious point of view the difference in this case has no importance.

6^ Cf. Prof. A. E. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysics, p. 317.

7^ Cf. Principles of Logic, p. 18. The objection that will does not always aim at alteration, but sometimes at prevention of change, was long ago made by Lotze. In Mind for October 1892, pp. 339, 440, I noticed and discussed this objection. It has been urged against me since, I believe, and without any reference to Lotze or myself.

8^ The word ‘practice’ lays stress on the alteration of existence, I do not mean merely outward existence. Now obviously every purpose carried out must alter the series of events, and every purpose therefore is obviously from one side practical. But this does not mean that the interest and the object aimed at are always practical, except incidentally. This plain distinction the Pragmatist has failed to see, and hence is led at one time to inveigh against the theoretical interest, and at another time to admit it, and in each case blindly. Even in the year 1909 Prof. James was still evidently confused as to what ‘practical’ means (Meaning of Truth, p. 209). Prof. James appears to me to be attempting here under the stress of criticism to carry out an inquiry which obviously should have come first, and should have been made independently.

9^ There is an admirable passage on this subject in Balzac’s Cousine Bette, which is, I hope, well known to the reader. The only reference I can give is to pp. 179-81 of vol. xvii of the edition of 1865.

10^ ‘does not,’ that is, ‘as such.’ See Chapter XI.

11^ Cf. Appearance, p. 374, and Chapter XI of this volume.

12^ I wish here neither to deny nor to assert this. The question is a difficult one.

13^ I have further enlarged on this point below, pp. 101-6.

14^ See further in Chapter XI.

15^ We may put it thus, that in the end the practical end must be the Good, but that the Good, when you examine it, is plainly more than mere practice. Or from the other side we may say that in the end there is no criterion which is not practical, and that the true and the real will in the end fall under the Good. But, when we have shown this, we find ourselves forced on the other hand to make distinctions within the Good, and to recognize, as before, that the Good consists in more than practice. And practice itself, when we examine it, will be found even in itself (I cannot deal with this here) to involve and to depend upon judgement and truth.

16^ Personal Idealism, p. 85. I shall briefly notice lower down the difficulty which arises with regard to a knowledge that truth ought not to be independent. Clearly this truth also is dependent, but it is hard to say on what. [In reprinting this paper I should perhaps add that the particular example of perversion, given in the text, does not itself appear in the passage referred to. It is, however, fully justified by its general statement, and on this point I should be glad if the reader would satisfy himself.]

17^ I have of course not forgotten that there are ‘developments’ of human nature which are undesirable and vicious. Why these are undesirable is a question which I cannot discuss here. The answer in general is that such things not only are contrary to the interest of our whole nature, but also are hostile to the realization of that very side of it to which they belong. They therefore are not in the best sense developments but are perversions of our nature.

18^ The Good is here taken once more in its highest sense, a sense in which it has ceased to be merely practical and has ceased to be merely good.

19^ The question how far anywhere we are to use working ideas the nature of which is to be dictated in some sense by a practical end, is a question I do not discuss. The point, I agree, is both interesting and important, and it deserves a discussion which would be impossible within the limits of this paper. I am concerned here simply with the assertion that all truth is in the last resort merely practical.

20^ The fundamental difficulty I take to be this, that will must imply and must presuppose what is other than itself. Thus on the one hand bare will is no will, while on the other hand, as soon as will has ceased to be bare, it has become something more than will. This main difficulty is, to me, at once radical and insuperable, and it shows itself in the relation between will as inward and as carried out. If you do not here admit an existence which in some sense is more than mere will, you, so far as I see, make ‘will’ an unmeaning word. Thus with a plurality of wills, if each will is to have any known world outside itself, you are on the above ground forced to admit some existence beyond it which is more than any mere will. For I cannot see how, if each will has no outside of its own, each is going to serve as the outside for another. This idea may seem plausible, but I at least cannot carry it out. And if, leaving this, you assert that will itself is a whole which possesses in itself both an inward and an outward side, then I do not understand what you are to reply when some one else chooses to assert that this same whole is intelligence or feeling.
  To find the solution of the world’s problem in a number of wills, which serve amongst themselves, each to the others, as outward existence, is, I agree, at first sight a very promising adventure. For myself I have never been able to surmount the obstacles which I have mentioned. But it would be a pleasure to me to learn that they can be surmounted.

21^ [And, so far as I can now judge, really nothing in principle is left. Prof. James (the evidence is given in Chapter V and its Appendix I) ended apparently by abandoning every doctrine which can be taken as distinctive of Pragmatism. When once a Pragmatist allows intrinsic value to theory, surely the whole bottom of his gospel may be said to have fallen out. This remark has no application to Dr. Dewey, who, I understand, still remains consistent.]

22^ The self-elected leader of our Personal Idealists seems at times to fall back on the old and well-known view, that truth is merely what happens to prevail, merely those sensations and ideas which happen to enforce themselves among a particular set of men, and that truth has no meaning which is other than this. He even appears to be under the impression that this doctrine is new as well as salutary. But, for myself, I could never see that whatever is the result of a crude interpretation of Darwinism must therefore be novel. And when the same writer preaches that Man (with a capital) is to be the measure, I should not infer that he has asked himself what in the end this capital is to mean.

23^ [About a page of the original article has, after this, been omitted.]

24^ Personal Idealism, it seems to me, supplies us with two striking illustrations of the tendency to avoid Scylla and to find a haven in Charybdis. [An omission has been made here.] The omnipotent and omniscient infinite God of Christian theology has of course given rise to well-known difficulties. And an exit from these difficulties may naturally be sought by the removal of one or more troublesome attributes. If God is made finite, and, I presume, in part ignorant and in part impotent, and in short is reduced in principle to the level of one creature among others, certain objections, it is clear, will at once lose their force. Thus, if you want to treat God as one person over against others, your readiest course is to deny that he is infinite. And, if you wish to relieve any person of moral responsibility, it is a well-known expedient to seek to deprive him either of knowledge or of power. But there are unfortunately obvious objections and difficulties on the other side. And these obvious difficulties, I presume, were present to and moved the minds of the more orthodox theologians. In any case surely they exist, and surely there can be no excuse for ignoring them. (Cf. p. 124 and Chapter XV.)

25^ The reference is to a passage from Humanism (p. viii) which was quoted in an omitted part of the foregoing. It runs thus: ‘The ancient shibboleths encounter open yawns and unconcealed derision. The rattling of dry bones no longer fascinates respect nor plunges a self-suggested horde of fakirs in hypnotic stupor. The agnostic maunderings of impotent despair are flung aside with a contemptuous smile by the young, the strong, the virile.’

26^ The passage referred to, which deals with Identity, is obviously full of intellectual confusion, whatever we may think of it otherwise as a sample of academical literature. [The reader will, of course, bear in mind that the text speaks of a view, not as it is in fact, while confusedly and inconsistently entertained, but as it really in principle is, and as it would be if it understood itself.

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Chapter V. On Truth and Copying 1

Truth as copying. This idea is suggested necessarily, but is untenable (107-9). You cannot separate truth, knowledge, and reality (no). Truth as mere external means (110-12). The identity of truth, knowledge, and reality. This is a necessary claim made by truth, but cannot be fully satisfied (113-15). Still, if truth made good its claim, truth would be reality (115-18). Partial truth contained in the copy-theory of truth. The more complete view (118-22). On the subjective (119). Note. On truth and working ideas. On Consistency (122-4). On some questions as to Pragmatism and Humanism (124-6).

Mr. Joachim in his interesting work on The Nature of Truth did, I think, well to discuss once more that view for which truth consists in copying reality. It is a view which, for myself, I have been accustomed to treat as exploded, but it is a natural way of taking things, and, I suppose, can never cease to be popular. And, since from time to time a discussion of this topic is likely to be useful, I will venture to offer some remarks on it here.

The idea that truth consists in mere copying is suggested from many sides. A man through language and ideas has to convey fact to other men, and how can he do this unless his ideas copy fact so far as the purpose requires? And, in dealing practically with the present or the future situation, unless I have mirrored in my mind the main features of that situation, how can I hope to succeed? And in recalling the past we are bound above all things not to alter it, and how can we avoid this unless in some way, however indirect, we produce a copy? Finally truth implies agreement amongst the ideas of separate individuals. And, since this agreement is not made by one or another individual, and so not by all of them, it therefore seems due to all of them following one original fact. But unless they mentally repeat this fact, how, it will be asked, can they follow it?

The above view is natural, but, even as it stands, seems hardly consistent with itself, for how the past or future can be copied is at least not evident. And it is soon in trouble, as is |108| well known, with regard to the sensible properties of things. But, not to dwell on this, the whole theory goes to wreck in principle and at once on a fatal objection. Truth has to copy facts, but on the other side the facts to be copied show already in their nature the work of truth-making. The merely given facts are, in other words, the imaginary creatures of false theory. They are manufactured by a mind which abstracts one aspect of the concrete known whole, and sets this abstracted aspect out by itself as a real thing. If, on the other hand, we exaggerate when we maintain that all facts are inferences, yet undeniably much of given fact is inferential. And if we cannot demonstrate that every possible piece of fact is modified by apperception, the outstanding residue may at least perhaps be called insignificant. 2 Or (to put it from the other side) if there really is any datum, outward or inward, which, if you remove the work of the mind, would in its nature remain the same, yet there seems no way of our getting certainly to know of this. And, if truth is to copy fact, then truth at least seems to be in fact unattainable.

If the above objection cannot be met (and I do not know how it can be met) the theory in principle is ruined. In the end truth is not copying; but it is possible, while admitting this, to attempt to save the theory in a modified form. We may draw a distinction between perceptional and reflective thinking. As to what is perceived we may allow that we cannot argue that this is copied, but in any case, we may go on to urge, our ideas must copy our perceptions. And thus, after all, our secondary and reflective truth must seek to mirror reality. But the position taken here, though founded on a distinction, which in itself is important, for the purpose in hand seems wholly ineffectual. And, apart from such difficulties as might once more be raised as to |109| given facts which are past and future, we have only to apply this view in order to find it break down in our hands.

Disjunctive, negative, and hypothetical judgements cannot be taken as all false, and yet cannot fairly be made to conform to our one type of truth. And in general the moment we leave perceived facts and seek explanation — which after all is implied in the desire for truth — we find that we are moving away from the given. Universal and abstract truths are not given facts, nor do they merely reproduce the given, nor are they even confined to the limits of actual perception. And in the end, when we come to general truth about the Universe, it seems impossible to regard this as transcribed from the given Universe. Our truths in short can all of them in some sense be verified in fact, but, if you ask if they all are copied from fact, the answer must be different. And we are driven to admit that, at least when we pass from individual truths, our truth no longer represents fact but merely ‘holds’ or ‘is valid’. And, asking what these phrases mean, we are forced to perceive that both truth and reality go beyond the perceived facts. The given facts in other words are not the whole of reality, while truth cannot be understood except in reference to this whole. 3

We saw in the first place that given facts are even themselves not merely given, but already even in themselves contain truth. And secondly we have seen that, even if the perceived facts were given, truth cannot merely transcribe them. And, since truth goes beyond the given, it is impossible to understand how truth can copy reality. For, before the reality has been reached, there is no original to copy, and, when the reality has been attained, that attainment already is truth, and you cannot gain truth by transcribing it.

I will now break off the consideration of that view for which truth consists in copying fact, and will endeavor |110| briefly to indicate a better way of resolving the problem. But I must begin by pointing out the main error which, if left unremoved, makes the problem insoluble. This error consists in the division of truth from knowledge and of knowledge from reality. The moment that truth, knowledge, and reality are taken as separate, there is no way in which consistently they can come or be forced together. And since on the other hand truth implies that they are somehow united, we have forthwith on our hands a contradiction in principle. And according to the side from which the subject is approached, this contradiction works itself out into a fatal dilemma.

This defect in principle has been illustrated by the view we have been examining, and it may repay us to notice in a different case the result of the self-same error. An attempt is sometimes made to escape from difficulty by insisting that truth is merely what ‘holds’, or is what merely ‘serves’ or merely ‘work’. But since these phrases are relative and, I presume, relative to something which is known, we have at once a division of truth from knowledge. On the one side is known reality, and on the other side is mere truth, and in short we have repeated the error of that view which took truth as a copy. And the fatal result of our proceeding soon becomes manifest.4 Truth is merely to be that which subserves something else, and I am to know that this is so, and that this is so is true. But such a truth about truth seems itself to go beyond truth, and our theory is dissolved in self-contradiction.

Let us consider this more in detail. We are, it seems, to take an end, such say as the abstraction of practical success or of felt pleasure, and we are to understand truth as a means, an external means, to this end. And what, we may hear, can be more plain and intelligible than this? It is, I agree, almost as clear as the former view for which truth |111| merely copied things, and perhaps this suggestion may be an omen. But first let us ask as to our end, is this known or unknown? If it is unknown, how do we know that it is an end served by means? And, if it is known, then what are we going to say of this knowledge? Is it true? Can we discuss it? Have we got a truth about our end, and, if so, does ‘about’ mean no more than merely subserving? I do not myself know how these particular questions should be answered, but in general I cannot see how to defend truth which is external to knowledge or knowledge which is external to reality, and with this I must pass to another difficulty which attaches to the present view. Truth has been taken as being merely the means to an end, and we naturally understand this to say that truth is really the means. But here at once arises a well-known puzzle. The end, we all agree, in a sense dictates the means, but on the other hand the end, we are accustomed to think, must choose those means which are really possible. We are hence, given the end, in the habit of discussing the means. We have to consider, in short, about suggested means whether they are means really and in truth. But, with this, we seem to have knowledge and truth and reality, certainly all in relation with the one real end, but on the other side all external to it and apparently more or less independent of it. We started in other words by saying ‘Truth is nothing beyond that which subserves’, and we have ended in explaining that ‘Truth is that which in fact and in truth subserves’. And when in a given case a question is raised as to this fact and truth, it is answered apparently by appealing to something other than the end. Any such appeal obviously is inadmissible; but, when we reject it, we seem now to have excluded all truth about our means, just as before we seemed to have no knowledge nor any truth about our end. 5

|112| And a prescribed remedy, if I rightly understand, is to throw overboard all preconceived ideas as to truth and reality. Truth is merely the ideas which are felt in a certain way, and are felt to dominate in a mind or in a set of minds, and any further question as to their truth is senseless. 6 You may indeed ask psychologically, if you please, how they have come to dominate, but, however they have come to dominate, their truth is the same. If you and I disagree we both so far have truth, and if you argue with me and persuade me, that is one way of agreement But, if you prefer to knock me on the head, that, so far as truth goes, is the same thing, except that now there is truth not in two heads but one. And as to there being any other truth about all this state of things, or in short any truth at all beyond mere prevalence, the whole notion is ridiculous. And, if you deny this, you do but confirm it, since your denial (though of course true) must also be false, since it is true only because in fact it has prevailed. And if you want further proof, you can perhaps demonstrate all this by a downward deduction. For either this or the copy-theory must be the truth about truth, and as the copy-theory will not work, this by inevitable consequence remains as true. But there is no one, I think, who is ready apart from some reserve to accept wholly the above result.

It would be easy, passing on, to point out how the same main error, appearing in other forms, works itself out from other sides into conflicting dilemmas. But the limits of this chapter compel me to proceed. The division of reality from knowledge and of knowledge from truth must in any form |113| be abandoned. And the only way of exit from the maze is to accept the remaining alternative. Our one hope lies in taking courage to embrace the result that reality is not outside truth. The identity of truth knowledge and reality, whatever difficulty that may bring, must be taken as necessary and fundamental. Or at least we have been driven to choose between this and nothing.

Any such conclusion, I know, will on many sides be rejected as monstrous. The last thing to which truth pretends, I shall hear, is actually to be, or even bodily to possess, the real. But though this question, I know, might well be argued at length, the issue in my judgement can be raised and can be settled briefly. Truth, it is contended, is not to be the same as reality. Well, if so, I presume that there is a difference between them. And this difference, I understand, s not to be contained in the truth. But, if this is so, then clearly to my mind the truth must so far be defective. How, I ask, is the truth about reality to be less or more than reality without so far ceasing to be the truth? The only answer, so far as I see, is this, that reality has something which is rot a possible content of truth. But here arises forthwith :he dilemma which ruined us before. If such an outstanding element is known, then so far we have knowledge and truth, while, if it is not known, then I do not know of it, and to me it is nothing. On the one hand to divide truth from knowledge seems impossible, and on the other hand to go beyond knowledge seems meaningless.

And, if we are to advance, we must accept once for all the identification of truth with reality. I do not say that we re to conclude that there is to be in no sense any difference between them. But we must, without raising doubts and without looking backwards, follow the guidance of our new principle. We must, that is, accept the claim of truth not be judged from the outside. We must unhesitatingly assert that truth, if it were satisfied itself, and if for itself it |114| were perfect, would be itself in the fullest sense the entire and absolute Universe. And agreeing to the uttermost with this claim made by truth, we must attempt, truth and ourselves together, to judge truth from its own standard.

I will endeavor first to point out briefly in what this standard consists. The end of truth is to be and to possess reality in an ideal form. This means first that truth must include without residue the entirety of what is in any sense given, and it means next that truth is bound to include this intelligibly. Truth is not satisfied until we have all the facts, and until we understand perfectly what we have. And we do not understand perfectly the given material until we have it all together harmoniously, in such a way, that is, that we are not impelled to strive for another and a better way of holding it together. Truth is not satisfied, in other words, until it is all-containing and one. We are not obliged here, I think, to inquire further how these aspects of the idea of system are related, and whether, and in what sense, they have their root in a single principle. It is sufficient here to insist that both aspects 7 are essential to truth, and that any theory which ends in dividing them is certainly false.

But, when we judge truth by its own standard, truth evidently fails. And it fails in two ways, the connexion between which I will not here discuss. 8 (i) In the first place its contents cannot be made intelligible throughout and entirely. A doubt may indeed be raised whether even in any part they are able wholly to satisfy, but this again is a question on which here it is unnecessary to enter. For in any case obviously a large mass of the facts remains in the end inexplicable. You have perpetually to repeat that things are so, though you do not fully understand how or why, and |115| when on the other hand you cannot perceive that no how or why is wanted. You are left in short with brute conjunctions where you seek for connexions, and where this need for connexions seems part of your nature. 9 (ii) And, failing thus, truth fails again to include all the given facts, and any such complete inclusion seems even to be in principle unattainable, (a) On the one hand the moment’s felt immediacy remains for ever outstanding, and, if we feel this nowhere else, we realize at each moment the difference between the knower and his truth, (b) And on the other hand the facts before us in space and time remain always incomplete. How is it possible for truth to embrace the whole sensible past and future? Truth might understand them (do you say?) and so include them ideally. Well but, if truth could do as much as this, which I myself think not possible, truth after all would not include these facts bodily. The ideal fact after all and the sensible fact will still differ, and this difference left outside condemns truth even as ideal. And in short we are entangled once more in our old dilemma. We have an element given which in no way we can get inside the truth, while on the other side, if we leave it out, truth becomes defective. For there seems really no sense in endeavoring to maintain that what remains outside is irrelevant.

With this at first sight we have ended in bankruptcy, but perhaps we may find that the case is otherwise and that our failure has carried us to success. For we were looking for the connexion between truth and reality, and we discovered first that no external connexion is possible. We then resolved to take truth as being the same with reality, and we found that, taken so, truth came short of its end. But in this very point of failure, after all, lies the way to success. Truth came short because, and so far as, it could not become |116| that which it desired to be and made sure that it was. Truth claimed identity with an individual and all-inclusive whole. But such a whole, when we examine it, we find itself to be the Universe and all reality. And when we had to see how truth fails, as truth, in attaining its own end, we were being shown the very features of difference between truth and reality. And in passing over into reality and in thus ceasing to be mere truth, truth does not pass beyond its own end nor does it fail to realize itself. Hence, being the same as reality, and at the same time different from reality, truth is thus able itself to apprehend its identity and difference. But, if this is so, we seem to have reached the solution of our problem. 10

“Truth is the whole Universe realizing itself in one aspect.”

Truth is the whole Universe realizing itself in one aspect. This way of realization is one-sided, and it is a way not in the end satisfying even its own demands but felt itself to be incomplete. On the other hand the completion of truth itself is seen to lead to an all-inclusive reality, which reality is not outside truth. For it is the whole Universe which, immanent throughout, realizes and seeks itself in truth. This is the end to which truth leads and points and without which it is not satisfied. And those aspects in which truth for itself is defective, are precisely those which make the |117| difference between truth and reality. Here, I would urge, is the one road of exit from disastrous circles and from interminable dilemmas. For on the one side we have a difference between truth and reality, while on the other side this difference only carries out truth. It consists in no more than that which truth seeks itself internally to be and to possess.

Truth, we thus can say, at once is and is not reality, and we have found that the difference is not external to truth. For truth would be satisfied in its own self-sought completion, and that completion would be reality. And if you ask how truth after all stands to reality, and whether after all truth is not a copy, the answer is obvious. Apart from its aspect of truth the reality would not be the reality, and there surely is no meaning in a copy which makes its original. In truth and in other aspects of the Universe we find one-sidedness and defect, and we may go on to see that everywhere the remedy for defect lies in the inclusion of other aspects more or less left out. But as for comparing the Universe, as it is apart from one aspect, with the Universe as complete, such a comparison is out of our power. And it is even, when we reflect, ridiculous to seek to discover by thinking what the Universe would be like without thought. You cannot take reality to pieces and then see how once more it can be combined to make reality. And thus, if we are asked for the relation of truth to reality, we must reply that in the end there is no relation, since in the end there are no separate terms. All that we can say is that, in order for truth complete itself into reality, such and such defects in truth itself would have to be rectified.

That there are difficulties in the way of this solution I readily admit, 11 but difficulties and impossibilities, I urge, are |118| not the same thing. And any other exit from our maze is, I submit, closed impassably. On the one hand we must not use words that have no positive sense, and, with this, all reality that falls outside experience and knowledge is, to my mind, excluded. On the other hand we cannot rest in that which, when we try to think it, conflicts with itself internally, and is dissolved in dilemmas. But, in order to know that the Universe is a whole with such and such a general nature, it is not necessary to perceive and to understand how such a Universe is possible, and how its various aspects are held apart and together. We desire to know this, I agree, but I fail myself to see how we can, and I think that with less than this we can gain positive knowledge enough to save us from mere scepticism. 12

If we now return to that view for which truth is a mere copy of things, we have seen that in the end no such doctrine is admissible. But from a lower point of view it may be convenient to speak of truth as corresponding with reality and as even reproducing facts. In the first place the individual in truth-seeking must subject himself. He must (I cannot attempt to explain this here) suppress ideas, wishes and fancies, and anything else in his nature which is irrelevant to and interferes with the process of truth-seeking. And hence in a sense the individuals can have something in common, correspondence to which is essential for truth. Secondly, in truth-seeking the individual (once again I |119| cannot try to explain this) must follow the object. Our understanding has to co-operate in the ideal development of reality, and it has not, like will, to turn ideas into existences. And thus following the object the ideas of the individual in a sense must conform to it. 13 In the third place reflection, as we have seen, must take up sensible qualities as given matter, and it must accept also more or less brute conjunctions of fact. Intelligence of itself does not recreate the given past nor does it procreate entirely the given present or future. And it may be said to wait on and to follow a course of events which it is powerless to make. And, finally, to some extent language and truth must seek even to copy perceived facts, and, as we saw, to convey them faithfully, though of course in a partial manner. In the |120| above senses truth may be spoken of as corresponding to facts, and it is right and proper as against one-sided theories to insist on this correspondence. 14 But, as we have seen, such a way of speaking is not permissible in the end.

I will ask, in conclusion, how what we may call the copy-theory of truth is affected by the connexion between thought and volition. That in some sense thought depends on desire and will is even obvious, and it is a doctrine in which most of us perhaps have, we may say, been brought up. But it is a doctrine on the other hand which can be interpreted in various ways. If in the first place truth is made wholly to depend in its essence on the individual’s desire, then in this case, naturally, since truth itself goes, the copy-theory of truth goes also, together with every other sane theory of truth. But otherwise, if you simply take truth to be copying, the desire for truth will be a desire for copying, and by laying emphasis on the aspect of desire I do not see that you add anything.

Further, if you adopt a one-sided intellectual view, and maintain that reality is an original system of thought which you try to rethink, or a world of ideal essences whose presence you desire — it seems useless in such a case to speak about copying, since copying is excluded. There may be an original here, but, whatever else you are doing, you do not copy that original, since obviously you have no original before you to copy. The realization in detail of a general end is clearly in itself not repetition, and on the other side, as clearly, repetition and reproduction cannot all be called copying. Hence to ask here why we should desire to copy, is obviously irrelevant. The rational question to ask is |121| about our desire for reproduction and repetition or for the presence in or to our minds of a self-existent reality.

But, if we adopt a more concrete view, all such questions become idle. On such a view my desire and my will to have truth is the will and the desire of the world to become truth in me. Truth is a mode of the self-realization of myself and of the Universe in one. And if you ask why the full reality cares to spill itself into gratuitous vessels, or whence and why to me comes this mania for turning myself into a superfluous receptacle or instance — the answer is ready. Such inquiries are based on and betray a most stupendous misconception. The Universe is nowhere apart from the lives of the individuals, and, whether as truth or otherwise, the Universe realizes itself not at all except through their differences. On the other side the individuals, if they are to realize themselves personally, must specialize this common life of which truth is one aspect. And to suppose that the individuals can seek their end and their reality somehow apart (say in the abstraction of mere practice or of private pleasure) is in the end really meaningless. Thus truth, the same in all, is from the other side not wholly the same, since difference to it is vital and it gains difference in each. The personal diversity of the individuals is hence not superfluous but essential. 15 For viewed from one side this diversity brings with it fresh quality, and from the other side, even so far as truth is common to the individuals, it must be taken none the less as modified in each case by its fresh context. But I must hasten here to add that no such general doctrine can be verified in detail.

The process of knowledge is, on any view like this, not something apart and by itself. It is one aspect of the life of the undivided Universe, outside of which life there is no truth or reality. And to speak here of copying as in a mirror, |122| we may once more repeat, is absurd. If you like to add that the absurdity is heightened when we remember that life in general, and knowledge in particular, imply will and desire, to this naturally I make no objection. But for myself I have always been contented to know that the whole suggestion of copying is here ridiculously irrelevant. Still, as according to some critics my destiny is to illustrate what they call ‘intellectualism’, this chapter, if I could understand it, is doubtless a blind flutter against the limits of my cage.

Note to page 110 — Cf. here Mind, n.s., No. 51, p. 323, 16 and again Höffding, Problems of Philosophy, pp. 79 following (English translation), a passage the force of which, it seems to me, Prof. James fails to appreciate. I may perhaps use this opportunity to say something with regard to points really or apparently at issue between Prof. James and myself. I cannot undertake to criticize Prof. James’s ultimate view as to truth knowledge and reality, because that is accessible nowhere, I believe, except in more or less occasional and fragmentary articles, and I do not think that justice can be done to it until it is put out in a more complete and systematic form. But it has been a relief to me to see that, as I understand him. Prof. James rejects the idea that the essence of truth consists in nothing but its mere practical results. 17 In accepting the standard of clearness and inclusiveness and self-consistency (Mind, n.s., No. 52), Prof. James apparently adopts the view in which I at least was brought up, a view for which of course the notion of any external standard of truth was an exploded fallacy. This explanation on the part of Prof. James seems to me to have removed wholly one supposed point of disagreement.

Next as to ‘working’, I of course agree that in proportion as a truth is idle it is less true, and I again agree that in the end no truth can be wholly idle. A truth that makes no difference to truth is to my mind an impossibility. But I cannot agree that, wherever we fail to see this further difference, it is nonexistent, and the alleged truth therefore not true at all. It is one thing to say that, so far as we perceive, such or such a truth |123| has no importance, and to act accordingly, and it is surely another thing to insist that such a truth has no truth whatever. And I seem in passing to remember that Hegel, rightly or wrongly, incurred censure for an attitude more or less of this kind towards some facts or truths of natural science. Next I agree that in the end all truth has practical and again aesthetic consequences. I believe in a word in the implication of all aspects of reality with one another. But once more I cannot believe that we can see this implication in detail, so as everywhere to use the consequence (whatever consequence it is) as a criterion. And to my mind it would be senseless to allege that the several aspects of the whole are each nothing but their consequences.

“Any idea which in any way ‘works’, has in some sense truth.
Only … not on this account ultimate truth.”

Further I have no objection to identifying reality with goodness or satisfaction, so long as it is clear that this does not mean mere practical or any other one-sided satisfaction. Again I agree that any idea which in any way ‘works’, has in some sense truth. Only to my mind it has not on this account ultimate truth. It need not be a way of expression which gives a theoretical satisfaction in which we can rest. In the sciences we use working ideas and convenient mythology, and, while not admitting that these have ultimate truth, I should think it absurd to deny to them truth altogether. And surely so it may be again with morality and religion. The ideas that are really here required, most certainly, I should say, must be true. But to conclude from this that they have ultimate truth for metaphysics is to my mind irrational. And if you ask what I am to say then when these truths are contradicted by metaphysics, I reply that in my opinion they are not so contradicted, though certainly in my opinion metaphysics must understand them otherwise. If however any one believes in this contradiction, he should in my judgement on no account sacrifice or subordinate his practical truths, though as certainly he should not offer them as the sole and final truth about the Universe. But nothing, I fear, that I can say is likely to shake the pernicious prejudice that what is wanted for working purposes is the last theoretical truth about things (see my Appearance, p. 451 and elsewhere). This prejudice tends everywhere to result in one-sided attempts at consistency. In our moral practice, for instance, there evidently in fact is involved some element of uncertainty as to the issue. Hence on this point the Christian religion, clinging to the concrete whole, on one side maintains this element of |124| moral struggle, but on the other side completes it (inconsistently no doubt) by an assurance of final victory. And here from both sides comes a protest, and a one-sided cry for clearness and consequence. Unless really, and as an ultimate fact, there is an uncertain future, morality, we hear, is destroyed. God therefore, to save morality, must be made sufficiently ignorant and sufficiently weak for the future really to be doubtful. And apparently it is not seen that, with this, there is an end logically of all that is meant (and much is meant) by ‘the peace of God’. Again, on the same principle but from the other side, some fanatic from time to time insists on the utter supremacy of Good. And hence he concludes in the older style that morality is irrelevant and worthless, or today in a newer mode that the individual, as such, is perfect, and that there is no toothache but ignorance. But for practical purposes surely there is something higher than theoretical consistency, even if such consistency in practice were actually attainable. Hence, unless ultimate theoretical truth itself may be inconsistent, it is better for practice surely not to identify our working ideas with ultimate truth. For practice you want ideas which keep hold of all sides of the main substance, and to sacrifice any part of that substance to theoretical consistency is practical error. But on the other hand the reader must be warned that to agree with us here is to incur the peril, whatever that is, of being called an ‘Intellectualist’.

To come now to that which Prof. James would call ‘humanism’, I am reminded forthwith that an accusation of mere humanism was one of the charges long ago brought against German Idealism. And since (if I may speak for myself) I do not believe in any reality outside of and apart from the totality of finite mind, 18 and since there is certainly nothing original in my disbeliefs or beliefs, once more here I fail to perceive the chasm which separates the new ‘humanism’ from what went before. And I am again relieved to find that on the whole Prof. James himself takes this view, and regrets an attitude of hostile criticism on our side as due largely to mistake. Prof. James doubtless here does not remember that on our side nothing was said until we found ourselves judged and sentenced. The philosophic world, ostensibly |125| in Prof. James’s behalf, was divided into sheep and goats, and the trumpet was blown, and Plato and Aristotle summoned from the dead to witness the triumph of the one philosopher and the confusion of the sophists. 19 But for my part I have no wish to recall such extravagances, if Prof. James will not forget that it was his fortune, however ill-merited, to inspire them. And if I can do anything to remove or to throw light on any issue between Prof. James and those who cannot follow him, it will be a pleasure to me to attempt this.

(1) In the first place as to ‘pragmatism’, we want to hear definitely from Prof. James whether the practical side of our nature is to be made supreme, or whether there is anything else which has value and rights of its own. Even now I ask myself in what sense, or whether at all, mutilation is advocated. I still do not know if I am called on to enter into life halt and maimed, to say nothing of being blind of one eye. And a reassuring statement in general terms is, I think, not sufficient. But if Prof. James would explain to us how in the end he understands the human Good, and how its elements are related to one another, this point perhaps would become clear. We might at last know whether we all should or should not call ourselves Pragmatists. (2) Next as to ‘humanism’, surely we should be informed, first, whether ‘finite mind’ is to stand merely for some of the inhabitants of a single planet, or is to have a far wider meaning, and, if the latter, we should be told what that meaning is. This is not a new question (it might even be called an old and familiar one), and in some aspects the difference here between various views may be really enormous. It seems, to myself at least, imperative that such a point should not be left in darkness. And (3) in the process of Humanity (however Humanity is understood) we have to inquire how the individuals stand to the whole. Have both sides of the process equal reality, or, if this is not so, what is the alternative? If the individuals are the final realities, what in the end are we to say of the ‘together’ and of the whole process? These are well-known problems, and they surely call for systematic treatment. (4) Then, to say nothing of questions about knowledge — a subject with which Prof. James has in some degree dealt — what in the end is the meaning of and the truth about Progress? Endless progress as an ideal is itself hardly above |126| criticism, but is there in the end any meaning in progress at all? Is mere prevalence and survival to be the same as progress, and, if not that, then what else is progress to mean? And is the temporal process of the Universe (which process is apparently the one reality) to be taken as a progress, and if so, on what grounds? We have once more here an old problem which calls for solution. (5) Finally I need perhaps say nothing as to the difficulty with regard to ‘a condition’ outside of finite minds, except to point out that any obscurity on this head must naturally affect the entire view.

The above questions, and others, can hardly be answered satisfactorily unless they are dealt with all together and as connected parts of one inquiry. Prof. James’s answer to them, when it comes, will not altogether, I imagine, meet all our difficulties, but most assuredly it will be welcome. Even at Oxford we have not yet been so deafened by periodical manifestos and by prophetic outcries as to be incapable of hearing. And there, as indeed everywhere else. Prof. James may count upon willing and respectful attention.


1^ This chapter appeared in Mind for April 1907. On the whole subject of it, compare Chapter XI.

2^ I am not assuming here that we have no feelings so elementary as to be unmodified by apperception. But any assumption on the other side seems hazardous and could at any rate not extend far; compare p. 204.

3^ This is the main conclusion which was urged in my Principles of Logic. It did not occur to me that I should be taken there or anywhere else to be advocating the copy-theory of truth.

4^ Cf. the note at the end of the article.

5^ One is, I presume, naturally led to avoid this difficulty by maintaining that our knowledge in the end is intuitive. We have, that is to say, an experience in which reality, truth, and knowledge are one. But, with this, there is an end at once and in principle of the view that truth is an external means to something else. And on our new ground the problem of Error, the question how we can hold for true what is false, obviously threatens to become pressing.

6^ For some further discussion on this point the reader is referred to Chapter XI.

7^ We may use a variety of phrases here. We may speak, for instance, of homogeneity and specification, or again of integration and differentiation. The main point is this, that truth must leave nothing outside, and, with regard to what it contains, must not have to ask for further explanation as to how one part stands to another part.

8^ The reader is referred on this and other points to later chapters.

9^ ">^ You want in other words to answer the question ‘What’ by and from the object itself, and not by and from something else.

10^ On the whole question see my Appearance. From this basis we can deal with the difficulty as to truth’s being able consistently to pronounce itself imperfect. The dilemma that arises here was noticed by me (p. 513) and solved by a distinction (pp. 544-7). On this a sceptical critic (in Mind, No. 11, p. 336), seizing his opportunity, urged against me this dilemma which I had noticed, forgetting to mention that I had noticed it, and omitting the fact that, having noticed it, I had offered a solution. This opportunity for criticism I confess that I had not observed, but in the second edition of my book, desiring always, so far as I can, to be of use to all the world, I called attention to this opening, more or less by way, if I may say so, of invitation (p. 620). And this standing invitation, I was going to add, has been accepted by Captain Knox, in Mind, No. 54, p. 212. But in view of this writer’s extensive ignorance of the work which he came forward to criticize (see Mind, No. 55), I can hardly suppose that such an assertion would be justified. Still, if I cannot credit myself here with a successful invitation, I think that at least I may lay claim to a true prophecy.

11^ On this whole matter see my Appearance. One difficulty, on which stress has been rightly laid, is that we have no direct experience of any total experience which comprises in itself finite centers (compare Chapter XV). I do not however myself see that this is more than a difficulty.

12^ By scepticism I of course do not mean any positive view as to knowledge in general, and still less any kind of conclusion supported by proof. I mean by it denial or doubt with regard to the existence de facto for me of that which satisfies intellectually. This denial or doubt rests certainly on a positive basis, but, so long as the basis is not made explicit and the denial remains particular, the basis itself is not denied, and the position remains consistent. On the other hand the scepticism which itself poses as a doctrine, which deals in general truth, and in a word claims to be de jure, to my mind does not understand itself. No consistent scepticism can, in my opinion, offer a reasoned proof of itself, nor can a consistent scepticism maintain any general positive doctrine, or indeed any universal thesis of any kind whatever.

13^ So far as concerns ‘the suppression of the subjective’, as it is sometimes called, that of course belongs alike to everything serious in life. In this general respect there is no difference between the pursuits of truth beauty and moral goodness. When, in order to create a work of art, a man has to keep down (so far as is necessary) what is merely particular to himself, that does not mean either that the work of art makes itself without him, or that it is not different because he in particular has made it. So also in the process of the will for good. When that is called ‘objective’, the meaning is not that the individual’s will makes no difference. The meaning is that whatever in him is irrelevant to the issue, is suppressed as merely ‘subjective’. So again in truth-seeking. The ideal development of the object itself, which I follow, does not make itself. In the first place apart from individual minds there is no object anywhere. In the second place, so far as I in particular am concerned, the process of truth demands my personal self-realization. If you took that away, the objective process would not exist in me at all, and, more than that, its nature would to some extent be modified by my personal failure. On the other side the ‘objective’ development cannot possibly take up into itself then and there everything that is at the moment psychically present in myself when I seek truth. It calls therefore for the suppression, so far as is required, of whatever in me falls outside of and is irrelevant to this special development.
  Any reader who wishes not to criticize but to understand, must try to bear in mind two things, (i) The suppression of ‘the subjective’ takes place in regard to truth beauty and goodness alike, and not more in regard to one than the others. (ii) The merely ‘subjective’ does not mean what is personal. It means that which for the special purpose in hand is irrelevant and in this sense is merely personal (see Appearance, p. 237). On the other hand the reader who wishes simply to criticize will, I think, find no difficulty so long as the above points are ignored.

14^ This I myself did in Mind, n.s., No. 51. I did not refer here to the fact that I had written elsewhere on the nature of truth, but I took care to warn the reader (p. 311, now p. 75 of the present volume) that I could not in that article attempt to point out the meaning of truth and falsehood. Notwithstanding this my article has literally been taken as a statement of my view as to the ultimate nature of truth.

15^ See further in Chapter XI.

16^ Chapter IV, pp. 92 following, of the present volume.

17^ But on this and other points see the Appendices to this chapter.

18^ This statement (with others) is liable to be misunderstood, and perhaps as it stands, is one-sided. The reader is referred to the footnote on pp. 350-1, in which a question as to Nature is discussed.

19^ The reference is to Mind for April 1902, n.s., No. 42.

Top ↑

Chapter V. Appendix I to Chapter V.

On the Ambiguity of Pragmatism 1

I. Professor James. Pragmatism and practice most ambiguous (127). Does Pragmatism degrade truth and beauty to mere means? Professor James now seems to say, No (128-9). And success as the test of truth does not now seem to mean more than success on the whole. But the meaning of this with Professor James is doubtful (129-30). And he appears also to teach an opposite doctrine. A more consistent Pragmatism, what (132-4). II. Professor Dewey. Instrumentalism, what (134). Practical, ambiguity of (135-6). Truth may be practical in various senses. Ambiguity of Professor Deweys position (136-42).

|127| Like other readers of Mind I have been occupying myself lately with Prof. James’s lectures on Pragmatism, and with these I have been reading the defense of Pragmatism offered by Prof. Dewey in a late number of Mind (No. 63). Their account of the matter strikes me as in certain points calling for further explanation, and I am venturing to offer some remarks on this head. If Profs. James and Dewey do not yet know what Pragmatism means, there is no one, I imagine, who is likely to be in a better case. For this reason I have felt justified in confining my attention here to these acknowledged leaders, and in ignoring other Pragmatists. In what follows I am concerned solely with Profs. Dewey and James, and I will begin with the latter.

I. While reading the lectures on Pragmatism, I, doubtless like others, am led to ask myself, ‘Am I and have I been always myself a Pragmatist?’ This question I still find myself unable to answer. 2 The meaning of ‘practice’ and ‘practical’ is to my mind with Prof. James most obscure and ambiguous. On the one side he insists on a doctrine acceptable perhaps only to the minority. On the other side he extends so widely the limits of his creed that few indeed would in the end be left outside the fold. I will remark first on the wide and next on the narrow sense given to Pragmatism.

(i) One of the objections raised against Pragmatism has been its alleged degradation of truth. All value except of a borrowed kind has apparently been denied to theory. What it is which in |128| the end has ultimate worth for the Pragmatist, has remained to myself a matter of mere inference and conjecture. But what has seemed certain is that theorizing has been condemned as worthless except as a means, while that which has value in itself has been left undetermined. Whether for instance the Pragmatist takes the world of art to belong to the region of the worthless-in-itself, I at least could not learn. This situation, surprising to myself, has on one understanding of Prof. James ceased, so far as he is concerned, to exist. For he takes the Good as a genus of which truth is one species. He denies or subordinates the distinction of theoretical and practical. Theory is one kind of practice, and so apparently is theoretical enjoyment (p. 217). And I suppose that fine art and the beautiful once more fall under this same head of ‘practice’. And I conjecture that Prof. James would also include under "practical" all human enjoyment. And, if this is so, who, except perhaps some narrow Hedonist, would wish to dissent? Life in all its main aspects is allowed to be the end, and none of these aspects is excluded and degraded to the level of a mere external means. Theory, besides its use in altering the course of events, may be pursued independently within certain limits, 3 may be allowed to satisfy its proper want, and to use its own criterion. And the same thing again will hold good in the case of fine art. I indeed may wonder what purpose is served by torturing everything that is good and valuable under the head of ‘practice’. But, if the substance of all for which I have fought is conceded, I should think it unreasonable to dispute about a word.

In the ordinary sense of the word ‘practice’ therefore, according to Prof. James, truth need not be directly concerned with practice. Truth indeed must not become transcendent. It must not turn itself to some other world out of relation with the world of our perceptions and actions. But, so long as truth maintains its connexion, however indirect, with the sphere of our doing and suffering, the Pragmatist is satisfied. ‘Any idea that helps us to deal, whether practically or intellectually, with either the reality or its belongings … will hold true of that reality’ (p. 213). This denial of transcendence, this insistence that all ideas, and more especially such ideas as those of God or again the Absolute, are |129| true and real just so far as they work, is to myself naturally most welcome. Most of us have, I think, now for some time accepted and tried to act on this principle. It hardly appears to me to be, at this time of day, revolutionary; but still, if this is what Pragmatism means, so much the better for Pragmatism.

And there is a further point on which Prof. James seems once more to endorse our ideas. I had been, I confess, led to think that, where the Pragmatist took successful practice as the test of truth, he meant this to hold of the individual agent. The idea that worked best in the furthering of my individual existence, I thought, was truth for me. I understood in short that good for the individual and true for the individual were much the same thing, and that further the individual could apply this criterion. And naturally I found that this led to difficulty. We speak, for instance, of a man’s life being ruined by the useless discovery of some truth, say of his deceased wife’s infidelity, and we hardly see our way to set down a truth of this kind as error. But the whole difficulty, we now learn from Prof. James, was manufactured by ourselves. It is a living witness to our blindness, our incompetence and injustice, not to use terms still more abusive (p. 233). For Pragmatism, I now understand Prof. James to say, does not pretend to hold of the individual. The idea that in a man’s case does not work, or that works to his ruin, may for all that be true. For the true is ‘the expedient in the long run and on the whole’ (p. 222). And, this being understood, the whole difficulty so far disappears.

It is succeeded, however, I would urge, by fresh troubles. For what is ‘the long run’ and ‘the whole’, and how does the individual get to know about things like these, which seem really beyond him? On this vital matter Prof. James, it seems to me, leaves us without much assistance. We may conjecture that ‘the long run’ is the process that leads (if it really does lead) to the final victory of Good. We are reminded perhaps of that

One far-off divine event.
To which the whole creation moves.

But I am very far from sure that we are reminded rightly. And what ‘the whole’ is to mean seems, to my mind, beyond probable conjecture. Is it this or that set of beings inhabiting our planet, or is humanity but a small, a microscopical and an inconsiderable |130| element among the beings that have value? In speaking of that which he terms ‘humanism’ Prof. James would have felt himself compelled, we might have supposed, to deal with such dangerous ambiguities and such distressing uncertainties. But another course unfortunately seemed to him more desirable. The result, however, so far as I see, is that ‘the expedient in the long run and on the whole’ remains unknown and unknowable. And yet it is this apparently by which the individual has to regulate his life.

And possibly Prof. James holds that the individual must walk here by faith (p. 296). The individual does not know and he cannot see that truth and goodness now are one, or how they ever will become one. But he must do what seems to him to be best, and again accept what seems to him to be true, and he must trust and believe that truth and goodness in the end will not be divergent. But, with this, the relative independence for us of truth, beauty and practical goodness, seems fully justified, and, so far as the practice of the individual is concerned. Pragmatism seems in short admitted not to work.

And with such a result I, in the main, naturally find myself in accord. To me, as to many others, it seems that in the end truth, fact and goodness are one, though I am forced to admit that we cannot perceive and verify this unity in detail, and that therefore in and for the individual a relative divergence must be recognized. Hence between Prof. James and myself the difference in the end would be practically trifling. But, on the other hand, theoretically, as soon as Prof. James attempts to deal with first principles, the case, I think, will be altered. For, as against our principle of immanent Reality, he seems to have adopted a transcendent Ideal. And that, I imagine the history of philosophy has tended to show, is a thing which, as an ultimate principle, will not work.

(ii)If the above interpretation of Prof. James is correct, Pragmatism is no militant creed. It is in harmony with views against which it is commonly understood to protest, and to imagine that it portends a new dawn of philosophy (p. 6) would be obviously ridiculous. And I hasten to add that I have not imagined that Prof. James would accept his doctrine as it is above interpreted. I think it at least possible that he takes the whole theoretical side of mind to be an instrument worthless in itself, used to gain |131| a valuable end which he finds it convenient to leave in darkness. I am sure that the common antithesis of intellectual or theoretical and practical appears in his pages (e.g. pp. 186-8), 4 and that the former of these words is used derogatorily. The conclusion that, at least for the practice of the individual, Pragmatism is untrue, seems to me contrary to the whole tendency of Prof. James’s teaching. And, if I rightly understand him, Pragmatism, far from being a view which tends to reconcile extremes, is committed to the denial of anything contrary to pluralism. It is committed to the assertion of the absolute mutability of the Universe and the absolute reality of individual disaster and evil. With regard to Prof. James’s doctrine of human Freedom, here, as elsewhere, I find it impossible to decide what it means. 5 But the pragmatic |132| doctrine of Free Will, as it appears in this volume, seems to myself to be repeating that which I, for instance, under Hegelian influence sought to urge, in my Ethical Studies, more than thirty years ago. And Prof. James’s view of Freedom, whatever else it may be, must, I assume, be something which leaves him at liberty to denounce Hegel and his followers.

The conclusion then which I would submit to the reader is that Prof. James’s Pragmatism is essentially ambiguous, and that he throughout is unconsciously led to take advantage of its ambiguity. It can at discretion be preached as a new Gospel which is to bring light into the world, or recommended as that old teaching of common sense which few but fools have rejected. The reader may, I think, be helped to appreciate this attempt to make the most of both worlds, if I sketch briefly for him another and, as I think, a better working creed.

I perhaps may here recall the fact that I have advocated elsewhere certain views on first principles. But on the other hand I have seen, if I may say so, far too much of metaphysics to think of staking vital issues on the result of speculative inquiry. And for practical purposes I hold in reserve a belief, in common, I imagine, with an increasing number of persons, a belief, the advantages of which Pragmatism would, it seems, like to appropriate surreptitiously. According to this practical creed there is in the end no truth for us save that of working ideas. Whatever idea is wanted to satisfy a genuine human need is true, and truth in the end has no other meaning. Our sense of value, and in the end for every man his own sense of value, is ultimate and final. And, since there is no court of appeal, it is idle even to inquire if this sense is fallible. It is this which in the end decides as to human interests, and whatever ideas are needed to serve those interests are true, however much these ideas are in contradiction with one another or even with themselves. The one question in the end is whether the ideas work. But there are degrees of truth, because ideas may work better or worse, and because again the interests which ideas subserve are more or less valuable. The above is scepticism, if you please, but it is not the stupid scepticism which offers itself as positive theoretical doctrine. It is the intelligent refusal to accept as final any theoretical criterion which actually so far exists. And there is here no mutilation of human nature, since every side of life, practical, aesthetic and intellectual, |133| is allowed its full value. We are emancipated once and for all from the narrowness of all one-sided attempts at consistency, 6

When a man, holding to this less one-sided Pragmatism, says that he for instance believes in God, not a God but a God through whom perfect goodness in spite of appearance is real — how futile in the case of such a man are Prof. James’s findings! Prof. James will tell this man that he is a quietist, that he wants to ‘give up’ and to ‘lie back’, and to avoid paying the just price of salvation through individual sacrifice and effort (pp. 276, 289, 292, 295). But the man will answer that, while he believes in the reality of perfect goodness, he believes also that nothing is more intensely real than individual action for good, and that he believes in these two things not one in spite of the other, but one even because of the other. And he will regret that Prof. James should be so wanting in experience as to be unable to perceive obvious facts, and should be in such bondage to the traditional worship of theoretical consistency. And as against such a position, which I do not suppose Prof. James will call novel, what has he to offer and to object in the name of Pragmatism? He has offered at present nothing, so far as I see, beyond one-sided prejudices, and a blind appeal to theoretical consistency, and an uncritical faith in the ultimate validity of some undiscussed Law of Contradiction.

But that Prof. James could accept the position I have sketched above to myself seems impossible. I do. not suggest that the result is too sceptical for a Professor to endorse, but beyond this there are other obstacles which seem insurmountable. For, if the above is accepted, there is at once apparently an end of the new Gospel, with all its promises and all its boasts about a new dawn of philosophy, together with its anticipatory outbreak of dithyrambic ecstasy (p. 257). And something perhaps even worse than this would follow. For Prof. James would forfeit all right to emphasize as ultimate truth the absolute mutability and incoherence of the world, and the absolute value of this or that individual success or disaster. In short all those prejudices on which he rides to the attack on Absolutism would have to be forgone. These ideas could, none of them, claim more than a relative worth, and their opposites would also and at the same time possess truth.

But if Prof. James cannot be content with so broad a |134| ‘pragmatism’, his alternative, I submit, is to develop his theory of first principles. Assuredly I am not alone in the desire that he would turn his back for a time on sporadic articles and on popular lectures, with their incoherence and half-heartedness and more or less plausible ambiguities, and would work in the way in which a man who seriously aims at a new philosophy is condemned to work, and with a result which I at least feel sure would repay his labour. And perhaps in the meantime he might remind his followers on this side of the Atlantic that, of course without prejudice to the future, it is not yet true that the crowing of the cock brings the sun above the horizon.

III. I pass on now to consider the account of Pragmatism given by Prof. Dewey in Mind, No. 63, and here, as with Prof. James, I find much which to myself seems ambiguous. I am again left uncertain whether in the end I also am a Pragmatist, or where and how on the other hand I fail to deserve that title. But I have to begin by putting on one side what to my mind are sheer irrelevancies. I myself long ago (1883) pointed out that theory takes its origin from practical collision, and again for myself theory implies a theoretical want and its satisfaction. And it is obvious that, if Pragmatism means no more than this, I, as I presume Prof. Dewey is aware, have been for many years a Pragmatist, and, however well he preaches, he is preaching here to one long ago converted.

Certainly I must suppose therefore that for Prof. Dewey more than this is wanted for Pragmatism, and I must go on to inquire how much more is wanted. In the first place Prof. Dewey, I understand, insists that theory is only an instrument. Now we all know that there are instruments and activities which have no value but a borrowed one. They may be necessary, but still in themselves they may be valueless or even worse. Hence we naturally ask if this is to be the case with theory, and again with fine art. And, if this is to be the case with one or both, we naturally want to be informed as to the ultimate source of the value which is transferred to them. But, so far as I see. Prof. Dewey leaves us here without any answer. And I do not myself understand how any thinking person is justified in accepting a doctrine left in this ambiguous state. In philosophy surely one has no right |135| to teach that something is only a means, unless one is prepared to state the end to which it conduces and by which it is measured. 7 And I must even be allowed to set this down as to my mind elementary.

Passing on then unsatisfied from this point let us ask what is meant by the practical nature of thinking and truth. Let me say here at once that I have failed, I am sure, to understand what practical means for Prof. Dewey. 8 But an idea, it appears, is true only so far as it issues in behavior. Now, as applied to the early |136| life of the soul, I am prepared for the sake of argument to accept this statement unreservedly. It is not, I think, even as applied to the beginnings of intelligence, entirely correct. But I need not here enter on any reservation which seems to me to be required. Let us for the sake of argument agree that early soul-life (as I, for instance, urged some twenty-five years ago) has no ideas about things except the ideas of its own practical attitude towards them. And let us agree that, except so far as an idea actually issues in practical behavior, it cannot be retained.9 Still, does it follow from this that later on a theoretical need and satisfaction is not in fact developed? Apart from such a hazardous conclusion the entire argument from origin appears to me to be worthless. And I presume therefore that Prof. Dewey’s main contention is this, that there is not now in fact any theory which is not practical and practical essentially.

I would repeat that I have failed to understand Prof. Dewey’s real position. And I have remarked above on the fatal ambiguity that attaches to the word practical. But if we take practical in the sense in which it is opposed to theoretical — and if we do not take it so the whole controversy seems to vanish — objections to such a position present themselves at once, (1) Suggested ideas — some of them apparently remote from anything which I am to do or could do — are accepted as true. And not only this, but in many cases these ideas appear to coalesce with and to qualify my world, without any experienced collision and apart from anything which I myself seem to do. This account holds good of a large amount of actual present beliefs. And, though Prof. Dewey fails to recognize the extent to which this takes place, he appears to admit that in the case of ‘tested’ ideas (p. 341) we have judgements not issuing in actual behavior. Further, even where ideas do concern my conduct, I would submit that even here they need not be entertained practically and need not in this sense be practical. But in any case, as we have seen, a large number of ideas appear in no sense to relate to my behavior either in themselves or in their results. (2) I have so far dealt with cases where no actual preceding want or desire for the result can be shown to exist. But, even where the attained truth is the satisfaction

|137| of an actual desire, that desire and that want may be, in a word, a desire for truth itself. Knowledge here, practical in one sense, will still not be practical in the sense of being concerned merely with my behavior. And ‘concerned’ is not the word, for according to Prof. Dewey, if I rightly understand him, truth consists merely in my practical behavior and is itself nothing otherwise. And, when I apply such a description to the solution of every possible historical or abstract problem, I appear to myself to have arrived somewhere out of contact with actual facts. I can keep hold of them only when I admit that practice itself may be essentially theoretical.

Prof. Dewey to some extent seems to be aware of these objections, but how he considers himself to meet them I am unable except in part to understand. I can therefore do little more than set down what seems to me to be possible ways of reply. The reader will understand that in what follows, except where this is stated, I am not pretending to criticize Prof. Dewey’s account. I am detailing some points on which it seems to me that clearness is essential and has not been secured, (i) The first answer to the above objections would consist in urging that truth is the behavior of an idea rather than that of a man. When an idea acts and works in me in a certain manner, that is truth, and therefore truth in this sense is practical. I mention this view though I do not suppose that Prof. Dewey would accept it. (ii) Another way of showing that an idea is practical, although I really do not act on it, is to urge that I should act on it if the conditions were otherwise, or shall act on it perhaps in the future (p. 339). This is the position taken long ago by Bain, who, for some reason that I do not understand, is here ignored. It is of course open to the obvious reply that the question is about the actual and not about the possible or future, and that to identify these is not permitted. 10 We may perhaps put the same point otherwise by asking in what my knowledge that conditionally or in the future I should or shall act, itself now actually consists. To answer for instance that with an idea there is a more or less tentative struggle to act, and that therefore there is an act |138| — seems unsatisfactory. We do not always seem concerned with any struggle, and as to what ‘tentative’ is to mean we require information. Any such phrase we recognize as an old device for going on saying that a thing is so, when obviously and visibly it is not so. But whether, and, if so, how far any of the above is applicable in the case of Prof. Dewey I am unable to say. (iii) Let us then pass from the view that thought implies essentially an issue in external behavior. Let us suppose that thought is always an act, and implies therefore of course a psychical alteration of myself. But let us suppose that this psychical alteration, though necessary, is not the main essence of thought. And let us take that main essence to lie in a qualification of reality which is ideal. If this is the view urged by Prof. Dewey, as I can hardly imagine it is, I must lament that he has so failed to express it clearly. With such a view it is obvious that in the main I agree, and how it should be urged against myself I am unable to understand, (iv) And yet, agreeing in the main with such a view, I cannot wholly endorse it. For in the word ‘act’ there is still too much ambiguity or else downright mistake. There are truths suggested and at once accepted where certainly there seems no act, in the sense of my will or of my act. The idea seems to coalesce with, or, let us say, to be apperceived by my world or one of my worlds. In this case I am altered of course, but in what sense do I act? And can we even say here that, so far, the idea’s truth for me lies in its working and in its theoretical consequences? Have we not got in such a case, so far as I am concerned, something like passive acceptance of the idea? I agree that, when we reflect and when we come to the criterion of truth, the truth of an idea is inseparable from its theoretical results. And, if you like to add that here I always act, I am not concerned to deny this. But how this is to hold in the case of all acceptance of truth I am unable to see. Prof. Dewey seems to perceive the above difficulty, not wholly but so far as it applies to ‘tested ideas’ (p. 341). But his answer is, I regret to say, to myself unintelligible. What is ‘permanent status’? What is ‘energy of position’ (p. 341)? To my mind these phrases seem to be no better than mere mythology. And to me they come as a tacit admission that the theory will not work when applied to facts. 11 And I have already dealt above with the apparent |139| attempt to revive Bain’s method of escape, (v) Finally (to pass on) the issue of the idea in behavior may be admitted not to hold now and here, at this time or of this agent. No more may be meant than that at some time the true idea will also be true practically. I hesitate, however, to understand Prof. Dewey in this sense even more than I hesitated in the case of Prof. James. With such a conclusion I should agree, if for ‘at some time will’ I may be allowed to write ‘somehow does’. Still in neither case, I submit, can such a criterion be used in detail. To some extent obviously therefore, I urge, we must remain content with mere theory. And really this is all for which I myself have contended and contend. And if you insist that such a state of things is only provisional, then, so far as I see, the provisional state of things will last as long as there are finite beings. 12

Against the preceding it may be urged, though I do not say by Prof. Dewey, that the question is about the main and general tendency of things. That general tendency is that the true idea is the idea which works best even externally. And it may be added that this general tendency justifies the ultimate definition, although we cannot verify this definition in detail and in the case of all ideas. But such a position, if occupied by Prof. Dewey, would to my mind be wholly untenable, if at least he is committed to the doctrine that nowhere for us in our experience can truth be other than that which works practically. For such a denial is not only (as we have seen) out of harmony with fact, but in the end it would itself destroy the general conclusion and the ultimate definition.

For how, I ask, are we to arrive at ultimate knowledge of the main tendency of things? Take this very question which seems to be at issue between Prof. Dewey and myself. We each of us are face to face here with a colliding situation, and as to this and so far we are agreed. Now what are we trying to do with this situation? I on my side say that we seek primarily a theoretical solution. We are each of us attempting to find an idea which will |140| work, work in the sense of qualifying reality ideally in such a way that the collision so far is at an end. 13 And I urge that this true idea does not in respect of its truth or falsehood imply a passage into any practical behavior on my part. The idea involves a psychical change in me certainly, but that, I contend, is not the essence. If Prof. Dewey replies (as I think probably he does not), that this aspect of psychical change in me is the essence of truth and of falsehood, then I would ask him to state this plainly and to attempt to face the problem on this basis. And I would ask him to remember that the question is not whether with belief and judgement there is a psychical change in me. The question is what we are to say about this psychical event, and how otherwise it must be qualified, so that it is not merely a psychical event but is specially a true or false belief and judgement. But if Prof. Dewey falls back upon practical result and non-theoretical behavior, then I would invite him here to say what this is. What is it that I do here and what is it that he does here, each of us, I presume, differently in the case of the diverse ideas which we accept? I myself am unable to verify this issue in practical behavior, and in any case the contention that this issue makes truth’s essence remains to my mind untenable.

If however in this ultimate appeal to fact we are forced to recognize theoretical truth, then to go on from this basis to deny such truth would be suicidal. To upset by knowledge about the main tendency of the world something for us more ultimate than such knowledge, seems to destroy knowledge altogether. To build further upon the foundation on which we stand is of course legitimate. To insist that truth, to reach perfection, must also in every case somehow issue in act, does not deny that truth for us, at least to some extent, must be sought and found otherwise. 14 On the other hand to insist on the practical result of the idea everywhere as the criterion of truth, and wholly to deny truth as existing otherwise, is, I submit, to ensure disaster. But I must end as I began, both in the case of Prof. Dewey and of Prof. James, by deploring their ambiguity or my blindness, which in the end |141| leaves me uncertain what it is that they mean to affirm and to deny.

So much indeed of what Prof. Dewey urges seems to me so true and so admirably stated, that I can only applaud and regret that it should seem to be directed against views which I hold. I agree that practical collision is the origin of truth, and I agree that for truth to pass into a new practical result may be called (if we speak at large) truth’s natural and normal end. But that by us men theoretical truth, as well as fine art, must be cultivated, at least to some extent, independently, I am no less assured. The denial of this appears to me to violate facts and to threaten us with the mutilation of our human ideal. And if theory and fine art, or either of these, is to have no worth of its own, let us at least be informed what in the end it is which really possesses value. On such a point to state no positive doctrine, and to leave it to opponents to lose themselves in more or less mistaken conjectures, is a course, I would submit, unworthy of such writers as Profs. Dewey and James.

Prof. Dewey’s article raises a number of interesting questions which would well repay discussion. Among these the apparent contention (p. 334) that truth is nothing but that which I do with an idea, and that truth therefore is made by me, could hardly be dealt with except at length. 15 That contention would become less ambiguous and more instructive, if the problem of falsehood were included, and again that of beauty and ugliness. The question whether and in what sense I can bring into being truth and beauty, ugliness and error, good and evil, and in one word value, has of course the highest interest. The answer that not only do I bring all this into existence, but that the distinctive essences of all these things are nothing beyond what I do and make, I hesitate to attribute to Prof. Dewey. And his isolated treatment of this question so far as regards truth, ignoring even the difficulties caused by falsehood, seems to me obviously insufficient. But to deal with this and other interesting issues raised in Prof. Dewey’s article, is here clearly impossible.

I propose again to say nothing here in reply to Prof. Dewey’s discussion of certain views held by me. It is not that I do not value his criticism, or again that in most cases I should find it difficult to make an explanation or a reply which, to myself |142| perhaps, would be satisfactory. But I think it far better to defer anything which I have to say to another opportunity. 16 Pragmatism proclaims itself, I understand, as a great new way in philosophy. Hence, if it is true, it is not true because those particular views with which I for instance am identified, are demonstrably false. Such an alternative might be convenient, but it is, of course, indefensible, and with the injustice which it would offer to other views I could not associate myself. Pragmatism is true, if at all, because it can successfully deal with all ultimate issues. It may indeed be shown otherwise to be invalid, but it cannot otherwise be shown to hold good. And I will venture to add that in my opinion some such reminder as this (though perhaps not in the case of Prof. Dewey) seems desirable and necessary.


1^ This paper appeared first in Mind for April 1908.

2^ Cf. Mind, No. 62 (Chapter V of this volume). For the ambiguity of Pragmatism I would refer the reader to Mr. McTaggart’s admirable review in Mind, No. 65. I saw this only after the whole of what follows had been written.

3^ I have endeavored to define these limits elsewhere. See Mind, n.s., No. 51 (pp. 86-91 of this volume).

4^ In his Meaning of Truth (1909), pp. 206 ff., Prof. James not only seems to recognize the validity of the theoretic interest, but also to condemn in unmeasured terms the critics of Pragmatism for having failed to see that this recognition was taught from the first as the doctrine of Pragmatism. I submit that Prof. James here did these critics a serious injustice.
  What are the facts? Is it true that from the first Pragmatism stated clearly that theory has an intrinsic value of its own, and that Instrumentalism — if you take that in the sense of making theory a mere means to practice — is a false doctrine? Is it true that from the first ‘practical’ was not opposed to ‘theoretical’, and that, in making the test of truth practical, it was never said or meant that the appeal was to be to practice as distinct from theory? Is it the case that all that in fact was insisted on was that the test is to be empirical? Of course, if all this is so, the critics of Pragmatism have been greatly to blame. But I submit that any such account of the matter would be quite untenable.
  Not only was the fact otherwise, but, further, if it had not been otherwise, I suggest that Pragmatism could hardly have preached itself as a new gospel, have talked about a new dawn of philosophy and a turning-point in the history of philosophy (Pref. vii, viii). And I must doubt whether even now Prof. Dewey would accept the position apparently taken by Prof. James.
  The real fact, I presume, is this, that Prof. James and some of his followers (for we have not to do merely with Prof. James) believed themselves to have in Pragmatism a new and revolutionary doctrine, but, on the other hand, had never realized exactly what ‘Pragmatism’ and ‘practical’ were to mean. Then, under the pressure of criticism, being forced to discuss the sense of their battle-cry, that sense, in becoming more or less realized by them, became, I submit, seriously altered, though of course without their knowledge. And then the critics are abused for their failure to understand and accept a statement, supposed now, in the teeth of facts, to have been put clearly before them. But I have little doubt as to the judgement which will be passed on all this by the reader who is acquainted with what really has taken place.

5^ I remarked on this point some years ago in Mind, No. 43, pp. 296-8.

6^ Cf. with Chapter IV.

7^ Prof. Dewey (p. 328) certainly denies that the end is the abstraction of ‘mere practice’, but such a denial is obviously no positive answer. And when he adds that he cannot believe that ‘any empiricist has ever entertained’ ‘such a thoroughly intellectualistic construction’, I confess that he amazes me. The ‘empiricist’ in my own experience is precisely the man who more than others takes mere abstractions for realities. In any case if the Pragmatist cannot even attempt to state his own doctrine of ultimate value, that, it seems to me, is something like an admission of bankruptcy.

