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William fames
THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE A STUDY IN
HUMAN NATURE. Gifford Lectures delivered at Edinburgh in 1901New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans,
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PRAGMATISM A NEW NAME FOR SOME OLD WAYS OF THINKING- POPULAR LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY. 8vo. New Votk,
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ESSAYS

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RADICAL EMPIRICISM.

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THE LITERARY REMAINS

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HENRY JAMES
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ESSAYS IN
RADICAL EMPIRICISM
BY

WILLIAM JAMES

LONGMANST, GREEN,
39

AND

CO.

PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON


NEW

TOBK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

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1912,

BY HENRY JAMES

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

JR.

EDITOR'S PREFACE
THE

an attempt to carry
out a plan which William James is known to
have formed several years before his death.
present volume

is

In 1907 he collected reprints in an envelope


which he inscribed with the title Essays in
'

Radical Empiricism*; and he also had duplicate sets of these reprints bound, under the

same

and deposited for the use of stuthe general Harvard Library, and in

title,

dents in

the Philosophical Library in Emerson Hall.

Two

years later Professor James published

The Meaning of Truth and A Pluralistic Universe, and inserted in these volumes several of
the articles which he had intended to use in the
*

Essays in Radical Empiricism/ Whether he


would nevertheless have carried out his original
plan,

had he

Several facts,

In the

first place,

original plan

umes

cannot be certainly known.


however, stand out very clearly.

lived,

the articles included in the

but omitted from his

later vol-

are indispensable to the understanding


iii

EDITOR'S PREFACE
of his other writings.

(p.

these articles he re-

The Meaning of
127), he says: "This statement is

peatedly alludes.

Truth

To

Thus,, in

probably excessively obscure to any one


has not read

my two articles

ness Exist?' and *A

'

World

who

Does ConsciousPure Experi-

of

ence/" Other allusions have been indicated

in

the present text. In the second place, the articles originally

brought together as 'Essays in


'

Radical Empiricism form a connected whole.

Not only were most

of

them

tively within a period of

two

written consecuyears, but they

contain numerous cross-references. In the third


place, Professor

James regarded

'radical

piricism as an independent doctrine.

asserted expressly:

no
I

logical

This he

"Let me say that there

is

connexion between pragmatism, as

understand

it,

and a doctrine which I have

The

recently set forth as 'radical empiricism/


latter stands
tirely reject

on
it

its

and

own
still

feet.

One may

en-

be a pragmatist."

(Pragmatism, 1907, Preface, p.

ix.)

Finally,

James came toward the end

of his

to regard^ 'radical empiricism* as

more

Professor
life

em-

iv

EDITOR'S PREFACE
*

fundamental and more important than prag-

matism/ In the Preface to The Meaning

of

Truth (1909), the author gives the following


explanation of his desire to continue, and

if

possible conclude, the controversy over prag-

matism

"
:

I am interested in another doctrine in

philosophy to which I give the


empiricism, and

it

seems to

name of

radical

me that the

estab-

lishment of the pragmatist theory of truth


step of first-rate importance in

empiricism prevail"

making

is

radical

(p. xii).

In preparing the present volume, the editor


has therefore been governed by two motives.

On the one hand, he has sought to preserve and


make

accessible certain important articles not

to be found in Professor James's other books.

This
XI,

is

and

true of Essays
XII.

I,

II,

IV, V, VIII, IX, X,

On the other hand,

to bring together in one

he has sought

volume a

set of essays

treating systematically of one independent, co-

herent,
it

and fundamental

doctrine.

To this end

has seemed best to include three essays

VI,

and

VII),

original plan,

(III,

which, although included in the

were afterwards reprinted

else-

EDITOR'S PREFACE
where; and one essay, XII, not included in the
original plan.

Essays

III,

VI,

and VII are

in-

dispensable to the consecutiveness of the series,

and are so interwoven with the

rest that

necessary that the student should have

it is

them

at

hand

for ready consultation.

Essay

XII throws an important light on the author's


*

general
link

empiricism/ and forms an important

between "radical empiricism

and the

author's other doctrines.

In short, the present volume

is

designed not

as a collection but rather as a treatise.

It

is

intended that another volume shall be issued

which

shall contain papers

having biographical

or historical importance which have not yet

been reprinted

ume

is

in

book form. The present

vol-

intended not only for students of Pro-

fessor James's philosophy, but for students

and the theory of knowledge.


forth systematically and within brief

of metaphysics
It sets

'

compass the doctrine of radical empiricism.'


A word more may be in order concerning the
general meaning of this doctrine. In the Preface to the Will to Believe (1898), Professor
vi

EDITOR'S PREFACE
James gives the name "radical empiricism" to
"
his philosophic attitude," and adds the following explanation: "I say
it is

contented to regard

empiricism/ because

most assured con-

its

clusions concerning matters of fact as hypo-

theses liable to modification in the course of

future experience; and I say


it^treats the doctrine of

'

radical/ because

monism

itself

as an

much of the halfway


current under the name of

hypothesis, and, unlike so

empiricism that

is

positivism or agnosticism or scientific naturalism,

it

does not dogmatically affirm

something with which

this description

is

and characterizes
writings.

It

An

'empiricism' of

a "philosophic attitude"

mind rather than a

or temper of

all

doctrine,

Professor James's

of

set forth in

is

as

experience has got

all

to square" (pp. vii-viii).

monism

Essay XII of the

present volume.

In a narrower sense,

empiricism*

is

the

method of resorting to particular experiences for


the solution of philosophical problems. Rationalists are the

men

of facts.

men of principles, empiricists the


($ome Problems of Philosophy
vii

EDITOR'S PREFACE
p. 35; cf. also, ibid., p. 44;

Or, "since principles are universals,

9, 51.)

and

and Pragmatism, pp.

facts are particulars, perhaps the best

of characterizing the two tendencies

is

way

to say

that rationalist thinking proceeds most willingly

by going from wholes to

piricist

em-

parts, while

thinking proceeds by going from parts

to wholes.'

(Some Problems of Philosophy,

Pluralistic

Universe, p. 7.) Again, empiricism

"remands

us to sensation." (Op.

The "em-

p. 35; cf. also ibid., p. 98;

piricist

view"

cit.,

insists that,

and

p. 264.)

"as reality

is

ated temporally day by day, concepts

can never fitly supersede perception.

cre.

The

deeper features of reality are found only in


perceptual experience."

(Some Problems of

Philosophy, pp. 100, 97.)

Empiricism in this

sense

is

as

yet characteristic of Professor

James's philosophy as a whole.


distinctive' and

It

is

not the

independent doctrine set forth

in the present book.

The only summary of

'

'radical empiricism

in

and narrowest sense appears in the


Preface to The Meaning of Truth (pp. xii-xiii)
this last

viii

EDITOR'S PREFACE
and

it

must be reprinted here

as the key to the

text that follows. 1

"Radical empiricism consists

and

(1)

finally of

"The

next of a statement of fact,

postulate, (2)
(3)

(1) first of

a generalized conclusion."

postulate

that the only things

is

among philosophers shall


in terms drawn from experi-

that shall be debatable

be things definable
ence.

may

(Things of an unexperienceable nature


exist

ad libitum, but they form no part of

"
This is
the material for philosophic debate.)
"
"
"
the principle of pure experience as a methodical postulate."

(Cf. below, pp. 159, 241.)

This postulate corresponds to the notion which


the author repeatedly attributes to Shadworth

Hodgson, the notion "that


*

what they are known as/

realities are

only

"
(Pragmatism, p.

50; Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 443;

The Meaning of Truth, pp. 43, 118.) In this


5

sense 'radical empiricism and pragmatism are


closely allied. Indeed,

as the assertion that

if

pragmatism be defined

"the meaning of any pro-

position can always be brought


1

down

to

some

The use of numerals and italics is introduced by the editor.


ix

EDITOR'S PREFACE
particular consequence in our future practical

experience,

the point lying in the fact

that the experience must be particular rather

than in the fact that

(Meaning of Truth,

must be

it

p. 210)

active''

then pragmatism

and the above postulate come to the same


thing.

The

not so

much

present book, however, consists


in the assertion of this postu-

late as in the use of

it.

And

the method

is

successful in special applications

by virtue

of a certain "statement of fact"

concerning

relations.

"The statement

(2)

of fact

is

that the rela-

tions between things, conjunctive as well as disjunctive, are just as

much

matters of direct par-

more so nor

ticular experience, neither


9

than the things themselves.'


istic

(Cf. also

less so,

A Plural-

Universe, p. 280; The Will to Believe, p.

278.)

This

is

the central doctrine of the pre-

sent book. It distinguishes 'radical empiri-

cism'

from the "ordinary empiricism" of

Hume, J. S.!Mill,etc., with which it is otherwise


allied.

(Cf. below, pp. 42-44.)

It provides

empirical and relational version of

an

activity/

EDITOR'S PREFACE
and so distinguishes the author's voluntarism
from a view with which

it is

easily confused

the view which upholds a pure or transcend-

ent activity. (Cf below, Essay VI.) It makes


.

it

possible to escape the vicious disjunctions

that have thus far baffled philosophy: such


disjunctions as those between consciousness

and physical nature, between thought and its


object, between one mind and another, and
'

'

between one thing and another. These


junctions need not be 'overcome

by

dis-

calling in

any "extraneous trans-empirical connective


support'* (Meaning of Truth, Preface, p.

may now

they

xiii);

be avoided by regarding the

dualities in question as only differences of


pirical relationship

among common empirical

The pragmatistic account

terms.

em-

of

meaning

'

and truth/ shows only how a vicious disjunction

between 'idea' and 'object

avoided.
sents
lar

The

may

thus be

present volume not only pre-

pragmatism

in this light;

but adds simi-

accounts of the other dualities mentioned

above.

Thus while pragmatism and


xi

radical empirj-

EDITOR'S PREFACE

methods, they are

when regarded as
independent when regarded

as doctrines. For

it

cism do not

differ essentially

would be possible to hold

and

the pragmatistic theory of 'meaning'


*

truth/ without basing

tal

it

on any fundamen-

theory of relations, and without extending

such a theory of relations to residual philosophical problems; without, in short, holding


either to the

the following

"The

(3)

above statement of fact/ or to


*

generalized conclusion/

generalized

conclusion

is

that

therefore the parts of experience hold together

from next

to

next by relations that are themselves

parts of experience.

The

directly

apprehended

universe needs, in short, no extraneous trans-

empirical connective support, but possesses in

own

right

ture."

a concatenated or continuous struc-

When

piricism"

its

is

thus generalized, "radical em-

not only a theory of knowledge

comprising pragmatism as a special chapter,

but a metaphysic as

well.

It excludes

hypothesis of trans-empirical reality


low, p. 195). It

is

"

"the

(Cf be.

the author's most rigorous

statement of his theory that reality


xii

is

an "ex-

EDITOR'S PREFACE
perience-continuum." (Meaning of Truth, p.
152;

A Pluralistic

Universe, Lect. v, vn.) It

is

that positive and constructive empiricism' of

which Professor James said

"Let empiricism

once become associated with religion, as hitherto,


it

through some strange misunderstanding,

has been associated with irreligion, and I

believe that a

new

era of religion as well as of

philosophy will be ready to begin/


p. 314; cf. ibid., Lect.

(Op.

cit.,

vm, passim; and

TJie

Varieties of Religious Experience, pp. 515-527.)

The

editor desires to acknowledge his obli-

gations to the periodicals from which these

essays have been reprinted, and to the


friends of Professor

many

James who have rendered

valuable advice and assistance in the preparation of the present volume.

RALPH BARTON PERRY.


CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS.
January 8, 1912.

CONTENTS
I.

II.

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS* EXIST?

A WOULD

OF PURE EXPERIENCE

39

III.

THE THING AND

IV.

How Two MINDS CAN KNOW ONE

V.

VI.

ITS

RELATIONS

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


OF PURE EXPERIENCE

92

THING

IN A

WORLD
137

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY

155

VH. THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


VIII.

123

190

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE

206

IX. Is RADICAL EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC?

....

234

'

X. MR. PITKIN'S REFUTATION OF RADICAL EMPIRICISM'

XI. HUMANISM AND

241

TRUTH ONCE MORE

XII. ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM

INDEX

....

244

266
281

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


*

THOUGHTS' and

sorts of object,

ways

'

things' are

common

which

find contrasted

names

and

will

two

for

sense will al-

always practi-

oppose to each other. Philosophy, reflecting on the contrast, has varied in the
cally

past in her explanations of

it,

and

expected to vary in the future.


*

spirit

and matter,'

'soul

may
At

be

first,

and body,' stood

for

a pair of equipollent substances quite on a par


in weight and interest. But one day Kant un-

dermined the soul and brought in the transcendental ego, and ever since then the bipolar
relation has been very

The

much

off its balance.

transcendental ego seems nowadays in

rationalist quarters to stand for everything, in

empiricist quarters for almost nothing. In the

hands of such writers as Schuppe, Rehmke,


at any rate in his

Natorp, Mlinsterberg
1

[Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and ScienMethods, vol. i, No. 18, September 1, 1904. For the relation between this essay and those which follow, cf. below, pp. 53-54. ED.]
tific

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


earlier writings,

Schubert-Soldern and others,

the spiritual principle attenuates

itself

to a

thoroughly ghostly condition, being only a

name
ence

for the fact that the 'content' of experi-

is

known. It loses personal form and actthese passing over to the content

ivity

and becomes a bare Bewusstheit or Bewusstsein


uberhaupt, of which in

its

own

right absolutely

nothing can be said.


I believe that "consciousness/

when once

it

has evaporated to this estate of pure diaphane-

on the point of disappearing altogether.


the name of a nonentity, and has no right

ity, is

It

is

to a place
still

cling to

rumor

faint
'

among
it

first principles.

are clinging to a

left

Those who

mere echo, the

behind by the disappearing

upon the air of philosophy. During the


past year, I have read a number of articles
whose authors seemed just on the point of abansoul

1
doning the notion of consciousness, and sub-

stituting for it that of

an absolute experience

But they were not

not due to two factors.


1

Articles

Dr. Perry

is

by Baldwin, Ward, Bawden, King, Alexander and


frankly over the border.

others.

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


quite radical enough, not quite daring enough

For twenty years past I


have mistrusted "consciousness as an entity;
in their negations.

have suggested
students, and tried to

for seven or eight years past I


its

non-existence to

give

them

its

my

pragmatic equivalent in

ties of experience. It

ripe for

is

it

reali-

seems to me that the hour

to be openly and universally dis-

carded.

To deny plumply that

'consciousness' exists

seems so absurd on the face of


ably "thoughts' do exist
readers will follow

it

for undeni-

that I fear some

me no farther.

Let

me

then

immediately explain that I mean only to deny


that the word stands for an entity, but to insist

most emphatically that it does stand for a


function. There is, I mean, no aboriginal stuff
or quality of being, 1 contrasted with that of

which material objects are made, out of which


our thoughts of them are made; but there

is

function in experience which thoughts per-

form, and for the performance of which this


1

[Similarly, there is

below, pp. 170

ff .,

no "activity

note. ED.]

of 'consciousness* as such." See

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


quality of being

is

invoked. That function

'Consciousness*

knowing.

is

is

supposed neces-

sary to explain the fact that things not only

Whoever

but get reported, are known.

are,

blots out the notion of consciousness


list

of first principles

from

his

must still provide in some

for that function's being carried on.

way

My thesis is that if we start with the supposition that there is only

one primal

stuff or

material in the world, a stuff of which every-

thing

is

composed, and

if

we

call

that stuff

*pure experience, then knowing can easily be


explained

as

a particular sort of relation

towards one another into which portions of


pure experience
is

may

enter.

The

relation itself

a part of pure experience; one of

becomes the subject or bearer


ledge, the knower,
ject

it

"terms'

of the

know-

the other becomes the ob-

much
can be understood. The

known. This

before

its

will

need

explanation
best

way

to

1
In my Psychology I have tried to show that we need no knower
other than the 'passing thought.' [Principles of Psychology, vol. i, pp.

338

ff.]

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


get

it

understood

ternative view;

is

and

to contrast
for that

it

with the

al-

we may take the

recentest alternative, that in which the evapo-

ration of the definite soul-substance has pro-

ceeded as far as

can go without being yet

it

complete. If neo-Kantism has expelled earlier

forms of dualism, we shall have expelled


forms

if

all

we are able to expel neo-Kantism in its

turn.

For the thinkers I

call

neo-Kantian, the word

consciousness to-day does no

more than signal-

ize the fact that experience is indef easibly dualistic in structure.

It

means that not

not object, but object-plus-subject

mum that can actually be.

The

is

subject,

the mini-

subject-object

meanwhile is entirely different from


that between mind and matter, from that bedistinction

tween body and

had separate
them.

To

happen,

soul.

Souls were detachable,

destinies; things could

consciousness as such nothing can

for, timeless itself, it is

of happenings in time, in
part.

It

is,

happen to

in a word,

tive of 'content* in

only a witness

which

but the

plays no

logical correla-

an Experience
5

it

of

which the

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


peculiarity

is

that fact comes

to light in it,

that

awareness of content takes place. Consciousness


as such

is

activities

'self and

entirely impersonal

belong to the content.

To

its

say that I

am self-conscious, or conscious of putting forth


means only that certain contents, for
which 'self and "effort of will' are the names,

volition,

'

are not without witness as they occur.

Thus, for these belated drinkers at the Kantian spring,

we should have

to admit conscious-

ness as an 'epistemological* necessity, even

we had no
But

if

direct evidence of its being there.

we

in addition to this,

are supposed

by

almost every one to have an immediate consciousness of consciousness

itself.

When

the

world of outer fact ceases to be materially present,

and we merely

fancy

it,

recall it in

the consciousness

out and to be

is

memory,

or

believed to stand

felt as

a kind of impalpable inner

flowing, which, once

known in this sort of expe-

rience,

may

equally be detected in presenta-

tions of the outer world.

to

fix

"The moment we try

our attention upon consciousness and to

see what, distinctly,

it is,"

says a recent writer,

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


"it seems to vanish. It seems as

When we

mere emptiness.

fore us a

trospect the sensation of blue,

the blue; the other element

Yet

phanous.

is

we can

all

as

if it

something to look for."

know

be-

try to insee

is

were dia-

can be distinguished,

it

look attentively enough, and


is

we had

if

if

we

that there

"Consciousness"

(Bewusstheit), says another philosopher, "is


inexplicable and hardly describable, yet all con-

have

scious experiences

what we

call their

this in

common

content has this peculiar re-

ference to a centre for which 'self


in virtue of
is

is

self, is

way

the name,

which reference alone the content

subjectively given, or appears.

in this

that

While

consciousness, or reference to a

the only thing which distinguishes a con-

from any sort of being that


might be there with no one conscious of it, yet
scious content

this only

ground

of the distinction defies all

closer explanations.

The existence of conscious-

ness, although it is the

fundamental fact of

psychology, can indeed be laid


tain,

down

as cer-

can be brought out by analysis, but can


i

G. E. Moore: Mind,

vol.

xn, N.

S., [1903], p. 450.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


neither be defined nor deduced

but

itself/'

from anything

'Can be brought out by analysis/

this

author says. This supposes that the consciousness

is

one element, moment, factor

what you

call it

an experience of essentially
dualistic inner constitution, from which, if you
like

of

abstract the content, the consciousness will re-

main revealed to
this rate,

its

own

would be much

eye.
like

Experience, at

a paint of which

the world pictures were made. Paint has a dual


constitution, involving, as

struum

(oil, size

or

it

does, a

men-

what not) and a mass

of

content in the form of pigment suspended


therein.

We

letting the

can get the pure menstruum by

pigment

settle,

and the pure

ment by pouring off the size or oil.

pig*

We operate

by physical subtraction; and the usual


view is, that by mental subtraction we can
here

separate the
1
1

two

factors of experience in

an

Paul Natorp: Einleiiung in die Psychologic, 1888, pp. 14, 112.


"Figuratively speaking, consciousness may be said to be the one

universal solvent, or menstruum, in which the different concrete kinds


and facts are contained, whether in concealed or in

of psychic acts

obvious form." G. T. Ladd: Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory,


1894, p. 30.

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


analogous

not isolating them entirely,

way

but distinguishing them enough to know that


they are two.
II

Now my contention is exactly the reverse of


this.

Experience, I believe, has no such inner du-

plicity;

and

the separation of it into conscious-

ness and content comes, not by


but by

way

the addition, to a

of addition

given concrete piece of

it,

of other sets of expe-

riences, in connection with

use or function

may

way of subtraction,

which severally

its

be of two different kinds.

The paint will also serve here as an illustration.


In a pot in a paint-shop, along with other
paints,

it

serves in

its

entirety as so

much sale-

Spread on a canvas, with other

able matter.

paints around

it, it

represents, on the contrary,

a feature in a picture and performs a spiritual


function. Just so, I maintain, does a given un-

divided portion of experience, taken in one

context of associates, play the part of a knower,


of a state of

mind, of 'consciousness'; while in

a different context the same undivided bit of


experience plays the part of a thing known, of
9

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


*

an objective content/ In a word, in one group


it

figures as a thought, in another

thing.

And,

since

it

group as a

can figure in both groups

simultaneously we have every right to speak of


it

as subjective and objective both at once.

The dualism connoted by such


relled

terms as

phenomenon/

experience/

"datum/ 'Vorfindung

rate," tend

losophy at any

double-bar-

'

terms which, in phi-

more and more to re-

place the single-barrelled terms of "thought

and "thing*

that dualism, I say,

is still

pre-

served in this account, but reinterpreted, so


that, instead of being mysterious
it

and

^becomes verifiable and concrete. It

fair of relations, it falls outside,

single experience considered,

elusive,
is

an

af-

not inside, the

and can always

be particularized and defined.

The

way

entering wedge for this

more concrete

of understanding the dualism

ioned by Locke

was fash-

when he made the word

"idea"

stand indifferently for thing and thought, and

by Berkeley when he said that what common


sense means by realities is exactly what the
philosopher means by ideas.
10

Neither Locke

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


nor Berkeley thought his truth out into perfect

but

clearness,

tion I

am

it

me

seems to

defending does

little
'

sistently carry out the

which they were the


If the reader will

he

will see

what

that the concep-

first

more than con5

pragmatic method

to use.

take his

own

experiences,

mean. Let him begin with a

perceptual experience, the

presentation/ so

called, of a physical object, his actual field of

vision, the

room he

reading as

its

sits in,

centre;

and

with the book he


let

him

for the pre-

sent treat this complex object in the


sense

is

common-

way as being 'really' what it seems to be,

namely, a collection of physical things cut out

from an environing world of other physical


things with which these physical things have
actual or potential relations.

time

it is

Now at the same

just those self-same things

which his

mind, as we say, perceives; and the whole philosophy of perception from Democritus's time

downwards has been just one long wrangle over


the paradox that what

is

evidently one reality

should be in two places at once, both in outer


space and in a person's mind.
11

'Represent-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ative' theories of perception avoid the logical

paradox, but on the other hand they violate the


reader's sense of

life,

which knows no

inter-

vening mental image but seems to see the room

and the book immediately

just as they physi-

cally exist.

The puzzle of how the one identical room can


be in two places

is

how one identical


can,

if it

similarly,

bottom just the puzzle of


point can be on two lines. It
at

be situated at their intersection; and


if

the 'pure experience* of the room

were a place of intersection of two processes,

which connected

it

with different groups of as-

sociates respectively,

it

could be counted twice

over, as belonging to either group,

of loosely as existing in

would remain

all

two

and spoken

places, although

it

the time a numerically single

thing.

Well, the experience

is

member

processes that can be followed

along entirely different


identical thing has so

many

away from it
The one self-

relations to the

you can take it in disassociation, and treat it as

rest of experience that

parate systems of

lines.

of diverse

12

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


1
belonging with opposite contexts. In one of

these contexts

it is

ness'; in another

and

sit/

it

ness, giving
itself

your
'the

it is

'field of

room

in

conscious-

which you

enters both contexts in its whole-

no pretext

to consciousness

for being said to attach

by one

of its parts or

aspects,

and to outer reality by another. What

are the

two processes, now, into which the

room-experience simultaneously enters in this

way?
One

of

them

is

the reader's personal biothe history of the house of

graphy, the other

is

which the room

part.

is

The

presentation, the

experience, the that in short (for until

decided what
last

term

decisions,

it is it

must be a mere

that) is the

of a train of sensations, emotions,

movements,

classifications, expect-

ations, etc., ending in the present,

term of a

we have

and the first

series of similar 'inner' operations

extending into the future, on the reader's


part.

On

the other hand, the very same that

the terminus ad quern of a lot of previous

is

[For a parallel statement of this view, cf the author's Meaning of

Truth, p. 49, note.

Cf. also below, pp. 196-197. ED.]

13

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


physical operations, carpentering,
furnishing, warming, etc.,

papering,

and the terminus a

quo of a lot of future ones, in which

it will

be

concerned when undergoing the destiny of a

The

physical room.

physical and the mental

operations form curiously incompatible groups.

As a room, the

experience has occupied that

spot and had

that environment for thirty

years.

As your

field of

consciousness

it

may

never have existed until now. As a room, attention will go on to discover endless

As your mental

tails in it.

new ones

will

As a room,

state merely, few

emerge under attention's eye,


take an earthquake, or a

it will

any case a certain amount


time, to destroy it. As your subjective

gang
of

new de-

of

men, and

in

state, the closing of

your eyes, or any instan-

taneous play of your fancy


real world, fire will

will suffice.

consume

it.

In the

In your mind,

you can let fire play over it without effect. As


an outer object, you must pay so much a

month to

inhabit

it.

As an

inner content,

you

may occupy it for any length of time rent-free.


If,

in short,

you follow it
14

in the

mental direc-

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


with events of personal

tion, taking it along

biography
of

which are

it

true

solely, all sorts of things are true

if

follow

you
it

false,

treat

it

and

false of it

which are

as a real thing experienced,

and

in the physical direction,

relate it

to associates in the outer world.

Ill

So
will

far, all

seems plain

probably grow

when

I pass

sailing,

but

less plausible to

my thesis
the reader

from percepts to concepts, or from

the case of things presented to that of things


remote. I believe, nevertheless, that here also

the same law holds good. If

we take concept-

ual manifolds, or memories, or fancies, they


also are in their first intention

mere

bits of

pure experience, and, as such, are single thats

which act in one context as objects, and in another context figure as mental states. By taking

them

in their first intention, I

mean ignor-

ing their relation to possible perceptual experiences with which they

which they

may

which then they

lead to

may

may be

connected,

and terminate

in,

and

be supposed to 'repre15

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


sent/ Taking

them

in this

way

first,

we

con-

problem to a world merely thoughtof and not directly felt or seen. 1 This world,
fine the
'

just like the world of percepts,


first

comes to us at

as a chaos of experiences, but lines of order

soon get traced.

which we

may

We

find that

any

bit of it

cut out as an example

is

con-

nected with distinct groups of associates, just


as our perceptual experiences are, that these
associates link themselves with
relations,

it

by

different

and that one forms the inner history

of a person, while the other acts as

an imper-

sonal "objective world, either spatial and temporal, or else merely logical or mathematical,

or otherwise 'ideal.

The first obstacle on the part of the reader to


seeing that these non-perceptual experiences
1

[For the author's recognition of "concepts as a co-ordinate


his Meaning of Truth, pp. 42, 195, note; A Plural'

realm" of reality, cf.

Universe, pp. 339-340; Some Problems of Philosophy, pp. 50-57,


67-70; and below, p. 16, note. Giving this view the name 'logical

istic

realism/ he remarks elsewhere that his philosophy "may be regarded


as somewhat eccentric in its attempt to combine logical realism with

an otherwise empiricist mode


phy, p. 106).

of

thought" (Some Problems of Philoso-

ED.]

Here as elsewhere the relations are of course experienced relamembers of the same originally chaotic manifold of nonperceptual experience of which the related terms themselves are
tions,

parts. [Cf. below, p. 42.]

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


have objectivity as well as subjectivity will
probably be due to the intrusion into his mind
of percepts, that third group of associates with

which the non-perceptual experiences have


lations, and which, as a whole,

standing to

them

re-

they represent/

as thoughts to things. This

important function of the non-perceptual experiences complicates the question


it;

for, so

used are

we

and confuses

to treat percepts as

we keep

the sole genuine realities that, unless

them out

of the discussion,

we tend

to overlook the objectivity that

altogether

lies

in non-

perceptual experiences by themselves.

We

treat them, "knowing" percepts as they do, as

through and through subjective, and say that


they are wholly constituted of the
consciousness, using this term

now

of entity, after the fashion which I

to refute.

stuff called

for a kind

am

seeking

Abstracting, then, from percepts altogether,

what I maintain

is,

that any single non-per-

1
Of the representative function of non-perceptual experience as a
whole, I will say a word in a subsequent article: it leads too far into the
general theory of knowledge for much to be said about it in a short

paper

like this.