8^ ‘By practical’, he says, ‘I mean only regulated change in experienced values’ (p. 328). But, if Prof. Dewey means no more than this, his whole article is surely one long ignoratio elenchi. How does such a definition exclude the existence of pure theoretical activity and practice? And, if it does not, what becomes of Prof. Dewey’s polemic? Pragmatism on this understanding is in agreement with even an extreme one-sided intellectualism, so long as that asserts an intellectual need and activity. The reason, I venture to think, why Prof. Dewey fails to realize this, is that he uses ‘practical’ in a further sense and passes unconsciously from one sense to another. In this further sense there is the usual opposition between practice and mere theory, and it is, I presume, with this sense in his mind that Prof. Dewey asserts (p. 335) that the truth of a mechanical idea is inseparable from the construction of a working model. In short, Prof. Dewey seems to define practice in one sense and then to slide, wherever it is convenient, into another sense. Either this, or he fails wholly to realize the nature of the position which he believes himself to be attacking.
  Another point which I may notice is the connexion, according to Prof. Dewey, between having an idea and holding it for true. There are statements as to ‘assumption’ (p. 328) and ‘hypothetic’ (p. 341) which I probably have failed to understand. They look to myself, however, as if Prof. Dewey was assuming the reality of ‘floating ideas’ when in controversy with persons some of whom at least regard these ideas as a delusion untenable both in psychology and logic. And it seems to me further that the rejection of floating ideas tends to raise difficulties, the existence of which Prof. Dewey fails to recognize. I cannot but think that here, as elsewhere, a reference to Bain’s views would have been useful. But in any case the existence and possibility of mere ideas. Prof. Dewey should remember, is denied, and cannot in controversy be assumed (see Chapter III).

9^ ">^ I do not discuss here the doubt which might be raised with regard to the ideas of suffering as apart from doing. If you go back far enough I should not suppose that such ideas exist.

10^ This point was dealt with by me many years ago. I have ventured to remark that the uncritical identification of the real and the possible is a leading characteristic of English empiricism. On this subject the reader is referred to the Index, s.v. Possible: {Possible, 274-5, 284, 289, 291.
— wrongly identified with actual, 23, 70-1, 137-8, 147, 150, 156, 334.

11^ Cf. Prof. James’s ‘cold storage’. Why not ‘hibernation’ or ‘slumber’ or ‘on half-pay’ or any other mythological metaphor, whichever for the moment seems to bring most conviction?

12^ The above, of course, justifies the distinction in practice between the idea which is really true and the idea which works best practically; p. 337, note.

13^ On p. 330 Prof. Dewey appears to traverse this statement directly.

14^ In the same way when a too ardent Darwinian teaches that the true idea is the idea which prevails, his position so far is consistent. But, when he goes on perhaps to insist that truth is nothing but prevalence, he falls into inconsistency if he now offers at least this truth as more.

15^ See Chapter XI

16^ See Chapter IX.

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Appendix II. to Chapter V. 1

On Professor James’s ‘Meaning of Truth’

Was Professor James a relativist, and in what sense? His doctrine is too ambiguous to warrant any answer (142-5). Some critical remarks on his Meaning of Truth (145-9).

I had written, some months before Prof. James’s lamented death, a criticism of some of the views set forth in his Meaning of Truth. My purpose in writing this was to invite Prof. James to furnish certain explanations. And now, especially as the following remarks are not a general estimate of his work, and as they give no expression to my feeling of admiration and genuine respect, I have hesitated to publish them. But for the reader who will take them merely for what they are, I think it better to do so. And I will begin with the question of Relativism.

We must here understand relativism in two senses, (a) In the first of these, truth and reality are simply for this or that finite individual, while (b), in the second meaning of the term, it is some set of individuals on which everything depends, (a) In the first sense Prof. James certainly did not advocate relativism. What he calls Pragmatism and Humanism are obviously compatible even with an undue disregard of the individual person, and with an exaggerated emphasis laid on the universal side. With regard to Humanism, the tendency of what may be called |143| Humanism to depreciate the aspect emphasized by ‘Personal Idealism,’ may be called historical, for it appeared years ago in one part of the Hegelian school. In other words there is no connexion in principle between ‘Personal Idealism’ and the doctrines of Pragmatism and Humanism. Certainly, then. Prof. James did not intend to teach relativism in this first sense, though whether his doctrine, when worked out, would have led to that result, I am unable to judge. 2

(b) In the second meaning of relativism truth and reality are something merely for this or that set or collection of persons. And, in inquiring how far Prof. James was in this sense a relativist, we are brought up short by the ambiguity, which (though invited to do so) he, so far as I know, made no attempt to remove. The only thing, I would submit, which lends plausibility to Prof. James’s doctrine of Humanism, is the equivocation by which Humanity stands, at discretion, either for the inhabitants of a certain planet or for the whole of finite mind, however and wherever and whenever finite mind appears. If we take Humanity in the first sense, as being merely one set of creatures, then relativism seems to follow. How am I to deny that our truth, our goodness and beauty, may be utterly false and bad and ugly to another race of beings, and that this other race is, notwithstanding this, as good as ourselves — if indeed there were any sense in such a comparison? And, if I cannot deny this, am I not really a relativist? What is the ground (I ask once more) on which the human race is to dictate to the Universe? (Cf. Chapter VIII, p. 243.) What is the value of our inference to the nature of reality at large simply from what we happen to know of the history of one set of creatures? Prof. James’s doctrine, I would repeat, to myself seems plausible merely so far as he succeeded (I do not of course mean intentionally) in keeping it ambiguous. 3

|144| Possibly Prof. James really held that our race on this planet is the same thing as all finite mind, or as all the finite mind, at least, that anywhere counts. His Humanism, if so, would have meant nothing new. He would have been in company which to myself is respectable, but, in attempting to make good this thesis, his hands, I think, would have been more than full. And such a conclusion, so far as I know, he never endorsed unequivocally. But, apart from some such conclusion, is it not futile to speak of getting to absolute truth by ‘simple inductions from the past extended to the future by analogy’? (Meaning of Truth, p. 267).

I am not saying that Prof. James’s doctrine really consisted in a blind oscillation between two meanings of the word ‘human’. He had, I must imagine, a view with two aspects, the connexion between which he did not, and perhaps could not, work out. On the one side this view seems much the same as that made popular by J. S. Mill. It differs, so far as against J. S. Mill Prof. James insisted on continuity. The difference, certainly, is real, but a question remains as to how far it will carry you? Continuity takes you, in some sense doubtless, beyond the present, but can it take you, and on what ground can it take you, to a real past and a real future? I will return to this point, and will merely say at present that Prof. James seems to myself to follow here J. S. Mill to a common bankruptcy.

But Prof. James’s teaching presents another and a very diverse aspect. It suggests to my mind that in a great measure he really shared that view of the world which in the main I, for instance, inherited from Hegel. Prof. James desired to insist that there is much more in human society and in its history, and, I presume, in the Universe at large, than the changing accidents of a mere collection. And he held, I think, that in our own experience we touch intimately, and to a certain extent know, the real character of the whole Universe which there is immanent. Naturally I do not suggest that the difference between asserting and denying the ultimate reality of change, is a trifling difference. But the necessary consequences, as regards the value of the individual person and his place in the Universe, are surely far from being evident. And in short the radical opposition which Prof. James |145| took to exist throughout between his own doctrine and that of monistic Absolutism, rested, I venture to think, on what I must call his partial ignorance about the latter. There are certain points in Absolutism which he did not like, and I myself could not say that I like everything in Absolutism. Clearly it is a ‘hard’ doctrine. But to expect to get in detail all that you want just precisely as you want it, is to take a position which seems to myself justifiable only when stated with the very last degree of honesty and explicitness. And, apart from such a position, the real question is this. How, if you reject Absolutism, are you going to secure that which you must have, any more cheaply elsewhere? 4 This second aspect of Prof. James’s teaching, in which emphasis is laid on the universal side, appears to myself joined to the former aspect of individualism by no intelligible bond. The connexion in his mind between these two characters of the Universe was, so far as I know, never clearly set forth.

I will proceed now to offer a few critical remarks on some of the doctrines contained in Prof. James’s Meaning of Truth. The misunderstandings which these remarks are likely or certain to involve, may even themselves, I hope, lead to the removal of what, I submit, is real obscurity.

(1) Prof. James calls his own view the ‘pragmatic’ view. If by this he means (as he sometimes seems to mean) merely that view which works best, we have here an attempt to beg the question at issue. The objection taken to Prof. James’s account of truth is taken precisely on the ground that this account fails to work theoretically. And practically (compare pp. 67 and 133) Prof. James seems never really to have faced the problem of a genuine working creed. He never, I think, saw what is involved in treating all ideas, without exception, as merely useful. He, so far as I know, never even inquired whether truth in the end has to be consistent with itself. With regard to the practical character of all truth I will say no more here, as Prof. James himself seems willing (pp. 206 foll.) to treat the matter as of no moment. If this is really so, he would be at issue, I presume, with Prof. Dewey, and little or nothing of Pragmatism would, I imagine, be really left but the name. |146|

(2) To pass to another point — judgement really, on my view, involves mediation. This aspect of the matter has not escaped Prof. James, but he has, in my opinion, turned truth here into ruinous error. For he has taken intermediation to consist in a temporal process from the idea to a perceived object. To this conclusion, in spite of much obscurity, he seems committed. Where an idea merely leads to an object, we, according to Prof. James, have knowledge. Whether there is a relation of identity in difference between the idea and the object, a relation which is also for the knower, I am unable to say. The importance of both these questions is obvious, but the answer, if there is an answer, remains to me obscure. Apparently we have truth wherever an idea leads to an object. 5

Any such doctrine is liable to objections which, I think, can never be fairly met. I recognize that I have now my chronic pain for which nothing can be done. I notice that a tree is about to fall upon the head of a distant person. The suggested idea of some action leads in me to its performance. In the third of these cases we have the definition without truth, while in the two former cases we have truth without the definition. 6 With abstract truths, again, the verification in every instance by a process of events leading to a particular object cannot be shown. Or consider truths about the past. Is there a real past, and, if there is such a thing, can it turn into a perception? Or have our ideas about it, if it is there, really nothing to do with it? Or, again, is the reality of the past merely ideal? I shall have to return to the difficulty raised by these questions. But even with regard to the future Prof. James’s view will not work. Suppose that I foretell an earthquake to happen next year or after my death, how does my idea lead to the earthquake, and where does the process of truth fall? The doctrine that there is no truth apart from the action of some person here and now, if |147| ‘action’ is taken broadly, I accept, while I reject the view that truth’s essence is limited to that action. And this latter view seems hardly even to coincide with Prof. James’s teaching. 7

If what Prof. James meant was merely this, that truth, to be true, must be in vital connexion with the world of particular feelings and perceptions, and in some sense is verifiable in this world, I am of course fully in accord with him. But to offer such a doctrine as something new, and as something which is to make a revolution in philosophy, would be to my mind ridiculous.

(3) I will notice now one method by which Prof. James appears to have thought that at least some troubles could be met. This is the old device by which at discretion the potential or virtual is substituted for the actual. As a good ‘empiricist’ Prof. James here kept to the tradition of his school. I could not say that he has here done nothing more than blindly follow his blind leaders, but I at least have not been able to discover what more on this point he has done. What has to be proved is, for instance, the existence of actual intermediaries in time. The possibility of such intermediaries does not assert their existence. It asserts something else, and what it really asserts is not a lapse of events. 8

(4) I will return now to a point of extreme importance. Prof. James is of course against transcendence, but in this very matter he (so far as I can perceive) is threatened with ruin. The question is whether the object-reality, which he has to know, is not often in a world which should be beyond his knowledge. Take once more the instance of a past or future event. What are we to say with regard to the existence of such a fact? Does it transcend, is it outside of and beyond, the present Reality now immanent in my knowledge? To this question, as I have already |148| explained, I myself reply with an emphatic negative, but Prof. James’s answer to it remains to my mind unintelligible. And any intelligible answer, I submit, must ruin his theory. Let us say, first, that the reality of dead Caesar is nothing beyond that which is immanent in what I know now — then what, if so, becomes of the absolute reality of time and particular events? How does this latter doctrine agree with the idea that the past is only ideal? But take a different view, and then what for me now is the past object? It has become a Thing-in-itself which for knowledge is nothing. And the intermediaries, which lead to this nothing, what are they for me? Obviously, through nearly all their extent, they again for me are nothing. And to speak of approximating where you can know neither the goal nor the road, appears really to be senseless. The above dilemma, I urge, entails ruin if left unmet, and I cannot believe that it ever was steadily faced by Prof. James. 9

We obviously are here concerned with the relation of truth to knowledge and of both to reality. Have they any essential connexion at all? Can reality be a something outside which makes no difference? Can truth have no relation to it, or again a relation which is merely external? On the other hand, are we ready to bring reality within truth and knowledge, and both within ourselves, and to do this in earnest? After the criticism of now a century back one might expect that questions such as these could not be ignored. And it certainly would not be true to say of Prof. James that he ignored them. But, if any one can understand his answer, I cannot.

In a succession of volumes, perhaps too hastily composed and too hurriedly published, Prof. James wrote, I must believe, from a central point of view from which these essays were thrown out. But for a reader to discover this center by following the opposite direction is far from easy, more especially when the reader stands outside and is perhaps not sympathetic. And if |149| the central point of view has never really been worked out, have we, after all, any right to say that in a proper sense it was there? It is, I think, for those who believe that Prof. James made a revolution in philosophy, to justify that belief by an explanation of his doctrine as to the ultimate nature of reality and truth. And if the mistakes, which I doubtless have here made, serve to contribute to this result, then, however great they are, I shall not regret them. If on the other hand I am told that I have no right to ask for metaphysical doctrine where none was ever offered, I shall content myself with a smile. If there is anything in philosophy of which I am fully assured, it is this, that to seek to discuss the nature of truth apart from a theory of ultimate reality ends and must end in futile self-deception. And I can hardly suppose that the answer suggested above would have satisfied Prof. James. But, however that may be, and even though I fear that they may have robbed us of something better, the later works of Prof. James will have profited philosophy. To have excited inquiry and to have stimulated interest in the highest problems of life, is to have succeeded where, I suppose, most philosophers have failed, and where it can always be doubted if any further success is possible. But Prof. James’s contribution to psychology will remain, I believe, indubitable.


1^ These pages appeared originally in Mind for July 1911. A few slight alterations have been made.

2^ The words quoted by Prof. James from myself (Meaning of Truth, p. 71) as applying to the ‘humanist’, were used by myself of Personal Idealism. See Mind, No. 51, p. 322; p. 90 of the present volume.

3^ Prof. James, in Pragmatism, p. 30, inveighs against the monstrousness of holding that, given certain hideous crimes, good on the whole is realized. He insists, that is, on taking the crime in its abstraction as absolutely real. And then he goes on (Hegel would have smiled) to denounce ‘abstractionism’. But, apart from that, on what ground could Prof. James have denied that a crime, however hideous, is no crime at all except for certain persons, while for other persons (for anything that he really knew) it might be a virtue? And what other aspect is there in his doctrine to save it from relativism in the extremest sense?

4^ Prof. James’s idea as to Absolutism, that it is a way of getting what you want without paying anything for it, is surely (to any one who knows) a striking revelation of the limits of his knowledge (cf. Chapter V, p. 133).

5^ I am of course prepared to give references throughout, but since I admit that I do not understand, I think it useless to trouble the reader with them. And I confine myself here to the teaching of the volume mentioned. I can now, in republishing these pages, refer the reader to what follows in this volume.

6^ In the second case, it may be said, there is a continuous process of fulfillment from the idea to the object, and this is truth. The doctrine here stated will be examined later, pp. 154-6. For the present I would reply that the judgement, ‘this tree is about to fall there,’ may be complete before the ‘object’ exists in fact.

7^ Cf. here, p. 129. I cannot venture to attribute to Prof. James the doctrine that the earthquake is a social event to which my idea leads by a human process.

8^ ‘A fact virtually preexists when every condition of its realization save one is already there’ (Meaning of Truth, p. 93). An explosion therefore has preexisted whether I have, or have not, gone on to apply the match or pull the trigger. But the real question surely is as to what in every such case it is which does actually exist and preexist. And here the reader is of course put off with mere phrases. And I ask myself whether this really is to be taken as a great advance in philosophy?

9^ The question of truth about the past has been discussed by Prof. Dewey in his interesting volume, Influence of Darwin, pp. 159 ff. The result to my mind is failure. If Prof. Dewey would remember that the person whom he calls the ‘intellectualist’ has been long ago refuted, and that the real question is as to the nature and truth of his own view, the issue, I think, would become clearer. But nothing, I am sure, can fully clear the issue except a definite statement by Prof. Dewey as to what he means by reality. Why we cannot have this I do not understand.

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Appendix III. to Chapter V.

On Professor James’s ‘Radical Empiricism’

Professor James identifies Reality and Experience, but what Experience? If actual experience then how as to past and future? The dilemma which arises is not met by Professor James (149-50). Then as to what is Experience are terms and conjunctive relations immediately experienced, as such, or are they abstractions? Professor James seems committed to both these views at once (151). A difficulty as to Change is not noticed by him (152). He probably preferred the view that immediate experience is non-relational, but is mistaken as to its history (152-3). It does not follow, if immediate experience is the beginning, that it is also the end, and is all reality (153). What according to Professor James is knowledge? View of knowledge which he had ready to hand. Why he could not accept this view (153-4). His own theory, what. Its inconsistency and failure (154-6). Professor James’s view of Reality. The whole fact of the ideal world is left outside his reality, or is included in it by something which will not bear scrutiny. And in any case he cannot meet the dilemma as to past and future experiences (156-8).

Having read once more Prof. James’s article, ‘A World of Pure Experience,’ as republished in the Essays on Radical Empiricism, I am tempted to add here some remarks on his ultimate metaphysical views. These remarks, though made by one who does not profess to understand, may perhaps be useful. For I am in agreement with so much of Prof. James’s premisses that my criticism, however wrong, can hardly be quite external.

With Prof. James (so much seems plain) there is no reality but experience, and that which falls outside of what is experienced is not real. But is experience the same as that which we should call actual experience, or are there regions of the possible and |150| ideal which also are real? Can an intellectual construction claim to be an experienced reality? Prof. James at first sight seems bound to reject any such suggestion, but to me his view is not clear. What (to go for the moment no further 1) are we to say of past and future experiences? Are these, or either of these, to be called actual facts? For Prof. James the series of events in time seems to be ultimately real and not a mere construction. If so, this series (it seems) is actually experienced, and, if so, I presume is experienced as present. But then we have to ask, ‘experienced by whom and when?’ The dilemma which confronts us is evident and is old. If the real temporal order exists only in a succession of actual experiences, then how is this succession and order itself experienced actually? If, on the other hand, the whole series is ever present now, then how can its past and future be, as such, ultimately real? 2

Did Prof. James hold, or suppose, that there is, or perhaps some day will be, an actual experience in which the whole time-sequence is given as the content of one immediate ‘now’, a present in which the succession of our lives and events is at once a passage and yet is all there? If possibly this was his thought, he never, so far as I know, faced the danger or the ruin with which it threatens the ultimate reality of time. For, if the whole temporal series is nothing but one aspect of the actual ‘now’, we are far on our way to deny that this aspect is, as such, ultimately real, or more than a relative appearance. But the reader will, I think, seek help here from Prof. James in vain, unless he can find it in what to me is some obvious conjuring with delusive terms such as ‘possible’ and ‘virtual’.

Leaving for the present this unsolved dilemma, I will notice next an ambiguity with regard to the nature of what is experienced. Have we terms and relations given as such, and therefore, as such, ultimately real? Or is what we actually |151| experience, on the contrary, a non-relational whole, a continuous flux, with relative emphases of its diversities, but with no actual relations or terms? Are terms and relations, in a word, abstractions and mere ideal constructions, or are they given realities? The above two views to myself are irreconcilable, and to myself Prof. James seems committed to both of them.

In arguing for Pluralism and against Monism he urges habitually that terms and mere conjunctive relations, are, as such, immediately experienced; and indeed any contention short of this would leave his arguments baseless. But while he identifies himself thus with the first view, the second view, that immediate experience is non-relational, seems essential to his doctrine. And yet how to combine these contrary views we are, I think, nowhere informed. 3

The doctrine of Pluralism and of external relations may of course be advocated otherwise. It may be offered as an inference, as a true construction from what is given, and as the one rational account of the world. But this is a different thing from a direct appeal to immediate experience, and a claim to find there terms and conjunctive relations as given facts. Still this is the claim and the appeal which, whenever it suits his purpose, seems made by Prof. James. 4

There is a point here which it is instructive to notice in passing. Not only is Prof. James concerned to advocate Pluralism and external relations as directly given, but he is concerned no less |152| to maintain the ultimate reality of change as an experienced fact. And, so far as I know, it did not occur to him that these two contentions are apparently in conflict. For, if in change something really is altered, and, if the alteration can consist merely in difference of position, and if in this difference the terms and the relations are neither of them altered — then either we have an alteration where nothing is changed, or else our premisses have been wrong. Something, if so (we shall have to allow), is concerned in the change, which something is more than and other than the elements admitted by Pluralism. If (to repeat) you hold to reality in the form of external terms and relations, you must deny the ultimate reality of change as actually given. If, on the other hand, you affirm this latter, you must insist that the experience of change is a non-relational totality. And, if so, terms and relations become, as such, abstractions, constructions, true perhaps or perhaps vicious, but assuredly in neither case things, as such, actually experienced. How it is possible to avoid this dilemma and simply to maintain both theses at once, I myself do not know, but apparently nothing less is required for the position taken by Prof. James.

The doctrine which Prof. James would, I think, have preferred is the view that given experience is non-relational, that it is an unbroken fluid totality containing in one ‘now’ an undivided lapse, and is in itself foreign to any terms or relations as such. This I also have taken to be the true account of the matter; and what I would notice here is the fact, that, while urging this view as a fatal objection ignored by Absolutism and Idealism, Prof. James might, like others, have himself learnt it at the very source where according to him it is most unknown. The doctrine in question, Prof. James stated very candidly, has been advocated by myself since 1883. 5 He seems even to give me the credit of having broken away here from the tradition of my school, and of having, conjointly with M. Bergson though at perhaps an earlier date, originated in modern times the true view ignored by and fatal to idealistic Monism. Now for myself (I am of course not concerned with M. Bergson’s attitude) I at once, in the same journal, disclaimed, and I now again emphatically disclaim any such originality. When it was that the view in question was first advocated in modern philosophy, I cannot, I regret to |153| say, inform the reader. But that I myself derived it from Hegel is perfectly certain. If I had ever been asked if it was Hegel’s teaching, I should have replied that so much at least was indubitable. And the feelings of the ‘idealist’, forced to hear it proclaimed aloud that this position not only is his ruin, but is also something of which he has lived totally unaware, may be left undescribed. The fact, I presume, is this, that Prof. James, like his public, failed to realize the wealth, the variety and the radical differences, which are to be found in that outburst of German philosophy which came after Kant.

What is the true issue between Prof. James and those who here follow Hegel? There is agreement on both sides that immediate experience is the beginning, and the vital question is whether this experience is also the end. Is immediate experience real in the sense that it is all there is which is real? To this question I will return, but I will first ask as to Prof. James’s view of knowledge. For knowledge itself is a fact.

We have had, so far, the reader will recall, reality taken as immediate experience. We saw indeed that the fatal dilemma as to past and future experience was left unmet. But, leaving this, we have to take reality as being a succession of immediate experiences, and, if so, where in such a world can ideas and knowledge fall?

It is better, I think, to begin by asking what, in dealing with this problem, Prof. James had supplied by others and ready to his hand. He had, in the first place, the identity of reality and experience. He had, next, the doctrine that ideas are what may be called ‘symbolical’. While on the one side they are psychical events, on the other side they are self-transcendent and refer to a reality other than themselves. This reality is, on one view, viewed as being, at least in some cases, beyond experience, but on another view, also lying before Prof. James, any such transcendence is denied. The actual experience, on this view, is transcended, but transcended only as immediate. The reality, referred to by the content of the idea, is the Universe itself, which Universe is immanent in the immediate experience, and always itself is actually experienced. A past event, for instance, is on one side present, while on the other side its content ideally qualifies Reality taken in the character of a temporal series |154| beyond the present — this same Reality being also actually present here and now in, and as, immediate experience.

Now why could Prof. James not adopt a conclusion worked out from premisses so near akin to those which he took up? The reason is that, if so, reality could hardly be no more than one immediate experience or a succession of such experiences; and this, on the other hand. Prof. James is bound to maintain. But, then, what according to Prof. James is to become of the fact of knowledge and truth, a fact apparently not included in mere immediate experience? His answer, however unsatisfactory, will, I think, up to a certain point be found to be instructive and interesting.

Since only particular events are real. Prof. James denies that an idea can be more, and can be self-transcendent (Radical Empiricism, p. 57). The psychical fact must know, without itself referring beyond itself. And what is it to know? The answer obviously is ‘other events’, for there is nothing else to know. And, in order for these events to be real, they (the logic is not mine) must be future. If now, following the same logic, we ask what knowledge is and where it falls, the answer is that knowledge is essentially a temporal process of facts. It falls in, and it is, the mere series of experienced events, beginning with the idea and ending with the object. 6

This conclusion at first sight seems no more than a paradox, but, as advocated by Prof. James, it became more or less plausible. But the plausibility is gained by two expedients, neither of which will bear the light. The first of these (i) is the covert reinstatement in the idea of that symbolical character, that very self-transcendence, which the doctrine denies. And (ii) the second means to making plausible the view that in knowledge the object is nothing but an experienced future event, is to bury the true issue under a cloud of misleading ambiguities.

(i) Suppose that I know that somewhere near there is a spring of water. Does my present knowledge consist in my actually |155| finding this water? Has it, in order to be knowledge now, got to wait for this future event? Such a contention seems obviously absurd, and it forthwith is covertly modified. With regard to the relation of similarity between the image and the object, I will say no more than that there arise at once well-known, and perhaps fatal, difficulties, nowhere, I believe, faced by Prof. James. What I wish to emphasize here is the point that, while the self-reference of the idea beyond itself is explicitly denied by Prof. James, he uses, and is forced to use, words which reaffirm it. The present idea of water, he says, leads to the finding. There is a continuous advance to the object, with an experience of developing progress, and therefore the object was meant (Radical Empiricism, pp. 57, 60, 62). But is it not, I ask, obvious that such language implies at the start, and before the finding, a self-transcendent idea of the water?

Let us suppose first, for the sake of argument, that the water happens to be found. The finding of course must be taken, not as one sensibly present experience, but as a series of such experiences. And at the start we have, according to Prof. James, nothing which refers beyond itself. But, if so, for ‘leading’ you are, I submit, bound to write ‘mere priority in succession’, and, as to any experience of progress developing to an end, so far as I see, it is excluded. If the starting-place really leads, it is because that place points, and, if it really points, then, at once and now, it refers beyond itself. From the very first it plainly is self-transcendent and qualifies an object beyond itself, and it needs no process of waiting for something else to happen to it in the future. Knowledge of what is now is not, we may say, what it is, just because something comes later to make the fact that it was.

It would be useless for me to labor a point which, as I understand it, is obvious. But take the experience of a pain decreasing gradually over a space of some minutes. Even this experience is, on Prof. James’s view, I should say, impossible. But, in any case, could we say here even plausibly that the beginning knows the end, and that the end, when it comes, makes the knowledge? Or think of a desire, say for water, which later is satisfied. Here we have, first, an idea qualifying an object beyond itself, which, according to Prof. James, is impossible. And next, when the end is fulfilled in fact — is it not monstrous to contend that our |156| desire now has been, and was, the knowledge of this fact’s existence?

(ii) But suppose that, in looking for the spring which I know to exist, I do not happen to find the water. How, again, if the object is, not merely no future event, but no particular event at all? What in all such cases (we ask) has become of that intermediate series of actual events in which alone knowledge can consist? Clearly the series is not there; and, if so, apparently in the whole of these cases there can be no such thing as knowledge. From this inevitable conclusion, and from the open bankruptcy which follows, Prof. James seeks to escape. But the means which he adopts are (so far as I see) merely the old inherited devices now long ago exposed. Attempts to conjure by the substitution at discretion of ‘virtual’ and ‘possible’ for ‘actual’, are neither profitable, nor, when once the trick is known, are they even interesting. And in the ingenious discussions, by which Prof. James seeks to recommend his view, I have failed really to find anything more than such attempts. Hence we must conclude that the greater part of our knowledge obviously falls outside of what Prof. James takes to be the essence of all knowledge, while even the residue can be included only by covertly importing that self-transcendent idea which we have been ordered to exclude. It would be difficult, I submit, for any account of the fact of knowledge to break down more completely.

Passing from this we come to the final question about the nature of reality. Reality, according to Prof. James, appears to be one stream of immediate experiences, and nothing beyond this is real. And Prof. James seems even to wonder how any one like myself can in the main agree with him at the start, and yet leave him in the end (Journal of Philosophy, January 1910). The explanation is, however, very simple. In the first place, if this stream is to be one, there is the doubt about its real unity. Is the whole of Reality, with its past and future, a single actual immediate experience, or not? We have seen above that in this dilemma Prof. James does not help us, and this one difficulty, to go no further, to my mind is enough.

But we are here only at the beginning. We have on our hands the whole intellectual sphere of terms and relations, the world of abstractions and ideal constructions, and the wide region of |157| mere possibilities and fancies and illusions. All this is fact of a kind, and no phrases can banish its existence. Now, is all this mass to be simply predicated of immediate experience? Obviously, in my judgement, this cannot be done, and yet, if I do not do this, there is at once something in reality beyond my reality. And, if you reply that I am not to predicate, but am to use an ‘and’ or ‘together’, with this surely there is an end. You have now admitted, beside and beyond immediate experience, another reality; and still to persist that immediate experience is all there is that is real, seems plainly perverse.

In one sense I agree that we never can break out and pass beyond feeling. Everything that is real must be felt (compare Chapter VI). But, on the other side, I urge that our felt content is developed in such a way that it goes beyond and conflicts with the form of feeling or mere immediacy. And it is in the character also of this ideal content that we must, I submit, seek to find the full nature of the Real. We must conclude to a higher Reality which at once transcends, and yet re-includes, the sphere of mere feeling.

The above result, if we start from the ground accepted by Prof. James, can, so far as I see, be avoided only in one way. The sole remedy is flatly and utterly to deny what I should call the entire fact of the ideal world. Urge that the reality at first is a mere flux diversified by sensible emphases, 7 and insist further that, beyond these emphases, there is at any stage absolutely nothing ideal, nothing even in appearance. Hold to this, and, whatever else you may be, you are so far consistent. 8 But, even so, against the dilemma of the flux itself, which you know to exist beyond the actual flux felt now — you have still to seek a further medicine, or else to admit that the disease is not curable. And to say that Prof. James would have seriously accepted even the first partial remedy, is more than I myself could affirm. I can imagine no task more interesting to, and more incumbent |158| on, the disciples of Prof, James, than to make an attempt in earnest to explain and to develop his doctrine of Radical Empiricism.

Judging so far as I can judge, I must doubt that claim, to take high rank as a metaphysician, which has been made not by, but on behalf of, Prof. James. I cannot find in his metaphysical views (as I understand them) much real originality, and what I miss, perhaps even more, in his metaphysics is the necessary gift of patient labor and persistent self-criticism. With all his merits as a philosopher, and assuredly they are great, I cannot think it is as a metaphysician that Prof. James’s name will hold its place in the history of thought.


1^ See pp. 148, 156 and Index, s.v. Time: {Time:
— and relations, 309.
— and truth, 336, 340. 406-7. Cf. Identity, Truth.
— fixed order of, 356-8.
— past and future, 146-8, 150, 153, 332. 354, 360 foll., 426.
— present, 150, 153, 303, 332, 356, 382, 386, 410, 416.
— reality of, 148, 150, 250.}.

2^ You do not, it seems to me, touch the above difficulty by making consciousness separable from experience. The dilemma, I should say, can be met only by denying, or else by subordinating, the fact of change and succession as it appears in immediate experience. The latter way (that of subordination) is the course which I myself adopt. But neither way, so far as I see, is open to Prof. James. He, apparently, has both (a) to identify the experienced present with all reality, and (b) to keep past and future experiences ultimately real in their character of events.

3^ In arguing against myself for the ultimate reality of external relations (Radical Empiricism, Essay III, or Pluralistic Universe, Appendix A), Prof. James assumed me to hold that terms are, as such, ultimately real, while relations are not so. He at that time apparently had no idea that the view to which he opposed himself was that both terms and relations are alike, as such, mere abstractions, and neither ultimately real, though of course for certain purposes we use these ideas as true. How could I reply to such an argument? And what can I say now when I read (Radical Empiricism, p. 52), ‘Throughout the history of philosophy the subject and its object have been treated as absolutely discontinuous entities’?

4^ The reader will not, I hope, take me to suggest that, in order to establish such Monism as I accept, no more is wanted than the rejection of Pluralism (I use this word of course in the proper sense). With the rejection of Pluralism I understand that forthwith Monism follows; but, as to the further character of this Monism, nothing follows forthwith. The One may, so far, be irrational and in a sense incoherent and even discordant. We are, so far, only at the beginning, and, to advance, must make use (as I have shown elsewhere) of a further argument.

5^ See The Journal of Philosophy, etc., for January 1910.

6^ I may remind the reader that the view, that explanation consists merely in showing intermediate sensible detail, is not new. See my Principles of Logic, pp. 490-1. How far in Prof. James’s mind his doctrine of knowledge was connected with, and due to, such a view as that held by Bain with regard to the practical character of all belief, I am unable to say.

7^ In Mind, for July 1887, I myself wrote, ‘In the beginning there is nothing beyond what is … felt simply. … There are in short no relations and no feelings, only feeling. It is all one blur with differences, that work and that are felt, but are not discriminated.’ But of course, following Hegel, I was always clear that this beginning is not the whole of our actual world, and cannot possibly be the end.

8^ As long, that is, as you succeed in maintaining that your own assertion also is no more than a mere sensible emphasis.

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Chapter VI. On Our Knowledge of Immediate Experience

Immediate Experience, the fact of. But how can I make it an object? (159-60). The answer in general given (161). Difficulty as to Attention. How, when I attend to a change, can I ever know that the change was not made by my attention? This problem is insoluble, unless you assume that apart from attention I can feel change, and that this feeling can be reproduced (161-6). Introspection, problem of (166). Introspection is not mere remembering, but is making an object of the actually felt. And the felt agreement or jar of the object with what is actually felt is here the main criterion (166-8). And the unity of the object and the merely felt explains how the former can be further enlarged from the latter (169). On the other side, if actual feeling cannot be used as a criterion of the object, no sufficient account can be given of the fact of Introspection, or further of the fact of knowledge in general (169-71).
  But how can immediate experience make an object of itself? Immediate experience in what sense unconscious or subconscious (171-3). Was and is experience or feeling ever merely immediate? (173-4). In any case immediate experience is no mere stage which can be passed. However much transcended, it remains as fundamental (174-8). (1) Immediate experience can serve as a criterion, because that which is felt about an object tefids itself to be objectified in the object. And the object itself now can be felt to correspond, or not, to immediate experience (178-81). (2) How can immediate experience know about itself? That it does so is obvious, but how? (181-2). (i) We can form the idea of an object which is the all-inclusive Reality (182-3). (ii) We can perceive in actual experience how incomplete objects change, and are increased and that the sources of the added element differ. And in some cases, by exclusion of other possible sources, we are led to derive the addition made to the object from what was previously only felt in me (183-8). Illustration from Volition (188-9). The recognition of immediate experience, or feeling, is all-important for metaphysics (189-91).

In this chapter, 1 I am to treat of a difficulty which arises in connexion with immediate experience. The scope of the discussion must however be limited. Problems will be raised on all sides with which here I shall be unable to deal. And even on the main point I must be satisfied, if I have shown how the question presses for an answer.

I have had occasion often 2 to urge the claims of immediate experience, and to insist that what we experience is not merely objects. The experienced will not all fall under the head of an object for a subject. If there were any such law, pain and pleasure would be obvious exceptions; but the facts, when we look at them, show us that such a law does not exist. In my general feeling at any moment there is more than the objects before me, and no perception of objects will exhaust the sense of a living emotion. And the same result is evident when I consider my will. I cannot reduce my experienced volition to a movement of objects, and I cannot accept the suggestion that of this my volition I have no direct knowledge at all. We in short have experience in which there is no distinction between my awareness and that of which it is aware. There is an immediate feeling, a knowing and being in one, with which knowledge begins; and, though this in a manner is transcended, it |160| nevertheless remains throughout as the present foundation of my known world. And if you remove this direct sense of my momentary contents and being, you bring down the whole of consciousness in one common wreck. For it is in the end ruin to divide experience into something on one side experienced as an object and on the other side something not experienced at all.

The recognition of the fact of immediate experience opens the one road, I submit, to the solution of ultimate problems. But, though opening the road, it does not of itself supply an answer to our questions. And on the other side in itself it gives rise to difficulties. With regard to these there are some points which I have dealt with elsewhere, and other points which perhaps I have failed wholly to see. There are again questions which have come before my mind, but have been passed over, or at most have been touched on by the way. It is one of the latter which in these pages I shall attempt to discuss. The problem was noticed by me years ago, and Prof. Stout in my opinion did well to insist on its urgency. 3 This difficulty may be stated by asking. How immediate experience itself can become an object. For, if it becomes an object, it, so far, we may say, is transcended, and there is a doubt as to how such transcendence is possible. On the one hand as to the fact of immediate experience being transcended we seem really certain. For we speak about it, and, if so, it has become for us an object. But we are thus led to the dilemma that, so far as I know of immediate experience, it does not exist, and that hence, whether it exists or not, I could in neither case know of it. And with such a result the existence of immediate experience becomes difficult to maintain, and the problem which has been raised calls urgently for treatment and solution.

The solution, if I may anticipate, is in general supplied |161| by considering this fact, that immediate experience, however much transcended, both remains and is active. It is not a stage which shows itself at the beginning and then disappears, but it remains at the bottom throughout as fundamental. And, further, remaining it contains within itself every development which in a sense transcends it. Nor does it merely contain all developments, but in its own way it acts to some extent as their judge. Its blind uneasiness, we may say, insists tacitly on visible satisfaction. We have on one hand a demand, explicit or otherwise, for an object which is complete. On the other hand the object which fails to include immediate experience in its content, is by the unrest of that experience condemned as defective. We are thus forced to the idea of an object containing the required element, and in this object we find at last theoretical satisfaction and rest.

This may be stated in general as the solution of our problem, and we might proceed forthwith to work out this solution in detail. I have however thought it better to begin by examining two difficulties well known to psychologists. My object in thus digressing is to show that our problem is not merely metaphysical, recondite and negligible, but that the principles applied in treating it cannot elsewhere be ignored. The reader can, however, if he pleases, omit this whole digression as irrelevant. Of the two difficulties just mentioned the first concerns Attention and the second Introspection.

I. With regard to the effects of attention there is a familiar puzzle. I am going here to take attention in the sense of noticing, without entering into any inquiry as to its nature. 4 We all, when our attention is directed to our extremities or to some internal organ, may become aware of sensations which previously we did not notice. And with |162| regard to these sensations there may be a doubt whether they were actually there before, or have on the other hand been made by our attending. And, though this question may seem simple, it really is difficult. Can we directly compare attention’s object with something to which we do not at all attend? To answer in the affirmative appears not easy. Can we then recall what we have not noticed, and, now attending to this, compare it with some other object? If reproduction necessarily depended on attention, any such process would seem impossible. But, since in any case this view of reproduction must be rejected as erroneous, we may reply confidently that the above comparison is a thing which actually happens. Still, asserting the possibility and the general principle, we have not removed all doubt as to the special fact. For how do I know in a given case that my present attending has not vitally transformed its result? Am I to postulate that in principle attention does not and cannot alter its object? Such an assumption, so far as I see, could hardly be justified. Certainly, apart from such an assumption, we may argue that any effect of attention requires time, and that hence, if the sensation appears as soon as we attend, the sensation must have preceded. And this inference is strengthened when we are able to pass thus repeatedly and with the same result from inattention to its opposite. Still at its strongest an argument of this kind seems far from conclusive. And in any case I cannot think that no more than this is the actual ground of our confidence when we refuse to believe that attention has made the thing that we feel. I agree that in some cases we recollect our state before attention supervened, though such a recollection in most cases, I should say, is absent. And again usually, and if you please always, we have the persisting after-sensation or after-feeling of our previous condition. But, all this being admitted, the question as to the actual ground of our confidence remains. In order to compare our previous state we |163| ex hyp. are forced now to attend to it, and there is a doubt whether we can assume generally that attention does not alter. We have therefore to ask whether we are in a maze with no legitimate exit, and whether such a result, if accepted, does not throw doubt on the whole subject of this chapter.

I will state briefly what I take to be the real way of escape, (a) We must first assume that anything remains the same except so far as I have reason to take it as altered. This assumption is everywhere necessary, and may be called fundamental. 5 (b) Next we must hold that apart from any attention we may be aware of a change in our condition. Without anything which could in any ordinary sense be called attending, we can experience a difference when a change takes place in our general or special felt state, (c) There is again an experienced change when attention (say to a feeling B) supervenes, and this particular experience is felt otherwise than as a mere change, say from A to B. Hence from the absence of this special feeling, as well as from the presence of the ordinary feeling of change to B, we infer that our sensation B does not depend on attention, but was previously there. We have, that is, on one side a mode of feeling when one sensation. A, merely changes to another sensation, B, while on the other side, when I attend to B, though that attention brings a change of feeling, it does not bring the same mode as goes with such a mere transition as from A to B. I therefore assume that the change made by my attending is not a change to B itself. And we may |164| perhaps add that when, while already attending to B, I go on to observe it more specially, I may still fail to gain any feeling of change either to or from B, though on the other hand I am of course aware of a change in myself. Now I am not suggesting that in the above we have a demonstrated conclusion, but it furnishes, I think, the ground for our view as to attention’s limits. Further this view, once suggested, justifies itself in working. And it leaves us with this main result that we have feelings, such as those of change from A to B, and that, though these feelings have not been attended to, they are both real and reproducible. In any case apart from this assumption there seems to be no way of exit from disastrous puzzles.

I will now fill out this general sketch with further detail, which the reader who does not require it may omit. I feel a change, and that something has happened, say, to my finger. On attending I find that it is bitten by an insect. Of the previous sensation I have possibly enough remaining or reproducible to enable me to know that before the change my finger felt much like the others, and to enable me to repeat the change in idea. 6 I now attend to my other fingers, but they do not, on this, become bitten. There has hence been, I can argue, a felt change of my finger and an ensuing attention, the latter being felt as a different change. And by attending to my other fingers I cannot get the same result. I have neither the recalled felt change nor the present effect. My attention always gives me a felt change, but it will not give me these other special feelings, which therefore, I infer, have come to me otherwise. My present attention is in my power, but there are certain things, I find, that will not follow from my present attention. And, generalizing this, I conclude that, prima facie and apart from special evidence, attention does not alter its object. On the |165| other side I tend to assume that, where the felt change from A to B cannot be recalled, there, so far and apart from other evidence, it was absent. We obviously in all the above have no demonstrative proof. For on the one side we cannot prove that attention did not under some unknown conditions in a given case produce the entire result. And on the other side we must admit that, where the felt change of sensation was weak, its existence may now be for us irrecoverable. In arguing therefore from present defect to past absence we may well be deceived. And hence there are many cases where we have to remain doubtful. But generally where, beside the change I feel in attending, there is another recalled felt change ending continuously in the object, I conclude that the attention did not make this. And this conclusion is strengthened by repetition under varying conditions. And it is confirmed by a mass of experience which becomes intelligible through the doctrine that, in general, attention does not make its object. On the other hand, where the above felt change cannot be verified directly or again on sufficient evidence be inferred, I may conclude, to speak in general, that it was absent, and that the attention has more or less produced its object. If, for instance, in my finger certain sensations follow and follow gradually whenever I attend, and, further, cease as I cease to attend, and if with this there is no other change recalled or to be inferred, I argue that attention is at least in part the cause. And this conclusion is strengthened and is generalized by experiences the same in principle which can be multiplied at pleasure. And once more, though not incontestable, the conclusion is found to serve. But my object here is not to enter into detail and in consequence to provoke discussion on points intricate and difficult and on which I have no special competence. What I am here concerned with is to urge merely one main result. This problem with regard to attention must prove insoluble except on a certain assumption, |166| the assumption of a felt change not noticed but effective and more or less reproducible.

II. We may pass now to a kindred difficulty attaching to what is called Introspection. Can I observe my own present state, and, if not that, what in the end can I observe? And, putting on one side all reference to attention, let us attempt to deal briefly with this puzzle. To say that my present state is not observed and that I depend wholly on memory, leads us (as in part we have already seen) into a position which is not tenable. Let us agree, rightly in my opinion, that I can reproduce that which at the time of its occurrence was not an object, yet where is the warrant that my reproduction is accurate? I can hardly postulate that here there are no errors, and how are the errors to be corrected? And on the other side, if I can thus remember my past state, it seems strange that I am unable to make it an object while present. The appeal to memory seems therefore in any case inadmissible; and further for myself I am unable to verify in introspection this constant presence of memory. To myself, when I try to observe exhaustively, say, some internal sensations, the idea that I am struggling to remember them seems even ridiculous. To myself I appear to be observing something which is, and, apart from certain unsound views, I have found no reason to discredit this appearance. What I feel, that surely I may still feel, though I also and at the same time make it into an object before me. And any view for which this is impossible begins, I think, by conflict with fact, and ends, I am sure, in inability to explain facts. That I cannot make an object of the whole of my felt self all at once, so much is certain in fact, and the principle seems clear. 7 But that I can observe nothing of what I now feel, seems the false inference of a perverse theory. |167| But with this we are left face to face with a difficulty like the former one. Introspection is the attempt to observe my actual contents, and thus to take them as qualifying a construction called my self. To do this without residue, we agreed, was impossible, but that limitation need not trouble us. The difficulty and the problem arise in connexion with the general mass that at any moment is felt but certainly is not throughout an object before me. Take an emotional whole such as despondency or anger or ennui. A part of this doubtless consists in that which, whether as sensation or idea, is before my mind. Any such object or objects we can observe, and, when we cannot keep them in view, we can postulate that they remain unaltered except so far as we have reason to suppose a change. 8 But in an emotional whole there are other felt elements which cannot be said to be before my mind. And now I desire both to bring these before me and to know that I have accomplished this task correctly.

With regard to the second of these points we must recall some results already reached. We have to assume that a change in feeling is felt, not in general merely, but as a change of this or that character. When my mood alters I feel, not a mere difference, but my mood to be different. And, on the other side, observation of my mood is felt as a difference but not as an alteration of my mood. We may take it in general to be the case that observation does not alter. 9 Thus, when for instance in despondency I observe my visceral sensations, these feelings are translated into objects, into perceptions and ideas, but none the less, though translated, the original feelings remain. Hence (and this is the point) the persisting |168| feelings can be felt to jar or to accord with the result of observation. For we have seen that generally in feeling we may experience the disagreement of elements. We have seen that a fresh fact, such as observation itself, must become an element contained in a new felt whole. And thus, when I pass psychically from despondency to despondency observed, I have not only a general sense of change to something new, but I feel more specially the presence or absence of novelty and an agreement or a jar with the object before me. When to my felt emotion, that is, its translation is added, I am aware of a harmony or discrepancy between that addition and what went before and still remains. 10 Apart from theory we should all agree that, when despondent or angry, a man can feel that a description of such states is right or wrong, though he may be unable to compare this description with another object. Again we should agree that, when not despondent, a man may assent to a description of despondency, because he feels himself, as we say, into it, or may dissent because he cannot do so — and this though in neither case he could assign a special ground. And what happens here, I presume, is that the description excites feelings which tend to fill themselves out to the content of the usual felt state. And between this content and the description offered there is then experienced, as above, the sense of agreement or jar. I have not forgotten that, in order to test the truth of a description, a man may appeal to the usages of language, or again possibly may recall some definite action or other |169| symptom, or set of symptoms, from the past of himself or another. But, apart from an appeal to present feeling, nothing of this kind, however important it may be, is sufficient by itself, I would submit, to account for the facts.

I will now in passing touch briefly on the question of means. By what means and how am I able in, say, despondency to make an object of that which I feel? I am not inquiring how we come to have an object at all, nor am I even asking as yet how feeling in general can come to be an object. The question is limited at present to the above case of an emotion, but it has a more general bearing which will show itself later. And the point of importance is this. In any emotion one part of that emotion consists already of objects, of perceptions and ideas before my mind. And, the whole emotion being one, the special group of feeling is united with these objects before my mind, united with them integrally and directly though not objectively. 11 And this, I think, supplies us with an answer to our question. For when the object-part of our emotion is enlarged by further perception or idea, the agreement or disagreement with what is felt is not merely general and suffused, but is located through the object in one special felt group. And this special connexion and continuity with the object explains, I think, how we are able further to transform what is observed by the addition of elements from what is felt. There are features in feeling (this is the point) which already in a sense belong to and are one with their object, since the emotion contains and unites both its aspects.

Finally, if we reject the idea that what is felt can serve to judge of what is before us, let us consider the position in which we are left. The attempt to fall back on memory, we have seen, resulted in failure, and what else remains to us? You may say, ‘The object satisfies me or not, and that is the |170| whole of it and the end of it.’ But assenting to this very largely, if not in the main, I cannot agree that no more is to be said as to the special satisfaction. The object, you may reply, in the end is found to be self-contradictory or harmonious; but once more here, while agreeing in principle, I cannot sit down content with such a mere generality. Why, when my mood is incompletely or wrongly described, does the object go on to jar with itself and to be found self-inconsistent? There is more at work here, we saw, than the associations of language, and there is more even than any redintegration, ideal or active, merely from the object by itself. For, with merely that, there is no accounting for the whole of the agreement or jar that I feel. You may appeal here to ‘dispositions’, and may argue that in one case my dispositions are satisfied and in the other case are restless. But if the disposition is not felt or in any way experienced, and to me is absolutely nothing but its effects, such an explanation once more seems insufficient. For in observing my mood I do not seem to be satisfied with the result, or to reject it, for no reason except that I find myself moved, I know not how, in this direction or the opposite. I seem on the contrary to myself to be engaged throughout and to be face to face with actual fact, and, wherever I dissent from or agree to an observed result, I seem to have a reason in this actual fact. And further I do not seem to have a mere general reason, but on the contrary something specific which I directly know and experience. The object before me is unstable and it moves so as to satisfy me; and in this point and so far we are perhaps all agreed. Where I go on to differ is that I insist that, in addition to other influences (whose working I admit), the object is moved also by that which is only felt. There are connexions of content now actually present in feeling, and these are able to jar with the object before me. And they are able further to correct that object by supplementation from themselves. |171| And this, I submit, is the one account of the matter which on all sides is satisfactory.

We have now considered the problem offered both by Introspection and by Attention, and we have been led in each case to the same main result. These puzzles are insoluble unless that which I feel, and which is not an object before me, is present and active. This felt element is used, and it must be used, in the constitution of that object which satisfies me, and apart from this influence and criterion there is no accounting for the actual fact of our knowledge. We must go on now to deal more directly with the main question of this chapter. We must ask how immediate experience is able to make a special object of itself. The principles which we have laid down and have hitherto applied will furnish us, I trust, with a satisfactory answer.

I must however, before proceeding further, try to explain what I mean by immediate experience. And I will begin by pointing out a possible sense of this term which I desire to exclude. The Unconscious or the Subconscious may stand merely for that which I do not notice or notice specially, and it may stand again merely for that which, though I am aware of it, is no object before me. But these words on the other hand may bear a more extreme meaning. The Unconscious may signify something which is more than anything which at any moment I actually feel or in any sense actually am aware of. The Unconscious, in this sense, is still psychical, and it is continuous with my psychical contents, but it is outside all that at any moment I experience as mine. The matter contained in these two compartments, of the Unconscious and Conscious, may itself be to any extent one and indivisible, and may itself thus constitute a single world. But across this matter a line of demarcation is drawn, and while on one side of this line I feel and am aware, on the other side I have no actual experience at all. |172| Across this opaque barrier may come to me influences or even messages, but the barrier can never be transparent. The influences or messages, to be anything for me, must take their place as elements in the region of my feeling and consciousness, and outside that region I do not experience them. They belong in a word to the Unconscious. On the other hand the barrier, though opaque, is shifting. It may from time to time be moved so as to include elements which before were outside it. And this inclusion does but embrace what before was somehow psychical, though not experienced as mine. In something like this sense the Unconscious, whatever its previous history, has been used very widely and in varying applications by German philosophy since the beginning of the last century. It attained popularity in the well-known work of von Hartmann (1869), and has lately threatened to invade our literature under the specious title of the Subliminal Self. 12

Against any interpretation here of immediate experience in the above sense I would desire specially to warn the reader. Outside that of which a man is aware there is, I agree, a larger world of experience. The content of this world, I again agree, is in a sense continuous with that |173| which directly fills his consciousness. But he cannot experience the former content immediately, and, were he to do so, then (as it seems to me) the man’s self would be destroyed. The position of the line dividing these two worlds no doubt may fluctuate. More and less of content may come from time to time within the man’s feeling center. But so long as that center exists, there is a world within it which is experienced immediately, and a world without it which is not in this sense experienced at all. To call this world the region of the Unconscious, if this merely means that the man cannot be directly aware of it, to myself would be misleading. But in any case this world is outside his immediate experience. Whether tracts of a man’s consciousness can under any conditions be wholly split off and so exist independently, I am unable to say. 13 If, however, this takes place, the principle remains unaffected, for we have forthwith two or more centers of immediate experience not directly connected. I use, in brief, immediate experience to stand for that which is comprised wholly within a single state of undivided awareness or feeling. As against anything ‘unconscious’, in the sense of falling outside, this is immediate as being my actual conscious experience. And further it is immediate as against those other special and mediated developments which throughout rest on it, and, while transcending, still remain within itself. I will now, dismissing all further reference to the Unconscious, attempt briefly to explain this difficult and most important sense of immediacy.

Questions at once arise on some of which we may first touch in passing, (a) Was there and is there in the development of the race and the individual a stage at which experience is merely immediate? And, further, do we all perhaps |174| at moments sink back to such a level? We all (at least usually) have in what we experience the distinction of subject and object, or at any rate (it may not mean the same thing) the awareness of an object as a not-self. If we like to take ‘consciousness’ as the state in which we experience a not-self, we may thus ask if there ever was or ever is an experience which is in this sense wholly subconscious. In such a state there would be feeling, but there would not be an object present as an ‘other’. And we should so far not be aware of any distinction between that which is felt and that which feels. For myself I think it probable that such a stage of mind not only, with all of us, comes first in fact, but that at times it recurs even in the life of the developed individual. But it is impossible for me to enter further on the matter here (see Mind, o.s., No. 47). What I would here insist on is the point that feeling, so understood, need not be devoid of internal diversity. Its content need not in (this sense be simple, and possibly never is simple. By feeling, in short, I understand, and, I believe, always have understood, an awareness which, though non-relational, may comprise simply in itself an indefinite amount of difference. There are no distinctions in the proper sense, and yet there is a many felt in one. We may thus verify even here what we may call, if we please, an undeveloped ideality. And, not only this, but such a whole admits in itself a conflict and struggle of elements, not of course experienced as struggle but as discomfort, unrest and uneasiness. We may, I think, go on to add that the whole in feeling can feel itself present in one part of its content in a sense in which it does not so feel itself in another part. And of course change in its contents will be felt, though not experienced properly as change. Nor do I see reason to doubt that the laws of Redintegration and also of Fusion (if we admit such a law) will hold in this field.

(b) I have thought it better to deal so far with the stage, |175| real or supposed, where experience is merely immediate. But, in order to avoid controversy, I shall in this chapter consider this no further. And for our present purpose we need not assume that such a stage of mere feeling is even possible. I shall here take experience to exist always at the level where there is the distinction of object and subject, and a theoretical and practical relation holding between them. 14 I do not mean of course that this relation itself always exists for consciousness in the form of a relation proper uniting and dividing two terms. On the contrary we have no such object, I must insist, except so far as we have reached self-consciousness; and to suppose that we are always self-conscious would to myself seem absurd. It is however impossible for me here to discuss these questions, on which I have entered elsewhere (Appearance. Cf. Mind, n.s., No. 46), and I must pass on to emphasize a further point which seems here all-important.

(c) Whether there is a stage where experience is merely immediate I have agreed to leave doubtful. Feeling is transcended always, if you please, in the sense, that we have always contents which are more than merely felt. But on the other side at no moment can feeling ever be transcended, if this means that we are to have contents which are not felt. In a sense, therefore, we never can at any time pass beyond immediate experience. The object not-self, and again the object and subject related before my mind, all this is more than mere feeling. But again the whole of it would be nothing for me unless it came to me as felt; and that any actual experience should fall somewhere outside of feeling seems impossible. At every moment my state, whatever else it is, is a whole of which I am immediately aware. It is an experienced non-relational unity of many in one. 15 |176| And object and subject and every possible relation and term, to be experienced at all, must fall within and depend vitally on such a felt unity.

At any moment my actual experience, however relational its contents, is in the end non-relational. No analysis into relations and terms can ever exhaust its nature or fail in the end to belie its essence. 16 What analysis leaves for ever outstanding is no mere residue, but is a vital condition of the analysis itself. Everything which is got out into the form of an object implies still the felt background against which the object comes, and, further, the whole experience of both feeling and object is a non-relational immediate felt unity. The entire relational consciousness, in short, is experienced as falling within a direct awareness. This direct awareness is itself non-relational. It escapes from all attempts to exhibit it by analysis as one or more elements in a relational scheme, or as that scheme itself, or as a relation or relations, or as the sum or collection of any of these abstractions. And immediate experience not only escapes, but it serves as the basis on which the analysis is made. Itself is the vital element within which every analysis still moves, while, and so far as, and however much, that analysis transcends immediacy.

Everything therefore, no matter how objective and how relational, is experienced only in feeling, and, so far as it is experienced, still depends upon feeling. On the other side the objective and the relational transcend the state of mere feeling and in a sense are opposed to it. But we must beware here of an error. We cannot speak of a relation, between immediate experience and that which transcends it except by a license. It is a mode of expression found convenient in our reflective thinking, but it is in the end not defensible. A relation exists only between terms, and those terms, to be known as such, must be objects. And hence immediate |177| experience, taken as the term of a relation, becomes so far a partial object and ceases so far to keep its nature as a felt totality.

The relation (so to express ourselves) of immediate experience to its felt contents, and specially here to those contents which transcend it, must be taken simply as a fact. It can neither be explained nor even (to speak properly) described, since description necessarily means translation into objective terms and relations. We possess on the one side a fact directly felt and experienced. On the other side we attempt a description imperfect and half-negative. And our attempt is justified so far as the description seems true, so far, that is, as though inadequate, it does not positively jar, and again is felt positively to agree with our felt experience.

(d) There are several points which I cannot discuss here, but may notice in passing. (Cf. Appearance, chapters ix and x.) The felt background, against which the object comes, remains always immediate. But, on the other hand, its content may to some extent show mediation. Parts of this content may have at some time been elements included in the object, and may have been internally distinguished into relations and terms. However, none the less now, this relational content forms part of the felt background. Again in the object not-self, on the other side, we may find tracts the contents of which have never been analyzed. They are, so to speak, nebulae in which the non-relational form still persists internally, and in which the complexity does not go beyond simple sensuous coinherence. And, as we saw in the case of an emotion, the matter contained in these nebulae, and in the not-self generally, is continuous as to its content with that matter which remains merely felt. It is impossible, however, here to enlarge on these questions. And I cannot ask here how far the not-self both in its origin and its essence is |178| distinctively practical. Nor can I point out how far and in what sense we have special not-selves depending on various relations, permanent and transitory, to special selves. I must hasten onwards to attempt to deal directly with the main problem of the present chapter.

I will, however, before proceeding, venture to repeat and to insist upon this main conclusion. Immediate experience is not a stage, which may or may not at some time have been there and has now ceased to exist. It is not in any case removed by the presence of a not-self and of a relational consciousness. All that is thus removed is at most, we may say, the mereness of immediacy. Every distinction and relation still rests on an immediate background of which we are aware, and every distinction and relation (so far as experienced) is also felt, and felt in a sense to belong to an immediate totality. Thus in all experience we still have feeling which is not an object, and at all our moments the entirety of what comes to us, however much distinguished and relational, is felt as comprised within a unity which itself is not relational.

We may now approach the two main questions of this chapter, (i) How can immediate experience ever serve as a criterion? and (ii) How can immediate experience itself become an object and a not-self, since ex hyp. it essentially is no object? The first of these questions, after what has gone before, may be dealt with briefly.

(1) I am not discussing here the general problem of the ultimate criterion. We may perhaps agree that the criterion consists in that which satisfies our wants, and is to be found where we have felt uneasiness and its positive opposite. That in which I feel myself affirmed, and which contents me, will be the general head under which falls reality, together with truth, goodness, and beauty. But I cannot enter further on this here, or inquire as to the special |179| characters of these diverse satisfactions. 17 What on the other hand I wish here to emphasize is the point that I do not take immediate experience as being in general the criterion. I do not say that in agreement merely with the content of this we are to find in all cases our answer to the question of truth and reality. The inquiry as to why an object contents or does not content me, how it satisfies or does not satisfy a demand of my nature, cannot in all cases be met by an appeal to the actual content of my feeling. Hence the problem before us is limited to a special issue. How, we must ask, in the cases where my immediate experience does serve as a criterion of truth and fact, is it able to perform such an office?

We have already in the main anticipated the answer. I can feel uneasiness, we found, both general and special apart from any object or at least without regard to any object in particular. Again I can have a sense of uneasiness or its opposite in regard to a particular object before me. I do not, so far, make an object of my uneasiness and hold it before me in one with the object; but so far, without actually doing anything of this kind, I feel the jarring or unison specially together and in one with the object. And we have now to ask how this disagreement can become a contradiction before me in the object, so that I am not merely dissatisfied with that but can go on to reject it as unreal.

What is required is that the object should itself become qualified by the same content which was merely felt within me. As soon as this qualification has appeared, I have actually before me in the object that which previously was felt within me to be harmonious or to jar in regard to the |180| object. The feeling (to speak roughly) remains what it was, but it no longer is merely grouped round and centered in the object. The feeling itself is also before me in the object-world, and the object now confronts me as being itself satisfactory or discordant. My description, e.g., is seen to come short, or to be otherwise conflicting, when compared with the corrected idea of my actual emotion.

I will now notice briefly the various ways in which the object can gain its fresh qualification. The object naturally is unstable and in constant change. Apart from what we may call external alteration, there are reactions from the subject. Even where these are non-acquired, they often tend to make the requisite change in the object. And then, as we have seen before, there is redintegration from the object both physical and psychical This redintegration again is all-pervasive, and holds good beyond the object-world and within the region of mere feeling. Hence the object, having been continuous with what is felt in me, both generally and in special groups, becomes an ideal center and bond. It has a tendency both to restore and to qualify itself by associated content whether foregone or present. And further, as soon as this qualification from whatever cause has taken place, the identity of the content before me and within me is felt. Thus I am no longer merely satisfied or in unrest with regard to the object, but the object contains for me and itself is that which I feel must be accepted or rejected.

We are attempting here to deal briefly with a difficult point which tends on all sides to lose itself in complications. I am endeavouring, therefore, so far as I can, to narrow and simplify the issue. We may feel satisfied or otherwise when we have contents felt to be harmonious or jarring, and further a perceived object may also in feeling be an element and an important element in a special felt group. Then, when the object (as may happen from various causes) itself acquires the content which before in feeling gave satisfaction or |181| unrest, I become aware of the perceived object as that which in itself gives satisfaction or discord. And according to the nature of the dissatisfaction and of that which is done to remove it from the object, our general criterion acts in various specific ways. But all that concerns us here is the case where the particular content, which lies in my feeling, is used in order to judge of an object before me.

We may recur to our former instance of an emotional state. If I shrink from or am attracted by some person, and do not know how this happens, I may endeavor accurately to realize the detail of my feelings, and perhaps to discover the real nature of the conduct which the object suggests. We have here an object, perceived and thought of, and on the other side we have dim uneasy feelings in myself which are not objective and before me. Let, however, the object from any cause — an instinctive action, a chance sensation or an oscillation of emphasis — develop its content in a certain direction, and the situation may at once be changed. That which formerly was but felt in regard to the object has become now, also and as well, a quality of the object. And it may satisfy us because it is that qualification which answers to what we felt and still feel. I know now what my feelings actually were, and whether and how far they were that for which I took them. And I understand now how the person himself has perhaps a character which suggests this or that behavior towards him. In either case an object has been judged of in accordance with and from the content of immediate experience, and that experience has acted as a criterion of the object.

(2) From this hurried treatment of a difficult problem I pass on to deal at last directly with the special subject of this chapter. We must ask how immediate experience is able to know itself and to become for us an object. That such knowledge exists in fact seems to me incontestable. |182| Immediate experience certainly cannot make an object of itself throughout and in all its individual detail. And such a result not only fails in fact to be achieved but is impossible essentially. We can, however, set our immediate experience before us not only in partial detail but in its main general character. We can know about it as a positive experience, an awareness of many in one which yet is not relational; and I must attempt to point out the steps by which such a conclusion may be reached. But I am not here offering any genetic account of the matter. That inquiry, however important, may here fortunately be ignored. The idea of immediate experience, once suggested, is, like other ideas, verified by its working. And all that I am concerned with here is to show that the origin of the suggestion is itself not in principle inexplicable.

(i) We can in the first place have before us as an object the idea of a complete reality. Our actual object, as we saw, is unstable, and its advance (so far as it advances) in a certain main direction tends generally to remove uneasiness and to bring satisfaction. 18 Hence we can form (I need not ask how) the idea of an object with all uneasiness removed entirely, an object which utterly satisfies. But this means an object with nothing that is really outside it in the form of an ‘elsewhere’ or a ‘not-yet’. The ‘elsewhere’ or the ‘not-yet’ that falls really outside the object, precludes (this seems obvious) entire satisfaction. We hence are led to think of an object without any external ‘elsewhere’ or ‘not-yet’, an object which in some sense contains within itself, and already is qualified by, every real possibility. We form in other words the idea of an all-inclusive Reality. And this idea, being set before us, may so far satisfy us as true and real. The Reality with anything outside of it will now not merely be felt as defective, but will in addition be discrepant with |183| its own idea. And anything now that is suggested or that can be suggested, if it fails to be there in our actual object, must be made somehow of the actual object, if at least that object is to be complete. 19

(ii) I have thus the idea of an object which is complete and all-inclusive, while on the other hand the object actually before me is incomplete. But this perceived object is changed and, let us here say, is changed by addition. And, with this, the source of the added elements goes on to become for me a problem, (a) These elements, I proceed to judge, come to me in part from the unknown not-self. This is an inevitable inference, the nature and validity of which it is perhaps not necessary here to discuss. We have hence, in this unknown province, a reality which has the form of an object not-self, but which on the other side is not present actually before me in perception. And this reality must be set down as included within my complete object. (b) Again within that object which I actually perceive there are contained (as we saw) tracts more or less undistinguished internally. These tracts are nebulae the contents of which have on the one hand manifoldness, but on the other hand are more or less without the relational form. They have within them adjectives which sensuously inhere and cohere, though these adjectives have not yet been ordered. But, as our knowledge increases, these sensuous wholes go on more or less to be broken up and |184| discriminated. And the object, which of course is continuous throughout, appropriates the result of this process. Hence the object now possesses to some extent actually all its contents in a discriminated form, and for the rest it can assume (rightly or wrongly) that the same result, though not actual, is possible. The object will now include for us both its distinguished and undistinguished contents, the latter taken as distinguished ideally though not in actual detail. How far and in what precise sense it is proper to attribute reality to these unmade distinctions, we are not concerned here to inquire. It is enough for us that the idea of the complete object now includes within itself an objective ‘not-yet’ external to its actual detail, and again an objective ‘not-yet’ lying undistinguished within the fact which is given. And, having concluded so much, the self so far is satisfied with the idea before it, and it feels that this idea is somehow true and real.

Now in the above two cases (we must go on to observe) there is a difference, a difference which is felt. When an addition is made to our object from the outside we feel this addition as new. I do not mean that in this respect it does not matter how the alteration of the object is made, and that, however the addition comes, we have precisely the same feeling. I admit the diversity, but I must insist that, in spite of this diversity, we have, when the object is added to from outside itself, a specific feeling of newness, and that this feeling differs from that which comes when the object develops itself from within itself. In the latter case (the case of what we called nebulae) the content was actually there though it was not yet distinguished, and the content was already felt as being there; while in the former case (the case of addition from without) the content was not felt at all. The added features in both cases are felt as new, but in the one case these features arrive from a world which is unfelt, while in the other case the features already were |185| somehow present in my actual awareness. And the difference between the two arrivals shows itself in each case in a different feeling. The reader who finds a difficulty here should recall the results we have accepted as true. In the first place everything, the object included, is actually felt, and, in the second place, a change in feeling itself also is felt. All that we have added here is the conclusion, that in the two cases distinguished above there is in each case a specific felt difference. 20

(c) But beyond these two cases we have also a third. An addition may be made to our object, but neither from the unknown not-self without it nor from the undistinguished tracts within itself. We saw that, when a felt emotion is described, a man may feel that the description agrees or does not agree with an actual fact of which he is aware. And yet we found that this experienced fact, by which the description is measured, has contents not objectively before the man even in an undistinguished form. The object in its wavering, and in its movement to complete itself through redintegration and otherwise, changes in directions which cause on one side satisfaction and on the other side uneasiness. And it is, largely or mainly, because these suggestions are felt to be in unison or discord with something already felt as present, that they are accepted or rejected. In something of the same way (we need not trouble ourselves here with the difference) the beautiful reality may seem to give you what you wanted, though what you wanted you did not know, or may seem to say for you what you always meant and could never express. This experience may doubtless in part be illusory. The want in part may not actually have been there before it was merged in satisfaction, and the meaning may in part never have gone before its expression. But upon the other side the experience certainly conveys |186| to us things that were not perceived but were actually felt within us. Again earlier in this chapter we saw how in psychological introspection my self is put before me as an object, an object to be completed ideally. And its content, we went on to perceive, is filled up in part out of elements which I merely feel, and which in no sense are before me in the shape of an object. And we may once more remind ourselves in general how the object is continuous in substance with the content that merely is present in feeling, and hence tends persistently to complete itself by that content.

But, the fact being as above, how is the self ever to become aware of this fact or even to suspect its existence? How is the merely felt to become in that character an object? In the main, I think, this question has by now been answered. When my object is increased and the addition comes from that which was and is felt, there is, in such a case, first, a positive sense of expansion and of accord. And there is, next, an absence of the feeling of complete otherness and newness. We have not here quite the same experience as when the object is increased from the undistinguished not-self, but we have an experience more or less similar. This felt absence of disturbance, and this positive sense of something the same although new, prevent my attributing the change to that actual object-world which extends beyond my object. Can I then take the change as arising from the undistinguished tracts present within my actual object? Once more here, we find, the path is closed. For the feeling here, though similar, is not the same as that of which in the present case I am aware. Again, however much I develop the object in idea, I seem always to be left with a sense of defect. Further in some cases (through a persisting after-perception or otherwise) I can reproduce the special object as it was experienced before the addition. And here I find that the new feature does not in fact fall even within the undiscriminated parts of that object. |187|

To repeat, my object, felt to be unsatisfactory, is changed and now is qualified by an addition. This addition gives a positive sense of agreement and unison. It is without the sensation of disturbance, and it gives the feeling of identity with what went before. On the other side this feeling differs from that which I experience when the object is developed from its own undistinguished tracts. And in recalling the change of the object, where this is possible, there is, in passing between the earlier and the later object, a feeling of difference. And this difference remains even when I attend to those contents of the object which are not discriminated. For the above reason I cannot set down the change as due to the object even so far as that is undistinguished.

Generally then my object is added to, and the new matter cannot be taken as without a source. But in the first place the matter is not felt as wholly new but as something already there and mine. And, in the second place, what is new cannot come from the object-world. It goes beyond my actual object, and yet I cannot attribute it to the non-perceived object-world, or again to any non-relational nebula contained within my object. The origin of my experience therefore is non-objective and it is also non-relational; but, on the other side, positively, it comes to me as something which already was present to me. The idea, therefore, is suggested of an experience neither objective nor relational but, in a word, immediate. And this idea, being suggested (no matter how it is suggested), satisfies me so far, and is accepted as true and real. The process outlined above may, if you please, contain logical flaws. Whether that is or is not the case, I am not concerned to discuss. And the true history and the real genetic origin of the idea reached, you may contend, has escaped me. That would be an objection which once more I am not called on to answer. I claim to have shown how the idea of immediate experience can be brought before the mind, however otherwise normally it |188| may be brought there. But the idea, once suggested, is verified by its working, and its acceptance does not logically depend upon the manner of its discovery.

The whole process which I have sketched may be briefly resumed thus. Our actual object fails to satisfy us, and we get the idea that it is incomplete and that a complete object would satisfy. We attempt to complete our object by relational addition from without and by relational distinction from within. And the result in each case is failure and a sense of defect. We feel that any result gained thus, no matter how all-inclusive so far, would yet be less than what we actually experience. Then we try the idea of a positive non-distinguished non-relational whole, which contains more than the object and in the end contains all that we experience. And that idea, as I have endeavored in these pages to show, seems to meet our demand. It is not free from difficulty, but it appears to be the one ground on which satisfaction is possible.

The reader who accepts such an account of volition as I, for instance, have offered elsewhere, 21 may perhaps find our main result more evident when viewed from the practical side. Will, according to such an account, is on one hand the self-realization of an idea, but on the other hand it cannot be resolved into any complex of elements existing before the mind. We have in volition a positive experience, which is more than any sensation or idea or any mere set of sensations and ideas with their relations and movements. If you take my state of mind before the volition, followed by the actual satisfaction with its awareness of agency, and if you attempt to confine all this within the limits of what takes place before me in the objective field, the result is failure. You perceive forthwith that in your analysis there is something left out, and that this something is a content |189| which is experienced positively. The felt outgoing of myself and from myself has in short been ignored. And hence comes a consciousness of defect in the object as described, and a desire for its completion. On the other side, since the whole experience is integrally one, the objective side naturally tends to complete itself ideally and to fill itself out from what merely is felt. And the suggestion of a defect thus remedied, when once it has been made, is found so far to satisfy. But I would remind the reader that, neither here nor in what precedes, am I offering a true genetic account of the matter. 22

In some such manner it, however, seems possible to reach the idea of immediate experience. That experience we have seen is a positive non-relational non-objective whole of feeling. Within my immediate experience falls everything of which in any sense I am aware, so far at least as I am aware of it. But on the other side it contains distinctions which transcend its immediacy. This my world, of feeling and felt in one, is not to be called ‘subjective’, nor is it to be identified with my self. That would be a mistake at once fundamental and disastrous. Nor is immediate experience to be taken as simply one with any ‘subliminal’ world or any universe of the Unconscious. However continuous it may be with a larger world, my immediate experience falls, as such, strictly within the limits of my finite center. But again to conclude from this that what falls within these limits is merely myself, would be an error entailing in the end theoretical ruin. The above idea of immediate experience is not intelligible, I would add, in the sense of being explicable; but it is necessary, I would insist, both for psychology and for metaphysics.

|190| Its larger application would go far beyond the scope of these pages. Nothing in the end is real but what is felt, and for me nothing in the end is real but that which I feel. To take reality as a relational scheme, no matter whether the relations are ‘external’ or ‘internal’, seems therefore impossible and perhaps even ridiculous. It would cease to be so only if the immediacy of feeling could be shown to be merely relational. On the other side relations in fact do exist and immediacy in fact is transcended. 23 And, just as we cannot explain the possibility of finite centers of feeling, so we cannot explain how this transcendence of feeling is possible. But the fact remains that feeling, while it remains as a constant basis, nevertheless contains a world which in a sense goes beyond itself. And when we seek for a unity which holds together these two aspects of our world, we seem to find given to us nothing but this unity of feeling which itself is transcended. Hence, as I have urged elsewhere, we are driven to postulate a higher form of unity, a form which combines the two aspects neither of which can be excluded. That such a form is given to us directly in any experience I have never pretended. 24 On the other hand against its possibility I have nowhere found a conclusive objection. And because this satisfies our demands, and because nothing but this satisfies them, I therefore conclude that such an idea, so far as it goes, is final and absolute truth. But, however that may be, I trust that the humbler |191| contentions of this chapter may in their way be useful. I have felt throughout that everything here which I have been able to say, could and should have been somehow put more simply. But if, while so far agreeing with me, the reader is nevertheless led to reflect further on this difficult theme, my main end will have been accomplished. The problem which has occupied us, however sterile and baffling it may appear, threatens, if left unresolved, to bring danger or even theoretical destruction.


1^ First published in Mind, January 1909.

2^ See, for instance, Mind, N.S., Nos. 6 and 33. The reader is also referred to Appearance, to search under Feeling. The article in Mind, No. 6, is now reprinted as an Appendix to this chapter. Cf. Chapter V, pp. 152, 157.

3^ In the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1902-3. I had called attention to the problem and the general mode of its solution in Appearance, p. 93, footnote.

4^ On this I have written elsewhere, Mind, n.s., No. 41, and o.s., No. 43.

5^ I do not mean by this that it is ultimate and self-evident (compare Appearance, pp. 601-2), for, if a thing remains, there must ex hyp. be some change about it. We therefore have to abstract from this change. We find a certain connexion of content in the thing, or between the thing and its context, and we take this connexion as true, and as hence not to be made false by any mere circumstance. Such a truth, like all truth, is an abstraction, and a doubt may be raised as to its ultimate legitimacy. But this is the principle which underlies and justifies our practical assumption and procedure whenever we assume that something remains the same amid change.

6^ There is, we must remember, an identical basis of feeling in all my fingers.

7^ The principle involved is this, that, in order to have an object at all, you must have a felt self before which the object comes.

8^ This is a mere application of the general postulate which we noticed before. It is unnecessary to discuss here our various special grounds for supposing the presence or absence of change.

9^ On the other side it is true that observation of my feelings may, according to the conditions, go on to increase or to suppress them. But I think that this point may be ignored here.

10^ I am in a certain felt state which I go on to observe. The description which results from the observation is an object added to my former felt state, and is now itself an element in a new felt state. This object gives me (a) a feeling of change, but (b) not a change of my special felt mood, say, anger. The description further, if correct, brings (c) a sense of harmonious addition without change, and if incorrect, (d) a feeling of incongruity. If the incongruity is positive (a), I feel a jarring new element. If it is negative (β), there is still a sense of discord, since defect has a positive quality. And there is, in this latter case especially, an instability in the object induced by ideal supplementation. This instability is largely the work of that which is merely felt.

11^ Again even on the object-side of the emotion there will of course be a greater or less extent of non-analyzed content.

12^ Any one who can suppose that Mr. Myers’s Subliminal Self was any discovery of his own, must, I think, either be ill informed or else unable to recognize the identity of ideas where the language is modified and the ultimate intention not the same. The term ‘Subliminal’ is, I presume, the translation of a Herbartian phrase which has long been current, and with regard to the matter of Mr. Myers’s book, while his industry and literary power are both unquestionable and admirable, it would be difficult, I imagine, to produce from it a single new idea. His capacity for philosophical thought can, I think, be easily estimated. Mr. Myers by his own showing was acquainted with von Hartmann’s work. And yet he failed to perceive that, with regard to my subliminal self, the vital question is whether it is really my self at all, and, if so, then how far. He could not see that the problem which most pressed on him was not as to the existence of my self after death, but as to the existence and reality of my self at any time and at all. The conclusion to which I at least am forced is that in Mr. Myers’s work there is a collection of everything and anything which seemed to him usable prima facie as evidence for his foregone result, and that of inquiry in any other sense there is as good as nothing.

13^ The part split off may still be united in feeling with the rest (see Prof. James, Psychology), and, if so, is not split off wholly. But I do not suggest that an absolute division is impossible.

14^ We may, as was noticed above, speak of this stage as ‘consciousness’ in contrast with mere feeling.

15^ I need not ask here if it is possible for my experience to consist of one single feeling.

16^ Cf. Chapter X.

17^ I assume here that goodness is not to be used for the general term which is equivalent to satisfaction in general. But whether goodness is to be used in a wider or a narrower sense, is to myself a question merely of nomenclature.

18^ I am not saying that every satisfactory addition to the object is preceded by uneasiness and fulfills a felt need or want. That in my opinion would be going at least beyond the facts.

19^ The reader will bear in mind that I am not asking here if the above idea is true. That is a question which here may be ignored. There are two points which I may notice in passing, (a) It may possibly be suggested that, instead of taking everything as of the object, I may take it as merely together with the object, and that this exception is fatal. But in this case I reply that the ‘together’ has now itself become the object an object in my judgement most unsatisfactory but still answering the purpose of the text. (b) Again it may be said with regard to the ‘not-yet’ that, given a recurrence of a certain character, the ‘not-yet’ may be harmless. To this I answer that in such a case the ‘not-yet’ qualifies this character which recurs, and in some sense is included within this character, and that taken as really external it still means incompleteness. But, obviously, innumerable difficulties attaching to what is said in the text may occur to the reader, and must here be passed by.

20^ I am of course not supposing that the consciousness which we are considering, knows at the present stage about these feelings all that we from the outside and at a later stage perceive.

21^ Mind, n.s., Nos. 44, 46, 49. Cf. Nos. 40, 41, 43.

22^ The genesis of the idea, I should agree, in the main may be called practical. I should presume it to arise when the self is identified with the body, and when we become aware of something experienced within the body which is not the body nor yet things within it or outside it. To set down this experience as being further, like pleasure and pain, non-relational, is of course a step taken only by a later reflection.

23^ We never in one sense do, or can, go beyond immediate experience. Apart from the immediacy of ‘this’ and ‘now’ we never have, or can have, reality. The real, to be real, must be felt. This is one side of the matter. But on the other side the felt content takes on a form which more and more goes beyond the essential character of feeling, i.e. direct and nonrelational qualification. Distinction and separation into sustantives and adjectives, terms and relations, alienate the content of immediate experience from the form of immediacy which still on its side persists. In other words the ideality, present from the first, is developed, and to follow this ideality is our way to the true Reality which is there in feeling.

24^ Given, that is, adequately and as required. I am not forgetting the claim of, e.g., our aesthetic experience.

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Appendix to Chapter VI.

Consciousness and Experience 1

Consciousness is not co-extensive with experience (192). Consciousness is inconsistent with itself (192-4). And it is based on Feeling (194). Feeling is not a stage of mind which passes, but it remains throughout as a necessary foundation and background. Importance of this doctrine, and necessity of recognizing and discussing it (194-8).

The idea of writing a few remarks on this head was suggested to me by Mr. Ward’s article on Modern Psychology. These remarks are not intended as a contribution to the subject, and certainly not as a hostile criticism. We must all feel grateful to Mr. Ward for his interesting discussion, and for myself I feel sympathy with its general drift. And, as Mr. Ward has not yet worked out his positive view as to the Subject, it would be absurd in me to offer to criticize that view beforehand. But what has struck me is that in the discussion assumptions are used which, if true, are very far from appearing self-evident. And, though in his own mind doubtless Mr. Ward is prepared with a defence of them, I do not find that he has done anything to prepare the reader. Hence I thought it might be well to call attention to some points which seem ignored, but which to my mind appear to be fundamental.

The main assumption seems to be the identification of experience with consciousness. Now, if by consciousness we understand the being of an object for a subject, this assumption, I should say, is at least disputable. To my mind consciousness is not coextensive with experience. It is not original, nor at any stage is it ever all-inclusive, and it is inconsistent with itself in such a way as to point to something higher.

(1) On the inconsistency of consciousness I can partly refer to Mr. Ward, but I must also state the case briefly in my own way. We have an object, a something given, and it is given to the subject. Is the subject given? No, for, if so, it would itself be an object. We seem, then, to have one term and a relation without a second term. But can there be a relation with one |193| term? No; this appears to be self-contradictory, and, if we assert it, we must justify and defend our paradox. But, again, can a term be known only as a term of a relation or relations, while it is not, in any aspect, known otherwise? No, once more; this is impossible, and in the end unmeaning. Terms are never constituted entirely by a relation or relations. There is a quality always which is more than the relation, though it may not be independent of it. We may, of course, for certain purposes abstract and use working fictions, as we do, for instance, in the case of atoms and ether. But, outside natural science, it is a serious error to mistake these useful fictions for realities. And anything like a point without a quality in the end seems to be unreal, and ‘constitution by relations’ a misleading phrase. But, once more, can we have a relation, one term of which is contained in the experienced and the other not? No; for a term, which is not in some sense experienced, seems nothing at all. If in itself it falls outside the experienced, then it appears to be unmeaning, and it cannot therefore consistently be said to exist. Or at least we must continue to hold this, until our difficulties are met. And they are not met by the mere repetition of those everyday distinctions which we have been forced to set down as barely relative.

And now, leaving the terms, consider the relation. Is there, in the end, such a thing as a relation which is merely between terms? Or, on the other hand, does not a relation imply an underlying unity and an inclusive whole? And then, once again, must not this whole be experienced or be nothing? Here are points surely which at least require some discussion. But consciousness must lead to self-consciousness, where possibly these difficulties are lessened. If the object is given to me, then I also must be given, and on reflection I so find myself. I find myself given not in the abstract but as concrete experienced matter. Both terms are now objects, experienced with their relation, and the question is whether the difficulties are now less. We must reply in the negative. The correlated terms are for a subject which itself is not given. The correlation falls in the experience of this new subject, which itself remains outside that object. And of the relation to this new subject the old puzzles are true. This relation must have two terms, terms more than their relation; and the ‘more’ again must be experienced, or else be nothing. |194| Any attempt to pass from within the experienced to that which in itself is not experienced, seems quite suicidal. The distinction between the experienced and experience seems in the end totally inadmissible. And the infinite regress is but an actual unremoved contradiction. It is itself an absolute irrational limit.

(2) The form of consciousness thus seems in hopeless contradiction with itself. But is it necessary to identify experience and consciousness? Here is a question which seems worth some consideration. Now consciousness, to my mind, is not original. What comes first in each of us is rather feeling, a state as yet without either an object or subject. Feeling here naturally does not mean mere pleasure and pain; and indeed the idea that these aspects are our fundamental substance has never seemed, to me at least, worth discussing. I have ventured to consider it an absurd perversion of the older view. Feeling is immediate experience without distinction or relation in itself. It is a unity, complex but without relations. And there is here no difference between the state and its content, since, in a word, the experienced and the experience are one. And a distinction between cognition and other aspects of our nature is not yet developed. Feeling is not one differentiated aspect, but it holds all aspects in one. And, though a view of this kind naturally calls for explanation and is open to objection, I am forced to doubt the wisdom of ignoring it wholly. For, if it is difficult, it seems hardly so difficult as to take, for instance, our inward Coenesthesia as throughout our object. And a reference to Volkmann’s book would show that it owns, more or less, the endorsement of well-known names. But, if it is not false, then the identification of consciousness and experience is a wrong assumption.

(3) But consciousness at all events, it may be urged, at a certain stage exists. Doubtless, but feeling on this account does not wholly cease to exist, and the experienced is therefore always more than objects together with pain and pleasure. Everything experienced is on one side felt, and the experienced is, also in part, still no more than felt. I fully admit the need here for explanation and defence, 2 but I cannot admit that such a view deserves |195| to be ignored. The real subject, we may say, is always felt. It can never become wholly an object, and it never, at any time and in any case, ceases also to be felt. And on this felt background depends the unity and continuity of our lives, lost hopelessly by Associationism, and lost no less hopelessly by the identification of experience with consciousness. Our personal sameness consists in the ideal identity and the continuity of the experienced. Nothing more is wanted, and anything more, if it were possible, would, at least so far as we are concerned, be nothing. And the opposite of this, I venture again to urge, should not be assumed as self-evident.

For, in dealing with the puzzles of consciousness and self-consciousness, the difference brings important consequences. Those puzzles consisted in the internal difficulties of the relation and its terms, and then again in the fact of the relation itself. An experienced relation seems to involve an experienced whole, but this whole is at once supplied by feeling. For consciousness is superinduced on, and is still supported by, feeling; and feeling is itself an experienced whole. And the difficulty of the relation and its terms might from the same basis be dealt with, though naturally I cannot attempt to work this out here. I will however try briefly to point out where the solution lies. There is a doubt, first, whether consciousness must imply self-consciousness. Can there, in other words, be an object, unless that object bears the character of a not-myself? In this latter case the ‘object’ itself will be but part of the whole object, for it will be given as one term in relation with another given term. This question to some slight extent, perhaps, is one of language, but for our present purpose it may be left unanswered wholly. The solution of the problem in any case remains the same. And that solution lies in the fact that between the felt subject and the object there is no relation at all. Whether the object contains, or does not contain, a self and not-self in connexion, on either view there is still a real felt subject. And the object qualifies this subject, but there is emphatically no experience of a relation between them. And when by reflection a relation seems given, the experience has been changed. That relation is now part of a new ‘object’; and with that new object we have a felt subject, with which it is experienced, but to which it is not related.

The above statement, I am well aware, calls for much |196| explanation, but the only proper explanation would be a full treatment of the matter. What an ‘object’ is, and how it differs from the rest of the experienced, how a content becomes an object, and how the transition is made from feeling to consciousness — these are problems which in a small space could not be dealt with. But, assuming an object in the sense of a something for me, I will say a few words on this preposition. The word ‘for’ without doubt asserts a relation, and in addition it asserts a relation in space; and, if so, clearly in language I contradict myself, when I deny that the object implies a spatial or any relation. And, if all metaphors are to be pressed, then I, and I think all of us, in the end must keep silence. But the question surely is whether such a contradiction is more than formal. And the question is whether on some matters, in order to speak accurately, one has not to use metaphors which conflict with and correct each other. Believing this to be the case I repeat that the felt subject, in and for which the object exists, is not related to it and yet is experienced with it.

The object in self-consciousness (for it is better to take that stage at once) is two concrete terms in relation with each other. The whole of it consists in content, in presented elements more or less qualified and extended by thought. What the content is on each side is not here my concern. My concern is to deny that this whole ‘object’ is related to the subject, and yet to assert that it is there for the subject and present in it and to it, and that the subject itself is also experienced.

The object-content is no longer in unbroken unity with the felt whole, but this breach itself is not, and cannot be, an object. It can become an object for reflection; but, in becoming one, it generates a new experience and a fresh felt subject. The subject always is felt, and neither itself, nor its actual distinction from the object, can be got out and placed before it as an object. And there is no distinction here between the experience and what is experienced. 3 For the subject always is experienced because it is felt.

|197| This view, briefly and, I must confess, obscurely indicated, does not of course remove all difficulties. But the difficulties it leaves are, I believe, not more than difficult. The elements we must deal with are at any rate contained in one world; while to make a passage in any sense from one world to another will remain, I venture to think, entirely impossible. And this view, again, is surely not prima facie absurd. It is hard for one, who like myself learnt and tried to teach it now many years ago, to judge on this point, but I would appeal to the reader. Take such an experience as ordinary desire. Beside pleasure and pain we have in this state, I presume, a relation of something, that is, to an idea in me. These terms we may certainly agree to call objects, and, in some cases and in one sense, we may agree also to say this of the relation between them. But, beside the above, is there nothing experienced in desire? I should say, yes, the whole experience is felt as one, and in that unity there is a background which is not an object. Desire, for me, is a felt whole containing terms and a relation, and pleasure and pain. But it contains beside an indefinite mass of the felt, to call which an object strikes my mind as even ludicrous. And I would ask the reader if this view is so irrational that it may safely be ignored, and that the opposite of it may, without any discussion, be assumed.

And my purpose in writing is not at present to explain and justify this view, but to emphasize the fact that it exists. And I would venture on a respectful remonstrance against approaching these questions with undiscussed alternatives. I do not suggest that Mr. Ward is not familiar with all that I have set down, or that in his own mind he is not fully prepared to deal with and dispose of it. But his readers, I think, are left without information. And the consequences, if so, must be injurious to the study of philosophy. When, for example, Mr. Ward assumes, or appears to assume, of unity and continuity, that, because they are not in separate presentations, they are in, or come from, a subject outside the experienced — he can hardly realize the nature of the shock he administers. For unity and continuity, many of us have learnt, are always ideal. They consist wholly in content, or else they are nothing. And they come from content, or else they do not come at all. And any assertion of the opposite, we are ready to contend, is inconsistent with itself. We may be |198| mistaken doubtless in all this, and Mr. Ward doubtless is prepared to show us how our positive doctrine is wrong, and our negative criticism mistaken. And when he produces, as I hope he soon will produce, his doctrine about the Subject, and its true connexion with the change and sequence of phenomena, I trust he will take some account of our errors. I do not know what his doctrine will be, but it could hardly lose in clearness if it were defined against such criticism as, I presume, Hegel would have launched against it. And I do not say this for myself, who claim no right to assistance, and whose mind is, I suppose, presumably ossified. But with regard to the younger men, some of whom are growing up more or less in the same general view, the case is different. And they will hardly be helped by a tacit assumption that their conclusions, positive and negative, are not worth discussing.

As for the Associationist, if he is not confuted, he surely never will be; and I am sure that, however much confuted, he will never be convinced. Our business is, I suppose, not to be troubled about that, but to try to gain a positive result which on all sides will bear criticism. And is it not almost time to say, Let the dead bury their dead? But, whether in metaphysics or in psychology, perhaps I hold the Associationist far cheaper, and differ from him more radically than Mr. Ward would think justifiable. For in principle Mr. Ward, I should say, has not broken with Associationism. The question of principle, to my mind, is about the nature of the universal in being and knowledge. But with that question Mr. Ward, as soon as he makes a serious attempt to work out his view of the identical (?) subject, will have to deal. Then I may find that these well-meant remarks have been superfluous, since any truth they may contain has been included and provided for. I offer them, notwithstanding, in the meantime, not as hostile criticism nor yet as positive doctrine. For I admit that there are difficulties attaching to the problem, which I cannot at present, to my mind, altogether remove. But I offer the above as some considerations, which ought not, in any case and by any view, to be quite ignored.


1^ These pages were first published in Mind for April 1893. It is with some hesitation that I have resolved to reprint them, but it seemed to me clear that, if republished, they should be left unaltered. Whether Prof. Ward has anywhere, since the above date, discussed the points raised in this paper, I regret to be unable to inform the reader. In his interesting and valuable work The Realm of Ends, lately published, he appears to myself still to ignore a view which, if it stands, tends to unsettle the foundation of his main theories. For his article see Mind, n.s., No. 5.

2^ One point to be noticed is that the products of relation and distinction apparently come to be experienced without their process. In this way relational complexes may be experienced immediately, and, in a secondary sense, felt. Such felt masses can be attached to the object of consciousness, but to a far larger extent they qualify the background [p. 177].]

3^ For the outside observer, I may be asked, is there no distinction of this kind? Unquestionably there is, but what it is, is a matter for discussion. If the observer takes the experiencing subject to be more than what is at one time experienced, taken together and in connexion with its experienced past he may possibly be right. But I must remind him that, if he assumes this, he is not arguing against any one. He is merely assuming without argument that he is unquestionably right and we are certainly wrong.

Supplementary Note to Chapter VI.

On the importance of the above for metaphysics (199-201).

In republishing the two foregoing articles I would call attention to the metaphysical importance of their doctrine. Most of us, no doubt, agree that in metaphysics we start, in some sense, from what is given, and that hence the question as to what is given at the start is fundamental and vital. And the divergence of the answers, stated or implied, is a point which we are bound to recognize and deal with. There is, for instance, a well-known view that, whatever is given at first, it is not the One Reality; and that hence the One must be reached, if at all, by some supervening process. Our beginning, it is asserted, is with the mere Many. Or we may hear that we have to start with the correlation of subject and object, which correlation, we find later, we cannot transcend.

Disagreeing otherwise, I would emphatically endorse this last result. If what is given is a Many without a One, the One is never attainable. And, if what we had at first were the mere correlation of subject and object, then to rise beyond that would be impossible. From such premisses there is in my opinion no road except to total scepticism. This is the ground, inherited of course from others, on which I may say that I have based myself always. If you take experience as above, then all the main conclusions which I advocate are assuredly wrecked. And nothing, I presume, is gained by simply urging against myself and others a result on which we ourselves have consistently stood.

But what is more important to discuss is, I should say, the truth of the premisses. The doctrine that what is given at the start is a mere Many or a mere correlation, is, we contend, a fatal error. This, we maintain, is no genuine fact, but is a fundamental perversion of the fact. And while we are ready to inquire as to what would follow from any premisses alleged, we insist that the truth of the premisses is first in question, and we submit |200| that, after all, it is perhaps better to begin by asking as to the nature of what is actually experienced.

Any one who has read the foregoing papers (not to speak of what I have written elsewhere), 1 will, I think, see that for me at no stage of mental development is the mere correlation of subject and object actually given. Wherever this or any other relation is experienced, what is experienced is more than the mere relation. It involves a felt totality, and on this inclusive unity the relation depends. The subject, the object, and their relation, are experienced as elements or aspects in a One which is there from the first. And thus to seek to extrude the One from what at first is experienced, is in every case to mistake for fact what really is sheer abstraction.

Everywhere, and not only here, a mere relation is in my view an abstraction, which never is given and could never be real. The experienced fact is not the mere terms and the relation. Over and above these it involves another aspect of given totality, and without this aspect the experienced fact is not given. And the same remark, of course, applies to the contention that what is first given is a bare Many.

I regret to repeat here once more what I have urged through so many years and so often. But, as long as what I hold to be fundamental fact is so much ignored, I have no choice but from time to time to repeat what to me seems indubitable.

As to what would follow if I am here in error, and if a mere Many or a bare correlation were actually given, I will add a few words. Relations (this, I presume, must follow) would be at least as real as their terms and would have ultimate reality. What, however, is to be said about the experienced ‘togetherness’ of terms and relations, I do not know. Not only does the ‘together’ seem to me, on this ground, to fall outside of knowledge and reality, but the whole fact of experience and knowledge has to my mind become non-existent and even impossible. Whether, if we start from the above basis, any subject could ever become aware of any other subject, I will not offer to discuss. But that the God of Theism could have his place in such a world, unless that world were radically changed, to myself seems inconceivable.

|201| But is it not better, I would ask once more, to begin by a discussion as to what is actually given in experience? Is it not better to recognize that on this point there is no agreement, and little more than a variety of conflicting opinions? The opinion which I myself, with others, have adopted, may of course be erroneous. But obviously I cannot desert it because certain doctrines, on the rejection of which it long ago was based, are assumed to be true.


1^ I would refer the reader to an article in Mind, July 1887, as well as to my published volumes.

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Chapter VII. On Truth and Coherence 1

Judgements of perception and memory are all fallible. The test is system. What this means (202-4). (1) Ultimate facts of perception and memory cannot be shown to exist. You cannot put, as such, into your judgement the deliverance of feeling (204-7). (2) Nor is their existence to be assumed (207). My real world, what (208). For this I depend on the world of sense, but still no datum there is fundamental in sense of absolute. The test is relative contribution to system (209-12). So with historical facts (212-14). A possible objection answered (214-16). Certainly some judgement or judgements might be infallible for me in the sense that otherwise my personal identity would be destroyed, but this infallibility is not absolute (216-17). Conclusion (217-8).

The welcome article by the Editor in Mind, No. 65, contains, we shall all agree, much food for reflection. Profiting, I hope, by all of it, there is nevertheless much from which I am forced to dissent. And in what follows here I shall try to deal with one point of disagreement. We can, I trust, isolate this point, at least sufficiently for a separate discussion.

Prof. Stout denies, I understand, that coherence will work as a test of truth in the case of facts due to sensible perception and memory. Mr. Russell again has taken the same line in his interesting article on Truth in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society for 1907. This is the issue to which here I confine myself, neglecting the question as to other truths whose warrant also is taken as immediate. What I maintain is that in the case of facts of perception and memory the test which we do apply, and which we must apply, is that of system. I contend that this test works satisfactorily, and that no other test will work. And I argue in consequence that there are no judgements of sense which are in principle infallible.

There is a misunderstanding against which the reader must be warned most emphatically. The test which I advocate is the idea of a whole of knowledge as wide and as consistent as may be. In speaking of system I mean always the union of these two aspects, and this is the sense and the only sense in which I am defending coherence. If we separate coherence from what Prof. Stout calls comprehensiveness, |203| then I agree that neither of these aspects of system will work by itself. How they are connected, and whether in the end we have one principle or two, is of course a difficult question. I hope to return to this, 2 but it is impossible for me to touch on it here. All that I can do here is to point out that both of the above aspects are for me inseparably included in the idea of system, and that coherence apart from comprehensiveness is not for me the test of truth or reality.

So much being premised, I will proceed not to argue in detail against Prof. Stout and Mr. Russell, but to endeavor to explain the real nature of that view which I advocate. 3 For the sake of clearness let me begin by mentioning some things in which I do not believe. I do not believe in any knowledge which is independent of feeling and sensation. On sensation and feeling I am sure that we depend for the material of our knowledge. And as to the facts of perception, I am convinced that (to speak broadly) we cannot anticipate them or ever become independent of that which they give to us. And these facts of perception, I further agree, are at least in part irrational, so far as in detail is visible. I do not believe that we can make ourselves independent of these non-rational data.

But, if I do not believe all this, does it follow that I have to accept independent facts? Does it follow that perception and memory give me truths which I must take up and keep as they are given me, truths which in principle cannot be erroneous? This surely would be to pass from one false extreme to another. Our intelligence cannot construct the world of perceptions and feelings, and it depends on what is given — to so much I assent. But that there are given facts, of perception which are independent and ultimate and above |204| criticism, is not to my mind a true conclusion. On the contrary, such facts to my mind are a vicious abstraction. We have, I should say, the aspect of datum, and we have the aspect of interpretation or construction, or what Prof. Stout calls implication (p. 27). And why, I ask, for the intelligence must there be datum without interpretation any more than interpretation without datum? To me the opposite holds good, and I therefore conclude that no given fact is sacrosanct. With every fact of perception or memory a modified interpretation is in principle possible, and no such fact therefore is given free from all possibility of error.

The reason for maintaining independent facts and infallible judgements, as I understand it, is twofold, (1) Such data, it may be said, can be actually shown. And (2) in any case they must exist, since without them the intelligence cannot work. Prof. Stout is identified, 4 I think, only with the second of these contentions.

(1) I doubt my ability to do justice to the position of the man who claims to show ultimate given facts exempt from all possible error. In the case of any datum of sensation or feeling, to prove that we have this wholly unmodified by what is called ‘apperception’ seems a hopeless undertaking. And how far it is supposed that such a negative can be proved I do not know. What, however, is meant must be this, that we somehow and somewhere have verifiable facts of perception and memory, and also judgements, free from all chance of error.

I will begin here by recalling a truth familiar but often forgotten, a truth of which Prof. Stout does not fail to remind us. In your search for independent facts and for infallible truths you may go so low that, when you have descended beyond the level of error, you find yourself below the level of any fact or of any truth which you can use. 5 What you seek is particular facts of perception or memory, |205| but what you get may be something not answering to that character. I will go on to give instances of what I mean, and I think that in every case we shall do well to ask this question, ‘What on the strength of our ultimate fact are we able to contradict?’

(a) If we take the instance of simple unrelated sensations or feelings, a, b, c — supposing that there are such things — what judgement would such a fact enable us to deny? We could on the strength of this fact deny the denial that a, b and c exist in any way, manner or sense. But surely this is not the kind of independent fact of which we are in search.

(b) From this let us pass to the case of a complex feeling containing, at once and together, both a and b. On the ground of this we can deny the statement that a and b cannot or do not ever anyhow coexist in feeling. This is an advance, but it surely leaves us far short of our goal.

(c) What we want, I presume, is something that at once is infallible and that also can be called a particular fact of perception or memory. And we want, in the case of perception, something that would be called a fact for observation. We do not seem to reach this fact until we arrive somewhere about the level of ‘I am here and now having a sensation or complex of sensations of such or such a kind’. The goal is reached; but at this point, unfortunately, the judgement has become fallible, so far at least as it really states particular truth.

(α) In such a judgement it is in the first place hard to say what is meant by the ‘I’. If, however, we go beyond feeling far enough to mean a self with such or such a real existence in time, then memory is involved, and the judgement at once, I should urge, becomes fallible (compare Mind, n.s., No. 30, p. 16, and No. 66, p. 156). 6 Thus the statement made in the judgement is liable to error, or else the statement does not convey particular truth.

|206| (β) And this fatal dilemma holds good when applied to the ‘now’ and ‘here’. If these words mean a certain special place in a certain special series or order, they are liable to mistake. But, if they fall short of this meaning, then they fail to state individual fact. My feeling is, I agree, not subject to error in the proper sense of that term, but on the other side my feeling does not of itself deliver truth. And the process which gets from it a deliverance as to individual fact is fallible.

Everywhere such fact depends on construction. And we have here to face not only the possibility of what would commonly be called mistaken interpretation. We have in addition the chance of actual sense-hallucination. And, worse than this, we have the far-reaching influence of abnormal suggestion and morbid fixed idea. This influence may stop short of hallucination, and yet may vitiate the memory and the judgement to such an extent that there remains no practical difference between idea and perceived fact. And, in the face of these possibilities, it seems idle to speak of perceptions and memories secure from all chance of error. Or on the other side banish the chance of error, and with what are you left? You then have something which (as we have seen) goes no further than to warrant the assertion that such and such elements can and do coexist — somehow and somewhere, or again that such or such a judgement happens — without any regard to its truth and without any specification of its psychical context. And no one surely will contend that with this we have particular fact.

The doctrine that perception gives us infallible truth rests on a foundation which in part is sound and in part fatally defective. That what is felt is felt, and cannot, so far as felt, be mistaken — so much as this must be accepted. But the view that, when I say ‘this’, ‘now’, ‘here’, or ‘my’, what I feel, when so speaking, is carried over intact into my judgement, and that my judgement in consequence is exempt |207| from error, seems wholly indefensible. It survives, I venture to think, only because it never has understood its complete refutation.7 That which I designate, is not and cannot be carried over into my judgement. The judgement may in a sense answer to that which I feel, but none the less it fails to contain and to convey my feeling. And on the other hand, so far as it succeeds in expressing my meaning, the judgement does this in a way which makes it liable to error. Or, to put it otherwise, the perceived truth, to be of any use, must be particularized. So far as it is stated in a general form, it contains not only that which you meant to say but also, and just as much, the opposite of that which you meant. And to contend for the infallibility of such a truth seems futile. On the other side so far as your truth really is individualized, so far as it is placed in a special construction and vitally related to its context, to the same extent the element of interpretation or implication is added. And, with this element, obviously comes the possibility of mistake. And we have seen above that, viewed psychologically, particular judgements of perception immune from all chance of error seem hardly tenable.

(2) I pass now to the second reason for accepting infallible data of perception. Even if we cannot show these (it is urged) we are bound to assume them. For in their absence our knowledge has nothing on which to stand, and this want of support results in total scepticism.

It is possible of course here to embrace both premisses and conclusion, and to argue that scepticism is to be preferred to an untrue assumption. And such a position I would press on the notice of those who uphold infallible judgements of sense and memory. But personally I am hardly concerned in this issue, for I reject both the conclusion and the |208| premisses together. Such infallible and incorrigible judgements are really not required for our knowledge, and, since they cannot be shown, we must not say that they exist.

In maintaining that all sense-judgements are liable to error it would be better no doubt first to discuss the nature of error. But, since this is impossible here, let me state how much I take to be admitted or agreed on. I understand it to be admitted that some judgements of perception are fallible, and that the question is simply whether this description applies to all such judgements without exception. But, if some at least of these judgements are to be called fallible, what are we to understand by that word? We each of us have a world which we call our ‘real’ world in space and time. This is an order, how made and based on what, it is impossible here to inquire. 8 But facts of sense are called imaginary or erroneous, when in their offered character they do not belong to this ‘real’ order in space or time. They all belong to it of course as facts in some one’s mental history, but otherwise they do not qualify the ‘real’ order as they claim to qualify it. We therefore relegate them to the sphere of the erroneous or the imaginary, unless we are able to modify and correct their claim so that it becomes admissible. So much as this I must take here to be admitted on both sides, though it is more than possible, I fear, that I may have thus unknowingly perverted the issue. Still, unless the question by some means is cleared, I see no way of proceeding. And the issue, as I understand it, will now be as follows. Are there any judgements of perception or memory, purporting to qualify the ‘real’ world, which must necessarily qualify that world as they purport to qualify it? Or on the other hand are all such ‘facts’ capable in principle of being relegated to the world of error, unless and until they are corrected?

This I take to be the issue, but there is a distinction |209| which, before proceeding, the reader must notice, the distinction between my experience and my world and the world in general. It is one thing to say that there are truths which in and for my personal experience are fundamental and incorrigible, and it is another thing to assert that the same truths are infallible absolutely. This distinction will become clearer as we advance, for I will begin by confining the question to my personal experience. Is there any truth of perception which here is fundamental and infallible, and incapable of being banished to the world of fancy?

I agree that we depend vitally on the sense-world, that our material comes from it, and that apart from it knowledge could not begin. To this world, I agree, we have for ever to return, not only to gain new matter but to confirm and maintain the old. I agree that to impose order from without on sheer disorder would be wholly impracticable, and that, if my sense-world were disorderly beyond a certain point, my intelligence would not exist. And further I agree that we cannot suppose it possible that all the judgements of perception and memory which for me come first, could in fact for me be corrected. I cannot, that is, imagine the world of my experience to be so modified that in the end none of these accepted facts should be left standing. But so far, I hasten to add, we have not yet come to the real issue. There is still a chasm between such admissions and the conclusion that there are judgements of sense which possess truth absolute and infallible.

We meet here a false doctrine largely due to a misleading metaphor. My known world is taken to be a construction built upon such and such foundations. It is argued, therefore, to be in principle a superstructure which rests upon these supports. You can go on adding to it no doubt, but only so long as the supports remain; and, unless they remain, the whole building comes down. But the doctrine, I have to contend, is untenable, and the metaphor ruinously |210| inapplicable. The foundation in truth is provisional merely. In order to begin my construction I take the foundation as absolute — so much certainly is true. But that my construction continues to rest on the beginnings of my knowledge is a conclusion which does not follow. It does not follow that, if these are allowed to be fallible, the whole building collapses. For it is in another sense that my world rests upon the data of perception.

My experience is solid, not so far as it is a superstructure but so far as in short it is a system. 9 My object is to have a world as comprehensive and coherent as possible, and, in order to attain this object, I have not only to reflect but perpetually to have recourse to the materials of sense. I must go to this source both to verify the matter which is old and also to increase it by what is new. And in this way I must depend upon the judgements of perception. Now it is agreed that, if I am to have an orderly world, I cannot possibly accept all ‘facts’. Some of these must be relegated, as they are, to the world of error, whether we succeed or fail in modifying and correcting them. And the view which I advocate takes them all as in principle fallible. On the other hand, that view denies that there is any necessity for absolute facts of sense. Facts for it are true, we may say, just so far as they work, just so far as they contribute to the order of experience. If by taking certain judgements of perception as true, I can get more system into my world, then these ‘facts’ are so far true, and if by taking certain ‘facts’ as errors I can order my experience better, then so far these ‘facts’ are errors. And there is no ‘fact’ which possesses an absolute right. Certainly there are |211| truths with which I begin and which I personally never have to discard, and which therefore remain in fact as members of my known world. And of some of these certainly it may be said that without them I should not know how to order my knowledge. But it is quite another thing to maintain that every single one of these judgements is in principle infallible. The absolute indispensable fact is in my view the mere creature of false theory. Facts are valid so far as, when taken otherwise than as ‘real’, they bring disorder into my world. And there are today for me facts such that, if I take them as mistakes, my known world is damaged and, it is possible, ruined. But how does it follow that I cannot tomorrow on the strength of new facts gain a wider order in which these old facts can take a place as errors? The supposition may be improbable, but what you have got to show is that it is in principle impossible. 10 A foundation used at the beginning does not in short mean something fundamental at the end, and there is no single ‘fact’ which in the end can be called fundamental absolutely. It is all a question of relative contribution to my known world-order.

’Then no judgement of perception will be more than probable?’ Certainly that is my contention. ‘facts’ are justified because and as far as, while taking them as real, I am better able to deal with the incoming new ‘facts’ and in general to make my world wider and more harmonious. The higher and wider my structure, and the more that any particular fact or set of facts is implied in that structure, the more certain are the structure and the facts. And, if we could reach an all-embracing ordered whole, then our certainty would be absolute. But, since we cannot do this, we have to remain content with relative probability. Why is this or that fact of observation taken as practically certain?

|212| It is so taken just so far as it is not taken in its own right. (i) Its validity is due to such and such a person perceiving it under such and such conditions. This means that a certain intellectual order in the person is necessary as a basis, and again that nothing in the way of sensible or mental distortion intervenes between this order and what is given. And (ii) the observed fact must agree with our world as already arranged, or at least must not upset this. If the fact is too much contrary to our arranged world we provisionally reject it. We eventually accept the fact only when after confirmation the hypothesis of its error becomes still more ruinous. We are forced then more or less to rearrange our world, and more or less perhaps to reject some previous ‘facts’. 11 The question throughout is as to what is better or worse for our order as a whole.

Why again to me is a remembered fact certain, supposing that it is so? Assuredly not because it is infallibly delivered by the faculty of Memory, but because I do not see how to reconcile the fact of its error with my accepted world. Unless I go on the principle of trusting my memory, apart from any special reason to the contrary, I cannot order my world so well, if indeed I can order it at all. The principle here again is system (compare Chapters XII and XIII).

The same account holds with regard to the facts of history. For instance, the guillotining of Louis XVI is practically certain, because, to take this as error, would entail too much disturbance of my world. Error is possible here of course. Fresh facts conceivably might come before me such as would compel me to modify in part my knowledge as so far arranged. And in this modified arrangement the execution of Louis would find its place as an error. But the reason for such a modification would have to be considerable, while, as things are, no reason exists. And take again the case of an historical fact which is called more or |213| less isolated. Mr. Russell 12 has instanced the honorable death of a late prelate, and has urged (as I understand) that on any view such as mine I have just as much reason to believe that this prelate was hanged. The fact is supposed to be isolated, and on mere internal evidence either alternative is taken, I presume, as equally probable. Now, of course I agree that we have innumerable cases where on mere internal evidence we are unable to distinguish between fact and fancy, but the difficulty that is supposed to arise I am unable to see. For the criterion with me is not mere absence, within the limits of this or that idea, of visible discrepancy. The question with me everywhere is as to what is the result to my real world. (Appearance, chap, xvi, and p. 618.) Now, confining myself to a certain case, the acceptance on the one side of the mere fancy or on the other side of the attested fact may, so far as I see, be in itself the same thing to my world. But imagine my world made on the principle of in such a case accepting mere fancy as fact. Would such a world be more comprehensive and coherent than the world as now arranged? Would it be coherent at all? Mr. Russell, I understand, answers in the affirmative (p. 33), but it seems to me that he has misconceived the position. To take memory as in general trustworthy, where I have no special reason for doubt, and to take the testimony of those persons, whom I suppose to view the world as I view it, as being true, apart from special reason on the other side these are principles by which I construct my ordered world, such as it is. And because by any other method the result is worse, therefore for me these principles are true. On the other hand to suppose that any ‘fact’ of perception or memory is so certain that no possible experience could justify me in taking it as error, seems to me injurious if not ruinous. On such a principle my world of knowledge would be ordered worse, if indeed it could be ordered at all. For to accept all |214| the ‘facts’, as they offer themselves, seems obviously impossible; and, if it is we who have to decide as to which facts are infallible, then I ask how we are to decide. The ground of validity, I maintain, consists in successful contribution. That is a principle of order, while any other principle, so far as I see, leads to chaos. 13

‘But,’ it may still be objected, ‘my fancy is unlimited. I can therefore invent an imaginary world even more orderly than my known world. And further this fanciful arrangement might possibly be made so wide that the world of perception would become for me in comparison small and inconsiderable. Hence, my perceived world, so far as not supporting my fancied arrangement, might be included within it as error. Such a consequence would or might lead to confusion in theory and to disaster in practice. And yet the result follows from your view inevitably, unless after all you fall back upon the certainty of perception.’

To this possible objection, I should reply first, that it has probably failed to understand rightly the criterion which I defend. The aspect of comprehensiveness has not received ‘here its due emphasis. The idea of system demands the inclusion of all possible material. Not only must you include everything to be gained from immediate experience and perception, but you must also be ready to act on the same principle with regard to fancy. But this means that you cannot confine yourself within the limits of this or that fancied world, as suits your pleasure or private convenience. You are bound also, so far as is possible, to recognize and to include the opposite fancy.

This consideration to my mind ruins the above hypothesis on which the objection was based. The fancied arrangement |215| not only has opposed to it the world of perception. It also has against it any opposite arrangement and any contrary fact which I can fancy. And, so far as I can judge, these contrary fancies will balance the first. Nothing, therefore, will be left to outweigh the world as perceived, and the imaginary hypothesis will be condemned by our criterion.

And, with regard to the world as perceived, we must remember that my power is very limited. I cannot add to this world at discretion and at my pleasure create new and opposite material. Hence, to speak broadly, the material here is given and compulsory, and the production of what is contrary is out of my power. After all due reservations have been made, the contrast in this respect between the worlds of ‘fact’ and of fancy will hold good. You cannot, as with fancies, make facts one to balance another at your pleasure. And (if we are to go still further) the riches of imagination even as regards quantity are deceptive. What we call our real world is so superior in wealth of detail that to include it, as outweighed in quantity, within some arrangement which we merely fancy, is to my mind not feasible. The whole hypothesis which we have considered seems to have been shown on more than one ground to be untenable.

But if I am asked, ‘Were it otherwise, what becomes of your criterion?’ though I think the question unfair, I will answer it conditionally. In that supposed case I would modify my criterion. I would say, ‘The truth is that which enables us to order most coherently and comprehensively the data supplied by immediate experience and the intuitive judgements of perception’. 14 But this answer, I repeat, is |216| merely conditional, and I do not believe that the condition holds good. For I believe that our criterion, applied without modification, gives its proper place to mere fancy. And in any case (need I add?) it does not follow that particular judgements of perception and memory, all or any of them, are infallible.

But there is an objection which perhaps for some time has been troubling the reader. ‘After all’ (he may say) ‘my experience has got to be mine. If you went beyond a certain point in modifying my known world, it might possibly be a superior world but it would be no world for me. And from this it follows that something, and something given, is in my world fundamental, and that, while my world remains mine, this something is indispensable and infallible. And the fact, if it is fact, that I cannot produce this element fails to show that it is not there.’ Now it is one thing, I reply, to allow the existence of a fundamental element, and it is another thing to admit this in the form of an infallible judgement. I wish to emphasize this distinction and to insist that, if there is to be an infallible judgement, that judgement must be produced. On the other hand, I do not seek to deny in every sense the fact of the fundamental element. We are here in a region which so far is perhaps little understood, but for our purpose fortunately the whole question is irrelevant.

We must remind ourselves of the distinction which we laid down above. Conceivably a judgement might be fundamental and infallible for me, in the sense that to modify it or |217| doubt it would entail the loss of my personal identity, while yet to another mind that modification or that doubt might be possible and necessary. Of course I do not mean that anything which is something for me, could by a wider experience be taken as something which in no sense exists. I mean that the character in which it offers itself to me in judgement might by a wider experience be seen to need correction, and might, apart from that correction, be classed as error. I am speaking here (the reader will remember) about particular ‘facts’ of feeling, perception or memory. And with regard to these I do not see the way by which I am to pass from relative to absolute infallibility, and I do not know how to argue here from an assumed necessary implication in my personal existence to a necessity which is more than relative. Am I to urge that a world in which my personal identity has been ended or suspended has ceased to be a world altogether? Apart from such an argument (which I cannot use) I seem condemned to the result that all sense-judgements are fallible.

The repugnance excited by this conclusion seems due to several grounds. Our immediate experience is not fallible, and this character (we have seen) is mistakenly transferred to those judgements which claim to deliver that experience. And further we had the false identification of knowledge with a mechanical superstructure supported by an external foundation. But behind this we have the demand for absolute reality in the shape of self-existent facts and of independent truths. Unless reality takes this form it seems to be nowhere, and so we go on to postulate absolute knowledge where no more than probability is attainable. Again, if the conclusion and the principle advocated here are accepted, the whole Universe seems too subject to the individual knower. What is given counts for so little and the arrangement counts for so much, while in fact the arranger, if we |218| are to have real knowledge, seems so dependent on the world. But the individual who knows is here wrongly isolated, and then, because of that, is confronted with a mere alien Universe. And the individual, as so isolated, I agree, could do nothing, for indeed he is nothing. My real personal self which orders my world is in truth inseparably one with the Universe. Behind me the absolute reality works through and in union with myself, and the world which confronts me is at bottom one thing in substance and in power with this reality. There is a world of appearance and there is a sensuous curtain, and to seek to deny the presence of this or to identify it with reality is mistaken. But for the truth I come back always to that doctrine of Hegel, that ‘there is nothing behind the curtain other than that which is in front of it’. 15 For what is in front of it is the Absolute that is at once one with the knower and behind him.

The conclusion advocated in these pages is, however, but limited. With regard to the two aspects of coherence and comprehensiveness I have in these pages not asked if they are connected in principle. I have merely urged that it is necessary to use them in one, and that here and here alone we have the criterion of perceived and remembered truth. And I have argued that in principle any judgement of perception or memory is liable to error, and I have urged that, if this is not so, the right conclusion is to chaos. But to some of the points here left unsettled I shall return.


1^ This chapter appeared first as an article in Mind for July 1909.

2^ See Chapter VIII.

3^ In speaking of this common view as mine, I merely wish to indicate to the reader that I have no right to commit others to every detail of my case.

4^ Mind, No. 65, p. 28.

5^ Cf. Chapter V, p. 108.

6^ See Chapters XII and XIII, pp. 371-2. 384, of the present volume.

7^ I am of course referring here to Hegel. This is a matter to which I shall return (see Chapters VIII and IX). I am naturally not attempting to deal here with the whole subject of Error (see Chapter IX).

8^ See Chapters III and XVI.

9^ I would venture here in passing to question in principle the truth of a thesis advanced by Prof. Stout (pp. 34-5). Prof. Stout maintains that a proposition may be guaranteed by other propositions, and yet itself lend these no support. But if any proposition has a consequence which is not discordant with what we already know, this consequence is surely, so far as it goes, a support, however small, to the proposition from which it follows. I however agree that the amount of such support may be trifling.

10^ A possible attempt to do this will be discussed towards the close of the chapter, p. 216.

11^ Cf. Appearance, p. 543, note.

12^ On the Nature of Truth, pp. 33, 35.

13^ To the question if the above principle is merely ‘practical’, I reply, ‘Certainly, if you take "practice" so widely as to remove the distinction between practice and theory.’ But, since such a widening of sense seems to serve no useful purpose, I cannot regard that course as being itself very ‘practical’. I answer therefore that the above principle is certainly not merely practical.

14^ As I am not committed to this answer, I can hardly be called on to explain it further. But I may remind the reader that immediate experience and perceptional judgement is not all of one kind. Aesthetic perceptions, for instance, will not fall under the head of mere fancies. Where the fancy represents some human interest, it ceases, in proportion to the importance of the interest, to be mere fancy or, properly, fancy at all. Cf. Chap. XII, p. 365.
  Again, to pass from this to another point, I may be asked whether the instance of a man in collision with a new environment to which he can not adapt himself presents no difficulty to our general criterion. In our case none, I reply, since we hold all such knowledge for relative. A difficulty arises only in the case of those who take judgements as absolute. We must, however, remember that, in the above instance of collision between inner and outer worlds, it would be wrong to assume that the man who prefers his inner world goes always against the weight of his immediate and intuitive experience.

15^ I believe these to be Hegel’s words, but I cannot give any reference for them. Almost the same words will, however, be found in Phanomenologie (second edition), p. 126. This is the last page of the division marked A. III.

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Chapter VIII. Coherence and Contradiction 1

The criterion is the satisfaction of a want, but of a special want. Philosophy is not a mere collection of useful ideas (219-20). In what sense I can philosophize with my whole nature (220-2). Two characters of the criterion — are they aspects of one principle of non-contradiction? A possible answer not accepted, but the answer is still, Yes. (1) Any object short of the whole can be experienced as a defective appearance of a wider whole (223-6). (2) How qualification of Reality by any predicate implies diversity and contradiction, and a process aiming at harmonious and complete comprehension (226-9). No remedy for this to be found in ‘And’. Judgement starts with and in a sense rests on the immediate unity and totality of feeling, but cannot completely reconstitute this whole ideally. There is no completely conditioned, and therefore no absolutely true judgement (230-3). No theoretical remedy for the above is to be found in Designation (233-6). Nor in Pluralism and external relations. This doctrine seems based on a false alternative (237-40). Imperfection of our ultimate ideas, such as subject and predicate, and again identity (240-1). Result System has two aspects. In what sense we can say that what satisfies us is real (241-4).

|219| In the preceding chapter I pointed out how coherence and comprehensiveness are the two aspects of system, and I attempted to justify the claim of system as an arbiter of fact. In the chapter which follows I am to endeavor to show how system stands to contradiction. The question is difficult and could in any case here be dealt with but imperfectly, and the reader again must excuse me if I approach it by a circuitous route.

What in the end is the criterion? The criterion of truth, I should say, as of everything else, is in the end the satisfaction of a want of our nature. To get away from this test, or to pass beyond it, in the end, I should say, is impossible. But, if so (the suggestion is a natural one), why should we not set forth, or try to set forth, the satisfaction of our nature from all sides, and then accept and affirm this statement as truth and reality? That in practical life we should do this, at least in some sense, I am fully agreed. But I cannot on the other hand endorse generally such an answer in philosophy, |220| for I am unable to see how by such a plan we avoid theoretical shipwreck.

Truth to my mind is a satisfaction of a special kind, and, again, it is a satisfaction which, at least at first sight, is able to oppose itself to others. But, however that may be, truth seems to differentiate itself clearly from other satisfactions. And philosophy, I at least understand, has to meet specially this special need and want of truth. To say that philosophy’s mission is to find ideas which satisfy all sides of my being, and that the truth of these ideas does not otherwise matter, remains to my mind untenable. Ideas which are inconsistent, chaotic and discordant must, I think, by philosophy in the end be rejected as false. The doctrine that there is no truth in the last resort but the general working of ideas, whatever is otherwise the character of these ideas, is, or may be, acceptable, I once more agree, as a practical creed. But on the other side, with such a doctrine, it seems to me, there is an end of philosophy (cf. pp. 66, 132).

To philosophize at once with all sides of my nature is, if you will, what I desire. But I at least do not perceive how I am to go about to accomplish this feat. If you agree with me that truth is special, then I am at a loss to see how to aim at it, or to find it, or to verify its presence, by some general movement of my being. On the other hand, to produce ideas at the dictation of all my particular wants is a thing which certainly I understand. But to maintain that, whatever the intellect may say or feel about these ideas, they are all none the less true, is to me ruinous theoretically. It seems the sheer denial, ultimately, of intellectual satisfaction and truth. There is to be, in other words, no more philosophy except in the sense of a collection of useful ideas. The value of such a collection I do not seek to disparage, though the value disappears, I would insist, so far as the collection is one-sided. Still, if philosophy has to end here, |221| there is, I would repeat, in the proper sense to be no more philosophy.

Hence I have to remain so far in my old position. 2 If there is to be philosophy its proper business is to satisfy the intellect, and the other sides of our nature have, if so, no right to speak directly. They must make their appeal not only to, but also through, the intelligence. In life it is otherwise, but there is a difference between philosophy and life. And in philosophy my need for beauty and for practical goodness may have a voice, but, for all that, they have not a vote. They cannot address the intellect and insist, ‘We are not satisfied, and therefore you also shall not be satisfied.’ They must be content to ask and to repeat, ‘Are you in fact satisfied with yourself as long as we remain unsatisfied? It is for you to decide, and we can only suggest.’ Hence, I conclude, I can philosophize with my whole nature, but I cannot do this directly. On one hand the appeal is to the intellect, but on the other hand every aspect of my being can and does express itself intellectually. And the question is how far, in order to reach its special end which is truth, the intelligence has to adopt as true the various suggestions which are offered. How far, in order to satisfy itself, must its ideas satisfy all our needs?

In the above I am of course not assuming that the intellect is something apart, working by itself, and, so to speak, shut up in a separate room. On the contrary those who teach the implication of all sides of our being with and in what we call thought, deny no doctrine held by me. All that I maintain is that we have a specific function, as such verifiable in fact, and claiming to possess special rights of its own. I insist that, unless we take that claim seriously, speculation is impossible. And, if any one differs from me here, I would go on to urge that he is in conflict with fact, and rests on inconsistency. And the result, I think, is confusion or total obscurity.

|222| I retain therefore, on the whole (if I may repeat this), my former position. All that I would modify is the importance, perhaps one-sided, which was given to pain, and the emphasis on the special doubt which arose here from our ignorance. 3 I would not withdraw what I said as mistaken, but I should certainly prefer now to state the case otherwise. The better way, I think, is to point out that all sides of our nature press for satisfaction, and, if left unsatisfied, will manifest themselves so in idea. We cannot, I think, reasonably suppose an aspect of our being left somewhere outside and able to say nothing directly or indirectly. That this is not possible we could hardly prove, but its probability seems really trifling. Every element of my nature then will find a voice. Every side of my being will represent itself as satisfied in idea and in reality, if not in what we call fact. And influenced, as we must be, by these claims within us and before us, we undoubtedly in a sense philosophize with the whole of our nature. But from this I still see no shortcut to the conclusion that any need of our nature satisfied in idea, is truth. The way of logical proof to my mind must on the contrary be indirect. Suppose, that is, the intellect completely satisfied and truth really attained, can you have with this the idea or ideas of other needs unfulfilled? These ideas, if so, will be there, and they will not be true, but, at least apparently in conflict with the truth. For to admit them as necessary and as good, certainly does not in itself seem to make them true. And the real issue is whether, if left outside and not included in the truth, these ideas do not make truth imperfect in itself. The intellect has to satisfy its own requirements, and the question is whether, if the above ideas are not included but somehow conflict, those requirements are satisfied. And the further question is whether the ideas can possibly be included without being taken as true.

|223| It is obviously necessary therefore to inquire what does or would satisfy the intellect. Such an inquiry I am not undertaking in this chapter, but I may state the view which has commended itself to my mind. 4 Truth is an ideal expression of the Universe, at once coherent and comprehensive. It must not conflict with itself, and there must be no suggestion which fails to fall inside it. Perfect truth in short must realize the idea of a systematic whole. And such a whole, we saw (Chapter VII), possessed essentially the two characters of coherence and comprehensiveness. I will therefore, without pausing here to raise and discuss difficulties, go on at once to ask as to the connexion between these two characters. Have we in comprehensiveness and coherence two irreducible principles, or have we two aspects of one principle?

If we can adopt a well-known view, the answer is plain. The whole reality is so immanent and so active in every partial element, that you have only to make an object of anything short of the whole, in order to see this object pass beyond itself. The object visibly contradicts itself and goes on to include its complementary opposite in a wider unity. And this process repeats itself as long as and wherever the whole fails to express itself entirely in the object. Hence the two principles of coherence and comprehensiveness are one. And not only are they one but they include also the principle of non-contradiction. The order to express yourself in such a way as to avoid visible contradiction, may be said in the end to contain the whole criterion.

No one who has not seen this view at work, and seen it applied to a wide area of fact, can realize its practical efficiency. But, for myself, if this solution of our puzzle ever satisfied me entirely, there came a time when it ceased to satisfy. And when attempting to discuss first principles this |224| was not the answer which I offered. 5 However immanent in each element the whole is really, I cannot persuade myself that everywhere in the above way it is immanent visibly. I cannot perceive that everywhere with each partial object we can verify the internal contradiction, and a passage made thus to a wider unity of complementary opposites. And, this being so, the question as to our two principles of coherence and comprehensiveness requires, so far as I am concerned, a modified answer.

To a large extent partial objects are seen (I at least cannot doubt this) to develop themselves beyond themselves indefinitely by internal discrepancy. Everything, so far as it is temporal or spatial, does, I should say, thus visibly transcend itself, though, if there are many orders of time and space, the same self-transcendence will not hold between them. But I will not seek here to urge a principle as far as it will go, when I admit that, so far as I can see, it will not go to the end. The visible internal self-transcendence of every object is a thing which, as I have said, I cannot everywhere verify.

And the principle which in my book I used and stated was the following. Everything which appears must be predicated of Reality, but it must not be predicated in such a way as to make Reality contradict itself. 6 I adhere to this principle, and I will go on briefly to justify it with special reference to what we have called comprehensiveness and coherence. There are two main questions, I think, to which answers here are wanted, (1) If my object is really defective, and if it cannot develop itself for me beyond itself by internal |225| contradiction, how otherwise can it do this? (2) How and in what sense does an isolated object make Reality contradict itself?

(1) The object before me is not the whole of Reality, nor is it the whole of what I experience. The Universe (I must assume this here) is one with my mind, and not only is this so, but the Universe is actually now experienced by me as beyond the object. For, beside being an object, the world is actually felt, not merely in its general character but more or less also in special detail. 7 Hence, as against this fuller content present in feeling, the object before me can be experienced as defective. There is an unspecified sense of something beyond, or there may even arise the suggestion in idea of the special complement required. We may perhaps hesitate to say that the defective object itself suggests its own completion, and we may doubt whether the process should be called Dialectic. But at any rate a process such as the above seems to furnish the solution of our problem. Exactly how that idea comes by which the partial object is made good, is, on the view we have just sketched, a matter of secondary moment. The important point is that with the object there is present something already beyond it, something that is capable both of demanding and of furnishing ideal suggestions, and of accepting or rejecting the suggestions made. 8

On a view such as this the essential union of comprehensiveness with coherence seems once more tenable. We have not only connexions in the object-world, temporal, spatial |226| and other relations, which extend for us the content of a partial object. We have also another world at least to some extent actually experienced, a world the content of which is continuous with our object. And, where an element present in this world is wanting to our object, dissatisfaction may arise with an unending incompleteness and an endless effort at inclusion. The immanent Reality, both harmonious and all-comprehending, demands the union of both its characters in the object. The reader will notice that I assume here (a) that everything qualifies the one Reality, (b) that, when one element of the whole is made an object, this element may be supplemented even apart from visible inconsistency, and (c) that, to know Reality perfectly, you must know the whole of it, and that hence every partial object is imperfect. To this last point I shall return, but will proceed first to deal with the question asked as to Contradiction.