[Cf below, pp. 52


.

ff.]

17

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ceptual experience tends to get counted twice
over, just as a perceptual experience does, figur-

ing in one context as an object or field of objects, in

another as a state of mind: and

all this

without the least internal self-diremptionon

own part
all

into consciousness

and content.

its

It

is

consciousness in one taking; and, in the

other,

all

content.

I find this objectivity of non-perceptual experiences, this complete parallelism in point of

between the presently

reality

felt

and the

re-

motely thought, so well set forth in a page of


Miinsterberg's Grundzuge, that I will quote
as

it

it

stands.

"I may only think

my objects/' says Professor Miinsterberg; "y e*> in my living thought


me

they stand before


jects

ways

of

exactly as perceived ob-

would do, no matter how different the two


of apprehending

genesis

them may be

in their

The book here lying on the table before

me, and the book

in the next

think and which I

mean

same sense given

room

of

which I

to get, are both in the

realities

for

me,

realities

which I acknowledge and of which I take ac18

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


you agree that the perceptual object
not an idea within me, but that percept and

count. If
is

thing, as indistinguishably one, are really expe-

rienced there, outside,

you ought not to believe

that the merely thought-of object


inside of the thinking subject.

is

hid

The

away

object of

which I think, and of whose existence I take


cognizance without letting

my

it

now work upon

senses, occupies its definite place in the

outer world as

much as does the object which I

directly see."

"What

is

true of the here and the there,

is

know

of

also true of the

now and

the thing which

is

know

the then. I

present and perceived, but I

also of the thing

which yesterday was

no more, and which I only remember.


Both can determine my present conduct, both
but

is

are parts of the reality of which I keep account^


It

is

true that of

tain, just as I
is

present

if it

much

am

of the past I

uncertain of

am

uncer-

much of what

be but dimly perceived. But the

interval of time does not in principle alter

my

relation to the object, does not transform

from an object known into a mental state.


19

it
.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


The

things in the

room here which

I survey,

and those in my distant home of which

I think,

the things of this minute and those of my long-

vanished boyhood,' influence and decide

alike,

with a reality which

them

directly feels.

real world,

have

first

my

me

experience of

They both make up my


they make it directly, they do not

to be introduced to

ated by ideas which


within me.

me and

now and

medi-

here arise

This not-me character of

and expectations does not


imply that the external objects of which I am

my

recollections

aware in those experiences should necessarily


be there also for others. The objects of dreamers

and hallucinated persons are wholly with-

out general validity. But even were they centaurs and golden mountains, they

be

still

would
5

'off

there/ in fairy land, and not 'inside of

ourselves.

5'

This certainly
naif, or practical

world.

Were

serve as
1

its

is

the immediate, primary,

way

of taking our thought-of

there no perceptual world to

'reductive/ in Taine's sense,

Mtinsterberg: Qrundx&ge der Psychologic, vol.

20

i,

p. 48.

by

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


'

being

stronger

(so that the

'

and more genuinely

outer

'

whole merely thought-of world

seems weak and inner in comparison), our


world of thought would be the only world, and

would enjoy complete

reality in our belief*

This actually happens in our dreams, and in


our day-dreams so long as percepts do not
interrupt them.

And yet, just as the seen room


our late example)

is

also

(to

go back to

field of

conscious-

ness, so the conceived or recollected


also a state of

room

is

mind; and the doubling-up of the

experience has in both cases similar grounds.

The room

thought-of, namely, has

thought-of couplings with


things.

many

Some of these couplings

many

thought-of

are inconstant,

others are stable. In the reader's personal his-

tory the
it

room occupies a

single date

he saw

only once perhaps, a year ago. Of the house's

history,

on the other hand,

it

forms a perma-

nent ingredient. Some couplings have the curious stubbornness, to borrow Royce's term, of
fact; others

show the fluidity of fancy

them come and go

as

we let

we please. Grouped with

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the rest of

its

house, with the name of

its

town,

of its owner, builder, value, decorative plan,

the room maintains a definite foothold, to

which,

if

we try to loosen

it, it

tends to return,

1
reassert itself with force.

and to

associates, in a word,

it

With

these

coheres, while to other

houses, other towns, other owners, etc., it shows

no tendency to cohere at

all.

The two

collec-

tions, first of its cohesive, and, second, of its

loose associates, inevitably


trasted.

come

to be con-

We call the first collection the system

of external realities, in the midst of

room, as 'real/

exists; the other

which the

we

the

call

stream of our internal thinking, in which, as a


'mental image/

it

for a

moment

floats.

The

room thus again gets counted twice over. It


plays two different rdles, being Gedanke and
Gedachtes, the thought-of-an-object,

object-thought-of, both in one;

and

and the
all this

without paradox or mystery, just as the same


1

Cf. A. L.

For

Hodder: The Adversaries of

simplicity's sake I confine

the Sceptic, pp. 94-99.

my exposition to 'external* reality.

But there is also the system of ideal reality in which the room plays its
part. Relations of comparison, of classification, serial order, value,
also are stubborn, assign a definite place to the room, unlike the incoherence of
[Cf.

its

places in the

mere rhapsody

above, p. 16.]

22

of our successive thoughts.

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


material thing

may

be both low and high, or

small and great, or bad and good, because of

its

an environing

relations to opposite parts of

world.

As

'subjective'

represents; as

we say that the

experience

objective

is

it

represented.

What represents and what is represented is here


numerically the same; but

we must remember

that no dualism of being represented and representing resides in the experience per
its

pure state, or when isolated, there

splitting of it into consciousness

consciousness

is 'of.'

is

se.

no

In

self-

and what the

Its subjectivity

and ob-

jectivity are functional attributes solely, real-

ized only

when the experience

is

'taken/

talked-of , twice, considered along with


differing contexts respectively,

i. e. 9

two

its

by a new retro-

spective experience, of which that whole past

complication

now forms

the fresh content.

The instant field of the present is at all times


what

I call the 'pure' experience.

It

is

only

virtually or potentially either object or subject

as yet.

For the time being, it

fied actuality, or existence,

23

is

plain, unquali-

a simple that. In this

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


naif immediacy

we act upon

it is

of course valid; it

is there,

and the doubling of it in retrospection into a state of mind and a reality init;

tended thereby,
*

state of

mind/

is

just one of the acts.

first

The

treated explicitly as such

in retrospection, will stand corrected or con-

firmed, and the retrospective experience in its

turn

will get

a similar treatment; but the im-

mediate experience in
'

truth/
its

its

always

practical truth, something to act on, at

own movement.

If the

world were then and

there to go out like a candle,

it

would remain

truth absolute and objective, for


'the last

is

passing

word/ would have no

it

critic,

one would ever oppose the thought


reality intended.

I think I

would be

in

and no

it

to the

may now

claim to have

Note the ambiguity of this term, which


objectively and sometimes subjectively.
1

is

made my

taken sometimes

a
In the Psychological Review for July [1904], Dr. R. B. Perry has
published a view of Consciousness which comes nearer to mine than
any other with which I am acquainted. At present, Dr. Perry thinks,

field of experience is so much 'fact/ It becomes 'opinion* or


'thought* only in retrospection, when a fresh experience, thinking the
same object, alters and corrects it. But the corrective experience

every

becomes itself in turn corrected, and thus experience as a whole is a


process in which what is objective originally forever turns subjective,
turns into our apprehension of the object. I strongly recommend
Dr. Perry's admirable article to my readers.

24

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


thesis clear. Consciousness connotes a kind of

external relation, and does not denote a special


stuff or

way of being. The peculiarity of our ex-

periences, that they not only are, but are

which

their

'conscious

known,

quality is invoked to

explain, is better explained by their relations


these relations themselves being experiences

to

one another.

IV

Were I now

to go on to treat of the

knowing

of perceptual

by conceptual experiences, it
would again prove to be an affair of external
relations. One experience would be the knower,
the other the

reality

known; and

I could

perfectly well define, without the notion of


(

consciousness/ what the knowing actually

and

practically^amounts to

leading-towards,

namely, and terminating-in percepts, through


a series of transitional experiences which the
world supplies.

But

I will not treat of this,

1
space being insufficient. I will rather consider
1

have given a partial account of the matter in Mind,

vol. x, p. 27,

1885 [reprinted in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 1-42], and in the


Psychological Review, vol. n, p. 105, 1895 [partly reprinted in The
Meaning of Truth, pp. 43-50], See also C. A. Strong's article in the

25

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


a few objections that are sure to be urged
against the entire theory as

First of

has not
partly

all,

'

this will

conscious

made

it

stands.

be asked "If experience


:

'

existence,

it

if

be not

what then

of 'consciousness/ of

made? Matter we know, and thought we


know, and conscious content we know, but
is it

neutral and simple 'pure experience"

thing

we know not

of

for it

must

willing to give it

Say what

is

some-

it

consists

consist of something

or be

at

all.

up!"

To this challenge the reply is easy. Although


for fluency's sake I myself spoke early in this
article of

a stuff of pure experience, I have

to say that there

perience at large

is

is

no general stuff of which ex-

made. There are as many

stuffs as there are natures' in

rienced.

If

experience

the things expe-

you ask what any one

is

made

now

of,

the answer

is

bit of

pure

always the

Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methodst vol. i, p.


253, May 12, 1904. I hope myself very soon to recur to the matter.
[See below, pp. 52 ff.)

26

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


same: "It

made of that, of just what appears,

is

of space, of intensity, of flatness, brownness,

heaviness, or

what not." Shadworth Hodg-

son's analysis here leaves nothing to be desired.

Experience

only a collective

is

for all these sensible natures,

name

and save for time


5

and space (and, if you like, for "being ) there


appears no universal element of which all
things are made.

VI

The next
fact

it

more formidable, in
sounds quite crushing when one hears
objection

is

it first.

"If

it

be the

self -same

piece of pure ex-

perience, taken twice over, that serves

now

as

so the objecnow as thing"


"how comes it that its attributes

thought and
tion runs

should differ so fundamentally in the two takings.

As

thing, the experience

thought,
thing, it

is

it

is

extended; as

occupies no space or place.

red, hard, heavy;

but who ever heard

[Cf. Shadworth Hodgson: The Metaphysic of Experience,


passim ; The Philosophy of Reflection, bk. n, ch. iv, 3. ED.]
1

27

As

vol.

i.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


of a red,

hard or heavy thought

Yet even

an experience is made of
just what appears, and what appears is just
such adjectives. How can the one experience

now you

said that

in its thing-function

of them, carry

be made of them, consist

them as its own attributes, while

them and

in its thought-function it disowns

attributes

them elsewhere. There

is

a self-con-

tradiction here from which the radical dualism


of thought

and thing

save us. Only

if

is

the only truth that can

the thought

one kind of

is

being can the adjectives exist in

it

'intention-

ally' (to use the scholastic term); only

thing

is

another kind, can they exist in

and

stitutively
ject

energetically.

No

if

it

the

con-

simple sub-

can take the same adjectives and at one

time be qualified by
'

merely *of

it,

it,

and at another time be

as of something only

meant or

known."

The solution insisted on by this objector, like

many
the

other common-sense solutions, grows

less satisfactory

one's mind.

To

the more one turns

it

in

begin with, are thought and

thing as heterogeneous as
28

is

commonly

said

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


No one denies that they have some categories
in

common. Their

tical.

relations to time are iden-

Both, moreover,

may have

parts (for

psychologists in general treat thoughts as hav-

ing them) and both


;

may be complex or simple.

Both are of kinds, can be compared, added and


subtracted and arranged in serial orders. All
sorts of adjectives qualify our thoughts

which

appear incompatible with consciousness, being


as such a bare diaphaneity.

are natural
beautiful,

and easy, or

laborious.

They

are

happy, intense, interesting, wise,

focal,

idiotic,

For instance, they

marginal,

insipid,

confused,

vague, precise, rational, casual, general, par-

and many things besides. Moreover,


the chapters on Perception' in the psychoticular,

logy-books are

'

if

that

make

for the

homogeneity of thought with thing.

essential

How,

full of facts

subject

and

'object' were separated

by the whole diameter

attributes in

of being/

common, could

it

and had no

be so hard to

and recognized material


object, what part comes in through the senseorgans and what part comes 'out of one's own
tell,

in a presented

29

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


head '? Sensations and apperceptive ideas fuse
here so intimately that you can no more

tell

where one begins and the other ends, than you


can

tell,

in those

cunning circular panoramas

that have lately been exhibited, where the real

foreground and the painted canvas join to1

gether.

Descartes for the

time defined thought

first

as the absolutely unextended,

and

later philo-

sophers have accepted the description as correct.

But what

that,

when we think

possible

yard, extension

meaning has

it

to say

of a foot-rule or a square

not attributable to our

is

thought? Of every extended object the adequate mental picture


sion of the object

must have

itself.

The

all

the exten-

difference be-

tween objective and subjective extension

is

one of relation to a context solely. In the mind


the various extents maintain no necessarily

stubborn order relatively to each other, while


1

Spencer's proof of his Transfigured Realism' (his doctrine that


there is an absolutely non-mental reality) comes to mind as a splendid
instance of the impossibility of establishing radical heterogeneity

between thought and thing. All his painfully accumulated points of


difference run gradually into their opposites, and are full of exceptions. [Cf, Spencer: Principles of Psychology, part vn, ch. xix.]

SO

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


bound each other

in the physical world they

added together, make the great

stably, and,

enveloping Unit which


real Space.

we

and

believe in

call

As 'outer/ they carry themselves

adversely, so to speak, to one another, exclude

one another and maintain their distances;


while, as 'inner/ their order

is

loose,

and they

form a durcheinander in which unity

But

is lost.

to argue from this that inner experience

absolutely inextensive seems to


of absurd.

The two worlds

me little

differ,

is

short

not by the

presence or absence of extension, but by the


relations

the extensions which in bothfs

of

worlds exist.

Does not

this case of extension

on the track

now put us

of truth in the case of other quali-

and I am surprised that the facts


should not have been noticed long ago. Why,
ties? It does;

for example,

do we

call

fire

hot,

and water

wet, and yet refuse to say that our mental


state,

when it is 'of

'

these objects,

or hot? 'Intentionally/ at
1

when

it

Of course the mind's

seeks to copy real things in real space.

31

either

wet

any rate, and when

I speak here of the complete inner life in

freely with its materials.

is

which the mind plays


free play is restricted

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the mental state

wetness are in

it

a vivid image, hotness and

is

much as they are in the


The reason is this, that,

just as

physical experience.

as the general chaos of

we

sifted,

will

our experiences gets

find that there are

some

always burn sticks and always

bodies,
will

all

that

warm

our

and that there are some waters that

always put out

fires

fires

fires;

and waters that

while there are other

will

not act at

all.

The

general group of experiences that act , that do

not only possess their natures intrinsically, but

wear them adjectively and energetically, turning them against one another, comes inevitably
to be contrasted with the group whose

having identically the same natures,

bers,

to manifest

make
fire;

mem-

them

for myself

I place

it

in the

now an

near

my

warm me in the least.

energetic' way.

fail
1

experience of blazing

body; but

I lay a stick

it

does not

upon it, and

the stick either burns or remains green, as I

up water, and pour it on the fire,


and absolutely no difference ensues. I account

please. I call

1
[But there are also "mental activity trains," in which thoughts
do "work on each other." Cf. below, p. 184, note. ED.]

32

DOES CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


for all such facts

by

whole train

calling this

Mental

of experiences unreal, a mental train.


fire is

ter
it

is

what won't burn

what won't

real sticks;

necessarily (though of course

may) put out even a mental

knives

may

mental wa-

Mental

fire.

be sharp, but they won't cut real

wood. Mental triangles are pointed, but their

With

points won't wound.

'real' objects,

on

the contrary, consequences always accrue; and

thus the real experiences get sifted from the

mental ones, the things from our thoughts of

them, fanciful or true, and precipitated together as the stable part of the whole experi-

name

ence-chaos, under the

of the physical

world. Of this our perceptual experiences are

the nucleus, they being the originally strong


experiences.

We

add a

lot of conceptual expe-

making these strong also in


imagination, and building out the remoter
riences to them,

parts of the physical world

and around

their

means;

this core of reality the

of laxly connected fancies


dical

by

objects floats like

In the clouds,

all sorts

33

world

and mere rhapsoa bank of clouds.

of rules are violated

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


which in the core are kept. Extensions there
can be indefinitely located; motion there obeys

no Newton's

laws.

VII

There

is

a peculiar class of experiences to

which, whether
as objective,

we take them

we assign

attributes, because in

their several natures as

both contexts they affect

their associates actively,

quite as

'

'

strongly

as subjective or

though in neither

or as sharply as things af-

one another by their physical energies. I


refer here to appreciations, which form an am-

fect

biguous sphere of being, belonging with emotion

on the one hand, and having objective Value*


on the other, yet seeming not quite inner nor
a diremption had begun but

quite outer, as

if

had not made

itself

complete.

Experiences of painful objects, for example,


are usually also painful experiences; perceptions of loveliness, of ugliness, tend to pass

muster as lovely or as ugly perceptions;

intui-

tions of the morally lofty are lofty intuitions.


1

[This topic

is

resumed below, pp. 137 ff. ED.]

34

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?


Sometimes the adjective wanders as if uncertain where to fix itself. Shall we speak of
seductive visions or of visions of seductive
things?

Of wicked

desires or of desires for

wickedness ?, Of healthy thoughts or of thoughts

Of good impulses, or of
impulses towards the good? Of feelings of
anger, or of angry feelings? Both in the mind
of healthy objects?

and

in the thing, these natures

modify their
context, exclude certain associates and deter-

have

mates and incompati-

mine

others,

bles.

Yet not as stubbornly as

their

in the case of

physical qualities, for beauty and ugliness,


love and hatred, pleasant and painful can, in
certain complex experiences, coexist.
If

one were to make an evolutionary con-

struction of

how a lot of originally chaotic pure

became gradually differentiated


an orderly inner and outer world, the

experiences
into

whole theory would turn upon one's success in


explaining
rience,

how

or

why

the quality of an expe-

once active, could become

less so,

from being an energetic attribute

in

and,

some

cases, elsewhere lapse into the status of

35

an

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


inert or

merely internal 'nature/ This would

be the 'evolution' of the psychical from the

bosom

of the physical, in

which the

esthetic,

moral and otherwise emotional experiences

would represent a halfway stage.


VIII

But a last cry


go up from

of

non possumus will probably

many readers.

"All very pretty as

a piece of ingenuity/ they


consciousness

We,

will say,

contradicts you.

itself intuitively

for our part,

"but our

know that we are conscious.

"We feel our thought, flowing as a

life

within us,

in absolute contrast with the objects which

so unremittingly escorts.
less to this
is

immediate

We can not be faith-

intuition.

a fundamental datum: Let no

God has put asunder/

My

reply to this

terialistic.
I, too,

my

man join what

last

many it

word, and I

will

sound ma-

I can not help that, however, for

have

my

intuitions

them. Let the case be what

am

The dualism

is

greatly grieve that to

it

as confident as I

am
36

and I must obey


it

may in others,

of anything that, in

DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST?


1

myself, the stream of thinking (which I recognize emphatically as a


careless

name

phenomenon)

for what,

when

is

only a

scrutinized, re-

veals itself to consist chiefly of the stream of

my breathing. The

'I think'

which Kant said

must be able to accompany all my objects, is


the *I breathe' which actually does accomThere are other internal facts

pany them.

besides breathing (intracephalic muscular ad-

justments,

etc., of

which I have said a word in

my larger Psychology), and


assets of

these increase the

consciousness/ so far as the latter

subject to immediate perception;

which was ever the original of

moving outwards, between the


nostrils, is, I

am persuaded,

'

is

but breath,

spirit/ breath

glottis

and the

the essence out of

which philosophers have constructed the entity

known

to

them

as consciousness.

That

entity is fictitious, while thoughts in the concrete

But thoughts in the concrete are


same stuff as things are.

are fully real.

made

of the

I wish I might believe myself to


1

[Principles of Psychology, vol.

i,

171 (note).]

37

have made

pp. 299-305. Cf. below, pp. 160-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


that plausible in this article. In another article
I shall try to

make

the general notion of a

world composed of pure experiences


clear.

still

more

II

WORLD OP PURE EXPERI-

ENCE
IT is

difficult

not to notice a curious unrest in

the philosophic atmosphere of the time, a


loosening of old landmarks, a softening of oppositions, a

mutual borrowing from one an-

other on the part of systems anciently closed,

and an

interest in

vague, as

if

new

suggestions, however

the one thing sure were the inade-

quacy of the extant school-solutions. The dissatisfaction with these seems due for the most
part to a feeling that they are too abstract and

academic. Life is confused and superabundant,


and what the younger generation appears to
crave

is

more

of the

temperament

philosophy, even though


of logical rigor

and

it

of life in its

were at some cost

of formal purity.

Tran-

[Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and ScienMethods, vol. i, 1904, No. 20, September 29, and No. 21, October
13. Pp. 5276 have also been reprinted, with some omissions, alter-

tific

alterations

additions, in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 102-120. The


have been adopted in the present text. This essay is g~

fenced to in

A Pluralistic Universe, p.

ations

and

89

280, note 5.

ED.]

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


scendental idealism

is

inclining to let the world

wag incomprehensibly, in

spite of its Absolute

Subject and his unity of purpose. Berkeleyan


is

abandoning the principle of parsi-

mony and

dabbling in panpsychic specula-

idealism

tions.

Empiricism

strangest of

flirts

natural realism, so long de-

all,

cently buried, raises

and

finds glad

with teleology; and,

its

head above the turf,

hands outstretched from the

most unlikely quarters to help


again.
ings, I

We

are

all

know, and

biased

it

to

its feet

by our personal

feel-

am personally discontented

with extant solutions; so I seem to read the


signs of a great unsettlement, as

if

the up-

heaval of more real conceptions and more fruitful

methods were imminent, as

scape might result,

and
If

less clipped,

if

a true land-

straight-edged

artificial.

philosophy be really on the eve of any con-

siderable rearrangement, the time should be

any one who has suggestions of


his own to bring forward. For many years past

propitious for

my mind

has been growing into a certain type

of Weltanschauung. Rightly or wrongly, I


40

have

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


got to the point where I can hardly see things
in

any other pattern. I propose,

therefore, to

describe the pattern as clearly as I can consistently with great brevity,

and to throw

my

description into the bubbling vat of publicity

where, jostled by rivals and torn by


will eventually either

or else,

if

disappear from notice,

better luck befall

to the profundities,

critics, it

it,

quietly subside

and serve as a possible

ferment of new growths or a nucleus of new


crystallization.

I.

I give the

my

RADICAL EMPIRICISM

name

of

'

radical empiricism' to

Weltanschauung. Empiricism

is

known

as

the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends


to emphasize universals

and to make wholes

prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in

that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary,

upon the part, the


and treats the whole

lays the explanatory stress

element, the individual,


as a collection
tion.

My

and the universal as an abstrac-

description of things, accordingly,

starts with the parts

and makes
41

of the

whole

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


a being of the second order. It

is

essentially

a mosaic philosophy, a philosophy of plural


facts, like that of

who refer

Hume

and

his descendants,

these facts neither to Substances in

which they inhere nor to an Absolute Mind


that creates them as

its objects.

But

it differs

from the Humian type of empiricism in one


particular which makes me add the epithet
radical.

To

be radical, an empiricism must neither

admit into
is

its

constructions any element that

not directly experienced, nor exclude from

them any element that

is

directly experienced.

For such a philosophy, the relations that connect


experiences must themselves be experienced relations,

and any kind of relation experienced must

be accounted as 'real* as anything else in the

system. Elements

may indeed be redistributed,

the original placing of things getting corrected,

but a real place must be found for every kind


of thing experienced, whether

term or

relation,

in the final philosophic arrangement.

Now, ordinary

empiricism, in spite of the

fact that conjunctive

and disjunctive
42

relations

WORLD OP PURE EXPERIENCE


present themselves as being fully co-ordinate
parts of experience, has always

shown a ten-

dency to do away with the connections of


things, and to insist most on the disjunctions.
Berkeley's nominalism,

Hume's statement that

whatever things we distinguish are as

loose

'

and separate as if they had 'no manner of connection/ James Mill's denial that similars have
*

anything

really* in

common, the

resolution

of the causal tie into habitual sequence,

John

Mill's account of both physical things

and

selves as
ties,

composed

of discontinuous possibili-

and the general

perience

by

*p u l ve ri za tion of all

association

theory, are examples of

The

Ex-

and the mind-dust

what

mean. 1

natural result of such a world-picture

has been the efforts of rationalism to correct


incoherences by the addition of trans-

its

experiential agents of unification, substances,

and powers, or Selves;

intellectual categories
1

[Cf. Berkeley: Principles of

Hume: An Enquiry
part

ii

Concerning

Human
Human

(Selby-Bigge's edition, p. 74);

Phenomena of the Human Mind,ch. vm;


and Essays, pp. 274

ff.]

43

Understanding, sect, vii,

James Mill: Analysis of


J. S. Mill:

Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, ch. xi,


ture*

Knowledge, Introduction;
the

An Examination of

xn; W. K.

Clifford: Lec-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


whereas,

if

empiricism had only been radical

and taken everything that comes without

dis-

favor, conjunction as well as separation, each

at

its

for

face value, the results

no such

would have

artificial correction.

piricism, as I understand

it,

called

Radical em-

does full justice to

conjunctive relations, without, however, treat-

ing

them

as rationalism always tends to treat

them, as being true in some supernal way, as

if

the unity of things and their variety belonged


to different orders of truth

and

vitality alto-

gether,
II.

CONJUNCTIVE RELATIONS

Relations are of different degrees of inti-

macy. Merely to be 'with* one another in a


universe of discourse is the most external relation that terms can have,

and seems to involve

nothing whatever as to farther consequences.


Simultaneity and time-interval come next, and

then space-adjacency and

distance.

After

them, similarity and difference, carrying the


possibility of

many inferences. Then relations

of activity, tying terms into series involving


44

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


change, tendency, resistance, and the causal
order generally.

Finally, the relation experi-

enced between terms that form states of mind,

and are immediately conscious

of continuing

each other. The organization of the Self as a

system of memories, purposes, strivings,


filments or disappointments,
this

most intimate of

which seem

of

in

is

incidental to

all relations,

many

ful-

the terms

cases actually to corn-

1
penetrate and suffuse each other's being.

Philosophy has always turned on grammatical

particles.

With, near, next,

towards, against, because,

for,

like,

through,

from,

my

these words designate types of conjunctive


relation arranged in a roughly ascending order
of intimacy and inclusiveness.

A priori, we can

imagine a universe of withness but no nextness;


or one of nextness but no likeness, or of likeness

with no activity, or of activity with no purpose, or of purpose with

be universes, each with

no ego. These would

its

own grade of

unity.

The universe of human experience is, by one or


another of its parts, of each and all these grades.
*

[See

"The Experience

of Activity," below, pp. 155-189.]

45

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


Whether or not

it

possibly enjoys

more absolute grade

some

of union does not appear

upon the surface.


Taken as it does appear, our universe
large extent chaotic.

fail

it.

If

is

to a

No one single type of con-

nection runs through

compose

still

all

we take

the experiences that


space-relations, they

to connect minds into

any regular system.

Causes and purposes obtain only among spe-

The

self-relation

seems

extremely limited and does not link two

differ-

cial series of facts.

ent selves together. Prima facie,


liken the universe of

you should
absolute idealism to an
if

aquarium, a crystal globe in which goldfish

you would have to compare the


universe to something more like one

are swimming,
empiricist

human heads with which the


Borneo deck their lodges. The skull

of those dried

Dyaks

of

forms a solid nucleus; but innumerable feathers, leaves, strings,

dices of

beads, and loose appen-

every description float and dangle

from it, and, save that they terminate in it, seem


to have nothing to do with one another.
so

my experiences and yours float and


46

Even

dangle,

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


it is

terminating,

true, in a nucleus of

common

perception, but for the most part out of sight

and irrelevant and unimaginable to one another.

This imperfect intimacy, this bare re-

lation of withness

sum

between some parts of the

total of experience

and other

parts,

is

the

fact that ordinary empiricism over-emphasizes

against rationalism, the latter always tending

to ignore

it

Radical empiricism, on

unduly.

the contrary,

is fair

disconnection.

to both the unity

It finds

no reason

and the

for treating

either as illusory. It allots to each its definite

sphere of description, and agrees that there

appear to be actual forces at work which tend,


as time goes on, to

make the unity

The conjunctive

greater.

relation that has

given

most trouble to philosophy is the co-conscious


transition, so to call it, by which one experience
passes into another

when both belong

About the

to the

no ques-

same

self.

tion.

My experiences and your experiences are

facts there

is

'with' each other in various external ways, but

mine pass into mine, and yours pass into yours


in a way in which yours and mine never pass
47

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


into one another. Within each of our personal
histories, subject, object, interest

are continuous or

may

and purpose

be continuous. 1 Personal

histories are processes of

change in time, and

the change itself is one of the things immediately


5

'

in this case

Change

experienced.

means con-

tinuous as opposed to discontinuous transition.