(2) For, the reader may object, ‘Suppose for the sake of argument that I admit the above, I still do not see how Contradiction comes in. Why am I to add with you that the test of truth is its ability to qualify Reality without self-contradiction?’ In replying to this I will first dispose of a point which possibly is obvious. If, in speaking of Reality, you say ‘R is mere a’, and if then, while you say that, another qualification, b, appears and is accepted, you contradict yourself plainly. To this your answer, I presume, will be, ‘Yes, but I was careful not to say “mere a”. I merely said “a”, and between these two assertions there is a vital difference.’ The question as to this vital difference may perhaps be called here the real issue. It is contended against me that I may first say ‘Ra’ and then later ‘Rb’ and then later ‘Rc’ without any contradiction. For a, b and c may be separate, or, if related, they may be conjoined externally. Hence ‘a with b’ (it is urged) is quite consistent with ‘a’, since ‘a’ remains unaffected. It will |227| hence be absurd to argue that by merely saying ‘a’ the presence of ‘b’ is denied.

My object here is to explain the sense of the doctrine which I advocate far more than to make this doctrine good against all possible competitors. And hence, if in what follows I seem to the reader to be assuming all that has to be proved, I must ask him to bear this warning in mind. Certainly I must assume here that the view of judgement which I hold is correct, and it is on this view that what follows is really founded. I have at least seen no other view of judgement which to myself seems tenable, but this is a point on which I cannot attempt to enter here. I assume then that in judgement ideas qualify Reality, and further that in judgement we have passed beyond the stage of mere perception or feeling. The form of qualification present in these cannot, as such, be utilized in judgement. And the question is whether in judgement we have any mode of qualification which is in the end consistent and tenable. I do not think that we have any. 9

|228| In all predication I assume that the ultimate subject is Reality, and that in saying ‘Ra’ or ‘Rb’ you qualify R by a or b. My contention is that, in saying ‘Ra’, you qualify R unconditionally by a and that this amounts to saying ‘mere a’. For is there, I ask, any difference between R and a? Let us suppose first that there is no difference. If so, by saying first Ra and then Rb you contradict yourself flatly. For a and b, I presume, really are different, and hence, unless R is different from a and b, what you (however unwillingly) have done is to identify a and b simply. But the simple identification of the diverse is precisely that which one means by contradiction. 10 If on the other hand, when I say Ra, I suppose a difference between R and a, then once more I am threatened with contradiction, for I seem now to have simply qualified R by a, the two being diverse. The reader will recall that we are concerned here with judgement and not with mere feeling or perception. And the question to be answered is how in judgement we are to qualify one thing by another thing, the two things being different.

A natural answer is to deny that the judgements, Ra and Rb, are unconditional. That, it will be urged, was never meant. But, if it is not meant, I ask, ought it to be said, except of course for convenience and by a licence? Let it |229| then be understood that the above judgements hold good because R is somehow different from a and from b, and that the assertion is made under this condition, known or, I suppose, here unknown. The assertion then will really be ‘R(x)a’ and’R(x)b’, the x being of course taken to qualify R. But, if so, apparently ‘Ra is true only because of something other than a which also is included in R. R is a only because R is beyond a, and so on indefinitely. Merely to say a is therefore, if our view of judgement is sound, equivalent to denying the above and to saying mere a; and that, since R is beyond mere a, seems inconsistent with itself. Contradiction therefore so far has appeared as the alternative to comprehensiveness, and the criterion so far seems to rest on a single principle.

If, in other words, you admit that the assertion ‘Ra’ is not true unless made under a condition, you admit that no knowledge in the form Ra can be perfect. Perfect knowledge requires that the condition of the predicate be got within the subject; and, seeking to attain this end (which, I assume, can never be completely realized), we are driven to fill in conditions indefinitely. The attempt to deny this, so far as we have seen, seems to force you to the conclusion that a makes no difference to R and that b makes no difference to either. And, if so, upon our view of judgement you have said nothing, or else have fallen into self-contradiction. 11

|230| The general position here taken must, so far as I see, be attacked either by falling back on designation or by the acceptance of mere external relations. I will say something more on these alternatives lower down, but will for the present seek to explain further the view which I hold. judgement on that view is the qualification of one and the same reality by ideal content. And, if we keep to this, we must go on to deny independent pieces of knowledge and mere external relations. The whole question may, perhaps, be said to turn upon the meaning and value of the word ‘and’. Upon the view which I advocate when you say ‘R is a, and R is b, and R is c’, the ‘and’ qualifies a higher reality which includes Ra Rb Rc together with ‘and’. It is only within this higher unity that ‘and’ holds good, and the unity is more than mere ‘and’. In other words the Universe is not a mere ‘together’ or ‘and’, nor can ‘and’ in the end be taken absolutely. Relatively — that is, for limited purposes — we do and we must use mere ‘and’ and mere external relations, 12 but these ideas become untenable when you make them absolute. And it would seem useless to reply that the ideas are ultimate. For the ideas, I presume, have a meaning, and the question is as to what becomes of that meaning when you try to make it more than relative, and whether in the end an absolute ‘and’ is thinkable.

That on which my view rests is the immediate unity |231| which comes in feeling, 13 and in a sense this unity is ultimate. You have here a whole which at the same time is each and all of its parts, and you have parts each of which makes a difference to all the rest and to the whole. This unity is not ultimate if that means that we are not forced to transcend it. But it is ultimate in the sense that no relational thinking can reconstitute it, and again in the sense that in no relational thinking can we ever get free from the use of it. And an immediate unity of one and many at a higher remove is the ultimate goal of our knowledge and of every endeavor. The aspects of coherence and comprehensiveness are each a way in which this one principle appears and in which we seek further to realize it. And the idea of a whole something of this kind underlies our entire doctrine of judgement. You may seek, and I agree that it is natural to seek, for another view as to judgement and truth. But, so far as I see, that effort has resulted and will result in failure.

Judgment, on our view, transcends and must transcend that immediate unity of feeling upon which it cannot cease to depend. Judgment has to qualify the Real ideally. And the word ‘idea’ means that the original unity has so far been broken. This is the fundamental inconsistency of judgement which remains to the end unremoved, and which in principle vitiates more or less all ideas and truth. For ideas cannot qualify reality as reality is qualified immediately in feeling, and yet judgement seeks in vain to escape from this foregone method. And thus, aiming to reconstitute with its ideas the concrete whole of one and many, it fails, |232| and it sinks through default into the abstract identity of predicate with subject. But this is a result at which it did not aim and which it cannot accept as true. judgement in the form ‘Ra’ never meant that between R and a there is no difference. What it meant was to predicate its idea of, and to reconstitute with its idea, the old immediate reality. But since that whole and its way of unity were not properly ideal, and since now we are in the world of truth and ideas, the judgement has failed to express itself. The reality as conditioned in feeling has been in principle abandoned, while other conditions have not been found; and hence the judgement has actually asserted unconditionally a of R and R of a. And such an assertion, it perceives, is false. The way to remedy its falsehood is to seek the conditions, the new ideal conditions, under which ‘Ra’ is true. To gain truth the condition of the predicate must be stated ideally and must be included within the subject. This is the goal of ideal truth, a goal at which truth never arrives completely; and hence every truth, so long as this end is not attained, remains more or less untrue.

Every partial truth therefore is but partly true, and its opposite also has truth. This of course does not mean that any given truth is merely false, and, of course also, it does not mean that the opposite of any given truth is more true than itself. These are obvious, if natural, misunderstandings of our view. But surely it should be clear that you can both affirm and deny ‘R(x)a’ so long as x remains unspecified. And the truth on one of these two sides surely becomes greater in comparison, according as on that side, whether of affirmation or denial, you are able to make the conditions more complete. But, as long as and so far as the conditions remain incomplete, the truth is nowhere absolute. ‘It is possible to produce sparks by striking flint’ is, I understand, offered as an instance of unconditional truth. 14 But |233| the opposite of this truth surely is also true. The thing clearly, I should have said, is possible or not possible according to the conditions, and the conditions are not sufficiently expressed in the judgement. You have therefore so far a truth which can at once be affirmed and denied, and how such a truth can be absolute I fail to perceive. The growth of knowledge consists (as we saw) in getting the conditions of the predicate into the subject. The more conditions you are able to include, the greater is the truth. But so long as anything remains outside, the judgement is imperfect and its opposite also is true. Certainly the truth of the opposite becomes progressively less, and may even be negligible, but on the other hand it never disappears into sheer and utter falsehood. 15

I cannot attempt to deal here with the alleged absolute judgements to be found, for instance, in arithmetic, 16 but I must touch on the claim of designation to offer logical truth. 17 I mean by designation the essential qualification of our meaning by pointing, or by the equivalent use of such terms as ‘this’, ‘now’, ‘here’, or ‘my’. That in fact we |234| are forced to use designation and cannot in life possibly get on without it, I suppose, is obvious. We may set this much down, I presume, as universally accepted. And how far in our knowledge, if at all, we are able to get free from it, I do not propose here to discuss (see Chapters III and IX). We have to deal here with designation merely in regard to its ultimate logical value.

At the entrance of philosophy there appears to be a point where the roads divide. By the one way you set out to seek truth in ideas, to find such an ideal expression of reality as satisfies in itself. And on this road you not only endeavor to say what you mean, but you are once for all and for ever condemned to mean what you say. Your judgements as to reality are here no less or more than what you have expressed in them, and no appeal to something else which you fail to make explicit is allowed. When, for example, you say ‘this’, the question is not as to what you are sure is your meaning if only you could utter it. The question is as to what you have got, or can get, in an ideal form into your actual judgement. And, when you revolt against the conclusion that ‘this’ appears to be a mere unspecified universal, when you insist that you know very well what ‘this’ meant, and protest that your object was something other than such illogical trifling and child’s play — our answer is obvious. What are you doing, we ask, with us here on this road? You were told plainly that on this road what is sought is ideas, and that nothing else here is current. You were warned that, if you enter here, you are committed to this principle. If you did not understand, whose is the fault? And as to your protests and ‘refutations’, they may count elsewhere but they count for nothing with us. If you cannot show that on our own principle our conclusion is wrong, then for us you have said nothing. Our whole way doubtless may be a delusion, but, if you choose to take this way, your judgement means what ideally it contains; |235| and, contrariwise, what you have not explicitly expressed and included in it is not reckoned. And, if so, no possible appeal to designation in the end is permitted. ‘This,’ ‘my,’ ‘now’ and the rest will mean once for all exactly what they internally include and so express. Your meaning has always on demand to be made explicit and stated intelligibly within the judgement.

This I take to be the way of philosophy, of any philosophy which seeks to be consistent. It is not the way of life or oi common knowledge, and to commit oneself to such a principle may be said to depend upon choice. The way of life starts from, and in the end it rests on, dependence upon feeling, upon that which in the end cannot be stated intelligibly. And the way of any understanding of the world short o: philosophy still rests on this basis. Such understanding may despise feeling, and may claim to have risen into a higher region, but in the end it will be inconsistent and be found to stand on that which, taken as truth, does not satisfy. Outside of philosophy there is no consistent course but to accept the unintelligible, and to use in its service whatever ideas seem, however inconsistently, to work best. And against this position, while it is true to itself, I have nothing to say; though I regret that to be true to itself is a thing so seldom within its power. For worse or for better the man who stands on particular feeling must remain outside of philosophy. If you are willing to be inconsistent (this is now an old story) you can never be refuted, and that is why philosophy can be said to depend upon choice. On the other hand the impulse to truth is strong, and this abnegation often too difficult, and the reason for this abnegation often, if not always, invisible without some training in philosophy. And hence the way of life, and ordinary knowledge, obscurely conscious of its own imperfection, for ever seeks to complete itself by that which, if it aimed to be consistent, would be philosophy.

|236| On the other side even within philosophy itself the counter tendency is irrepressible. Even if you harden your heart to accept the view that philosophy, as against life, is one-sided, and has to remain mere understanding, yet, even with this, you may revolt against the rule of mere ideas. If we have certainty anywhere, this seems obvious, we have certainty in feeling. Whatever else may be doubted, at least we know what we feel. And that is why to some persons volition appears specially to give indubitable fact, for volition obviously is felt. And it seems monstrous, when we seek for truth, to leave certainty behind. But what is often forgotten here is that the certainty belongs to feeling only as that is actually felt. To translate this certainty unmodified into ideas seems impossible; and how you are at once to transpose it into another mode and still use it as a test, I have failed to understand. And this is my position here against the use of designation as logical truth. I appreciate the certainty, the knowledge beyond all words and ideas, that may belong to ‘mine’ and ‘this’. I recognize that in life and in ordinary knowledge one can never wholly cease to rest on this ground. But how to take over into ultimate theory and to use there this certainty of feeling, while still leaving that untransformed, I myself do not know. I admit that philosophy, as I conceive it, is one-sided. I understand the dislike of it and the despair of it while this its defect is not remedied. But to remedy the defect by importing bodily into philosophy the ‘this’ and ‘mine’, as they are felt, to my mind brings destruction on the spot. To import them half-translated and ambiguously hybrid may give immediate relief but no less entails certain ruin. And my conclusion therefore is that at all costs consistency is better. If philosophy remains one-sided that is perhaps after all a sign that it is following its own business. And, until better informed, that is all that I wish to say with regard to designation.

|237| Apart from designation what remains as an alternative to the view which I advocate? The alternative, it seems to me, is to maintain a plurality of self-contained pieces of ideal knowledge. That course, even if we can regard the ultimate reality as being somehow a kind of passive but all-containing reservoir, leads in principle inevitably to Pluralism. And Pluralism, to be consistent, must, I presume, accept the reality of external relations. Relations external, not relatively and merely in regard to this or that mode of union, but external absolutely must be taken as real. To myself such relations remain unthinkable, and it would be natural for me to end this chapter by enlarging on that head. But my chief difficulty here is that, perhaps from defective knowledge, I am not acquainted with any sufficient attempt to explain and justify the proposed alternative. 18 A scheme of external relations in the first place is confronted by the apparent fact of feeling with its immediate unity of a nonrelational manifold. To attempt to deny this fact, or again to leave it somewhere outside, seems ruinous; but how on the other hand it is to be included in the scheme I do not know. And the external relations themselves, if they are |238| to be absolute, must, I suppose, be thinkable apart from any terms. Such a position, to my mind impossible in principle, seems, when you consider the variety and detail of the relations required, to be more than staggering. On the other side, if the relations apart from terms are not thinkable, obviously, I should have said, they have ceased therewith to be external absolutely. Your ultimate has now become a unity of terms and relations. And in any case, even if the relations are really external, there is the problem as to how somehow in fact we take them together with their terms. Further there is the difficulty caused by the fact of knowledge. If the world, as a whole, has the above character and also is so known, is the fact of our knowledge of the world’s general character compatible with the fact of the world’s being thus? Or, from the other side, if external relations were absolute, could we get to know that they were so except by a vicious argument? These are perhaps the main questions which press on any attempt to advocate external relations, and I do not know where these questions have been answered. External relations, if they are to be absolute, I in short cannot understand except as the supposed necessary alternative when internal relations are denied. But the whole ‘Either-or’, between external and internal relations, to me seems unsound.

Philosophy perhaps may be called an attempt, possibly in the end an unsuccessful attempt, to escape from the fallacy of false alternative. To assume, if external relations are unthinkable, the possibility of a scheme of relations founded on and based in their terms, or again to pass from the rejection of internal relations as illusory to the acceptance of sheer externality, seem counterpart fallacies. The alternative in i each case, if it is to stand, must justify itself independently. And in neither case to my mind is the justification likely to succeed. To myself it seems that ultimate reality is supra-relational. We find it first below relations, and again relations |239| are necessary to its development, and yet the relations cannot rightly be predicated of the original unity. They remain in a sense contained in it, but none the less again they transcend it. And the natural conclusion in my judgement is to a higher unity which is supra-relational. In such a unity the imperfect relational scheme and the imperfect whole of feeling are both included and absorbed. And I have advocated this conclusion, certainly not on the ground that it seems to explain everything, but because it appears to me to leave nothing really outside, while it loads us with nothing in the end worse than the inexplicable. My object, though I do not say that I never joined in aiming higher, is to be left with something which is positive and all-comprehending and not in principle unthinkable.

Criticism therefore which assumes me committed to the ultimate truth of internal relations, all or any of them, is based on a mistake. I cannot accept, for instance, the relation of subject and predicate as an adequate expression of reality. It evidently fails to carry over consistently into a higher region the felt sensible unity of the one and many. And there is no possible relational scheme which in my view in the end will be truth. The apprehended fact of terms in relation cannot itself, I am sure, be reconstituted ideally. In any mere relational synthesis there will be something left out, or else imported surreptitiously from elsewhere, and there will be ensuing inconsistencies which are rooted in and which point to incompleteness. I had long ago made it clear (so I thought) that for me no truth in the end was quite true, and I had myself (as I fancied) pointed out and dealt with the consequent dilemma. But it is in the nature of things, I presume, that there should always be some critics who know better.

The ideas which we are compelled to use are all in varying degrees imperfect, and certainly this is the case with internal relations. They seek to hold on to the initial felt |240| fact of identity in difference, and they point to a higher consummation beyond themselves and beyond all relations. But, at least in the end, they cannot, I should say, be thought consistently. On the other side external relations, except relatively and within certain limits, cannot in my opinion be accepted. They first of all seem to break wholly with the sensible fact, with that felt union of the diverse with which we begin. External relations not only dissolve its immediate totality, but they appear to wish to leave its carcass lying, so to speak, somewhere unexplained outside of truth and reality. And, having destroyed the starting-place, they further cut us off in principle (so far as I see) from any advance to a higher unity. The totality they seem to offer (though I hardly know what this is, or indeed whether or how it is offered) does not satisfy our ultimate desire, and, themselves unthinkable, the construction they build seems joined by inconsistency. This, at least until better informed, is what I am forced to think of external relations if taken as absolute.

Amongst ideas which, though imperfect, must necessarily be used, I may mention here the ideas of identity and difference. Identity must not on the one side be confused with resemblance, nor again on the other side can it be taken as abstract. There is, for instance, in the end no such positive idea, at least to my mind, as mere numerical sameness or diversity. On either of the above alternatives (I do not offer to argue the point here) identity is destroyed. On the other hand, when you take it otherwise as one aspect of the concrete union of sameness and difference, identity, when you think it out, becomes inconsistent. It leads at either end to an infinite process, and the same again is the case with diversity. These ideas therefore cannot be ultimate, and we naturally desire to get beyond them to something wholly consistent. Yet, if we find we cannot do this, the ideas still must be accepted. They will remain the best means we |241| possess of approximating to the truth, or of removing ourselves, if you prefer that, from the furthest extreme of error. They are not ultimately true, but they are truer far than what is offered in their stead. 19

Coherence and comprehensiveness then we have found to be each an integral aspect of system. In practice they may diverge, but they remain united in principle. And system is connected essentially with contradiction and its absence. For what is inconsistent is so far unreal, and a diversity, judged unconditionally to be real, we found was inconsistent, and such internal discrepancy tends to involve an indefinite passage beyond self. Further, apart from this, an object which is short of the whole tends naturally, we may say, to suggest its complement. And, since that suggested complement is absent in fact, reality thus contradicts itself. How the suggestion is made we have inquired. The object itself may through its own internal content pass for us visibly beyond its own limits, or, on the other hand, the addition may come to us from that whole which we feel. |242| And this whole, as felt, may contain, we saw, actually a special detail, or again a general character which was wanting in the object; or the whole may be present to us even more vaguely as a something beyond, a something which is not satisfied with what is before us. But when the suggestion is made, however it is made, we have a fresh predicate of Reality. Our object has thus become more comprehensive, and we must endeavor now to include this fresh predicate within it consistently.

With the various questions which arise there is obviously here no space to deal. There is however one point on which I will venture to add a few words. The reader naturally may ask what on the whole the above conclusion is to mean. Does it mean that I am forthwith to set down everything that I want as real? The answer is. Not so, if by ‘everything’ you understand ‘all that you want and exactly as you want it’. We have been compelled to conclude to the actual satisfaction of all sides of our being, and hence doubtless everything that we need must be included in reality. But, this being agreed on, the question remains as to the sense of such inclusion. Now to say that such or such a detail cannot be left entirely outside is one thing, and it is another thing to insist that, when included, this detail maintains untransformed its special character. The burden of proof in my opinion lies here with the assertor, and that burden is likely too often to strain or to overpass his power.

It is after all an enormous assumption that what satisfies us is real, and that the reality has got to satisfy us. It is an assumption tolerable, I think, only when we hold that the Universe is substantially one with each of us, and actually, as a whole, feels and wills and knows itself within us. For thus in our effort and our satisfaction it is the one Reality which is asserting itself, is coming to its own rights and pronouncing its own dissent or approval. And our confidence rests on the hope and the faith, that except as an expression, |243| an actualization, of the one Real, our personality has not counted, and has not gone here to distort and vitiate the conclusion. Hence our confidence is but the other side of our willingness, so far as is possible, to suppress irrelevancy and to subordinate self-will. And, wherever this is felt, there is little desire to insist that what we want must be real exactly so as we want it. Whatever detail is necessary to the Good we may assume must be included in reality, but it may be included there in a way which is beyond our knowledge and in a consummation too great for our understanding. On the other side, apart from the belief that the ultimate and absolute Real is actually present and working within us, what are we to think of the claim that reality is in the end that which satisfies one or more of us? It seems a lunatic dream from some cell the walls of which are like a bubble against the inroad of fact. The ideas and wishes of ‘fellows such as I crawling between heaven and earth’, how much do they count in the march or the drift of the Universe?

’One or more of us men’ — between these two things, so far as I see, there is little difference. We have heard, at least in this connexion, surely too much about the social nature of mankind and about the accumulated funds of humanity. Offered as an explanation of our confidence, wise or stupid, as an account, that is, of how it comes to exist, these considerations of course have their value. But offered as a justification, how can they be anything but worthless? We know how joint action with its fellows, and even that reduplicated sense of self which comes from the perception of its kind, gives assurance to the humblest. But we know again how this assurance can prove to be illusory. The gardener’s spade and the unheeding footstep have long ago pointed the moral which at least to my mind has not somehow grown obsolete. Its force to my mind is not lessened by that vaporing, new or old, about Humanity, which, if it |244| were not ambiguous, would be scarcely sane. We have here to choose, I imagine, between two courses. We must either hold to a view of the criterion which succeeds in separating it from our demand for human satisfaction; or, if we cannot do this (as I cannot), we must once and for all abandon and reject any special prerogative for human beings. Where humanity stands in the scale of being we do not know, and it seems presumptuous to fancy that we ever can learn. And such knowledge for us, so far as we can see, would be useless. But the meanest creature has its absolute right.

The spirit of the worm beneath the sod
In love and worship blends itself with God.
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, Epipsychidon

And not only in love and worship does such union hold, but in will also and in the knowledge and enjoyment of beauty and truth. And, if we believe this, the result should be at once both confidence and humility. Our truth, such as it is, has its indispensable part in the one transcendent Experience, and is so far secure. But that any particular truths of ours, as we conceive them, should be unconditioned and absolute, seems hardly probable.


1^ The present chapter appeared first in Mind for October 1909. I would take this opportunity to say that, with regard to the principle of non-contradiction as a test of truth, I agree in the main with what Prof. Bosanquet has urged in his Individuality and Value, pp. 49 foll, and 265 foll. One contradicts oneself in principle in asserting that there is no beauty or virtue, as much as in asserting that there is no truth. Certainly, as Prof. Bosanquet points out, if a man chooses to deny the fact of beauty or virtue, you cannot, with that denial, formally convict him out of his own mouth, as you can if he asserts that there is no truth. And in this latter case there is a superiority in what may perhaps be called theoretical elegance. Still in philosophy our real object is not the dialectical confutation of an opponent. Our real object is the understanding of facts which cannot reasonably be denied.

2^ Appearance, chapter xiv.

3^ Appearance, chap, xix, and pp. 609-12.

4^ Appearance; compare Chapter V and elsewhere.

5^ Appearance, 1893. I have perhaps fallen in places into inconsistency, but there was, I think, no doubt in my mind as to which of the two answers was the right one. There is, however, a natural tendency to pass from really to visibly, and this tendency may perhaps at times have asserted itself unconsciously.

6^ This is of course not the same thing as taking up a suggestion, whatever it may be, and then, if you fail to see that it is visibly inconsistent, forthwith calling it real (p. 213).

7^ The reader is referred here specially to Chapter VI.

8^ See further Principles of Logic, pp. 381-2, as well as the chapter just referred to. The reader should bear in mind that we may have (a) a detail or (b) a general character which is wanting in the object and which is actually felt by me. Beyond this there is the question whether content, not actually now felt by me, can be suggested by a reaction of the whole reality which is one with me. I am myself ready to accept even this further possibility, but I would urge on the reader the importance here of maintaining in any case the above distinctions. Cf. Chapters VI and XI.

9^ What follows in the text may perhaps be summed up thus. In feeling (with which we start) we have an immediate union of one and many, where the whole immediately qualifies the parts, and the parts the whole and one another. In judgement this immediate unity is broken up, and there is a demand for qualification otherwise. This ‘otherwise’ involves distinction and a relational plurality; and that, because simple qualification is now impossible, entails mediation and conditions. And, because in judgement we cannot completely state the conditions, we are forced into an indefinite process of bringing in new material and new conditions. The end sought by judgement is a higher form of immediacy, which end however cannot be reached within judgement.
  It may perhaps assist the reader if I put the whole matter as follows. Take any object, and you find that, as it is, that object does not satisfy your mind. You cannot think it as real while you leave it just as it comes. You are forced to go outside and beyond that first character, and to ask, What, Why, and How. You must hence take your first object as included with something else in some wider reality. There is thus a demand so far, we may say, for comprehension.
  On the other hand you want to know the object itself and not some thing else. Therefore, while going beyond the object, you must not leave it but must still follow it. If you merely conjoin it with something outside that is different and not itself, this in principle is contradiction. Hence what you want is connexion and implication, where the object is its own self as contributing to a reality beyond itself. That now is coherence and comprehensiveness in one.
  Of course the critic who ignores what Prof. Bosanquet and myself have urged as to the real meaning of contradiction, must expect to miss the sense of the doctrine which we advocate, each in his own way. Take a diversity (here is the point), a diversity used simply to qualify the same subject, and with that you have contradiction, and that is what contradiction means. The ‘And’ (see p. 231), if you take it simply as mere ‘And’, is itself contradiction. The reader should consult further the early part of Chap. XI.

10^ For a discussion of the nature of contradiction the reader is referred to Mind, n.s., No. 20, reprinted (with omissions) in Appearance since 1897, and may now be directed especially to Prof. Bosanquet’s Individuality and Value, pp. 223 foll.

11^ I will remind the reader once more that the above argument assumes that in judgement what is asserted is taken to qualify Reality, and that there is no other way of asserting. To those who believe in another way the above argument is not addressed. The same thing may again be put thus. The assertion of any object a is Ra. Here, if R is not different from a, you have really no assertion. But, if R is different, you either deny this difference and so have a false assertion, or else you qualify R (that is, a higher R) both by a and this difference. Hence you have now asserted a manifold. But, as soon as you assert of R a manifold (however you have got it), there arises at once a question as to the ‘how’. You cannot fall back on mere sense, because in judgement you are already beyond that; and on the other hand again you cannot simply identify. Hence you have to seek ideal conditions, and this search has to go on indefinitely. The above statement of course does not claim to show how these special conditions which you want are supplied. The process, that is, so far does not point to the particular complement which is required. Again, the reader must not understand me to suggest that, given a single feeling or sensation, we could by any logical process pass beyond it. I am on the contrary assuming that at the stage of judgement we are beyond any single feeling or sensation, if ever we were confined to one. In the foregoing the word logical has been used (perhaps improperly) in a narrow sense, to mean simply a visible process of intrinsic implication. See above, p. 227, note.

12^ How the ‘and’ is to stand to the external relations seems doubtful. If ‘and’ itself is an external relation, then obviously, to unite it to its terms, you seem to want a further ‘and’, and so on indefinitely.

13^ Cf. Appearance, p. 569, and Chap. VI of this volume. In my view (I am here of course in the main following Hegel) the ‘and’ is a developed and yet degraded form of the immediate unity, and throughout implies that. Make the contents of the felt totality both objective and relational, and then abstract from any special character of the relations and any special character of the totality and you have got what you mean by ‘and’. But the point to be emphasized here is that, if you abstract altogether from the totality, you have destroyed your ‘and’. The ‘and’ depends essentially upon the felt totality, and of course cannot generate its own foundation.

14^ Prof. Stout in Mind, n.s., 65, p. 42.

15^ For a discussion of the nature of Error see Chapter IX.

16^ The question as to mathematical truth appears to be as follows: (i) Are there really independent, self-consistent, self-contained principles from which the conclusions are developed, and (ii) can these conclusions be developed without inconsistency? The second of these questions I am through ignorance of the subject unable to discuss. With regard to the first all I can do here is to remind the reader that there is an emphasis on ‘self-contained’. Unless the whole process is completely intelligible per se, it depends on an unknown condition (however apparently constant) in my mind or elsewhere. A is such that b is c may (we have seen) be perfectly compatible with the statement that ‘A is such that b is not c’. The question is whether the such is completely specified and got within the judgement itself.

17^ What Prof. Stout calls ‘implicit cognition’ I take to fall under the head of designation. Otherwise the instance which he gives (on p. 44) is far from helping his case. For if the ‘I give you, &c.’ is true, surely it is obvious that I do not give you also is true, so far at least as our knowledge goes. I understand Prof. Stout really here to rely on the ‘this’, in other words on designation.

18^ Such a work we may, I hope, expect from Mr. Russell. I do not understand that at present he has offered any view which could fairly be taken as an account of first principles. In such an account obviously it would not be permissible to introduce ideas, ultimate or otherwise, without in each case discussing whether the ideas are consistent with all the rest which is accepted. In a subordinate subject one can of course start with a ‘save as hereinafter provided’, and in this way preclude objections as to inconsistency. But in dealing with first principles such a course is clearly inadmissible. I am not, however, proposing here to criticize a doctrine which, I confess, I do not understand. And I trust I shall not be taken as disparaging the remarkable contribution which Mr. Russell, I am sure, has made to philosophy. The general tendency which he so ably represents has long been as good as unadvocated among us, and there has thus been, I agree, a very serious defect in the main body of our speculation. Whatever the result, Mr. Russell’s inquiries should do a service to philosophy which, I imagine, it would not be easy to over-estimate. On the inconsistency of some of the ideas used by him I hope to touch later in this volume (Chapters IX and X). For ‘external relations’ see the references in the Index. {Relations: — external (cf. And), 43-4, 151-2, 230 foll., 237, 241, 259, 290-1, 312, 326-7, 337.} And cf. Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic, vol. ii, chap. ix.

19^ The above was written in June 1908, and since then Prof. James’s Pluralistic Universe has appeared, containing some controversial references on the subject of identity. I have, however, left the text as it stood, and will merely add that I cannot accept Prof. James s account of the difference on this point between himself and me. My difficulty with Prof. James has been that from time to time I am led to suppose that he is advocating a view opposed radically to mine, and then later discover that he holds the very view which I have defended against him. And hence I am inclined to suspect that this may be the case elsewhere. Prof. James asserts, for instance, ‘external relations’ as absolute; but I am forced to doubt whether he, any more than myself, believes in such things except as relative (see above, p. 151). And, while professing Pluralism, to myself Prof. James appears really to be a Monist, or, at most, a Dualist. Again, if there is any difference between the ‘pragmatic’ doctrine of free will and that which I, for instance, have advocated since 1876, I cannot find in what it consists. And other examples could be given. Hence, things being thus between Prof. James and myself (though I admit that this may arise from my own failure to understand), it seems to me that explanation is wanted far more than controversy. Our differences may perhaps on the whole be small when compared with the extent of our agreement. But apart from further information it would be hardly in my power to form an opinion on this point.

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Chapter IX. On Appearance, Error and Contradiction 1

Introductory, on the Absolute and the finite self (245-50). Appearance, idea, and truth (250-2). Two main views of Error, the absolute and relative view. The absolute view is to be rejected (252). The difference between error and truth is in the end one of degree (252-8). The absolute view involves Pluralism and is indefensible, both with regard to abstract truths and to matters of fact. The latter imply but cannot reach uniqueness (258-65). The absolute view of error has relative truth, and must be used in life and in the special sciences (266-7). On Common Sense and consistency (268). On the self-contradictory, how, being unreal, it can exist (269-72). In what sense the Absolute really appears and has degree (272-3).

In the following pages I am to offer some remarks on the subject of Appearance, Contradiction and Error. I have probably nothing to say here which I have not said before, and there is nothing, I imagine, in what I have said which could be called original. I, however, offer these remarks because they seem to me to be wanted, because, that is, the general view which I have adopted seems still partly misunderstood. I am not seeking here to argue with any one who wishes to criticize rather than to understand. I address myself to those whose interest in these topics is impersonal, to those who desire to make their own every way, however imperfect, in which these matters are apprehended.

I propose here first to say something as to the general foundation on which I stand. I shall next deal briefly with the relation of Error to Appearance. From this I shall go on to discuss at length what may be called the relative and absolute views of Error. I shall then examine a difficulty with regard to Contradiction, and shall finally remark on the general reality of Appearance and Degree. The reader who finds here too much repetition of what to him is familiar, will, I hope, accept the explanation which has been offered above.

The way of taking the world which I have found most |246| tenable is to regard it as a single Experience, superior to relations and containing in the fullest sense everything which is. Whether there is any particular matter in this whole which falls outside of any finite center of feeling, I cannot certainly decide; but the contrary seems perhaps more probable. 2 We have then the Absolute Reality appearing in and to finite centers and uniting them in one experience. We can, I think, understand more or less what, in order for this to be done, such an experience must be. But to comprehend it otherwise is beyond us and even beyond all intelligence. The immanence of the Absolute in finite centers, and of finite centers in the Absolute, I have always set down as inexplicable. Those for whom philosophy has to explain everything need therefore not trouble themselves with my views. Whether on the other hand the doctrine which I hold is intelligible and thinkable, depends, I should say, on the meaning which you like to give to these ambiguous terms. To myself this doctrine appears at least to have a positive sense and meaning which I am able clearly to apprehend. And in the main I inherited this doctrine from others, and find myself sharing it with others, to whom it seemed and seems intelligible. But in what follows I of course am speaking only for myself.

No one, I think, will understand such a view if he makes a mistake as to the given fact from which in a sense it starts. There are those for whom the outer world is one given fact, and again the world of my self another fact; and there are others for whom only one of these two facts is ultimate. It is in philosophy a common doctrine that there is immediate certainty only on the side of my self, a basis from which I should have thought that Solipsism must demonstrably follow. If you start from the absolute reality of your self, you need not puzzle yourself as to how you are to leave this ground and leap to a transcendent Reality. You may, |247| I think, wait till you have shown how knowledge of anything at all beyond the limits of your own self is more than an illusion. But in truth neither the world nor the self is an ultimately given fact. On the contrary each alike is a construction and a more or less one-sided abstraction. There is even experience in feeling where self and not-self are not yet present and opposed; 3 and again every state where there is an experience of the relation of not-self to self, is above that relation. It is a whole of feeling which contains these elements, and this felt containing whole belongs to neither by itself. ‘Subject and object’, you say perhaps, ‘are correlated in experience’; and, I presume, you would agree that we have here one experience which includes the correlation. But are we to say that this experience itself is a mere correlation? Such a doctrine to myself seems untenable and it seems contrary to the given fact. The given fact to me is a single whole of feeling, within which the above distinction and division holds. This totality is the property of neither side, but it contains and is superior to each. And to emigrate somewhere beyond such a whole as this seems clearly impossible. In short on our view we may go on to say that the Absolute Reality is in a sense the given fact, and that to leap to it from fact by transcendence is unmeaning. Within the Absolute you transcend the lower and partial forms in which it appears, in order to reach those which are truer. But as for transcending the Absolute to gain my finite center, or my finite center to gain the Absolute — everything of such a kind to me is mere nonsense. These ideas start by supposing that to be true which we think most false, and by assuming that to be given which for us is the one-sided product of a vicious abstraction.

From the first, if we are to speak of transcendence, my finite center is transcended. From the first and throughout it is one thing directly with the all-embracing Universe, and |248| through the Universe it is indirectly one thing in varying degrees with all other centers. 4 Nothing in the end therefore is simply private; the most intimate feeling and the simplest experience of a pleasure or pain is experienced by the whole Universe. The idea of some inner recess or sunken depth from which the one Reality is or can be shut out, is the mere creature of false theory. It is a perversion of the truth, an important truth, that each center has an experience which is never directly one with that of other centers.

Certainly I speak of my finite center, and with this an emphasis may be laid on the ‘my’, and, with this, the road that leads to Solipsism once more seems opened. But it is forgotten here that my self, the self that I take as a thing which endures in time and which I go on to oppose to the world, is an ideal construction. It is a construction which is made on and from the present feeling of a finite center. The work of construction is performed by that center and by the Universe in one, and the result depends for its origin and existence wholly on this active unity. From the other side we naturally speak of the feeling center from which my self is developed, and with which it remains throughout continuous, as ‘its’. And this expression is true so far as it means that this center is not directly one with others, and that the material and the agency out of and by which my self is made, is to that extent private. But we turn our truth into sheer error when we maintain that my self is an independent substantive, to which the rest of the world belongs somehow as an adjective, or to which other self-sufficient Reals are externally related. Such a position, we have seen, cannot be defended. That foundation and agency from and by which my self is generated, and through which alone it persists, is one thing with the whole Universe. My self may |249| rightly be called a necessary and even an indispensable element in the world. But its ultimate substantially and closed privacy seem to be no more than false inferences.

It would not, I think, be well for me to enlarge further on points where I could do little but repeat what I have said elsewhere. My object here is not so much to argue that the above views are correct, as to urge that any criticism of such views merely from the outside will touch no one who has understood them. I fully agree that difficulties are left which, if you like to say so, must be swallowed. The fact of an all-embracing, supra-relational, absolute experience you may call, if you please, ‘unverifiable’. I do not know what this word means, and, so long as its meaning is unknown, I do not care to object to it. 5 But I hold to the above fact because to me it is the necessary conclusion from what is certainly given. And I hold to it because on this ground it seems to me possible, far better than on other grounds, to do justice to the various aspects of life. And when I hear, for instance, that in the Absolute all personal interests are destroyed, I think I understand on the contrary how this is the only way and the only power in and by which such interests are really safe. For after all, whether we wish it or not, we have got somehow to believe in something, and, at least in philosophy, I suppose we wish to believe in something self-consistent. And when, rejecting the Absolute, I consider the alternatives that are offered me, my mind is affected as follows. I not only find these alternatives to be untenable and self-inconsistent, but I at least |250| cannot understand how any one, who realizes what in the end they mean, can suppose them to be compatible with the satisfaction of all our highest demands. 6 If to satisfy such interests is ‘to work’, then these alternatives to my mind do not work. But I must end these introductory reflections, such as they are, and approach the special subject of our chapter.

I. In dealing with Error we are at once led to ask how it stands to Appearance. Is all appearance to be called error? I will venture here to repeat briefly what I have stated elsewhere. 7 The term ‘appearance’ has a twofold meaning. If you take it as implying an object and the appearance of something to some one, then all appearance is at once both truth and error; for appearance in this sense involves a judgement however rudimentary. But the term is used also in a much wider sense, and you have appearance wherever, and so far as, the content of anything falls outside of its existence, its ‘what’ goes beyond its ‘that’. You have reality on the other hand so far as these two aspects are inseparable, and where one may perhaps be said to reconstitute the other. Now in every finite center (on our view) the Whole, immanent there, fails to be included in |251| that center. The content of the center therefore is beyond itself, and the thing therefore is appearance and is so far what may be termed ‘ideal’. It has what later become: for us a meaning, a meaning which is used as an idea, as an adjective which qualifies that which is other than its own being. And thus by anticipation all appearance may be called error, because, when you go on to think of it as being true, you are led (at least on my view) to recognize that it is false. So far indeed as you confine yourself to what is felt you have no recognized contradiction (I shall return to this) nor anything which for you appears, or can for you be either true or false. For these qualities in the proper sense exist only in judgement. Since however we can go on to judge of everything, all appearance may thus be called already true or false. And in the end for myself all appearance is a once both truth and error.

To pass from this point, there is, I have contended, in all truth the separation of idea and being, the loosening of that which an idea itself is from that which it means and stands for. And in my opinion this breach is at once essential and fatal to truth. For truth is not perfect until this sundering of aspects is somehow made good, until that which in fact is forms a consistent whole with that which it stands for and means. In other words truth demands at once the essential difference and identity of ideas and reality. It demands (we may say) that the idea should in the end be reconstituted by the subject of the judgement and should in no sense whatever fall outside. But the possibility of such an implication involves, in my view, a passage beyond mere truth to actual reality, a passage in which truth would have completed itself beyond itself. Truth, in other words, content with nothing short of reality, has, in order to remain truth, to come short for ever of its own ideal and to remain imperfect. 8 But on |252| the other side there is no possible judgement the predicate of which Can fail somehow to qualify the Real; and there is hence no mere error.

There are, we may say, two main views of error, the absolute and the relative. According to the former view there are perfect truths, and on the other side there are sheer errors. Degrees of truth and error may, on this view, in a sense be admitted, but in the end you have ideas which are quite right, and again other ideas which are quite wrong. This absolute view I reject. I agree that in limited spheres and for some working purposes its doctrine holds good, but I find it untenable ultimately. Ultimately there are, I am convinced, no absolute truths, and on the other side there are no mere errors. Subject to a further explanation, all truth and all error on my view may be called relative, and the difference in the end between them is one of degree. This doctrine at first sight may perhaps seem paradoxical, but, when its real meaning is perceived, I think the paradox disappears. And I will venture here to repeat and to enlarge on that which I have advocated elsewhere.

If there is to be sheer truth, the condition of the assertion must not fall outside the judgement. The judgement must be thoroughly self-contained. If the predicate is true of the subject only by virtue of something omitted and unknown, such a truth is defective. The condition left out is an x which may be filled in diversely. And, according to the way in which the unspecified condition is actually filled in, either the judgement or its denial is true. The judgement therefore, as it stands, is ambiguous, and it is at once true and false, since in a word it is conditional.

The more the conditions of your assertion are included in your assertion, so much the truer and less erroneous does |253| your judgement become. But can the conditions of the judgement ever be made complete and comprised within the judgement? In my opinion this is impossible. And hence with every truth there still remains some truth, however little, in its opposite. In other words, you never can pass wholly beyond degree.

For (a) the limited self-contained subject to which you seek to attach the predicate, is not in the end real as so limited. And (b) further, even if it were so, there remains a difficulty with regard to predication. The separation of the predicate from the subject seems at once to be necessary and yet indefensible. These obstacles in the way of perfect truth are on my view irremovable.

(a) All judgement (I have argued elsewhere) predicates its idea of the ultimate Reality a name="note9n">9 Certainly I do not mean by |254| this to deny that there is a limited subject. On the contrary in all judgement the subject is in some sense limited. 10 But, notwithstanding the presence of this narrowed subject, I urge that the assertion is made of the Universe. For the judgement affirms reality, and on my view to affirm reality is to predicate of the one Real. This one Reality I take to be a whole immanent in all finite subjects, immanent in such a way that nothing finite can be real by itself. Thus, with every finite subject, the content of that subject is and passes beyond itself. Hence every assertion made of the subject implies that which is not contained in it. The judgement in other words is made under a condition which is not specified and is not known. The judgement, as it stands, can therefore (as we saw) be both affirmed and denied. It remains conditional and relative only. Our advance in knowledge |255| consists, we may say, in further specifying the conditions; but, though in this way truth is increased, it at no point can become absolute. This is the principle and the foundation of the relative doctrine of error and truth.

Now you may object that in the judgement the condition, though it may not be stated, is understood. It is left out (you may say) merely for the sake of convenience. But, if so, the judgement, as it stands, is I presume admitted to be imperfect. And when you urge that the conditions are understood, I reply that, if so, they can be stated. But (I will return to this) I maintain that you are really unable to state the conditions. You cannot in the end specify them, and you cannot show how far, being completely specified, they would modify your subject and your judgement. The conditions therefore, which you call ‘understood’, remain in the most fatal sense unknown. And the only consistent course which remains is to deny wholly that these conditions exist. Reality consists of (we must not say in) an unconditioned plurality. Reality is not R but r, r, r. There are thus a number of self-contained subjects, and it is of one of these that you make your assertion, which is hence absolutely true. How can it be conditional in a world where nothing like a condition or an implication exists, or indeed could have any meaning? This I take to be the real absolute view of truth, and I will return to it lower down.

(b) I will now go on to notice the difficulty which attaches, not merely to the subject of a judgement, but to the predication itself. If the predicate is different from the subject, what is the sense and the justification of their unity? And, if the predicate is not different, is there any sense left at all? If we take the ‘is’ as mere identity, the assertion disappears. It once more vanishes if the ‘is’ is understood as mere difference. And the question is whether we have any other way of taking the ‘is’ which in the end satisfies us and is tenable. We do not, in my opinion, possess any other way.

|256| We start (if I may once more repeat this) from the immediate union of one and many, of sameness and difference, which we have given to us in feeling and in the inherence of qualities in a sensuous whole. This immediate union is of necessity dissolved in our judgement, and it never in any judgement is completely made good. The higher form of union, which satisfies at once our feeling, sense, and intelligence, is not found, in my opinion, within truth itself. It lies beyond and on the other side of judgement and intelligence. It is a goal to which always we may be said to draw nearer, but which never is reached wholly. And the reason is that in sense and feeling the unity of sameness and difference is not unconditioned. It is conditioned, but it is conditioned for us unintelligibly. The ‘how’ of the union remains unknown. But in intelligence and judgement the use of an unknown ‘how’ does not satisfy. An assertion made under an unknown condition, we have seen, admits the assertion of the opposite. Hence our aim is to replace the sensuous ‘is’ by a full statement of the conditions under which the predicate and subject are connected. But, our statement remaining incomplete, the connexion remains in part unintelligible. The ‘is’ of our judgement against our will is left in part still untransformed. But the consequence is that, since we can no longer use the sensuous whole of feeling, and since certainly we do not mean to affirm bare difference, all that we have left is mere identity — which again certainly we do not mean. We wish to discover how the subject and predicate are in one. The object of intelligence is to find the complete conditions under which the predicate is (we may say) equated to the subject. And, as long as we stop short of these, our judgement may perpetually advance in truth, but in the end any judgement remains erroneous and untenable. This difficulty is not removed by the acceptance of finite realities independent and self-contained. It is a difficulty inherent in predication itself.

|257| In general, then (to pass from this point), every error upon our view contains some truth, since it has a content which in some sense belongs to the Universe. And on the other side all truths are in varying degrees erroneous. The fault of every judgement may be said to consist in the taking its subject too narrowly or abstractly. The whole of the conditions are not stated. And hence, according to the way in which you choose to fill in the conditions (and no special way belongs to the judgement), the assertion and its opposite are either of them true. Again, all judgements may be condemned on the ground that they take the subject too widely. The subject turns out to be the ultimate Reality, at which the judgement did not aim specially, and so has missed its genuine aim. The subject in other words is not confined as we desired to confine it. But these two defects obviously are in principle one. Their root is the indissoluble connexion of our limited subject with the ultimate Reality, the discrepancy between these two subjects, and our inability to close this breach by ‘conditions’. Our judgement makes its predicate real, but when it is asked how, being real, its predicate differs from the Reality, it fails in the end to answer intelligibly. The same fault again shows itself when we consider the form of predication. That form in principle transcends the immediate totality of sense and feeling, and is therefore condemned to seek another way in which sameness and difference are united. This way (we have seen) consists in the discovery and statement of explicit and complete conditions. And the search for these conditions, driving (on our view) the judgement beyond any finite subject, fails of perfect success. The full implications of any judgement in the end fall beyond our understanding. This discrepancy of the whole with the finite center, a discrepancy implicit only in feeling, becomes visible in the form of judgement. The discrepancy is not removed within the region of truth proper, and that region is hence throughout |258| affected more or less by error. And the difference between error and truth will in the end consist in degree.

In the above statement the words ‘in the end’ must be emphasized. It is an old objection that, if you believe in an Absolute, all distinctions are lost, and, since everything comes to the same, nothing in particular is left. And I admit that the relative view of error and truth may be held and taught one-sidedly. But, rightly understood, it comprehends, and on a lower plane it justifies, the absolute view. In the realm of the special sciences and of practical life, and in short everywhere, unless we except philosophy, we are compelled to take partial truths as being utterly true. We cannot do this consistently, but we are forced to do this, and our action within limits is justified. And thus on the relative view there is after all no collision with what may be called Common Sense. Before explaining this more fully I will once more point out the real essence of that absolute view which I reject.

Error, upon this view, will consist in the deviation of the idea, whether by excess or defect, from that reality at which it aims. It is impossible for me here to be precise, and you may understand reality as a fact or as a mere type, or in short however you think is best. The point is that by being something else, whether by addition or substitution or default, or through all these in one, 11 the error is not the truth. Degrees need not be denied, but all the same it is insisted that we have here a matter of Yes or No. And what is here assumed is that the reality, or the type, itself is self-contained and fixed. This is an assumption made often by that which would wrongly usurp the name of Common Sense. But the ultimate root of this assumption is, as we saw, a certain doctrine as to the final nature of reality. |259| Reality must be such as to comprise self-existent pieces of fact and truth. The principle and the conclusion involved here is of course Pluralism, which, if it aims to be consistent, holds to relations which are barely external and tries to take the Universe as a mere ‘And’. 12 The point which should be emphasized is that everything ordinarily covered by the word ‘implication’ is here utterly denied. Nothing can make in the end any kind of difference to anything else, for every kind of difference and relation is external and unable to qualify that outside of which it falls. And the whole as ‘And’, since it is to make no difference to anything, seems in fact to be nothing; or else, if something, it will itself require to be comprised in a fresh ‘And’, and so on indefinitely. This is the underlying principle which seems involved in what we have called the absolute view of error. I have stated this principle in my own way, a way which I certainly attribute to no one else, and I do not propose further to criticize it here.

Among various forms of reply I will notice an answer which I have mentioned already. ‘The separate facts and truths’, it may be said, ‘need not really be separate. They are however determined definitely, because fixed by a Universe which is conditioned really throughout.’ Now, even if the conditions of our finite truth are known and could be given, surely apart from these conditions our truth is so far imperfect, and exists only by a kind of convenient sufferance. But on the other hand suppose that the conditions are not statable because they are not known; in this case the whole conclusion which I advocate appears to follow irremediably. You may possibly reply that you do not know the conditions in detail, but, none the less on this account, you believe them to exist, and you therefore are justified in taking the finite fact and the finite truth as being real and perfect. To me, however, this position appears to be untenable.

|260| There are conditions, known or unknown, from which a finite fact or truth follows. Certainly I agree to this, and I would even add that so much as this is obvious, since otherwise the fact or truth would not be there for us to discuss. But on the other hand I would urge that such a contention here is irrelevant. If there are also other conditions from which the opposite of the given truth follows, then the truth is at once true and false, and, as it stands, clearly is defective. And, in order to avoid this, and in order to show that your fact or truth, as it is, can be justified, what is incumbent on you is to exclude the possibility of these opposite conditions. The question may be put thus: when all the conditions are considered, does your finite fact or finite truth still persist in the character in which you take it? To reply in the affirmative on the ground that there are at least some unknown conditions from which the truth follows, seems hardly defensible. For the position which you have to maintain is (as we have seen) not merely positive, but has a negative side also. And I do not understand how you are to base this negation, and this exclusion of other conditions, upon simple ignorance. What is wanted is a positive and an actual inclusion within the judgement itself of all the conditions required. And the question is whether and how such an inclusion is possible. 13

Passing on from this reply we may consider truth and error under the heads (a) of abstract ideas and (b) of matters of fact. The former head (a) I shall touch on but briefly. The contention that an abstract truth is wholly and utterly true, must mean, I take it, that this truth, as it stands, is self-contained and self-subsistent. Either there are nowhere any conditions or implications, and nothing anywhere makes a difference to anything, or else in this truth you have within itself any conditions that are required. The first of these |261| alternatives involves a view of things which to my mind is in the last resort unintelligible. And the second alternative again I am unable to accept. In no case, it seems to me, is it possible to take any abstract truth as being real by itself. Every such truth appears to me to be generated, and to subsist, subject to implications and conditions not falling within itself and in the end nowhere completely known. And, if this is the case, the opposite of any abstract truth can obviously never be utter and total error. But to justify this contention in detail, and to attempt to show how the abstraction made everywhere in the special sciences entails inconsistency, is, I regret to add, even if space here permitted it, beyond my power.

I will go on to deal at greater length (b) with ‘matters of fact’. What is contended here is that a fact, in time or space or in both, is, as it stands, real, and that hence such a fact can serve as a test of absolute truth and sheer error. The ground of this contention, at least in most cases, seems to consist in an appeal to ‘designation’, a subject on which I have already remarked in the preceding chapter. 14 The ‘this’, ‘now’, and ‘here’ of my feeling may, as they are merely in my feeling, be said to be unique and self-contained. And, though this statement requires some qualification, that qualification may here be ignored. But it is a serious mistake, starting from this point, to go on to suppose that the characters of my feeling are transferred unabridged to what I call a truth about a particular fact in space and time. The particular fact is to have a unique place within a single unique order, and otherwise its nature becomes general and ceases forthwith to be what we mean by particular. But on the other hand our truth fails to reach beyond generality, and hence the opposite of our truth becomes also tenable. ‘Caesar crossed the Rubicon,’ we say, ‘or not’; but this ‘either-or’ is only true if you are confined to a single world |262| of events. If there are various worlds, it may be also true that Caesar never saw the Rubicon nor indeed existed at all. And, with this, obviously our truth has ceased to be absolute. Nor is it possible for us to remedy a disease which belongs to the very essence of our procedure. You cannot at once translate feeling into judgement and leave feeling untransformed; and what is lost in the translation is the positive uniqueness which you demand. The ‘this’, as you use it, becomes general, and, though it does not become negative wholly, it becomes essentially negative. You insist that ‘this’ is not ‘that’, though to each you give only a sense which is general. But the ‘this’ which you feel and which you mean, does not trouble itself about a ‘that’, since it is positively itself. And since your truth fails and must fail to contain this positive meaning, your truth is defective, and is self-condemned. 15

The matters of fact in which we are to find absolute reality and truth, must, in the first place, be self-consistent; and they must, in the second place, go beyond a mere generality in which both what we mean and its opposite hold good. But our matters of fact belong essentially to an order in time, if not also in space. And with regard to the self-containedness of any member in these orders there are well-known difficulties. In the case of time these difficulties are aggravated, and, far from being the technical puzzles of the school, they are visible to all who reflect. Are past events, we all ask, dead, and is the future really nothing, and, if so, what is left, and what do we mean by the present? And again, if future and past are not wholly unreal, can we on the other side say that they really exist? And, if lapse and change are not to be inherent in matters of fact, in what |263| other region shall we place them? But I propose to say nothing here on difficulties which to my mind are fatal, and which destroy the claim of matters of fact to possess independence and consistency. I will, passing from this, deal briefly with the question of uniqueness.

If truth as to matter of fact falls short of uniqueness, that truth, we have seen, is defective. Without contradicting yourself you can at once affirm and deny that Caesar crossed the Rubicon. But such uniqueness (as we have already seen in part) is unattainable by truth. For it is not sufficient to give to your event an exclusive place in its series. The event still remains a mere generality, unless the series itself is unique. What you seek is something which is positively itself, and not a sort of a heading which can be identified at once with discrepant qualities. But no truth can reach the unique order which is to be the condition of such an absolute fact.

Uniqueness is a well-known topic, which might with profit be discussed at very great length. I must confine myself here to stating briefly what to myself appears to be the one tenable conclusion. Wherever you have a different quality, you have so far something unique, and this is the one root of uniqueness. Uniqueness in a word means difference, and difference in a word means a quality. For a distinction without a difference, and again a difference without a diversity in quality, are things which in the end to me are devoid of meaning. I do not, I hope, ignore wholly the difficulties which have led to the acceptance of such ideas, but, whatever are the difficulties, these ideas I am unable to accept. Briefly then every quality, so far as it is distinct from other qualities, is unique. You cannot conceivably divide it and make two specimens within it and of it, unless you introduce further difference and go on to make so far new quality. A quality which positively is itself, and therefore and so far cannot be something else, this is in the end the |264| one foundation on which to my mind uniqueness is tenable. Uniqueness has a negative aspect, but that negative aspect must rest on a positive quality.

The ‘this’ of feeling (I ignore here the difficulties) which arise 16 everywhere, I agree, is positive and unique. But when, passing beyond mere feeling, you have before you what you call ‘matter of fact’ the case forthwith is altered. The uniqueness has now to be made ‘objective’. It has to be contained within the judgement and has to qualify the content of your truth. The possibility of another fact in another series must be excluded, so that in your fact and truth (with all its imperfection) you have nevertheless no general sort but a determinate thing. But, since you have destroyed the positive quality of the felt, you have now no means by which to reach your end. Where is the quality |265| in your truth about your matter of fact which makes it particular, which excludes other series and the possibility that in another series the same thing happens differently? Show me this quality, or else confess that your truth is not absolute, and that ‘Caesar never crossed the Rubicon’ is not utter error. You can of course assume that any order of events is unique. You can of course credit it with an unknown quality which makes it itself and which repels all other series. And I need not ask here in what sense such an assumption might be true. What I am urging is that even on such an assumption there is an unknown quality which is not, and cannot be, contained within your judgement. There is that which falls outside, and, falling outside, makes the truth conditional. For that Caesar on a certain unspecified assumption in fact crossed the Rubicon is surely compatible with the assertion that the actual fact is also otherwise. Your judgement is but conditional, because (if I may repeat this once more) you have failed to get within the judgement the condition of the judgement. 17 And the accomplishment of this (if it were possible) would involve the essential transformation of your judgement.

The absolute view of perfect truth and of sheer error rests, we saw, on the idea that separate facts and truths are self-contained and possess independent reality. And such an idea (we have argued) must be rejected in the end; but this |266| does not mean that the absolute view is to be rejected altogether. We are told (to repeat this) that to those who accept a real Absolute, and with it a relative view of truth, everything in particular becomes so much the same that the distinctions which give value to life disappear. But such a charge, I pointed out, is due mainly to misunderstanding. Within limits and in their proper place our relative view insists everywhere on the value and on the necessity of absolute judgements, both as to right and wrong and as to error and truth. Life in general and knowledge in particular rest on distinction and on the division of separate regions. And, though these divided regions are not independent and each self-contained, yet within each to a very large extent you must proceed as if this were so. If you ask me, for instance, whether there is truth in the statement that 2 + 2 = 5, I answer that (though I am ignorant of mathematics) I believe this to be sheer error. The world of mathematics, that is, I understand to rest upon certain conditions, and under these conditions there is within mathematics pure truth and utter error. It is only when you pass (to speak in general) beyond a special science, and it is only when you ask whether the very conditions of that science are absolutely true and real, that you are forced to reject this absolute view. The same thing holds once more with regard to ‘matters of fact’. Obviously the construction in space and time which I call ‘my real world’ must be used; and obviously, within limits, this construction must be taken as the only world which exists. 18 And, so far as we assume this, we of course |267| can have at once simple error and mere truth. Thus the doctrine which I advocate contains and subordinates what we have called the absolute view, and in short justifies it relatively.

On the other side, even within the special sciences and within the world of practical life, the absolute view of truth has its limits. The ideas which we use within the special sciences are hardly self-consistent, and in our practical life we experience the collision of discordant principles. And it is now an old story that, even if the worlds of our diverse interests were each at one with itself, at all events these worlds can conflict with one another. Assuredly it is not merely within philosophy that the absolute view of error and truth is driven to suggest itself as false. But for philosophy, as I at least understand it, the reason is plain. All ideas in the end, if we except those of metaphysics, lack ultimate truth. They may be called working conceptions, good and true so far as they work. And, because they work, and because nothing else could work so well, there is therefore nothing better and nothing truer than such ideas, each in its own proper place; since nothing else could possibly be more relative to our needs. But these ideas are not consistent either with one another or even with themselves, and they come short of that which we demand as truth. How far and in what sense even within metaphysics that demand can be satisfied, I have discussed elsewhere. 19

|268| The doctrine that there is no perfect truth or sheer error may be said to conflict with Common Sense, if you understand by that term the fixed prejudices of one-sided reflection. 20 This is the Common Sense which we too often find with the specialist and in the market-place. But if Common Sense is taken more widely, the above conflict disappears. Is it after all a paradox that our conceptions tend all more or less to be one-sided, and that life as a whole is something higher and something truer than those fragmentary ideas by which we seek to express and formulate it? Is it after all the man who is most consistent who on the whole attains to greatest truth? To most, if not to all of us, I should have thought that there came moments when it seemed clear that the Universe is too much everywhere for our understanding. Any truth of ours, no matter what, fails to contain the entirety of that which it tries to embrace, and hence is falsified by the reality. There is always another side, which we may be right or may be wrong to ignore, but, we being limited as we are, there must for us be of necessity another side. And indeed the whole conclusion which I advocate here on the ground of metaphysics, far from being paradoxical, comes near, I should say, to platitude. If I were not convinced of its truth on the ground of metaphysics, I should still believe it upon instinct. And, though I am willing to concede that my metaphysics may be wrong, there is, I think, nothing which could persuade me that my instinct is not right.

II. I will pass on from this to remark briefly on one of the points which remain. Error, appearance and truth, we have seen, do not in their proper sense belong to feeling. |269| And again in their proper sense they on our view are transcended in the Absolute. Taken as such and in their special character they belong to what we may call the intellectual middle-space, the world of reflection and of sundered ideas and of explicit relations. But (and this is the point on which I wish to insist) the middle-space is not detached and it does not float. Not only do all ideas without exception qualify the Real, but ideas everywhere are only so far as they are felt. Ideas exist nowhere except so far as they belong integrally to the world of some finite center.

It may repay us to consider the matter further with regard specially to Contradiction. The self-contradictory, I suppose most of us would agree, is unreal. And yet, since we discuss it, it is clear that the self-contradictory in some sense exists. Whether this is a problem which presses more on those who agree with me than on those who differ, I will not here discuss. The problem was noticed by myself some years ago (Mind, No. 20, p. 482), and I have returned to it later (Mind, No. 43, p. 308, and No. 60, p. 455); 21 and I will once more here offer the solution which seems satisfactory.

The reader will recall that on our view there is in feeling no contradiction as such. We feel uneasiness and change, and we have in feeling contents which do not agree. 22 An experience of this kind may be intense, but it gives no awareness of contradiction, and that it should give this seems impossible. For, however great our uneasiness, however discordant and unstable our condition, whatever comes in feeling must come together and must come somehow in one. So far as feeling goes, we may say that an unknown condition of union is implied and is operative. And this state of things is again present in those perceived contents |270| which no analysis breaks up, and in various forms it underlies the mere conjunctions of our confused thinking. Contradiction in the proper sense is made only by reflection. 23 It is when diversities are referred to and located in the same point that they clash. When we analyze (and to think we must analyze), the immediate bond of union, with its unknown condition, is perforce more or less discarded. The diversities can hence no longer come to us as somehow conjoined. And, attempting to connect them simply, thought forces them into an open conflict, where our felt uneasiness is developed before us into explicit contradiction. Within was a felt conjunction which failed to satisfy and caused disquiet and unrest. And it is the breaking up of this congeries, and it is the attempt to identify differences apart from any condition of union, which turns our inward unrest into the collision of a perceived discrepancy.

But (and this is once more the point which we should emphasize) there is no such thing as a mere contradiction, just as there cannot be any such thing in the world as a bare negation. Every negation (I have dealt with this elsewhere) must have a positive ground. And every contradiction implies in some sense the actual conjunction of that which clashes. Within feeling, as we saw, and in many cases even within sensuous perception, the discrepant elements were, by virtue of an unknown condition, together in one whole. And when these elements pass into judgement and are seen |271| to collide, they nevertheless, in order to collide, must in some way be perceived to coexist.

When I think of contraries I first take them as being somehow separated and yet conjoined. The special nature of this ‘somehow’, this known or unknown condition, will vary in different cases, but it here is irrelevant. 24 Then in thought I remove this imaginary condition of both apartness and union, with the result that the diverse elements tend to be forced together in one point. On this ensues a clash and a divergence, with a recognized failure. And, generalizing this experience, we now set down the elements as contraries. We say that they are such as not to be predicable of one and the same subject, the truth being that we have abstracted from them and from the subject every condition of union. But the above experience is possible only because the contrary elements are not simple contraries. In order to perceive them or to think of them, even as repellent, they must be still before us in a medium in which so far somehow they do not collide. And obviously they and our whole knowledge of their collision must be felt. It must depend on a positive and an immediate awareness within my finite center.

Contradiction in the proper sense thus belongs to the middle space of our reflective world, and it may be said to inhabit that region, or rather part of that region, which lies between feeling and perfect experience. But contradiction is perceived nowhere except on the ground of a neutral conjunction, present to sense or imagination, and it is possible |272| only because in the end it rests and is based on felt positive experience. And contradiction, we may add, is erroneous only because it is deficient, because the condition on which the contraries were conjoined is in part suppressed, and because the condition of their higher unity has not been supplied. We should, however, remind ourselves that this problem, like other problems, is but soluble in part. The immediate immanence of the one Reality in finite centers has always to be presupposed; and this fact, we have seen from the first, remains inexplicable.

III. I will end by touching on a difficulty which was noticed some years ago by Prof. Stout. 25 The Absolute must really have appearances or it could not appear, and hence the appearances (it is objected) cannot really be mere appearance. Before discussing this, I would first mention that on my view there is not and cannot be any such thing as a mere appearance. 26 The reader next should recall the twofold meaning of the word ‘appearance’. That sense of the term in which something appears to some one, we have seen, is secondary. What is fundamental is (as we have seen) the presence in everything finite of that which takes it beyond itself.

Having removed from our minds these possible misconceptions, we may address ourselves to the above dilemma. Are we to maintain that the Absolute does really appear? If we answer No, then it seems to follow that nothing appears. But if on the other hand we say Yes, then finite centers seem at once to have become absolutely real. Our true reply, as I understand the matter, is to say ‘Yes, but also and in the end No’. The Absolute really appears, but the conditions of its appearance are not known. 27 Our |273| former statement therefore is defective, and comes short of truth in the highest sense of that word. It needs correction somehow, but how to correct it we are unable to discover. Nor can we even take our statement to be in the end corrigible by any mere intelligence. Hence on the one side, because nothing intelligible can be set against it, its truth is ultimate and final; while on the other side that truth remains defective and must in a sense be called untrue. The real appearance of the Absolute in finite centers is a thing which therefore in the above sense can rationally be at once affirmed and denied. The same reply holds once more with regard to the ultimate reality of degrees. There is a point where the ‘how’ of things passes beyond the nature of our vision, and where our knowledge, because defective, is condemned in a sense to remain erroneous. On the other hand, since there is nothing which can be opposed to our main conclusion, that conclusion is certain, and we may rest on it as finally true. All understanding and truth, upon my view, to reach its end passes beyond itself. It is perfect only when beyond itself in a fuller reality, But short of such a completion, and while truth remains mere truth, there are assertions which are so far ultimate and utterly true. This general explanation of the proposed difficulty was offered in my volume (Appearance, pp. 544-5). I should hardly exaggerate if I added that the view of truth and reality which, I think, solves the above dilemma, is really the beginning and the end of that volume. It is at any rate a conclusion offered as something which can stand between us and a logical issue in theoretical scepticism. It is a doctrine which to my mind is less one-sided than others, and, so far as I can judge, the criticisms directed against it have left it unshaken. This is, however, a point on which the decision must rest with the reader.


1^ First published in Mind for April 1910, and, with the exception of some small additions and of the Supplementary Notes, written rather more than a year previously. There are some further questions as to the nature of Truth which will be dealt with in the chapter which follows.

2^ But on this difficult point see Chapter XI, pp. 350-1.

3^ See Chapter VI.

4^ I cannot accept the view that my self in relation with other selves is a fact immediately given. For this point and for what follows see further in Chapter XIV.

5^ I should myself suppose that no philosopher ever did hold a doctrine which he did not take to be in some sense verifiable. And no one, I should have thought, ever honestly advocated ideas, unless he thought that these ideas served some purpose, and so were useful and worked, and naturally possessed the character required for such working. I do not know why certain critics, in order to grapple more effectively with the Absolute, should apparently think it well to begin by divesting themselves of everything like ordinary Common Sense. On the other hand I gratefully welcome the existence of various criticisms, which, whether they seem to me to be justified or not, are at least thoughtful and sane.

6^ One hears, for instance, that our spiritual interests require the absolute reality of time; and there seems often to be literally no idea that such a doctrine is contrary to that which we most care for.
  The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
  Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
  Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
  Nor all thy Tears wash out a word of it.
  — Omar Khayyám
  Surely, as an ultimate truth, this is as abhorrent to our hearts as it should be false in our philosophy. And, if on the other side you emphasize the ultimate truth of chance and change, and urge that lapse and instability invade even the past, I do not see that you have gained anything. If there is to be no supreme spiritual Power which is above chance and change, our own spiritual interests surely are not safeguarded. But, with any such Power, it seems to me nonsense to talk of the absolute reality of time.

7^ Appearance, pp. 163-6, 485-6.

8^ Thus when I think of the Absolute, in which all ideas are in the end real, that truth and thought does not, in my judgement and for me, reconstitute the psychical being of my idea. Everything, that is, implies everything else. But in a judgement you fail to include the condition on which your idea is true of the Real. And you also fail to include the condition on which your judgement, itself as a fact, exists. And these two disabilities in the end are one.

9^ At the same time the very form of predication prevents any judgement from being perfectly true (Appearance, p. 544). Subject to this condition the above doctrine to my mind holds good. There is an objection, raised by Mr. Russell (Principles of Math., p. 450), that on this view you cannot say that ‘reality is real’ or that ‘Existence exists’. No truth (I have just stated) can upon my view be perfectly true, but, apart from that, I should find it easier to deal with this objection if I were told the sense in which any one ever could want to say that Reality is real. To affirm that Reality has the character of reality, I presume, is harmless, while to suggest that Reality is a member of a class ‘real’, to my mind is monstrous. And it would be of course wrong to call it ‘real’, in some sense which would restrict it. With regard to ‘Existence exists’, once more, until I know exactly what that means, I can hardly reply. What I can say is this, that to place ‘Existence’ itself within the sphere of existence would be clearly indefensible. There are, however, several other objections raised by Mr. Russell (ibid., p. 448), which I think I understand, and to which I will reply briefly, (i) It is (as we have seen) true that predication is in the end self-contradictory, (ii) It is true that relations (a) do, and (b) do not, presuppose their terms. Terms (a) must be, and (b) cannot be, different through being related. And within any related term there is a difference which sets up an endless process, (iii) It is true that to predicate of the Absolute involves contradiction, because it involves an unjustified difference between subject and predicate. It implies that the Absolute as subject is not the Absolute but a distinction made within it, and so on indefinitely. While admitting or rather urging all this, I do not agree with Mr. Russell that I have failed to see and to meet it.
  There is an objection raised by Prof. Taylor, in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. ix, p. 205, to which I have to make much the same reply. Certainly I myself am not a class and cannot (to speak strictly) be a predicate, but then again, to speak strictly, I cannot be a subject either. Our relational logic (no matter of what kind) is in the end not adequate to reality. It is adequate neither to my self nor the Universe, nor on the other side to any given fact of sensuous perception or of feeling. From this I do not see that any conclusion follows which is contrary to that which I hold. For such a conclusion would (as I understand) be required other premisses which I should reject.
  I should be glad to carry out here a sort of promise, and to discuss the arguments advanced by Prof. Dewey, in Mind, No. 63, but I do not find that this is possible. Any objection resting on the antithesis of ‘formal’ and ‘material’ I obviously cannot deal with, unless supplied by Prof. Dewey with a clear statement as to the meaning to be given to these ambiguous terms. And as the idea of truth’s plunging us into contradictions is to Prof. Dewey obviously inconsistent with the idea of its also pointing to an end above and beyond them, and also realizing that end progressively, though always imperfectly — and as on the other hand all this to me is consistent, and was offered to and urged on the reader as consistent and true — there is really nothing to be discussed by me, and no more to be said but to leave the issue to the reader. But I am ready to admit that, though I seldom read anything written by Prof. Dewey without pleasure, when it comes to first principles I seldom succeed in understanding him. On some of the points referred to in this footnote I shall once more touch in the Supplementary Notes appended to this chapter. And the reader must, on the whole subject, be requested to read Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic (Ed. II), vol. ii, chap. viii.

10^ See Chap. XI, pp. 331 foll.

11^ Substitution in the end seems otiose, and addition and default seem in the end to imply one the other.

12^ See Chapter VIII, pp. 230-1.

13^ I shall discuss lower down the attempt to gain this inclusion by postulating uniqueness.

14^ Chapter VIII, pp. 233-6.

15^ I may perhaps mention that criticisms on Hegel, with regard to his teaching as to the meaning of ‘this’, usually show to my mind an entire failure to perceive what he is driving at. But the reader must not take the statement in the text, however much it owes to Hegel, as being an exposition of his doctrine.

16^ Of these I will mention two. In the first place every different ‘this’ will require a new quality. In the second place we have the problem of the connexion of identity with difference, and of the ‘infinite process’ which arises at either end. Chapter VIII, p. 240. Uniqueness is a subject to which I desire to return. I fully assent to the remarks on Individuality and Uniqueness made by Prof. Bosanquet in his Logic (Ed. II), vol. ii, pp. 260-1. I agree that the further an individual is removed from designation, the more unique (the less of a mere ‘sort’) it becomes, though it never becomes unique utterly. A thing, that is, has uniqueness through being above as well as through being below a kind or class. And the former of these senses is perhaps the more important of the two. But I do not understand that this consideration conflicts with the statement of the text.
  I will add here that what Mr. Russell (On the relations of Universals and Particulars, p. 24) calls ‘the self-evident fact that certain spatial relations imply diversity of their terms, together with the self-evident fact that it is logically possible for entities having such spatial relations to be wholly indistinguishable as to predicates’ to me remains inadmissible. On the contrary, that every place must differ from others in quality, and again, that in spatial ‘occupation’ there is not a mere relation, is to my mind clear fact. Occupation implies, I should say, a union of qualities. Hence it is only in one respect, and by virtue of an abstraction from their difference, that two things in two different places are the same. I fully admit that the above is in a sense unintelligible. But I do not find that, like Mr. Russell’s view of ‘occupation’, it violates plain fact; and, again, to me it is not in the same sense unthinkable. For mere numerical diversity remains to me unthinkable, unless, while thinking it, I allow differences in quality to introduce themselves surreptitiously.

17^ In order to include uniqueness within the judgement ‘Caesar crossed the Rubicon’ you would require (I should say) not less than two false assumptions, and with anything less must fail, (i) You want (a) an assumption that there is only one possible order in space and time — an assumption which in my opinion is not true (Appearance, chap, xviii); or (b), failing this, you must include a definition of the particular order which you mean, (ii) Having got so far, (a) you must make a further assumption that within your unique order there is no possible recurrence of ‘Caesar’ — and this assumption again to my mind is quite untenable. Or you must (as you cannot) define the ‘this’ of that Caesar which you mean. The reader will of course understand that the above unique order, with its, exclusion of possible recurrence of ‘Caesar’, has got to be made true unconditionally of the Universe.

18^ Chapters III and XVI. Apart from a certain reservation as to dreams and dreamlike states, this ‘real world’ is the world of practice. The difference in practice, between my reaching here and now my end and failing to reach it, may be said to be absolute. And this absolute difference is thus fully preserved in our relative view. We must remember here, on the other side, that the ends to be realized in my practice cannot all be said to belong to my ‘real world’, and are certainly not all ‘practical’. No doctrine of practice for the sake of practice will stand before an inquiry into the meaning of ‘practice’.

19^ Appearance, pp. 544 foll. How far (we may ask here in passing) are the ideas used by metaphysics to be called ‘working conceptions’? (i) In the first place these ideas are not merely ‘instrumental’. They are not mere means to some end outside of, or other than, understanding. And (ii) they are not means to, or elements in, the understanding merely of one limited region. On the contrary, metaphysics aims at understanding the world in principle, in general and as one whole. The ideas used for this purpose, since they work, may, if we please, be called working conceptions. They are again all imperfect, and all differ in the degree in which they approach and fall short of perfection. But the main point is this, that, in order to work metaphysically, these ideas must themselves have the character of the metaphysical end. They do not merely conduce to a foreign purpose, but are themselves the very existence in which their end and principle is realized. The phrase ‘working conceptions’ tends, I think, to suggest that this is otherwise, and hence it seems to me safer not to apply it to the ideas of metaphysics.

20^ On Common Sense and Consistency compare Chapter V, pp. 123-4, 132-3; and, again, Chapter XV, p. 430.

21^ See Chapter III, p. 41, note, and Chapter X, p. 302.

22^ Cf. Chapter VI, pp. 168 foll., 174. I may perhaps be permitted to mention here, in passing, that I do not venture to derive change from inconsistency. I think it better to take change as belonging to the inconsistent finite, but exactly how we do not know.

23^ See Appearance, Appendix, Note A. The reader will remember that we have diversities which can sensuously be in one and ‘coinhere’, and other diversities where we find that this is not possible. An inconsistency like change, for instance, can be felt and perceived (so far as appears) immediately and simply. An inconsistency, again, such as a round square, cannot be perceived or felt apart from some further complication. This distinction possesses on certain views, which I think erroneous, a fundamental importance. But a thing to me is not self-consistent or real because it is present in feeling or to perception. Beside the pages of Appearance just referred to, the reader will find some further discussion in Mind, No. 20, pp. 475-81.

24^ When I, for instance, think of a round square, I may for the moment drop out of view the special meaning of these words, and couple them as if they were some other adjectives, like ‘cold’ and ‘green’, which can together qualify a perceived thing. Or, if I realize the meaning of ‘round’ and ‘square’, I may drop out of view the identity of the space which these adjectives are to qualify. I take the round space and the square space as being somehow diverse; or again I may deliberately represent them as two surfaces, one lying over the other, and so compatible. The moment, however, that I suppress the diversities and make these spaces really one, a collision takes place and the round square is destroyed.

25^ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, ‘Mr. Bradley’s Theory of Judgement,’ pp. 27-8.

26^ Appearance, pp. 557-8.

27^ This again is in principle the answer to the objection urged by Prof. Royce (The World and the Individual, Series i, pp. 550 foll.). The objection, as I understand it, rests on the assumption that the transcendence of the relational form, which is experienced in the Absolute, must itself be in the relational form, or else be nothing. But it is precisely the opposite of any such alternative which, at least I have contended, is true.

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Chapter IX. Supplementary Notes

Supplementary Note I.

Professor Stout’s view of Error. It is hard to say how it differs from that of Professor Bosanquet and myself, and further explanation on his part is wanted.

|274| Since the publication of the foregoing paper there have appeared (in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1910-11) two essays dealing with the subject of Error. The first of these, by Dr. Schiller, makes, so far as I see, no contribution to the discussion of the subject, but the second, by Prof. Stout, has, as was natural, a different character. Without any claim that he some years back ‘inaugurated the modern theory of Error’ 1o (whatever that may be). Prof. Stout addresses himself directly to deal with the well-known difficulties of the problem.

His essay, interesting as it is, I have found extremely hard to understand. If Prof. Stout’s main doctrine is that Error consists in treating what is only possible as if it were actual, his main conclusion would seem to differ hardly, if at all, from that which I have advocated. It would apparently be another way of saying that Error takes the conditional as being categorical and absolute. And, again. Prof. Stout’s solution of the question as to how we can think of the contradictory, seems to me (perhaps wrongly) to be the same in principle as that which I have offered myself. 2o But, apart from Prof. Stout’s criticism of myself, to which I will return, there are other things which point to a divergence of our views.

Prof. Stout’s account of error implies to my mind (perhaps mistakenly) the metaphysical doctrine that all possibilities are, as such, ultimately real. If this is his position, he seems to me not to appreciate the difficulties by which it is beset. But, if this is not his position, I have failed to understand how exactly it differs here from my own. Certainly Prof. Stout’s apparent acceptance of the doctrine 3 that the difference between an actual |275| and possible object does not lie in the object’s content, tends to make a chasm in principle between our ways of approaching the matter. But until Prof. Stout deals with the whole subject of Error and of Reality more fully, I can hardly hope myself to estimate the amount and the nature of our disagreement.

How great, in one sense at least, that disagreement is, may be seen from the criticism offered by Prof. Stout on myself. He says, on p. 199, ‘My position [is?], that whatever is thought, in so far as it is thought, is therefore real. His [Mr. Bradley’s] position is, that whatever is thought, in so far as it is thought, is therefore unreal.’ I should have said that no one, except Prof. Bosanquet, has emphasized more strongly than myself the impossibility of thinking anything which is unreal. And the exact sense in which for instance the possible, as such, is real for Prof. Stout and is not real for me, is precisely the point which, so far as I see, he does not explain. Again it is said that according to me ‘the whole development of thinking consciousness resolves itself into an endeavor to reconstitute the unity which it has destroyed’. But this, I have tried to point out, is not my view. The unity at which thought aims lies beyond that from which it starts. Otherwise the consequence would follow that, the more you think, the more you remove yourself from reality, nor could such a consequence well escape the notice of any one who has learned from Hegel. In short, for a satisfactory discussion between Prof. Stout and myself, each of us should take account of the sense or senses in which the other of us understands reality. And since I do not know of any sufficient explanation as to the sense in which the possible according to Prof. Stout is real, I cannot in the end judge as to the meaning of his account of Error. It would be a satisfaction to me to find that really in the main we are agreed. But in any case I should hope to profit, if Prof. Stout would return to a problem at once so interesting and so difficult.

Since writing the above I have read the remarks in Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic (Ed. II), vol. i, pp. 383-4. I am glad to find that he considers that Prof. Stout and himself come to much the same conclusion, for certainly I accept the view of Error taken by Prof. Bosanquet.

With regard to the latter’s two cases of error I should understand them as follows.

|276| (i) Wherever S-P is asserted, it is asserted as real, and therefore as fully mediated. Hence, so far as the condition of the judgement falls outside the judgement, we have error. We have that which can be at pleasure affirmed or denied. And, even where S-P is asserted of a sphere limited by designation, we still have error in the above sense, since we fail to get into the judgement the full conditions under which, in this sphere, S and P hold together. Error is so far, we may say, the assertion of the unmediated as mediated.

(ii) Where S-P is affirmed of a certain designated world, S-P also may contain and depend on a condition x1, which condition is incompatible with a condition x2 taken to be present in the designated world. S-P therefore is valid elsewhere but not in this world. Whether the condition x2 is viewed as positive or as privative makes no difference. Error here consists in discrepancy with something limited which is taken as absolutely real. This, I understand, is the kind of error of which I have spoken in Chapter IX, p. 266.

Error is always difference between an idea and reality. And hence in the end all truth is in varying degrees error, and, on the other side, no error is absolute. For every idea, to be an idea, must be real. But, where the reality has been for any purpose limited, and is viewed in this character as absolute — so far we can have unconditional truth and utter error. This is the doctrine which I understand to be advocated by Prof. Bosanquet and myself. If I could think that Prof. Stout also had now been led to a conclusion much the same, that result would be welcome. In any case I am sure that the subject would gain if he would discuss it further.


1^ This claim (I do not suggest that Prof. Stout approves) is made on his behalf by Dr. Schiller, p. 156.

2^ See Chapter III, p. 41, and Chapter IX, pp. 269-71.

3^ I have discussed this matter in Chapter III. The conclusion there advocated has so far as I know not been met otherwise than by being simply ignored.

Supplementary Note II. 1

I. Professor Royce argues that Number can be created a priori and is self-consistent. But neither of these contentions is really tenable (277-80). Mr. Russell’s fundamental principles. How are Unities to be reconciled with Pluralism? (281-2). Difficulty as to certain ideas (282), and especially Class (283-6), Negation and Zero (286-8).

In this Supplementary Note, I propose to deal briefly with two subjects. (I.) I wish to examine the doctrine as to Number advocated by Prof. Royce in The World and the Individual, First Series. And (II.) I must attempt to show that some of the main ideas on which Mr. Russell’s views seem to rest, are inconsistent and ultimately untenable. It is with great reluctance |277| that I enter upon either undertaking. I am ignorant of mathematics, not willingly but through radical incapacity; and again (it is perhaps the same defect) I cannot follow any train of reasoning which is highly abstract. If under these circumstances what I am about to write proves worthless, no apology, it is clear, can help me. The reader in that case must judge of me as seems to him best.

I. I understand Prof. Royce to contend that number and truths about number can be constructed a priori, and that these truths are completely unconditional and self-consistent. The origin in time of our perception of number and quantity he, I understand, does not discuss, and we are concerned simply with what may be called an act of logical creation. I will ask first as to the nature of the process, and next as to the character of the result.

The process of creation appears to consist in reflection, a process more or less familiar to students of philosophy. We are to think of some object (no matter what), and then we are to think of our thought of this object, and so on indefinitely. In this way we gain (it is contended) an ordinal series where the process contains no unknown condition, and where the result is consistent. Now I agree that in the above way we produce somehow a series which is ordinal, in the sense that each fresh product somehow contains and preserves what has gone before. I do not mean that, after reflecting in such a manner for a certain time, I know in fact where I am, and could say how many steps are included in my present result. To gain that knowledge I should say that a further operation is required. Still I admit (what is, I presume, the main point) that through the process of reflection an ordinal series is somehow generated. What I have to deny is first (a) that the generation consists in pure thought, and next (b) I have to deny that the product is consistent with itself.

(a) You have an object (O) before your self (S). You then go on to reflect that this is so; and in consequence you now have a new object (S-O) before you. A further reflection of the same kind gives an object
(S — | )
and thus you make an ordinal series which has in principle no end. Now what is the |278| nature of this process? Prof. Royce contends that all that you start with is not a one in many, nor even a mere many, but simply an object. This is all that there is, and then pure thought (I understand) supervenes and produces the result. Here I join issue. I can no more accept Prof. Royce’s doctrine than I can accept what is often understood as the process of Hegel’s dialectic. I do not believe in any operation which falls out of the blue upon a mere object. On the contrary I maintain that with an object you have, and you must have, a felt self. And I urge that this felt self is a one in many and many in one, which for the intellect remains incomprehensible, and which therefore for the intellect depends on an unknown condition. Hence you really start with a felt subject (S) which is complex, and which contains in itself the object (O), which is both felt in it and opposed to it. Whether we ever in fact have an O which is single, I need not stop to discuss. In any case your experience at the start is complex, and you have a demand on the part of this experience to make the object adequate to the whole subject, and to carry out the subject into the object. This is the basis and this is the impulse which (I contend) sets up the process of reflection. And the process cannot end, because to make O=S would destroy in principle the whole experience. To come to an end the process must simply cease, or else lapse back, or else be taken up into something higher.

Thus the series of reflection is generated by and through the unity of immediate experience. And this unity is a one in many and a many in one which for thought is not intelligible or unconditional. It is this totality which for ever demands an expression which is unattainable within our relational experience, or within any experience for which the object is against the subject in some way which we are unable to understand. The principle of the process therefore does not reside in pure thought, but on the contrary must be said to imply a mere conjunction. And any process other than the above to my mind is even impossible. There is for me no such thing as a mere object or mere objects, nor any process of reflection which falls down from nowhere.

(b) Prof. Royce insists that both process and product are self-consistent and free from all contradiction. If what I have already urged is correct, no such claim can be admitted. An |279| immediate totality, unless you allow and include an unknown condition, cannot without inconsistency be formulated in thought. If the one is not one of the many, it seems to be nothing, and if it is one of the many, there is no one left in which the many can be. There is therefore either an unknown condition or else a self-contradiction. So again with the whole and its parts. So again with the class and its members, a matter to which later in this Note I shall return. We have a difference which cannot be, and yet must be, and we have to choose between a self-contradiction and the admission of an unintelligible condition. So again with subject and object. These have got to be different, or what are they? On the other side the difference of the object excludes perfect satisfaction. The end is not reached except for a passing moment. The object therefore both must remain, and yet cannot remain, over against the subject. There is a ‘beyond’, to be for ever asserted and denied. The formula is ‘Realize the subject as object beyond any object’, and surely such a formula is not self-consistent. For myself I urge that there is here an unknown condition and that so the contradiction is avoided. But how Prof. Royce can avoid it I am unable to say.

Hence the principle which generates the series carries within itself a difference and a negation, which it at once asserts and denies. To Prof. Royce, on the other hand, the principle is wholly positive (p. 510); but how that can be I fail to perceive. The illustration, again, advanced by Prof. Royce (pp. 503 foll.) appears to myself to contain an obvious and glaring fallacy (compare Prof. Taylor’s Elements of Metaphysics, p. 150). The idea of a copy which has not an existence different from, and so far negative of, its original, remains to me meaningless. If you take away the idea of another existence, another and a different medium and fact, you for my mind abolish the essential element of copying and representation. And yet, according to Prof. Royce, the coming into existence of the copy is not to alter the fact. And, while I hesitate to attribute to Prof. Royce such an open inconsistency, I have been unable in any other way to interpret his teaching. I must end therefore by submitting that both principle and product are self-contradictory in essence. And I have already urged that the process is not unconditional and ‘pure’.

|280| Finally there is a question on which I would invite the reader to reflect. The empirical origin of our sense of more and less, of quantity and of number I am willing to treat here as being irrelevant. But another question remains which can hardly be dismissed. How far does our arithmetic depend upon spatial schemata? 2 How far can we rid ourselves of the datum of space as perceived, and how far is this datum ultimately consistent and intelligible? I raise no separate doubt as to time, since our developed perception of time itself appears largely to be spatial. How far, even to think of (I do not say to experience) the relation of object to subject, are we forced to make this a spatial relation to something which certainly is not in space? And the endless process of reflection on reflection, how far without a spatial scheme can any such process exist? And what in the end holds our ordinal series both apart and together? These questions to my mind are very relevant, but I can do no more than suggest them to the reader. Apart from any answer to them, I have however endeavored to show that Prof. Royce’s generation of number is, in the form in which he advocates it, not proof against criticism. I cannot however end without thanking him for the service which he has done in calling attention to issues, the importance of which, I am sure, he in no way exaggerates.

II. I have now to remark on some of the fundamental ideas used by Mr. Russell, and must endeavor to show that these ideas contain inconsistency. It is a task to which in one sense I am quite unequal. I am incompetent utterly to sit in judgement on Mr. Russell’s great work (Principles of Mathematics). But, if the mathematical part is as good as the part which is philosophical, I am sure that he has produced a book of singular merit. To confine myself here to a one-sided criticism of ideas which I can only partially comprehend, is ungrateful to me, and I could not do it if I did not feel myself in a sense compelled to say something.

I understand Mr. Russell to hold that mathematical truth is true perfectly and in the end, since the principles as well as the inferences are wholly valid. The fundamental ideas, I understand, |281| are throughout self-consistent. If there were an exception, the extent of its influence would raise a question at once of the most formidable kind, and the main doctrine obviously would be imperiled. But this is a point on which, through my own incapacity, I have been unable to appreciate Mr. Russell’s decision. I must therefore, passing this by, go on to inquire as to the consistency of some leading ideas.

I encounter at the outset a great difficulty. Mr. Russell’s main position has remained to myself incomprehensible. On the one side I am led to think that he defends a strict pluralism, for which nothing is admissible beyond simple terms and external relations. On the other side Mr. Russell seems to assert emphatically, and to use throughout, ideas which such a pluralism surely must repudiate. He throughput stands upon unities which are complex and which cannot be analyzed into terms and relations. These two positions to my mind are irreconcilable, since the second, as I understand it, contradicts the first flatly. If there are such unities, and, still more, if such unities are fundamental, then pluralism surely is in principle abandoned as false. Mr. Russell, I cannot doubt, is prepared here with an answer, but I have been unable to discover in what this answer consists. To urge that these unities are indefinable would to myself be merely irrelevant. If they had no meaning they could serve no purpose, and the question is with regard to their meaning. If that is not consistent with itself or with Mr. Russell’s main doctrine, then that meaning is not admissible as true, unless it is taken subject to an unknown condition. But, if so taken, that meaning, I would urge, is not ultimate truth. For a certain purpose, obviously, one can swallow whole what one is unable to analyze; but I cannot see how, with this, we have rid ourselves of the question as to ultimate truth.

On my own position here I need not dwell. For me immediate experience gives us a unity and unities of one and many, which unities are not completely analyzable or intelligible, and which unities are self-contradictory unless you take them as subject to an unknown condition. Such a form of unity seems to me to be in principle the refutation of pluralism, and on the other side it more or less vitiates the absolute claim of all truths (I cannot stop here to make the required qualification) including those of mathematics. Now what is Mr. Russell’s attitude towards |282| a position of this kind? On the one hand I understand him to reject it most decidedly. On the other hand, wherever anything like ‘implication’ or ‘unity’ is involved (and how much have we left where these are excluded?), Mr. Russell seems to myself to embrace a conclusion which in principle I find it hard to distinguish from my own. And, it being clear to me that there is something here which I have failed to comprehend, I must leave this fundamental issue and go on to consider some difficulties more in detail.

The notion of ‘implication’, 3 I understand Mr. Russell to say, is necessary for mathematics; and let us consider very briefly what this notion involves. It seems to mean (if it means anything) that something is both itself and more than itself. There is a difference here which is both affirmed and denied; for of course that anything should imply merely itself is meaningless. But how can anything be at once itself and in any sense not-itself? Mr. Russell leaves us here, so far as I have seen, without any assistance. But with this we are face to face with the familiar problem of the one and many, the universal and particular. We are driven back to the immediate experience where the whole is in the parts and where, through the whole, the parts are in one another. But such an immediate experience seems in the first place (I would repeat) to contradict pluralism, and in the second place it offers by itself no theoretical solution. The same difficulty appears in ‘such that’. If this phrase does not mean that a particular is also a universal, and with a certain consequence, it surely has no meaning at all. But how to justify this necessary inconsistency Mr. Russell does not tell us. Among other fundamental troubles of the same kind I would mention the ideas of ‘occupation’ and of ‘magnitude of’. Certainly Mr. Russell asserts here the existence of a relation, but this assertion to my mind seems obviously opposed to fact, and once more I find an unjustified recourse to the inconsistency of immediate experience.

I will enter now on some instances of a somewhat different kind, where however the difficulty remains at bottom the same. I will not repeat what in a former chapter I have urged with regard |283| to the word ‘And’ (Chapter VIII, p. 231). Its relevancy and its importance in this connexion however are obvious. But, leaving this, I will touch briefly on the subject of relation and identity. Mr. Russell, I understand, defends and builds on such an idea as the relation of a term to itself. This idea to my mind is unmeaning or else self-contradictory. To my mind a relation must imply terms, and terms which are distinct and therefore different from one another; and our only ground for thinking otherwise in any case is our failure to apprehend the diversity which has really been introduced. Mr. Russell in particular uses and justifies the abstract identity of a term with itself. He does not, I think, say the same thing here with regard to difference. But, if difference is a relation (and, if it is not a relation, its nature seems puzzling), and, if again all relations are external, — then the difference of a term from itself seems as justifiable as its identity with itself. For, ex hyp., it is all one to the term what its relations are. But, however that may be, Mr. Russell defends identity between a term and itself. And this idea surely contradicts itself, since (to repeat this) diversity is required for relation, and Mr. Russell would not admit that the idea can be at once the same with itself and different from itself. He attempts to justify his doctrine here by producing a number of examples (p. 96). But I can see no meaning in any of these unless diversity is introduced, and I will lower down say something more with regard to one instance.

I will proceed now to remark more in detail on the inconsistency of such an idea as ‘class’. We have here no fresh difficulty in principle, any more than if we examined, for example, such a word as ‘instance’. It is still the old problem of the universal, and of the one in the many, and the dilemmas which everywhere arise change their particular shape but not their radical essence. Mr. Russell however has attached great importance to the problem raised specially by the word ‘class’. I regret that my incapacity for following abstract arguments has prevented me in great part from understanding the position which he has here taken up. But I will venture briefly to exhibit some of the puzzles and inconsistencies from which I cannot find that he delivers us.

I will first remark that no class can be related merely to itself. We have seen above that everywhere relation without diversity |284| is meaningless. In the next place no class can consist only of one member. Such an idea is a fiction which contradicts itself. It ceases to do this only when you introduce plurality in the form of possible members. Where these are excluded, as in the idea of the Universe, you can no longer speak of a class. The Universe obviously is no class nor any member of a class of Universes. And in any case, with the introduction of possibility into the idea of class, difficulties would arise, which, as I understand it, on Mr. Russell’s view would be fatal. The idea of possibility, I may perhaps add, seems to call for an attention on his part which it appears hardly to have received. The account on page 476 seems scarcely adequate, and the idea, I submit, must be dealt with in any satisfactory account of Continuity and Infinity.

After this necessary preface I will set out briefly the inherent inconsistency of ‘class’. (a) The class is many. It is its members. There is no entity external to and other than the members. The class is a collection. And it is not a mere possible collection, nor is it a collection of mere possibles. Either of these alternatives would ruin the idea of class, as could be shown, if required. The class is an actual collection of actuals. But it is a collection which is not collected by itself (that idea would seem meaningless), nor is it again collected by anything from the outside — for, if so, it would have to contain this other agency. It is a collection, since it is taken together; but it is a collection collected by nothing — an idea which seems either senseless or self-contradictory.

(b) The class is One, but the One is not something else outside the members. The members even seem to be members because of what each is internally. And this apparent quality in each cannot be a relation to something outside the class. The One clearly is something within the members. If there are two qualities they must be taken in one, or else we have forthwith two classes. And (to return to the idea of a collection) two collections, differing only as collections and not differing at all in their contents, seem certainly not the idea which we seek in a class. On the other hand a quality merely internal to each member seems to leave the class without any unity at all. The unity therefore, not being external, must be taken itself as a member of the class. And, since this once more seems senseless, the class appears to be dissolved.

|285| To save ourselves from ruin we may construct a new class which is wider, and which includes within itself, as members, both the members of the old class and their unity. But since the principle of inconsistency is left, any such expedient is useless. We are forced once more to dissolve our class and to seek refuge in a still wider class. And, when we have reached our widest class of all, our bankruptcy is visibly exposed. We are then compelled openly to make the class as one a single member of itself as many. And with this we end in what is meaningless or else plainly is in contradiction with itself.

The discussion of these inconsistencies (the reader is perhaps aware) might be pursued almost ad libitum. Since the class cannot fall outside the several members, each member by itself will be the class, and will even be the whole class. And from this will follow results which are obviously ruinous. For instance, the member itself will become many, and will be internally dissipated. But the reader, if so inclined, can develop these consequences for himself, as well as the puzzles which arise in connexion with the ideas of ‘a collection’ and of what is ‘actual’ and ‘possible’. I have, I hope, said enough "to show that the idea of class is inconsistent ultimately, and that every region where it is employed must be more or less infected with self-contradiction.

How Mr. Russell would avoid this conclusion I regret to say I have been unable to understand. He apparently defends the idea of a class being a member of itself — an idea which to myself contains a glaring self-contradiction. And, as we have seen, he advocates the doctrine that a term can be related to itself a view which for the same reason I am forced to reject. In every instance adduced, such, for example, as ‘Predicability is predicable’, I find (I would repeat) a distinction and difference, or else I find nothing. The reader will permit me perhaps to illustrate and explain this statement by the instance of ‘being’. I do not reject as meaningless such a judgement as ‘being is’ or ‘is is’. I only insist that, in order to have a meaning, I must introduce distinction and diversity. I might, for instance, mean by such an assertion that only or merely being is and that anything else must be denied. I might wish to convey that after all, or whatever else it is, being still is. I might in the end mean that in ‘being’ itself there is the distinction and diversity of |286| ‘what’ and ‘that’, and might imply that either of these thus ‘is’, and yet that each of them is so different from ‘being’ that our assertion ‘is is’ may be significant. And then I might go on to urge, of ‘what’ and ‘that’, that each is included in the class of the other, and that each is a part of the other and so perhaps even of itself. And in short I might develop all those monstrous results which follow when an inconsistent idea like ‘class’ is taken as true, not for a limited purpose, but absolutely.

I will end by some remarks on the subject of negation. 4 It seems to me that negation is a topic which, on a general view like Mr. Russell’s, causes difficulty, and calls for more notice than (so far as I can find) it has received. Mr. Russell’s doctrine of zero to myself appears to be philosophically untenable; and in various other ideas negation is present in a way which seems to me to require explanation. I will take the last point first in connexion with such ideas as ‘a’ and ‘any’. (i) ‘A man’ appears to assert one instance of man and to deny more than one man. (ii) ‘Any man’ seems to affirm that there is a man, and to assert also the existence of other men actual or possible. 5 It denies, with regard to these others, any difference — in a certain respect. ‘Any’ therefore contains negation in its essence in the form of ‘it does not matter who or what’. (iii) ‘Every man’ and ‘all men’ (I will not here discuss the difference between these) contain the denial of ‘man’ outside of certain limits; while (iv) ‘some man or men’ means a man or several men, together with a negation as to my further knowledge. It conveys that ‘I know, or need know, no more about it than that’. Now I do not suggest that the negation in these terms is a matter with which Mr. Russell is not perfectly familiar. I am urging merely that I do not understand the place which in his general system of ideas negation is to occupy.

To come now to the account of zero, this idea, unless I have failed to understand it, seems to contain an open self-contradiction. ‘It would seem that "no pleasure" has the same relation to pleasure as the various magnitudes of pleasure have, though it has also, of course, the special relation of negation’ (p. 186). The |287| ‘also’ here to my mind involves a self-contradiction. To my mind ‘no pleasure’ excludes pleasure, and by consequence the required relation; and how this consequence is avoided by Mr. Russell I have been unable to see. On the alleged positive relation I have already remarked, and the difficulties attaching themselves to Mr. Russell’s idea of a kind of magnitude to myself seem insuperable. Every magnitude has ‘a certain specific relation to the something of which it is the magnitude. This relation is very peculiar, and appears to be incapable of further definition’. I must repeat with regard to this relation that to my mind it is a sheer fiction, as is also the relation alleged to exist in ‘occupation’. The fact is a complex not consisting of or reducible to terms in relation. But, however that may be, the proposal to unite this relation by an ‘also’ to the relation of negation I can only understand as a demand to bring together simply two elements which exclude each other. And with regard to ‘indefinable’, what troubles me is not that I insist on defining everything. What troubles me is that, if an indefinable is meaningless, to me it is nothing, and that here the meaning which I must give to zero (if I am not to leave it meaningless) seems inconsistent with itself.

It is intolerable to my mind to speak of ‘no pleasure’ as being a decreased lot of pleasure, or, when pleasure is once more added, to speak of pleasure as being increased. On the other hand, since to me there is no such thing as bare nothing, and since all negation rests on a positive basis, you can rightly speak of diminution when you descend from pleasure to no pleasure, and, when you pass the other way, you can rightly speak of increase. But what is this positive something which has here become less or more, and has become less or more by pleasure? To call this something ‘pleasure’, even where pleasure is specifically excluded, surely involves self-contradiction. And the same remark applies to any attempt to begin with less than something, and to increase this until it becomes something, or to descend by degrees of diminution from something to nothing. If such ideas are useful, then of course they must be used, but in the end they do not hold together. But I hasten to add that I think it probable that on the subject of zero I have wholly failed to understand Mr. Russell.

These pages have been written, I would repeat, with great |288| reluctance and with a sense of compulsion. I have felt myself coming forward, or rather driven, to speak on matters where on one side I am quite ignorant, and where this ignorance is only too likely to have led me into fatal error. And I have criticized a writer whose work as a whole I am unable to appreciate, and in connexion with whom I can say nothing on some of those merits which I am sure are very great, but which are really beyond me. And, even where mere metaphysics or mere logic is concerned, I have had to confine myself here to dissent. I regret this, for I do not think, amongst those present writers on philosophy whom I know, there is any one who, as compared with Mr. Russell, calls for more or even for as much attention. For any student of first principles that attention seems to me to be not merely advisable but imperative. The problem of the general nature of order and series has been too much neglected, and yet surely it is a problem which seems infinitely promising. Not only has this inquiry been brought to the front by Mr. Russell, but he has, at the lowest estimate, supplied matter for its solution which no one can neglect. And to have done this by itself, even if he had done nothing beyond, is to have helped our philosophy in a way which, I hope and believe, will become more and more manifest.


1^ This Note is from the article in Mind for April 1910.

2^ I of course do not mean visual schemata. Obviously that could not be true of every mind. But of how many minds it would be true is, again, another question.

3^ In connexion with ‘implication’ the axioms given by Mr. Russell (p. 16) demand the attention of logicians. But want of space makes it impossible for me to offer here any criticism.

4^ Cf. Chapter X, pp. 295 following.

5^ ‘Any’ tends to drift away from this assertion, but so tends to drift away from itself.

Supplementary Note III. 1

Mr. Russell’s explanations seem unsatisfactory. On unities, facts, implications, related terms without diversity, externality, &c. (288-91). Are Mr. Russell’s views really in accordance with science and common sense? (291-2).

The explanations offered by Mr. Russell in the July number of Mind (1910) have been read, I am sure, with interest by many readers. I unfortunately did not see the number at the proper time, but still I hope it is not too late to ask Mr. Russell to explain somewhat further; for in the main I am left still unable to understand. If, however, Mr. Russell should feel that within convenient limits there is no more to be done, such a position, so far as I am concerned, would call for no justification.

1. In the first place, my difficulty as to ‘unities’ remains. 2 Is there anything, I ask, in a unity beside its ‘constituents’, i.e. |289| the terms and the relation, and, if there is anything more, in what does this ‘more’ consist? Mr. Russell tells us that we have not got merely an enumeration or merely an aggregate. Even with merely so much I should still have to ask how even so much is possible. But, since we seem to have something beyond either, the puzzle grows worse. If I remember right. Prof. Stout some years ago stated the problem as attaching essentially to the fact of ‘relatedness’. What is the difference between a relation which relates in fact and one which does not so relate? And if we accept a strict pluralism, where, I urge, have we any room for this difference?

2. In the next place, as to ‘implication’ my troubles continue. If we have nothing but facts, I see no room for implication, and if we have anything more or less than facts, I cannot understand what this is. By all means banish possibility as real, but where among facts does implication fall? Is a disjunction with its ‘Either-or’ an actual fact? Are ‘conditions’ facts? Is ‘deducibility’ a fact? With regard to facts I thought our attitude was one of ‘It is’ or (perhaps also) ‘It is not’. I do not in the least understand the position of ‘either-or’ or of ‘can be’ or ‘may be’.

3. I urged against the possibility of a term being related to itself the fact that relation implies diversity, and I should like to explain my reason for holding to this fact. I do not proceed here by arguing downwards from some assumption or axiom. 3 I proceed on the contrary by way of actual experiment. With any relation remove diversity (this is my experience), and the relation is destroyed. You have (I find) no relation left unless you also leave that diversity which you may have failed to notice. What I of course am forced to assume here is that I have correctly performed my experiment. If Mr. Russell on the other side says that he can perceive a relation where there is absolutely no diversity about the terms, I do not see how we are to argue about our difference.

4. With regard to diversity, externality and mere fact, the assumptions (I do not call them such) which I make are as follows. I assume first that, where I get the unmeaning or the self-destructive, I have not got even the possible. And I assume that what is is, in the sense that, so far as I have truth and |290| reality, I have not got something which is true and real merely because of something else. This second assumption, if it is to be called one, bears on the question of externality and mere fact in a way which I will explain.

(a) But, first, with regard to diversity Mr. Russell maintains, as I understand, that our only reason for denying the relation of diversity between a term and its own self is that this relation is not a fact. Whether Mr. Russell means more than that the relation has not yet been found, I am unable to judge. To myself on the other hand the above relation is not possible. To myself it either is meaningless or self-destructive. In making an ideal experiment I either have no diversity, or else the terms are different; and, when I suppress the difference, the relation is destroyed. I therefore deny this possibility, and I go on further to argue that any premisses from which such a possibility follows are false.

(b) With regard to externality and mere fact I should first explain that, in my opinion, these are things which are not and which cannot be observed. To have bare A in bare external relation to B is not possible in any observation or experiment. The supposed fact is really an inference reached by vicious abstraction. We saw above how ‘unities’ and ‘implications’, without which Mr. Russell apparently cannot move a step, involve always a something more which on his view seems inexplicable. And the same thing holds good with regard to any alleged perception of mere conjunction.

To myself the mere fact in which something seems to qualify A from the outside, is never really the whole fact. There is always here a condition left outside of what you take as the fact. Your statement is therefore true not of A itself but of A qualified by X. And hence the opposite of your statement is also true. On the other hand to say something about A which in no sense qualifies A, remains to my mind meaningless. In other words, no ‘and’ which is purely external is thinkable. This is once more the point to which Mr. Russell is invited to address himself. The above is the ground of objection to externality and to mere fact. You want, that is, to say something about something, and not about something else, particularly when the something else is unknown. The demand for ‘intrinsic’ relations I take to be an expression of this want, but I agree that here once more |291| complete satisfaction is impossible. There is of course with me no question of any ‘axiom’.

Naturally I realize that in this way doubt may be thrown upon every possible conclusion, however certainly it seems to follow in ideal experiment. How are we anywhere to save ourselves from doubt arising from the presence of the possibility of an unknown condition? Have we not with every result a counter-possibility? This question in its turn leads to the inquiry whether the alleged counter-possibility is everywhere really possible. But I must not here digress into a defense of what I have argued elsewhere.

5. I have stated the main principle on which objection is taken to absolute externality and bare conjunction. I would go on to add that I am still in doubt as to the sense in which according to Mr. Russell relations are external. The terms are to contribute nothing, and so much I understand. But I still do not know whether Mr. Russell takes the relations apart from any terms to be thinkable. To be consistent he should, in my opinion, hold this view, but I cannot say that he does so. If all that is meant is that this or that term contributes no more than any other term, clearly, from so much, absolute externality and pluralism do not follow. On the other hand, a relation apart from terms is to me unmeaning or self-destructive, and is an idea produced by an indefensible abstraction (compare pp. 295 following).

6. I will end by noticing briefly Mr. Russell’s contention that on his view we are less in conflict with science and with common sense. This is an argument which I am very far from undervaluing. In fact the doctrine which I hold I hold largely because it seems to me to remain, more than others, in harmony with life as a whole. I am speaking of course only of views which aim at theoretical consistency, and not of those where inconsistency and self-contradiction are of minor importance. But I could not on this ground compare the conclusions advocated by myself with those taught by Mr. Russell, because on the most important point I do not know what his conclusion is. To myself the things which matter most in life are not to be resolved into terms with relations between them. And I am ignorant as to what on this point Mr. Russell may really hold. The question is in a word as to experiences which, to a greater or less extent, are non-relational. Obviously, when I do not know whether and how far Mr. Russell |292| denies the existence of such facts, or in what sense he admits them, it is not in my power to judge as to how far his views are in harmony with science and common sense, if I use these terms, that is, in anything like a wide meaning. This is a point on which some explanation by Mr. Russell would be welcome, I am sure, to others as well as to myself. We return here to the doubt as to ‘unity’ with which we began. We have again on our hands the whole question as to sensible fact and as to all that is covered by the word ‘feeling’. I should perhaps add that, so far as I can judge, Mr. Russell’s view as to the inviolability of ‘facts’ would make indefensible the constructions in and by which the entire body of history and of natural science consists.


1^ From Mind for January 1911.

2^ On this and some other points compare Chapter X.

3^ Cf. here Chapter XI, pp. 311 foll.

Top ↑

Chapter X. A Discussion of Some Problems in Connexion
with Mr. Russell’s Doctrine

I. Mr. Russell’s view of judgement and truth difficulties with regard to it (293-4). Relations without terms are not conceivable, and cannot be inferred (295). Mr. Russell’s arguments examined. Our consciousness of universals involves negation. Its ultimate nature (295-9). On analysis its nature (299-301). Ideality, what (301). How impossible ideas are thinkable (302-3). Multiple relations, (a) No whole can in the end be merely relational (303-6). And (b) there really are no multiple relations. Instance of between (306-7). Series, problem of (308-9).

|293| Since the preceding chapter appeared in Mind, Mr. Russell has brought out several important articles in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1910-12), and, beside his Essays, has published an interesting little volume on the Problems of Philosophy. While grateful for all these I do not find that my main difficulties have been removed. And I cannot perhaps do better than touch and even enlarge on certain points which seem vital.

I. The first of these will be Mr. Russell’s theory of judgement and truth. I will not attempt to state this, since I doubt my having succeeded in grasping it. But I cannot accept the view that a unity can here, or anywhere, consist in a multiple relation, and to this difference in principle I will return lower down. And, even apart from this, Mr. Russell’s doctrine to my mind has remained untenable, and I have found my difficulties confirmed, it seems to me convincingly, by Prof. Stout. 1 The view that for me, as I judge, there is no unity anywhere in what I take as true except the unity made by my judgement, seems indefensible. It involves apparently in principle the complete previous dissolution for me of the whole content, followed by its re-integration in detail by means of one new multiple relation. Only (so it seems) because of this supervening relation is for me the horse before the cart, and everything through |294| out not turned just the other way. I am reminded here of the position taken by some over-zealous disciples of Kant, where every particular relation found in the object appears to have been thrown out by an impartial, not to say casual, eruption from the synthetic Ego. But I can scarcely suppose that such an interpretation of Mr. Russell’s view can be really much more than a misapprehension.

Suppose that, as sometimes happens, a husband A is jealous of a man C who does not exist in fact but is imaginary. On the above doctrine this complex unity C would, apparently, be made ad hoc by A’s present judgement. But C has really been the result of a gradual morbid growth. And, in order for the new unity of the judgement to supervene, this result apparently must be ad hoc disintegrated. Again, to pass from this, there is a difficulty, the importance of which it would, I think, be hard to exaggerate. I understand that the world made for me by a new multiple relation may or may not answer to things as they are outside that relation. But what I cannot understand is why one of these two worlds should be more real than the other. Why is not the content affirmed in my judgement in any case absolutely real? Suppose that, more or less, it does not correspond with some other arrangement, why and on what principle do we set one arrangement above the other? Why is a multiple relation, where a subject comes in, not just as real as anything else? And can its detail be false, just because that detail is different from something other than itself? I have so far been unable on all these points to understand Mr. Russell’s teaching. Are we, I repeat, to call unreal anything which is what it is only in and through relation to a subject, and, if so, why? And, if we are not to say that this is unreal, are we ever to call it false, and if so, on what principle? And are we, I add, still to use the word ‘false’ even where we have a whole psychical state which does not so much as pretend to be true?

|295| II. Leaving this point, where I cannot pretend to have understood Mr. Russell, I will touch on another difficulty. Is it possible to think of a relation as being real apart from all terms? 2 I now understand that Mr. Russell affirms this possibility, and further adduces arguments in favor of its existence in fact. 3 Of course I agree that, since one speaks of a relation without terms, in a sense one must think of it, but for myself I am sure that I cannot think of it as real.

Difference and identity, where nothing is the same or different, after and before and the difference between after and before, where nothing is before or after anything, right and left and their difference, and greater and less on some scale, where there are no terms and, perhaps, no different places — all of this to my mind in the end is unmeaning. When I remove the terms wholly, my idea is forthwith destroyed, or, again, it becomes inconsistent with itself when the removal is ambiguous. And there is no question here of arguing downwards from some axiom which I assume. I am appealing direct to an ideal experiment, and the result, at least to my mind, is certain. Whether Mr. Russell goes so far as to ask me to conceive of a series or scale where there are absolutely no terms, where there is nothing at all but bare relations, and perhaps in the end nothing but one multiple relation — I am unable to say. But I cannot find that any relation survives in my mind the total removal of its terms. The terms may be to the last degree vague and schematic, but, once attempt to abstract them, and you find that they were there.

But relations without terms, Mr. Russell argues, must be thinkable, and I go on to deal with what I understand to be the reasons adduced. Where a relation is universal and holds of ‘anything’, you could not take it so, Mr. Russell |296| urges, unless you took it quite apart from everything. And, again, since it is admitted that you can analyze a whole into terms and relations, you could not do that unless the relations were really separate. Whether Mr. Russell maintains that every possible distinction has separate reality, I do not know. But that this is the conclusion which must follow, appears to me to be obvious.

(a) I will consider first the argument with regard to universals. Whether, given a bare universal, Mr. Russell can supply a satisfactory account of its relation to ‘anything’, I will not inquire. What I wish to show here is that the facts can be dealt with quite otherwise. The subject is a large one, and it raises psychological problems on which I cannot touch, but I will endeavor to state briefly the conclusion which to myself seems tenable. There is no such thing as a bare universal, nor for my consciousness of universality is such a thing wanted, nor could it serve. In fact there is always an aspect of particularity, though this aspect may of course be hard to observe, and though the whole content may be highly schematic in character. But, though in our perception of a universal the particularity always is there, it is treated as more or less irrelevant. We ignore it, or, while recognizing it, we exclude it from our view entirely or partially. It is in a word negation which is implied in our awareness of universals and which makes that awareness possible. 4 ‘Representation’ at least, the reader perhaps may agree, without exclusion would be a word deprived of its meaning.

When I have the universal idea, say, of a triangle, that idea is an event in my mind, and it is particular in a certain aspect. In what this aspect of particularity in various cases consists, I do not propose here to discuss. But every psychical event, I assume, has particular existence. 5 Now |297| my awareness of a triangle as universal negates the above aspect, and it does so by ignoring the aspect or by excluding it as irrelevant. Whether tacitly or consciously, the thisness is in various senses discarded. I can use the ‘instance’ while I ignore even the fact that it is an instance, or, while recognizing that fact, I can treat it as irrelevant. I can again be conscious that my instance is one among others, while at the same time I take that diversity as immaterial since it here makes no difference. Again I may recognize that the many instances, actual or possible, form a class. Their plurality is to me now the positive existence of the universal, while at the same time I exclude their differences, at least as mattering or counting. Thus, when I speak of ‘any case of a triangle’, I am aware, though perhaps vaguely, that a number of cases actual or possible is there, but, so far as these cases differ, I imply (however inconsistently) that their difference can be ignored or excluded. 6 I am speaking here throughout (the reader will remember) of the abstract and not of the concrete universal. This latter (we may here remind ourselves) is perhaps really, though not avowedly, admitted by Mr. Russell under the name of ‘unity’.

‘But your account of the matter’, the reader may urge, ‘takes no heed of an obvious objection. According to you I have not before me the bare universal idea, and yet what I have to use, in the negation which you describe, is apparently nothing else. How can negation help me to arrive at that from which it proceeds, and which it presupposes as already there?’ This objection, I reply, forgets that negation is of more than one kind. Denial always rests on a |298| basis, but that basis is not always, like that which it denies, an object before the mind. When you exclude you exclude on the strength of something positive, but this positive something, which serves, may not be explicit. In the above distinction is found, I think, the solution of our problem. The universal idea cannot come before us as bare, but this universal on the other hand is used as the positive ground of a negation, and, as that, it can on reflection be affirmed.

Our idea of a triangle has, we saw, a particular side which we ignore or take as irrelevant. Our attitude here is so far negative, and, as negative, it involves a positive basis. This basis is that central area in our triangle which is identified in feeling with a familiar name and with a use beyond itself. 7 The central area is by itself no object. It is something in the object, not separated from the object, which repels whatever else in the object interferes with a certain reference elsewhere. It is the qualification which, we feel, answers to a recognized employment and name. And later, though our meaning never becomes bare, we can be aware of it in its proper character, and can go on to relate it positively to that diversity which in a sense it excludes.

Suppose that on an object of a certain kind you are accustomed to act, practically or theoretically, in a special manner. So far you may know nothing about any universal, though obviously there is here a universal, which you use, or which uses you, in a certain fashion. Then let us suppose that there comes a striking difference in the instance. Upon this you hesitate perhaps, and then proceed to act in your usual way. Still this noticed difference may have its effect, and may lead to a consciousness of ‘and yet’ and of ‘after all’. You are now aware of a sameness, and, with it, a difference which is there and does not count. But this |299| sameness is a basis which, as such, is not before you. It is felt, and felt as that which is in one with the habitual use which later is named. And, however much you reflect, and, however clearly the identical and universal are explicated, they can never become naked. Your awareness of triangularity still must leave the particular standing as a fact, while you disregard it, or while, recognizing it in various senses, you deny its relevance. Your exclusion in the end rests on that which by itself is not an object. Its positive basis is an area of content emphasized in feeling, and identified later in feeling with a recognized function and name. This emphasized nucleus, with its exclusion of any accompaniment which threatens to invade it, is the root of our knowledge of the universal as object (compare p. 309, note).

If this brief account is not mistaken, it would follow that for our consciousness of a universal the idea of a class or collection is not required. The diversity, ignored in use or recognized as excluded, may (to repeat this) be the particular nature of our idea as a mental fact. There is here no reference to other cases whether actual or possible. When these cases and their diversity are recognized, we are aware of an ‘instance’. And, when again further the other instances are taken collectively, we have the idea of a class. But knowledge of an instance or a class is not essential to our use of a universal, nor, even when we have before us an abstract idea, need this aspect be present to our minds. On the difficulties involved in the idea of a class I have remarked already (pp. 283 foll.).

(b) I will pass from this to touch briefly on the nature of analysis. Mr. Russell urges, as I understand, that the fact of analysis proves the existence of bare relations. For, if you were not acquainted with these relations by themselves, the result of the analysis would to you be meaningless. The principle here involved leads to results which, so far as I see, |300| are wholly ruinous. It will follow that without any exception every distinction which I can make anywhere, exists bare and real by itself. This plain consequence does not, however, appear to be drawn and accepted by Mr. Russell. And I therefore conclude that I have failed to apprehend the argument which he seeks to found on the nature of analysis. 8

Without any further reference then to Mr. Russell I will venture to add a word on this difficult problem. Analysis and synthesis I take in the end to be two aspects of one principle, just as are again (to give a general illustration) rights and duties. Every analysis proceeds from and on the basis of a unity. The ‘and’, we have already seen, is nothing but a form of oneness. Analysis and abstraction, far from suppressing union and totality, are the substitution, the superposition for a certain end and purpose, of another kind of synthesis. 9 But on this general aspect of the problem I do not wish to remark here. The point before us is the question as to how, without separation in existence, we can discriminate ideally in analysis; and this question has, I think, in principle been answered already. The individual unity, as we saw, can be left standing in fact, while one of its aspects is emphasized, and while from that basis other aspects are negated. The result of the process is, in the present case, the ideal discrimination of one or more features left none the less united. The moving principle is the identification of some character of a complex whole with that which goes beyond this whole and is incompatible with its residual content. Hence you have incompatibility in idea, conjoined with coexistence in fact. If, for instance, you take a confused plurality, a b c, and if you emphasize b, as used in a function b-d, and then attend to what happens, the result is as follows. You have the feature b given at |301| once in perceived unity with a and c, and yet as passing away from them and distinct from them. The function b-d I need hardly add, may be at bottom theoretical or practical. 10 In any case the felt oneness of b with a use excluding its implicit unity with a and c, is that which brings out at once the two sides involved in discrimination and analysis.

The whole of this question, both as to universals and as to analysis, turns on the meaning given to ideality, for all discrimination is ideal. Here the two paths diverge. If an idea is something separate, there will be in the end no difference between facts and ideas, and in the end, I should say, you will be left without either. 11 But on the other path there is nowhere an absolute division in reality. Ideality is the loosening of some feature of content from its own existence, a loosening which comes from the attachment also of that feature to something beyond. 12 Ideality rests on the identity at once with a standing ‘here’ and a transcendent ‘elsewhere’. And we have an idea where we attribute some feature of given content to a reality which falls outside of that content’s private existence. This existence, we have seen, is in various senses negated, but, if it were removed, the idea would be lost. Ideality, we may say, is what moves the world, and it is the inseparable union at once positive and negative of fact and transcendence.

Leaving the subject of analysis I will notice a dilemma, |302| not, I believe, offered by Mr. Russell. It is admitted (this may be urged) that one can think of bare triangularity, and can think of a relation naked and devoid of all terms. But, if these things were not real, how, it may be asked, could they really be objects? This same argument, it will be noticed, applies without exception to every idea, no matter how self-contradictory; and its consequence, if it held good, would be theoretical ruin. With this dilemma I have dealt already, 13 but it may be well perhaps once more here to state its solution.

Any idea, of course not meaningless, let it be ever so monstrous, is thinkable, so long, that is, as you do not think it out. For you may couple it with some tacit condition, taken with which its elements are somehow kept apart and so combined. In this manner you can hold it before you as an object. But go on to realize your ‘somehow’ and to make that explicit, and the object either becomes another, or, by the withdrawal of the condition, is disintegrated. Thus a relation without terms is a thinkable idea. ‘Relation’ and ‘exclusion of terms’ and ‘coupling’ are all thinkable, and their union without doubt is an object somehow; but then the question is how. The relation by itself is thought of really perhaps as a relation taken with other terms, and on the strength of these other terms, which are ignored, I exclude the terms which are explicit. Or I couple ‘relation’ and ‘absence of terms’, because coupling is intelligible, and it is easy to forget the special nature of the coupled. Or (it is all the same thing) exclusion clearly is a relation, and there can be a relation, we know, between a relation and its terms. But realize what you are doing, cease to ignore and to forget, and once begin to make explicit every ‘somehow’, and your relation without terms is either transformed or goes to pieces before your eyes.

|303| Everywhere what may be called the individual is the real, and yet the individual is in various ways never self-contained. And in use we may disregard this or that residual aspect of its content. We may emphasize and may attend merely to the opposite of what we disregard. And we may go on to set down what we thus transcend as excluded for a purpose or even utterly. But this idea of exclusion, when you make it absolute, becomes self-discrepant and incoherent; and the more you seek to grasp it, as it is, the more certainly does it fly apart in your hands. This is, however, not so much a matter for argument and discussion as for actual experiment. 14

III. I will pass now to the subject of what Mr. Russell calls ‘multiple relations’. If there were such things, I cannot think that they would serve their alleged purpose, and in the second place I fail to see that such things exist at all.

(a) We are brought back once more here to the fundamental question of ‘unities’. Is there, in the end and really, for Mr. Russell such a thing as a whole which is nonrelational or again super-relational? Unless we know the answer to this question, the entire position seems doubtful throughout. Now on the one hand Mr. Russell appears to be fully committed to such unities, but, if so, how this doctrine stands to his other views, I am unable to conceive. On the other hand, in his interesting little book on the Problems of Philosophy, the idea seems to have disappeared. There is even a tendency to imply that a complex unity consists in a relation (p. 202). But this problem surely (if in philosophy there are problems) is second to none in importance.

Let us consider (it is one of Mr. Russell’s instances) the case of jealousy. We have here an emotional state, and in |304| this state let us agree that we have relations, and for the sake of argument (if you will) one principal relation. And on the other side let us agree that our state is a unity. Now the question is whether this unity consists in a relation or relations. Given the terms and the relations (whatever these are), as terms and relations, and given nothing else, have you got, or can you reconstitute, the emotional fact? The fact, I presume, is the jealousy that I feel. And is this a relation, or is it, on the contrary, a unity of another sort? To myself, as I understand the question, the answer is obvious. It seems to me monstrous to describe a felt whole as a relation. A relation (to repeat this) is one thing, while a relational whole is another thing. And, not only with an emotion but everywhere, to myself the fact of a relational complex is a unity which cannot possibly consist in a set of relations or again in a relation. Nor could any ‘multiple relation’, if such existed, make the unity of a fact. But how in the end Mr. Russell understands this matter, I am quite unable to say.

I can imagine a view which I certainly do not attribute to Mr. Russell, a view which for a moment (if the reader is so inclined) it may be well to take seriously. Reality here, or at least the main reality, will consist in relations, bare relations without terms. And these relations are able to generate a kind of world. They are of many kinds, and at least some of them are such as to have what Mr. Russell calls ‘sense’, and to be capable thus of forming series, unities which express and consist in one constitutive relation. There are (to use another terminology) various functions of analysis and synthesis in one. And these, being applied one to the other and so dealing only with themselves, produce thus an indefinite number of more complex wholes in endless generation. Thus a spatial relation may seem to be single, but a relation of time, applied to it, forms a principle of |305| fission and a sphere of diversity in which the space-relation becomes plural — and so reciprocally. And consider what happens when on both of these a relation of degree becomes active, and again itself by both is multiplied and pluralized. Further, if these functions have ‘sense’, each, even by itself and acting on itself, can perhaps serve as its own principle of endless fission and unbroken unity. 15 And the world, perhaps in the end, is one world through such a mere bare self-dividing synthesis.

There remains, however, a doubt and a question as to the terms. It is hazardous perhaps after all to generate terms by one naked relation which turns another relation, or even itself, into its object and the field of its own activity. On the other hand, if we cannot venture as far as this, we at least do not require a plurality of actual reals to serve as ‘matter’. Nor need we fall back on the mythology of a Chaos at once nothing and ready for everything. All that we require in the end is one single term. And this one term, together with our world of ideal functions, will make the concrete universe. For one and the same term can be related to itself, and so becomes double and different. And entering into the multiplicity of the various series, it becomes through them an infinity of diverse matters. Its singleness is thus sundered into endless plurality, and is at the same time connected in the end perhaps into one great world of organic unity.

I need not, I presume, state once more that I do not for one moment attribute anything like the above to Mr. Russell. |306| And yet, when I ask myself what in the above is on Mr. Russell’s principles untenable, and exactly why, and how far, it is so, I find myself at a loss. And the ‘source of my darkness is, I think, first the question as to the ‘terms’ of relations, and secondly this vital problem as to the existence and nature of ‘unities’.

(b) Even if there were multiple relations, such relations could not constitute unities, since no whole, however relational, is made by and consists in a relation. This is the first point. And now further I wish to question the existence anywhere of a ‘multiple relation’. This, so far as I can judge, is merely something which has to be postulated because the theory requires it. And in this it seems to me to be like, for instance, the relation alleged by Mr. Russell to exist in ‘occupation’. 16 Not only then does the multiple relation in any case fail to be all that we want, but I cannot believe that it is even really there.

Let us take Mr. Russell’s instance of ‘between’. 17 ‘Between’ requires a multiplicity of terms, 18 and ‘between’, it is said, is a relation, and so much may seem obvious. But, I reply, to my mind it is not true that ‘between’ is a relation, and the opposite of this I even venture to regard as evident. ‘Between’ is certainly a feature which appears in a relational arrangement. But the arrangement is not itself a relation, and still less could it be the relation of ‘between’. What is ‘between’ is one piece of the related whole, and it never could be that whole itself. So far as the unity of the complex is relational, it is a relation between relations and not between terms. And, secondly, the |307| complex never consists in a relation, and it never so much as implies a relation which is multiple. 19

Certainly in a series you can find between the terms one relation, one, that is to say, in character. So far as a series is one series, its several connexions, I understand, must have one character throughout, and one or more of its terms must be between others. And, given this formula, I agree that you can construct a series. But, even if the formula were the series, which surely it is not, yet the formula itself is not between, and what really is between is not the formula.

And, where I probably have not succeeded in understanding; it would hardly serve to elaborate further. I agree of course that there is a looser usage of speech which may be adduced in support of multiple relations. We can doubtless speak, for instance, of jealousy as being a relation between persons, but we do not here, I am convinced, mean to assert a single relation which is multiple. We are saying perhaps that jealousy is an arrangement involving such and such relations. But more probably we mean that, where persons are related in a certain manner, with that you have jealousy. And so we go on, expressing ourselves carelessly, to call this manner a relation. But, when we try to speak accurately, our position, I think, is otherwise. The doctrine that an emotion is a relation, we should reject, nor should we agree that it even implies one relation of many terms. We should be again perhaps quite as clear, if we were asked to take the instance of some product of fine art. And with this, regretting once more my failure to comprehend, I am forced to leave the subject of multiple relations.

|308| I will, however, end by laying stress on a point which seems fundamental. Given a plurality of terms, and given one relation of a certain sort, to be taken in as many instances as you please — and I agree that with this you can make a series. But I deny emphatically that the series is really made out of nothing more. Obviously, if no further condition is added, the result is not one series, and so far I understand that Mr. Russell would agree. 20 From the terms and the relations, as materials, the series cannot be made anyhow, and the question as to the how to myself seems vital. And, in order to make your series, what in my opinion you really do, is to superimpose, openly or covertly, upon the data a form of serial arrangement. The series in short is presupposed and is implied in those conditions from which it is supposed to be made.

Hence, finally, we are led to ask as to what is involved in that which Mr. Russell calls ‘sense’, and which in English is perhaps better expressed as ‘direction’. Can any mere relation by itself have a ‘sense’? Has a series, and have the links of a series, if taken apart from a serial whole, any meaning left? Does not the ‘sense’ of each relation take its very character from the serial whole, and, viewed by itself, is not a relation with ‘sense’ a vicious abstraction? I need not state how in my opinion such a question should be answered.

I should thus agree that a series is in the end teleological, but such a conclusion, we must remember, may help us but little. If the end or object is taken as outside the passage and its steps, we are as far as ever from having reached the essential nature of a series. We do not have a series unless the end is immanent in the passage itself, and is reached not merely by that passage, but in it, at once gradually and as a whole. In a series there must throughout be something identical, of which each link gives you more, and apart from |309| which there is no meaning in sense or direction. But I fully admit that we have here a difficult problem which calls for investigation in detail. 21

Throughout the foregoing remarks I have doubtless failed to comprehend, and I fear that I must have perverted Mr. Russell’s doctrines. But I publish what I have written, partly to express my own views, but mainly perhaps as a help towards a better understanding. There is no living writer, with whom I am acquainted, whose work in philosophy seems to me more original and valuable than that of Mr. Russell. It will, I hope, not be long before he is able on some fundamental points to explain himself more fully.

Note to p. 299 — The reader will, I hope, not misunderstand what I have written with regard to universals on p. 299. The universal, and even our awareness of it, come in my view (p. 297, note) long before language is developed. As soon as one has with anything the sense of sameness or familiarity, with and over against the sense of difference or novelty, one is, I should say, aware of a universal. On the other hand, I agree that it is only through language that the universal becomes known as such.


1^ In the Aristotelian Proceedings for 1910-11. Prof. Stout, however, seems willing, as I am not, to accept in principle the ‘multiple relation’.

2^ Chapter VIII, p. 238, and IX, p. 291.

3^ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1910-11, pp. 111, 112.

4^ Cf. pp. 286-7.

5^ Cf. pp. 153 foll., and Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic, vol. ii, chap. x.

6^ It is important to keep in mind that we use universals from the very beginning of our mental development. With regard to these we of course do not know that they are universals, or are representative, or form a class. Whether and in what sense there is negation here, is of course a further question. The action from the very first of universals is a matter discussed by me elsewhere. See my Principles of Logic.