But continuous

transition

is

one sort of a

conjunctive relation; and to be a radical empiricist

means to hold

fast to this conjunctive

relation of all others, for this

is

the strategic

point, the position through which,

made,

all

if

a hole be

the corruptions of dialectics and

all

the metaphysical fictions pour into our philosophy.

The holding fast to this relation means

taking it at its face value, neither less nor more;

and to take
all

to take

it

it

at

its

just as

face value

we

feel it,

means

first

of

and not to con-

fuse ourselves with abstract talk about

it,

in-

volving words that drive us to invent second-

ary conceptions in order to neutralize their


1
The psychology books have of late described the facts here with
approximate adequacy. I may refer to the chapters on The Stream of
Thought* and on the Self in my own Principles of Psychology, as well
as to S. H. Hodgson's Metaphysic of Experience, vol. i, ch. vn and Tin.
'

48

WORLD OP PURE EXPERIENCE


suggestions and to

make our

actual experience

again seem rationally possible.

What
of

do

feel

simply when a later

moment

my experience succeeds an earlier one is that

though they are two moments, the transition


from the one to the other is continuous. Continuity here

is

a definite sort of experience; just

as definite as

which I find

it

is

the discontinuity -experience

impossible to avoid

when

I seek

make

the transition from an experience of

my own

to one of yours. In this latter case I

to

have to get on and

off again, to

pass from a

thing lived to another thing only conceived,

and the break


noted.

is

Though the

functions exerted

by

experience and by yours may be the same

the same objects

and

positively experienced

my

(e. g.,

known and the same purposes

followed), yet the sameness has in this case to

be ascertained expressly (and often with

diffi-

culty and uncertainty) after the break has been


felt;

whereas in passing from one of

my own

moments to another the sameness of object and


interest

is

unbroken, and both the earlier and

the later experience are of things directly lived.


49

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


There

no other nature, no other whatness

is

than this absence of break and this sense of


continuity in that most intimate of all conjunctive relations, the passing of one experience

into another

And

this

when they belong to the same self.

whatness

is

real empirical 'content/

just as the whatness of separation


is

tinuity

and discon-

real content in the contrasted case.

Practically to experience one's personal contin-

uum in this

living

way

is

to

of the ideas of continuity

know what

know the

and

originals

of sameness, to

the words stand for concretely, to

own all that they can ever mean. But all experiences

have their conditions; and over-subtle

intellects,

asking

thinking about the facts here, and

how they

are possible, have ended

by

substituting a lot of static objects of con-

ception for the direct perceptual experiences.


5
"
Sameness/ they have said, "must be a stark

numerical identity;

it

can't run on from next to

next. Continuity can't

gap; for

if

you say two things are

contact, at the contact


If,

mean mere absence


in

of

immediate

how can they be two?

on the other hand, you put a relation of


50

WORLD OP PURE EXPERIENCE


transition
thing,

a third

itself is

and needs to be related or hitched to

An

terms.

The

on.

between them, that

and so

infinite series is involved/'

result

is

its

that from difficulty to

diffi-

culty, the plain conjunctive experience has

been discredited by both schools, the empiri-

permanently disjoined, and

cists leaving things

the rationalist remedying the looseness by their

Absolutes or Substances, or whatever other

union they

titious agencies of

ployed.

From

which

all

may have em-

artificiality

we can

be saved by a couple of simple reflections

first,

that conjunctions and separations are, at


events, co-ordinate

take experiences at

accounted equally
insist

fic-

all

phenomena which, if we
their face value, must be

real;

and second, that

on treating things as

if

we

really separate

when they are given as continuously joined,


ijivoking, when union is required, transcendental principles to overcome the separateness

we have assumed, then we ought


ready to perform the converse act.

to stand

We

ought

to invoke higher principles of disunion, also, to


i

[See

"The Thing and

its

Relations," below, pp. Qfc-122.]

51

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


make our merely experienced disjunctions more
Failing thus, we ought to let the
truly real.
originally given continuities stand

on their own

We have no right to be lopsided or to

bottom.

blow capriciously hot and


III.

cold.

THE COGNITIVE RELATION

The first great pitfall from which such a radical standing


artificial

by experience

will

save us

is

an

conception of the relations between

knower and known. Throughout the history of


philosophy the subject and

its

object have been

treated as absolutely discontinuous entities;

and thereupon the presence of the

latter to the

former, or the 'apprehension' by the former of

the

latter,

has assumed a paradoxical charac-

ter

which

all sorts

of theories

had to be

in-

vented to overcome. Representative theories

put a mental 'representation/ 'image/ or


*

content

'

into the gap, as a sort of inter-

mediary. Common-sense theories

left

the gap

untouched, declaring our mind able to clear


it

by a

self-transcending leap.

talist theories left it

Transcenden-

impossible to traverse
52

by

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


finite

knowers, and brought an Absolute in to

perform the saltatory

act.

All the while, in

the very bosom of the finite experience, every

conjunction required to
telligible is

given in

and the known


(1)

make

full.

the relation in-

Either the knower

are:

the self-same piece of experience taken

twice over in different contexts; or they are

two pieces of actual experience belonging to the same subject, with definite tracts of
conjunctive transitional experience between
(2)

them; or
(3)

the

known

a possible experience either

is

of that subject or another, to

which the said

conjunctive transitions would lead,

if

suffi-

ciently prolonged.

To

discuss all the

perience

may

ways

in

which one ex-

function as the knower of an-

would be incompatible with the limits


1
of this essay. I have just treated of type 1, the
other,

For brevity's sake I altogether omit mention of the type conby knowledge of the truth of general propositions. This type
has been thoroughly and, so far as I can see, satisfactorily, elucidated
in Dewey's Studies in Logical Theory. Such propositions are reducible
1

stituted

to the S-is-P form;

and the terminus' that

SP in combination. Of course

percepts

53

may

verifies

and

fulfils is

the

be involved in the medi-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


kind of knowledge called perception. 1 This
the type of case in which the

mind enjoys

is

di-

rect 'acquaintance' with a present object. In

the other types the mind has

knowledge-

about' an object not immediately there. Of

type

the simplest sort of conceptual know-

2,

ledge,

have given some account in two


2
articles.
Type 3 can always formally

[earlier]

and hypothetically be reduced to type

2, so

that a brief description of that type will put

my

the present reader sufficiently at


of view,

and make him

see

point

what the actual

meanings of the mysterious cognitive relation

may

be.

Suppose

me

to be sitting here in

my

ating experiences, or in the 'satisfactoriness' of the

library
in its

new

position.
1

[See above, pp. 9-15.]

["On the Function of Cognition," Mind, vol. x, 1885, and "The


Knowing of Things Together/' Psychological Review, vol. n, 1895.
8

These articles are reprinted, the former in full, the

latter in part, in

The

ED.] These articles and their doctrine,


unnoticed apparently by any one else, have lately gained favorable com-

Meaning

of Truth, pp. 1-50.

ment from Professor Strong. [" A Naturalistic Theory of the Reference of Thought to Reality," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods, vol.

i,

1904.] Dr. Dickinson S. Miller has independ-

ently thought out the same results [" The Meaning of Truth and Error/'

"The Confusion of Function and


Content in Mental Analysis," Psychological Review, vol. n, 1895],
which Strong accordingly dubs the James-Miller theory of cognition.
Philosophical Review, vol. n, 1893;

54

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


at

Cambridge, at ten minutes' walk from

Memorial Hall/ and to be thinking truly of


the latter object. My mind may have before
it

only the name, or

or

it

it

may have a clear image,

may have a very dim image of the hall, but

such intrinsic differences in the image

make no

difference in its cognitive function.

Certain

phenomena, special experiences of


conjunction, are what impart to the image, be

extrinsic

it

what

it

may,

For instance,

its
if

knowing

office.

you ask me what hall I mean

by my image, and I can tell you nothing; or if I


fail to point or lead you towards the Harvard
Delta; or

if,

being led by you, I

am

uncertain

whether the Hall I see be what I had in mind

you would

or not;
*

rightly

deny that I had

'

meant that particular hall at all, even though


my mental image might to some degree have
resembled

it.

The resemblance would count

that case as coincidental merely, for

in

all sorts

of things of a kind resemble one another in this

world without being held for that reason to


take cognizance of one another.

On

the other hand,

if

55

I can lead

you to the

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


hall,

and

uses;

if

tell

you

in its presence I feel

imperfect

it

and present
idea, however

of its history

may have been,

and to be now terminated;


the image and of the

my

to have led hither

if

the associates of

felt hall

run

parallel, so

that each term of the one context corresponds


serially, as I

the others;

walk, with an answering term of

why then my

soul

was prophetic,

and niy idea must be, and by common consent


would be, called cognizant of reality. That percept was what I meant, for into

it

my idea has

passed by conjunctive experiences of sameness

and

Nowhere

fulfilled intention.

but every
rates

an

later

is

there jar,

moment continues and corrobo-

earlier one.

In this continuing and corroborating, taken


in

no transcendental

sense, but denoting de-

finitely felt transitions, lies all that the

of a percept by
signify.
first

knowing

an idea can possibly contain or

Wherever such

transitions are felt, the

experience knows the last one.

Where they

do not, or where even as possibles they can not,


intervene, there can be

In

no pretence of knowing.

this latter case the extremes will

56

be con-

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


nected,

if

connected at

all,

by inferior relations

bare likeness or succession, or by 'withness'


alone.

Knowledge

comes to

life

of sensible realities thus

inside the tissue of experience. It

made ; and made by relations that


themselves in time. Whenever certain
is

unroll
inter-

mediaries are given, such that, as they develop

towards their terminus, there

is

experience

from point to point of one direction followed,

and
is

finally of

one process

fulfilled,

the result

that their starting-point thereby becomes a

knower and

their

That

known.

terminus an object meant or

is all

that knowing (in the sim-

ple case considered) can be known-as, that

the whole of
terms.

its

is

nature, put into experiential

Whenever such

is

the sequence of our

we may freely say that we had the


terminal object 'in mind from the outset, even
experiences

'

although

but a

at

flat

the outset nothing was there in us

piece of substantive experience like

any other, with no self-transcendency about it,


and no mystery save the mystery of coming
into existence and of being gradually followed

by other pieces of substantive experience, with


57

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


conjunctively transitional experiences between.

what we mean here by the object's


being "in mind/ Of any deeper more real way
of being in mind we have no positive concep-

That

tion,

is

and we have no right to

actual experience
at

by talking

discredit our

of such a

way

all.

know that many a reader will

"Mere

rebel at this.

"even

intermediaries," he will say,

though they be

feelings of continuously

grow-

ing fulfilment, only separate the knower from

the known, whereas what


is

we have in knowledge

a kind of immediate touch of the one by the

other, an

apprehension" in the etymological

sense of the word, a leaping of the chasm as

by
act
which
an
two
terms
smitare
by
lightning,
ten into one, over the head of their distinctdead intermediaries of yours
are out of each other, and outside of their

ness.

All these

termini

still."

But do not such

dialectic difficulties

remind

us of the dog dropping his bone and snapping


at

its

image in the water?

real kind of union aliunde,

58

If

we knew any more

we might be entitled

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


to brand

our empirical unions as a sham.

all

But unions by continuous transition are the


only ones we know of, whether in this matter
of a

knowledge-about that terminates in an

acquaintance, whether in personal identity, in


logical predication

elsewhere. If

through the copula

*is/ or

anywhere there were more ab-

solute unions realized, they could only reveal

themselves to us by just such conjunctive

These are what the unions are worth,

results.

these are

all

that we can ever practically

mean

by union, by continuity. Is it not time to


repeat what Lotze said of substances, that to
one

act like

is

to be one ?

Should we not say

here that to be experienced as continuous

is

to

be really continuous, in a world where experience and reality come to the same thing ? In

a picture gallery a painted hook will serve to

hang a painted chain by, a painted cable will


hold a painted ship. In a world where both the
terms and their distinctions are

affairs of ex-

perience, conjunctions that are

experienced

must be
*

at least as real as anything else.

[Cf.

H. Lotze: Metaphy*i1c

59

37-89, 97. 98, 243.]

They

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


'

will

be absolutely real conjunctions, if wehave

no transphenomenal Absolute ready, to derealize

the whole experienced world by, at a stroke.

If,

on the other hand, we had such an Absolute,

not one of our opponents' theories of knowl-

edge could remain standing any better than


ours could; for the distinctions as well as the
conjunctions of experience would impartially

The whole question of how 'one'


*
thing can know another' would cease to be a
fall its

real

prey.

one at

was an

all in

illusion.

So much
relation,

a world where otherness

itself

for the essentials of the cognitive

where the knowledge

conceptual in

is

type, or forms knowledge 'about' an object. It


consists in intermediary experiences (possible,

not actual) of continuously developing pro-

if

gress, and, finally, of fulfilment,


sible percept,

which

is

the object,

The percept here not only


proves

its

when the

verifies

is

sen-

reached.

the concept,

function of knowing that percept to

Mr. Bradley, not professing to know his absolute aliunde, neverby alleging it to be everywhere infected
with self-contradiction. His arguments seem almost purely verbal,
but this is no place for arguing that point out. [Of. F. H. Bradley;
Appearance and Reality passim; and below, pp. 106-122.]
1

theless derealizes Experience

60

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


be true, but the percept's existence as the
terminus of the chain of intermediaries creates
the function. Whatever terminates that chain
was, because

it

now proves

itself

to be,

what

the concept 'had in mind/

The towering importance

for

human

life

of

knowing lies in the fact that an


experience that knows another can figure as
this kind of

its representative,

not in any quasi-miraculous

'epistemological' sense, but in the definite


practical sense of being its substitute in various

operations, sometimes physical

mental, which lead us to

its

and sometimes

associates

and

re-

By experimenting on our ideas of reality,


we may save ourselves the trouble of experisults.

menting on the
severally

mean.

real experiences

The

which they

ideas form related sys-

tems, corresponding point for point to the sys-

tems which the realities form and by letting an


;

ideal

term

call

we may be

up

its

associates systematically,

led to a terminus

which the corre-

sponding real term would have led to in case

we had operated on

the real world.

And

this

brings us to the general question of substitution.


61

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


IV. SUBSTITUTION

In Taine's brilliant book on


substitution

was

'

Intelligence,'

for the first time

named

as

a cardinal logical function, though of course


the facts had always been familiar enough.

What,

exactly, in a system of experiences, does

the "substitution

of one of

them

for another

mean ?
According to
is

my view, experience as a whole

a process in time, whereby innumerable

and are superseded by


others that follow upon them by transitions

particular terms lapse

which, whether disjunctive or conjunctive in


content, are themselves experiences, and

must

in general be accounted at least as real as

the terms which they relate.


of the event called

'

What

the nature

superseding' signifies, de-

pends altogether on the kind of transition


that obtains.

Some

experiences simply abolish

their predecessors without continuing


in

any way. Others are

felt

them

to increase or to

enlarge their meaning, to carry out their purpose, or to bring us nearer to their goal.
62

They

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


*

represent' them,

and may

better than they fulfilled


*

fulfil

it

fulfil

their function

themselves.

But to

a function' in a world of pure experience

can be conceived and defined in only one possible

way.

In such a world transitions and

arrivals (or terminations) are the only events

that happen, though they happen

The only

sorts of path.

perience can perform

by

is

enced end.

can lead
agree in

many

function that one ex-

is

to lead into another

experience; and the only fulfilment

speak of

so

we can

the reaching of a certain experi-

When one

experience leads to (or

same end as another, they


function. But the whole system of
to) the

experiences as they are immediately given


presents

itself

as a quasi-chaos through which

one can pass out of an

initial

term in

many

and yet end in the same terminus,


moving from next to next by a great many
directions

possible paths.

Either one of these paths might be a functional substitute for another,

and to follow one

rather than another might on occasion be

an advantageous thing to do. As a matter of


63

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


fact,

and

in a general

way, the paths that

run through conceptual experiences, that

is,

'

through 'thoughts* or ideas* that 'know* the


things in which they terminate, are highly ad-

vantageous paths to follow. Not only do they


yield inconceivably rapid transitions; but,

ing to the 'universal* character

ow-

which they

frequently possess, and to their capacity for


association with one another in great systems,

they outstrip the tardy consecutions of the

and sweep us on towards


our ultimate termini in a far more labor-saving

things themselves,

way than

the following of trains of sensible

perception ever could. Wonderful are the

new

cuts and the short-circuits which the thought-

paths make. Most thought-paths,

it is

true,

are substitutes for nothing actual; they end

outside the real world altogether, in way-

ward fancies, Utopias, fictions or mistakes. But


where they do re-enter reality and terminate
therein,
1

we

Of which

substitute

them always; and with

that need be said in this essay is that it also can be


conceived as functional, and defined in terms of transitions, or of the
all

possibility of such. [Cf. Principles of Psychology, vol.


vol. n, pp.

i, pp. 473-480,
887-340; Pragmatism, p. 265; Some Problems of Philoso-

phy, pp. 63-74; Meaning of Truih, pp. 246-247, etc. ED.}

64

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


these substitutes

we pass the

greater

number

of our hours.

This
all

is

why

I called our experiences, taken

together, a quasi-chaos.

more discontinuity
ences than

in the

we commonly

is, it is

sum

is

vastly

total of experi-

suppose.

The

objec-

his

own

true, a continuous percept;

and

tive nucleus of every

body,

There

man's experience,

equally continuous as a percept (though

may

be inattentive to

it) is

we

the material en-

vironment of that body, changing by gradual


transition

when the body moves. But the

distant parts of the physical world are at

all

times absent from us, and form conceptual


objects merely, into the perceptual reality of

which our

life

inserts itself at points discrete

Round

their several ob-

jective nuclei, partly shared

and common and

and

relatively rare.

partly discrete, of the real physical world, in-

numerable thinkers, pursuing their several lines


of physically true cogitation, trace paths that
intersect one another only at discontinuous

perceptual points, and the rest of the time are


quite incongruent; and around
65

all

the nuclei

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


*

of shared reality,' as
of

my

late

metaphor,

around the Dyak's head


floats the vast cloud of

experiences that are wholly subjective, that


are non-substitutional, that find not even an

eventual ending for themselves in the perceptual world

the mere day-dreams and

joys and sufferings and wishes of the individual minds.

These

exist with

one another,

in-

deed, and with the objective nuclei, but out


of

them

it is

probable that to

interrelated system of

eternity

no

will ever

be

all

any kind

made.
This notion of the purely substitutional or
conceptual physical world brings us to the most
critical of all

the steps in the development of

a philosophy of pure experience. The paradox


of self -transcendency in knowledge

upon us

comes back

here, but I think that our notions of

pure experience and of substitution, and our


radically empirical view of conjunctive transitions, are Denkmittel that will carry

through the pass.

66

us safely

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


V.

WHAT

Whosoever

OBJECTIVE REFERENCE

feels his

Is.

experience to be some-

thing substitutional even while he has

it,

may

be said to have an experience that reaches

beyond

itself.

From

inside of its

own

entity

it

says more/ and postulates reality existing else-

where.

For the transcendentalist, who holds

knowing to

consist in a salto mortale across

'epistemological

no

difficulty;

an

chasm/ such an idea presents

but

it

seems at

first

sight as

if it

might be inconsistent with an empiricism like


our own. Have we not explained that conceptual knowledge

is

made such wholly by the

existence of things that

fall

outside of the

knowing experience itself


by intermediary
experiences and by a terminus that fulfils?

Can

the knowledge be there before these ele-

ments that constitute

And,

if

its

being have

come?

knowledge be not there, how can ob-

jective reference occur ?

The key

to this difficulty

lies

in the distinc-

knowing as verified and completed, and the same knowing as in transit


tion between

67

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


and on

its

To

way.

recur to the Memorial

Hall example lately used,

it is

only when our

idea of the Hall has actually terminated in the

percept that

we know

from

'for certain* that

was truly cognitive of that.


Until established by the end of the process, its

the beginning

it

quality of knowing that, or indeed of knowing

anything, could

knowing

really

We

shows.

long before

still

was

were

knowers of the Hall

certified to

by the

validating power.

now

there, as the result

virtual

we were

actual knowers,

be doubted; and yet the

have been

its

percept's retroactive

Just so

we

are

mortal

all

the time, by reason of the virtuality of the


inevitable event which will

us so

when

have come.

it shall

Now

make

the immensely greater part of

knowing never gets beyond


It never

is

all

our

this virtual stage.

completed or nailed down.

I speak

not merely of our ideas of imperceptibles like


ether-waves or dissociated 'ions/ or of 'ejects'
like the contents of

our neighbors' minds; I

speak also of ideas which we might verify

if

would take the trouble, but which we hold


68

we
for

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


true although unterminated perceptually, be-

cause nothing says 'no'to us, and there

To continue think*

contradicting truth in sight.

ing unchallenged

is,

no

is

ninety-nine times out of a

hundred, our practical substitute for knowing in

As each experience runs by


transition into the next one, and we

the completed sense.

cognitive

nowhere

feel

a collision with what

we elsewhere

we commit

count as truth or

fact,

the current as

the port were sure.

as

if

ourselves to

We

live,

were, upon the front edge of an advanc-

it

ing wave-crest, and our sense of a determinate


direction in falling forward

is all

the future of our path. It

as

is

if

we cover

a differential

quotient should be conscious and treat

an adequate substitute

experience, inter alia,

rate

and

tions

more than

itself

as

for a traced-out curve.

Our

of direction,

of

and

is

of variations of

lives in these transi-

in the journey's end.

The

ex-

periences of tendency are sufficient to act

upon
what more could we have done at those

moments even

if

the later verification comes

complete ?
This

is

what, as a radical empiricist, I say to


69

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the charge that the objective reference which
is

so flagrant a character of our experiences in-

volves a chasm and a mortal leap.

A positively

conjunctive transition involves neither chasm

nor leap. Being the very original of what we

mean by

continuity,

it

makes a continuum

wherever it appears. I know full well that such


brief

words as these

will leave

the hardened

transcendentalist unshaken. Conjunctive experiences operate their terms, he will still say: they

are third things interposed, that have themselves to

be conjoined by new

voke them makes our trouble

To

in-

infinitely worse.

our motion forward

'feel'

and to

links,

is

impossible.

Motion implies terminus; and how can terminus be


start

felt

and

before we have arrived?

The barest

sally forwards, the barest

to leave the instant, involves the

tendency

chasm and

the leap. Conjunctive transitions are the most


superficial of appearances, illusions of
bility

our sensi-

which philosophical reflection pulverizes

at a touch.

Conception

is

our only trust-

worthy instrument, conception and the Absolute working

hand

in hand.

70

Conception

dis-

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


integrates experience utterly, but
tions are easily
lute takes

its

disjunc-

overcome again when the Abso-

up the

task.

Such transcendentalists I must

leave, pro-

visionally at least, in full possession of their

creed. 1

no space

I have

for polemics in this

article, so I shall

simply formulate the empiri-

cist doctrine as

my hypothesis,

work or not work

as

leaving

it

to

may.

it

Objective reference, I say then,

dent of the fact that so

much

is

an

inci-

of our experi-

ence comes as an insufficient and consists of


process and transition.

have no more

Our fields of experience

definite boundaries

than have

Both are fringed forever by


a more that continuously develops, and that
our

fields of

view.

continuously supersedes them as

The

life

proceeds.

relations, generally speaking, are as real

here as the terms are, and the only complaint


of the transcendentalisms with

at

all

which I could

sympathize would be his charge that, by

making knowledge to consist in external


relations as I have done, and by then confess-

first

[Cf. below, pp. 93ff.J

71

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ing that nine-tenths of

the time these are

not actually but only virtually there, I have

knocked the
business,

solid

bottom out of the whole

and palmed

off

a substitute of know-

ledge for the genuine thing.


sion,

such a

critic

Only the admis-

might say, that our ideas are

self- transcendent

and

'true' already, in ad-

vance of the experiences that are to terminate


them, can bring solidity back to knowledge
in

a world

like this, in

terminations are only

This seems to

which transitions and

by exception

me an

excellent place for

applying the pragmatic method.


dispute arises, that

fulfilled.

method

When

consists in augur-

ing what practical consequences would


different
true.

If

dispute

if

would the
in

be

one side rather than the other were

no difference can be thought


is

a quarrel over words.


self -transcendency

advance of

all

of,

What

the

then

affirmed to exist

experiential mediation or

termination, be known-as?

What would

practically result in for us, were it true

it

It could only result in our orientation, in the

turning of our expectations and practical ten72

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


dencies into the right path; and the right path
here, so long as

we and

the object are not yet

face to face (or can never get face to face, as in

the case of ejects), would be the path that led


us into the object's nearest neighborhood.

Where

direct acquaintance

ledge about"

is

is

lacking, 'know-

the next best thing, and an

acquaintance with what actually


object,

and

is

most

lies

about the

closely related to

puts

it,

such knowledge within our grasp. Ether-waves

and your anger, for example, are things in


which my thoughts will never perceptually terminate, but

my

concepts of them lead

me

their very brink, to the chromatic fringes

to the hurtful words

and deeds which are

to

and

their

really next effects.

Even if our ideas

did in themselves carry the

postulated self-transcendency,

it

would

still

remain true that their putting us into possession of such effects would be the sole cash-

value of the self-transcendency for us.

cash-value,
literatim

On

it is

needless to say,

what our

is

And

this

verbatim

et

empiricist account pays in.

pragmatist principles therefore, a dispute


73

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


over self-transcendency
Call

is

a pure logomachy.

our concepts of ejective things

transcendent or the reverse,


ference, so long as

we

it

self-

makes no

dif-

don't differ about the

nature of that exalted virtue's fruits

fruits

for us, of course, humanistic fruits.

If

an

Absolute were proved to exist for other reasons,

it

might well appear that his knowledge is

terminated in innumerable cases where ours


still

is

incomplete. That, however, would be a

fact indifferent to our knowledge.

The

latter

would grow neither worse nor better, whether


we acknowledged such an Absolute or left him
out.

So the notion

and on

its

of a knowledge* still in transitu

way

joins

hands here with that

notion of a 'pure experience' which I tried to


explain in

my

[essay]

sciousness Exist?'

present

is

entitled

The

'Does Con-

instant field of the

always experience in

its

'pure' state,

plain unqualified actuality, a simple that , as yet


undifferentiated into thing

and thought, and

only virtually classifiable as objective fact or as

some one's opinion about


74

fact.

This

is

as true

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


when the

field is

conceptual as

ceptual. "Memorial

as

Hair

is

when

per-

my idea

"there* in

much as when I stand before it.

act on

it is

I proceed to

account in either case. Only in the

its

later experience that supersedes the present

one
into

is

this naif immediacy retrospectively split

two

parts, a

"

consciousness' and

its

"con-

tent/ and the content corrected or confirmed.

While

still

pure, or present,

any experience

mine, for example, of what I write about in


these very lines

passes for "truth/

The

morrow may reduce it to "opinion/ The transcendentalist in

all his

particular knowledges

as liable to this reduction as I

does not save him.

am

is

his Absolute

Why, then, need he quarrel

with an account of knowing that merely leaves


it liable

sist

to this inevitable condition?

that knowing

time when

it

is

Why in-

a static relation out of

practically seems so

much a func-

For a thing to be
the same as to make

tion of our active life?

says Lotze,
valid.

When

to be making
plete (else

is

valid,
itself

the whole universe seems only


itself

why

valid

and to be

its ceaseless

75

still

incom-

changing?) why, of

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


all

things, should

should

it

knowing be exempt?

not be making

itself

Why

valid like every-

thing else ? That some parts of

it

may

be

al-

ready valid or verified beyond dispute, the


empirical philosopher, of course, like any one
else,

VI.

may

always hope.

THE CONTERMINOUSNESS OF DIFFERENT MlNDS

With transition and prospect thus enthroned


in pure experience, it

is

impossible to sub-

scribe to the idealism of the English school.

Radical empiricism has, in fact, more


ties

affini-

with natural realism than with the views

of Berkeley or of Mill,

and

this

can be easily

shown.

For the Berkeleyan school, ideas (the verbal


equivalent of what I term experiences) are discontinuous.

The content

of each

is

wholly im-

manent, and there are no transitions with

which they are consubstantial and through


which their beings may unite. Your Memorial
Hall and mine, even

when both

are percepts,

are wholly out of connection with each other.


1

[Cf/'HowTwoMhdsCanKnowOne
76

Thing," below, pp. 12S-1S6J

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


Our

lives are

a congeries of solipsisms, out of

God

could compose

a universe even of discourse.

No dynamic

which in

strict logic

only a

and your
Never can our minds meet in the

currents run between


objects.

my

objects

same.