7^ Even in the case of a sensation, such as our awareness of red, the universal aspect depends, I should say, in the end on a certain use, but, in some cases, on a mere theoretical use.

8^ Loc. cit., p. 112.

9^ Principles of Logic, pp. 430-54. And, for the nature of ‘And’, see above, p. 231, note.

10^ There is a further point of importance to be noticed here. After we have learnt to discriminate, we have gained a new form of awareness of many in one. And hence, when later we go about to discriminate, we can make use of this form. We can apply it as an ideal schema to some unanalyzed complex, and then the features of this complex may become distinct through fusion and identification with the differences in our schema. This is of course one form of what is called ‘apperception’, but it is obviously not so ultimate as the process explained in the text. It should be clearly understood that in that process ‘fusion’ is not involved, and that, to bring it in, would be in my opinion a serious error.

11^ So far as I can judge that is really the case with Mr. Russell. Unless, that is, he is prepared to place ‘unities’ first, and to subordinate to that principle all the rest of his doctrine, I fail to see what place is left in his world for either a fact or an idea.

12^ Cf. Chapter III, pp. 28-9.

13^ Chapter III, p. 41, note, and Chapter IX, pp. 269-72. Cf. Prof. Stout, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society for 1911-12, p. 194.

14^ Cf. p. 289, and Chapter XI, at the beginning.

15^ Take a relation, such as ‘up and down’, and to this, as a term, apply the same relation. The result apparently would be ‘up and down’ in another dimension. And this same procedure could be continued so as to reach an indefinite number of dimensions. And, if you believe that the self-same term can stand on both sides of a relation, I do not see how you can object that this process of a priori construction is from the first illegitimate. Then, not content with this result, repeat the same procedure even where the first relation has no terms at all. The same result (it seems to me) will still follow, if once you can accept, as real or possible, a relation without terms and yet not meaningless.

16^ See Chapter IX, pp. 264, 287.

17^ Problems, p. 195. The meaning of ‘between’ is discussed elaborately by Mr. Russell in his Principles of Mathematics, chap. xxv.

18^ If, however, a term could be related to itself, all that we should want would be, I presume, one term, and the multiplicity would come from the ‘multiple relation’.

19^ On the other hand I am still unable to accept what has been called the Law of Duality (Mind, o.s., No. 47, p. 382). In the apprehension, say, of a hexagon or a triangle, I am compelled to follow no such principle. I can have a relational arrangement, perceived as a unity, where there is no such dual subordination of the relations involved. This is possible because their unity is more than relational. Such, again, is the case, I would add, with every possible spatial figure. No points and lines in the end can make that what it is.

20^ Principles of Mathematics, chap. xxiv.

21^ In connexion with the above would have to be discussed the question as to whether, and how far, passage, and I mean by that in the end temporal passage, is implied in a relation of any kind whatever. Obviously at first sight from some relations anything like passage is excluded. But still, if you remove passage wholly, the relation, as such, seems to disappear, since in its essence it seems to be discursive. The solution lies, I presume, in our taking the passage as at once implied and ignored, since its direction in the supposed cases is immaterial. There are of course those who with regard to spatial and other relations would dispute this, but hardly, I think, rightly. And, if in the result the whole idea of a relation becomes inconsistent, that is a conclusion which may perhaps already have been forced upon our minds. Everywhere in the end a relation appears as a necessary but a self-contradictory translation of a non-relational or super-relational unity.

Top ↑

Chapter XI. On Some Aspects of Truth 1

The general view (310). The method of inquiry. Axioms (311-14). Truth, experience, and reality (314-17). The theoretical criterion. It cannot be taken as satisfaction in general (317-21). Darwinism and the Criterion (321-3). Meaning of Only or Merely (323-4). Meaning of Qualification (324). Does truth refer to something other than itself? The question is unanswerable if you take the soul or self as a separate thing (325-8). The subjective, what (328-9). Sense in which all judgement passes beyond itself. Reality in the judgement, how (329-34). Has every or any truth been thought before I think it? And does knowledge alter reality? (334-7). Can Truth be made? Does it depend on me? (338-42). What is the relation between reality and truth, and can truth copy reality? (343-5) What is the good of Truth? This question rests on a mistaken view (346-9). In what sense the view which I advocate involves subjectivism and of relativism. A Note on Nature (349-52).

I must begin this chapter by once more asking for the indulgence of the reader. Once again I am writing on a theme where I doubt if I have anything really new to offer. My excuse is that there are some questions on which, even at the cost of repetition, I desire to be explicit. And these questions are so difficult and so important, that the reader, if led to dwell on them, may, I hope, be too much occupied to ask for novelty. ‘When I think truly, can I think that which has never been so thought before?’ and ‘Can I in any sense make truth?’ — these were the two problems which I wished specially to notice. And I have thought it better to take these problems more or less in connexion with some other inquiries.

In any discussion about truth I am met by what to myself is a great difficulty. It is impossible, in my opinion, to deal with truth apart from an examination of the nature of reality. Not merely has every one (though perhaps only at the back of his mind) a view as to reality which is sure to affect his result. The very questions as to truth with which a man begins, involve in the end an answer to certain questions about the nature of things. And to deal with these final inquiries here is obviously not possible. Hence I am forced to refer the reader to that which I have published elsewhere. In what follows I am in the main confined to showing how various problems are dealt with, supposing that you adopt a certain view as to the Universe. If the reader insists on |311| asking throughout for more, I can only reply that here I am writing for others.

I will however begin by noticing some misunderstandings as to the method employed in ultimate inquiry by writers like myself. There is an idea that we start, consciously or unconsciously, with certain axioms, and from these reason downwards. This idea to my mind is baseless. The method actually followed may be called in the main the procedure used by Hegel, that of a direct ideal experiment made on reality. What is assumed is that I have to satisfy my theoretical want, or, in other words, that I resolve to think. And it is assumed that, if my thought is satisfied with itself, I have, with this, truth and reality. But as to what will satisfy I have of course no knowledge in advance. My object is to get before me what will content a certain felt need, but the way and the means are to be discovered only by trial and rejection. The method clearly is experimental.

Speaking from this point forwards simply for myself, I find an object which is plural. I do not of course mean that it is only plural, but I mean that it has maniness. Now how am I to take this object ideally so as to satisfy my mind? If I try to take the object as merely many, it is forthwith dissipated and is lost. Therefore the object is not a mere many. Let me now, starting from this result, try to take the object as a mere conjunction of terms and external relations. The aspect here, other than the mere many, will be a bare ‘together’ or ‘and’. But I want to see what this aspect is. I take it first as adding to the many only another one, a something more of them. And, as soon as I do this, the object once more is dissipated, and the whole conjunction disappears. Therefore the ‘together’ or ‘and’ does not consist in terms and external relations. It is something else. It may perhaps be called a form of unity and totality. 2 |312| I take the plural object as many in one, and with that so far I am satisfied. But on this naturally succeeds further inquiry and further trial, not going backwards but endeavoring to advance and to specify the How. And where the alleged downward deduction from axioms comes in here, I am myself unable to discover.

As to what has been called the axiom of internal relations, I can only repeat that ‘internal’ relations, though truer by far than ‘external’, are, in my opinion, not true in the end. You have no alternatives here, by denying one of which you can go on to assert the other; for truth in the end is not merely relational. And the alleged axiom is a comparative truth which is not a premiss but a result. The same remark applies to any ‘axiom of ground’. Where A is not real by itself but implies and belongs to an ideal whole, you want a reason for A, for you want to know the How of this unity. Mediation is called for, and, if external merely, is none. But the ‘axiom’, once more here, is a result and not a premiss.

I will venture to enlarge on this second supposed axiom. Is it true that everything must have a reason, a ‘how’ and a ‘why’? In the end this assertion is not true, we see at once, of the Universe. The ‘axiom’ holds only so far as a thing is not complete in itself, and is therefore, on our view, ideally beyond itself. The demand for the making good of such imperfection, not as real but as ideal, the completion of the thing in idea so as to satisfy us theoretically, is what we mean by the search for a ‘why’ and ‘how’. Wherever, in other words, you have an ‘implication’, you want a reason, because you desire to see the whole nature of your implication.

Where you have a felt whole, as felt, or where you have a non-relational unity, as in a work of art, there, so far, you need not ask ‘why’. The tendency of the content to pass beyond the limits of the thing is not always forced on your |313| notice. The case is different where, by analysis or otherwise, the self-contained unity has been lost. Wherever the oneness of ‘what’ and ‘that’ has perished before us, or has been destroyed by reflection and analysis, and wherever we seek to reunite these aspects not really but ideally, we have a demand for a ‘reason’.

Every felt whole changes in time, and the felt ‘present’ has narrow limits. We are left, when we notice this, with two things, a felt present and a recalled past; and these two things come to us somehow together. But are the two felt or perceived as one in the sense that their contents are throughout in immediate unity? Clearly not so, and hence the ‘somehow’, as it is, does not satisfy us. It is the name of something which, for us, is not all there, and is not actually contained in our fact. And we want the whole of the ‘somehow’ actually and in detail. Such a complete totality we cannot directly experience, so as to have once more something which is or seems to be self-sufficient. We therefore attempt to supply this defect by ideas. We seek to understand, to make good ideally our lost unity.

Passing by the question raised by space, let us go on also to ignore change in time. Let us take some sensible whole, or other non-relational unity; let us suppose that this does not change in time, and let us, for the sake of argument, assume also that within this, as it comes to you, there is no tendency of the content to pass beyond the limits of the thing. Here so far, it will be said, there is no ‘why’ or ‘how’. I agree, but I ask whether you intend to remain here. And that, as I observe, is precisely what you do not intend to do. You go on to think, you analyze, you introduce terms and relations, whereas in your immediate whole there were no relations or terms; or, at least and in any case, the whole itself was non-relational. And, so far as you have terms and relations, the unity is destroyed. It now, as the fact of ‘relatedness’, falls outside of the relational scheme, and this |314| fact you have not specified. The attempt to specify this fact, to re-include it not really but ideally, and so to make good the broken unity, is the demand and the search for the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. We wish in other words to perceive the full nature of the ‘and’ or the ‘implication’. We desire in short to understand.

To ask us here why we cannot remain content with ‘the brute fact’, seems even ridiculous. What is the brute fact? Is it the fact as merely felt? Is it an immediate unity taken non-relationally and so not understood? On the contrary your ‘brute fact’ is that ideal scheme of terms and relations which comes into being only through the destruction of the felt whole. Such a fact is not brute, but is ideal. It is a thing which, as itself, is only for thought. And it itself is not a fact. It has no unity except that which is added from outside itself and is supplied irrationally from elsewhere. Your ultimate brute fact is in brief your own half-thought-out theory.

We have now seen the nature of the demand for a reason, a ‘how’ and a ‘why’. We have here no axiom, standing on which we proceed to argue downwards. So far as this truth is true, it is a result and a character of our procedure itself.

Passing now from this misunderstanding about axioms, I will venture (if the reader will pardon the repetition) to try to throw some further light on the general method which I have used. In theorizing we put questions directly to Reality. In other words we experiment ideally on the nature of things. We find that, given a, we have b, and that this is how the world behaves. 3 The objection that in this way we learn nothing about Reality itself, is ill founded. It depends on a false separation between Reality and ourselves, and it may therefore be dismissed. Reality is such that a is b. All our truths are true of Reality, but all are subject to a condition. |315| We can say indifferently ’a (x) b is real’, or ‘Reality is a (x) b’. Such is the doctrine of judgement which I have found to be the one doctrine which holds.

But obviously with an unknown condition we are but partly satisfied. To pass from one term to another term, we do not know how, is not enough. We have to seek knowledge where the mode of transition, the mediation itself, also is known. And, even if we had various pieces of knowledge which held good, each in itself, that would still fail to satisfy us, as long as we remained in ignorance as to the connexion of these pieces. For some connexion there is. If we had no ‘and’ or ‘together’, we should not even have pieces, and ‘together’ or ‘and’, as we have seen, is an expression of unity and totality. It asserts a whole, but it couples this assertion with blank ignorance as to ‘how’. And such ignorance does not content us. We are led, therefore, to search for the reason why we pass from one term to another term. We seek in other words a mediated intelligible whole. That whole, if we could reach it, would fulfill our theoretical want. That would be true and real; and reality and truth, we have to assume, is that. But whether we can say ’merely that’, is of course a further question.

The reader may object that, even if the above, so far as it goes, is admitted, if still is useless. It tells us nothing as to the world, since all it tells us is formal. The word ‘formal’ I put on one side as a probable source of misapprehension. But I fully agree that all the knowledge we have reached so far about reality is too general and empty. To the question ‘What do I know?’ the above is an answer which by itself does not satisfy. And not only do I hold this, but I have urged also that by itself no such knowledge could even exist. For the whole of our knowledge may be said to depend upon immediate experience. At bottom the Real is what we feel, and there is no reality outside of feeling. And in the end the Reality (whatever else we say of it) is experience.

|316| Our fundamental fact is immediate experience or feeling. 4 We have here a many in one where, so far, there is no distinction between truth and fact. And feeling again is mine, though of course it is not merely my feeling. It is reality and myself in unbroken unity. We in a sense transcend this unity; that is clear, for we could not otherwise speak of it. But that we should ever in any way reach a reality outside of it, seems impossible. And if this is so, as I have contended more fully elsewhere, then experience is reality. For in attempting to deny this thesis, or to assert something else, we find on experiment that we have asserted this thesis or nothing. 5

If then Reality is an intelligible whole and reality also is experience, can we assume that, above relations and inclusive of them, there is an Experience which reasserts our original unity? If this is possible, our theoretical want would be satisfied. Such a whole would be Reality, and nothing else could in the end be called even possible. There is of course no question here of explaining everything. Such an idea, at least to my mind, is ridiculous, not to say insane. The real question everywhere as to the inexplicable is whether it falls within the general view, or whether, falling outside that, it becomes a negative instance. In the latter case, and in the latter case only, the general view is refuted. But into the discussion of such alleged instances there is no space to enter here. 6

|317| My object in the above has not been to indulge in idle repetition, nor again to argue that the conclusions which I hold are not refutable. What I have been aiming at is to help the reader to understand how it is that such conclusions as mine are reached; in what way, that is, and by what method, starting from what is given, we arrive at our goal. I wish, finally to point to a merit possessed, I think, by no view which is not akin to my own. In philosophy it is not enough merely to state the connexion between truth and reality. One is bound to show in addition how, this connexion being so, we can know that it is so, how in short our knowledge is such that it can comprehend itself and reality. I will not repeat here how, on the view which I hold, this vital question is answered. What I wish to urge is this, that on no opposite view (so far as I see) can the question be answered at all. The problem of the ultimate Criterion must be faced, and on any other basis it cannot, I think, be fairly encountered and solved. I will now point out this failure in the case of two widely held doctrines.

The theoretical criterion, for myself, is in theory supreme. The truth for any man is that which at the time satisfies his theoretical want, and ‘more or less true’ means more or less of such satisfaction. The want is a special one. We do not of course know beforehand what it is and what can satisfy it. We only at first feel that there is something special that we miss or gain, and we go on to discover the nature of the want and its object by trial, failure and success. Let me now proceed to ask what will happen if we take the Criterion to lie in satisfaction not specific but general. The necessary result to my mind is failure and bankruptcy. 7

|318| We must not confuse the position in question with that taken in ordinary Hedonism. The Hedonist, as such, has no doctrine of his own about truth. The means to the one Desirable are sought by the intellect, but, as to the nature of the intellect and of truth and fact, almost any view can be joined with Hedonism. But in the position to be now examined the ground is changed. Satisfaction has itself become the criterion of truth. And this satisfaction we are not to understand in any narrowed sense. It is not to be merely hedonic, nor is it to be merely practical as belonging to what we do, as against what we feel and are. Satisfaction in general is to be our criterion of truth and error.

There is a mental attitude from which the above must again be distinguished. We may, despairing, for ourselves or in general, of ultimate truth, or finding the quest of it too costly, resolve to abandon it. The satisfaction of our human interests, truth included, is our end; and we decide for ourselves to limit truth to those ideas which subserve our interests so far as they subserve them. Truths are to be working ideas. And if we really understand our present position (as we seldom do), any ideas, no matter how inconsistent, are to be counted true, if and so far as they are required in our spiritual interest. What we feel to be the general health and harmony of our being is the end, and truth is to be subject absolutely to dictation from that. But within these limits we, like the common Hedonist, use the everyday notion of truth, and confine it to the search for that which, in the above sense, works. I myself have much sympathy with this attitude which of course, in theory, is not mine. 8 But we must remember that such an attitude is not a doctrine about truth and the criterion, and, if it understands itself, makes no pretense to the name of philosophy. And, keeping this in mind, we may pass onwards.

|319| The position which we are to examine claims to be a philosophy and to offer an account of truth which is valid. Its criterion, we have seen, is satisfaction not one-sided but general. As to how on this view we are to know what is one-sided or general, a doubt might be raised. But, leaving this, we are face to face with a serious difficulty. Is the general satisfaction to be that of my own self or of others, or again of both at once? And who are others? Let us decide to mean by others the present and future inhabitants of this our planet, so far as they are known, and, if you please, let us consider only those inhabitants which are human. But in any case my satisfaction and that of others seem able to collide. Are we to assume that really this is not so, or are we on the other hand to subordinate my satisfaction to that of others, or that of others to my own? Whatever attitude we adopt, our procedure seems irrational and arbitrary, and we shall hardly save ourselves by trying to take all three positions at once, or as each serves the turn. But our theory, if so, has been shaken by the first simple question.

It is better however to examine it further. The general satisfaction includes the future and is not merely present. Let us call it satisfaction in the long run for myself or for humanity. And ‘in the long run’ does not mean what ‘will be’ in an ordinary realistic sense. For that sense is excluded by our doctrine of truth. What ‘will be’ is that which satisfies now as tending to satisfy in the long run. Whatever idea of means to our end satisfies most now, is the truth.

And ‘satisfies’ does not point solely or specially to theoretical satisfaction. That would be a return to the view of truth which has been abandoned definitely. Then satisfies (we must at once proceed to ask) whom and how? It cannot be my future self, or humanity in the future, which has to be satisfied, for these surely are inaccessible. The satisfaction clearly must be present. And the present satisfaction of |320| humanity once more cannot be reached. For this is known, I presume, only by an inference, and an inference on our present view of truth must rest on actual satisfaction. Thus actual satisfaction in the end must be now and be mine.

Truth is the idea which satisfies me now. Then in what way? Not theoretically, for to say that would be to relapse into a discarded attitude. You may say, ‘It satisfies me most now to adopt and act on a certain view as to the probable future. This view rests on my present satisfaction, and hence all is consistent.’ But no such defense is really valid. For it is an obvious fact that (not to speak of other persons) to adopt and to act on other views sometimes satisfies me as much or more. If we admit this fact, then all these opposite views will be equally true. And we can only deny the fact by a collision with everything like common experience and common sense. To identify my satisfaction now with a certain view and a certain object which I take as real, with an ideal construction capable of appearance at other moments and in other persons, would be to make the criterion theoretical. And on our present theory there is no essential connexion between the satisfaction and any special quality in the object. The idea therefore, whatever it is, which satisfies me most now, is true. The truth is whatever idea at this moment is felt to satisfy me most, and, beside this, there is no other truth.

Theoretical satisfaction may be rejected (and this is the better course) as not existing or as subordinate. Or it may be admitted as one element in the satisfaction which is general. This admission leads inevitably to a collision between the truth which is theoretical and the truth which is true. And there would be no principle on which to decide between these conflicting claims. The only criterion left in any case is the feeling which at the moment prevails. Truth is nothing but whatever idea I feel at a given moment to |321| give most satisfaction. And with this I submit that we have ended in bankruptcy.

I will pass on now to say something on the doctrine called Darwinism, so far as it bears on the question of the criterion. We have here at first sight the antipodes of our former view. That stood on satisfaction, while for Darwinism there is nothing in the world like value or good or evil. Anything implying evolution, in the ordinary sense of development or progress, is wholly rejected. But the two views meet positively so far as there is coincidence between that which prevails and that which satisfies. And negatively they meet in their exclusion from the criterion of anything like a special quality, type or character, as essential to the object. 9 Whatever idea satisfies or prevails (no matter what else it is) is true.

Darwinism often recommends itself because confused with a doctrine of evolution which is different radically. Humanity is taken in that doctrine as a real being, or even as the one real being, and Humanity advances continuously. Its history is development and progress to a goal, because the type and character in which its reality consists is gradually brought more and more into fact. That which is strongest on the whole must therefore be good, and the ideas which come to prevail must therefore be true. This doctrine, which possesses my sympathy, though I certainly cannot accept it, has, I suppose, now for a century taken its place in the thought of Europe. For good or for evil it more or less dominates or sways our minds to an extent of which most of us, perhaps, are dangerously unaware.

Any such view of course conflicts radically with Darwinism, and let us now ask how the latter can deal with our inquiry as to truth. The ideas (it may explain) by which our world, and our human world, have got on so far, are |322| called true. There is some probability, though we cannot estimate the balance, that by using the same ideas we shall continue to get on in the same direction. Therefore (a) truth is merely the ideas by which we get on, or (b) at any rate these are the ideas to which we should confine our attention.

(a) The first conclusion is suicidal, since it contradicts its basis. 10 Its basis obviously is positive doctrine, right or wrong, which assumes and rests on the validity of theoretical truth in the sense which Darwinism denies. (b) The second conclusion, if, that is, it admits truth in the ordinary sense with regard to human history, is so far consistent. But, so far as Darwinism has anything to say, this conclusion seems arbitrary or worse. For the word ‘should’ falls outside of Darwinism, just as to ‘get on’ means nothing if it means more than to ‘go back’. And the historical assertion that only ideas of ‘getting on’ have so far worked, is clearly untenable.

For Darwinism the true idea is the idea which prevails, and we may perhaps identify satisfaction with inward prevalence. Then the question which at once arises is, ‘prevails where and when?’ As to the ‘how’ we need not ask, because we know that ‘how’ means ‘anyhow’. If the where and when are taken as in our world in general, then (as we saw before) such knowledge on our part must rest on the very theoretical truth which we deny. But, if the prevalence is in myself, and in myself here and now, then any idea, no matter what, if it prevails, is true, and all such ideas are true alike. There is no criterion, and from this result we cannot escape by refinements. The argument that Darwinism’s idea of prevalence prevails in me here and now, and so proves itself by a circular reinforcement, will not stand scrutiny. For all that we have here is the moment’s coincidence, unessential and external, and any of the other ideas which elsewhere or at another time prevail, are as |323| unquestionably true. A contention like the above is good only if the other, the incompatible, doctrine of development is accepted. And it rests probably, wherever it is used, on some reminiscence or result of this other doctrine. The one criterion for Darwinism is the abstract success or prevalence of whatever happens to prevail, without any regard for its character. And this must surely leave us in the end with no criterion at all.

It may however repay us, before we go further, rapidly to view this matter from the other side. To maintain that Reality or Truth is what prevails, or is that which satisfies us, is not wrong. And similarly it is not wrong to affirm that Reality is ‘this’, ‘now’ or ‘mine’. The mistake here, so far as there is a mistake, lies in our simple identification of both terms, and in our addition of the word ‘only’. Any positive attribution, in other words, to Reality must be right, so long as it abstains from the denial, implicit or explicit, of ‘something more’. To say ‘only’ is to lay emphasis on the negative side of the positive identity. ‘Only’ or ‘merely’ excludes any ‘other’, or again it may warn us against making an abortive attempt to find an ‘other’ where any other is meaningless. Hence such an assertion as that Reality is merely prevalence, is, on our view, inconsistent with itself. Since an other than mere prevalence has, on that view, a meaning, we have set up within Reality the distinction of R (a) and R (b). This distinction however must imply a higher and more inclusive R within which it falls, and the exclusive identification asserted by our ‘merely’ is thus in contradiction with itself.

Even the judgements that Reality is one in many and is experience, would be untenable, if we meant by these judgements to deny that Reality is in any sense more. But no such denial should be the intention of our judgement. What we really exclude here as senseless is the idea of any |324| ‘other’ falling outside of our predicate, and able to be set over against it in idea as being itself also an attribute of the Real. And we deny no qualification of our predicate which, remaining still under it, fills out its character merely from the inside. But how a truth, claiming to reach reality, should at once be absolute and yet for ever consciously incomplete, I have elsewhere discussed. 11

I will now proceed to deal with a number of special questions as to truth. Any knowledge which on my view can in a proper sense be called truth, is the qualification of Reality by ideal content. The Real must here have the form of an object, and the idea must in some sense have an existence other than that of the object. With these points I have dealt fully elsewhere, and I propose to go on here to ask first as to the meaning of qualification. That meaning is derived from immediate experience and sensible perception. If you take, for instance, an object such as an apple, this is qualified by its adjectives. It is each and all of them, and yet it is something more, though you are unable to say what. It is different from its qualities, and it is also the same and one with them. This is the idea of qualification which we apply to judgement. It is an imperfect idea obviously, and it is not ‘thinkable’ or ‘intelligible’ if that means that you can analyze it without destruction into terms and relations. But it has a positive sense which, however inconsistently, you use. And, because this sense is not ‘intelligible’, there is a constant tendency to deny or to destroy it. You may seek for the essence of qualification in an arrangement of relations and terms, or in a simple identity; and in either case what you will find is anatomized death or vacuity. Or again, shrinking from these, you may still deny that anything other than these is there. But the positive meaning exists, and, with all its imperfection, it is applied in truth. On the |325| nature and the result of this imperfection I have written elsewhere. 12

From this I go on to approach another question at once important and full of difficulty. Does truth always refer to something other than itself? And, if this is always the case, in what sense are we able to affirm it? As to what is the obvious view, there is no doubt. Truth, to be true, must be true of something, and this something itself is not truth. This obvious view I endorse, but to ascertain its proper meaning is not easy. And it commonly is misinterpreted so as not to be tenable. I will begin the discussion by the statement of what is called an antinomy.

(i) No judgement is self-contained. For (a) on my side there is always something which does not qualify the object, and which therefore falls outside. There is always my psychical state of the moment, a context in which the assertion happens and which it has to transcend. So far, for example, as my judgement pleases and satisfies, that feeling, where we are confined to truth, does not qualify the object. And, again, I may be aware of an act which proceeds in and from me with more or less of difficulty or ease, and either faster or more slowly. But this difference is irrelevant to the judgement. And (b), on the side of the object. Reality is never confined in and limited to my special object, but is always also beyond it. 13

(ii) No judgement is self-transcendent. For (a) it refers to and qualifies something real. But how it could qualify something which is not there for me and present, or how this something could be present and yet not within the judgement, seems not intelligible. Or rather we see that, when we attempt such assertions, we have really implied the opposite. And (b) that activity which seemed to lie |326| merely in myself, is not external to the object. To take the felt activity as falling wholly in or on something outside the judgement, is not a tenable view. We cannot regard the act as expended merely by myself on myself, nor does it move or hang somewhere between myself and the object. And, asking in general for the sense of this ‘between’, we find that we have nothing beyond a self-inconsistent metaphor. judgement cannot consist in the external relation of two independent things, nor is it the presence (one-sided or otherwise) of one merely to the other. 14 If you imagine two foreign bodies, one impressing or soliciting the other, and the second body attempting to grasp the first which has impressed or excited it — you have passed away from an actual judgement. For somehow undeniably there is an awareness of that whole judgement as one, and we belie that fact when we take its felt activity and its entire psychical existence as falling somewhere apart from it. The act of judgement itself must belong also to the object, and itself make an element in the judgement.

A dilemma such as the above is insoluble so long as we remain on the ground which supports it. The notion of myself as a thing standing over against the world, externally related to it in knowledge, and dividing with it somehow unintelligibly the joint situation or result, must once for all be abandoned. This point of view rests on the ideal construction which we call the soul or the mind, and it assumes this construction to be an absolute fact. But, as I have argued elsewhere, 15 such a position is untenable. To take my self or soul as a separate thing, and to regard everything that happens to it as its psychical states, is, in its own place, proper and necessary. For certain purposes we are right, and we are even compelled, to adopt such an attitude. And not to realize this necessity is to fall into dangerous |327| error. On the other side to rest in this position as ultimate, is fatal. It is to turn a relative truth into ruinous falsehood. And, if we are to understand knowledge and judgement, we must discard the doctrine of a self which by itself is or could be real. 16

Here, as everywhere, so far as I can discover, there is no way except one which holds good in the end. We must view the Reality in its unbroken connexion with finite centers. We must take it as, within and with these centers, making itself an object to itself and carrying out them and itself at once ideally and practically. The activity of the process is throughout the undivided activity of the Reality and of the center in one. There is in the end no ‘between’, nor any external relation. The striving of one side or the other merely for itself is impossible, and to seek to verify such a striving, for instance, in selfishness or its opposite, is futile. And in knowledge the impression by the object, and the will to experiment in fact with the object or to grasp it ideally, all belongs to the single activity 17 at once of myself |328| and the whole Universe. For certain purposes (if I may repeat this) the division of subject from object, and the relation taken as existing between them, are ideas which are requisite. But beyond these purposes such ideas are fatally false. They are directly opposed to our immediate consciousness of the whole relation in one, 18 and, if you start from them as premisses, you are inevitably entangled in a network of dilemmas.

You cannot however, it will be urged, deny that with every judgement there goes an element which is only personal and merely ‘subjective’. There is surely something, when I judge, which you cannot take as belonging to the object. Certainly to this I agree, and to myself it seems even incontestable. But what, I ask, do we mean by the ‘subjective’? For myself it is merely the irrelevant. It is that which does not count, it is that which falls outside of the matter here in hand, and does not now serve our purpose. Our purpose, when we seek truth, is the ideal qualification of the object. In our search for goodness or for beauty again we pursue in each case a different end, and the subjective is whatever in each case is irrelevant to our end. The irrelevant may be called the ‘mere this’, because it is left behind in the general immediacy of the moment. And it may be called the ‘mere mine’, because my self is a construction based upon the feeling of one finite center. But there is no mere ‘this’ or ‘mine’ which is such absolutely. These things are everywhere illusions, unless we take them as relative. 19

The merely personal is the irrelevant; but this brings us to a serious difficulty. How can anything in the end be irrelevant? If all in the end hangs together, then, whether in the world inside us or outside, there seems no place for |329| irrelevancy. Nothing can really be quite loose from anything else in the Universe. On this conclusion I have to insist, and I accept the consequence that all irrelevancy, when you go further back, becomes a matter of degree. The alleged bare conjunction of mere facts is itself a lower kind of connectedness. It lies at the bottom of the scale of truth and reality, but not somewhere outside it. And even degree itself, I have to add, in the end is transcended. Our distinctions all hold good, but not precisely in those forms which for us are necessary. 20

All judgement and truth depend on distinction, upon abstraction and selection. That which falls outside a particular judgement is hence taken as not counting for the purpose, and this not merely in degree but utterly. And, if truth is to exist, such an attitude is necessary. You cannot (to put the same thing otherwise) condition your judgement from the outside. After it is made, you can of course go on to reflect on it and to correct it, but for you, while you make it, its truth must be absolute. 21 Apart from a selection to which you commit yourself unreservedly and unconditionally, no truth is possible.

The selection is not arbitrary, for its object is truth. Our goal is in the end to gain Reality in an ideal form, to possess ourselves of a self-contained individual whole. The criterion here, as everywhere, which we use is the Absolute. And the |330| justification of our procedure is through its result. We seek, that is, to include the conditions of the assertion within the assertion itself. And those conditions which we take anywhere as falling outside of our assertion and as irrelevant, are so actually for our purpose. 22 They are disconnected from that purpose to such a degree that we can treat them as ‘matter of fact’, which is only coincident and which therefore is negligible. And our object can be gained, so far as we gain it, by no other method. 23

Every judgement therefore transcends immediacy. It involves a distinction and selection, and it may be said to pass beyond whatever for its purpose it leaves outside of its object. But the notion of a psychical subject, standing opposed to the object and then transcended somehow in knowledge, must be rejected as illusory. It holds good elsewhere, but only so far as it is an idea which works usefully.

And even the account of truth which we have just given cannot satisfy in the end. It implies that dualism which, involved in truth’s essence, for ever stands between it and its goal. Truth is not perfect so long as it fails anywhere to include its reality, and its reality is not whole so long as any of its conditions are left out. Truth, compelled to select, is therefore forced to remain for ever defective. Its purpose, though realized increasingly, is not utterly fulfilled, and to fulfill that purpose would be to pass beyond the proper sphere and limits of truth. The problem cannot be solved by any alleged creation, in and by one act, of truth and reality in one. And it cannot be solved by that reunion at a higher level of fact and idea, which we can produce (I will not ask how far) in our intuitive knowledge or again in aesthetic perception. For everywhere there is an object which remains incomplete in itself, and which in any case |331| could not be an object if nothing else remained outside. Truth in short is about the real, while that which is only ‘about’ has stopped short of the truth. The complete attainment of truth’s end is reached only in that Reality which includes and transcends intelligence.

The question, how far a judgement refers to something beyond itself, can now be answered as follows. If you take a judgement as my psychical state, then certainly it refers to that which is beyond itself. But to take a judgement thus is to destroy its essence and to be lost in dilemmas. From a better point of view our answer to the question is twofold. (i) No judgement can refer to anything beyond itself, since in every judgement the ultimate Reality is actually present. In any judgement on the other hand this Reality is incomplete, and there will therefore be a difference between the reality present and the truth actually reached in the judgement. But this difference remains within the object, and for truth to pass or to refer beyond that is impossible, (ii) In the second place every judgement is conjoined with irrelevant existence and must transcend this. For a judgement to exist, you must have that which, as you judge, you do not in any sense include within the object. This attitude, untenable in the end, is essential to truth. But if, going further, you desire to know how in the end irrelevancy is explained, the answer is that it cannot be explained. Irrelevancy belongs to the fact of finite centers and the process in time, and this aspect of the Whole I at least have set down as inexplicable. 24

I will dwell further on one of the points which has just been noticed. judgement refers always an ideal content to reality. Now in every judgement this reality is at once the whole Universe and something less than the Universe. (a) Although judgement is mine, and again involves a selection, |332| still what it qualifies is the one all-containing reality, present alike to you and to me and to every one else. Let us suppose this to be otherwise, and knowledge is destroyed. For knowledge apart from the real is nothing, and the real again, on our view, is nothing if apart from the Universe. And we may once more remind ourselves that to leave truth for something outside which it does not include, is illusory and senseless. On the other hand, suppose, for instance, that the lapse of time were ultimately real in our experience, then what on such a view would have become of our past? To us it could be nothing, unless indeed we possessed a miraculous ‘Faculty of Memory’. If there is not, present in this passing ‘now’, a Reality which contains all ‘nows’ future and past, the whole of our truth and knowledge must be limited to the ‘now’ that we perceive. For to reach a larger Universe by transcendence would really be nonsense.

On the other side (b) what I have in judgement is not the whole Universe at once. This seems obvious, and, for example, it is clear that I must leave the present to gain, so far as I am able to gain, the past and future. For I do not possess these as present. I have everywhere indeed present to me the whole Universe, but I have not all of its detail or even its actual complete form. In knowledge what is felt and perceived at any moment is but little, and what again is true is but ideal. That which we call our real world, the past and future of ourselves and of others, and the whole body of things common to us — all this in the main is ideal construction made by selection and synthesis. It is the Universe realizing itself as truth within finite centers. And the immediate experience on which this common world, so far indeed as it is common, is based, is at any time and in any center obviously incomplete. The entire undivided Universe in short is everywhere present, but it is present as appearance and but partially. And, though it again in and |333| for us transcends this partial character, it never does so completely. 25

We have to guard ourselves here against a double mistake. Truth, we have seen, qualifies the Reality by an ideal content. And we may be led to take on one side this ideal content as detached wholly from the Real, to which then we apply it. And the Reality on its side may perhaps be regarded as an undetermined object, such as mere Being or again the Universe at large. But, in the first place, there is no such thing as an ideal content which absolutely fails to qualify the Real. Except in a relative sense, there are no ideas which float or are suspended, or are assumed or presumed or in any way entertained, except as adjectives of the Real. This is a common mistake which leads everywhere to dangerous confusion and error. 26 And in the next place the Reality (as we have seen), while it is the Universe, is never the mere Universe. It is always also a selected reality. The selection may be made only by a designation that does not seek to specify, but the selection always is there. My idea is not attached to a blank object, but is launched into a context which more or less is distinguished and ordered. And thus judgement in principle, we can say, involves mediation and is in a sense inferential. It asserts something of and in a whole, and the place of this something in the whole and the relation which it bears to other elements, are problems implied in the assertion. ‘Reality is such that S is P,’ may be taken, we saw, as a formula which expresses the nature of truth. S is P (to put it otherwise) because Reality is such. The ‘such’ is that order which we |334| realize progressively in an ideal system. The ‘because’ is the conditions more or less specified, the intermediaries which ideally connect S and P. 27 This mediation must remain, while truth is truth, a work for ever unfinished, but the search for its completion is implied in the very essence of judgement.

I will pass on now to consider two questions which the reader perhaps may find more interesting, (a) Has every truth which I think been thought before? Did it, as truth, always exist before? And, together with this, I will ask, Can truth or knowledge alter reality? (b) Further again, in what sense, if in any sense, can I be said to make truth?

(a) Neither this problem nor any other problem can be solved by bringing in the potential or virtual. 28 This is a device specially favored by ‘empiricists’, and is perhaps the screen that serves most to veil their bankruptcy. Prof. James, we have seen (p. 147), can furnish us with a signal illustration of this misuse. But I cannot pause here to dwell on a matter which I must venture to regard as settled. The recourse to the potential is everywhere a worthless self-deception, and, so far as I am aware, no serious attempt has been made to justify it against criticism.

To pass from this point, there is a sense in which we may maintain that every truth, however old, is new at any time when it is affirmed. 29 And, for myself, I agree that in this sense no judgement ever is repeated. The occasions are different and so are diverse, and, for myself, I am bound to hold that the diversity of each appearance in some way in the end qualifies the identical content. But this qualification, we have seen, must here be disregarded as irrelevant.

|335| What then am I to answer to the inquiry whether a truth, which I think, is possibly now thought for the first time? To go beyond possibility seems to me here out of the question. For the full extent of finite mind, and of the events which happen there, is to me clearly unknown. To this you may reply that, for anything we can tell, the world of finite minds, with the exception of a small province, is out of temporal relation with ourselves, and that therefore any general assertion of priority in time could have no meaning. With this naturally I agree, but our doubt cannot in this way be removed. Let us confine ourselves to those finite minds among which our before and after hold good, and yet how much even of this region do we certainly know? Even here to assert positively that my truth has never been for another mind before me, seems not in my power. On the other hand the possibility of such a first appearance must in many cases be admitted. The description of truth as that which is essentially common to more minds than one must (we may remark in passing) be rejected as false. Within our series the individual conditions may, for anything we know, neither be shared nor recur, and the truth may appear never but to one person, and only once.

I shall be told perhaps that there is a higher Mind and Intelligence by which all truths are thought. Even if we admit this, there, however, remains, in connexion with this, a question as to the validity of before and after. I will not, however, discuss that question, since I do not accept the Intelligence referred to. I am not asking here how God is to be conceived by the religious consciousness. 30 For me (readers of my book will know) the Absolute is not God, and we here are dealing theoretically with first principles. Certainly I admit that the Absolute Experience may perhaps contain some matter which is not included within the experience of finite minds. I incline to the opposite view, but I |336| still think that the doubt must be admitted. 31 Here, however, the question is confined to judgement and truth, and I see no reason to suppose that, outside of some finite mind, truth and judgement are possible. And hence on the main issue without hesitation I can reply thus. It is possible for a finite mind to have a truth which, as truth and judgement, is for no other mind whatever, and has never in time existed before.

But I must hasten to add that any such answer is one-sided. It pays its regard solely to that which is but one aspect of the whole matter. Wherever you have truth you must have one or more series of appearances in time, of events which occur one before or after another. On the other hand, with no more than this, truth would have no existence. Events happen because of that which is beyond all happening and at once contains and subordinates its temporal form. The Reality, above mere time and mere relations, possesses now and always all truths, whether actual or possible. And hence the whole view for which a truth first was not and then is, must be set down as in the end inadmissible and false. You may therefore insist that my present truth was waiting there and has been found. Such a statement once more must in the end be called untenable, because it again is but partially true. But it is truer far than the assertion that a truth can originate as this or that person first conceives it.

Starting from such a basis we can now dispose rapidly of a further question. Is it possible that any knowledge should alter its object? It is easy here to answer in the negative, and even to insist that the opposite is really self-evident. But the assertion, however self-evident, that reality or fact is not altered by knowledge, is still but a partial truth, which, taken as more, becomes false. For if truth and knowledge, when they come to exist, make no alteration in reality, to |337| what other region, we have to ask, does their appearance belong? To deny that knowledge happens, or to assert that, happening, it makes no difference to reality, seems a monstrous paradox. And you cannot dispose of such an objection by insisting blindly on your opposite thesis. Both thesis and antithesis are but aspects of a truth which at once overrules and embraces them. The Reality was known always, and now its knowledge occurs. My contribution leaves it unincreased, and yet is indispensably requisite. The fact of my knowledge makes an evident change in reality, and yet the idea that the Universe is changed by me must be rejected as folly. We are moving here in a region of partial truths broken away from that which includes all aspects in a higher, experience. 32

We cannot always be laboring to express at once the I complementary aspects of the whole. We are forced, to suit our varying purpose, from time to time to make statements which, as they are made, contradict one the other. Unless the Reality itself enters into the process of events, unless it itself is what it becomes there, unless it itself discovers itself to itself and us, and takes on a change from that discovery the Reality remains outside of knowledge, and itself is unreal. On the other hand if that which is discovered is not found, if that which appears is not revealed, if in short the thing, which we get to see, was really not there — then reality and knowledge once more are illusory. But we are unable to combine these partial truths so as to understand in detail how both of them go to make the Universe.

|338| (b) The position, just reached, anticipates our answer to the question which follows. Prof. James and Prof. Dewey have each advocated the view that truth is made. I cannot, however, find that either of them has made an attempt to consider seriously the whole subject. 33 If I can make truth, I can make also, I presume, error and falsehood, and goodness and beauty, and whatever is opposite to these. Everything, in brief, that is covered by the terms ‘value’ and ‘worth’, is in the end merely made. It will repay us at some length to examine this statement. The conclusion which I have to advocate is briefly as follows. The doctrine that this or that man, or set of men, can make truth, is in the end false and even monstrous. From one point of view I can be truly said to bring truth into being, either for the first time or once more. But there is no tenable point of view from which I can be properly said to make truth.

Any such expression is condemned, we may notice first, by the usage of language. I may make a true assertion or a mistake, or again an experiment, but, unless I violate language, I cannot make either a truth or an error or a lie. 34 Now I am not suggesting that such usage is everywhere infallible, but I am sure that it deserves everywhere our careful attention. And in this case it is based, I submit, upon a distinction and a principle which is valid.

What is ‘to make’? It is to produce in time, and usually also in space, a certain existence. What so exists may, or may not, be what we call a thing which goes on to endure for a period. Neither endurance, nor again the character of being a thing, is here really essential. I can, for instance, make a noise or an experiment. What is essential here and essential absolutely is the aspect of event |339| and of temporal existence. It is this aspect of happening in time on which the word ‘make’ lays its stress. And hence to make anything, so far as anything goes beyond existence in time, is not possible. I can make a box but not the nature of the materials, nor again the properties of the box itself when once made. I can make, as we saw, a noise, but to make an explosion begins at once to strain language. The explosion refers to that which is beyond the mere course of events. In this respect it is like an act, and I cannot be said to make an act. And on the same principle truth and error, or beauty or goodness or badness, are none of them things which are made. The life of none of them is confined within that element to which making points, and to which it gives emphasis. They appear in time certainly, and as certainly they can be made to happen, but they cannot be identified wholly, or even mainly, with their aspect of existence and fact. 35

Truth, beauty and goodness must appear as temporal facts, but their essence does not consist in that appearance. It transcends the lapse of time and the flux of change, and it everywhere in this sense is eternal. Wherever you have an object taken as good or beautiful or true, or as the opposite of one of these, 36 you have at once something which reaches and holds beyond time and event. And, if it were otherwise, a truth, true at one moment, might at another moment have become a falsehood; and, if so, obviously the whole notion of |340| truth is destroyed. ‘Oh no,’ I may perhaps hear, ‘a truth at any moment may become false, and I can make it false and can make something else true.’ Such a reply to my mind is based on sheer confusion and want of thought. We can say of course first, ‘Now it is light,’ and then, ‘Now it is dark,’ but obviously, with this, the first truth is not falsified. That truth was stated ambiguously and imperfectly, and involved a condition not made explicit. 37 But assuredly, so far as it was true, its truth is eternal. And of course again you can alter the fact. You can make it so that now not the former truth but another truth holds good. You have brought this other truth into existence, and you have made it appear. But on this ground to assert that you have made it, shows, to my mind, mere confusion.

And even if ‘Humanity’ is brought in, the same answer applies. This seems to be obvious if by Humanity you mean merely the set of beings on our planet. Or if, attempting to profit by a wretched ambiguity long since exposed, you seek tacitly to identify Humanity with all finite mind, or perhaps the entire Universe, still your conclusion is false. Even from such an extreme paradox it does not follow that truth can be made. The issue still turns upon the way in which Humanity or the Universe is taken, and on the position given there to the aspect of temporal event. But it is difficult to discuss a doctrine which its supporters seem afraid even to try to state clearly. 38

“Every truth is eternal.”

Every truth is eternal, even, for instance, such a truth as ‘I now have a toothache’. Truth qualifies that which is beyond mere succession, and it takes whatever it contains beyond the flux of mere event. To be, it must appear there, but, to be truth, it must also transcend that appearance. The same thing holds again without exception of all beauty |341| and goodness, and of everything in short, however mean, which is apprehended as an object. 39 You may be said to make me happy, but to make it beautiful or right or good or true that I am happy, violates both language and reason. Such characters do not happen, and still less are they made. In a sense you make them to be, but for any man to make their being is inconceivable. Though revealed in time and in our ‘mortal world’, they are not subject to its chance and change, and, though in this world, they remain something which never is of it.

The conclusion is suggested that, if that which calls itself ‘empiricism’ takes reality to have its life in the mortal world of events, and holds time and change to be ultimately real, no empiricism can give an account of truth or beauty, or, generally, of goodness or worth. It will be compelled to break openly with the plainest of facts, or to obscure its bankruptcy in a mist of phrases such as ‘potential’ and ‘virtual’.

I will ask finally, at the cost of repetition, how far it can be said that ‘Truth does not depend on me’. There are misunderstandings here against which it is vital to guard our minds. Obviously, first, in the case where the truth is about me, the assertion that it in no way depends on me is false. On the other hand, if the ‘me’ stands for that which is irrelevant in and to the judgement, the above assertion (we have seen) will hold. Its more probable meaning, however, is that truth does not depend on my act. 40 And here, as we have argued, a distinction must be made. My act certainly can be said to bring a truth into existence, but there is that in the truth which essentially is beyond any act in time. The truth can also (we have seen) be said to be prior to my act and to be found.

My act never is creative. It presupposes always what we have called the dualism between fact and idea, and to create both at once is beyond us. And thus the truth about a fact must be for ever beyond it. It would be otherwise if truth were the immediate experience which to some extent my will can produce. It would be otherwise, again, if the ultimate real union of both aspects could be brought into being by me. But, since creation is impossible for my will, that must still be limited to and by fact. Any act of mine is therefore compelled to be one-sided. It brings into temporal existence something which, except for its aspect of existence, cannot be properly said to depend on the act.

You may reply that the whole thing is a matter of emphasis. You may object that in acting, and even in making, if you insist on emphasizing too strongly the aspect of mere event, you in the end would have no act, and nothing in the end could be said even to be made. In the end both aspects are inseparable. I do not seek to dispute this, for in what has gone before I have been endeavoring throughout to urge (if you please) that falsehood lies in a one-sided emphasis. 41 To say that truth depends on me, and still more to assert that it is made by my act, is therefore certainly false. For by its emphasis on the aspect of event such an assertion really means that in this aspect consists truth’s essence. And it really denies that other aspect of eternity apart from which truth has utterly perished. Whatever else you can assert about truth, you must still be able to add that it was, and is waiting there to be found, and that it is made by no man. 42

I will now proceed to touch in passing on two further |343| questions, (a) What is the relation between reality and truth? and (b) Does truth copy reality? I have dealt already with these subjects, 43 but, in view of persistent misunderstanding, I will venture on a brief repetition.

(a) You cannot ask how in any proper sense truth is related to the real. For such a relation to be possible, you would require reality on one side and truth on the other. And, since without truth reality would not be real, and truth apart from reality would not be true, the question asked is ridiculous. There cannot in the end be a relation between two inseparable aspects of one whole. On the other hand you can inquire as to how truth stands to reality, in this sense that you can ask in what way truth is different from and falls short of the Whole. What is it lacking to truth, on the addition of which truth itself would be reality? This is a question which to some extent can be discussed and answered.

Reality for me (if I may be pardoned such repetition) is one individual Experience. It is a higher unity above our immediate experience, and above all ideality and relations. It is above thought and will and aesthetic perception. But, though transcending these modes of experience, it includes them all fully. Such a whole is Reality, and, as against this whole, truth is merely ideal. It is indeed never a mere idea, for certainly there are no mere ideas. It is Reality appearing and expressing itself in that one-sided way which we call ideal. Hence truth is identical with Reality in the sense |344| that, in order to perfect itself, it would have to become reality. On the other side truth, while it is truth, differs from Reality, and, if it ceased to be different, would cease to be true. But how in detail all this is possible, cannot be understood.

Further, the ultimate Reality is not a development, and it is absurd even to ask if it progresses. On the other hand it essentially contains a process, or rather processes, in time. And, looking at it from this partial aspect, we may say that the Reality uses ideas in order to realize itself. Immediate experience, itself showing ideality in lapse and change, in its endeavor to complete itself develops truth. It produces ideas progressively freed more and more from union with particular objects of sense. It uses these ideas to procure for itself a fuller experience, both practically and in higher perceptions and in intuitive understandings and in apprehensions of beauty. It is the nature of ideas, we may say, to pass over into a completer whole which both subordinates and includes them. Even for us in our experience this end partially is attained. And in the absolute Reality it is reached entirely and throughout, though obviously for us not visibly.

On the one side, therefore, our experience remains in part merely ideal, and thus, within certain limits, an activity which is but theoretical is called for and is justified. With every side of our life all the other sides are inseparably implied, but it is impossible that everywhere in detail these other sides should be verifiable. So far as the detail goes, we everywhere, and not merely in theory alone, may be said to rest upon faith. But on the other hand the character of the absolute Reality is everywhere manifest, and we can possess no other possible criterion of truth.

(b) For a discussion of the question as to how far truth is a copy of reality, I must once more refer the reader to Chapter V, but I will repeat briefly what seems called for |345| here. On any view like mine to speak of truth as in the end copying Reality, would be senseless. To copy is to reproduce in some other existence more or less of the character of an object which is before your mind. Now, apart from knowledge and truth, there can be no original object before you to copy. And hence to make truth consist in copying is obviously absurd. This question I take to have been settled, once and for all time, by the post-Kantian criticism of the doctrine of the Thing-in-itself. That criticism I take to have proved that, outside of truth itself, there can be no criterion of truth.

The working to carry out a certain general character, to construct an ideal world according to a certain prescription, would surely not be copying in detail. And, when the general character and prescription is itself again not copied, the idea of copying is nowhere applicable.

Copying, as an ultimate account of truth, is therefore out of the question, and to ask what would be gained by it, if it were possible, is an idle inquiry. I have spoken of course, so far, of that copying which is absolute, that which has to reproduce in truth an object which does not already itself more or less consist in truth. On the other hand with copying in a relative sense we are all familiar, though the extent even of this we are prone to exaggerate. Past and future facts, for example, can scarcely be copied, unless we are assisted by some miraculous ‘Faculty’. We come nearest to copying intellectually when we attempt to describe a perceived fact. But, even here, the fact itself depends more or less upon idealization, and the reproduction of it involves a further process of the same kind. And, where this can perhaps be doubted as to the fact itself, as, e.g., in sensations of pleasure and pain, the conclusion as to our truth about this fact will still hold. Truth must select and abstract, and, if it failed to do this, and if it repeated feeling, it would be itself mere feeling and no longer truth. But I will not venture |346| here further to abuse the reader’s patience, 44 but will pass on to deal with another well-known topic.

What is the good of truth? To ask a question is here, as everywhere, to imply an assertion. And the assertion involved in the above inquiry is often as follows. The inquirer may affirm (a) that truth itself is not good, and he may (b) imply also that some other aspect of life, taken by itself, is good. This is the position of the ordinary Hedonist, and he at least knows, or may be supposed to know, what he means. But it is the position of others also, who possibly may know what they mean, but whose mental state, for anything that appears, is certainly otherwise. Any one, however, who in philosophy asks such a question as ‘What is the good of’, 45 is obviously bound, when challenged, to state his answer to the inquiry, ‘What is good’.

On any view such as mine no one aspect of life is good ultimately by itself. To set up any one aspect of life as the absolute Good or Evil, and to reduce the rest of life to mere means, is a most serious error. Relatively of course with every aspect of life this point of view is tenable. Morality and religion can be regarded as means to worldly success or to bodily health. We can say the same thing of pleasure, or again pleasure may be taken not as a means but as the end which all else should subserve. The pursuit of beauty in art may be spoken of as a more or less useful amusement, or as a way perhaps of keeping out of vice. And truth again also undeniably is useful, and is a means and instrument valued for the sake of other purposes. All this is justifiable, but justifiable only when we remember that it is but relative. |347| To turn any one aspect of life by itself into the end is false ultimately. What is ultimately good is life itself or experience as a whole. 46

The question, What is the good of truth? can (as we have seen above) be asked properly, if it means. How does truth stand to, and how does it conduce to experience or life as a whole? And, except as so conducing, you can certainly affirm that truth is not good, and that it possesses no value whatever. I emphasize this assertion, and I once more repeat that truth’s natural destiny is to return once more into unbroken union with Reality, and to restore at a higher level that totality out of which it has emerged. But that this destiny is accomplished, verifiably and in detail, within and throughout our experience seems demonstrably false. And (as we have seen) within our experience truth remains and must for ever remain relatively free. 47

The attempt to deny or to condemn the relative freedom of truth and of art, involves to my mind, in general, mere prejudice and error. And it is difficult to argue where, as opposed to you, you for the most part can perceive little else but confusion. But it may perhaps tend to make this whole matter clearer, if we consider it from another side. Let us take the instance of a high and heroical will for good at any cost to oneself, an effort which, so far as we can see, has |348| failed to carry itself out. This effort, for anything that we can discover, has failed, even when you look at its indirect result in human history, and it has failed even when you regard merely the inner life of the man who has made it. It may have left that life more frustrated and more discordant, and in a sense really lower, than if the man had never risen to the struggle. Now, is an effort of this kind to be set down as sheer waste and loss? I abstract here from any belief as to a difference made to a state of existence after death. For such a belief may be true or false, but to call it verifiable seems nonsense, if we mean by that to imply that we can find that and how it holds in every detail. Apart then from any belief as to a future state, what are we to say of those moral efforts which, with all their intensity, appear to have failed? Are we to call them mere waste, or perhaps something even worse than waste? While on some other views this seems inevitable, I can give an opposite reply. For me the Absolute is there to see that nothing in the world is lost. That effort which for our vision is wasted, passes over beyond our vision into reality and is crowned with success. Of all the foolish criticisms (and they are many) which have been directed against the Absolute, the most foolish of all perhaps is that it is useless. And this does not mean that, whatever I do, it is all one to the Absolute. The Absolute is there to secure that everywhere the highest counts most and the lowest counts least. For it is at once the active criterion and the supreme power.

Truth and beauty then on the one hand within limits are free. On the other hand truth and beauty, all without exception, conduce to a higher Reality. But in detail this consummation must remain for us invisible. The idea, however, that any one truth is just as good as another is senseless. A truth is true so far as it works, in the first place theoretically, and truths, so far as they are empty and are idle, fail to work. They fail proportionately to make a |349| contribution to the Absolute. But there are criticisms to which I feel that it is useless to reply. It is not given to any man to argue against self-satisfied ignorance. 48

In conclusion I will ask how far the view which I hold is open to the charge of ‘subjectivism’ and ‘relativism’. What I mean by relativism here is the consequence that, beyond this or that man or set of men, there is no truth or reality. In neither of these senses (between which of course there is in principle no difference) can my view be said to end in relativism. With regard to Solipsism there is, I think, no occasion for me to notice any criticism which ignores or is ignorant of what I have said on this subject. 49 And it is equally obvious, I presume, that, for me, reality and truth are not confined within the limits of any one set of finite beings, such, for example, as the human race.

Certainly for me beyond and outside of all finite minds there is no truth. From the doctrine which I inherited all such transcendence has in principle been banished. And certainly for that doctrine, once more, the desire and the striving of finite minds is essential to Reality. The immanent will of the Universe, for knowledge and truth within those minds, is impossible unless it is in one with their personal endeavor. If to hold this is to embrace subjectivism, |350| then assuredly to subjectivism I have always been wedded. But, upon a view such as mine, that which is ‘objective’ can be distinguished from that which is merely personal, and I have shown the principle upon which this vital distinction is made. And any view, I would add, in which such a distinction does not hold good, is ruined irretrievably. 50

|351| For me truth gives the absolute reality, the whole Universe as in its general character it really is. It gives its result imperfectly, as I have explained. But, so far as this truth goes, it is impossible to think that for any other mind it is otherwise. And, in attempting to entertain such an idea, you succeed merely yourself in thinking inconsistently. On the other hand, outside of this general character, in a sense relativism holds good. That which in particular, for one mind or one set of minds, is true or real or good, may be the opposite for another individual or set of individuals. And how far in detail this diversity may extend we have no means of knowing. In such a sense our knowledge must always be relative. But this detail remains subordinate to our general principle. It is not mere ‘matter’ conjoined externally to an indifferent ‘form’. Any such indifference (some critics tend to forget) is a positive doctrine which it is incumbent on them to prove, and which for me is untenable. The detail, upon our view, can vary only so far as the general character is preserved. Hence our faith in the world, in truth and in beauty and goodness, is unshaken by doubt. And, if so, to hold that belief in an Absolute can make no difference to any one or to anything, seems ridiculous, while |352| to intimate that this is even my own opinion is worse than ridiculous. The Absolute is that by which all reality, and all truth and goodness and beauty, in their various degrees are, and without which they are nothing. And, if there is any one in whose eyes this makes no difference, I address myself to others.

The above are those aspects of truth on which I wished to remark. I cannot hope that I have succeeded in not tasking the patience of the reader. My remarks have at the best been disjointed, and I have repeated (it is the vice of advancing years) what I have said, and have said perhaps too often before. But I will end by insisting once more on that with which I began. Except in connexion with a view or views as to the nature of Reality, any controversy as to the nature of knowledge and truth in the end is futile. Such a discussion may be more or less instructive, and it may be stimulating more or less, but it never can deal with the real question at issue, or arrive at any final result whether positive or .


1^ This chapter appeared first in Mind, July 1911.

2^ On the nature of ‘and’ see Chapter VIII, p. 231.

3^ Cf. Principles of Logic, p. 87.

4^ See especially Chapter VI.

5^ We have here a matter for observation and experiment and not for long trains of reasoning. In Mind, No. 75, p. 335, I notice, for instance, that Prof. Perry, while uprooting Idealism, demolishes in passing myself. He takes me to argue to a conclusion which I do not hold, from a basis which I have rejected as an error, and then wonders at the unnameable vice of the process. But, if Prof. Perry wishes to get an idea as to the view which he is anxious to refute, why should he not suppose (for a moment) that on my side there is no argument at all, and that on his side there is an inference by way of vicious abstraction?

6^ Any critic who desires to be fair, should, I think, make up his mind on these two questions: (a) Has or has not a philosophy got to explain everything? (b) What is it (if anything) that a philosophy may leave unexplained? Without some consideration of these points I do not myself see how rational discussion is possible.

7^ What follows may be taken as a commentary on Appearance, pp. 373-4.

8^ Cf. Chapter V, pp. 132-3.

9^ Cf. Chapter IV, pp. 85, 103.

10^ Cf. Appearance, p. 137.

11^ See Appearance, chap, xxvii.

12^ Appearance, chap, xxiii; Mind, No. 33. Cf. Chapter XIV of this volume.

13^ Even where reality or the Universe is the subject, this still will hold good; see Chapter III, p. 41.

14^ What some one should explain is how the merely external relation of two terms is able to be aware of itself.

15^ Appearance, chapter, xxiii; Mind, No. 33. Cf. Chapter XIV of this volume.

16^ In his interesting book, Pragmatism and its Critics (p. 31), which I read while revising the above in 1911, Prof. Moore states that the doctrine that the individual consciousness is a function of the ‘community life’, has appeared only within our own generation. Such a statement surprises me. Is Prof. Moore really prepared to deny that the doctrine was taught by Hegel, and that I, for instance (if I may mention myself), following Hegel, fought for it in 1876? What Prof. Moore, I think, has failed to realize is the necessity for defining the ‘community life’, and for deciding whether this is merely social, and, if so, precisely in what sense. We seem to have here once more the well-known old ambiguity which obscures, and which assists, that which calls itself Humanism. But is Prof. Moore ready to identify reality with the ‘community life’, and, if so, in what sense of this term? The question left unanswered surely threatens to destroy his doctrine as to the perception of material objects. But I am glad to find that on the whole the differences between Prof. Moore and myself are small in comparison with the amount of our agreement.

17^ The same thing of course holds with regard to passivity. My present actual contents are, for instance, disturbed by the felt inroad of an unexpected perception or of a sudden and surprising thought. And on the other side the object is passive where in reflection I attack and analyze it. But such passivity is on neither side the change made in a thing acted on merely from without. Truth does not break into my premises like a burglar, nor again like a corpse does it suffer my anatomy.

18^ Cf. Chapter VI

19^ See Appearance, chap, xix, and Chapter V, p. 119, of this volume.

20^ Cf. here Chapter IX, p. 273.

21^ Cf. Chapter XIII. It is impossible in the end by any judgement to qualify Reality as conditioned. R, taken with the condition, implies a higher R within which it falls and of which it is asserted. This general principle has of course many applications. Thus (as we have seen) you may attempt to make the qualification of the object in a judgement include also the personal satisfaction of the judger. But this inclusion forthwith makes a new object, and so on indefinitely. Hence the satisfaction of the judger, as and while he judges, is necessarily excluded from the judgement. From the other side, the satisfaction, or the psychical prevalence, which is asserted, cannot be the satisfaction or prevalence belonging to the act of such assertion. It may or may not be consistent with this, but to judge concerning such a point belongs to and involves a further reflection.

22^ Cf. Chapter IX, p. 266.

23^ The same thing holds again of course mutatis mutandis in Ethics and in Aesthetics, in short wherever you have an object.

24^ Those who have done me the honor to read my book will know this. Other critics may be referred to the Index (in any edition of my work, under the heading Inexplicable. {Inexplicable, 114, 118, 177, 189-90, 203, 209, 239, 246, 249, 272, 278, 316, 324, 331, 344, 350, 410, 412, 418, 433, 468.}

25^ The reader must not take me to have forgotten the worlds of art and of social reality. I am confining myself here to the problem of knowledge and of truth in the narrower sense.

26^ See Chapter III. Into this error, with really no decent excuse, I fell myself for a time (Principles of Logic, chap. i). The second mistake I certainly never made, though I failed to be clear on the matter. But see pp. tog, 438 (ibid.).

27^ To take the intermediaries as mere events in time is a ruinous error; see pp. 146-7.

28^ Other terms of the same kind are ‘nascent’, or some word ending in ‘ible’, or, possibly again, ὕλη.

29^ Cf. Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic, vol. ii, p. 310.

30^ See Chapter XV.

31^ Appearance, pp. 273-4, 527-8, and see pp. 350-1 of the present chapter.

32^ The attempt to escape by urging that a difference is made but made only to me, cannot succeed. The difficulties which arise here should be well known, and can never, I think, be met. To fall back on an external relation, which, though external, is lopsided and so makes a difference to one term, seems even ridiculous. The conclusion which will follow really is that neither knowledge, nor anything else, can make any difference to anything, and that anything like alteration is an illusion which itself could not exist.

33^ Cf. Chapter V, p. 141. Prof. Dewey has republished the article there noticed, but has not tried, I think, to go any further into the matter. (The above was written before Prof. James’s lamented death.)

34^ I can make a lie only when the lie is regarded as a thing which exists, and the phrase, even then, is clearly irregular.

35^ Illustrations, I know, are dangerous, but perhaps to some persons the above may be clearer if I state it as follows. Suppose that there is a necessary way of doing something, say of making a box, can you be said to make this way? No, it may perhaps be answered, but all the same I make the box, and, if so, why not truth? The reason why you cannot may be put thus. The box can be regarded, and is regarded, as separable from the way in which it has to be made. But, with truth, an abstraction of this kind is not possible. There is ho truth left if you abstract from the way in which truth is made, a way which itself is not made. What is made is therefore something which, taken by itself, is not truth.

36^ You can, we saw, ‘make a mistake,’ but this is because, and so far as, you can regard a mistake merely as an event.

37^ See Chapter IX, pp. 261 following.

38^ I have repeatedly called attention to what I must now regard as mere bankruptcy veiled by ambiguity. See the Index, s.v. Humanity. {Humanity, Humanism, 64, 67-8, 73, 81, 98-9, 124-5, 129-30, 142-4, 243, 319, 321, 335-6, 340.}

39^ Not only is all beauty an object, but it is even taken as that which is self-existent. Cf. Appearance, chap. xxvi.

40^ If the ‘my’ is here taken in opposition to the object, and it is assumed that my act is not also the act of the Reality, that would be of course once more an error, which has been dealt with sufficiently (p. 327).

41^ Everything (to repeat this) in the end depends on everything else, and connexion is in the end a matter of degree. It is our selective emphasis for a certain purpose which makes the relative absolute. And the point here is this, that, in asserting the dependence of truth on my act, the emphasis and the selection is not warranted by the degree of connexion.

42^ On the whole matter the reader is referred to Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic, vol. ii, chap. x. Practice, he points out (p. 321), finds as well as makes, and knowledge alters as well as finds. The reader perhaps will recognize that, if we have a complete whole completing itself in the temporal development of finite selves, these apparent inconsistencies must be. The universe in knowledge makes itself in and by me into something nearer to its full actual nature. The result therefore is found. Again in practice the idea which I carry out into existence — so altering existence — was actually there for me as an ideal, and I then find it in what I make to exist.

43^ I may refer in particular to Chapter V. Cf. Prof. Bosanquet’s Logic, chapters ix. and x.

44^ It may of course be said that with truth we have the same idea in two different contexts. We have it before us as an adjective of the real, and at the same time it has its place in the series of psychical events. This, I should agree, is indubitable, but, once more here, there is obviously nothing like copying from an original.

45^ The same remark mutatis mutandis applies to the covert assertion contained in such phrases as ‘instrument’ and ‘use’; pp. 134-5.

46^ It is possible to identify Reality with the Good, but I prefer not to do this. It is unnecessary to enter on the question here; see pp. 89, 179.

47^ While denying this freedom, Prof. Moore, speaking for the ‘pragmatist’ (Pragmatism, p. 168), allows, as I understand, to thought a value of its own, though not in ‘independence’. It is, I think, important to have got even as far as this. But what surely follows is that to speak of thought, e.g., as instrumental, is not permissible. The rest of the whole process is surely also instrumental, as thought is, and may itself, by the same right, be taken as instrumental to thought. But Prof. Moore does not say this, and once more as to the position of beauty, so far as I have seen, he says nothing at all. But to deal with these matters is surely imperative. However, between such a ‘pragmatist’ as Prof. Moore and myself, the points of difference (as I said before), in comparison with the amount of agreement, seem really small. And again with regard to Prof. Dewey the same remark, I think, would hold good.

48^ Cf. Chapters IV and V.

49^ Appearance, chap. xxi. It may be useful perhaps to recall that Mr. E. D. Fawcett (Mind, No. 78, p. 200) understood me to start from a ‘provisional Solipsism’. Mr. Fawcett attended here, I think, merely to one side of my view. On that view the whole Universe is directly aware of itself in each finite center, but so as not there to be aware of the contents of any other finite center as they are experienced immediately by itself within that other centre. The highest all-embracing experience is never reached in any finite mind. How this is possible, I repeat, is inexplicable. I fully understand that the logical result of applying here an ‘Either-or’, is either a denial of any self or else an assertion of Solipsism, whichever of these alternatives you please. But I do not see how it can be right to suppose that I accept either of these alternatives. I may add that, if I accepted either of them provisionally, I should have to accept it as final. But whether there is any real disagreement here between Mr. Fawcett and myself, I cannot say.

50^ A point on which difficulty, I believe, has been felt, is the account to be given of Nature and of its position in the Universe. Nature has seemed on my view to possess no external reality. But this apparent failure is mainly perhaps due to a defect in my exposition. I have emphasized perhaps too one-sidedly our inability to arrive here at an ultimate explanation. I never sought to deny that in our own wills we have the experience of what we may call a power of real externalization. Certainly the idea that any such externalization can break somehow quite out of the absolute Experience, to my mind remains untenable. But to a conclusion which stops short of that I am far from being in principle opposed.
  I will venture, in republishing this footnote, to add some further remarks on the subject of Nature. The fact of finite centers, with change in time and apparent externality, must remain, I would once more repeat, in my view inexplicable. Certainly in volition we experience the carrying out of what is ideal into the world over against us. And, though no ultimate explanation can in my judgement be found in Will (compare Chapter IV), it may be well to consider the fact of Nature from this side.
  The absolute Reality of course is will, since it includes will in something higher. On their side the wills of finite centers, though real, are never the mere wills of these several centers. Experienced volition is always the will of the Whole in one with my own. What therefore is carried out into existence in and by my will is always more than any content which merely is mine. The content carried out belongs also and, in one sense, just as much to the Whole. And not only is this so, but some content is realized in and by my will, though this content goes beyond that of which in willing I was aware. To some extent this realization beyond what I have consciously willed seems evident in fact, and how far it conceivably might go, we seem unable to say. My will thus carries out into existence, and into the external world, more than in one sense was actually contained in my will.
  It is thus important to ask about the source of such additional matter. Is there any margin of content over and above that which is experienced in all finite centers? The totality of experiences must (this is obvious) have some content beyond that which falls in the experiences as several. For otherwise the totality (this seems clear) would be nothing. But is there (here is the point) in the absolute Experience any margin of content beyond what falls in the finite centers as unified? In my book (Appearance, pp. 273-4, and pp. 527-8) I raised a doubt on this point, a doubt which later I have tended perhaps too much to ignore. The question is difficult, and since we do not know how the finite centers are One, the question possibly may be unmeaning. On the other hand I cannot maintain that it is so, and hence I am forced to admit as possible this margin of content not included in finite centers. Such a, margin, if so, might go to make up that sphere which appears to each of us as the world of external existence. It would contribute to, or at least affect, that order of disorderly perception in which other centers appear to mine. But, beyond this, it would never enter into my consciousness or will. And, though made one in the whole with all finite centers, it could never be properly called the content of any.
  I do not think that, in order to account for Nature, such a supposition is necessary. But to my mind it is tenable, and any one, to whom it seems to remove difficulty, is, I think, right if he adopts it. On the other hand beyond this point I am unable to move. I could not admit that any externality is more in the end than appearance. A real split or sundering in the Universe I am forced to reject, and anything of the kind leads, so far as I see, to difficulties far worse than those which it may appear to banish or lessen. But this is a point on which naturally I am willing to hear reason.

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Chapter XII. Some Remarks on Memory and Inference 1

Ambiguity of Memory (353-4). We think of the past by an ideal construction, which involves the degradation of the present (354-7). How, when we think forwards, we can remember backwards. No merely successive Association (357-62). Difference between Fancy, Memory, and Inference. Defect of internal necessity in mere fancy. Thought not always abstract (362-5). How Memory and Inference agree and differ, but inference is implied in memory (365-70). How is memory in a given case to be distinguished from mere imagination? There is no test which is not fallible (370-2). Veracity of memory how far to be assumed (372-5). On Memory and Belief (376-7). On the meanings of matter of fact (377-80).

My object in this paper is to discuss certain questions about the nature of memory in connexion with inference on one side and mere imagination on the other. I have been led to write it partly from a desire to explain and justify the position which I took elsewhere. 2 But the reader need not concern himself with the matter from this point of view, and I shall endeavor to treat the subject independently. On the other hand, even if I were able anywhere to deal satisfactorily with all the problems involved, the present limits are much too narrow. I can offer no more than a discussion imperfect at the best, and in which the reader must not expect to find anything really new.

We may notice first the well-known ambiguity of the word ‘memory’. I have used, and shall use, the term in what seems its proper sense, the consciousness of past events as having been in fact experienced in my past. But memory is often employed otherwise. It may be taken to embrace all recognition and sense of familiarity, to cover persisting after-sensation and resurgent images, sporadic and undated. It may be a general head which includes all retentiveness and reproduction, and may be enlarged to cover every habit, even where habit rightly or wrongly is applied to a case of mere physical mechanism. And hence nothing is easier than to defend memory as basal, if not as quite ultimate, and to refute the true view that it is a complex and late |354| phenomenon. If, however, we keep in mind its various senses, less labor may be wasted.

Memory in its proper sense seems certainly complex, and involves a high degree and development of thinking, and memory for any sound psychology must be derivative and secondary. We may find it for the moment more convenient to postulate a faculty inexplicable and ultimate, by which I know my past events isolated or even in their synthesis with my present, an organ which gives us really the really existing past, or somehow immediately reports to us that which perhaps really does not exist — an oracle, which, although inexplicable or even perhaps because inexplicable, is to be accounted veracious. But the path which seems easy may be long in the end when it involves us in confusion, and a miracle, however cheap, in the end is dear when it entails the subversion of principle. And if against fact we are led to postulate the veracity of memory, that postulate, as I shall show, leads to ruinous scepticism.

Memory is an ideal construction of the past by which the present reality is qualified, or we know the past as an enlargement by ideal content of reality beyond the present. In this respect memory does not differ, it will be urged at once, from. at least some inference and even from fancy. But, without at present touching on these differences, it will be better to ask in general how we are able at all to think of the past. There is, of course, the further question as to what in the end is the real nature of the past, but that question does not in this chapter concern us. We are to ask about the past simply so far as it is for us.

Now there are doctrines which I must take for granted without explanation or discussion, and all that I can here do is to try to state them so as to avoid unnecessary objections. If the reader finds that he dissents, I would ask him to consider this chapter as written for others. We must first of all presuppose retentiveness and the growth of associations, |355| the formation in other words of special dispositions to restore elements previously conjoined; and it is better to abstain here from the least attempt further to explain or formulate these doctrines, since that would involve us in controversy and in the discussion of some obstinate difficulties. Here I would add merely that I have presupposed nothing except that which I take to be present in principle at the very lowest level of mind.

Now, so much being assumed, it is no great step to advance from it to serial connexions. Wherever A tends to call up B, and B to bring in C, A being present will tend to produce the series A-B-C. The means and the condition of this mediate connexion is the identity of B. There is here a common link which is one and the same, or which at least somehow behaves as if it were so, and which also again on examination seems so. Without this identical link there is certainly no series at all, but how far its identity must be perfect is a further question to be considered later. And at that point there will arise the difficult and most important problem about the unity of the whole series, a problem at which I shall be able to do no more than glance.

But when once we have such series joined by common links, it seems easy from this point to proceed to the future and past and to transcend the present. For given the disposition to an ideal series such as c-d-e, and given on the other side a present qualified as A(b-c), there is, through the identity of c, a transition from A to e through b-c-d. And with this transition memory, it might be said, is at once explained. Now in principle I think memory is so explained, and the explanation is correct, but it on the other hand is insufficient, and takes no account of serious differences. For in the first place memory has perforce to go backwards if it is to reach the past, while our series, it seems, run all the other way, and we can only think forwards. And in the second place memory is certainly not the mere extension of |356| the present. It gives us rather something which is not the present, something which is known as different and incompatible. I will proceed briefly to discuss these two difficulties, beginning with the second.

To know the past or future as such is a hard and late achievement of the mind, for it implies an enormous degradation of the present. We do not properly represent the past or future until we have gained an order of things in which the present has become but one thing among others. These other things, not the present, are not presented, and, if by a miracle they were so while the present itself still remained untransformed, the result would be chaos. But past and future do not and cannot exist for us until reality appears as a series in which the present has sunk and has become but one member among others. Such an order is an array into the ranks of which the present is cashiered; it is an order which is ideal and yet real, which is often not practical except remotely and indirectly, and which can conflict sharply with our presented perception and our presented need. The passage to this new world is the barrier, if there is one, between the animal and the human mind. 3 The animal mind (I am here compelled to be dogmatic) has neither past nor future. It has no world but the reality felt present and given, a present qualified ideally and qualified incompatibly with itself, but never transcended and itself degraded to be but another qualification. It has ideas assuredly and from the first, and, if it had not ideas, it could most assuredly have no conation or desire. But the ideas of the animal mind are but adjectives of the given, ideas that enlarge the given and may indefinitely distract it, but never can set themselves up beside it as other and equal realities. Hence the animal could never say, Yesterday I was sad but I shall be happy tomorrow. Its present is clouded and is brightened by the movement of its ideas, but remains always its present; |357| its revenges are never retribution for the past, and even its plans, where it has plans, are no forecast of the future. It has, in brief, no world sundered from the world of its immediate practical interest, and to take an immediate practical interest in the past as past is surely not possible.

I regret to be unable to explain and defend this brief statement. It may serve, perhaps, to point out the interval which in my judgement separates memory from the lower level of mind. How in detail that interval is filled up and crossed I cannot here discuss. I agree that it is the use of language for social needs which is the principal agent. It is in this manner, I agree, that in fact we gain a world of ideas beyond, and in part incompatible with, our personal world, an ideal order which seems fixed and independent and which subordinates the present. On the other hand, I must demur to the conclusion that without society no such ideal world is in principle possible or could slowly be fixed by the mind. But, however it may have arisen, it is this ideal order which makes memory possible, and apart from this development to postulate memory is to invoke a senseless miracle.

I will pass next to the difficulty which arises from the direction of our thoughts. The past lies behind us while, it seems, we can only think forwards. Given the disposition to an ideal series b-c-d, then, if Xb is presented, the identity of b can develop X ideally as Xb-c-d. But if, on the other hand, Xd is presented, how are we able to arrive at b-c? Our sensations, we may say, come wave on wave out of the future and disappear backwards into the past, while the direction of our ideas is naturally opposite, and our associated series, usually if not always, run from the present to the future. 4 We, to maintain our being, must face and must meet with our ideas the incoming waves, and it is this practical attitude against the course of mere events which gives the direction to all our series. I do not, indeed, admit |358| that all our associations are practical, and that is a question I pass by. But the rule that usually they are directed forwards we must admit as true, whatever we may think as to possible exceptions. The current of our lives and thoughts in short runs opposite to the stream of mere event.

How then, given the disposition to an ideal series a-b-c-d-e, and given our actual presence at d, can we arrive at the past? The result is gained in this way. Our present has a character associated with a, the beginning of the series, and so, by means of a, we identify ourselves with and pass through the series a-b-c-d-e. But this so far is not enough. This series so far, it will be rightly said, can at best give us a future, and it will not supply us with a past which lies behind us. Our explanation, however, so far was incomplete, and our fuller reply is as follows: (a) In order to perceive the past we must not merely identify ourselves with the beginning of a series, but that beginning must, also and as well, be incompatible with our present. That beginning must, beside its identity with our present state, have also a further character which prevents identification. If our present is Xd, then, since x is associated with a, we through x ideally reconstitute Xa, but the two, Xd and Xa, are or may be incompatible. (b) And secondly, starting from this incompatible beginning Xa, the series leads up to our actual present Xd, and can be prolonged into the future. And this in principle is the explanation required for our recovery and perception of the past.

I will illustrate this first by a simple example which in part is defective. I have seen a stone thrown and now perceive it at my feet. It is the ideal identity of the stone which reinstates its existence at the point of departure, an existence incompatible with the present. And then that incompatible sameness produces itself in series ideally till it is one with the actual present perception. The illustration is, however, imperfect because it presupposes and makes use of a fixed spatial order, and, whatever may be true of our |359| actual development, I cannot think that in principle such a spatial series is involved. Let us then take another illustration. Let us suppose that in the same locality I am first wet and cold and then dry and warm. Now my personal presence in this place can by association restore in idea my wet and cold presence in the same place, the two being both the same and yet also incompatible — and then an intermediate series, say of lighting the fire, or of the sun’s coming out, may unite by an ideal prolongation the first with the second. It is by a leap through ideal identity that we make ourselves one with what is incompatible with our present, and, this difference being then connected by a series with our present, we have our past, which is thus given both as sundered and as connected. Such at least is the main principle involved, though I cannot attempt to work it out in its complex detail. The most instructive illustration is probably furnished by the fact of double memory. That past from time to time is remembered or forgotten which has or has not the special quality which from time to time distinguishes the present. In this way at least the facts can in principle be explained, and in some cases the actual quality appears to have been discovered. 5

The above may be made clearer, perhaps, by a reply to a possible objection. You cannot in every case, it may be said, show that what we remember is thus reproduced from the present, and memory therefore, it may be urged, is immediate and inexplicable — except of course, like everything else, by physiology. Now I should myself admit that the reason why I remember this thing and not that often cannot be found in my present psychical state. One might indeed |360| urge that the reason is in all cases there and has been simply overlooked, but I am not myself prepared to endorse this contention. I would rather take no account here of unconscious states of mind, and the contention seems at least not warranted by those facts which we are able actually to observe. Certainly to argue, on the other hand, that dispositions work without any kind of support from my present psychical state would be quite mistaken. The support is there always, though not always, I admit, the special support to this one disposition against any other. And hence the special activity, I am quite ready to add, is in some cases to be taken as initiated merely cerebrally. But then I object that simply so far and with no more than this we have no memory at all. We have no memory until that which is reproduced is ideally separated from and is ideally connected with my present; and this ideal separation and connexion is and must be performed always in the way which I have described. 6 In short, memory as immediate is to my mind a sheer miracle, and I cannot accept a miracle even where I am assured that it is due merely to the brain.

The past, we have so far seen, is perceived by means of serial association, and, before I proceed, it is necessary to warn the reader here against a dangerous misconception. We have in the series a-b-c the association of b with a and of c with b; but we have not merely these separate associations, |361| and, if we had no more than this, we should have no series at all. For every series which we know is known by us as one, and, if it had no real unity, the appearance of its oneness would be inexplicable. 7 But this unity involves, so far as I can see, and consists in an ideal identity of character. There is some one content that is present through and is developed by the series, and is qualified by, and itself essentially qualifies, this series. But, if so, the members of the series will be joined not merely by association with one another, for each one must be associated also with one and the same quality. There will hence in fact be no merely successive association any more than there is any merely successive perception. The division of association into that which is simultaneous and that which is merely successive is in principle vicious, and any inquiry based on it is foredoomed to failure. The succession should be represented not as Xa-b, but rather as

/   \

And so we perceive how the whole series may thus be thought of as one, and how the idea of the whole is united with and so may reproduce any of the members, singly or at irregular intervals, and again in either direction. For beside the mere association of member with member we have as its complement in every series the connexion of each member with the idea of the whole. 8 And |362| with this brief warning on a matter of the greatest importance I must pass on to pursue further the subject of this chapter.

We are aware of and think of the past as past always by an ideal construction from the present, and the immediate presentation of the past as such would be a gratuitous miracle. But the past comes to us not by memory alone but also in mere fancy and again by pure inference, and it is clear that we are here concerned with serious differences. I may for instance remember that yesterday I sent a letter to the post; or I may imagine how I might have done this, though in fact I know that I did not; or again, while I cannot remember my act, I can perhaps prove that it happened. I will now briefly discuss the nature of these differences, beginning with mere fancy in its contrast with thought, and taking thought here in the sense of proof or inference.

How does mere imagination differ from inference? The question, difficult in itself, has been obscured by a fundamental error, a superstition about the abstract nature of thought proper. Deferring the consideration of this, I will state briefly the true ground of distinction. In inference there is, or at least there is supposed to be, a continuous necessity, and there is necessity because in a word there is identity. The self-same subject develops itself ideally in the process, and is qualified in the conclusion. And it qualifies itself throughout by itself, without the intrusion at any point of an extraneous connexion. We say that b is c and c is d and d is e, and each of these is not because of anything outside, but simply. Hence Ab must be Ae because in the end it is so. And whatever difficulties may be raised as to the possibility of using in our actual practice this type, this type at least represents what we aim at and seek to find in inference. It may help us to perceive this if we suppose |363| that the type is modified. Let us assume no longer that b is c simply, but admit that b is c only by the help of x. The premiss must now be written b(x) is c, and the old conclusion will not stand. We cannot any longer assert that Ab must be Ae. It only may be so, and, so far as it is so, it is so because of x. The Ab that is e is now not the Ab with which we started. We can no longer assert that the subject has been qualified throughout further without becoming something else. The subject of the conclusion is Ab together with a foreign condition x, and the conclusion is therefore conditioned, and, if you assert it of mere Ab, it is conditional or faulty.

It is a defect of this kind which vitiates the result of mere imagination. That result, we should agree, has no necessity. In my mind’s wandering the subject Ab may have actually now become Ae, but we cannot add that the thing is so really and of itself, for Ab, also and just as actually, may become something incompatible and may appear as Ab-not-e. In mere imagination, because the thing may be otherwise, it is not really what it is. Necessity is not present, and necessity is absent because there is a breach of identity. The subject Ab becomes Ae, but you cannot add ‘of itself’. Something extraneous has at some point entered in and has vitiated the process, and you have passed from b to c not because b is c, but only because the passage has happened. An element has intervened not belonging directly to the pure essence of b, but attached to b merely as b is now present in psychical fact; and it is this unknown addition, this x, which by a chance association has carried Ab to e. Such is the defect in identity which distinguishes mere imagination from inference, 9 and where this defect is remedied imagination becomes at once the strictest thinking.

It may be instructive to notice here the superstition to which I referred. The distinction of mere imagination from |364| thought consists in the absence or presence of logical control, and that control lies, as we have seen, in the preservation of ideal identity. But where this principle has not been grasped most incredible doctrines have found favour. Thought is abstract, we may be assured, while imagination is concrete. 10 Now I might ask if mere fancy may not be itself highly abstract, but, passing this by, I will go on to a plainer objection. To maintain all thought to be abstract is to be brought into collision with evident facts. For the lower animals surely can reason, while they hardly are able to think abstractly, except in certain theories. And in our own lives the field covered by what is called intuitive understanding is certainly not all abstract, or again on the other side devoid of judgement and inference. An obvious instance is the thinking and judging about spatial arrangements in an individual case. And the writer who will assert that such conclusions as He is the guilty man, or That is the right way, are either all abstract or are else not acts of thought, is to my mind past argument. 11 Inference of course is always abstract if that means that it implies |365| analysis and selection, and involves always a principle of necessity which can, or could conceivably, be abstracted. But in any other sense judgement and inference need certainly not be abstract, but may be concrete to an indefinite extent. In short, to set up imagination and thought as two separate faculties, and to speak of one using the other or again being applied to its service, is from first to last erroneous and indefensible. Imagination, if of a certain kind, is not something employed by thought, but is itself thinking proper. If, on the other hand, by mere imagination we mean our mental flow so far as that is subjected to no control whatever, and is so not ‘used’ at all, this certainly is not imagination in the higher sense of the word. Mere imagination, where regulated logically, itself is inference. And again, so far as serving other ends and subjected to other kinds of control, it becomes and itself is contrivance, fancy and creation in various forms, intellectual, practical and aesthetic. It is the special nature of the end and the special nature of the control which makes the difference in principle, and in the case of inference we have seen in what that difference consists. 12

From this our inquiry may return to the subject of memory. The mere imagination of the past, we have seen, is, like inference, an ideal construction from the present, and yet it fails to be inference. Memory is also an ideal construction from the present, and thus we are led to ask in what way memory differs from inference and from fancy; |366| for that there is some difference seems plain. I may, to repeat our instance, infer that on last Monday I must have posted a letter, or I may remember the fact, or again I may merely imagine it, and these three attitudes are not the same. Now, as against fancy, it is clear that memory has necessity. It does not qualify its subject by a predicate the opposite of which can also be remembered, and which for this reason does not qualify the subject itself. Memory, in other words, is a judgement and an assertion about its subject. Hence it is often again said to involve belief, a point which I shall consider lower down. 13 Thus memory, being a judgement, is so far the same as inference, and we must go on to ask if they are the same altogether.

If inference is understood in the sense in which we have taken it above, inference and memory certainly differ. For in memory there is a sequence and a continuity which is necessary, but on the other hand the necessity is not wholly intrinsic, or, if wholly intrinsic, is not so visibly. We do not, as in inference, go from Ab to Abc, because b is c. The sequence in memory cannot be so stated. The premisses are not Ab, bc, but must be written as Ab, Bc. Now certainly b is contained in and is an element in B, but, with only so much, the sequence fails to be logical. For you cannot logically proceed from Ab, Bc, to A-c, unless you assume that Bc is equivalent, say, to b-B-c, and not merely to b(x)-c. The essential question is as to how the difference, which turns b into B and which so brings in c, is related to b; whether, in short, and how far this difference is really accidental. Let us take once more the example which we used above. When I remember that on Tuesday last I sent my letter, the sending does not follow of itself from the mere idea of myself on last Tuesday. Thus I cannot prove that I sent the letter, and I can even imagine that in fact I did not send it. The connexion, therefore, between the day and the act is not |367| visibly logical, and it may be urged further that the connexion is not logical at all. The predicate, it may be said, does not in memory truly and really belong to the subject of the process. The predicate, on the contrary, is added brutally from without, and is attached by something quite external; and in memory, therefore, as was the case with mere chance imagination, ideal continuity is broken.

Now a breach of visible continuity I have agreed must be admitted, and memory therefore will fall short of inference. There is no proper inference where you predicate the conclusion of the subject because the subject is conditioned by something not intrinsically developed from its own nature. But in memory on the other hand the constraint is not wholly external. For the necessity is taken to lie within the content of the ideal process which develops the subject. From the idea of myself on Tuesday I pass to the sending of my letter because of something which belongs to the nature of things which is taken as present at that date. The compulsion in other words is assumed to come, not from mere matter of fact, but from the special character of a certain concrete fact. 14 We wrote the premisses of inference as Ab, bc, and of mere imagination as Ab, Bc, where B was equivalent to b(x), and where about the x we could say nothing whatever. But in memory that addition to and condition of b, which constitutes B, is taken not to be a mere x. The bond of union on the contrary is supposed to fall within the area of a specified content. The result is therefore logical so far and not merely psychical. It is logical so far as the X has been partly determined, and so far as the condition of the result has thus been brought within the process, and no longer, as in mere imagination, falls outside in the unknown. On the other hand, because the x cannot further |368| be specified, the result, though taken as necessary, still falls short of a logical conclusion. For the condition which carries Ab to c may qualify Ab beyond its own nature, and the conclusion therefore may not be true if you predicate it of Ab And so far as in the proper sense we remember, this ignorance and this inability is still implied. 15 In memory the predicate somehow belongs to the subject by the necessity of the content. The necessity is therefore intrinsic so far, since it falls within the process. On the other hand, because it is not known to belong intrinsically to the subject itself, we have no inference proper.

But though memory is not inference, in all memory an inference is involved. To connect my letter with the idea of last Tuesday I must first of all possess myself of that idea. But this possession involves, as we saw, a process from the present to something different, a process made through and resting on a point of ideal identity; and a passage of this sort seems certainly to be an inference. From the present Ac I go to the past C because of the c within C, and to go otherwise is not possible. You may object that the initial difference here between c and C is really external to c, just as again the further connexions given by memory were admitted not to be internal. This objection goes deep and would raise questions which I cannot discuss in this chapter, but for our present purpose it may be dismissed. It would, if admitted, show that we have a defective inference here, as perhaps almost everywhere, 16 and it would not show that we |369| use no inference at all. And the premiss which is and must be employed is this connexion of c with its difference, not taken as subject to the condition of an individual case but as unconditioned and simple. The connexion is of course not really simple in an absolute sense, but it is simple in the sense of being taken as unconditioned by the present fact as such. And if you do not use it so, you clearly cannot transcend the present at all. In other words this connexion is not itself an affair of memory or of ‘matter of fact’, since it underlies these as their condition. The connexion is direct, and the process where it is used, even if it is used unjustifiably, I must therefore call an inference. 17

In the proper sense of inference then memory involves an inference but itself really is not one. 18 If, however, the term |370| were used in a looser way, the answer might be different, and the whole sequence might perhaps be called an inference. It would be here as in a case which involves observation. I may see a man and recognize him as a certain person by a genuine inference, and I then may perceive him to act in a certain manner. I may, on this, attribute the perceived act to the inferred person, and this whole process might be termed an inference. And in the same way memory also might be called an inference, for the reason beside that it does not involve perception. I do not think, however, that we need here consider this looser use. Nor will I stop here to discuss a possible attempt to confound inference with memory on the ground that all inference in the end is irrational habit. For the secondary distinction between inference and memory proper would still remain, even if both were in the end mere results of memory in the sense of habit. I could not in this chapter attempt to deal with such a fundamental question, 19 and must pass onto another branch of our inquiry.

A memory, we have seen, is a state of mind which differs from a mere imagination of the past, and in passing from one to the other we are aware that we take a new attitude. But how in the end can we tell that in memory our attitude is justified, and that our remembrance really is any better than mere fancy? So far, indeed, as we can apply inference and can rationally construct the past order, we seem to stand on safe ground. But when we are left at last with an idea of the past which shows no visible inconsistency, but about which we are able to find no further evidence, what test can we apply? The answer must be that we do not possess any valid criterion. There are marks which give us a certain |371| degree of probability, and there are characters which more or less strongly impel us to take the idea as real, but there is in the end no criterion which is not fallible. I will briefly mention the characters which usually distinguish what we call a memory from a mere imagination. The interest of the subject is in the main confined to psychology; we should find some difficulties there into which I shall not enter, and the order of my statement does not pretend to be systematic.

We may place first the characters of clearness and strength, and in the next place fullness of detail, a detail which is not visibly rational. Next may come the sense of familiarity, and after that fixity of connexion; and I will then go on to add a few remarks, (i) I will not venture to ask here what clearness and strength are to mean, but, whatever they mean, a mere imagination may have as much of them as a memory (or even more), and this seems even plain, (ii) The same may be said with regard to mere fullness of detail, for a simple imagination may be very full in comparison with a memory. The character of the details is, however, a sign to be noticed. If the particulars are many and yet appear as an accidental conjunction, not depending upon any general idea but seemingly irrelevant, that, so far as it goes, is a mark of genuine memory. But this mark of irrational detail is, however, no test, (iii) The sense of familiarity is again deceptive. Its nature has been much discussed, 20 but I think we may represent it as follows. There is in memory an absence of strangeness. The detail comes without shock to a mind which does not expect it and yet is already adjusted to receive it. And this adjustment points to an associative disposition set up by past experience, but it points ambiguously. For your present accidental mood may favor and support strongly some idea about the past, and this idea may in consequence strike you as natural |372| and true. And again a mere imagination, if you repeat it, becomes in this way familiar, and itself thus creates the inner association which then offers itself as a witness to independent fact. And there is, once more here, no sure way of distinction between the false and the true, (iv) Fixity of connexion is again not a trustworthy test. Where an idea is connected with a certain date strongly and fixedly in such a way that the opposite is maintained with difficulty, and where in addition this connexion is constantly recurrent, we tend to take it as memory. And where, besides this, the detail appears as a mere conjunction of coinciding particulars, we feel ourselves confirmed. But mere imagination is unfortunately well known to present all these features, and it is impossible to find an infallible criterion or remedy. There are certain characters which usually are the result of that past fact to which the present idea refers. Foremost among these is that fixity and necessity of non-rational but integral detail which belongs to and points to an individual experience; and, when to this is added the sense of familiarity, then memory seldom fails to appear and is commonly justified. But the above characters can each, and all together, be present in a false imagination.

The veracity of memory is not absolute, and memory itself is subject to the control of a higher criterion. Our justification for regarding memory as in general accurate is briefly this, that by taking such a course we are best able to order and harmonize our world. There is in the end no other actual or possible criterion of fact and truth than this, and the search for a final fact and for an absolute datum is everywhere the pursuit of a mere ignis fatuus. You may look for it in outward perception, or you may seek it in inward experience and intuition, but in each case you are misled by one and the same error in a different dress. This is a subject too large to be dealt with here as a whole, but I will notice before proceeding a recent instructive attempt to prove that memory is not fallible.

|373| The position taken by Prof. Ladd on this point seems far from clear. 21 I understand that for him it is a vital matter to show that memory is at least in part infallible, but for the rest his procedure seems obscure and even inconsistent with itself. He admits the extreme fallibility of memory in detail, but contends that at least it cannot be wrong in its assertion of my past existence. But how far, and in what sense, when bared of or transformed in detail, my past existence remains mine, is a matter not discussed, nor, apart from this, is there any evidence produced for the truth of the contention. If wherever else a witness can be tested he is shown to be fallible, you can hardly assume him to be infallible in or beyond a certain point, simply because in or beyond that point you have in fact always found him to be right. And with regard to memory of my past existence the case stands as follows. All the memories that we can examine belong to minds which have had some previous existence, and it is very probable that memory can exist only as the result of some foregoing psychical development, however short. And, if this is so, then memory will be for this extraneous reason, and will be so far, infallible. It will be infallible, we may say, accidentally and in fact, but not in principle. Its evidence will depend on and be restricted to that which is otherwise known. And such an infallibility is, I presume, for Prof. Ladd’s purpose useless. And even so much as this can, perhaps, not be demonstrated. For that memory should supervene suddenly at a certain point of physiological development in such a way that its report of a past psychical self would be wholly mistaken, seems not clearly and in principle to be impossible. If so, even the limited infallibility of memory seems not proved; but in any case, even if proved, I have shown its dependent nature. 22

|374| From this obscure and unsafe position Prof. Ladd passes to a second, which, itself untenable, seems not even consistent with the first. All reasoning, he argues, goes from premisses to a conclusion, and our knowledge of the conclusion depends upon our memory of the premisses. Hence, if that is fallible, every possible act of reasoning is discredited. Far then from being able to show that memory is fallible, we have even to assume the opposite if we intend to have any conclusion whatever. And with this we have a sure and certain remedy, Prof. Ladd argues, against the disease of scepticism. But the ground of the argument seems to me incorrect, and the conclusion drawn quite mistaken. The argument should prove, it seems to me, that memory is not fallible at all. Hence, when a particular memory is shown by reasoning to be false, we are left, it would appear, in hopeless confusion. For we must either accept both contradictories at once, or, if we select, we select on no principle, and surely this must be admitted to amount to scepticism. What we are to do when memory is thus divided against itself, and how mere memory is to sit in judgement on itself, are matters not explained. In short, that argument for the supremacy of reason which holds good against scepticism, becomes, if you transfer it to memory, wholly and entirely sceptical. 23

|375| Prof. Ladd’s conclusion then is really sceptical, but the foundation of his argument, to return to that, consists in a mistake. It is not the case that reasoning depends on memory, and such an idea implies a wrong view about inference. In the first place in inference there need be no premisses drawn out and put before the mind, and a very large tract of our reasoning must in this sense be called intuitive. Prof. Ladd has seen this, but without more ado he drives the evidence bodily out of court. Everything of this kind is ‘a merely mechanical movement of the ideas’, a conclusion which I venture to regard as quite monstrous and a sufficient disproof of its foundation. That foundation is, however, in itself untenable. To assume that in an inference, where I go from premisses to a conclusion, I depend upon memory, is to maintain that in inference I am necessitated en route not to know what I am about, and arrived at the end must have forgotten, and so be forced to remember, the starting-point and the way — and this surely is erroneous. The normal type of inference is surely the unbroken development of an identical subject, 24 which does not leave the mind by the way and which, therefore, can hardly be remembered. This is the normal type, and I will add that, so far as this fails to be present, the operation is really not an inference. 25 With this I must pass from the subject of memory’s fallibility.

I will add some words on the question which has been raised about Belief. Memory, we saw, takes its ideas of the |376| past as real, while in mere imagination there is no such claim. It is the addition of belief, then, we hear it said, which turns imagination into memory, and our main task is to find in what this addition consists, or at least to set it down as ‘a final inexplicability’. But the whole question is in this way misunderstood and the issue radically perverted. To take for granted the existence of ‘mere ideas’ as self-evident and as a matter of course, and to treat belief in these as something supervening, or even adventitious, which we have then got to explain, is fundamentally erroneous. It is to make an assumption quite false in its principle and in its consequences most misleading. The presence of and the possibility of these ‘mere ideas’ is, on the contrary, the very thing which calls most for explanation. No such ideas, we may say with confidence, can possibly exist in an early mind. To entertain an idea in which you do not believe, a suspended idea held in separation from the presented reality, is a late and, when we reflect, an enormous mental achievement. It implies a disruption of that immediate unity of theory and practice which is at first throughout prevalent and is also necessary. At an early stage of mind, every suggestion which does not conflict with the felt present is appropriated by that present and is necessarily believed in, so far as we are able as yet to speak of belief. The suggestion, on the other hand, which is not believed in, cannot possibly be retained theoretically, but, apart from appetite or fear, is banished forthwith. It is not my business here to attempt to show how mere ideas become possible, and |377| again how far, and in what sense, the simple entertainment of them still involves judgement and their reference to a modified Reality. It is sufficient to have noticed in passing a common mistake and to have pointed out its nature. The main question, we may say, is not about the plus of belief, but about the minus of mere thinking. The main question in other words is. How is it possible not to believe? Then, when that point is clear, we may approach with confidence a different and subsequent problem, What is the difference between primitive belief and the belief or judgement which comes after doubt, and which really does supervene upon our ‘mere ideas’? And when we have seen that mere ideas consist in the disruption of a unity, we shall not find it hard to perceive the nature of that which supervenes. It is the restoration of those ideas to the unity from which they were separated, and to which they are now once more joined in a higher sense. It is in this restoration that we must seek and find the real nature of that addition which we observe in belief. But the question of the separation is fundamental, and, if it is ignored, the whole inquiry is wrecked. 26

I should like to append to this chapter some remarks on a point to which I have adverted (p. 367), the question, that is, about what is to be called ‘Matter of fact’. So large a |378| subject, it is obvious, cannot properly be discussed in passing, and what follows, though not new, is offered mainly as an invitation to further inquiry.

’Matter of fact’ seems a highly ambiguous phrase, and for our present purpose we may distinguish three different senses, or three aspects of one sense, (1) The word may stand for that which is merely felt or is simply experienced, something which therefore excludes, so far, anything like judgement, truth, or falsehood. In this meaning of the word, imagination, memory and observation all alike are above, or if you please are below, matter of fact; for their connexions are all more or less analytic and abstract. (2) On the other side, these connexions will be matter of fact in varying degrees in proportion as they are external and apparently devoid of any intrinsic reason. (3) And again, they may be matter of fact as belonging to and as dependent on a certain point in our ‘real’ series. It is on these two later shades of meaning that I am about to make some very brief remarks. 27

The ‘merely imaginary’ marks the furthest extreme of matter of fact in the second of our meanings. It is not an affair of mere sense, since it qualifies a subject by an ideal predicate; but its bond of connexion, on the other side, is bare matter of fact. This connexion or conjunction on the one hand is actually there, but on the other hand it seems entirely irrational, since there is no more reason for it than for its diametrical opposite. The connexion therefore is, but it is true and real only by virtue of unknown conditions, and therefore in an unknown form. You pass from subject to predicate not on any ground which appears as intrinsic, not because of anything which seems comprised in your content, |379| but on the strength of what falls outside. This unknown bond is for you no more than the nature of the universe at large, and you may call it matter of fact in general. In this sense of matter of fact memory and observation possess less of it than does mere imagination.

But if we pass from the second to the third meaning of our term, and understand matter of fact not as general but as special and individual, the case is altered, and observation and memory must now be admitted to stand above mere imagination. For in them the predicate is not attached to the subject by a merely unknown cause, but is taken as connected with it by the nature of what appears at a certain point of our real series. Their truth therefore belongs to, and is conditioned by, what is known at least in part. The connexion on the one side remains outward and an unintelligible conjunction, so far as its bond, though localized, is not made explicit. The condition cannot be specified and so brought within the subject, and the judgement to this extent remains irrational and mere matter of fact. But on the other side, so far as the connexion falls within, and is conditioned by, a limited area of content, so far as it belongs, in other words, to a special matter of fact, it has so far already ceased to be a mere conjunction, and has become intrinsic and rational. 28

It is impossible within these limits to attempt to show how the process once begun is carried further. The growth of our knowledge consists, we may say, in the sustained endeavor to get rid of mere matter of fact, to make the bond of connexion explicit, and to bring the condition of the predicate within the content of the subject. A genuine |380| and complete truth cannot be confined within one part of our real series, but, to be complete and genuine, must take in the rest. And observation, if repeated, 29 and in a higher degree artificial experiment, transcend the individual case and pass into general truth, truth not conditioned by the fact of any date. But whether in the end, and, if so, how far and in what sense, the externality of the predicate can wholly disappear, is a question which here cannot be discussed (see Chapters VIII and IX).


1^ This chapter appeared first in Mind for April 1899.

2^ In my Principles of Logic.

3^ I do not mean to say that there is no animal but man which ever in fact makes this transition.

4^ Cf. Appearance, v. 214.

5^ By Janet. See his Automatisme. The principle was long ago laid down by Lotze, Medical Psychology, 487, Mikrokosmus, i, 371. I would remark in this connexion that any one who fails to see that the present character of my feeling is a basis of reproduction, and who argues as if that basis must either be something before the mind, or else not psychical at all, does not in my opinion really understand the doctrine of Association.

6^ If we wish to avoid mistake here, we must beware of confusion. We must distinguish the exciting cause of a reproduction from the ground of a memory. The ground of a particular memory is that which places it in connexion with a certain member of my past series. But it may be partially excited by that which cannot complete and so date it. A scent may, for instance, remind me of a certain flower, which then by association calls up its adjuncts involving a dated event in my life. The dating associations here are not those which excite, and the latter may be very frail and slight indeed. The reproduced when excited then dates itself by association with what is constructed from my present. If on the contrary I go backwards or forwards retracing my life, the exciting cause of a memory and its ground may be the same.

7^ Cf. Chapter X, pp. 307-9.

8^ This consideration, I need hardly add, should never be lost sight of, as at times it has been, in investigating the subject of ‘successive’, ‘regressive’, and again ‘indirect’ association. Another aspect of the same problem is the existence of general forms or schemata of series. It seems clear, from abstract considerations as well as from particular facts, that these must exist and be used in the retaining of concrete series. Our awareness of gaps and our transition over them, and our power of representing series in an abbreviated form, point in this direction. But these schemata, being themselves presumably psychical and associative, tend to confirm the doctrine of our text. There are some results bearing on this point in the investigations of Schömann and Müller. The subject is both very obscure and very difficult, and it deserves more attention than it appears to have received, a remark which applies emphatically to the perception of a series in general.

9^ Cf. my Principles of Logic, p. 410.

10^ See for example Prof. Sully, Human Mind, i, p. 384. He finds himself later in conflict with fact, and admits (p. 395, note) that the demarcation is ‘not to be taken absolutely’. But the real question surely is whether the very principle of distinction is not false and contrary to fact, and, if so, how we can be justified in using it. If Prof. Sully’s view is that between thought and mere imagination there is in principle really no difference at all, that the distinction drawn between them is merely an affair of language and convenience, and depends, perhaps usually though certainly not always, on degree of concreteness, that is a doctrine which, however unsatisfactory, would be intelligible. But such a doctrine hardly entitles any one who holds it to speak of these processes as if they really were two, to lay down a ground and principle of distinction, and to go on to speak of ‘a connexion between the two’ (p. 381). Such a position seems quite inconsistent and indefensible, though I fear it is not uncommon.

11^ I am tempted to say this again of any one who can maintain that thought must depend upon language. There arises here, of course, the further question, how far thinking which is not throughout dependent on language, and which is in this sense intuitional, can be genuinely abstract. This is an interesting and important question, but we are not concerned with it here.

12^ I do not know whether Wundt (Grundzüge, ii, p. 490) really means to say that all imagination involves a plan and an idea which it develops. Such a statement seems to be in collision with the obvious fact of mental wandering. The nature of the different kinds of control over mere wandering is, so far as I see, the only ground from which this whole question could be satisfactorily treated. I certainly could not myself attempt that treatment, and I do not myself know where to send the reader for satisfaction. Wundt’s exposition seems not only confused in detail but based on no clear principle whatever. Such principles of division as ‘passive’ and ‘active’ are, for instance, much worse than merely useless.

13^ pp. 376-7.

14^ I shall add at the end of this chapter some further remarks on the logical difference between memory and imagination, and on the ambiguity of the term ‘matter of fact’. Mere imagination gives ‘matter of fact’, in one sense, more than memory does.

15^ Hence to draw an inference from a recollection as such is not possible. For the mere recollection implies that we have not got the premiss which we desire to employ. To draw an inference from one individual fact as such to another fact is as impossible actually as it would be senseless in principle. So far as you remember, we may say, so far you are debarred from reasoning. But on this subject I am confident that better ideas are beginning to prevail both in psychology and in logic.

16^ In now republishing the above I would call the attention of the reader to the fact that, in my Principles of Logic, pp. 518-9 (published 1883), it is clearly stated that, even if the form of the inference is impeccable, every inference is subjected to the risk of error on account of the doubt as to the identity of the middle term. Cf. Chapter XIII, pp. 392 foll., 407.

17^ We see here that inference both logically and in time precedes memory. I am convinced that, while in fact many or most of the lower animals certainly reason, perhaps none of them is able to remember in the proper sense of memory.

18^ The above and what follows may, I hope, justify the doctrine I have stated elsewhere, that memory in its essence involves an inference and so is inferential. I have never said or meant that memory consists in mere inference, and that you could make the goodness of the inference a test of memory. The question as to how memory, involving an inference, differs from inference proper, was not discussed or raised by me at all. The statement in my Principles of Logic, p. 75, as to the want of a point of identity in mere imagination, is certainly, as it stands, obscure and perhaps misleading. Whether my mind was clear when I wrote it I cannot now tell. What I should have said is that wherever we take ourselves merely to imagine, there not only is no intrinsical necessity attaching the result to the starting-place, but we also recognize that the identity of the subject is lost and that there is a breach in continuity. In memory, on the other hand, though the result is not taken as the necessary ideal development of the subject itself, yet we ignore the doubt as to a solution of continuity. We connect the end of the process with and attribute it to the beginning, because the process comes to us from one end to the other without an apparent break or loss of the subject, and without the suggestion of an alien intrusion, or again of a sufficient competing alternative. In imagination the connexion between subject and predicate is that of casual occupancy, but in memory we have possession which to such an extent is de facto that the question of title is not raised, or, if raised, is assumed to be somehow satisfactorily settled. With regard to the distinction between inference and mere imagination, that is given correctly in my Principles, p. 410.

19^ A sceptical objection of this kind, if based on a psychological ground, seems (Appearance, p. 137) inconsistent with itself. The proper way to urge the objection is to compare the actual inferences which we must use with that ideal of inference which alone we can take as satisfactory.

20^ The word ‘assimilation’ tends to introduce us here, in the pages of Wundt and others, into a world of what I will venture to call the merest mythology.

21^ Philosophy of Mind, pp. 133 following; I have at present no acquaintance with Prof. Ladd’s other works.

22^ If a man mistakenly remembers events ten years before he was born, is it satisfactory to add: There you see at once that his memory is really infallible, for he had, as fact, some actual past (as you saw) before he made that mistake about his past? And even this amount of de facto infallibility rests on the assumption I have noticed in the text. It is therefore so far precarious, as well as in any case derivative.

23^ How is mere memory to be a ruler and judge of itself? I cannot see how this Is to be possible. If, on the other hand, memory is to subject itself to the judgement of reason, I cannot see how anywhere it is to claim independent authority, and to be treated as infallible or as more than de facto not mistaken. These are points on which I seek enlightenment so far in vain. If, for instance, it is urged that, in order to make the world intelligible, I must postulate that memory is right, unless so far as I have some special reason to think it anywhere wrong, I entirely agree. Certainly, I reply, and without doubt, we must make this assumption. But if, on this, I am told that, if so, we have an independent and ultimate postulate, I am forced to demur. Most evidently not so, I answer, if the assumption is made in order to make the world intelligible. If you leave out that, then, I agree, the postulate becomes ultimate, but it becomes at the same time arbitrary and, so far as I see, quite indefensible. If we are to think at all, we must postulate that reason is in principle infallible, and is the ultimate judge of its own errors. But to postulate that memory is in principle infallible seems to me to be, on the one hand, wholly unnecessary and, for any legitimate purpose, quite useless; and, on the other hand, it appears to me to be in the end almost devoid of meaning.

24^ There are some further remarks on this head in the following chapter.

25^ Even in an indirect argument, where I divide A into Ab and Ac, and then by disproving Ac prove Ab, I do not in the operation depend upon memory. Certainly at the end of my disproof of Ac I may have forgotten Ab, but I then return to the beginning with the knowledge that A is not c, and now with that in my mind reach the conclusion Ab from A. The knowledge that A is not c does not here depend on memory. It might so depend if, e.g., I had merely found in my notes that I had one day proved Ac to be false, and if I used that bare result. But so far that result obviously does not pretend to be itself made in my inference at all. And with direct reasoning it seems clear that, so far as the subject has lapsed from the mind by the way, there is properly no inference. The operation, to become an inference, must in some form be repeated without that lapse. The retention of an identical content before the mind, and the assumption that where I have seen no difference by the way there is no difference, can neither of them be called memory except by an abuse of language. The points raised by Prof. Ladd are certainly well worth raising and discussing, but his treatment of them seems not satisfactory.

26^ In this matter Prof. Bain’s doctrine of Primitive Credulity has been of great service to psychology. I must, however, in passing remark that I am forced largely to dissent from his view as to belief. I dissent further from the mere identification of judgement with belief, but I cannot enter here into the difference between them. I would further direct the reader’s attention to the fact that I may disbelieve in that which I certainly remember. The memory is here a judgement necessary in and on its own ground, but that region has here been disconnected from the world which I call my real world. This attitude is, of course, my common attitude towards the ‘imaginary’. The judgement will be here a kind of conditional judgement. The difference I have noted between either the theoretical or practical acceptance of an idea after it has been held as a mere idea and its acceptance previously, has great importance. There is a reunion of the element, which was held aloof, once more with the felt reality. And it is this re-union which gives that feeling of ‘consent’ which has been found so inexplicable. On the question of ‘mere ideas’ and ‘the imaginary’, see Chapter III.

27^ A man is, I presume, called for good or evil a ‘matter of fact’ person, according as he confines himself to the actual events of what we call ‘our real world’, in opposition either to the ‘imaginary’ or again to wide general principles of truth and conduct. For the limited reality of ‘our real world’ the reader is referred to Chapters III and XVI.

28^ A mere imagination, if you take it as an occurrence in my history, belongs to matter of fact in the above sense of limited and individual fact. But this is because you have taken it not logically but psychologically. If you confine yourself to its logical aspect and consider it with reference merely to what it asserts, it is of course so far not an event in my life and a thing which can be observed. It so far is not matter of fact, but possesses matter of fact in the sense of matter of fact in general.

29^ In this respect memory remains inferior. To speak broadly and apart from a certain qualification, we have in memory a mere result which cannot be developed, and we cannot, as in continued and repeated observation, inquire further into the conditions of the result. For in memory (in the main) we are not in direct contact with these special conditions.

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Chapter XIII. On Memory and Judgement

My present judgement must be taken as infallible (381-2). Some objections answered (383). Memory has no independent validity, and any such claim must lead to scepticism (384-6). Some misunderstandings removed. Further explanation of the doctrine that my present judgement must be treated as infallible (386-92). What is a single judgement? Unity of judgement (392-6). Omission of irrelevancy permissible (396-7). Continuity of the subject in judgement. Some difficulties discussed (397-402). The question is not in the end psychological (403). Duration of a judgement, what (403-6). How far does a judgement, once made, remain true for me? Postulate as to memory’s general correctness (406-8).

My object in this chapter is to throw light on the ultimate value of memory as a test of truth. 1 Memory, I shall contend, must have a subordinate position and validity, and otherwise we are reduced inevitably to total scepticism. Philosophy, if it is to be more than an exercise more or less desirable, must have an answer, I presume, to sceptical objections. On the other hand, I shall contend that there is no answer which does not involve the denial of memory’s independence. Philosophy cannot exist apart from absolute sovereignty, and we have to choose between monarchy and chaos. But this means that in the end we can recognize nothing in the shape of a self-sufficient element or autonomous detail.

As soon as doubt is raised as to what we are finally justified in believing, that doubt, it is clear, drives us back on reflection. And truth, if we go on to find it, will be a judgement which, when we reflect, satisfies us. Now, as to the nature of this special satisfaction there is of course much to be discussed, and there are points on which here I am unable to enter. 2 But what I have to insist on here is a point which seems to be vital. Our last judgement, and that is our present judgement, must be taken or rather must be treated as infallible. This does not mean that a further reflection may not cause us to reject it. It means that, until that |382| reflection comes, we must hold the judgement as true, and that we cannot, while making a judgement, entertain the possibility of its error. Psychologically I should agree that there are various intensities of belief, and that, when I judge, my degree of confidence and my whole emotional tone may on each occasion be different. But the actual presence of an idea which is directly contrary to what I judge, would, taken psychically, be an effective hindrance to the presence of the judgement. It would prevent the making of the judgement or would destroy it if made. And again, when we view the matter logically, there seems left no room for doubt. As soon as a judgement is made you can of course then proceed to reflect on it. In this way what was your judgement can be turned into the object of a later thought. And taken thus you can approve of it and find it true, or you can reject it, in part or altogether, as a more or less complete mistake. Or again, unable to decide, you may regard it as doubtful. But in any case your reaffirmation, denial or doubt, goes beyond and supersedes the original judgement. They each add an element which in no case leaves that judgement as it was, but everywhere destroys in some sense its first character and force. As the object of later reflection, this, that was my present judgement, has been transformed, and now, whether it is doubted, denied or reaffirmed, it has been made subordinate to a later moment. It has been included and embraced in a new logical present, and its life, so far as it now lives, must be drawn from that inclusion. A mere past judgement, when I reflect on it, loses at once by my reflection its own independent value. I am logically beyond it, while I obviously cannot go beyond my present judgement while that remains present. My present judgement therefore, while it exists, cannot possibly be doubted, and, however strange this may sound, that judgement cannot be allowed or even suspected to be fallible.

|383| Such a doctrine tends naturally to be misunderstood, and it suggests obvious objections, some of which I will proceed to notice in passing. If every judgement can be superseded, how, I shall be asked, can any judgement be final? But, even if all past judgements hitherto had been corrected as wrong, I do not see how you could doubt the judgement which at present you make. For, even if you make your judgement subject to a doubt, and if you so condition it, at least this conditional judgement of yours is made unconditionally. And, further, the supersession of a judgement need not mean its correction. If a judgement is reaffirmed, it has been set on one side in its old character of ‘this judgement’, but that which it affirmed has been made dependent on my judgement which now is. The truth of my judgement has therefore become independent of its past assertion, but it certainly need not have been corrected or vitally transformed. And it is not difficult again to reply to a further objection. If every judgement is found, as being something human, to have the character of fallibility, how, we may be asked, can any judgement escape from this sentence? But a judgement, I reply, may be fallible only in its general character as being one judgement among others. Hence if you take it differently, as it certainly is taken in my actual present judgement, any such partial aspect may, without misgiving, be set on one side. The probability of error in other words was antecedent and abstract, and it cannot be applied to this case as this case actually exists. And if you insist that experience proves that every possible judgement is fallible in essence, you have involved yourself now in contradiction with yourself. For if this doctrine of yours is not certain, the conclusion which you draw from it vanishes, while, if it is certain, it for that very reason must itself become doubtful.

The objections we have noticed, it is clear, possess no force. We must continue so far to maintain that our last |384| judgement in reflection is supreme. And memory, if so, cannot have independent worth, nor is it possible that my judgement can in the end depend on memory. But, before proceeding to defend and to explain this view, I will briefly point out what follows if the opposite is maintained.

The independent value of memory is often asserted. It suggests itself at times as an obvious fact, while at other times it comes in to stop a hole in some theory, and it may even be offered as a sure remedy for scepticism. But to me it seems that no long consideration is required in order to perceive that such a doctrine is ruinously sceptical. Memory is used in a number of different senses. 3 It may stand for my present judgement as to some past event of mine, or its meaning may be stretched so as to include everything which falls under retentiveness. So far therefore as in a judgement we have a succession of perceptions or ideas, we must (it will be said) postulate memory in some sense in order to prevent a solution of continuity. For otherwise, with a broken succession of different subjects, we infallibly must lose all we gain by the way, and at the end of the process can have nothing to show. And again, since our present meaning must depend on our past experience, we cannot now, it is further urged, even begin to think at all, except so far as we take our stand on the faculty of memory. 4

Now no one can deny that in a sense we depend on past experience. For, apart from any other consideration, it is from past experience that in the main our minds are filled. And generally to suppose that without the past we should have an intelligible present seems obviously absurd. We bring, to the present from the past, materials, furniture and implements, and no one, so far as I am aware, could even |385| seek to deny this. But this, on the other hand, is not really the point which is at issue. The result of the past, I maintain, is to be used as material with regard to which the decision of the present is supreme. This result has not got to be accepted, as it comes, and in the form which it bears; and taken in its own character it has no ultimate and independent worth. To contend on the other hand for our ultimate dependence on memory, is to claim in effect for this mere result from the past a position and value which is independent and absolute. And, held in any form, such a doctrine, I urge, must lead us to ruin.

In the first place it gains little if any support from Common Sense. Common Sense goes no further than to take some memory as practically certain, while it allows that memory in general may be mistaken and is corrigible. But, on the other hand, anything which stands independently seems not capable of correction. If however, passing from Common Sense, we consider the facts, we seem forced to admit that memory is fallible to an indefinite extreme. If you add to ordinary mistakes those cases of error which are called pathological, and include in these the results of hypnotic experiment, there seems no limit to the possibility of memory’s failure. 5 And the position is no better where the meaning of memory is improperly widened, and covers in general our present use of past perception or judgement. For past experience may be incorrectly retained or connected wrongly with a present instance, and at what point here a line can be drawn I am unable to perceive. In short to hold that memory is not fallible seems to entail the denial |386| of plain fact. But if on the other hand my present judgement is to depend on something falling outside of itself, then unless that something (whatever it is) can be taken as infallible, my judgement must be taken as liable to error. In other words, if memory is to have an independent standing and value, we are condemned, so far as I see, to unlimited scepticism.

Still, it will be objected, if the alternative you offer is to throw away all past results, your alternative itself in the end is ruinous. But it is your mistake, I reply, which brings in such a vicious alternative. To say that no past result has independent and absolute value is not to deny that past results are in another way indispensable. Past results are in short to be used as material out of which my present judgement has to make a construction; but there is no standing conjunction in this material which is in principle sacred. 6 Any past judgement is taken as fallible in principle, and as capable of being overruled by a present judgement which rearranges its material. On the other hand there is no question as to the throwing away of all or of any material. The question is whether the material, when used in my present judgement, has any connexions which, taken as they stand, retain absolute validity, or whether on the contrary the validity of all now depends on my present judgement and is subject to that. I have shown that the independent worth of past connexions means present ruin. On the other side the superiority of present to past judgement |387| entails, apart from misunderstanding, no mischievous consequence. It is compatible with the doctrine that any judgement once made must stand until over-ridden, a doctrine the truth of which will be discussed lower down. The fact in short that all judgements are, as judgements, corrigible, does not imply that every judgement is in fact to be corrected. And again the general rule on which we act with regard to memory, our presumption, that is, that memory is correct except so far as we have a special reason to doubt it, in no way conflicts with the superiority of present judgement. It would conflict with this only if our last judgement were to pronounce the above rule to be invalid. And if it is urged that memory, though corrected, is corrected only by further memory, such an objection, it seems to me, can be easily disposed of. What it states is not true except in part, and is not true in the end. For memory at times seems to be corrected not by memory but by inference. And, apart from this and in general, I am unable to understand how an infallible memory can possibly correct itself. It is to me on the other hand intelligible that diverse memories can and do radically conflict, and that such a collision, if we have no higher criterion, leads inevitably to scepticism. In fact and in truth memory, wherever corrected, is corrected by a judgement. This judgement in different cases may differ widely. It may make use of a greater or less amount of materials, and it may or may not be itself a memory-judgement. Certainly, where our last judgement is a memory-judgement, it remains none the less infallible, but this, it is plain, does not show memory to be infallible in general. We have a special memory-judgement which we cannot doubt so long as it remains our last judgement. This judgement, however, is infallible not because it is memory but because it is our last judgement. Memory in short becomes for you infallible only where you judge that all memory is infallible. But such a judgement, we have |388| seen, is dispelled by reflection, and must give way to another which pronounces it false.

I have so far urged that a present judgement cannot be treated as fallible, and that as against this nothing outside can possess any force. And I have argued that to assign an independent and ultimate value to memory leads necessarily to scepticism. On the other hand the doctrine which I advocate requires explanation, for it seems itself to invite and to justify sceptical doubt. ‘If to rest on memory’, it will be objected, ‘is to build upon sand, it is after all upon sand that your doctrine is based. For you cannot deny that your judgement requires time and is successive, and you cannot deny that the result of past experience now qualifies your judgement. Even if in some instance you contend that this is not visibly the case, yet in no instance can you exclude the doubt or even the presumption that really it is so. And hence, if you will not invoke a “faculty of Memory”, and if you will not go on to assume that this “faculty” is infallible, your own conclusion will in any case fall into ruin. For your judgement in the end will stand on something external and foreign, something the truth of which will remain at best precarious. And your judgement itself, when arrived at its end, will fail to connect its end with that beginning of itself which now has perished. It is only through memory that a judgement is one, and any judgement that is not one, is no judgement at all.’ This objection seems serious, and we must endeavor to meet it.

We are led at once to recall a principle, well known but often neglected, the distinction between a judgement viewed in its logical and, on the other side, in its psychical aspect. 7 Every judgement on the one hand asserts an ideal content. It asserts this of something which is other than that content and other than the judgement itself. Again, on the |389| other hand, every judgement is a state of myself. Now a state of myself has lapse and has duration indefinitely divisible, and it is a product which results from external conditions. But you cannot take these characters, which belong to my state when I assert, and use them to qualify that which I assert. On the contrary my assertion in this latter sense must, except for certain purposes, be taken as independent of my state as asserting. And for our present purpose certainly we must so take it as independent. The thing affirmed is different from what goes on in my mind as I affirm it, and you cannot take the nature and the origin of this last and apply them to qualify the matter which I affirm. My judgement that ‘ginger is hot in the mouth’ contains no reference to any origin in past instances of ginger. And again this judgement does not involve an internal sequence and lapse, and warrant an ensuing doubt as to the identity of ‘ginger’ when ‘mouth’ is reached. Everything of this kind is at once extraneous and so far unknown. And when by reflection it is reached, you have ipso facto left your original assertion and have passed on to others. These other judgements, with regard to your state when asserting, cannot except through a mistake be made to conflict with your original judgement. And they themselves, when made, are valid merely so far as they are assertions. And in this character they themselves exclude any reference to your psychical state as at present you make them.

Every judgement may be taken to involve a psychical lapse and succession, but this aspect of its existence falls outside of the judgement as logical. If, for instance, the judgement asserts a succession, this is not the succession which belongs to its existence as a psychical fact. And again the judgement need not assert any succession at all. In this case within the judgement there is no succession; and whether we begin (as we say) with the subject or begin |390| with the predicate, and whether again the process endures for the fraction of a second or for an hour or for a century — this is all in itself indifferent to the content asserted. And no lapse or change outside this content can affect the unity of our judgement. Nothing in short can affect our judgement except from the inside. And hence anything external, whether it is psychical lapse or again the previous existence or worth of some element in the judgement, must remain irrelevant. If it is to enter the judgement it must put off its external character. And thus within the judgement no complexity of detail or structure prevents the judgement being one, so long as no element is allowed to retain an independent force. You may urge that my judgement stands or falls with the truth of some element contained within it, and you may insist that this truth comes from nowhere but previous experience. But all this to my judgement is either unknown and so nothing, or else, if known and admitted, is the destruction of my judgement, as such. These considerations, true or false, have in any case gone beyond my present judgement, and they have taken me, if anywhere, on to a new judgement. But this new judgement, like the former one, itself guarantees its own contents, and to me, while it lasts, cannot seem to be fallible.

Such a doctrine, I know, must appear to be ridiculous. It is absurd, I shall be told, to suggest that there is no reason for my judgement being true except the fact that it is there, and it is perverse to recommend me to hold my judgement standing in order to keep it infallible. But I have made, I reply, no suggestion of this kind. I agree on the contrary that it is our duty to ask and to reflect, and to supersede one judgement by another. Thus ‘He is the person who did that last week’, may be superseded by ‘The truth of that depends merely on my recollection’, and this by ‘After all one must trust one’s memory’, and this again by ‘In the present case the main point is uncertain’. But it does not follow that |391| before a judgement is superseded I am to take it as fallible. And I agree once more that there is a reason why judgements are true or else false. There is a character which, when I reflect, leads me to prefer one judgement to another, and leads me even to reject both of them if neither will satisfy; But this character, I would urge, is not external to my judgements, and to make the truth of a judgement depend on something which falls outside itself, must lead in the end, if you follow it to the end, into scepticism or nonsense. But at present I am not inquiring into the nature of this character. The point on which I am insisting here is one-sided, if you please, but none the less I must insist on it as evident and necessary. I cannot, while I make a judgement, at the same time also doubt it. I cannot doubt or deny a judgement without going beyond this judgement and without making it a part in some wider ideal whole. 8 And at least I cannot deny it except by another judgement which I cannot at once make and regard as fallible. And, while I make a judgement, that which falls outside it is so far nothing to me. The psychical existence with its lapse and its duration is nothing. The priority or independence of any portion of its content is nothing. These things cannot be anything for our judgement till they are brought into that judgement; until, that is, one judgement is superseded by another, itself now infallible. We may end with the decision that there are conflicting ideas between which we are unable to decide, or we may conclude that, in the end and in its full exactitude, no conclusion is tenable. But even here our decision and our conclusion, if we make it, |392| is indubitable, until at least it has been banished or superseded by something beyond itself. And, while I agree that this contention may perhaps be called obvious and trivial, I must insist that it is not on that account to be treated as false. 9

We have so far seen that my present judgement cannot be taken as fallible, and further that in a sense it must be self-contained. Whatever independent reason there may be for or against its assertion, that reason, while independent, is nothing to my judgement. And if it becomes something for me, then forthwith I have gone beyond my original judgement, which thus has ceased to exist. This conclusion, if trivial, seems certain, but it leads at once to a further question: What am I to mean by one judgement, and how am I to know that one judgement is over and has been succeeded by another? For, if on this point I remain in doubt, our doctrine, however true, will remain inapplicable. When I say today that ‘Caesar is sick’, and tomorrow that ‘he is well’, we naturally should take this as a succession of judgements. But if I tell you that ‘he has crossed the street and has now entered that shop’, you probably take these successive events to be expressed in one judgement. Indeed otherwise we should be led to doubt if in the end any judgement is one. And hence it is necessary to seek a principle by which to decide whether in any given case we have several judgements or one judgement.

The singleness of a judgement lies in the identity of its subject. 10 Its unity in other words admits no solution of logical continuity. The subject throughout must be one, and it must remain one for me, and otherwise we have |393| either two judgements or none. I take this answer to be correct, but it needs further explanation, and I will begin by excluding a view which for our present purpose is too wide. The whole of experience, it can be said, forms a single continuous judgement, for, so far as it is intellectual, it is the qualification of one real subject. And all our diversity belongs to and is predicated of this unbroken reality. Such a doctrine states what I accept in principle as a fundamental truth, but for our present purpose this truth is stated too widely. The judgement we are seeking here is that judgement which I myself make as one, and in which the unity of the subject is unbroken for me. And, unless the whole of experience is now the object of my reflection, the unity of the subject must fall within narrower limits. There are past judgements that have been made and that now are forgotten, while there are others which, forgotten or not, have at some time been overridden and corrected. And, since these judgements clearly are not now present to my mind when I judge, they cannot for my mind be included in my present judgement. The one subject, though so determined, is not determined so for me, and this last qualification seems here to be essential.