The

incredibility of such a philosophy

flagrant.

in a

It

is

'cold, strained,

supreme degree; and

it

and unnatural*

may

be doubted

whether even Berkeley himself, who took


so religiously, really believed,

spirits

it

when walking

through the streets of London, that his

and the

is

spirit

of his fellow wayfarers

had

absolutely different towns in view.

To me

the decisive reason in favor of our

minds meeting in some common objects at


is

that, unless I

no motive
at

all.

for

make

that supposition, I have

assuming that your mind

Why do

least

I postulate

your mind

exists
?

Be-

cause I see your body acting in a certain way.


Its gestures, facial

movements, words and con-

duct generally, are


actuated as

my own

expressive/ so I
is,

by an inner

mine. This argument from analogy


77

is

deem

it

life like

my rea-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


son,

whether an instinctive

or not.

But what

is

belief runs before

it

'y ur body' here but a

my field ? It is only as animating


that object, my object, that I have any occasion

percept in

to think of

you at

all.

If the

body that you

actuate be not the very body that I see there,

but some duplicate body of your own with

which that has nothing to do, we belong to


different universes, you and I, and for me to
speak of you
verses even

is folly.

now may

Myriads of such uni-

coexist, irrelevant to

one

my concern is solely with the universe


with which my own life is connected.

another;

In that perceptual part of my universe which


I call your body, your

and may be

mind and my mind meet

called conterminous.

Your mind

actuates that body and mine sees

thoughts pass into

it

it

and

other physical percepts.


it;

and

voli-

as causes into their effects.

But that percept hangs together with


with

my

as into their harmonious

cognitive fulfilment ; your emotions


tions pass into

it

if it

be our

They

all

'

our

are of one stuff

common

possession,

they must be so likewise. For instance, your


78

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


hand

lays hold of one

hand

lays hold of the other end.

end of a rope and

We

my
pull

Can our two hands be

against each other.

mutual objects in this experience, and the rope


not be mutual also? What is true of the rope is

Your

true of any other percept.

objects are

over and over again the same as mine. If I

ask you where some object of yours

Memorial Hall,

is,

our old

you point to my
Memorial Hall with your hand which I see. If
you

alter

for example,

an object

your world, put out a

candle, for example,

in

when

candle ipso facto goes out. It

my

objects that I guess

am

is

present,

my

only as altering

you to

exist.

If

your
do
not
coalesce
with
if
objects
my objects, they
be not identically where mine are, they must
be proved to be positively somewhere

else.

But no other location can be assigned for them,


so their place

same.

must be what

Practically, then, our

of objects
1

The

it

seems to be, the

minds meet

in a world

which they share in common, which

notion that our objects are inside of our respective heads

not seriously defensible, so I pass

it

79

by.

is

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


would

still

be there,

if

one or several of the

minds were destroyed. I can see no formal


objection to this supposition's being literally
true.

On the principles which I am

defending,

a "mind* or "personal consciousness'

the

is

name for a series of experiences run together by


certain definite transitions,

and an objective

reality is a series of similar experiences knit

different transitions.

If

by

one and the same ex-

perience can figure twice, once in a mental and

once in a physical context (as I have

my

tried, in

article

on Consciousness/ to show that

can), one does not see

why

thrice, or four times, or

by running into

as

texts, just as the

intersection,

ferent lines.

it

might not

any number

it

figure

of times,

mental con-

many

different

same

point, lying at their

can be continued into

many

dif-

Abolishing any number of con-

would not destroy the experience itself


or its other contexts, any more than abolish-

texts

ing

some

of the point's linear continuations

would destroy the others, or destroy the point


itself.

I well

know the subtle dialectic which


80

insists

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


that a term taken in another relation

must

needs be an intrinsically different term.

The

always the old Greek one, that the same

crux

is

man

can't be tall in relation to one neighbor,

and short in relation to another,

make him

tall

for that

and short at once. In

would

this essay

I can not stop to refute this dialectic, so I pass

on, leaving

But

my

flank for the time exposed. 1

my reader will

if

only allow that the same

'now' both ends his past and begins his future;

when he buys an acre of land from his


neighbor, it is the same acre that successively
or that,

figures in the

him a

two

when

estates; or that

pay

dollar, the same dollar goes into his

pocket that came out of mine; he

will also in

consistency have to allow that the same object

may

conceivably play a part

lated to the rest of,

in,

as being re-

any number of otherwise

entirely different minds. This is

enough for
my present point: the common-sense notion of
minds sharing the same object offers no special logical or epistemological difficulties of its

own; it stands or falls with the general possibil1

[The argument

is

resumed below, pp. 101

81

sq.

ED.]

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ity of things being in conjunctive relation with

other things at

all.

In principle, then,
for possible.

Your

let

natural realism pass

rnind

and mine may termi-

nate in the same percept, not merely against


as

if it

were a third external thing, but by

serting themselves into


it,

for such

is

the sort of conjunctive union that

'fulfils/

embrace the same

Even
pile,

when a perceptual

so,

two hawsers may

and yet neither one

them touch any other part except that


what the other hawser is attached to.
It

is

in-

and coalescing with

it

appears to be experienced

terminus

it,

of

pile, of

therefore not a formal question, but

a question of empirical fact

when you and

I are said to

solely,

know

whether,

the 'same*

Memorial Hall, our minds do terminate at or in


a numerically identical percept. Obviously, as
a plain matter of
color-blindness

fact,

they do not Apart from


.

and such

possibilities,

the Hall in different perspectives.

on one

side of it

we

see

You may be

and I on another. The percept

of each of us, as he sees the surface of the Hall,


is

moreover only his provisional terminus. The


82

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


next thing beyond

my

percept

mind, but more percepts of

my

not your

is

my own into which

percept develops, the interior of the

first

Hall, for instance, or the inner structure of its

our minds were in a

bricks

and mortar.

literal

sense conterminous, neither could get

If

beyond the percept which they had in common, it would be an ultimate barrier between

them

unless indeed they flowed over

it

and

became co-conscious' over a


of their content,

apart)

is

still

larger part

which (thought-transference

not supposed to be the case. In point

of fact the ultimate

common barrier can always

be pushed, by both minds, farther than any


actual percept of either, until at last

resolves

mere notion of imperceptibles


atoms or ether, so that, where we do ter-

itself

like

it

into the

minate

in percepts, our

knowledge

is

only spe-

ciously completed, being, in theoretic strictness, only a virtual

knowledge of those remoter

objects which conception carries out.


Is natural realism, permissible in logic, re-

futed then

by empirical

have no object

in

fact ?

common
83

Do

our minds

after all ?

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


Yes, they certainly have Space in

common.

On pragmatic principles we are obliged to predicate sameness wherever

we can

assignable point of difference.

predicate no

If

two named

things have every quality and function indiscernible,

and are at the same time

must be written down

place, they
cally

there

in the

same

as numeri-

one thing under two different names. But


is

no

by which

test discoverable, so far as I

it

know,

can be shown that the place occu-

pied by your percept of Memorial Hall differs

from the place occupied by mine. The percepts themselves may be shown to differ; but
if

each of us be asked to point out where his

percept

is,

we

point to an identical spot. All

the relations, whether geometrical or causal, of

the Hall originate or terminate in that spot

wherein our hands meet, and where each of us


begins to work

if

he wishes to make the Hall

change before the other's eyes. Just so

it is

with our bodies. That body of yours which

you actuate and feel from within must be in


the same spot as the body of yours which I see
or touch from without.
84

There* for

me means

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


where I place my finger.
finger's contact to

I place

it

If

you do not
*

be there in

my sense, when

on your body, where then do you

it?

Your

my

finger there: it

there that

feel

body meet

inner actuations of your


is

my

feel

you

resist its

push, or shrink back, or sweep the finger aside

with your hand. Whatever farther knowledge


either of us

tion of the

may

acquire of the real constitu-

body which we thus

within and I from without,

you from
that same

feel,

it is

in

place that the newly conceived or perceived


constituents have to be located, and

through that space that your and

my

it

is

mental

intercourse with each other has always to be

by the mediation of impressions


convey thither, and of the reactions

carried on,

which I

thence which those impressions

may

provoke

from you.
In general terms, then, whatever differing
contents our minds

may

with, the place itself

is

eventually

fill

a place

a numerically identical

content of the two minds, a piece of

common

property in which, through which, and over

which they

join.

The

receptacle of certain of
85

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


our experiences being thus common, the experiences themselves might

common

also.

If

some day become

that day ever did come, our

thoughts would terminate in a complete empir-

would be an end, so

far as

those experiences went, to our discussions

about

ical identity, there

truth.

No points

of difference appearing, they

would have to count as the same.


VII. CONCLUSION

With

this

we have

the outlines of a philo-

sophy of pure experience before us. At the outset of

my essay, I called it a mosaic philosophy.

In actual mosaics the pieces are held together


by their bedding, for which bedding the Substances, transcendental Egos, or Absolutes of

other philosophies

may

be taken to stand. In

radical empiricism there


if

is

the pieces clung together

transitions experienced

no bedding;

by

it is

as

their edges, the

between them forming

Of course such a metaphor is


misleading, for in actual experience the more
substantive and the more transitive parts run
their cement.

into each other continuously, there


86

is

in general

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


no separateness needing to be overcome by an
external cement; and whatever separateness
is

actually experienced

is

not overcome,

it

stays and counts as separateness to the end.

But the metaphor


that Experience

by

its

taken at large, can grow

itself,

That one moment

edges.

liferates into

serves to symbolize the fact

the next

by

of

it

pro-

transitions which,

whether conjunctive or disjunctive, continue


the experiential tissue, can not, I contend, be
denied. Life

is

in the transitions as

much

as in

seems to

the terms connected; often, indeed,

it

be there more emphatically, as

our spurts

and

sallies

if

forward were the real

firing-line of

the battle, were like the thin line of flame ad-

vancing across the dry autumnal

field

which

the farmer proceeds to burn. In this line

we

live prospectively as well as retrospectively.

It

is

'of the past, inasmuch as

pressly as the past's continuation;

future in so far as the future,


will

have continued

it

comes ex'

it is

when

'of

it

the

comes,

it.

These relations of continuous transition experienced are what

make our
87

experiences cog-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


In the simplest and completest cases

nitive.

the experiences are cognitive of one another.

When one of them terminates


of
is

them with a sense

a previous series

of fulfilment,

it,

what those other experiences 'had

we

in

say,

view/

The knowledge,

in such a case,

truth

down/ Mainly, however, we

live

is

'salted

is

verified; the

on speculative investments, or on our pro-

spects only.

But

living

on things in posse

is

as good as living in the actual, so long as our


credit remains good. It

most part

it is

is

evident that for the

good, and that the universe

seldom protests our drafts.


In this sense we at every

moment can

tinue to believe in an existing beyond.

conIt

is

only in special cases that our confident rush

The beyond must,

of

course, always in our philosophy be itself of

an

forward gets rebuked.

experiential nature. If not a future experience

of our

own

or a present one of our neighbor,

must be a thing

in itself in

Dr. Prince's and

Professor Strong's sense of the term


it

must be an experience for

tion to other things

it

itself

that

whose

is,

rela-

we translate into the action


88

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


of molecules, ether-waves, or whatever else the

physical symbols

may

be. 1

This opens the

chapter of the relations of radical empiricism


to panpsychism, into which I can not enter

now. 2

The beyond can


for it

ously
isted

in

any case

can be experienced
with

simultaneously

that practically postulates


direction, or

exist simultane-

it

the

have ex-

to

experience

by looking

in the

by turning or changing

direction of which

it is

in its

the goal. Pending that

actuality of union, in the virtuality of which


*

the truth/ even now, of the postulation consists,

the beyond and

split off

its

knower are

from each other. The world

forth a pluralism of which the unity

is
is

entities

in so far

not fully

experienced as yet. But, as fast as verifications

come, trains of experience, once separate, run


into one another;

and that is why I said,

earlier

Our minds and these ejective realities would still have space (or
pseudo-space, as I believe Professor Strong calls the medium of interaction between 'things-in-themselves') in common. These would
1

and begin to act where, we locate the molecules, etc., and


we perceive the sensible phenomena explained thereby. [Cf.
Morton Prince: The Nature of Mind, and Human Automatism, part I,
ch. in, iv C. A. Strong: Why the Mind Ha9 a Body. ch. XIL]

exist where,

where

[Cf. below, p. 188;

A Pluralistic Universe, Lect. iv-vn.1


89

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


in

my

article,

that the unity of the world

The

the whole undergoing increase.


continually grows in quantity

is

on

universe

by new

experi-

ences that graft themselves upon the older

mass; but these very new experiences often


help the mass to a more consolidated form.

These are the main features of a philosophy


of pure experience. It has innumerable other
aspects and arouses innumerable questions,

but the points I have touched on seem enough


to

make an

entering wedge.

In

my own

mind

such a philosophy harmonizes best with a radical pluralism,

with novelty and indeterminism,

moralism and theism, and with the "human'

ism lately sprung upon us by the Oxford and


the Chicago schools. 1 I can not, however, be
sure that

all

these doctrines are

and indispensable

its

necessary

many
points of difference, both from the common
sense and from the idealism that have made
allies.

It presents so

our philosophic language, that


1

have said something of

it is

almost as

an

article entitled

this latter alliance in

'Humanism and Truth/ in Mind, October, 1904. [Reprinted in The


Meaning of Truth, pp. 51-101. Cf. also "Humanism and Truth Once
More," below, pp. 244-265.]

90

WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE


difficult to state it as it is to

clearly,

and

able system,

if it is

think

it

out

ever to grow into a respect-

it will

have to be built up by the

many co-operating minds.

It

seems to me, as I said at the outset of this

es-

contributions of

say, that

many minds are, in point of fact, now

turning in a direction that points towards radical empiricism.

my

words, and

voices to

my

this essay will

If
if

they are carried farther by

then they add their stronger

feebler one, the publication of

have been worth while.

Ill

THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS'


EXPERIENCE
fectly fluent.

we

all

in its

The

immediacy seems per-

active sense of living which

enjoy, before reflection shatters our in-

stinctive world for us,

is

self-luminous and sug-

no paradoxes. Its difficulties are disappointments and uncertainties. They are not
gests

intellectual contradictions.

When
however,

the reflective intellect gets at work,


it

discovers incomprehensibilities in

the flowing process.

Distinguishing

its

ele-

ments and parts, it gives them separate names,


and what it thus disjoins it can not easily put
together.
ality

and

Pyrrhonism accepts the

irration-

revels in its dialectic elaboration.

Other philosophies try, some by ignoring,

some by

resisting,

and some by turning the

dialectic procedure against itself, negating its


first

negations, to restore the fluent sense of

[Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and


Methods, vol. n, No. 2, January 19, 1905. Reprinted also
as Appendix A in A Pluralistic Universe, pp. 347-369. The author's
Scientific

corrections have been adopted in the present text. ED.J

92

THE THING AND


life

again,

and

The

innocence.

philosophy

human

let

may

success

ITS

RELATIONS

redemption take the place of


perfection with which

do

and

this is the

Pure Experience/ I

sketchily at
first

the

tried

World

my own

hand

problem, resisting certain

steps of dialectics

way

its

of its importance in philo-

sophic history. In [the last essay], 'A


of

any

measure of

by

insisting in a general

that the immediately experienced con-

junctive relations are as real as anything else.


If

my

come

sketch

is

not to appear too naif, I must

and

closer to details,

in the present essay

I propose to do so.

'Pure experience'

is

the

to the immediate flux of

name which

life

gave

which furnishes

the material to our later reflection with

its

conceptual categories. Only new-born babes,


or

men

in

semi-coma from

nesses, or blows,

may

sleep, drugs,

ill-

be assumed to have an

experience pure in the literal sense of a that

which
to be

is

not yet any definite what, tho' ready

all sorts' of

whats;
93

full

both of oneness

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


and

of

manyness, but in respects that don't

appear; changing throughout, yet so confusedly that

its

phases interpenetrate and no

points, either of distinction or

of identity,

can be caught. Pure experience in


is

this state

but another name for feeling or sensation.

But the

flux of it

tends to

fill

itself

it

with emphases, and these

become

salient parts

no sooner comes than

and

identified

abstracted; so that experience

now

fixed

and

flows as

if

shot through with adjectives and nouns and


prepositions

and conjunctions.

Its purity is

only a relative term, meaning the proportional


it still

amount of unverbalized sensation which


embodies.

Far back as we go, the flux, both as a whole


and in its parts, is that of things conjunct and
separated.

and the

The
self

great continua of time, space,

envelope everything, betwixt

them, and flow together without interfering.

The things that they envelope come as separate


some ways and as continuous
Some sensations coalesce with some
in

others are irreconcilable.


94

in others.
ideas,

Qualities

and

compen-

THE THING AND

ITS

RELATIONS

etrate one space, or exclude each other

from

it.

They cling together persistently in groups that


move as units, or else they separate. Their
changes are abrupt or discontinuous; and their
kinds resemble or

they

In

fall

differ;

and, as they do so,

into either even or irregular series.

the continuities and the discon-

all this

tinuities are absolutely co-ordinate

immediate

feeling.

The

conjunctions are as

primordial elements of 'fact


tinctions

and

which I

feel

pulse of

my

tinues into

no wise

novelty.

as are the dis-

same act by
passing minute is a new

disjunctions. In the

that this
life,

it,

jars

matters of

I feel that the old

and the

life

con-

feeling of continuance in

upon the simultaneous

feeling of a

They, too, compenetrate harmoni-

ously. Prepositions, copulas, and conjunctions,


'is,' 'is n't,'

'then,' 'before/ 'in/ 'on/ 'beside/

'between/ 'next/ 'like/ 'unlike/ 'as/ 'but/


flower out of the stream of pure experience, the

stream of concretes or the sensational stream,


as naturally as nouns

they melt into

it

and adjectives do, and

again as fluidly

when we

apply them to a new portion of the stream.


95

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


II

If

now we

ask

why we must

thus translate

experience from a more concrete or pure into a

more

intellectualized form, filling it with ever

more abounding conceptual

distinctions, ra-

tionalism and naturalism give different replies.

The rationalistic answer is that the theoretic


absolute and

life is

that to understand

its interests

is

imperative;

simply the duty of man;

and that who questions this need not be argued


with, for

by the

fact of arguing he gives

away

his case.

The
ment

naturalist answer

kills

is

that the environ-

as well as sustains us,

and that the

tendency of raw experience to extinguish the


experient himself
in

is

lessened just in the degree

which the elements

in it that

have a practi-

upon life are analyzed out of the


continuum and verbally fixed and coupled to-

cal bearing

gether, so that

wind

for us

we may know what

and get ready to react

is

in the

in time.

Had pure experience, the naturalist says,

been

always perfectly healthy, there would never


96

THE THING AND

RELATIONS

ITS

have arisen the necessity of isolating or ver-

any

balizing

of its terms.

We should just have

experienced inarticulately and unintellectually


enjoyed.

This leaning on

reaction

in the

whenever we

naturalist account implies that,


intellectualize a relatively

pure experience, we

ought to do so for the sake of redescending


to the purer or

and that

if

an

more concrete

level again;

intellect stays aloft

among

its

abstract terms and generalized relations, and

does not reinsert

itself

some particular point


of

life, it fails

with

its

of the

conclusions into

immediate stream

to finish out

its

function and

leaves its normal race unrun.

Most

rationalists

nowadays

will agree

that

naturalism gives a true enough account of the

which our

way

in

they

will

intellect arose at first,

deny these

latter implications.

but

The

case, they will say, resembles that of sexual

animal need of getting

love. Originating in the

another generation born, this passion has developed secondarily such imperious spiritual

needs that,

if

you ask why another generation

ought to be born at

all,

the answer

97

is:

"Chiefly

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


that love

go on/ Just so with our

may

lect: it originated as

ing

life;

but

intel-

a practical means of serv-

has developed incidentally the

it

function of understanding absolute truth; and

now seems

life itself

to be given chiefly as a

means by which that function may be prosecuted. But truth and the understanding of it

among the
intellect now
lie

abstracts and universals, so the

on

carries

higher business

its

wholly in this region, without any need of


redescending into pure experience again.
If the contrasted tendencies

which I thus

designate as naturalistic and rationalistic are

not recognized by the reader, perhaps an ex-

ample

make them more

will

Bradley, for instance,

He

admits that our

tical,

tical

is

an

concrete.

Mr.

ultra-rationalist.

intellect is primarily prac-

but says that, for philosophers, the prac-

need

is

simply Truth. Truth, moreover,


c

must be assumed consistent/ Immediate


perience has to be broken into subjects
qualities,

ex-

and

terms and relations, to be understood

as truth at

all.

Yet when so broken

consistent then ever.

Taken raw,
no

it is less

it is all

un-

THE THING AND

ITS

RELATIONS

Intellectualized,

distinguished.

tinction without oneness.

it

is

all

dis-

'Such an arrange-

ment may work, but the theoretic problem is


not solved. The question is 'how the diversity
9

can

harmony with the oneness/ To go

exist in

back to pure experience


feeling gives

"It is

unavailing.

a fact,

is

it is

a mere experience, and furnishes

facts or truths

I find that

offered as

my intellect rejects

because they contradict themselves.

They

a complex of diversities conjoined in a

way which

it feels is

can not repeat as


fied,

if

not an understand-

no consistent view/ The experience

offer

'Mere

no answer to our riddle/ Even

your intuition
ing.

is

my

its

intellect

not

way and which

its

own.

it

For to be satis-

must understand, and

it

can

not understand by taking a congeries in the

lump/

So Mr. Bradley,

in the sole interests

of 'understanding' (as he conceives that function), turns his

ever.

back on

Truth must

lie

finite

experience for-

in the opposite direction,

the direction of the Absolute; and this kind of


1

[F.

H. Bradley: Appearance and

152-153, 23, 118, 104, 108-109, 570.]

99

Reality, second edition, pp.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


rationalism and naturalism, or (as I will
call it)

now

pragmatism, walk thenceforward upon

opposite paths. For the one, those intellectual

products are most true which, turning their


face towards the Absolute,

come nearest

to

ways of uniting the many and


the one. For the other, those are most true
symbolizing

its

which most successfully dip back into the


finite stream of feeling and grow most easily
confluent with

some particular wave or wave-

Such confluence not only proves the intellectual operation to have been true (as an
let.

addition

may

prove* that a subtraction

already rightly performed), but

according to pragmatism,
calling

it

true.

Only

it

that

all

is

constitutes,

we mean by

in so far as they lead us,

successfully or unsuccessfully, back into sensible experience again, are

universals true or false at

our abstracts and

all.

HI
In Section VI of [the
1

last essay], I

adopted

Compare Professor MacLennan's admirable Auseinanderaetzung


with Mr. Bradley, in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods, vol. I, [1904], pp. 403 ff ., especially pp. 405-407.

100

THE THING AND


in a general

way

the common-sense belief that

one and the same world


minds; but I

different

is

cognized by our

left

undisclosed the

arguments which maintain that

dialectical
this

The

logically absurd.

is

given for

RELATIONS

ITS

its

being absurd

is

usual reason

that

it

assumes

one object (to wit, the world) to stand in two


relations at once; to

my

mind, namely, and

again to yours; whereas a term taken in a

second relation can not logically be the same

term which

it

was at

first.

I have heard this reason urged so often in


discussing with absolutists,

stroy

my

and

it

would de-

radical empiricism so utterly,

if

it

were valid, that I am bound to give it an attentive ear,

and seriously to search its strength.

For instance,
term
to

the matter in dispute be

asserted to be on the one

L and
y

let

hand related

on the other to N; and

that the experience

and be given

the two

by L

M and

When, now,

I assume

cases of relation be symbolized

M N respectively.

let

may

in the shape

immediately come

no trace of doubling or internal


101

N, with

fission in

the

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM

am told that this is all a popular delusion;


M N logically means two differthat L
M and M N, namely;
ent experiences, L
9

and that although the Absolute may, and indeed must, from its superior point of view,
read

its

own kind

of unity into

two

edi-

tions, yet as elements in finite experience the

two M's

and the

irretrievably asunder,

lie

world between them

In arguing

is

broken and unbridged.

this dialectic thesis,

one must

avoid slipping from the logical into the physical point of view. It

would be easy,

a concrete example to

fix

one's ideas by, to

choose one in which the letter


for a collective

noun

being related to

of

some

L by one

in taking

M should stand

sort,

which noun,

of its parts

and to

N by

another, would inwardly be two things

when

it

stood outwardly in both relations.

Thus, one might say: "David Hume,

weighed so
posterity

many stone by his

by

doctrine are
finite

his doctrine.

two

things,

who

body, influences

The body and the


between which our

minds can discover no

real sameness,

though the same name covers both of them.


102

THE THING AND

RELATIONS

ITS

And then, one might continue:


lute

is

'Only an Abso-

capable of uniting such a non-identity.*

We must, I say, avoid this sort of example, for


the dialectic insight,

if

to terms and relations

must apply
universally. It must be
true at

all,

true of abstract units as well as of nouns collective;

and

if

we prove it by concrete examples

we must take

the simplest, so as to avoid

irrelevant material suggestions.

Taken thus

in all its generality, the abso-

seems to use as

lutist contention

premise Hume's notion 'that

all

its

major

our distinct

perceptions are distinct existences, and that

the mind never perceives any real connexion

among distinct
since we use two
*M's

relation to

tion to

'

existences/

Undoubtedly,

phrases in talking

'

and then about

we must be

first

about

s rela-

'

having, or must have

had, two distinct perceptions;

and the

would then seem to follow duly. But the

rest

start-

ing-point of the reasoning here seems to be the


fact of the
1

[Hume:

two phrases; and

Treatise of

Human

this suggests that

Nature, Appendix, Selby-Bigge's

edition, p. 636.]

103

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the argument

may be merely verbal. Can it be

that the whole dialectic consists in attributing


to the experience talked-about a constitution
similar to that of the language in

which we de-

Must we assert the objective doubleness of the


merely because we have to name

scribe it?

it

twice over

when we name

its

two

relations ?

Candidly, I can think of no other reason

than

we

this for the dialectic conclusion;

think, not of our words, but of

concrete matter which they

may

for, if

any simple
be held to

signify, the experience itself belies the

asserted.

paradox

We use indeed two separate concepts

in analyzing our object, but

we know them

all

the while to be but substitutional, and that the

M in L M and the MinM N mean

( i. e. 9

are capable of leading to and terminating in)

one

self-same piece,

of sensible experience.

This persistent identity of certain units (or


emphases, or points, or objects, or members
call

them what you

continuum,
1

Technically,

is
it

will) of

the experience-

just one of those conjunctive

seems classable as a 'fallacy of composition/

the two wholes, L


forthwith predicated of one of their parts, M.
duality, predicable of

104

and

N,

A
is

THE THING AND


features of

it,

RELATIONS

ITS

on which I

am

obliged to insist

so emphatically. 1 For samenesses are parts of


experience's indefeasible structure.

hear a bell-stroke and, as

life

When

flows on, its after


'

image dies away, I

still

hark back to it as that

same bell-stroke/ When I see a thing


L to the left of it and N to the right of
it

M;

as one

to 'take'

it

and

if

you

city of

is

if

with

it,

I see

I have
I 'took'

still see it

had
it

as a unit. 2

aboriginal, just as the multipli-

my successive

comes unbroken as
I encounter; they
ings, as

me

tell

twice, I reply that

thousand times I should


Its unity

takings

that

M,

is

aboriginal. It

as a singular which

come broken,

as those tak-

my plurality of operations. The unity

and the separateness are strictly co-ordinate. I


do not easily fathom why my opponents should
find the separateness so

much more

easily un-

derstandable that they must needs infect the

whole of

finite

See above, pp. 42

may

experience with

it,

and relegate

ff.

perhaps refer here to my Principles of Psychology, vol. I,


It really seems 'weird' to have to argue (as I am forced

pp. 459 ff.


now to do) for the notion that

it is one sheet of paper (with its two


between) which is both under my pen and on
the claim' that it is two sheets seems so
the table while I write

surfaces

and all that

lies

brazen. Yet

sometimes suspect the absolutists of sincerity!

105

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the unity (now taken as a bare postulate and

no longer as a thing positively perceivable) to


the region of the Absolute's mysteries. I do
not easily fathom

this, I say, for

the said oppo-

nents are above mere verbal quibbling; yet


that I can catch in their talk
tion of

what is true

true of

what they

of certain

signify.

is

the substitu-

words for what

They

whence

all

the meaning of

is

stay with the

not returning to the stream of

words,

all

life

them came, and

which is always ready to reabsorb them.


IV

For aught

may

this

argument proves, then, we

continue to believe that one thing can be

known by many knowers. But

the denial of

many relations is but one applica-

one thing

in

tion of a

still

profounder dialectic

difficulty.

Man can't be good, said the sophists, for man is


man and

l
good is good; and Hegel and Herbart

in their day,
1

Will
2

more recently A.

Spir,

and most

[For the author's criticism of Hegel's view of relations,


to Believe, pp. 278-279. ED.]
[Cf.