What I mean by one judgement is an ideal determination of reality in which for my mind the subject remains one and unbroken. It is not enough that at the end I merely have still the same subject, for I may have the same subject in a succession of different judgements. A judgement is one when its subject keeps hold throughout of the diversity, and carries with it to the end everything which it has gained in its process. 11 The dropping on the road of that character which has been taken up by the way is the fault which makes a solution of logical continuity and draws a line across the process. I have a single judgement where for me the one subject qualifies itself continuously and qualifies itself |394| cumulatively. Our most natural expression here is in short the much abused term ‘development’ or ‘evolution’. 12

Before illustrating the above by some ordinary examples, I must first call attention to a point of importance. By the subject of a judgement I do not mean the mere grammatical subject, or that again which at first sight may seem to be the real subject. The real subject is that, whatever it is, which does in fact qualify itself continuously in the way I have mentioned. In any given judgement to discover what this individual subject is, you must inquire into the meaning of the special judgement before you. And the answer cannot be reached by the application of any general rule. 13

I will now give some instances of the principle which we laid down above. If I first say that A has traveled from Paris to London, and then later add that A has traveled from London to Liverpool, we have probably two judgements. If I say on the contrary that, having traveled from Paris to London, he thence went to Liverpool, there is presumably but one judgement. The first half of the journey has in this latter case not dropped off from the subject, and hence we have here no solution of continuity. To assert ‘John is in London’ and then ‘William is in London’, may or may not be one judgement, but ‘John and William are in London’ is certainly one assertion. For here, when we arrive at William, we have not let fall John. The most |395| natural example is the seeking of means for an end; and let us take the attempt to trace mentally a path up a cliff or across a morass or torrent. We are forced perhaps to make in idea a variety of partial passages before we find a way which will lead from the beginning to the end. Now this way, when we find it, is a continuous ideal sequence, and it is assuredly one judgement. Its stages on the other hand, while you trace them piecemeal, are many judgements in succession, and so are the fragmentary mental passages which have refused to come together. It is one judgement where the subject, on arriving at the second step, takes that step in the character of a subject which has been qualified by the first step, a subject which carries the beginning and every stage of its process continuously with it to the end. 14 And we fail to have a single judgement so far as the subject, when arrived at the end, has dropped by the way any part of its career. But the whole mental collection once again and in a different way may become one judgement. For I may take it not now as a connected ideal means to my end, but as one continuous sequence of psychical events and as one passage in my history. In brief, though it is not true that all judgements express succession, the example of a series best illustrates the unity of judgement. Anything so far as I take it as a series is assuredly one judgement, for, as so taken, it consists in a single subject which develops itself without break or loss. 15 The nature of this subject, I should agree, is not easy to fix, but without it I am forced to conclude that a series is unmeaning. If like a child or an idiot I thoughtlessly repeat ab, ab, that obviously for myself is no series at all. It is a series for me so far as I take the sequence abab as one process. And I do not take it as one process unless the second ab is qualified by the first, unless, that is, the subject of the series carries the first ab with it to |396| the second and so on continuously. Every process of reasoning will on the same principle be contained in one judgement, so long, that is, as the subject is unbrokenly determined. Suppose, for instance, that I have proved that there was no possible person, outside A and B, at a certain place. If I then, without that result leaving my mind, show that A was elsewhere, and that hence B was present, this whole process, it seems to me, must be called one judgement. And it will be one judgement again even if the first result has left my mind, and if then, learning that A was elsewhere, I resume this knowledge which has lapsed and so draw the conclusion. But it will be only so far as resumed that my first result enters into my final judgement. My first result, if you take it apart from the further judgement that A was elsewhere, is merely one judgement which then is succeeded in time by another. And these two successive pieces of knowledge, as separate, are simply two judgements. But so far as one subject carries with it the whole content unbroken from the beginning to the end, we have one process of inference and with this a single judgement. 16 And it is one inference and one judgement just because, and just so far as, it does not admit the existence of anything disconnected and independent. It is one judgement, we may say, so far as it excludes anything like memory.

I will pass now from the general question to consider some special difficulties. Has the subject in a judgement, we may be asked, really to carry on everything? Is not on the contrary some acquired detail often dropped by the way? Certainly I should agree that not every detail need be carried on to the end. And I should agree that such a retention is often both useless and impossible. If for example I judge that a vehicle has passed from A to D, my final judgement may or may not contain its passage through B and C. But |397| as to the observed incidents, however trifling, which have qualified the whole movement, it is absurd to suppose that their presence in the judgement is essential. These things are not essential because they fall outside the judgement’s purpose and interest, and because everything which is external to this is irrelevant. I cannot ask here in what the interest of a judgement consists, but every judgement, I must insist, is made in some special interest. It is this interest which defines and limits the amount of identity required in the subject, and determines what details may be called accidental. Such details may never have been taken up by the subject, or again, if taken up, they need not be carried on, or, even if carried on, they may at the end be neglected. Such a process, it is clear, must imply some abstraction, and therefore, we may add, must run the risk to which in the end all judgement is liable. But certainly the subject in a judgement need retain no qualification which is not essential. And hence with every judgement, such as ‘the carriage has passed from A to D’, we may have other judgements as to the details which happened to the carriage in its passage. And these judgements may be called accompaniments of the main judgement, and are not now contained in it. Nothing in short need be contained in the judgement except what is relevant to its purpose. And our present conclusion may be summed up thus, that we have one judgement so far as one ideal content develops itself for me continuously without loss from beginning to end. We may go on from this point to consider a further difficulty.

The subject of the judgement, we have seen, must remain continuously before my mind, but there is a question as to the sense in which it has so to maintain itself. When I trace a genealogy it is clear that I end with a judgement, but as to the subject which maintains itself, and as to how much that subject carries on, we are left after all in some perplexity. And there are cases where our perplexity is |398| heightened. If I have seen a man enter a certain house, and if I watch to observe who comes out, certainly here once again the result is a judgement. That same subject which appeared at the beginning is further determined at the end of the process. On the other hand we can hardly say that everywhere this subject has, perhaps through some hours, been maintained before my mind.

The difficulty which we find in such cases is due, I think, to several causes, (a) The subject in the first place, if present throughout, may be present in more than one shape. The subject may have a character which is more or less fully individualized, or again it may be abbreviated and made schematic to a greater or less degree, (b) In the second place the real and the apparent subject may differ widely, and the former may remain though the latter has lapsed, (c) In the third place, though the subject and with it the judgement has lapsed, yet the process at its end may result in a judgement. And, since in this ensuing judgement the original subject may once more appear, it may hence naturally seem to have been present throughout.

(a) Every judgement, we may remind ourselves, is made in a certain interest; and hence, to discover the shape in which the subject is present, we should begin by asking for the sense in which that subject is wanted. When, for instance, I trace a pedigree from A to Z, I may for the moment perhaps desire only to know that the connexion is direct and unbroken. Thus I begin with A, and I end with the judgement ‘A is the direct ancestor of Z’. And A in this case may throughout the process have remained before my mind, and may never for one moment have lapsed by the way. But how much has qualified A on its road, and in what precise sense A at the end has been modified, is a question which may admit of various answers. Where the series is very short all its steps may possibly remain before my mind, and each severally may in some shape |399| appear in the final judgement. But such a complete retention is in most cases neither possible nor wanted. If what I require is to join Z to A by a certain kind of connexion, then the length of the line and its other characters may be called immaterial. The genealogy with its several steps may be present only in a form which is highly abbreviated and schematic. And in fact all that in the end connects A with Z may be the idea of progression through a series, which in respect of its length and its constituent members is left more or less general and undefined. But, so long as A has maintained itself throughout in an unbroken progress, there has been in any case a single judgement throughout. For the several stages of A’s journey on its way to Z, if you take them in their particular character, are here mere external and irrelevant incidents.

(b) There is one judgement (we know) so long as one subject develops itself continuously. But, even where the subject may appear to have lapsed, this lapse, we must add, need not affect the real subject of the judgement. For the real subject (this distinction is of supreme importance) may be different from that which at first sight offers itself to us as such. When I trace a genealogy from A to Z, there may come a point at which A is no longer before my mind, but then on the other hand A may not have been the real subject of the process. The actual object of my inquiry may be in fact the whole series. Hence it is the whole series which determines itself continuously before me, and is here the genuine subject of my judgement. I may seek, for example, to discover the length of this series, or again the presence of some quality in its several members or in their modes of sequence. And so far as, however vaguely and schematically, the series as a whole maintains itself before me and develops itself ideally, the result so far is a single judgement. It is accompanied probably by other judgements which I make on the way. But these, so far as they are let fall |400| and not carried on to the end, will fail to appear in my final judgement. They will be mere incidents which once belonged to past stages of its course.

In the same way, when watching a house, I may perceive the exit of A or of B, and may end with the judgement that it was A or B who there entered and remained. A man known to be inside may be no doubt here the genuine subject, and throughout he may have been waiting before my mind to be determined further. But on the other hand the subject may have been not the man but the house, or again more generally the whole scene or situation concerned. But so long as while watching I have kept before me something, however vague, to be determined further, and so long as my judgement at the end does determine this subject, there has been an unbroken judgement throughout. And through the whole process of watching this final judgement, we must say, has been continuously in making.

(c) On the other hand the state of watching, if prolonged, tends naturally to degenerate. There may be no constant subject there which develops itself without lapse before my mind. And in this case the process may result in a judgement, but you cannot say that this judgement has been present throughout. When I set myself to watch a house, I may allow the subject more or less to lapse from my mind. I place myself usually, as we say, so as to keep the door in sight or so as perhaps to hear it if opened. I keep myself, that is, so that any change of a certain kind at once attracts my attention. But here my not forgetting, as we say, to be attentive does not imply the continuous presence of an idea before my mind. It does not in short mean that all the time I am attending actually. The house may be associated with the general scene and with my felt uneasiness, so that its absence from my view tends to recall me with a kind of shock. On the other hand the renewed sight of the house renews my uneasiness, and any observed change in it along |401| the line of my more special association at once arrests and occupies me. Then comes a judgement, and this judgement qualifies, we may agree, the original and the main object of my watching. But since the subject has not developed itself unbrokenly before me, there has not been here, I must insist, a single judgement. Certainly I may have had before me through all the time a more ultimate subject that has not lapsed. Reality as the general scene in which I am included has perhaps maintained itself as my object. And this general object will from time to time have qualified itself by a changing succession of miscellaneous judgements. But on the other side these judgements have, at least for my mind, not been the development of my subject. A judgement has been made and then dropped, and has given way to another judgement which in its turn has passed away. And hence, when at the end my final judgement is reached, these foregoing judgements have not led up to that result and they are not contained in it. And I may even, let us suppose, for a time have been asleep, and am roused, let us say, by the unbarring of the door. The judgement, which follows here, will qualify the subject which I have set myself to watch, but you could not add that this subject has been continuously before me. The subject of my judgement has been recalled at the end, and it is at the end that this final judgement begins.

The matter is so important that I may be permitted perhaps to repeat and to insist on these distinctions. A feeling which is in my mind and qualifies my felt self is one thing, and an object qualified ideally before my mind is another thing. And what we call a condition of watchfulness or of attention or of standing will, may amount to little or no more than an emotional state. 17 It need not involve the development of a single ideal content throughout the |402| process, and the process is therefore not one judgement or volition. Even a melody, as I hear it, is not in itself a single judgement or idea. Certainly it is a whole, and it may be attended by and it may result in one or more judgements, but in itself it is not the progressive qualification of a subject which develops itself ideally before the mind. 18 And again we must hold fast the distinction between a judgement passed at the end of a sequence, and a judgement which throughout the sequence has made itself continuously. When I observe A, which after an interval is to be followed by B, A, as perceived, may produce in me a certain felt state. Then, when B supervenes, its perception may cause an alteration in that feeling, an alteration which I recognize as having the familiar quality, say, of stronger or weaker. And on this I judge that B is stronger or weaker than A. But it does not follow that throughout the interval A has remained before my mind. For, when B produces a felt change with a recognized quality, the whole situation may by association reproduce A, which has lapsed, and A, being reproduced, is thus qualified by the judgement. Hence you cannot infer in this case the continuous presence of A, and you cannot on the other hand contend that A is absent from the final judgement. For to judge about anything in its absence seems really meaningless. 19 And, on the other side, the presence of A at the end is consistent with the fact that it has lapsed on the way.

The unity of a judgement, we have now seen, lies in the continuous development of one ideal content. This unity is |403| logical, and to base the essence of it on a psychical state seems at best superfluous. You may argue that it is one judgement where we have a single act of attention, and this answer at first sight may appear satisfactory. But when on the other side we inquire as to the singleness of the act, we must fall back, it seems to me, upon the oneness of the idea. 20 Again the unity of a judgement can be sought in its interest, and from this we may go on to argue that it consists in the singleness of a purpose or conation. But if you ask where the unity of this conation resides, then once more I should say we come back to an idea, and to that unbroken continuity which we have urged as essential. At all events an inquiry into this logical essence is needed, and it cannot be avoided by any reference, however correct, to any psychical state. 21

Thus an answer to the question of the unity in a judgement does not in principle call for an appeal to psychology. On the other hand there are points where such an appeal, although not necessary, seems desirable, and I refer specially to the duration which we allow to a judgement. Certainly the content of the judgement is one thing and its psychical duration is another thing, and in principle we have seen that the duration is irrelevant. On the other side every judgement is a psychical event and has therefore duration. Wholly to deny the existence of this aspect seems a fundamental error, 22 and even to ignore it in practice may lead to |404| inconvenience. Thus to regard all experience, or even all my experience, as one judgement may fairly, as we saw, be called inconvenient. And wherever for me there is a break in the progressive development of the subject, we agreed to deny the unity of the judgement. Taking this as our principle we may perhaps with advantage apply it still further. Let us take an instance where the subject, say a house to be watched, remains continuously before my mind. Here I notice first that a person A has left the house, and then after an interval I notice the exit of B, and I judge, on this, that the house contained both A and B. Now if for one moment of this process A has lapsed entirely from my mind, we cannot say that one judgement has been present throughout. 23 But suppose that the subject, as qualified by A, has maintained itself till B has been added, can we then say that the development has been continuous throughout? Logically we can affirm this, but psychically the ideal movement, while I waited for B, made no advance. And it is better perhaps to allow that the process has not been continuous, and to make the final judgement begin on the perception of B. And even in tracing a genealogy, where the ideal advance of the subject does not pause, but where this unbroken process may last through a considerable time, it is wiser, I think, in practice not to insist on so much duration for, the judgement. I should prefer to hold that the subject is qualified through a succession of judgements, and that the final judgement as to the whole applies this result, but is not itself actually there till we come to the end. But, if on this point the reader prefers to take a different view, I could not insist that he is in error.

Logically the duration of a judgement, if viewed merely as psychical, is irrelevant. But taken otherwise that duration |405| may give cause for misgiving. The longer a subject has remained before my mind, the less chance, you may urge, has that subject of preserving its identity. 24 And this is not because change, while only psychical, can qualify our subject, but because we fear that some change may in fact not have remained psychical merely, but on the contrary may have been taken up into the subject’s content. And again we may doubt whether a subject can really be warranted to be the same, because I during its career have not noticed a difference. But, so far as the purpose of this chapter is concerned, we already have discussed the force of these suspicions. As long as our judgement is present, then to whatever length it has been extended, that judgement for us is infallible. And we can apply the above objections to our judgement only by subordinating it to a further judgement which itself is infallible. Nor is it necessary, I think, here to enlarge further on this head. We cannot allow that in principle the duration of a judgement can be an argument against its unity. On the other hand in practice it is better to meet and, if we can, to obviate objections. If at the end of a series my judgement extends the real identity of the subject, so as logically to include the whole series, and so that now throughout the whole series we have one development of ideal content, that, I imagine, is all which can be called essential. And so long as this is effected, it does not matter how schematically it is done, or at what point of the psychical process my judgement begins, whether at the first stage, or in the middle, or at the close of the process. Hence if to postulate an act of judgement enduring beyond a certain duration is inconvenient, such a postulate to me seems uncalled for and undesirable. The duration of a judgement should therefore perhaps be restricted to whatever can be fairly taken as one psychical ‘now’.

|406| And for this restriction there is a ground which is deeper than mere convenience. A judgement in the last resort must in a sense depend on my feeling. It is true or false in the end because it is felt to satisfy me in a certain manner, or felt again in a certain way to be offensive. 25 This aspect of the case has necessarily its psychical side. If in the end my judgement is coincident with a certain feeling, the duration of that feeling cannot well be disregarded. And with respect to this duration also it is better to avoid any strain on the facts. In any case we have seen that by extending the actual duration of our judgement we should have gained nothing worth fighting for.

I will pass from this to deal, rapidly and in conclusion, with several questions. Every judgement, while I make it, must be taken by me as infallible, but, when once it has been made, the situation seems altered. A judgement, we say, may be corrected by a later judgement. It may be subordinated to this later judgement, and over-ridden by it in a way which here I am unable to discuss. But can we say that every judgement remains standing until in this way it has been rectified explicitly? Such an assertion would assume that judgements once made remain always before me, and maintain themselves in living connexion with every later judgement. And this assumption would obviously be contrary to fact. In fact our past judgements may be wholly forgotten, and, where not forgotten, they may often be said to be unconsciously modified and altered, unknown to us, in order to suit our altered present. Subject to this limitation a judgement, once made, may perhaps be said to stand till corrected. But on the other hand we can maintain this only if we assume that a certain condition is satisfied. A past judgement holds not because once it was made, nor |407| merely because it is not in actual conflict with our present. It holds because, and so far as, we assume identity between our present and our past, and because, and so far as, our past judgement was made from the basis and on the principle which stands at present. An assumption of the same kind, I may add, is all that justifies our belief in testimony, and, so far as you cannot infer in the witness a mental state essentially one with your own, his evidence for you has no logical worth. Another aspect of the principle which we have just been applying, is the doctrine that what has been once true is true always. Differences of time and of place do not count except so far as they themselves enter into the truth; or, again, the truth in its essence is unchanged however much places and times alter. This doctrine may wear even a more formidable shape, for it may insist that, whatever else in the world is or is not, any truth remains true. We have here to face the conclusion that all truth must be abstract, and to meet the doubt whether, if that is so, any genuine truth is possible. But once more this is no place for the discussion of such problems. 26

We may finally deal with the postulate as to memory’s general correctness. This remains standing and valid although the infallibility of memory has been rejected as illusory. We are accustomed in practice to assume that memory is correct so far as we have no special reason for doubting it. And this assumption is rational, but it is not ultimate. Its warrant is that it enables us best to introduce order into our world, and to make our experience as a whole more concordant and inclusive. And, if so, our assumption’s force is obviously derivative. 27 We may put this otherwise by saying that our assumption as to memory’s general truth is based solely on experience. This assumption again can be confirmed from the psychical side. As far as we have |408| reason to believe that the psychological conditions of correct memory were present, we have a reason for accepting its evidence as true. And such a belief for the most part and in general can be justified. But it is clear on all sides that we are not in possession here of any ultimate postulate.

I may now briefly resume the main results of this chapter. My present judgement must be taken by me as infallible, and on the other hand memory cannot claim any independent or ultimate force. Any such claim, we saw, led inevitably to ruinous scepticism. The main difficulty in the case, we found, arises from a confusion between what I assert and my state as asserting it. My psychical state may be complex, and full of lapse and of dependency on something foreign. But none of these characters can be transferred to the judgement itself, and its independence and its unity remain unaffected. This suggested the doubt as to what in the end is the unity of a judgement, and we found an answer in the continuous and progressive development of the subject for me. Nothing can be dropped by the subject except what falls outside of and is incidental to the judgement’s end. And we then went on to ask for the sense in which the subject must throughout be present to my mind, and were led here to offer some important distinctions. With regard to the duration of a judgement we allowed in principle no appeal to psychology, but we found it better for several reasons to limit that duration. We finally touched on the question how far a judgement once made remains standing, and stated the rational ground for our assumption that memory is in general correct.


1^ This chapter appeared first in Mind for April 1908. It was written some four or five years before that time, and hence, for better or worse, contains no reference to any controversy of later date.

2^ Most of these are dealt with in other parts of the present volume.

3^ See p. 353.

4^ See Dr. Venn, Empirical Logic, pp. 116-18. Dr. Venn appears to accept here some traditional psychology which at best is doubtful. I do not know how he would propose to meet the sceptical result from his view of memory. This last remark applies again to other writers.

5^ I have above, pp. 373-5, criticized Prof. Ladd’s position with regard to this point, Philosophy of Mind, p. 133. To hold that memory cannot be wrong as to the fact of my past existence is, even if tenable in the abstract, quite futile, because it is tenable only in the abstract. If my memory may be wrong so far as it says anything about my past existence — and this apparently Prof. Ladd does not deny — how much is left for it to assert infallibly I hardly comprehend. But see the pages referred to.

6^ I regret that I cannot, while correcting this paper for the press, remark on the position lately taken by Mr. Russell and again by Prof. Stout. But in passing I would emphasize the following point. Our object is to make the widest and most harmonious construction. In order to carry out this object we accept, and we must accept, remembered past facts. But we accept them only provisionally, and subject in any particular case to correction in the light of further knowledge. The reason why we do not in the same way accept what is offered by mere fancy, is that on such a principle of action we could not make the intellectual construction which we seek. [This footnote belongs to the year 1908, and I now refer the reader to Chapter VII of this volume.]

7^ I may remind the reader that I am not here replying to scepticism in general, but only to one kind of sceptical objection.

8^ By doubt here I do not mean the mere psychical oscillation in which, after failure or rejection, the judgement merely comes back again as it was. I mean by doubt the state where the judgement is made an object, and where another idea is held as opposed to it. Again in denial the reader must remember that a judgement may be denied from a basis which is not made explicit. The denial here merely takes the form of. This judgement does not satisfy me.

9^ In what sense a judgement is self-contained, and how we are able to correct one judgement by another, are of course further questions. They involve difficulties which are discussed elsewhere.

10^ On this whole matter the reader is referred to Prof. Bosanquet’s logical works.

11^ Everything, that is, which is essential. See below, pp. 396 foll.

12^ I seem to observe now that scarcely any one who sets a value on himself intellectually, ventures to use the former of these words when he can bring in the latter. It is perhaps difficult for any of us wholly to avoid cant.

13^ The doctrine of ‘the universe of discourse’ (the phrase is far from being elegant) has been useful, but it fails here to give us much help. It rightly calls attention to the truth (the discussion of which will be found in Chapters VIII and IX) that judgements are made subject to an unexpressed qualification. Thus when we say that a chimaera does not or again does exist, the term ‘existence’ in each case has a different meaning. But if we ask whether ‘existence’ here is or is not the real subject of the judgement, the doctrine of the ‘universe of discourse’ seems to fail us.

14^ This statement is once more made subject to explanation given below.

15^ Cf. Chapter X, pp. 307-9.

16^ Cf. here Chapter XII, pp. 362 following.

17^ And it hardly, taken at some moments, need even amount actually to that. Cf. Mind, n.s., No. 41, p. 26.

18^ I cannot wholly follow Prof. Royce here; but a melody, perceived as a continuous object, I agree, so far implies judgement.

19^ This, however, appears to be the conclusion which was adopted by Prof. Schumann, Zeitschrift für Psych., Bd. xvii, an article noticed in Mind, n.s., No. 33, by the Editor. To myself not only this conclusion but Prof. Schumann’s general view of judgement, as there developed, is quite unintelligible. What precisely his observers took to be and not to be before their minds, when after an interval they made their judgement, is a point to which insufficient attention seems to have been directed. I would venture to suggest that here (as too often happens), from want of theoretical inquiry beforehand, the experiments were largely based on a vicious alternative.

20^ Cf. Mind, n.s., No. 41.

21^ I am not asking above how the unity of the idea is in fact maintained. That is a further question which here I think it is not needful to discuss. All that I am urging is this, that the unity of the ideal content is essential, and that, unless you both recognize this unity and also treat it as a feature belonging to or resulting from a certain psychological state, the appeal to psychology has added nothing. And in any case the addition seems here quite unnecessary.

22^ This fatally unsound position seems to me to be taken by Prof. Münsterberg in his Grundzüge d. Psychologie.

23^ The qualification of the house by A is not present, we may presume, actually on the exit of B, but is then recalled. The judgement therefore begins at this point.

24^ Cf. here Chapter XII, p. 368.

25^ This is not the place to discuss this whole question, together with the special nature of theoretical satisfaction.

26^ The reader is now referred to Chapter IX.

27^ Cf. Chapter XII, p. 374.

Top ↑

Chapter XIV. What Is the Real Julius Caesar?

The main point, what. Preliminary warning. Necessary distinctions (410-11). Finite centres, their nature, duration, identity, and plurality (410-12). Digression on transcending finite centres (412-14). Soul, what (414-16). Self, what. (416-18). How my self is mine only, and its importance (418-20). Self and Soul how related (420-1). Return to the main question. The real Caesar cannot be limited to the Caesar as directly experienced (422-3). The individual is real so far as he works in any sense, even in mere knowledge (423-5). Ideal and real experience are not separable (425-7). Our main result may be indefinite, but is necessary (427).

It may throw some light on the general position defended by myself, if I briefly state the answer which in my opinion should be given to this question. I will begin by emphasizing what to myself is the main and vital issue. Mr. Russell in a recent essay 1 ventures on the following assertion: ‘Returning now to Julius Caesar, I assume that it will be admitted that he himself is not a constituent of any judgement which I can make.’ To my mind the opposite of this admission appears to be evident. It seems to me certain, if such an admission is right, that about Julius Caesar I can have literally no knowledge at all, and that for me to attempt to speak about him is senseless. If on the other hand I am to know anything whatever about Caesar, then the real Caesar beyond doubt must himself enter into my judgements and be a constituent of my knowledge. And I do not understand how Mr. Russell can suppose that on any view like mine a different answer should be given.

The problem of the ultimate reality of Julius Caesar is obviously one which in a limited space cannot be thoroughly discussed. I can here deal with it but partially, and only on the assumption that the general conclusion which I have advocated is sound. To me the Universe is one Reality which appears in finite centers, and it hence is natural to ask at once if Julius Caesar is to be identified with a finite center. The reply is obviously in the negative. A finite center is not a soul, or a self, or an individual person. |410| Hence in the following pages we have throughout to bear these distinctions in mind. And these distinctions are so important, and they seem to be so difficult to apprehend, that I must begin by attempting, even at considerable length, to make them clear to the reader.

There is, however, one point to which I must first call attention. The Universe to me is one Experience which appears in finite centers. I take this to be true, but on the other hand it is not the whole truth. It is the truth to my mind so far as truth is attainable by me, but it nevertheless remains imperfect, and in the end it is not intelligible. Our ultimate conceptions, that is, are necessary, and in a sense they are really ultimate. But there are features in them which without any satisfactory insight we have to accept, since we are able to do no better. The complete experience which would supplement our ideas and make them perfect, is in detail beyond our understanding. And the reader, throughout what follows, will, I hope, not ignore this general warning. 2

To proceed then, a finite center, when we speak strictly, is not itself in time. It is an immediate experience of itself and of the Universe in one. It comes to itself as all the world and not as one world among others. And it has properly no duration through which it lasts. It can contain a lapse and a before and after, but these are subordinate. They are partial aspects that fall within the whole, and that, taken otherwise, do not qualify the whole itself. A finite center itself may indeed be called duration in the sense of presence. But such a present is not any time which is opposed to a past and future. It is temporal in the sense of being itself the positive and concrete negation of time. 3

|411| The distinctions of a past and future beyond the present time, and of one center of experience as separate from others, are essentially the products of ideal construction. 4 And the same remark holds with regard to the duration in time of any finite center. Hence these ideas properly are true only of the world of objects, and in the end a finite center (if we are to express ourselves strictly) is not an object. It is a basis on and from which the world of objects is made. We may speak, as I have spoken myself (Appearance, p. 529), of a finite center’s duration. But we can do this only on sufferance, and so far as by reflection we have transformed into an object the nature of that which lies behind objects. 5

And thus in the end a finite center has no identity with any past or future of itself. It has, or it contains, a character, and on that character its past and future depend. And the special quality which makes my self one self as against others, remains (I will return to this point) in unbroken unity with that character. But the identity of a center or a self with itself in time is essentially ideal. Its being depends on construction and holds good only through a breach in the immediate given unity of what and that. And so, to speak strictly, there is in my life neither continuance nor repetition of a finite center. For a center is timeless, and for itself it is not even finite as being itself one thing among others. To speak of its continuance and its sameness is to apply to it expressions which we are forced |412| to use, but which in the end and in their proper sense cannot be justified.

The duration of a finite center in time, and a plurality of centers which do not share their immediate experiences as immediate, are (I would repeat) necessary ideas. They are conceptions without which we could not express ourselves, and through which alone we can formulate that higher truth which at once contains and transcends them. Such ideal constructions, on the one hand, beyond question are real, and their reality is affirmed both in thought and volition. But they are neither immediately given nor in the end are they wholly intelligible. They are special appearances the full and ultimate reality of which cannot in detail be known.

It is interesting to inquire into the stages of that process by which we enter into possession of our everyday world, and it is important to trace in outline that development by which we come to distinguish outward things from our selves, and our own self from others. But in principle we are concerned here not with the origin but with the nature of our knowledge. We have seen that a finite center, so far as it exists as an object, so far as it endures in time, and is one of a number, is made and subsists by ideal construction. There really is within the Absolute a diversity of finite centers. There really is within finite centers a world of objects. And the continuance and identity of a finite center, together with the separation of itself from all others, can become an object to that center. These things are realities, and yet, because imperfect, they are but appearances which differ in degree. That they are supplemented and without loss are all made good absolutely in the Whole, we are led to conclude. But how in detail this is accomplished, and exactly what the diversity of finite centers means in the end, is beyond our knowledge.

To repeat myself thus may perhaps be useless, and is certainly not pleasant to myself. And yet I will pause to |413| dwell on a point which seems still to trouble some critics. How I am to transcend my finite center and to climb the walls of my pit, is, they urge, inconceivable. But that they themselves argue here from premisses which I reject they seem not to realize. I will venture, therefore, once more to set down what I have perhaps already said too often.

From the side of the Universe, so to express ourselves, the one Reality is present in a plurality of finite centers, but so that these do not directly share their experiences as immediate. None the less the one Universe is there, and it is real throughout, and it is also a higher experience in which every unshared diversity is unified and harmonized. How this ‘also’ is possible, and how there can be such a thing as appearance, we on the one hand do not understand. But, on the other hand, that the thisness of each finite center must prevent the one Absolute from knowing itself and from realizing itself in and through finite centers, otherwise than in their several immediacies — of this again I assuredly am ignorant. My critics may perceive and may even comprehend this alleged incompatibility, but to my mind the incompatibility does not exist. For rejecting a higher experience, in which appearances are transformed, I can find no reason, while on the contrary I have more than sufficient reason to accept it.

Again, to view the same thing from the side of my finite center, all my experience and knowledge is that of the Universe and this center in one, and therefore clearly without exception all my knowledge is ‘transcendent’. The entirety of the object-world, the prolongation in time of my finite center, its conscious limitation as one among others and as mine and not yours, the whole of this distinguished region comes from and lives through transcendence. To ask as to the possibility of my passing beyond my finite center seems therefore senseless. My being is there only because and in so far as my being is also and |414| already beyond, and is one with the life of the all-pervading Universe. You may insist that the felt immediacy on which my self is based makes an impassable obstacle. It is something (you are sure) connexion with which prevents the Universe from knowing itself as possessed also of other such connexions. But the whole of your contention rests to my mind on misconception and prejudice, while its assumption of knowledge as to what is possible seems to me even ridiculous.

What I mean by truth and reality is that world which satisfies the claim of the Universe present in and to what I call my self. Here is the one criterion, and to me no other criterion is possible. This satisfaction, I am sure, implies that the Universe immanent in my self is present also otherwise and elsewhere. The Reality therefore I take to have this character, and, though I cannot understand how it is so, I find no reason in my own want of comprehension. Thus by the radical incompatibility, of which my critics speak, I am not moved. For they have themselves made their own difficulty, because they have begun by falsifying the nature of things. It is they who have dismembered the living whole, and have sunk it in the pits which they have dug, and out of which they challenge it to rise. But this illusory construction of their own is possible only because in the end it is not true. Their divided world is made thinkable only by that totality which itself throughout upholds and is beyond it.

After this digression, which I hope the reader will excuse, I will return to our main inquiry. I will proceed to ask as to the meaning of a soul and again of a self. Neither of these ideas must be confused with what we call a finite center, and with each there is a demand for careful distinction.

What is a soul? A soul is a finite center viewed as an object existing in time with a before and after of itself. |415| And further the soul is a thing distinct from the experiences which it has, which experiences we take not as itself but as its states. The finite center was an experience which is in one with its own reality. It comes to itself (we saw) immediately as a content which is the Universe. And thus, when by a construction you prolong the finite center in time, you have still not arrived at the idea of a soul. In order to reach this, you must go on to distinguish the content as experienced from that which experiences the content. The latter, you must say, has these experiences, and yet has them not as other things but as states of itself. And to whatever other reality these experiences may be due, to whatever other world they may belong, and to whatever things, other than the soul, they may stand in relation, all this in one sense is indifferent. If you confine your attention to the soul as a soul, then every possible experience is no more than that which happens in and to this soul. You have to do with psychical events which qualify the soul, and in the end these events, so far as you are true to your idea, are merely states of the soul. Such a conception is for certain purposes legitimate and necessary, and to condemn it, while used within proper limits, is to my mind mistaken. But, outside these limits, what we call the soul is, I agree, indefensible. It is vitiated by inconsistencies and by hopeless contradictions into which there is here no need to enter further. 6

Whether the soul is essentially one among other souls need not be discussed. I cannot myself see that an affirmative answer is necessary, but the question here seems not relevant. We may say the same of the doubt whether |416| without a body a soul is possible. And with regard to a soul’s identity I will merely state that, so far as I see, this point, if it is to be settled, must be settled more or less arbitrarily. But such inquiries have little or no bearing on our purpose. 7 We are concerned here simply with the distinction between a soul and a finite center, and I will pass from this to consider a similar point with reference to the ‘self’. How does a self stand towards a finite center and again towards a soul? We have to do here, I agree, with an intricate and difficult problem. And I regret that in what follows I can do no more than set down that result which to myself seems tenable.

The self in the first place is not the same as the finite center. We may even have a finite center without any self, where that center contains no opposition of self to not-self. On the other hand we have a self wherever within a finite center there is an object. An object involves opposition, theoretical and practical, and this opposition is to a self, and it must so be felt. As to the duration of a self, that in principle need be no more than momentary. If we keep to ordinary usage a different reply would have perhaps to be given, but the usage, so far as I can judge, does not rest on any principle. And, again, for myself I cannot see that to be a self implies what is called memory. Wherever you take a finite center as containing the opposition of not-self to self, and as having, of course, some duration through which this opposition remains or recurs, you have reached that which we term a self. It is usual, of course, for the object to consist at least partly of other selves, but to my mind this feature is certainly not essential.

We have, then, first (i) an immediate felt whole without any self or object. 8 Next (ii), where we find an object |417| against a self, this opposition is still a content within a totality of feeling. And the relation (so to speak of it) is not yet itself an object. There is not as yet in the proper sense any relation, because the self, so far, itself is no object. And, even when the correlation of self and not-self has been objectified, this complex object comes against the self still in that way which (to be strict) is no relation. The manner in which, in order to be an object, the object is felt, must be expressed by a preposition. The preposition implies the presence of two things before us. And thus, if we are not to be silent, we have no choice but to use a form of statement, while we deny an implication involved in that form. Further (iii) the self, although not yet an object, is experienced content, and it is itself a limited content and is so felt. Any view for which the self is not thus experienced as limited content, leaves us in my judgement without any self that is experienced at all. But from such a result it would follow that the self must either remain completely unknown, or at least must be known as something which is no self. And again I do not understand how in any felt whole there is to be an opposition, unless, as against the object, the all-containing whole also itself becomes something limited. While remaining, that is, still the unbroken whole, it is felt also specially in one with a restricted content. This limited self (I would once more add) may in self-consciousness itself become, more or less, an object; but, notwithstanding this, it always must continue to be felt, and otherwise, as a self, it would bodily disappear, (iv) On the nature of that limited content felt as self I can here say nothing in detail. Far from remaining always the same, it varies greatly. There is much of it which from time to time has come before us as objective, and on the other hand there are elements which remain throughout in the background. And all this will be true even of that central group on which our personality seems to rest. But on these |418| aspects of our problem I can here do no more than touch in passing. 9 (v) I will go on to emphasize the point which it is essential for us to keep in view. All that is experienced comes, we saw, within a finite center, and is contained within that whole which is felt immediately. Now on the one side the self must be less than this felt totality, but on the other side the self must remain implicit in the unbroken unity of feeling. The self (to repeat this) may become an object, and yet the self still must also be felt immediately, or it is nothing. As so felt it still belongs to that world where content and being remain, at least formally, unseparated. The self’s unity with that finite center within which and before which the whole Universe comes, remains a unity which is implicit and non-relational. For, though it may come before the background as an object, the self (to repeat this) is a self only so far as it remains felt as in one with that whole background. I am fully aware that this statement is in one sense not intelligible. On the other hand to myself it serves to convey, if not to express, an indubitable and fundamental fact, a basis without which the world is ruined. And with this I must leave the matter to the reader’s judgement.

(vi) The question why one finite center, rather than any other, should be mine, can now be readily answered. My self, we have seen, depends on that which cannot become merely an object, and hence it remains intimately one thing with that finite center within which my Universe appears. Other selves on the contrary are for me ideal objects, the being of which is made by opposition and construction. 10 |419| They have, as such, no content which, except as within an ideal construction, can be felt in immediate union with the given foundation of my world.

It is true that other selves and God are far more than mere ideal objects. On the contrary, the wills of others can, as we say, be taken up into mine or mine resolved into theirs. And, however we phrase it, this real unity of emotion and action is most certain; and I know that God’s will or that of others is carried out in my volition into actual fact. Nay, in comparison with the reality of this higher common will, anything that is merely my own can be experienced as unreal and worthless. And yet, so far as within my center the overruling end is realized, the volition is mine in a sense in which it belongs to no other being. It realizes and it expresses that which is felt as itself in unbroken unity with what is given, while it is only with a different center that another’s will can be felt as thus intimately one. I can be aware of a common will which is realized in and by myself. I can be sure that, present also in another person, this same common will is also felt directly as his own. But, though each of us knows certainly of the other’s feeling, neither of us can experience it as it comes in direct unity with immediate experience.

It is only because it is an object that the other, for me, is another at all. Our joint experience, which I feel, I can feel as yours only on the strength of an ideal construction, which does not cease to be such because it is also a familiar fact. Our common feeling may in you, as in me, be referred ideally to both me and yourself. But that which in your experience makes in the end your feeling to be yours is no construction, while in my experience it depends on and |420| consists in nothing else. Here is the solution of the puzzle well known to those who reflect on life, and who are driven for ever alternately to affirm and to deny that thoughts and emotions are shared.

It does not follow from the above that I myself am my world, or that I possess any superior importance or reality. As against the Universe, against the community or God, I may find myself, as we saw, to be trifling and contemptible. The nothingness of the self, in fear and in the condemnation of the higher Will, is familiar to us all. I have indeed a special and a singular reality possessed by naught else. This reality of mine is even indispensable to the Universe. But the same thing holds again of the meanest rudiment of fact or least vestige of appearance. That which is indispensable has its place; but what kind of place and what amount of value belongs to it we have still to ask. The World and God without myself are in the end inconceivable — so much is certain. But this tells us nothing as to the degree and as to the manner in which I serve to conduce to their reality. In short I cannot suppose that those critics who charge me with Solipsism can have much of an idea as to the position in which I stand. My self is not my finite center, and my finite center is but one amongst many, and it is not the Universe. It is the whole Universe entire and undivided, but it is that Universe only so far as it appears in one with a single center. Feeling is the beginning, and it is the source of all material, and it forms the enfolding element and abiding ground of our world. But feeling is not that world, and it is not the criterion of Reality. The criterion for each of us is that system of developed content which we call true and good and beautiful. But for further explanation the reader must be referred to other chapters.

(vii) The intimate connexion of the finite center and the self leads us continually into error. We identify the two, and then, failing perhaps to distinguish the finite center from the |421| Universe, we are landed in Solipsism. Or in any case the self, once confused with the prolonged finite center, drifts into the position of a soul. And, since everything experienced within a soul must be taken as its adjective and state, we fall at once into dilemmas from which no exit is possible.

The true relation of the self to the soul may be now stated briefly. The soul is a self so far as within that soul we have the felt opposition of not-self to self. Whether within a soul there can at any time be more than one self, is a question which here we need not answer. For myself any decision on this point would have to remain more or less arbitrary. The same reply must be given if we are asked whether personal identity and the identity of the soul are indistinguishable or at least must coincide. But it is not necessary for us here to embarrass ourselves with these problems. 11

Passing them by, we may observe how a want of clearness as to the relative positions of soul and self leads us fatally to confusion or ruin. On the one hand the self is a content which falls within the soul, and must, I suppose, in a sense be regarded as its ‘state’. Hence, if we forget to distinguish the self from the finite center, which finite center, as prolonged, we have turned into the soul-thing, the result is certain disaster. Every psychical content will belong to, and will be an adjective of, the self, while again the self will be an adjective and a state, in the end, of itself. On the other hand, if the soul be taken as an aggregation or collective unity, the self tends to become a mere ‘ingredient’ which with others is found in this vessel. The self has here been turned into a mere object and its essence has vanished. For that essence, as we saw, lived in feeling and was inseparable from immediate experience as a whole.

The foregoing discussion has, I fear, been wearisome, |422| though the importance and the difficulty of its subject is obvious. I will now pass from it to deal with the question of the individual’s reality. What is it that we are to call the real Caesar? Let us begin at once by asking as to the limits of his being, and, again, let us start by assuming the following conclusions. A soul exists, as such, only for a certain period of some history, and the states of no soul can be observed directly by others. These two theses, let us add, will hold good of a self. What a man feels as himself is not accessible directly to others, and any such feeling is an event which falls within a single part of the time-series. The reader who is unable to endorse these statements, will perhaps, for the sake of argument, accept them provisionally. And is the real Caesar, let us now ask, confined within the boundary of such a limited soul or self?

(a) Even these limits, it may be argued, are already far too wide. The real Caesar is the man who is actually perceived, and, further, the man is not a body but is mental, and no one, we have agreed, but the man himself can perceive his own mind. The reality of Caesar must be therefore confined to his own self-knowledge. But from the above it follows that no one else, not even Caesar’s own mother, ever knew the real Caesar, and that we ourselves now are even more ignorant, if greater ignorance can exist. And yet, even with this, the being of Caesar has not been narrowed to its strict reality. For how much of Caesar was ever given even to himself in direct knowledge? That knowledge, whenever actual, was certainly confined to one present time. The past of Caesar and his future never came within his own experience. It was the being of a fleeting moment of which alone he was aware, and aware even of that, we may add, but imperfectly; and it is in this fragment or succession of fragments that at last we have reached the actual hero. In other words the real man has, if not essentially, at least mainly become a thing unknowable even by himself. And, |423| again, for us on our side, he has become simply nothing at all, and what we are to mean when we speak of him I cannot imagine. But this whole restriction of the individual’s reality was founded on prejudice, and it leads inevitably, as we have seen, to theoretical ruin.

(b) If, however, leaving this error, we go on to fix other limits, and now confine the reality of Caesar within the period of his own lifetime, is our position more secure? On the contrary we seem left at once without any principle at all — unless the identification of Caesar with his perishing body is perhaps to serve as a principle. And in short our narrowing of his true being to the mere period in which he lived, seems once more to rest on prejudice. Based on no principle, it is in collision both with common sense and consistent theory, and may be finally dismissed.

How far then, we ask, is the reality of the individual to extend? It extends, I reply, in a word just so far as it works. As far as any man has knowledge, so far, I insist, the man himself really is there in what is known. And it seems even obvious that his reality goes out as far as what we call his influence extends. The real individual is in short ‘that sphere which his activity doth fill’. The question within what limits a man feels and is aware of himself, does not, we saw, when it is answered, give you the bounds of his reality. And, if it is objected that the limits have now become too indefinite to be fixed, I reply that I both recognize and accept this consequence. It is a consequence which conflicts, so far as I see, with nothing better than prejudice.

Why should I be forced to believe that the great minds of the past, where they influence me, are unreal, and are themselves simply dead? Surely I am right to ask here for a reason, and for a reason that will bear scrutiny. ‘Then you imagine also’, I perhaps may hear, ‘that a man’s will really can survive his death.’ Long ago, I reply, I have |424| urged that this imagination is the fact and the literal truth. 12 A man’s will is there where that will is carried out into existence. This of course does not imply that the man now feels and is directly aware of his will. It really denies that the man’s will is confined within the sphere of his direct awareness. And, if this denial is not right, I am still waiting to learn upon what ground it is wrong. For I am acquainted with no ground which I at least could call rational.

We must accept a like consequence with regard to dead Caesar’s knowledge. A man actually must be there, wherever his knowledge extends, even if that knowledge is of the unseen present or of the past or future. So far as Caesar in his own day foresaw ours, his proper reality was not limited to his own world or time. He was and he is present there, wherever anything that the Universe contains was present to his mind. Caesar of course was not, and he is not, in our own time as we ourselves now are there. The distinction is obvious and to ignore it would be even absurd. On the other hand this separation only holds within limits, and it is perfectly compatible with the real presence of Caesar in his known object. The further result that Caesar’s knowledge will affect the being of, and will make a difference to, his object, must again be affirmed. But as to the amount of such a difference of course nothing is implied. Differences may be there, and yet may fairly be called inappreciable. For certain of our purposes, that is, they may be taken as negligible. 13

It is then not evident, it is far from being evident, that the real Caesar is unable to come within my knowledge. He enters into my judgement on the contrary just as I, if he had foreseen me, might have been an actual constituent of his known world. Such a view, I fully admit, brings with |425| it its difficulties, but the denial of it, so far as I see, entails absolute disaster. There surely can be no knowledge of anything except what is real, nor about anything which itself falls outside our knowledge.

We are here confronted by that error which consists in the sundering of ideal from real experience. If we know only by ideas, we never (it is an old argument) are able to reach reality, that reality, at least, which we find in direct awareness. But the whole division, when you take it thus as absolute separation, is false. We never anywhere know merely by ideas, and in the end a mere idea is but a ruinous abstraction, just as, on the other hand, wherever we have an object, our knowledge cannot fail to be ideal. That ideal construction in which for us the entire past consists, is based on and is inseparable from present feeling and perception. If these do not support and do not enter into that extension of themselves which is the past, that past has disappeared. You may insist that Caesar, at least as he knew himself, falls outside of our construction, but even this contention, understood as you understand it, is false. My idea of Caesar is not in the full sense an immediate experience of Caesar’s mind, and as to this there is no question. But I have none the less an idea of Caesar’s immediate experience, and my idea is true, and, so far as it goes, it is real, and actually, so far, it is Caesar’s own direct awareness of himself. The difference here is not a wall which divides and isolates two worlds. The immediate experience and the idea of it, are, on the contrary, one in substance and in reality. Why they should not be so, I fail to perceive, and I am convinced, that if they are not so, our knowledge is illusion. 14 There is immediate experience assuredly which |426| for itself is not an object, nor has any idea of its own being. But in the Universe as a whole any such falling apart of its complementary aspects is made good. And ex hyp. we are concerned here with a case where the immediate experience of the individual is known even to others.

The past and future (once more to repeat this) are ideal constructions which extend the given present. And our present world itself is a construction based on feeling and perception, ‘construction’ here meaning for us (the reader will note) a living outgrowth of the continuous reality. The past and future vary, and they have to vary, with the changes of the present, and, to any man whose eyes are open, such variation is no mere theory but is plain fact. But, though ideal, the past and future are also real, and, if they were otherwise, they could be nothing for judgement or knowledge. They are actual, but they must remain incomplete essentially. Caesar’s direct feeling and self-awareness are known by us really. Our knowledge does not go far, but, so far as it goes, our idea is the veritable reality. And, if it were anything else, then once more surely we could have no idea of Caesar. The immediate experience which Caesar had of himself, if you take that, not in its general character, but in its unbroken felt totality of particular detail, remains |427| inaccessible. It is a feeling which comes within our knowledge, but which we do not ourselves actually feel. Caesar’s experience however, as thus inaccessible, does not fall within history. It is at once below, and (as some would add) above the temporal order of events. Our knowledge of the past and future is, in short, an actual and yet an imperfect knowledge of reality. In this we have seen that it is like the knowledge we possess of those persons who are nearest. And the same conclusion holds even as to that which we can know of our own selves. Any self-knowledge which contains a past or future of our selves, is ideal. Any distinction of our own self from that of others, and even any appearance of our self as an object to our own selves, will bear the same character. And, when you have narrowed your awareness to that which both in substance and in form is direct, have you anything left which you can fairly take as being by itself the genuine knowledge of your own self? But into the discussion of this last point I will forbear to enter here. 15

The real individual then (we find) does not fall merely within a moment, nor is he bounded by his birth and death, nor is he in principle confined to any limited period. He lives there wherever the past or future of our ‘real’ order is present to his mind, and where in any other way whatever he influences or acts on it. If you complain that these limits are too indefinite, I will not ask you to reflect also whether the individual’s reality does not pass even beyond the temporal order. I will content myself here with urging that at least any limit in time can in the end be seen to be arbitrary. We must treat the individual as real so far as anywhere for any purpose his being is appreciable. If this is to be inconsistent, it is still perhaps our least inconsistent course, and it is our way, our only way, of satisfactory knowledge.


1^ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. xi, pp. 118-19.

2^ See my Appearance, the last chapter, for a discussion of this matter.

3^ I will allow myself to add two passages from an early work of my own. ‘The present is the filling of that duration in which the reality appears to me directly; and there can be no part of the succession of events so small or so great, that conceivably it might not appear as present.’ … ‘Presence is really the negation of time, and never can properly be given in the series. It is not the time that can ever be present, but only the content.’ Principles of Logic (pub. 1883), pp. 52-3. The reader will of course not understand me here to claim originality for a doctrine which I inherited.

4^ Cf. here Chapter XII.

5^ From such a position as mine it is obvious that the question whether change is in the end real, admits of but one answer. The Universe contains change, but the Universe itself cannot change. I would gladly deal here or elsewhere with any arguments in favor of an opposite conclusion. But, to speak frankly, those arguments, so far as I know them, have failed to understand the position which they seek to attack.

6^ See Appearance, and Mind, No. 33. The reader will bear in mind that, though feeling is in itself not an object, on the other hand, when you go on to view it as an event, you have so far made it objective. For psychology everything psychical which happens is in one sense an object, though most certainly not everything is an object for the individual soul in question.

7^ On these matters see my Appearance.

8^ On this and the following points cf. Chapter VI.

9^ See Appearance, chapter ix.

10^ That any mind should have an immediate and direct experience of another mind seems, to me at least, out of the question. So far as I know, the only ground for such a doctrine is to be found in a false alternative. There is an apparent failure to perceive the extent to which my knowledge even of my own self is itself ideal and not immediate. My self and other selves are, each alike, constructions made in my experience. But my self is connected there with the basis of feeling, as other selves, in my experience, most certainly are not connected. If, however, we are to believe in memory in the sense of a direct knowledge of the past, and are to believe, again, in a direct experience of others’ states, I do not see why, in principle, we should not claim to experience Caesar, even today, directly from the inside.

11^ Cf. Appearance, chapters ix and x.

12^ Mind, n.s., No. 44, p. 11. Cf. Mind, o.s., No. 49, p. 21, for the question as to the object of desire.

13^ Cf. Chapter XI, pp. 336-7.

14^ When (to use the instance given by Mr. Russell in his essay referred to already) we assert that Scott was the author of Waverley, what we presuppose as true and real is the idea of a unique individual man at such and such a determinate place in our unique ‘real’ order of space and time. This idea, Mr. Russell contends, is not a constituent of any judgement. It is on the contrary, lie says, something indeterminate which falls outside our proposition.
  Any such doctrine to my mind is both false and utterly ruinous. I urge that in connexion with present perception, and by an ideal extension of that, we get the idea Of a unique series and order, with a unique man at a certain part of that series and order. Such an idea is incomplete, but it is positive and determinate, and most assuredly it does enter into our judgement. And, if this is not so, then what Mr. Russell has to show is how our judgement can possibly be anything but senseless, and again how in fact our judgement even is possible.
  With regard to Mr. Russell’s contention that there are propositions without any denotation (p. 122), I of course reject this. The sense in which all propositions have denotation, and all are existential, has been long ago discussed by me (I admit imperfectly) in my Principles of Logic. Cf. Chapter III of this volume. The general view advocated by Prof. Bosanquet and myself seems (I would venture to add) to be ignored by Meinong and again by Mr. Russell.

15^ Cf. Appearance, and Chapter VII, p. 205. The reader will, I hope, bear in mind the difference between the felt basis on which the knowledge of self depends, and, on the other side, that knowledge itself.

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Chapter XV. On God and the Absolute

The Absolute not God and why (428-9). Inconsistency in religion. Attempt to avoid this by making God finite (429-30). But religion has not to be consistent theoretically, and it has to use the ideas which best serve its main interest (430-2). The personality of God is certainly not necessary for all religion, but is a valid idea (432-3). In personal religion the personality is not all on one side (433-4). God has reality in the religious consciousness, apart from which an Individual Person would not really be God. Theoretical consistency must be sacrificed (434-8). Continued personal existence after death is certainly not the main interest of religion. But, if and so far as really demanded in that interest, it may be accepted as true. Mere hope, fear, and curiosity as to the spirit-world are not religious (438-40). Morality and Religion difference between them (441-2). This chapter will not be satisfactory to the reader who holds to what he calls Common Sense. The defects of this last. Are they irremediable? In general by Metaphysics, Yes. And otherwise? (442-7).

The following pages will contain little beyond that which I have published already, 1 and I admit that on this subject I never had much to say. But, in view of misconceptions, I am led to venture here even on mere repetition. And there are points again where I desire to lay a different emphasis upon some aspects of the question. But I cannot hope that the positive result will seem satisfactory to most readers.

I have not, I know, to repeat to those who are acquainted with my book that for me the Absolute is not God. God for me has no meaning outside of the religious consciousness, and that essentially is practical. The Absolute for me cannot be God, because in the end the Absolute is related to nothing, and there cannot be a practical relation between it and the finite will. When you begin to worship the Absolute or the Universe, and make it the object of religion, you in that moment have transformed it. It has become something forthwith which is less than the Universe. This is at least what I have advocated, and, if I have been misunderstood, I cannot admit that the fault is wholly mine.

But from the above it follows that there is a fundamental inconsistency in religion. For, in any but an imperfect religion, God must be perfect. God must be at once the complete satisfaction of all finite aspiration, and yet on the other side must stand in relation with my will. Religion (at least in my view) is practical, and on the other hand in the highest religion its object is supreme goodness and power. |429| We have a perfect real will, and we have my will, and the practical relation of these wills is what we mean by religion. And yet, if perfection is actually realized, what becomes of my will which is over against the complete Good Will? While, on the other hand, if there is no such Will, what becomes of God? The inconsistency seems irremovable and at first sight may threaten us with ruin.

An obvious method of escape is to reject the perfection of God. God will still remain good, but in a limited sense. He will be reduced to a person who does the best that is in him with limited knowledge and power. Sufficiently superior to ourselves to be worshiped, God will nevertheless be imperfect, and, with this admitted imperfection, it will be said, our religion is saved. For the practical opposition and struggle between our will and God’s, the hindrance or furtherance (as the case may be) of either will by the other, will be utter reality. It will be fact and truth not conditioned by anything standing higher than, or going beyond, itself.

Now certainly on such terms religion still can persist, for there is practical devotion to an object which is taken, with all its defects, to be at a level far above our own. Such a religion even in one sense, with the lowering of the Deity, may be said to have been heightened. To help a God in his struggle, more or less doubtful and blind, with resisting Evil, is no inferior task. And if the issue were taken as uncertain, or if even further the end were known to be God’s indubitable defeat and our inevitable disaster, our religion would have risen thereby and would have attained to the extreme of heroism. But on the other hand, if religion is considered as a whole and not simply from one side, it is not true that with the lowering of God religion tends to grow higher. A principal part of religion is the assured satisfaction of our good will, the joy and peace in that assurance, and the added strength which in the majority of men can come perhaps from no other source. |430| To sacrifice altogether or in part this aspect means on the whole to set religion down to a lower level. And it is an illusion to suppose that imperfection, once admitted into the Deity, can be stopped precisely at that convenient limit which happens to suit our ideas. The assertor of an imperfect God is, whether he knows it or not, face to face with a desperate task or a forlorn alternative. He must try to show (how I cannot tell) that the entire rest of the Universe, outside his limited God, is known to be still weaker and more limited. Or he must appeal to us to follow our Leader blindly and, for all we know, to a common and overwhelming defeat. In either case the prospect offered entails, I should say, to the religious mind an unquestionable loss to religion.

And yet it will be urged that we have ourselves agreed that all other ways of escape are closed. For, if God is perfect, we saw that religion must contain inconsistency, and it was by seeking consistency that we were driven to a limited God. But our assumption here, I reply, is precisely that which we should have questioned from the first. Is there any need for our attempt to avoid self-contradiction? Has religion really got to be consistent theoretically? Is ultimate theoretical consistency a thing which is attainable anywhere? And, at all events, is it a thing attainable in life and in practice? This is the fundamental question upon which the whole issue depends. And I need not pause here to ask whether it is quite certain that, when God is limited, the Universe becomes theoretically consistent?

I have elsewhere discussed the question of theoretical consistency. 2 With a certain exception (and how far this is an exception I have explained) I have argued that all truth must be imperfect. Truth cannot in the end become consistent and ultimately true, but, for all that, it is satisfactory in varying degrees. The idea that in the special sciences, and again in practical life, we have absolute truths, |431| must be rejected as illusory. We are everywhere dependent on what may be called useful mythology, and nothing other than these inconsistent ideas could serve our various purposes. These ideas are false in the sense that they are not ultimately true. But they are true in the sense that all that is lacking to them is a greater or less extent of completion, which, the more true they are, would the less transform their present character. And, in proportion as the need to which they answer is wider and deeper, these ideas already have attained actual truth.

Viewed thus the question as to what may be called religious ideas is seriously changed. To insist on ultimate theoretical consistency, which in no case can we reach, becomes once for all ridiculous. The main question is as to the real nature and end of religion, and as to the respective importance of those aspects which belong to it. The ideas which best express our highest religious needs and their satisfaction, must certainly be true. Ultimate truth they do not possess, and exactly what in the end it would take to make them perfect we cannot know. But in this respect they are like the whole body of special truths attainable by us, or indeed by any other possible finite beings, whether in this life and world or in any other. What we have to consider is the relative importance of that purpose which the ideas serve, and how well, viewed from all sides, they aid and express its satisfaction.

If the object of religion is to realize in the fullest sense in my will the supremacy of goodness, then the ideas and the practices called for by this object are true and right. The test in every case is to ask whether our ideas and practices really answer to our need, while to judge them from the outside by applying some other criterion is mistaken and dangerous. This I take to be the principle, but I cannot here discuss doubts as to the genuine essence of religion, and still less can I offer to decide on those particular ideas |432| and practices which religion warrants or would forbid. How far these issues can be settled otherwise than by practical development I indeed do not know, and in any case I recognize in myself no special competence to deal with them. What I would emphasize is the principle which has been laid down above. If religion is practical, then it is certain that my will must count. On the other side, if goodness is to be realized, except imperfectly, goodness must be master of the world. The ideas that are to express this implicated whole must be more or less inconsistent and, in a word, mythological. But the demand for a theoretical consistency which mutilates the substance of religion, starts from error in principle and leads in the result to practical discord or sterility.

I will touch briefly on two points which I have elsewhere discussed, laying at that time perhaps an undue emphasis on one aspect of the matter. I refer to the ‘personality’ of God and the ‘immortality’ of the soul. I shall assume here, rightly or wrongly, that a personal God is not the ultimate truth about the Universe, and in that ultimate truth would be included and superseded by something higher than personality. A God that can say to himself ‘I’ as against you and me, is not in my judgement defensible as the last and complete truth for metaphysics. But, that being admitted, the question remains as to what God is for religion. The religious consciousness must represent to itself the Good Will in its relation with mine. It must express both our difference and our unity. And must not, it will be asked, that representation take the form of a ‘personal’ God? I answer that to insist here on ‘must’ to myself seems untenable, 3 but on the other hand I am fully prepared to accept ‘may’. But there is one condition on |433| which I have to lay stress. The real presence of God’s will in mine, our actual and literal satisfaction in common, must not in any case be denied or impaired. This is a religious truth far more essential than God’s ‘personality’, and hence that personality must be formulated, no matter how inconsistently, so as to agree with this truth and to support it. But, apart from this condition, how far and in what sense we are justified in ascribing personality to God I have no wish to discuss. Whatever ideas really are required in practice by the highest religion are true. In my judgement their truth is not contradicted by metaphysics, so long only as they will not offer themselves as satisfying our last intellectual demands. And exactly how religious truths are to be in the end supplemented and corrected, I would repeat that, as I understand the matter, metaphysics cannot say. Within the outline which it takes as real there is room for all truth, and all truth assuredly is completed. But the answer in concrete detail is beyond the finite intellect, and is even beyond any mere understanding.

Before proceeding I may warn the reader against a dangerous mistake. It may be said that, if anywhere, we find personality in religion. Personal striving and discord, satisfaction and peace, are essential to that experience. And hence, if there is a difficulty as to the personality of God, why not avoid this by confining all that is personal to the side of man? Why not insist, it will be urged, not merely that God is self-conscious only in me, but also that this self-consciousness in the end is merely mine? Any such contention must however be rejected for a double reason. Religion, in the first place, is throughout a two-sided affair. Hence to place on one side (whichever that side is) the felt struggle and harmony, and the consciousness of unity and discord, is to remove the essence of religion. How far we may go in representing mythologically each |434| self, man and God, as one over against the other, as I have said, I do not discuss. That certain special feelings must be located each in one side only, seems obvious. But on the other hand the religious consciousness is a whole which includes and is superior to the opposition of its subordinate elements. The terror of sin, for instance, and the wrath of God belong inseparably to one substantial unity, and this unity further can be experienced, can be known and felt in some measure as overriding each aspect. This self-conscious totality can neither be divided, nor yet attributed merely to one side or the other. Further, and in the second place, to assume certainty and reality in the case at any rate of my personality seems quite untenable. To identify myself with my feeling center would be, for example, to fall into ruinous error. For within that center is experienced the real presence of the whole Universe, including God and my self; and, further, that self is but a limited construction, more or less ill-defined and precarious, built one-sidedly out of materials which fall within my center. This is the conclusion at least for which I have contended elsewhere, 4 and which I have been forced to regard as certain.

We encounter here the main hindrance to the adoption of a view of religion such as that which I have accepted. On the assumption that individual men, yourself and myself, are real each in his own right, to speak of God as having reality in the religious consciousness, I agree, is nonsense. God must be another independent individual, and, if not that, is not real at all. On the other hand, unless this whole assumption is rejected or ignored, the essential content of the religious consciousness must, I submit, be lost or denied. And the independent reality of the individual, when we examine it, is in truth mere illusion. Apart from the community what are separate men? It is the common mind within him which gives reality to the |435| human being, and taken by himself, whatever else he is, he is not human. When he opposes himself to the community it is still the whole which lives and moves in discord within him, for by himself he is an abstraction without life or force. If this is true of the social consciousness in its various forms, it is true certainly no less of that common mind which is more than social. In art, in science and in religion, the individual by himself remains still an abstraction. The finite minds that in and for religion form one spiritual whole, have indeed in the end no visible embodiment, and yet, except as members in an invisible community, they are nothing real. For religion in short, if the one indwelling Spirit is removed, there are no spirits left.

If you can deny social reality, if you can maintain, for example, that the State is a mere aggregate or abstraction, and can affirm that the human individual taken by himself is still there and still human, then at least you are consistent. And it is but a consequence when you refuse also to admit the reality of the one spirit which is present in religion. But otherwise I fail to understand how your difficulty is rational. For me, if the individual by himself anywhere is a fact, the whole Universe is wrecked, while, from the other side, if anywhere the community is real, the reality of God in religion seems a matter of course. The Supreme Will for good which is experienced within finite minds is an obvious fact, and it is the doubt as to anything in the whole world being more actual than this, which seems most to call for inquiry. If you turn this indwelling will into a mere relation between yourself and another individual, religion has perished and the world is so far destroyed. The question which, so much being admitted, you can go on to ask, is whether and in what sense the reality of the immanent Will is also personal.

I have stated already that I cannot accept a personal |436| God as an ultimate truth. 5 I cannot, for one thing, deny the relation in religion between God and finite minds, and how to make this relation external, or again to include it in God’s personality, I do not know. The highest reality, so far as I see, must be super-personal. At the same time to many minds practical religion seems to call for the belief in God as a separate individual. And, where truly that belief is so required, I can accept it as justified and true, but only if it is supplemented by other beliefs which really contradict it. And these other beliefs, I must add, are more vital for religion. A God who has made this strange and glorious Nature outside of which he remains, is an idea at best one-sided. Confined to this idea we lose large realms of what is beautiful and sublime, and even for religion our conception of goodness suffers. Unless the Maker and Sustainer becomes also the indwelling Life and Mind and the inspiring Love, how much of the Universe is impoverished! And it is only by an illusion which is really stupid that we can feel ourselves into, and feel ourselves one with, that which, if not lifeless, is at least external. But how this necessary ‘pantheism’ is to be made consistent with an individual Creator I myself do not perceive. The resulting tendency to seek a refuge in polytheism I of course understand, but the belief that in this way we escape inconsistency remains to myself unintelligible.

The so-called ‘pantheism’ which breathes through much |437| of our poetry and art is no less vitally implied in religious practice. Banish all that is meant by the indwelling Spirit of God, in its harmony and discord with the finite soul, and what death and desolation has taken the place of living religion! But how this Spirit can be held consistently with the external individual Person, is a problem which has defied solution. To confine ourselves to the latter is, in principle, to bring disaster on our religion, and in practice tends to empty and to narrow it by an attempt at consistent one-sidedness. Or, shrinking from that, we have either to fall back on some irrational mythology, or else, not troubling ourselves much about a creed, play fast and loose, as suits the occasion, with our personal God, For the reality of God means his own actual presence within individual souls, and, apart from this presence, both he and they are no more than abstractions. Hence in genuine religion you have a ‘pantheism’, which is not less there because it expresses itself by what in fact is an inconsistent polytheism. And you can break with this only by an individualism which reduces God to one finite person among others, a person whose influence remains utterly external. If in short for religion you need a personal God, you must accept also a creed which is not consistent. And, so far as you refuse, the price you pay is injury or ruin to religion.

The difficulties in the way of any view such as mine will always be serious. It will recommend itself to few except those who have realized that on any opposite view the difficulties are worse. If you can accept individualism — the doctrine that I and you, apart from any substantial unity, are real — then what I have to offer must be rejected. But on the other side how much is implied in its rejection I have tried to show. This may be called the first obstacle, and a second obstacle lies in the demand everywhere for strict theoretical consistency. No one is likely to content |438| himself with the doctrine which I advocate, if he believes that there is no truth except the truth which is self-consistent and ultimate, and that this absolute truth is required for religion. And the idea that Absolutism, as I understand it, can fully warrant relative and inconsistent truths, will to many seem even monstrous. This pursuit of consistency, however, must lead to fatal one-sidedness. We may have an over-emphasis on the universal aspect, and with this will come the belittling of what is individual and personal; or, on the other hand, with a stress laid on the practical struggle, we arrive at a dualism by which the Universe will be in principle torn apart. But when a blind devotion to consistency is seen to involve either in the end worse inconsistency, or else the mutilation of religion, there will be perhaps more readiness to be content with that relative truth which is based on Absolutism.

I will now pass on to say a few words about what is called ‘immortality’. I do not think that my individual existence, whether before my birth or after my death, could possibly be disproved by metaphysics, and in favor of each existence have been urged metaphysical arguments which I do not discuss. 6 But on the other side any such existence, so far as established by metaphysics, would, I should say, be of a character which for religion is irrelevant and worthless. 7 What is wanted for religion is not the mere continuance, in either direction beyond this life, of something which in a sense may be called myself. The main demand of religion is for the assurance that the individual, as one with the Good, has so far conquered death, and that what we call this life with its before and after is not the main reality. If and so far as it is necessary in the interest of |439| religion to represent this fundamental truth in the form of prolonged existence, I approve and I adhere to such a doctrine. But for myself I feel the gravest doubt with regard to such a necessity.

I have no desire to discuss once again the arguments for what is called immortality. From a religious point of view their value, at least to my mind, seems limited. This work is in the Public Domain.8 What appeals to me, if I may be allowed to repeat it, is the demand of personal affection, the wish that, where a few creatures love one another, nothing whether before or after death should be changed. But how can I insist that such a demand (whatever one may dare to fondly hope or dream) is endorsed by religion? And the rest of the arguments leave me not merely unconvinced but cold. On the other side I readily admit a difference, and, if you please, a defect in my temperament, and a difference also, and, if you like to say so, a weakness in my imaginative power. And wherever after due consideration it is found by any man or any set of