A. Spir; Denken und Wirklichkeit, part

(containing also account of Herbart). ED.]

10ft

I,

cf.

bk. in, ch. IV

THE THING AND

RELATIONS

ITS

recently and elaborately of

all,

Mr. Bradley,

informs us that a term can logically only be

a punctiform unit, and that not one of the


conjunctive relations between things, which
experience seems to yield,

is

rationally pos-

sible.

Of course, if true, this cuts off radical empiricism without even a

shilling.

Radical empiri-

cism takes conjunctive relations at their face


value, holding

them

united by them.
collection,

tively

to be as real as the terms

The world

some parts

of

it

represents as a

which are conjunc-

and others disjunctively

parts, themselves disjoined,

related.

may

Two

nevertheless

hang together by intermediaries with which


they are severally connected, and the whole
world eventually

may hang together similarly,

inasmuch as some path of conjunctive transition by which to pass from one of its parts
to another

may

always be discernible.

determinately various hanging-together

Such

may

be called concatenated union, to distinguish

it

from the 'through-and-through' type of union,


1

[See above, pp. 42, 49.1

107

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


'each in

all

conflux, as

and

each

all in

one might

call it),

(union of

total

which monistic

systems hold to obtain when things are taken


in their absolute reality.

In a concatenated

world a partial conflux often

Our concepts and our

same body are

experience

is

experienced.

sensations are confluent;

successive states of the

of the

is

same

ego,

confluent.

not of conflux,

it

and

feelings

Where the

may

be of

conterminousness (things with but one thing


between); or of contiguousness (nothing between); or of likeness; or of nearness; or of
simultaneousness; or of in-ness; or of on-ness;
or of for-ness; or of simple with-ness; or even of

mere and-ness, which

last relation

would make

of however disjointed a world otherwise, at

any

rate for that occasion a universe 'of discourse/

Now

Mr. Bradley

relations, as

we

tells

us that none of these

actually experience them, can

1
possibly be real.

My next duty,

accordingly,

1
Here again the reader must beware of slipping from logical into
phenomenal considerations. It may well be that we attribute a certain

relation falsely, because the circumstances of the case, being complex,

have deceived us. At a railway station we may take our own train,
and not the one that fills our window, to be moving. We here put
motion in the wrong place in the world, but in its original place the

108

THE THING AND

RELATIONS

ITS

must be to rescue radical empiricism from Mr.


Bradley. Fortunately, as

it

seems

,to

me,

his

general contention, that the very notion of relation is unthinkable clearly, has been successfully

It

met by many
is

critics.

a burden to the

flesh,

and an

injustice

both to readers and to the previous writers, to


repeat good arguments already printed. So, in
noticing

Mr. Bradley, I

will confine

myself to

the interests of radical empiricism solely.

The

first

duty of radical empiricism, taking

given conjunctions at their face-value,


class

as

some

more

lar, their

of

them

external.

as

is

to

more intimate and some

When 'two

terms are simi-

very natures enter into the relation.

motion is a part of reality. What Mr. Bradley means is nothing like


this, but rather that such things as motion are nowhere real, and
that, even in their aboriginal and empirically incorrigible seats, relations are impossible of comprehension.
1

by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, in his an and


xn ("The Validity of
Judgment ") of his Theory of Knowledge; and by F. C. S. Schiller, in his
Humanism, essay xi. Other fatal reviews (in my opinion) are Hodthe

Particularly so

Cosmos; by L. T. Hobhouse, in chapter

der's, in the Psychological Review, vol. i, [1894], p. 307; Stout's in the


Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1901-2, p. 1; and MacLennan's

in
vol.

[The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods,


I,

1904, p. 403].

109

ESSAYS IN BADICAL EMPIRICISM


Being what they

no matter where or when,

are,

the likeness never can be denied,

if

asserted.

It continues predicable as long as the terms

Other

continue.

relations, the where

and the

when, for example, seem adventitious.


sheet of paper
for example;

may

and

be

'off'

of

to the relation. It

nature

is

or 'on' the table,

in either case the relation

involves only the outside of

an outside, both

The

its

terms.

Having

them, they contribute by

it

external the term's inner

is

irrelevant to

it.

Any book, any table,


which

may fall

into the relation,

hac

not by their existence, but by their

vice,

casual situation. It

is

is

created pro

just because so

many

of

the conjunctions of experience seem so external


that a philosophy of pure experience must tend
to pluralism in

its

ontology. So far as things

have space-relations,
to imagine

for example,

we

are free

them with different origins even.

If

and get into space at all,


then they may have done so separately. Once

they could get to

be,

there, however, they are additives to one an-

other, and, with

no prejudice to

all sorts of space-relations

110

may

their natures,

supervene be-

THE THING AND

ITS

RELATIONS

tween them. The question of how things could


come to be anyhow, is wholly different from
the question what their relations, once the

being accomplished,

Mr. Bradley now

may consist in.


affirms that such external

which we here

relations as the space-relations

talk of

must hold

of entirely different subjects

from those of which the absence of such

might a moment previously have been

tions

Not only

plausibly asserted.
different

when the book

the book

itself is different

was when

it

rela-

it

was

off

is

is

the situation

on the

as a book,

the table.

table,

but

from what

He

admits

that "such external relations seem possible

and even

existing.

That you do not

what you compare or rearrange


to
1

common

in space

slip

the table be wet,

from

logical into physical situations.

moisten the book, or


book
the book will break
and
the
heavy
enough,
enough
such collateral phenomena are not the point at issue.
if

seems

sense quite obvious, and that on

Once more, don't

course,

alter

it will

Of

be slight
down. But

if it

it

The

point

is

whether the successive relations 'on* and 'not-on* can rationally (not
physically) hold of the same constant terms, abstractly taken. Professor A. E.

Taylor drops from logical into material considerations

instances color-contrast as a proof that A, *as contranot in any way


distinguished from B, is not the same thing as mere

when he

affected* (Elements of Metaphysicst p. 145).


*

for 'related* of the

Note the

substitution,

word affected/ which begs the whole question.

111

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the other side there are as obvious difficulties

does not occur to


will

common

sense at

begin by pointing out these

There

is

we

tion,

difficulties.

a relation in the result, and this relahear,

is

make no

to

difference in its

make a

if so,

to

what does

ference? [Does n't

it

make a difference

terms. But,

lookers, at least ?]

is to tell the truth


1

If, in

position.

how can

it

it

dif-

us on-

to

and what is the meaning and

sense of qualifying the terms

meaning

And I

all.

short, it

is

by

about their relative

external to the terms,

possibly be true of

'intimacy* suggested by the

Bradley s trouble?]

them?

little

which I have underscored^ that


9

it? [Surely the

If the

word

[Isit the
'of,' here,

is the root of Mr.

terms from their

inner nature do not enter into the relation,

seem

then, so far as they are concerned, they


related for

no reason at all.

tially related, first in

come

one way, and then be-

related in another way,

way themselves
it is said,

Things are spa-

and yet

in

no

are altered; for the relations,

are but external.

But I reply that, if

1
But "is there any sense," asks Mr. Bradley, peevishly, on p. 579,
"and if so, what sense in truth that is only outside and about*
*

"
things?

Surely such a question may be left unanswered.

112

THE THING AND


so, I

RELATIONS

ITS

can not understand the leaving by the

terms of one set of relations and their adop-

The

tion of another fresh set.


result to the terms,

to

it

'of

seem

here

its

they contribute nothing

[Surely they contribute to

it !]

tional

if

process and

it

all there is
*

irra-

irrational throughout. [//

means simply

'non-rational, or non-

deduciblefrom the essence of either term singly,


is

no reproach;

essence,

how.]

if it

means

'contradicting' such

Mr. Bradley should show wherein and

But,

if

they contribute any thing, they


.

must surely be

affected internally.

if they contribute only their surface ?


9

[Why so,
In such

relations as 'on, 'afoot away, 'between,


etc.,

it

only surfaces are in question.]

...

'next,

If the

terms contribute anything whatever, then the


terms are affected [inwardly altered?] by the
arrangement.

we

treat,

That

for

and do well to

working purposes

treat,

some

relations

as external merely I do not deny, and that of

course

is

question

not the question at issue here. That


is

principle a

... whether
mere external

in the

relation

end and in
[i. e.,

rela-

tion which can change without forcing its terms


113

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


to

change their nature simultaneously]

is

possi-

and forced on us by the facts."


Mr. Bradley next reverts to the antinomies

ble

of space, which, according to him, prove

be unreal, although

appears as so

it

to

it

prolific

medium of external relations; and he then concludes that "Irrationality and externality can

not be the

last truth

about things. Somewhere

and that apreason and reality

must be a reason why

there

pear together.

must

And

this

this

from which terms and

reside in the whole

relations are abstractions, a

their internal connection

whole in which

must

lie,

and out

of

which from the background appear those fresh


results which never could have come from
the premises."

whole

is

And he adds

different, the

contribute to

it

"Where the

terms that qualify and

must so

far be different.

are altered so far only

They

than externally , yet not

but

that

still

[How far ? farther


through and through ?}

they are altered.

...

must

insist

that in each case the terms are qualified by


their

whole [Qualified how ?


1

Do their external

Appearance and Reality, second edition, pp. 575-576.

114

THE THING AND

ITS

RELATIONS

relations, situations, dates, etc.,

are in the

new

changed as these

whole, fail to qualify them 'Jar

enough ?], and that in the second case there

whole which

differs

from the

logically

is

both logically and psycho-

first

in contributing to the

whole; and I urge that

change the terms so far

are altered/'

Not merely the relations, then, but the terms


are altered:
far

is

und zwar

'so far/

But

how

the whole problem; and 'through-and'

through would seem

(in spite of

Mr. Bradley 's

somewhat undecided utterances


1

just

*)

to be the

from the 'so far/ which sounds


which
thesis. Read, for example, what he

I say 'undecided/ because, apart

terribly half-hearted, there are passages in these very pages in

Mr. Bradley admits the pluralistic


on

a billiard ball keeping its 'character' unchanged,


change of place, its 'existence* gets altered; or what he
says, on p. 579, of the possibility that an abstract quality A, B, or C,
in a thing, 'may throughout remain unchanged* although the thing be
says,

p. 578, of

though, in

its

altered; or his admission that in red-hairedness,

both as analyzed out


given with the rest of him, there may be 'no
change' (p. 580). Why does he immediately add that for the pluralist
to plead the non-mutation of such abstractions would be an ignoratio

of a

man and when

elenchi ?

It

and inquest

is
is

impossible to admit it to be such. The entire elenchus


just as to whether parts which you can abstract from

existing wholes can also contribute to other wholes without changing


If they can thus mould various wholes into new

their inner nature.


gestaltqualitaten,

then

it

follows that the

same elements are

logically

able to exist in different wholes [whether physically able would depend


on additional hypotheses]; that partial changes are thinkable, and

through-and- through change not a dialectic necessity; that monism


only an hypothesis; and that an additively constituted universe

is

115

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


full

Bradleyan answer. The

whole* which he

here treats as primary and determinative of

each part's manner of


musty

when

it alters,

'

contributing/ simply

alter in its entirety.

There

must be total conflux of

its

and through each

The 'must* appears

other.

parts, each into

here as a Machtspruch, as an ipse dixit of Mr.


9

Bradley

absolutistically

tempered 'under-

standing/ for he candidly confesses that

how

the parts do differ as they contribute to differ-

ent wholes,

is

unknown to him. 1

Although I have every wish to comprehend


the authority by which Mr. Bradley's understanding speaks, his words leave
unconverted. 'External relations

me

wholly

stand with

unwrung, and remain, for


aught he proves to the contrary, not only
their withers all

practically workable, but also perfectly intelligible factors of reality.


a rationally respectable hypothesis also. All the theses of radical
empiricism, in short, follow.
1
Op. cit. pp. 577-579.
is

116

THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS


VI

Mr. Bradley's understanding shows the


most extraordinary power of perceiving sepaand the most extraordinary impotence
comprehending conjunctions. One would

rations
in

'

naturally say neither or both/ but not so

Mr.

Bradley.

When

tain whats

from out the stream of experience, he

common man

analyzes cer-

understands their distinctness as thus

But
well

this does

isolated.

not prevent him from equally

understanding their combination with

each other as originally experienced in


crete,

or their confluence with

new

the con-

sensible ex-

periences in which they recur as 'the

same/

Returning into the stream of sensible presentation,

nouns and adjectives, and

thats

and ab-

grow confluent again, and the


names all these experiences of con-

stract whats,

word

'is'

junction.

Mr, Bradley understands the

isola-

tion of the abstracts, but to understand the

eombination is to him impossible. 1


1

So far as I catch his state of mind,

'table,' 'on'

result in this

how

"To under*

it is

somewhat like this: Book/

does the existence of these three abstract elements

book being livingly on

this table.

117

Why is n't the table on

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


AB," he

stand a complex

"I must begin

says,

A or B. And beginning, say with A, if I


then merely find B I have either lost A, or
with

I have got beside A, [the word 'beside' seems


here vital, as

and

meaning a conjunction

intellect

has

it

ness,

you

in itself

have I understood. 1 For

my

any form or way

and you gain nothing

offer

my

if,

that

principle of

A and

"facts/ once for

B,

For to

in fact.

no more than another

And

intellect

... The

is

of together-

beside

me their conjunction

ternal element.

it.

and

something

can not simply unite a diversity, nor

my intellect
for

else,

therefore unintelligible]

in neither case

'external

all,

ex-

are

not true unless they satisfy

intellect

has in

its

mere togetherness."

nature no

the book? Or why does n't the 'on' connect itself with another book,
or something that is not a table? Must n't something in each of the
three elements already determine the two others to it, so that they do

not

settle elsewhere or float

and

vaguely?

Must n't

the whole fact be pre-

can exist de facto ? But,


if so, in what can the jural existence consist, if not in a spiritual
miniature of the whole fact's constitution actuating every partial

figured in each part,

factor as

its

exist dejure before it

purpose? But

is

this

anything but the old metaphysical

fallacy of looking behind a fact in ease for the

ground of the

fact,

and

finding it in the shape of the very same fact in posse? Somewhere we


must leave off with a constitution behind which there is nothing.
1

Apply
Op.

this to the case of 'book-on-table'!

cit.,

pp. 570, 572.

118

W.

J.

THE THING AND

ITS

RELATIONS

Of course Mr. Bradley has a


*

right to define

power by which we perceive


separations but not unions
provided he
give due notice to the reader. But why then
intellect* as the

claim that such a

maimed and amputated

power must reign supreme in philosophy, and


accuse on its behoof the whole empirical
world of irrationality? It

where attributes to the

is

true that he else-

intellect a proprius

motus of transition, but says that when he


looks for these transitions in the detail of liv-

ing experience, he
solution/

unable to verify such a

'is

Yet he never explains what the intellectual


transitions would be like in case we had them.

He

only defines them negatively

they are

not spatial, temporal, predicative, or causal;


or qualitatively or otherwise serial; or in any

way

relational as

we

naively trace relations,

for relations separate terms,

selves to be
est

and need them-

hooked on ad infinitum. The near-

approach he makes to describing a truly

intellectual transition
1

Op.

cit.,

is

where he speaks of

pp. 568, 569.

119

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM

and

as being

united, each from

nature, in a whole which

But

alike/

is

its

own

the nature of both

this (which, pace

Mr. Bradley,

seems exquisitely analogous to taking' a congeries in a

'lump/

if

not to swamping') sug-

gests nothing but that conflux

so

experience
*

space/

abundantly

white' and

'

which pure

offers,

as

when

sweet' are confluent in

a 'lump of sugar/ or kinesthetic, dermal, and


optical sensations confluent in

2
'my hand/

All that I can verify in the transitions which

Mr. Bradley 's


prius motus

intellect desiderates as its pro-

a reminiscence of these and

is

other sensible conjunctions (especially spaceconjunctions), but a reminiscence so vague

that

its originals

are not recognized. Bradley

in short repeats the fable of the dog, the bone,

and

its

image in the water.

With a world

of

particulars, given in loveliest union, in con-

junction definitely various, and variously de1

Op.

cit. t

How

p. 570.

meaningless

is

the contention that in such wholes (or in

'book-on-table/ 'watch-in-pocket,' etc.) the relation is an additional


entity between the terms, needing itself to be related again to each!

Both Bradley

(op.

Individual, vol.

I,

cit.,

pp. 32-83) and Royce (The World and the

p. 128) lovingly repeat this piece of profundity.

120

THE THING AND


finite,

RELATIONS

ITS

the "how* of which you 'understand* as

soon as you see the fact of them, 1 for there

no "how* except the constitution


as given; with

all this

is

of the fact

given him, I say, in pure

experience, he asks for

some ineffable union

the abstract instead, which,

if

he gained

in
it,

would only be a duplicate of what he has already in his full possession. Surely he abuses
the privilege which society grants to

all

us

philosophers, of being puzzle-headed.

Polemic writing

like this is odious;

absolutism in possession in so
omission to defend
against

its

best

my

many

radical

but with
quarters,

empiricism

known champion would count

as either superficiality or inability. I

conclude that

its dialectic

have to

has not invalidated

in the least degree the usual conjunctions

by

which the world, as experienced, hangs so variously together. In particular


pirical

theory of knowledge

us continue to believe with

it

leaves an

em-

and

lets

intact,

common sense

that

The 'why* and the 'whence* are entirely other questions, not
under discussion, as I understand Mr. Bradley. Not how experience
gets itself born, but how it can be what it is after it is born, is the
1

puzzle.
8

Above, p. 52.

121

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


one object may be known,

ground

for thinking that

it is

if

we have any

known, to many

knowers.

In [the next essay] I

shall return to this last

supposition, which seems to


difficulties

much harder

me

to offer other

for a philosophy of

pure experience to deal with than any of


absolutism's dialectic objections.

IV

HOW TWO MINDS CAN KNOW


ONE THING
IN

'Does Consciousness

[the essay] entitled

show that when we

Exist?' I have tried to

call

an experience conscious/ that does not mean


that

it is

suffused throughout with a peculiar

modality of being

may

glass

that

it

('

psychic' being) as stained

be suffused with

light,

but rather

stands in certain determinate relations

to other portions of experience extraneous to

These form one peculiar 'context' for


while, taken in another context of experi-

itself.
it;

ences,

we

a fact in the physical

class it as

world. This 'pen,' for example,


instance, a bald that, a

datum,

is,

in the first

fact,

phenom-

enon, content, or whatever other neutral or

ambiguous name you


called

it

may prefer

to apply.

in that article a 'pure experience.'

get classed either as a physical pen or as


one's percept of a pen,
1

it

To

some

must assume a func-

[Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and


Methods, vol. n, No. 7. March 30, 1905.]

Scientific

123

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


and that can only happen in a more complicated world. So far as in that world it is
tion,

a stable feature, holds ink, marks paper and

obeys the guidance of a hand,


pen.

'

what we mean by being physia pen. So far as it is instable, on the

That

cal/ in

a physical

it is

is

contrary, coming and going with the

ments

of

move-

my eyes, altering with what I call my

fancy, continuous with subsequent experiences


of its "having been

percept of a pen in
ities

are

(in

the past tense),

my mind.

it is

the

Those peculiar'

what we mean by being conscious/

in a pen.

In Section VI of another

show that the same


identical

that,

1 tried to

the same numerically

pen of pure experience, can enter

simultaneously into
or, in

[essay]

many

conscious contexts,

other words, be an object for many differ-

ent minds. I admitted that I had not space


to treat of certain possible objections in that
article;

but in [the

the objections up.


I said that
1

"A World

still
of

last essay] I

At the end

took some of

of that [essay]

more formidable-sounding

Pure Experience." above, pp. 39-91.

124

TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING


objections remained; so, to leave

my

pure-

experience theory in as strong a state as possible, I propose to consider those objections now.
I

The

objections I previously tried to dispose

of were purely logical or dialectical.

had been

one

whether physical or psychical,

identical term,
it

No

said, could

be the subject of two

relations at once. This thesis I sought to prove

unfounded. The objections that

now

confront

us arise from the nature supposed to inhere in

psychic facts specifically.

Whatever may be

the case with physical objects, a fact of consciousness,


sibly),

it is

alleged (and indeed very plau-

can not, without self-contradiction, be

treated as a portion of

and

two

different minds,

for the following reasons.

In the physical world we make with impunity the assumption that one and the

same

material object can figure in an indefinitely


large

number

When,
at

its

of different processes at once.

for instance, a sheet of rubber

is

pulled

four corners, a unit of rubber in the mid-

dle of the sheet

is

affected
125

by

all

four of the

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


It transmits

pulls.

them each,

four different ways at once

at as

pulled in

So, an air-

an ether-particle compounds' the


directions of movement imprinted on

it without

ties.

if it

itself.

particle or
different

as

obliterating their several individuali-

It delivers

them distinct, on the contrary,


'

many several 'receivers (ear, eye or what


as may be "tuned to that effect. The ap5

not)

parent paradox of a distinctness like this surviving in the midst of compounding

which, I fancy, the analyses


cists

have by this time

is

made by

a thing
physi-

sufficiently cleared up.

But if, on the strength of these analogies, one


should ask:

"Why, if two or more lines can run

through one and the same geometrical point,


or

if

two or more

ity can

distinct processes of activ-

run through one and the same physi-

cal thing so that it simultaneously plays a r61e

in each

and every process, might not two or

more streams

of personal consciousness include

one and the same unit of experience so that

it

would simultaneously be a part of the experience of

all

the different minds?" one would be

checked by thinking of a certain peculiarity by


126

TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING


which phenomena of consciousness

differ

from

physical things.

While physical things, namely, are supposed


to be permanent and to have their states/ a
*

fact of consciousness exists but once


state. Its esse is sentiri; it is

and

only so far as

is

it is

unambiguously and unequivocally exactly what is felt. The hypothesis under


felt;

and

it is

it

to be

my

mind

consideration would, however, oblige


equivocally, felt

felt

now

as part of

and again at the same time


mind, but of yours

and

this

ling it

(for

not as a part of

my

my mind is not yours),

would seem impossible without doubinto two distinct things, or, in other

words, without reverting to the ordinary dualistic

ing

philosophy of insulated minds each know-

its

object representatively as a third thing,

and that would be to give up the pureexperience scheme altogether.

Can we see,

any way in which a unit of


pure experience might enter into and figure in
two diverse streams of consciousness without
turning

itself

hypothesis,

it

then,

into the

two

units which,

must not be ?
127

on our

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


II

There
is

to see

is

a way; and the

step towards

first

more precisely how the unit enters

it

into

either one of the streams of consciousness

Just what, from being

alone.

pure/ does

its

becoming 'conscious* once mean?


It means,

supervened

new

that

first,

experiences have

second, that

and,

they

have

borne a certain assignable relation to the unit


supposed. Continue,

if

you

please, to speak of

the pure unit as 'the pen/ So far as the pen's

do but repeat the pen or, being


from it, are 'energetically' * related

successors
different

and they

form a group of stably


existing physical things. So far, however, as
to

it, it

will

successors differ from

its

determined way, the pen

it

in another well-

will figure in their

context, not as a physical, but as a mental fact.


It will

become a passing 'percept/

of that pen.

What now

is

my percept

that decisive well-

determined way?
'

In the chapter on The Self/ in


1

my Principles

[For an explanation of this expression, see above, p. 32.]

128

TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING


of Psychology, I explained the continuous identity of each personal consciousness as a

for the practical fact that

new

experiences

come which look back on the old


them 'warm/ and

name
*

ones, find

them

greet and appropriate

These operations mean, when ana-

as 'mine/

lyzed empirically, several tolerably definite


things, viz.
1.

That the new experience has past time for


'

its

'content/ and in that time a pen that was ';

2.

That 'warmth' was

in the sense of a

also

about the pen,

group of feelings ('interest*

aroused, 'attention' turned, 'eyes' employed,


etc.)

that were closely connected with

that

now

it

and

recur and evermore recur with un-

broken vividness, though from the pen of now,

which

may be only an image, all such vividness

may have

gone;
'

That these feelings are the nucleus of me

4.

That whatever once was associated with

them was,
'mine'
1

3.

1 call

at least for that one

my

implement

them 'passing thoughts

'

goes from pages 330 to 342 of vol.

in the
i.

129

if

moment,

associated with

book

the passage in point

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


hand-feelings,
feelings

The
as

'percept' only,

if

only eye-

and attention-feelings were involved.

pen, realized in this retrospective

my

scious

my

way

percept, thus figures as a fact of "con5

life.

But

it

does so only so far as

ap-

propriation' has occurred; and appropriation


is

part of the content of a later experience wholly

additional to the originally 'pure' pen.

That

pen, virtually both objective and subjective,


at

its

own moment

neither.

is

actually and intrinsically

back upon and

It has to be looked

used, in order to be classed in either distinctive

way. But

its use,

so called,

the other experience, while

is

it

in the

hands of

stands, through-

out the operation, passive and unchanged.


If this pass

of

how an

muster as an

intelligible

account

experience originally pure can enter

into one consciousness, the next question


to

is

as

how it might conceivably enter into two.


Ill

Obviously no new kind of condition would

have to be supplied. All that we should have


to postulate would be a second subsequent
130

TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING


and contemporary with

experience, collateral

the

subsequent one, in which a similar act

first

The two

of appropriation should occur.

would

acts

one another nor

interfere neither with

with the originally pure pen. It would sleep


undisturbed in

many

its

own

past,

such successors went through their sev-

Each would know

eral appropriative acts.

as

no matter how

'

'my

percept, each would class

it

it

as a 'con-

scious' fact.

Nor need
least

their so classing

with their classing

it

it

interfere in the

at the

same time as

a physical pen. Since the classing in both cases

depends upon the taking of


another of associates,

if

it

in one

group or

the superseding experi-

ence were of wide enough 'span'

it

could think

the pen in both groups simultaneously, and yet


distinguish the

two groups.

It

would then see

the whole situation conformably to what


call 'the representative

and that

is

what we

man philosophizing

all

we

theory of cognition/

spontaneously do. As a

'popularly/ I believe that

what I

see myself writing with

double

think

in its relations to physical nature,

and

it

131

is

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM

my

also in its relations to

that

mind, but that

my

in

it is

personal

life;

it

I see

also

is

physical pen.

The paradox
in

same experience figuring


two consciousnesses seems thus no paradox

at

all.

'

To be

of the

conscious

means not simply to

known, to have aware-

be, but to be reported,

ness of one's being added to that being;

what happens when the appropri-

this is just

ative experience supervenes.

ence in
itself, it

occur.

The

pen-experi-

immediacy is not aware of


and the second experience is

its original

simply

is,

what we

required for
1

and

The

call

difficulty of

awareness of

therefore, not a logical diffi-

is,

culty: there

no contradiction involved.

an ontological

to

understanding what

happens here
is

it

difficulty rather.

come on an enormous

and

scale,

It

is

Experiences
if

we take

Shadworth Hodgson has laid great stress on the fact that the
of consciousness demands two subfeelings, of which the
second retrospects the first. (Cf. the section Analysis of Minima' in

minimum

his Philosophy of Reflection, vol.

*The Moment
*

I,

p. 248; also the chapter entitled

of Experience* in his Metaphysic of Experience, vol.

We live forward,

I,

but we understand backward* is a phrase of


Kierkegaard's which Htfffding quotes. [ H. Hcffding: "A Philosophical Confession," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific
p. 84.)

Methods, vol.

1905, p. 86.J

132

TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING


them

all

together, they

come

a chaos of

in

incommensurable relations that we can not


straighten out.

We have

to abstract different

groups of them, and handle these separately


if

we

are to talk of

them

at

all.

But how the

experiences ever get themselves made, or


their characters

as appear,

and

why

relations are just such

we can not begin

to understand.

Granting, however, that, by hook or crook,

they can get themselves made, and can appear

have so schematically
described, then we have to confess that even
in the successions that I

although (as I began by quoting from the adversary) 'a feeling only
still

is

as

it is

felt/ there is

nothing absurd in the notion of

felt in

two

different

its

being

ways at once, as yours,


'

'

namely, and as mine. It is, indeed, mine only


as

it is felt

felt as

as mine, and 'yours' only as

yours.

But

it is felt

as neither by

it is

itself,

but only when 'owned* by our two several

re-

membering experiences, just as one undivided


estate is owned by several heirs.

133

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


IV

One word, now,

before I close, about the

corollaries of the views set forth.

Since the

acquisition of conscious quality on the part of

an experience depends upon a context coming


to

it, it

follows that the

ences, having

all.

It

is

strictly

that,

be

an Ab-

a 'pure* experience on an enormous

and

undifferentiated

scale,

of all experi-

no context, can not

called conscious at
solute,

sum total

into thought

and

thing.

undifferentiable

This the post-Kant-

ian idealists have always practically acknow-

ledged by calling their doctrine an Identitatsphilosophie.

The

question of the Beseelung of

the All of things ought not, then, even to be


asked.

No more ought the question of

to be asked, for truth

sum

total,

something

is

its truth

a relation inside of the

obtaining between thoughts and


else,

and thoughts, as we have

seen,

can only be contextual things. In these

re-

spects the pure experiences of our philosophy


are, in themselves considered, so

many

little

absolutes, the philosophy of pure experience


134

TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING


being only a more comminuted Identitatsphi1

losophie.

Meanwhile, a pure experience can be postu-

any amount whatever

of span or

If it exert the retrospective

and appro-

lated with
field.

priative function

on any other piece

of experi-

ence, the latter thereby enters into its

And

conscious stream.

make no

intervals
sleeping,

time

in this operation

essential difference.

my retrospection is

own

After

as perfect as

between two successive waking moments of


time. Accordingly

it is

my

millions of years later, a

if,

similarly retrospective experience should any-

how come

to birth,

my present thought would

form a genuine portion of its long-span conscious life. 'Form a portion/ I say, but not in
the sense that the two things could be entitatively or substantively one
for

they cannot,

they are numerically discrete facts

only in the sense that the functions of


sent thought,

content and
inherited,

its
*

my pre-

purpose,

its

consciousness/ in short, being

would
1

knowledge/

its

but

be

[Cf. below,

continued
pp. 197, 202.]

135

practically

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


unchanged. Speculations

like Fechner's, of

an

Earth-soul, of wider spans of consciousness

enveloping narrower ones throughout the cosare, therefore, philosophically quite in

mos,

order, provided they distinguish the functional

from the entitative point of view, and do not


treat the minor consciousness under discussion

as a kind of standing material of which the

wider ones
1

[Cf

consist.

Pluralistic Universe, Lect. iv,

Lect. v. 'The

Compounding

'

Concerning Fechner,' and

of Consciousness.']

V
THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL
FACTS IN A WORLD OF PURE
EXPERIENCE
1

COMMON

sense and popular philosophy are as

dualistic as it
all

is

possible to be. Thoughts,

naturally think, are

made

we

of one kind of

substance, and things of another. Consciousness, flowing inside of us in the

forms of con-

ception or judgment, or concentrating

itself in

the shape of passion or emotion, can be directly

and

felt as

the spiritual activity which

known

in contrast with the space-filling ob'

jective

content* which

it

it is,

envelopes and ac-

In opposition to this dualistic

companies.

philosophy, I tried, in [the

first

essay] to

that thoughts and things are absolutely

show

homo-

geneous as to their material, and that their


opposition
tion.

only one of relation and of func-

no thought-stuff different from


I said; but the same identical piece

There

thing-stuff,
1

is

is

[Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy,


Methods, vol. H, No. 11. May 25. 1905.]

Scientific

137

Psychology and

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


of 'pure experience' (which

was the name

gave to the materia prima of everything) can


stand alternately for a 'fact of consciousness'
or for a physical reality, according as

it is

taken

understanding of what follows,

For the right


I shall have to

presuppose that the reader

have read that

in one context or in another.

will

[essay].

The commonest
trine there laid

objection which the doc-

down runs up

against

is

drawn

from the existence of our affections/ In our


pleasures

and pains, our loves and

fears

and

angers, in the beauty, comicality, importance

or preciousness of certain objects and situa-

we have,

tions,

am

told

by many

critics,

great realm of experience intuitively recog-

nized as spiritual, made, and felt to be made,


of consciousness exclusively,

and

different in

nature from the space-filling kind of being

which

is

enjoyed by physical objects.

Section VII. of [the

first essay],

this class of experiences


1
4

its

It will

World
ideas

be
of

still

he

In

I treated of

very inadequately,

better if
shall have also read the [essay] entitled
Pure Experience/ which follows [the first] and develops
still

farther.

138

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


because I had to be so

brief.

now

return to

the subject, because I believe that, so far from


invalidating
ena,

my

general thesis, these

phenom-

when properly analyzed, afford it powerful

support.

The central point of the pure-experience theory

that 'outer' and 'inner' are names for

is

two groups into which we


according to the

which they act upon


one 'content/ such as

in

way

Any

their neighbors.

sort experiences

hard, let us say, can be assigned to either

group. In the outer group

is

hard interferes with the space

bors occupy.

It dents

by them; and we
sical

the hard thing

dents nothing,
as

call

them;

is

its

neigh-

impenetrable

the hardness then a phy-

is

it
it

nowhere

in particular,

suffuses through its

'ideas' or

it

mental

were, and interpenetrates

them. Taken in this group we

them

acts

In the mind, on the contrary,

hardness.

neighbors,

it

'strong,

and aggressively. Here what-

'energetically'

ever

it is

sensations';

the two groups respectively

call

both

it

and

and the basis


is

of

the different

type of interrelation, the mutual impenetrabil139

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


on the one hand, and the lack of physical
interference and interaction, on the other.
ity,

That what

in itself is

one and the same

entity should be able to function thus differ-

ently in different contexts

is

a natural conse-

quence of the extremely complex reticulations


in

which our experiences come.

spring a tigress

her

off-

tender, but cruel to every

is

both cruel and tender,

other living thing


therefore, at once.

To

A mass in movement resists

every force that operates contrariwise to

own

direction,

same

but to forces that pursue the

direction, or

come

absolutely inert. It

is

and the same

inert;

its

in at right angles,

it is

thus both energetic and

is

true

(if

you vary the

associates properly) of every other piece of

experience. It

is

only towards certain specific

groups of associates that the physical energies,


as

we

call

them, of a content are put forth. In

another group
It

is

it

may be quite inert.

possible to imagine a universe of expe-

which the only alternative between


neighbors would be either physical interaction

riences in

or complete inertness.
140

In such a world the

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


mental or the physical status of any piece of

When

experience would be unequivocal.

would

ive, it

figure in the physical,

inactive, in the

this,

and when

mental group.

But the universe we


than

act-

live in is

and there is room in

it

more chaotic
for the hybrid

or ambiguous group of our affectional experiences, of our emotions

and appreciative per-

ceptions. In the paragraphs that follow I shall

try to show;
(1)

That the popular notion that these

ex-

periences are intuitively given as purely inner


facts is hasty
(2)

fully

That

my

and erroneous and

their

ambiguity

illustrates beauti-

central thesis that subjectivity

objectivity are affairs not of

ence

is

aboriginally

fication.

made

Classifications

porary purposes.

of,

what an
but of

and

experi-

its classi-

depend on our tem-

For certain purposes

it is

convenient to take things in one set of relations, for other purposes in

two cases

another

set.

In the

their contexts are apt to be different.

In the case of our affectional experiences we

have no permanent and steadfast purpose that


141

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


obliges us to be consistent, so
let

them

ing

float

ambiguously, sometimes class-

them with our

more physical

we find it easy to

feelings,

sometimes with

according to caprice

realities,

or to the convenience of the

moment. Thus

would these experiences, so far from being


an obstacle to the pure experience philosophy, serve as an excellent corroboration of

its

truth.
First of

all,

then,

the objectors
anger, love

a mistake to say, with

it is

whom

and fear are

began by

citing,

that

affections purely of the

mind. That, to a great extent at any rate, they


are simultaneously affections of the

body

is

proved by the whole literature of the Jamesof emotion. 1

Lange theory
moreover, are

local,

All our pains,

and we are always

free to

speak of them in objective as well as in subjective terms.

We can say that we are aware of

a painful place,
organism, or
in a

filling

a certain bigness in our

we can say

state' of pain.

that

we

are inwardly

All our adjectives of

[Cf. The Principle* of Psychology, vol. n, ch. xxv; and "The


Physical Basis of Emotion," The Psychological Review, vol. i, 1894,
1

p. 516.]

142

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


worth are similarly ambiguous

some

I instanced

of the ambiguities [in the first essay]. 1

diamond a quality of
a feeling in our mind? Practi-

Is the preciousness of a

the gem? or
cally

we

is it

treat

as both or as either, accord-

it

ing to the temporary direction of our thought.


*

Beauty/ says Professor Santayana, 'is pleasure objectified"; and in Sections 10 and 11 of
his work,

The Sense of Beauty, he treats

way

masterly

of this equivocal realm.

various pleasures

count as

may

singly,

ness,

we

receive from

"feelings'

call

and

The

an object

when we take them

but when they combine in a total

we

in

the result the

beauty

rich-

of the

it

as an outer attribute which

our mind perceives.

We discover beauty just as

object,

we

treat

discover the physical properties of things.

Training

is

needed tq make us expert in either

Single sensations also

line.

Shall

we say an

may be ambiguous.

agreeable degree of heat/ or

an 'agreeable feeling' occasioned by the degree


of heat? Either will do; and language would
lose

most

of its esthetic

and

rhetorical value

[See above, pp. 84, 85.]

143

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


were we forbidden to project words primarily
connoting our affections upon the objects by

man

which the affections are aroused. The


is

really hateful; the action really

situation really tragic

all in

quite apart from our opinion.

mean; the

themselves and

We

even go so

far as to talk of a

weary road, a giddy height, a


jocund morning or a sullen sky; and the term
*

indefinite* while usually applied only to our

apprehensions, functions as a fundamental


physical qualification of things in Spencer's

'law of evolution/ and doubtless passes with

most readers

for all right.

Psychologists, studying our perceptions of

movement, have unearthed experiences


which movement

is

felt in

ascribed correctly to the

Thus

in

general but not

body that

really

in optical vertigo, caused

by

unconscious movements of our eyes, both

we

moves.

and the external universe appear to be


whirl.
if

When clouds float by the moon,

both clouds and

moon and we

shared in the motion.

in a

it is

as

ourselves

In the extraordinary

case of amnesia of the Rev. Mr, Hanna, pub144

THE PLACE OP AFFECTIONAL FACTS


by Sidis and Goodhart in their important work on Multiple Personality, we read that
lished

when the patient first recovered consciousness


and "noticed an attendant walk across the
room, he identified the movement with that of

He

did not yet discriminate between

his

own.

his

own movements and

those outside him-

Such experiences point to a primitive


stage of perception in which discriminations
afterwards needful have not yet been made.
self."

piece of experience of a determinate sort

is

there,

Motion

but there at

first

as a 'pure' fact.

originally simply is; only later

confined to this thing or to that.

Something

every experience, however

like this is true of

complex, at the

is it

moment of its

actual presence.

Let the reader arrest himself in the act of reading this article now.
ence, a

Now this is a pure experi-

phenomenon, or datum, a mere

content of fact. 'Reading

and whether there

for

that or

simply

some

is, is

there;

one's conscious-

ness, or there for physical nature, is a question

not yet put. At the moment,


*

Page 102.

145

it is

there for

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


neither; later

we

have been there

With the

shall

probably judge

to

it

for both.

affectional experiences

which we

are considering, the relatively 'pure' condition lasts. In practical

life

no urgent need has

yet arisen for deciding whether to treat them


as rigorously mental or as rigorously physical

So they remain equivocal; and, as the


world goes, their equivocality is one of their

facts.

great conveniences.

The

'

shifting place of secondary qualities in

the history of philosophy l

is

proof of the fact that 'inner

another excellent
5

and 'outer are

not coefficients with which experiences come to


us aboriginally stamped, but are rather results
of a later classification performed

by us for
needs. The common-sense stage of

particular

thought

is

a perfectly definite practical halt-

ing-place, the place

where we ourselves can

proceed to act unhesitatingly.


of thought things act

as on us
*

[Cf.

trans,

by means

On

this stage

on each other as well

of their secondary quali-

Janet and SSailles: History of the Problems of Philosophy,

by Monahan, part

i,

ch.

m.]

146

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


ties.

Sound, as such, goes through the

and can be

The heat

intercepted.

air

of the fire

passes over, as such, into the water which


sets a-boiling.

lamp which

It

is

it

the very light of the arc-

displaces the darkness of the mid-

night street, etc.

By

engendering and trans-

locating just these qualities, actively efficacious


as they

seem to

be,

we

ourselves succeed in

altering nature so as to suit us;

and

until

more

purely intellectual, as distinguished from practical,

needs had arisen, no one ever thought

of calling these qualities subjective.

When,

however, Galileo, Descartes, and others found


best for philosophic purposes to class sound,

it

and

and pleasure
as purely mental phenomena, they could do so
heat,

light along with pain

with impunity. 1

Even the primary

qualities are undergoing

the same fate. Hardness and softness are effects

on us

of atomic interactions,

and the

atoms themselves are neither hard nor


nor solid nor
1

and shape are deemed

liquid. Size

[Cf. Descartes:

Meditation

n;

soft,

Principles of Philosophy, part

XLvmJ
147

I,

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


subjective

by Kantians; time

jective according to

many

itself

sub-

is

philosophers

l
;

and

even the activity and causal efficacy which


lingered in physics long after secondary quali-

were banished are now treated as

ties

illusory

projections outwards of phenomena of our

own

consciousness. There are no activities or

effects

in nature, for the

most

intellectual

contemporary school of physical speculation.

Nature exhibits only changes, which habitually


coincide with one another so that their habits
are describable in simple 'laws/

There

is

no

original spirituality or material-

ity of being, intuitively discerned, then

but

only a translocation of experiences from one

world to another

a grouping of them with

one set or another of associates for definitely


practical or intellectual ends.

I will say nothing here of the persistent

ambiguity of

relations.

They

are undeniable

parts of pure experience; yet, while

sense and
*

[Cf.

[Cf.

what

common

I call radical empiricism stand

A. E. Taylor: Elements of Metaphysics, bk.

K. Pearson: Grammar of Science, ch. in.]

148

m,

ch. IV.]

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


for their being objective,

both rationalism and

the usual empiricism claim that they are exclusively the

'work of the mind

mind or the absolute mind,


Turn now

the finite

as the case

to those affective

which more directly concern

may be.

phenomena

us.

We soon learn to separate the ways in which


things appeal to our interests

and emotions

from the ways in which they act upon one


another. It does not work to assume that physical objects are

going to act outwardly by

their sympathetic or antipathetic qualities.

The beauty

of a thing or its value

no force

is

that can be plotted in a polygon of composi'

'

'

tions, nor does its use or significance affect in

the minutest degree

or destiny

its vicissitudes

at the hands of physical nature.


'affini ties'

Chemical

are a purely verbal metaphor; and,

as I just said, even such things as forces, tensions,

and

activities

can at a pinch be regarded

as anthropomorphic projections.
as the physical world

means the

So

far, then,

collection of

contents that determine in each other certain


149

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


regular changes, the whole collection of our

appreciative attributes has to be treated as


falling outside of

nature whatever

it.

lies

If

we mean by

physical

beyond the surface

of our

bodies, these attributes are inert throughout

the whole extent of physical nature.

Why then do men leave them as


as they do,

and not

class

them

ambiguous

decisively as

purely spiritual ?

The

reason would seem to be that, although

they are inert as regards the rest of physical


nature, they are not inert as regards that part
of physical nature
It

which our own skin covers.

those very appreciative attributes of

is

things, their dangerousness,


utility,

etc.,

beauty, rarity,

that primarily appeal to our

attention. In our

attributes are

commerce with nature these

what give emphasis to

objects;

an object to be emphatic, whatever


spiritual fact it may mean, means also that it

and

for

produces immediate bodily effects upon us,


alterations of tone

and breathing,

The

'

and

tension, of heart-beat

of vascular

and

visceral action.

interesting* aspects of things are thus


150

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


not wholly inert physically, though they be
active only in these small corners of physical nature

however,

is

which our bodies occupy. That,

enough to save them from being

classed as absolutely non-objective.

any one should make it, to


experiences into two absolutely discrete

The attempt,
sort

if

groups, with nothing but inertness in one of

them and nothing but

activities in the other,

would thus receive one check.


another as soon as

It

we examined the more

distinctively mental group; for

group

it

would receive

though in that

be true that things do not act on one

another by their physical properties, do not

dent each other or set

fire

to each other, they

yet act on each other in the most energetic

way by

those very characters which are so

by the interest
and importance that experiences have for us,
by the emotions they excite, and the purposes
It

inert extracorporeally.

is

they subserve, by their affective values, in


short, that their consecution in our several

conscious streams, as

thoughts' of ours,

is

mainly ruled. Desire introduces them; interest


151

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


holds them; fitness fixes their order and connection.

I need only refer for this aspect of

our mental

life,

Wundt's

to

article

'Ueber

psychische Causalitat/ which begins Volume

X.

1
of his Philosophische Studien.

It thus appears that the

phibious status which

value occupying

is

we

ambiguous or am-

find our epithets of

the most natural thing in

the world. It would, however, be an unnatural


status

if

the popular opinion which I cited

at the outset were correct.


*

'

If

physical'

and

mental' meant two different kinds of in-

trinsic nature,

immediately, intuitively, and

infallibly discernible,

and each

in whatever bit

experience

of

fixed forever
it

qualified,

one does not see how there could ever have

any room for doubt or ambiguity.


But if, on the contrary, these words are
words of sorting, ambiguity is natural. For
arisen

then, as soon as the relations of a thing are


sufficiently various it

can be sorted variously.

It is enough for my present purpose if the appreciative characters


but seem to act thus. Believers in an activity an rich, other than our
mental experiences of activity, will find some farther reflections on the
subject in my address on 'The Experience of Activity/ [The next

essay. Cf. especially, p. 169.

ED.]

152

THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS


Take a mass

'disgustingness' which for us


experience.

and the

of carrion, for example,

The sun

zephyr wooes

it

as

is

caresses

if it

part of the
it,

and the

were a bed of

roses.

So the disgustingness fails to operate within


it does not
the realm of suns and breezes,

But the carrion

function as a physical quality.


'turns our stomach

operation

it

by what seems a

direct

does function physically, there-

We

can

fore, in

that limited part of physics.

treat

as physical or as non-physical accord-

ing as

it

we take it in the narrower or in the wider

context,
treat

it

and conversely,

of course,

we must

as non-mental or as mental.

Our body

itself is

the ambiguous.

the palmary instance of

Sometimes I treat

my

body

purely as a part of outer nature. Sometimes,


again, I think of

it

as 'mine,

I sort

it

with

the 'me/ and then certain local changes and

determinations in

it

pass for spiritual happen*

my thinking/ its sensorial adjustments are my


attention/ its
kinesthetic alterations are my 'efforts/ its
visceral perturbations are my 'emotions/
ings.

Its breathing is

153

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


The

obstinate controversies that have arisen

over such statements as these (which sound so

made

so

to decide

by

paradoxical, and which can yet be

prove

seriously)

how hard

bare introspection what


that shall
terial.

make them

It surely

it is

it

is

in experiences

either spiritual or

ma-

can be nothing intrinsic in

the individual experience. It

is

their

way

of

behaving towards each other, their system of


relations, their function;

and

all

these things

vary with the context in which we find

it

opportune to consider them.


I think I

that

my

may

conclude, then (and I hope

readers are

now ready

to conclude

with me), that the pretended spirituality of

our emotions and of our attributes of value,


so far from proving an objection to the philo-

sophy of pure experience, does, when rightly


discussed
its

and accounted

best corroborations.

for, serve as

one of

VI

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY

BRETHREN OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION:

IN

casting about

me for a

subject for your

President this year to talk about

me

to

has seemed

that our experiences of activity would

form a good one

not only because the topic

so naturally interesting,

is

it

and because

it

has

lately led to a

good deal of rather inconclusive


discussion, but because I myself am growing
more and more interested in a certain systematic

way of handling questions, and want to get

others interested also,

me

and this question

as one in which, although I

aware of

my

inability to

am

strikes

painfully

communicate new

discoveries or to reach definitive conclusions,

yet can show, in a rather definite manner,

how the method works.


1

President's Address before the American Psychological AssociaPhiladelphia Meeting, December, 1904. [Reprinted from The

tion,

No. 1, Jan., 1905. Also reprinted, with


iome omissions, as Appendix B, A Pluralistic Universe, pp. 870-394.
Pp. 166-167 have also been reprinted in Some Problems of Philosophy,
Psychological Review, vol. xii,

:>.

212.

The

present essay

author's corrections

is

referred to in ibid., p. 219, note.

have been adopted for the present

155

The

text. ED.]

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


The way of handling

things I speak of,

is,

as

have suspected, that known


sometimes as the pragmatic method, some-

you already

will

times as humanism, sometimes as Deweyism,

and

in France,

by some

of the disciples of

Bergson, as the Philosophic nouvelle. Professor


1
Woodbridge's Journal of Philosophy seems

unintentionally to have
ing place for those
cies in

become a

who

America. There

among them; and


present

sort of meet-

follow these tenden-

is

only a dim identity

the most that can be said at

that some sort of gestation seems to

is

be in the atmosphere, and that almost any day


a man with a genius for finding the right word

may

for things

hit

upon some unifying and

conciliating formula that will

vaguely

more

similar

aspiration

make

much

so

crystallize

into

definite form.

I myself have given the

name

of 'radical

empiricism to that version of the tendency in


question which I prefer; and I propose,
will

now

let

me, to

radical empiricism,
1

illustrate

what

by applying

it

if

you

mean by

to activity

[The Journal of Philosophy, Psychokgg and Scientific Methods.]

156

THE EXPERIENCE OP ACTIVITY


as an example, hoping at the

same time

inci-

dentally to leave the general problem of activity in a slightly

more

I fear very slightly

manageable shape than before.

Mr. Bradley

calls

the question of activity a

scandal to philosophy, and

if

one turns to the

current literature of the subject


writings included

his

own

one easily gathers what

he means. The opponents cannot even understand one another. Mr. Bradley says to Mr.

Ward: "I do not care what your oracle is,


and your preposterous psychology may here be
gospel

if

you

please;

but

if

the revela-

tion does contain a meaning, I will

myself to this: either the oracle


that

its

signification

upon the other hand,

is
if it

is

commit

so confused

not discoverable,

or,

can be pinned down

to

any definite statement, then that statement will be false/* 1 Mr. Ward in turn says
Mr. Bradley: "I cannot even imagine the
state of mind to which his description applies.
of

[It]

reads like an unintentional travesty

Appearance and Reality, second edition, pp. 116-117.


ObWard, though Ward's name is not mentioned,

viously written at

157

ESSAYS

I.N

RADICAL EMPIRICISM
by one who has

of Herbartian psychology

improve upon it without being at the


1
pains to master it." Miinsterberg excludes a
tried to

view opposed to his own by saying that with

any one who holds it a Verstdndigung with


"
him is grundsdtzlich ausgeschlossen" and
;

Royce, in a review of Stout,

hauls

him over

the coals at great length for defending


cacy' in a

way which

I,

'effi-

for one, never gath-

ered from reading him, and which I have

heard Stout himself say was quite foreign to


the intention of his text.

In these discussions distinct questions are


habitually jumbled and different points of

view are talked of durcheinander.


(1)

There is a psychological question

we perceptions
they

of activity?

and

if

so,

'c
:

Have

what are

and when and where do we have

[like,

them?"
(2)

There

is

a metaphysical question

there a fact of activity

and

must we frame of it? What is

if

it

so,

[Mind, vol. xn, 1887. pp. 573-574.]

Mind, N.

S. t vol. vi, [1897], p. 879.

158

Is

what idea

like?

"
:

and what

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


does

it

do,

there

is

a logical question

source of information?"

is

our

by some other

before one;

is

and

of the surface-show of experi-

preferred as

every one of them.

moreover,

By

Throughout page
one knows not

of these questions

mere description
ence

activity?

of the literature

page

which

finally

feelings of it solely? or

after

And

does anything?"

"Whence do we know

(3)

own

if it

if it

No

implicitly answered

one of the disputants,

show what pragmatic conown view would carry, or what

tries to

sequences his

assignable particular differences in

experience

would make

it

if

any one's

his adversary's

were triumphant.

me that

It seems to

good

for anything,

method and

its

it

if

radical empiricism be

ought, with

its

pragmatic

principle of pure" experience,

to be able to avoid such tangles, or at least


to simplify

method
no

them somewhat. The pragmatic

starts

from the postulate that there

difference of truth that does n't

difference of fact

somewhere; and

determine the meaning of


159

all

it

is

make a
seeks to

differences of

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


opinion by making the discussion hinge as soon
as possible
issue.

The

upon some

practical or particular

principle of pure experience

is

also

a methodical postulate.

Nothing shall be admitted as fact, it says, except what can be


experienced at some definite time by some experient;

and

for every feature of fact ever so

experienced, a definite place

somewhere

in the final

must be found

system of

reality.

In

other words: Everything real must be experienceable somewhere, and every kind of thing
experienced must somewhere be real.

Armed with

these rules of

method

let

us see

what face the problems of activity present to us.

By

the principle of pure experience, either


'

the word
all,

it

must have no meaning at


the original'type and model of what
activity'

or else

means must

lie

in

some concrete kind

of

experience that can be definitely pointed out.

Whatever
ally

come

to

eventu-

make regarding activity,

that sort

of thing will be

The

first

judgments we

may

ulterior

what the judgments are about.

step to take, then,

the stream of experience


160

is

to ask where in

we seem

to find

what

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


we speak
of the

of as activity.

What we

found

activity thus

are to think

be a later

will

question.

Now
affirm

it is

obvious that

activity

going on.

we

are tempted to

wherever we find anything

Taken

in the broadest sense,

apprehension of something doing,

is

Were our world

rience of activity.

any

an expedescrib-

by the words "nothing happening/


"nothing changing/ "nothing doing/ we should

able only

unquestionably

call

it

an "inactive" world.

Bare activity then, as we

may

the bare fact of event or change.


ing place*

call it,
"

means

Change tak-

a unique content of experience,

is
"

'

one of those conjunctive objects which radical empiricism seeks so earnestly to rehabili-

tate

and preserve. The sense of activity

in the broadest

subjective

thus

and vaguest way synonymous

with the sense of

own

is

life

"life/

We

should

feel

our

at least, even in noticing

and proclaiming an otherwise inactive world.


Our own reaction on its monotony would be
the one thing experienced there in the form of

something coming to pass.


161

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


This seems to be what certain writers have
in

mind when they

to be at
or at

all is

we

to be active. It seems to justify,

any rate to

sion that

we

that for an experient

insist

explain,

are only as

are only as experients;

Mr. Ward's expres-

we

are active, 1 for

and

it

Bradley 's contention that "there

rules out
is

no

experience of anything like activity."

we ought

Mr.

original

What

to say about activities thus ele-

mentary, whose they


whether indeed they

are,

what they

effect

effect,

anything at

or

all

these are later questions, to be answered only

when the

field of

experience

is

enlarged.

Bare activity would thus be predicable,


though there were no definite direction, no

and no aim. Mere

actor,

restless zigzag

move-

ment, or a wild Ideenflucht, or Rhapsodic der


3
Wahrnehmungen, as Kant would say, would
1

Naturalism and Agnosticism, vol. n, p. 245. One thinks naturprimus and octus secundus here. ["Actus

ally of the peripatetic actus

autem est duplex: primus et secundus. Actus quidem primus est


forma, et integritas sei. Actus autem secundus est operatic." Thomas

Summa

Tkeologica, edition of

Leo XIII,

(1894), vol.

Aquinas

p. 891.

Cf. also Blanc: Dictionnaire de Philosophic, under 'acte.'

i,

ED.]
2
8

[Appearance and Reality, second edition, p. 116.]


[Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Werke, (1905), vol. IV, p. 110 (trans.

by Max

Miiller,

second edition, p. 128).]

162

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


an

constitute an active as distinguished from


inactive world.

But

in this actual

world of ours, as

given, a part at least of the activity

with definite direction;

and sense

of goal;

resistances

which

and with the

it

it

it

is

comes

comes with desire

it

comes complicated with

overcomes or succumbs

to,

which the feeling of

re-

efforts

sistance so often provokes;

and

in

it is

com-

plex experiences like these that the notions of


distinct agents,

and

of passivity as

Here

to activity arise.

also

opposed

the notion of

causal efficacy comes to birth.

Perhaps the

most elaborate work ever done

in descriptive

psychology has been the analysis by various


recent writers of the
situations.
1

more complex

activity-

In their descriptions, exquisitely

I refer to such descriptive

work as Ladd's (Psychology,

Descriptive

and Explanatory, part I, chap, v, part n, chap, xi, part in, chaps.
xxv and xxvi); as Sully 's (The Human Mind, partv); as Stout's
(Analytic Psychology, book i, chap, vi, and bookn, chaps. I, n, and
in) as Bradley's (in his long series of analytic articles on Psychology
;

in Mind)', as Titchener's (Outline of Psychology, part

as Shand's (Mind,

(Mind,

xii, 67;

N.

564);

S.,

I,

in, 449; iv, 450; vi, 289);

as Loveday's

(Mind, N.

S.,

chap, vi);
as Ward's

x, 455);

as

Lipps's (Vom Ftihlen, Wollen und Denken, 1902, chaps, n, iv, vi) ;
to mention only
and as Bergson's (Revue Philosophique, LIII, 1)

a few writings which I immediately

163

recall.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


subtle

some

of them, 1 the activity appears as

the gestaltqualitdt or the fundirte inhalt (or as

whatever

else

you may please to

call

junctive form) which the content

when we

experience

describers set forth.


relations are
tions;

and

Those

falls

into

ways which the

in the

it

the con-

factors in those

what we mean by

activity-situa-

to the possible enumeration

accumulation of their circumstances and

and
in-

gredients there would seem to be no natural

bound. Every hour of

human

tribute to the picture gallery;

life

could con-

and

this is the

only fault that one can find with such descriptive industry

where

is

it

going to stop?

Ought we to listen forever to verbal pictures


of what we have already in concrete form in

own

our

breasts?

superficial plane.

They never take us off the


We knew the facts already

spread out and separated, to be sure

less
1

but

Their existence forms a curious commentary on Prof. Mtinsterdogma that will-attitudes are not describable. He himself has

berg's

contributed in a superior

way

to their description, both in his Willen-

shandlung, and in his Grundzuge [der Psychohgie], part n, chap,


7.

ix,
2

ought myself to cry peccavi, having been a voluminous sinner in


chapter on the will. [Principles of Psychology, vol. n, chap.

my own
XXVI.]

164

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


we knew them

still.

We

always

felt

our

own

activity, for example, as "the expansion of

idea with which our Self

an obstacle
definition

*
;

is

an

identified, against

and the following out

of such a

through a multitude of cases elabo-

rates the obvious so as to be little

more than an

exercise in

synonymic speech.
All the descriptions have to trace familiar

outlines,^and to use familiar terms.


ivity

is,

for

The

act-

example, attributed either to a

physical or to a mental agent, and


aimless or directed. If directed

it

is

either

shows ten-

The tendency may or may not be reIf not, we call the activity immanent, as

dency.
sisted.

when a body moves in empty space by its momentum, or our thoughts wander at their own
sweet

will.

If resistance is met, its agent

plicates the situation. If

now, in spite of

com-

resist-

ance, the original tendency continues, effort

makes

its

appearance, and along with effort,

strain or squeeze. Will, in the narrower sense

of the word, then


1

[Cf . F.

comes upon the scene, when-

H. Bradley, Appearance and

96-97-1

165

Reality, second edition, pp.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ever, along with the tendency, the strain

and

squeeze are sustained. But the resistance

may

be great enough to check the tendency, or even


to reverse

its

path. In that case, we

(if

'

we were

the original agents or subjects of the tendency)


are overpowered.

The phenomenon turns into

one of tension simply, or of necessity suceumbed-to, according as the opposing power


only equal, or

is

is

superior to ourselves.

Whosoever describes an experience in such


terms as these describes an experience of activity.

If the

word have any meaning,

denote what there

is

found. There

is

it

must

complete

activity in its original

and

What

what there appears.

it is

'known-as'

is

first

intention.

The experiencer of such a situation possesses all


that the idea contains.

He feels

the tendency,

the obstacle, the will, the strain, the triumph, or


the passive giving up, just as he feels the time,
the space, the swiftness or intensity, the move-

ment, the weight and color, the pain and pleasure, the complexity, or

characters the situation

through

all

whatever remaining

may

involve.

He goes

that ever can be imagined where


166

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


activity

is

supposed. If

we suppose

to go on outside of our experience,

them some other name;

activity' has

it is

in forms

we must suppose them,

like these that

give

activities

or else

word

for the

no imaginable content whatever

save these experiences of process, obstruction,


striving, strain, or release, ultimate qualia as

they are of the

Were

life

given us to be known.

end of the matter, one might


think that whenever we had successfully lived
this the

through an activity-situation we should have


to be permitted, without provoking contradiction, to say that

that

we had met

prevailed. Lotze

entity

all

that

we had been

and had

real resistance

really

somewhere says that to be an

is

necessary

entity, to operate, or

cognized, or in

really active,

be

any way

is

felt,

to gelten as

an

experienced, re-

realized, as such.

In

our activity-experiences the activity assuredly

fulfils

gelten.

what

It

is

Lotze's demand.

witnessed at

activities there

its

may

[Cf.

really

be

it is

above, p. 59, note.]

167

makes

work.

traordinary universe of ours,


1

It

No

itself

matter

in this ex-

impossible

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


them being
authentically known

any one

for us to conceive of

either lived through or

of

otherwise than in this dramatic shape of some-

thing sustaining a felt purpose against

felt

and overcoming or being overcome.


What sustaining means here is clear to anyone
obstacles

'

who has
no one

lived through the experience, but to

else; just as "loud,

"red/ sweet/

mean

something only to beings with ears, eyes, and

The

tongues.
perience

is

If there is

per dpi in these originals of ex-

the esse; the curtain

is

the picture.

anything hiding in the background,

ought not to be called activity, but should


get itself another name.
it

This seems so obviously true that one might


well experience astonishment at finding so

many
flatly

of the ablest writers

on the subject

denying that the activity we live through

in these situations

is real.

Merely to feel active

not to be active, in their sight. The agents

is

that appear in the experience are not real


agents, the resistances
effects that
*

Verborum

do not

really resist, the

1
appear are not really effects at all.

gratiA:

"The

feeling of activity is not able,

168

quA

feeling,

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


It

is

evident from this that mere descriptive

any one

analysis of
is

to

of our activity-experiences

not the whole story, that there


tell

is

something

us anything about activity*' (Loveday: Mind, N.

[1901], p. 463);

"A sensation or feeling or sense of activity

S., vol.

...

is

x,

not,

looked at in another way, an experience of activity at all. It is a mere


sensation shut up within which you could by no reflection get the
idea of activity. . . . Whether this experience is or is not later on a
character essential to our perception and our idea of activity, it, as it

comes first,
comes first,

not in itself an experience of activity at all. It, as it


only so for extraneous reasons and only so for an outside
observer" (Bradley, Appearance and Reality, second edition, p. 605);

"In dem

is

is

Tatigkeitsgeftthle liegt

an

sich nicht der geringste

Beweis

das Vorhandensein einer psychischen Tatigkeit" (Mtinsterberg:


Grundviige der Psychologic). I could multiply similar quotations and
ftir

would have introduced some

of

them

into

my

make

text to

concrete, save that the mingling of different points of view in

it more
most of

these author's discussions (not in Mtinsterberg's) make it impossible to


disentangle exactly what they mean. I am sure in any case, to be

accused of misrepresenting them totally, even in this note, by omission


name names and the more I stick to ab-

of the context, so the less I

stract characterization of a merely possible style of opinion, the safer


it will be. And apropos of misunderstandings, I may add to this note

a complaint on

my own

account. Professor Stout, in the excellent

'

Mental Activity,' in vol. I of his Analytic Psychology,


chapter on
takes me to task for identifying spiritual activity with certain muscular feelings and gives quotations to bear
certain paragraphs on 'the Self,' in which

what the central nucleus

of

[Principles of Psychology, vol.

him

out.

the activities that


i,

are from
was to show

They

my attempt
we

call

pp. 299-305.] I found

it

'ours*

is.

in certain

movements which we habitually oppose, as 'subjectto the activities of the transcorporeal world. I sought to show
that there is no direct evidence that we feel the activity of an
intracephalic

ive,'

inner spiritual] agent as such (I should now say the activity of


'consciousness' as such, see [the first essay], 'Does Consciousness
Exist?').

the

There

are, in fact, three distinguishable 'activities' in

field of discussion:

the elementary activity involved in the mere


and the far-

that of experience, in the fact that something is going on,

ther specification of this something into two whats,

169

an

activity felt as

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


to

still

tell

about

them that has

led such able

writers to conceive of a Simon-pure activity,

an activity an

of

sick,

that does, and does n't

'ours/ and an activity ascribed to objects. Stout, as I apprehend him,


with that of the total experience-process, and

identifies 'our' activity

when

I circumscribe it as a part thereof, accuses

sort of external

appendage to

me of treating it

as a

(Stout op. cit. t vol. i, pp. 162-163),


*
as if I separated the activity from the process which is active.' But
all the processes in question are active, and their activity is inseparable

from

their being.

itself

My book raised only the question of which activity

name of

'ours/ So far as we are persons/ and contrasted


and opposed to an 'environment/ movements in our body figure as
our activities; and I am unable to find any other activities that are

deserved the

ours in this strictly personal sense. There is a wider sense in which


*
choir of heaven and furniture of the earth/ and their

the whole

activities, are ours, for

another

name for the


and

they are our 'objects/ But 'we* are here only

total process of experience, another

name

for all

was dealing with the personal and individualized


self exclusively in the passages with which Professor Stout finds fault.
The individualized self, which I believe to be the only thing pro-

that

is,

in fact;

perly called

self, is

a part of the content of the world experienced. The


'

world experienced (otherwise called the field of consciousness ') comes


at all times with our body as its centre, centre of vision, centre of action, centre of interest.

Where the body

is is

'here';

when the body

'now'; what the body touches is 'this'; all other things are
'there' and 'then* and 'that/ These words of emphasized position

acts

is

imply a systematization of things with reference to a focus of action


interest which lies in the body; and the systematization is now so
instinctive (was it ever not so?) that no developed or active experience

and

exists for us at all except in that ordered form.

and

So

far as 'thoughts'

can be active, their activity terminates in the activity


of the body, and only through first arousing its activities can they
'feelings'

begin to change those of the rest of the world. [Cf. also A Pluralistic
Universe, p. 344, note 8. ED.] The body is the storm centre, the origin
of co-ordinates, the constant place of stress in all that experienceEverything circles round it, and is felt from its point of view.

train.

'I/ then, is primarily a noun of position, just like 'this* and


'here/ Activities attached to 'this' position have prerogative empha-

The word
sis,

and, if activities have feelings, must be

170

felt in

a peculiar way. The

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


merely appear to us to do, and compared with

whose
is

real doing all this

phenomenal activity

but a specious sham.

The metaphysical

question opens here; and

mind

I think that the state of

of one possessed

"

by it is often something like this It is all very


well," we may imagine him saying, "to talk
:

about certain experience-series taking on the

form of

feelings of activity, just as

they might

take on musical or geometric forms. Suppose

we feel a will

that they do so; suppose

to stand

a strain. Does our feeling do more than record


the fact that the strain
activity, meanwhile,

is

is

sustained?

The

real

the doing of the fact;

and what is the doing made of before the record


is made. What in the will enables it to act thus?

And

these trains of experience themselves, in

which
at all?

activities appear,

what makes them go

Does the activity

in

one bit of experi-

ence bring the next bit into being? As an emword 'my* designates the kind of emphasis. I see no inconsistency
whatever in defending, on the one hand, my activities as unique and
opposed to those of outer nature, and, on the other hand, in affirming,
after introspection, that they consist in movements in the head. The
'my* of them is the emphasis, the feeling of perspective-interest in
which they are dyed.
*

171

'

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


you cannot say

piricist

so, for

you have

just

declared activity to be only a kind of synthetic


object, or conjunctive relation experienced be-

tween

made. But

bits of experience already

what made them at

What

all?

propels experi-

There

ence uberhaupt into being?

is

ivity that operates; the activity felt


its superficial

the actis

only

sign."

To the metaphysical question, popped upon


us in this way, I must pay serious attention
ere I end

my remarks; but, before doing so, let

me show

that without leaving the immediate

reticulations of experience, or asking

makes

activity itself act,

we

tinction between less real

still

what

find the dis-

and more

real act-

upon us, and are driven to much


soul-searching on the purely phenomenal plane.
ivities forced

We

must not

forget,

namely, in talking of

the ultimate character of our activity-experiences, that each of

them

is

but a portion of a

wider world, one link in the vast chain of processes of experience out of

made. Each
through

it,

which history

partial process, to

defines itself
172

by

its

him who
origin

is

lives

and

its

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


goal; but to

an observer with a wider mind-

span who should

live outside of

it,

that goal

would appear but as a provisional haltingplace, and the subjectively felt activity would
be seen to continue into objective
that led far beyond.

activities

We thus acquire

a habit,

in discussing activity-experiences, of defining

them by

their relation to

an experience be one

of

something more.

narrow span,

mistaken as to what activity

You

it is

it will

If

be

and whose.

think that you are acting while you are

only obeying someone's push.

You

think you

are doing this, but

you are doing something of


which you do not dream. For instance, you
think you are but drinking this glass; but you

are really creating the liver-cirrhosis that will

end your days. You think you are just driving this bargain, but, as Stevenson says some-

where, you are laying down a link in the policy


of

mankind.
Generally speaking, the onlooker, with his

wider

field of vision,

regards the ultimate out-

come of an activity as what

it

is

more

really

doing; and the most previous agent ascertain173

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


able, being the first source of action,

most

as the

he regards

The others

real agent in the field.

but transmit that agent's impulse; on him

we put

responsibility;

asks us

'Who

's

to

we name him when one

blame

?'

But the most previous agents

ascertainable,

instead of being of longer span, are often of

much

shorter span than the activity in view.

My

Brain-cells are our best example.


cells are

brain-

believed to excite each other from

next to next (by contiguous transmission of


katabolic alteration, let us say) and to have

been doing so long before

this present stretch

of lectur ing-activity

on

one cell-group stops

its activity,

will cease or

causa, cessat

my part began.

show disorder

If

any

the lecturing

of form.

Cessante

does not this look as

et effectus

the short-span brain activities were the more

if

real

on

activities,

my

Hume

and the lecturing

part only their effects

so clearly pointed out,

[Enquiry Concerning

Moreover, as
in

my

mental

words physically to be

activity-situation the

Human

Selby-Bigge's edition, pp. 65

activities

Understanding, sect,

ff.J

174

vii,

part

I,

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


uttered are represented as the activity's im-

mediate goal. These words, however, cannot

be uttered without intermediate physical pro-

and vagi nerves, which pronevertheless fail to figure in the mental

cesses in the bulb


cesses

activity-series at

since

it

all.

That

series, therefore,

leaves out vitally real steps of action,

cannot represent the real

activities. It is

some-

thing purely subjective; the facts of activity


are elsewhere.

They

interstitial, so to

are something far

what

speak, than

more

my feelings

record.

The

real facts of activity that

of fact

have

in point

been systematically pleaded for by

philosophers have, so far as

my

information

goes, been of three principal types.

The first type

takes a consciousness of wider

time-span than ours to be the vehicle of the

more real
purpose

activity. Its will

is

is

the agent, and

its

the action done.

The second type assumes that

ideas' strug-

gling with one another are the agents,

that the prevalence of one set of


action.
175

them

is

and
the

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


The

third type believes that nerve-cells are

the agents, and that resultant motor discharges


are the acts achieved.

Now

if

we must

de-realize our immediately

felt activity-situations for

the benefit of either

of these types of substitute,

what the

What

we ought

substitution practically

practical difference ought

instead of saying naively that

now

to

involves.

make

it to
C

I'

know

am

if,

active

in delivering this address, I say that a

wider thinker
active,

is active,

or that certain ideas are

or that certain nerve-cells are active, in

producing the result?

This would be the pragmatic meaning of the


three hypotheses. Let us take

them

in succes-

sion in seeking a reply.


If

we assume a wider

thinker,

it is

that his purposes envelope mine. I


lecturing for him;

evident

am

really

and although I cannot surely

know to what end, yet if I take him religiously,


I can trust

it

to be a good end,

connive. I can be

happy

my

willingly

in thinking that

my

and that

his

activity transmits his impulse,

ends prolong

and

own. So long as I take him


176

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


he does not de-realize

religiously, in short,

He

activities.

reality of

my

tends rather to corroborate the

them, so long as I believe both them

and him to be good.

When now we
ferent,

turn to ideas, the case

is dif-

inasmuch as ideas are supposed by the

association psychology to influence each other

only from next to next.


or pair of ideas,

The

'span' of an idea

assumed to be much smaller

is

instead of being larger than that of

conscious

The same

field.

worked out

to really

whole of

But the

is

ideas supposed

it

out had no prevision of the

and

if

it;

was lecturing

for

an abso-

by

similar

my ideas now lecturing for me,

accomplishing unwittingly a result

which I approve and adopt. But, when


passing lecture

is

over, there

is

that would seem to guarantee that

its

agents

my present

purposes in lecturing will be prolonged.


ulterior

this

nothing in the

bare notion that ideas have been

have

get

work

reasoning, are
is,

may

results

lute thinker in the former case, so,

that

total

both cases, for this address

in

being given anyhow.


*

my

'/

may

developments in view; but there


177

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


no certainty that my ideas as such
to, or be able to, work them out.
is

The
The

like is true if nerve-cells

activity of a nerve-cell

wish

will

be the agents.

must be conceived

of as a tendency of exceedingly short reach,


'

impulse' barely spanning the

cell

for surely that

way

amount

an

to the next

of actual

pro-

must be experienced' by the cells if what


happens between them is to deserve the name
cess'

of activity at

all.

But here again the

resultant, as / perceive

agents,

it, is

and neither wished or

seen. Their being agents

gross

indifferent to the

willed or fore-

now congruous with

my will gives me no guarantee that like results


will recur

again from their activity.

of fact, all sorts of other results

In point

do occur.

My

mistakes, impotencies, perversions, mental obstructions,

and

frustrations generally, are also

results of the activity of cells.

Although these

me lecture now, on other occasions


they make me do things that I would willingly

are letting

not do.

The

question Whose

is the real activity? is

thus tantamount to the question What will be


178

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


the actual results? Its interest is dramatic;
will things

one

sort,

work out?

one way;

work out very


meaning
is

if

how

If the agents are of

of another sort, they

differently.

may

The pragmatic

of the various alternatives, in short,

great. It

makes no merely verbal

difference

which opinion we take up.

You

see

it is

the old dispute come back!

Materialism and teleology; elementary short'

span actions summing themselves blindly/ or

coming with effort into act.


Naively we believe, and humanly and dra-

far foreseen ideals

we

matically

like to believe, that activities

both of wider and of narrower span are at

work

in life together, that

both are

real,

and

that the long-span tendencies yoke the others


in their service, encouraging

them

in the right

and damping them when they tend

direction,

But how

in other ways.

to represent clearly

the modus operandi of such steering of small


tendencies

by

large ones

metaphysical thinkers

upon

for

many

is

will

a problem which

have to ruminate

years to come.

control should eventually


179

grow

Even

if

such

clearly pictur-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


able, the question

how

far

it is

successfully

exerted in this actual world can be answered

only by investigating the details of fact.

No

philosophic knowledge of the general nature

and constitution

of tendencies, or of the rela-

tion of larger to smaller ones, can help us to

predict which of

the various competing

all

tendencies that interest us in this universe are


likeliest to prevail.

We know

as

an empirical

fact that far-seeing tendencies often carry out


their purpose,

but we know also that they are

often defeated

by the

failure of

some com-

temptibly small process on which success depends.

thrombus

little

meningeal artery

in a statesman's

throw an empire out of

will

gear. I can therefore not even hint at

tion of the pragmatic issue. I

to

show you that that

activity

have only wished

what gives the


into what kinds of

issue

real interest to all inquiries

any solu-

is

may be real. Are the forces that really

act in the world

As between

more foreseeing or more blind?

'our' activities as *we' experience

them, and those of our ideas, or of our braincells,

the issue

is

well-defined.
180

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


*

I said a while back

that I should return to

the 'metaphysical' question before ending; so,

with a few words about that, I will

my

now

close

remarks.

In whatever form we hear this question pro-

pounded, I think that

always arises from two

it

things, a belief that causality


in activity,

made.

If

must be exerted

and a wonder as to how causality

we take an

is

activity-situation at its

we caught inflagrante
delicto the very power that makes facts come
and be. I now am eagerly striving, for exface- value,

it

seems as

if

ample, to get this truth which I seem half to


perceive, into words which shall

make

it

more clearly.

it will

seem as

if

the striving

If the
itself

words come,

show

had drawn or pulled them

into actuality out from the state of merely


possible being in which they were.
feat performed?

How

How

How is this

does the pulling pull?

on words not yet existent, and when they come by what means have
I made them come? Really it is the problem of
do

I get

my hold

creation; for in the end the question


i

Page 172.

181

is:

How do

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


I

make them be? Real

that really

make

activities

are those

things be, without which

the things are not, and with which they are


there.

Activity, so far as

the other hand,


it

may

way

on

it,

only an impression of ours,

is

and an impression is,


thinking, only a shadow of

be maintained

for all this

we merely feel

of

another fact.

Arrived at this point, I can do

little

more

than indicate the principles on which, as

it

seems to me, a radically empirical philosophy


is

obliged to rely in handling such a dispute.


If there be real creative activities in being,

radical empiricism

must

must be immediately

say,

lived.

that of efficacious causing

somewhere they
Somewhere the

and the what

of

it

must be experienced in one, just as the what


and the that of 'cold* are experienced in one
whenever a

and now.

man has

the sensation of cold here

It boots not to say that our sensa-

tions are fallible.

They

are indeed; but to see

the thermometer contradict us


is

when we say

*it

cold' does not abolish cold as a specific na-

ture from the universe. Cold


182

is

in the arctic

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


circle

train

if

is

not here* Even

moving when the

dow moves,

to see the

so, to feel

that our

train beside our win-

moon through

a tele-

scope come twice as near, or to see two pictures as one solid

ness,

and

solidity

yet each in

look through a

them, leaves motion, near-

at

stereoscope

when we

still

in being

if

proper seat elsewhere.

its

wherever the seat of real causality

mately known
if

you

will,

not here,

'for true

is,

And

as ulti-

(in nerve-processes,

that cause our feelings of 'act-

ivity as well as the

movements which these

seem to prompt), a philosophy

of pure experi-

ence can consider the real causation as no other


nature of thing than that which even in our

most erroneous experiences appears to be at


work. Exactly what appears there is what we

mean by working, though we may later come


to learn that working was not exactly there.
Sustaining, persevering, striving, paying with
effort as

we

go, hanging on,

ing our intention

and

finally achiev-

this is action, this is effect-

uation in the only shape in which,

by a pure

experience-philosophy, the whereabouts of


183

it

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


anywhere can be discussed. Here
in its first intention, here

To

is

is

creation

1
causality at work.

treat this offhand as the bare illusory sur-

face of a world whose real causality

is

an un-

imaginable ontological principle hidden in the


cubic deeps,

is,

for the

more empirical way

thinking, only animism in another shape.

of

You

by your 'principle,' but


itself, when you look clearly at it,

explain your given fact

the principle

turns out to be nothing but a previous

little

copy of the fact. Away from that one


and only kind of fact your mind, considering

spiritual

causality,
1

Let

can never

get.

me

not be told that this contradicts [the first essay], 'Does


Consciousness Exist ?' (see especially page 82), in which it was said
'

that while thoughts and 'things' have the same natures, the natures
work 'energetically* on each other in the things (fire burns, water
wets, etc.) but not in the thoughts. Mental activity-trains are composed of thoughts, yet their members do work on each other, they

check, sustain, and introduce.


sssociational as well as

when

They do so when the activity is merely

effort is there.

But, and this is

my reply,

they do so by other parts of their nature than those that energize physically. One thought in every developed activity-series is a desire or
thought of purpose, and all the other thoughts acquire a feeling tone

from their relation of harmony or oppugnancy to this. The interplay


(among which 'interest,' 'difficulty,' and

of these secondary tones


'effort' figure)

runs the drama in the mental series. In what

we term

the physical drama these qualities play absolutely no part. The


subject needs careful working out; but I can see no inconsistency.
*
I have found myself more than once accused in print of being the
assertor of a metaphysical principle of activity. Since literary misunderstandings retard the settlement of problems, I should like to say

184

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


I conclude, then, that real effectual causation

an ultimate nature, as a 'category/ if you


like, of reality, is just what we feel it to be, just
as

that kind of conjunction which our


ity-series reveal.

being of

it

own activ-

We have the whole butt

in our hands;

and

and the healthy thing

that such an interpretation of the pages I have published on Effort


and on Will is absolutely foreign to what I meant to express. [Principles

owe all my doctrines on this suband Renouvier, as I understand him, is (or at any
rate then was) an out and out phenomenist, a denier of forces' in the
most strenuous sense. [Cf. Ch. Renouvier: Esquisse (Tune Classifiof Psychology, vol. n, ch. xxvi.] I

ject to Renouvier;

cation Systematique des Doctrines Philosophiques (1885), vol. u, pp.


ix, xiii. For
390-392; Essais de Critique Generate (1859), vol. 11,

an acknowledgment of the author's general indebtedness to Renouvier, cf. Some Problems of Philosophy, p. 165, note. ED.] Single
clauses in

my writing,

or sentences read out of their connection,

may

possibly have been compatible with a transphenomenal principle of


energy; but I defy anyone to show a single sentence which, taken
with its context, should be naturally held to advocate that view. The

misinterpretation probably arose at first from my defending (after


Renouvier) the indeterminism of our efforts. *Free will* was supposed

by my critics to involve a supernatural agent. As a matter of plain


*
'
history the only free will I have ever thought of defending is the
of
in
fresh
character
activity-situations. If an activity-pronovelty
cess

is

the form of a whole

'field

of consciousness,'

and

if

each

field

of

not only in its totality unique (as is now commonly


admitted) but has its elements unique (since in that situation they
are all dyed in the total) then novelty is perpetually entering the
consciousness

is

world and what happens there is not pure repetition, as the dogma
of the literal uniformity of nature requires. Activity-situations come,
in short, each with

an

original touch.

there were one, would doubtless manifest

but I never saw, nor do I now

see,

'principle* of free will

except rehearse the phenomenon beforehand, or


be invoked.

185

if

such phenomena,
what the principle could do
itself in

why

it

ever should

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


for philosophy
for

ground

is

what

makes action

to leave off grubbing undereffects effectuation, or

what

and to try to solve the concrete questions of where effectuation in this


world is located, of which things are the true
act,

causal agents there, and of what the

remote

more

effects consist.

From

this point of

view the greater sublim-

ity traditionally attributed to the metaphysical inquiry, the

appears.

If

grubbing inquiry, entirely

we could know what

dis-

causation

and transcendentally is in itself, the only


use of the knowledge would be to help us to

really

recognize an actual cause

and so
tions

when we had

one,

to track the future course of opera-

more

intelligently out.

The mere ab-

stract inquiry into causation's hidden nature


is

not more sublime than any other inquiry

equally abstract.

Causation inhabits no more

sublime level than anything

else.

It lives,

apparently, in the dirt of the world as well


as in the absolute, or in man's unconquerable

mind. The worth and interest of the world


consists not in its elements, be these elements
186

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


things, or be they the conjunctions of things;
it

exists rather in the

dramatic outcome in

the whole process, and in the meaning of the


succession stages which the elements

My colleague

work out.

and master, Josiah Royce,

in

a page of his review of Stout's Analytic Psy*

chology

has some fine words on this point

with which I cordially agree. I cannot agree


with his separating the notion of efficacy from
that of activity altogether (this I understand
to be one contention of his) for activities are
efficacious
all.

whenever ^they are

But the

real activities at

inner nature both of efficacy and

of activity are superficial problems, I under-

stand Royce to say; and the only point for us


in solving

them would be

their possible use in

helping us to solve the far deeper problem of

the course and meaning of the world of


Life, says

of

our colleague,

is full

life.

of significance,

meaning, of success and of defeat, of hoping

and

of striving, of longing, of desire,

inner value.

bodies worth.
*

It

is

To

Mind, N.

and

of

a total presence that emlive

our

own

S., vol. vi. 1897; cf .

187

lives better in

pp. 392-393.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


why we wish to
so even we psy-

this presence is the true reason

know the elements


chologists

of things;

must end on this pragmatic note.

The urgent problems


more

concrete.

of activity are thus

are

They

all

problems of the

true relation of longer-span to shorter-span


activities.

When,

for example,

'ideas' (to use the

name

a number of

traditional in psy-

chology) grow confluent in a larger field of


consciousness, do the smaller activities

still

co-exist with the wider activities then experi-

enced by the conscious subject? And,

do the wide
ones inertly,

if

so,

accompany the narrow


or do they exert control ? Or do

activities

they perhaps utterly supplant and replace

them and

short-circuit their effects? Again,

when a mental

activity-process

cell series of activities

and a brain-

both terminate in the

same muscular movement, does the mental


process steer the neural processes or not? Or,

on the other hand, does it independently shortSuch are the questions


that we must begin with. But so far am I from
circuit their effects?

suggesting any definitive answer to such ques188

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY


tions, that I hardly yet

They

can put them

clearly.

lead, however, into that region of

psychic and

pan-

ontologic speculation of which

and Strong have lately enlarged the literature in so able and interest1
ing a way. The results of these authors seem
Professors Bergson

in

many respects

them

dissimilar,

and I understand

as yet but imperfectly; but I cannot help

suspecting that the direction of their work

is

very promising, and that they have the hunter's instinct for
1

[Cf.

the fruitful

trails.

Pluralistic Universe, Lect. vi (on Bergson)

Creative Evolution, trans,

has a Body, ch. xn.

ED.]

by A. Mitchell; C. A. Strong:

H. Bergson:

Why the Mind

VII

THE ESSENCE OP HUMANISM'


HUMANISM
2

a ferment that has 'come to

is

It

is

not a single hypothesis or the-

orem, and

it

dwells on no

stay/

new

It

facts.

is

rather a slow shifting in the philosophic perspective,

making things appear

new
Some

as from a

centre of interest or point of sight.

writers are strongly conscious of the shifting,

others half unconscious, even though their


vision

may have undergone much change.

result

is

no small confusion

own
The

in debate, the half-

conscious humanists often taking part against

the radical ones, as

upon the other


1

[Reprinted from

side.

they wished to count

if
3

The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and


No. 5, March 2, 1905. Also reprinted, with

Scientific Methods, vol. n,

changes in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 121-135. The author's


corrections have been adopted for the present text. ED.]
2
[Written apropos of the appearance of three articles in Mind, N. S.,
slight

"

'

'

'

No. 58, January, 1905:


Absolute and Relative Truth."
H. H. Joachim; "Professor James on* Humanism and Truth,' " H. W.
B. Joseph; "Applied Axioms," A. Sidgwick. Of these articles the
second and third "continue the humanistic (or pragmatistic) convol. xiv,

troversy," the first "deeply connects with it." ED.]


1
Professor Baldwin, for example. His address 'On Selective Thinking* (Psychological Review, [vol. v], 1898, reprinted in his volume,
me an unusually well-written

Development and Evolution) seems to

190

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


If

humanism

really

be the name for such

a shifting of perspective,

it

obvious that

is

the whole scene of the philosophic stage will

change in some degree

The emphasis

if

humanism

prevails.

of things, their foreground

and

and

val-

If

such

background distribution, their

sizes

1
keep just the same.

ues, will not

pervasive consequences be involved in


ism,

it is

phers

clear that

may take, first

no pains which philosoin defining it, and then in

furthering, checking, or steering


will

human-

its

progress,

be thrown away.

It suffers badly at present

most systematic advocates,


and Dewey, have published fragment-

definition.

Schiller

from incomplete

Its

pragmatic manifesto. Nevertheless in 'The Limits of Pragmatism'


(ibid., [vol. xi], 1904), he (much less clearly) joins in the attack.
1

The

seems to me, are beautifully made evident


which will never get the attenthey are printed in a book. I mean: 'The

ethical changes,

in Professor

Dewey 's

tion they deserve

it

series of articles,

till

Significance of Emotions,' Psychological Review, vol. n, [1895], p. 13;


'The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology,' ibid., vol. in, [1896], p. 357;

'Psychology and Social Practice,'

ibid.,

vol.

vn, [1900],

p.

105;

'Interpretation of Savage Mind/ ibid., vol. ix, [1902], p. 17; 'Green's


Theory of the Moral Motive,' Philosophical Review, vol. I, [1892], p.
593; 'Self-realization as the Moral Ideal,' ibid., vol. n, [1893], p. 652;

'The Psychology of

Effort,' ibid., vol. vi, [1897], p. 43;

107,

'The Evolu-

Method as Applied to Morality,' ibid., vol. XT, [1902], pp.


353; 'Evolution and Ethics,' Monist, vol. vra, [1898], p. 321; to

tionary

mention only a few.

191

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ary programs only; and
vital philosophic

bearing on

its

many

problems has not been traced

except by adversaries who, scenting heresies in

advance, have showered blows on doctrines


subjectivism and scepticism, for example

that no good humanist finds


entertain.

it

necessary to

the

By their still greater reticences,

anti-humanists have, in turn, perplexed the

humanists.

Much

of the controversy has in-

volved the word 'truth.' It

is

always good in

debate to know your adversary's point of view


authentically.

But the

critics of

humanism

never define exactly what the word


signifies

when they use

truth*

themselves.

it

The

humanists have to guess at their view; and


the result has doubtless been
the air.

Add

to

all this, great

ences in both camps, and

nothing

is

it

much

beating of

individual differ-

becomes clear that

so urgently needed, at the stage

which things have reached at present, as a


sharper definition by each side of

its

central

point of view.

Whoever

will

contribute

sharpness will help us to


192

make

any touch

of

sure of what's

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


what and who
a

such

is

who. Anyone can contribute


without

definition, and,

knows exactly where he

provisional definition of

and

here, others

may

no one

stands. If I offer

own

sary

it,

humanism

may improve

be led to define his

it,

my

now

some adver-

own

creed more

sharply by the contrast, and a certain quickening of the crystallization of general opinion

may

result.
I

The

essential service of

ceive the situation,

is

humanism, as

to have seen that though

one part of our experience


other part to

make it what

eral aspects in

which

I con-

it

it

upon an-

may

lean

is in

any one of sev-

may

be considered, ex-

perience as a whole is self-containing

and leans

on nothing.
Since this formula also expresses the main

contention of transcendental idealism,

it

needs

abundant explication to make it^unambigu1

[The author employs the term 'humanism* either as a synonym


e.g., above, p. 156); or as that general
life of which 'radical empiricism* is the theoretical
of
philosophy
for 'radical empiricism* (cf.

(cf. below, p. 194). For other discussions of 'humanism,'


below, essay xi, and The Meaning of Truth, essay in. ED.]

ground

193

cf.

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


cms. It seems, at first sight, to confine itself to

denying theism and pantheism. But, in


it

need not deny either

everything would

depend on the exegesis; and


ever became canonical,

fact,

it

if

the formula

would certainly

develop both right-wing and left-wing inter-

and

humanism

I myself read

preters.

no absolute

be a God, he

If there

pluralistically.

all-experiencer,

theistically
is

but simply the

experiencer of widest actual conscious span.

Read

thus,

humanism

is

for

me

a religion

am
whom

susceptible of reasoned defence, though I


well aware
it

how many minds there are to

can appeal religiously only when

been monistically translated.


pluralistic

form of

takes for

it

it

has

Ethically the

me

a stronger

hold on reality than any other philosophy I

know

of

it

being essentially a social philo-

sophy, a philosophy of *co/ in which conjunctions do the work.


for advocating it

economy.
'

ing

is its

But my primary reason


matchless intellectual

It gets rid, not only of the stand-

problems* that monism engenders

blem

of evil/ "problem of freedom,'


u

194

('

pro-

and the

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


like),

but of other metaphysical mysteries and

paradoxes as

well.

It gets rid, for example, of the whole agnostic

controversy, by refusing to entertain the hypothesis of trans-empirical reality at


rid of

any need

for

all.

It gets

an absolute of the Brad-

leyan type (avowedly sterile for intellectual


purposes) by insisting that the conjunctive

found within experience are fault-

relations

lessly real.

lute of the
its

It gets rid of the need of

Roycean type

an abso-

(similarly sterile)

by

pragmatic treatment of the problem of

knowledge

[a

treatment of which I have

al-

ready given a version in two very inadequate


articles].

As the views

of knowledge, reality

and truth imputed to humanism have been


those so far most fiercely attacked, it is in
regard to these ideas that a sharpening of
focus seems most urgently required. I proceed
therefore to bring the views which / impute

to

humanism

in these respects into focus as

briefly as I can.
1

[Omitted from reprint in Meaning of Truth.

ferred to are 'Does Consciousness Exist?'

Experience/ reprinted above.]

195

The

articles re-

and 'A World

of

Pure

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


II

above in

thesis, printed

be accepted,

italics,

will follow

it

any such thing at all as knowthe knower and the object known must

that,
ing,

humanistic

the central

If

if

there be

both be portions of experience.

One part

of

experience must, therefore, either


(1)

Know

another part of experience

other words, parts must, as Professor

in

Wood-

bridge says, represent one another instead of


'

representing realities outside of

conscious-

this case is that of conceptual

ness'

know-

ledge; or else
(2)

mate

They must simply exist

as so

many ulti-

thats or facts of being, in the first in-

stance;

and then, as a secondary complication,

and without doubling up its entitative singleness, any one and the same that must figure
alternately as a thing

ledge of the thing,

known and

by reason

of

as a

know-

two divergent

kinds of context into which, in the general


course of experience,
November

In Science,

This statement

is

it

2
gets woven.

4, 1904, p. 599.

probably excessively obscure to any one

196

who

THE ESSENCE OP HUMANISM


This second case

There

is

common

that of sense-perception.

is

a stage of thought that goes beyond

and

sense,

sently; but the

of

it

I shall say

more pre-

common-sense stage

is

a per-

fectly definite lhalting-place of thought, pri-

marily for purposes of action; and, so long


as

we remain on the common-sense

stage of

thought, object and subject fuse in the fact of


*

presentation

the pen

or sense-perception

and hand which I now see

writing, for example,

are the physical realities

which those words

no

self-tran-

scendency implied in the knowing.

Human-

designate.

ism, here,

In this case there

is

is

only a more comminuted Identil

tdtsphilosopkie.

on the contrary, the representative experience does transcend itself in knowIn case

(1),

ing the other experience that

is its

object.

No

one can talk of the knowledge of the one by the


other without seeing
tinct entities, of

other and

them

which the one

away from

it,

of

[Cf.

beyond the
along some direction
lies

my two articles, 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A


Pure Experience.'
above, p. 134; and below, p. 202.]

has not read

World

as numerically dis-

197

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


and with some
named. But,

must

interval, that

if

can be definitely

the talker be a humanist, he

also see this distance-interval concretely

and pragmatically, and confess


of other intervening experiences

ones, at all events,

if

to consist

it

of possible

not of actual.

To call my

present idea of

my dog, for example, cognitive

of the real dog

means

of experience

is

that, as the actual tissue

constituted, the idea

is

capable

of leading into a chain of other experiences

on

my

part that go from next to next and

terminate at last in vivid sense-perceptions


of a jumping, barking, hairy body.

the real dog, the dog's

common

sense.

If

full

Those

presence, for

the supposed talker

profound philosopher, although they


be the real

dog for him, they mean the

may

are

my
is

not

real dog,

are practical substitutes for the real dog, as

the representation was a practical substitute


for

them, that

real

dog being a

say, or of mind-stuff, that

perceptions

my

lie

lie

lot of

atoms,

where the sense-

in his experience as well as in

own.

198

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


III

The

philosopher here stands for the stage of

thought that goes beyond the stage of com-

mon

sense;

and the

difference

is

simply that he

'

and extrapolates/ where common sense does not. For common sense, two
interpolates*

men

see the

same

identical real dog.

Philo-

sophy, noting actual differences in their perceptions, points out the duality of these latter,

and interpolates something between them as


a more real terminus
first, organs, viscera,
etc.; next, cells; then,

mind-stuff perhaps.
ini of

ultimate atoms; lastly,

The

original sense-term-

the two men, instead of coalescing with

each other and with the real dog-object, as at


first

supposed, are thus held by philosophers to

be separated by invisible

realities

with which,

at most, they are conterminous.


Abolish, now, one of the percipients, and
*

the interpolation changes into extrapolation.

The sense-terminus of the remaining percipient


is

regarded by the philosopher as not quite

reaching reality.

He

has only carried the pro-

cession of experiences, the philosopher thinks,


199

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


to a definite, because practical, halting-place

somewhere on the way towards an absolute


truth that

lies

beyond.

The humanist
that there

is

sees all the time, however,

no absolute transcendency even

about the more absolute


jectured or believed

realities

The

in.

thus con-

viscera

and

cells

are only possible percepts following upon that


of the outer body.

we may never

mind-stuff

it is

of per-

.defined perceptually.

conceived as a kind

itself is

and

of experience;

still

again, though

human means

attain to

ceiving them, are

The

The atoms

possible to frame the

hypothesis (such hypotheses can by no logic

be excluded from philosophy) of two knowers


of a piece of

mind-stuff and

the mind-stuff

'

itself

becoming confluent' at the moment at

which our imperfect knowing might pass into

knowing of a completed type. Even so do you


and I habitually represent our two perceptions
and the

dog as confluent, though only proand for the common-sense stage

real

visionally,

of thought.

If

my

mind-stuff, there

is

pen be inwardly made of


no confluence now between
200

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


that mind-stuff and

my

visual perception of

the pen. But conceivably there might

be such confluence;

for, in

the case of

come

to

my hand,

the visual sensations and the inward feelings


of the hand, its mind-stuff, so to speak, are even

now

any two things can be.


thus, no breach in humanistic

as confluent as

There

is,

Whether knowledge be taken

epistemology.

as ideally perfected, or only as true

pass muster for practice,

it is

enough to
hung on one con-

tinuous scheme. Reality, howsoever remote,

is

always defined as a terminus within the general


possibilities of experience;

and what knows

defined as an experience that 'represents'


the sense of being substitutable for

ing because

it

leads to the

in the sense of

same

'

pointing to

it

it

it is

it,

in

in our think-

associates, or

through a chain

of other experiences that either intervene or

may

intervene.

Absolute reality here bears the same relation


to sensation as sensation bears to conception
or imagination.

Both are provisional or

termini, sensation being only the

at which the practical

man

201

final

terminus

habitually stops,

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


while the philosopher projects a 'beyond' in

the shape of more absolute reality.

and the philosophi-

termini, for the practical

thought respectively, are

cal stages of

supporting.
else,

These

They

self-

are not 'true' of anything


are, are real.

they simply

They

'lean

on nothing/^as my italicized formula said.


Rather does the whole fabric of experience
lean on them, just as the whole fabric of the
solar system, including

many

relative posi-

tions, leans, for its absolute position in space,

on any one of its constituent stars. Here,


again, one gets a new Identitdtsphilosophie in
1
pluralistic form.

IV
If I

have succeeded

clear (though I fear

making this at all


that brevity and abstractin

them may have made me

ness between

fail),

'

the reader will see that the truth" of our mental operations

ential affair.

must always be an

intra-experi-

A conception is reckoned true by

common sense when it can be made to lead to a


1

[Cf.

above, pp. 184, 107.]

202

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


The

sensation.

sense

not so

is

sensation, which for

much

'true* as 'real/

common
is

held to

be provisionally true by the philosopher just


in so far as it covers (abuts at, or occupies the

place of) a

still

more absolutely

real experi-

ence, in the possibility of which to

some

re-

moter experient the philosopher finds reason


to believe.

Meanwhile what actually does count for true


to any individual trower, whether he be philo-

sopher or common man, is always a result of his


apperceptions. If a novel experience, concept-

ual or sensible, contradict too emphatically our


prc-existent system of beliefs, in ninety-nine
cases out of a

hundred

it is

treated as false.

Only when the older and the newer experiences


are congruous enough to mutually apperceive

and modify each other, does what we treat as


an advance

in truth result.

this point in

criticism of

an

my

[Having written of

Mr. Joseph's
will say no more

article in reply to

humanism,

about truth here, but refer the reader to that


review.
1

In no case, however, need truth

[Omitted from reprint in Meaning of Truth.

203

The review

re-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


consist in a relation

between our experiences

and something archetypal or trans-experiential.

Should we ever reach absolutely terminal

experiences, experiences in which

we all agreed,

which were superseded by no revised continuations, these would not be true, they would be
real,

they would simply

angles, corners,

be,

and be indeed the

and linchpins

of all reality,

which the truth of everything


stayed.

by

Only such

Satisfactory connection of

On

is

all

would be

other things as led to these

satisfactory conjunctions

termini

else

on

would be

some

'true.'

sort with such

that the word "truth

means.

the common-sense stage of thought sense-

presentations serve as such termini.

and concepts and

Our

ideas

scientific theories pass for

true only so far as they harmoniously lead back


to the world of sense.
I hope that
this

will

endorse

attempt of mine to trace the more essen-

tial features of

feel

many humanists
that

way

of viewing things. I

almost certain that Messrs.

ferred to

is

Dewey and

reprinted below, pp. 244-265, under the title

ism and Truth Once More."

ED.!

204

"Human-

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM


Schiller will

do

so.

If the attackers will also

take some slight account of


discussion will be a

than

it

it, it

little less

has hitherto been.

may

be that

wide of the mark

VIII

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
JE

voudrais vous communiquer

doutes qui

quelques

me sont venus au sujet de la notion

de Conscience qui regne dans tous nos traites


de psychologic.

On definit habituellement
comme la Science des faits de

la

des phenomenes, ou encore des

etats

Psychologic

Conscience, ou

de

la

Con-

Qu'on admette qu'elle se rattache &


des moi personnels, ou bien qu'on la croie im-

science.

personnelle a la fagon

de Kant, de

du "moi transcendental"

la Bewusstheit

ou du Bewusstsein

uberhaupt de nos contemporains en Allemagne,


cette conscience est toujours regardee

possedant une essence propre,


distincte

absolument

de Tessence des choses materielles,

qu'elle a le
1

comme

don mysterieux de representer

[A communication

made

(in

et

de

French) at the Fifth International

Congress of Psychology, in Rome, April 30, 1905. It is reprinted from


the Archives de Psychologic, vol. v, No. 17, June, 1905.] Cette communication est le re'sume', forcement tres condense, de vues que 1'auteur a
exposees, au cours de ces derniers mois, en une se>ie d'articles publies
dans le Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods,
1904 et 1905. [The series of articles referred to is reprinted above. ED.]

206

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
Les

connaltre.

fails materials, pris

dans leur

materialite, ne sont pas eprouves, ne sont pas

Pour

objets A' experience, ne se rapportent pas.


qu'ils

prennent

la

forme du systeme dans lequel

nous nous sentons vivre,

il

f aut qu'ils

apparais-

sent, et ce fait d'apparaltre, surajoute

a leur

existence brute, s'appelle la conscience

que

nous en avons, ou peut-tre, selon Miypothese


panpsychiste, qu'ils ont d'eux-memes.

Voila ce dualisme invetere qu'il semble impossible de chasser de notre

monde peut

vue du monde. Ce

bien exister en

n'en savons rien, car pour nous

ment un objet

mais nous

soi,
il

est exclusive-

d'experience; et la condition

indispensable a cet effet, c'est qu'il soit rap-

porte a des temoins, qu'il soit connu par un


sujet

ou par des sujets

sujet, voila les

semble que

spirituels.

deux jambes sans

la philosophic

Objet et

lesquelles

ne saurait

faire

il

un

pas en avant.

Toutes

les ecoles

sont d'accord la-dessus,

scolastique, cartesianisme, kantisme, neo-kan-

tisme, tous admettent le dualisme fondamental.

Le

positivisme ou agnosticisme de nos


207

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


de relever des sciences

jours, qui se pique

naturelles, se

nom

donne

volontiers,

est vrai, le

de monisme. Mais ce n'est qu'un

nisme verbal.

mo

pose une realite inconnue,

II

mais nous dit que cette

realite se presente tou-

jours sous deux "aspects,"

un cote matiere,

et

il

et ces

un cote conscience
deux cotes demeu-

rent aussi irreductibles que les attributs fon-

damentaux, etendue et pensee, du Dieu de


Spinoza.
est

Au

fond, le

monisme contemporain

du spinozisme pur.

Or,

comment

se represente-t-on cette con-

sommes tous

si

portes a

admettre Texistence? Impossible de

la definir,

science dont nous

nous dit-on, mais nous en avons tous une

in-

tuition immediate: tout d'abord la conscience a

Demandez a

la pre-

miere personne que vous rencontrerez,

homme

conscience d'elle-meme.

ou femme, psychologue ou ignorant, et


vous repondra qu'elle
souffrir, vouloir,

spirer.

uelle

tout

elle

se sent penser, jouir,

comme

elle se

sent re-

Elle pergoit directement sa vie spirit-

comme une

espece de courant interieur,

actif , leger, fluide, delicat,

208

diaphane pour

ainsi

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
dire, et

absolument oppose & quoi que ce

de materiel. Bref

la vie subjective

soit

ne parait

pas seulement tre une condition logiquement


indispensable pour qu'il
jectif

ait

un monde ob-

qui apparaisse, c'est encore un element

mme que nous eprouvons directement, au mme titre que nous eprouvons
de Pexperience

notre propre corps.

Idees et Choses,

comment done ne pas reconSentiments et

naltre leur dualisme?

Ob jets,

comment douter de leur heterogeneite absolue?

La psychologic

soi-disant scientifique

cette heterogeneit6

comme

admet

I'ancienne psycho-

logic spiritualiste Tadmettait.

Comment ne pas

Fadmettre? Chaque science decoupe arbitraire-

ment dans

la

se parque, et

tenu.

La

trame des
dont

f aits

un champ ou elle

elle decrit et

etudie le con-

psychologic prend justement pour

son domaine

le

champ

des faits de conscience*

Elle les postule sans les critiquer, elle les oppose

aux

faits materiels; et

la notion

sans critiquer non plus

de ces derniers,

la conscience

par

le lien

elle les

rattache a

mysterieux de la con-

naissance, de Yaperception qui, pour elle, est


209

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


un troisieme genre de

En

ultime.

fait

fondamental et

suivant cette voie, la psychologic

contemporaine a fte de grands triomphes.

une esquisse de revolution de


vie consciente, en concevant cette derniere

Elle a
la

faire

pu

comme

s'adaptant de plus en plus complete-

ment au

milieu physique environnant.

a pu etablir un parallelisme dans


celui des faits

cerebraux.

le

Elle

dualisme,

psychiques et des evenements

Elle a explique les illusions, les

hallucinations, et jusqu'a

un

certain point, les

maladies mentales. Ce sont de beaux progres;

mais

il

reste encore bien des problemes.

La

philosophic generale surtout, qui a pour devoir

de scruter tous

les postulats,

doxes et des empechements


passe outre; et

il

n'y a que

trouve des parala

ou

les

la science

amateurs de

science populaire qui ne sont jamais perplexes.

Plus on va au fond des choses, plus on trouve


d'enigmes; et j'avoue pour

que

je

ma part que depuis

m'occupe serieusement de psychologic,

ce vieux dualisme de matiere et de pensee,


cette heterogeneite posee

comme

absolue des

deux essences, m'a toujours presente des


210

diffi-

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
cultes.

tes

C'est de quelques-unes de ces difficul-

que je voudrais maintenant vous entretenir.

D'abord

il

y en a une,

laquelle, j'en suis

convaincu, vous aura frappes tous. Prenons la


perception exterieure, la sensation directe que

nous donnent par exemple


Peut-on dire

salle.

ici

que

les
le

murs de

psychique et

physique sont absolument heterogenes?


sont

cette
le

Au

peu heterogenes que si


nous nous plagons au point de vue du sens
contraire,

commun;
les

ils

si

si

nous faisons abstraction de toutes

inventions explicatives, des molecules et des

ondulations etherees, par exemple, qui au fond


sont des entites metaphysiques;

nous prenons
qu'elle

la

realite

si,

en un mot,

na'ivement et

telle

nous est donnee tout d'abord, cette

realite sensible

d'ou dependent nos interts

vitaux, et sur laquelle se portent toutes nos


actions; eh bien, cette realite sensible et la

sensation que nous en avons sont, au

moment

oil la

sensation se produit, absolument iden-

tiques

Tune & Tautre. La

tion

mme.

signifient

realite est

Tapercep-

Les mots "murs de cette salle" ne

que cette blancheur fralche et sonore


211

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


qui nous entoure, coupee par ces fenfires,

bornee par ces lignes et ces angles. Le physique


ici

n'a pas d'autre contenu que le psychique.

Le

sujet et Tobjet se confondent.

C'est Berkeley qui le premier a mis cette


verite en honneur.

Esse

est percipi.

Nos

sen-

sations ne sont pas de petits duplicats interieurs des choses, elles sont les choses

en tant que

les

mmes

choses nous sont presentes,

Et

quoi que Ton veuille penser de la vie absente,


cachee, et pour ainsi dire privee, des choses, et

que soient les constructions hypothetiques qu'on en fasse, il reste vrai que la vie
quelles

publique des choses, cette actualite presente

par laquelle

elles

nous confrontent,

d'oii d^ri-

vent toutes nos constructions theoriques, et

4 laquelle

elles

doivent toutes revenir et se

rattacher sous peine de flotter dans Fair et

dans

rirreel; cette actualite, dis-je, est

homo-

non pas seulement homogene, mais


numeriquement une, avec une certaine partie
gene, et

de notre vie interieure*


Voilk pour la perception exterieure.

on

s'adresse

k Timagination, &
212

la

Quand

memoire ou

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
aux facultes de representation abstraite, bien
que

les faits soient ici

ques, je crois que la


tielle se

degage.

beaucoup plus compli-

meme homogeneite

Pour

essen-

simplifier le probleme,

excluons d'abord toute realite sensible.

Pre-

nons

dans

le

la

pensee pure,

rve ou

telle qu'elle s'effectue

ou dans

la reverie,

Ici encore, 1'etoffe

passe.
fait-elle

la

memoire du

de 1'experience ne

pas double emploi,

physique et

le

psychique ne se confondent-ils pas? Si


d'une montagne d'or,

elle n'existe

pas en dehors du rve, mais dans

le

je

le

rve

sans doute

reve

elle est

de nature ou d'essence parfaitement physique,


c'est

ce

comme physique

moment

je

me

qu'elle m'apparaft. Si

permets de

me

ma maison en Amerique, et des

en

souvenir de

details

de

mon

embarquement recent pour Tltalie, le phenomene pur, le fait qui se produit qu'est-il ? C 'est,
,

dit-on,

ma pensee,

avec son contenu. Mais en-

core ce contenu, qu'est-il?

d'une partie du

monde

II

porte la forme

reel, partie distante,

est vrai, de six mille kilometres d'espace et


six

semaines de temps, mais

reliee

la salle

il

de

oH

nous sommes par une foule de choses, objets


213

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


homogenes d'une part avec la
d'autre part avec Tobjet de mes sou-

et 6venements,
salle et

venirs.

Ce contenu ne

donne pas comme etant

se

d'abord un tout petit

au

projetterais ensuite

blee

comme

le fait

fait interieur

loin,

eloigne

il

que

se presente d'em-

mme.

Et Tacte de

penser ce contenu, la conscience que fen

que

sont-ils? Sont-ce

je

ai,

au fond autre chose que

des manieres retrospectives de

nommer

le

contenu lui-mme, lorsqu'on Paura separe de


tous ces intermediates physiques, et

un nouveau groupe
trer

que

d'associes qui le font ren-

ma

vie mentale, les emotions par

qu'il

a eveillees en moi, Tattention

dans

exemple

relie a

j'y porte,

Tont suscite

idees de tout a Theure qui

comme

se rapportant

phenomene

mes

souvenir?

Ce

n'est qu'en

& ces derniers associes que

arrive a 6tre classe

comme

pensee;

tant qu'il ne se rapporte qu'aux premiers

demeure phenomene

le

il

objectif.

que nous opposons habituellement nos images int6rieures aux objets, et que
II est

nous

les

vrai

considerons

comme de
214

petites copies,

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
comme des caiques ou

doubles, affaiblis, de ces

C'est qu'un objet present a une

derniers.

vivacite et une nettete superieures a celles de


II

Fimage.

me

servir

sert

lui

fait

contraste; et pour

ainsi

de Pexcellent mot de Taine,

de reducteur.

Quand

les

lui

il

deux sont pre-

sents ensemble, Tobjet prend le premier plan

Timage "recule," devient une chose "absente." Mais cet objet present, qu'est-il en
et

lui-mme? De

m6me
tions;

etoffe
il

quelle etoffe est-il fait?


II est fait

que Fimage.

est chose pergue.

Son

De

la

de sensa-

esse est percipi,

et lui et Timage sont generiquement homogenes.


Si je pense
j'ai laisse

le

moment & mon chapeau que

tout a Theure au vestiaire, ou est

dualisme,

pense et

en ce

le

le

discontinu, entre le chapeau

chapeau

chapeau absent que


tiens

reel ?

mon

esprit s'occupe.

compte pratiquement

realite.

S'il etait

C'est d'un vrai

comme

J'en

d'une

present sur cette table,

chapeau determinerait un mouvement de


main:

De

je Tenleverais.

mme

le

ma

ce chapeau

congu, ce chapeau en idee, determinera tant6t la direction de

mes

pas. J'irai le prendre.

215

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


L'idee que j'en ai se continuera jusqu'a la

presence sensible du chapeau, et s'y fondra

harmonieusement.
Je conclus done que,

dualisme pratique

bien qu'il y ait

puisque

les

un

images se

distinguent des objets, en tiennent lieu, et

nous y menent,

il

n'y a pas lieu de leur at-

tribuer une difference de nature essentielle.

Pensee et actualite sont

meme

faites

etoffe, qui est 1'etoffe

d'une seule et

de 1'experience en

general.

La

psychologie de la perception exterieure

nous mene a
j'apergois

de

telle

la

m6me

conclusion.

Quand

Fob jet devant moi comme une table

forme, & telle distance, on m'explique

que ce fait est dti a deux facteurs, & une mati&re de sensation qui me penetre par la voie
des yeux et qui donne 1'element d'exteriorite
r6elle, et

a des idees qui se

de cette

la rencontre

Tinterpretent.

dans

la table

reveillent,

vont &

realite, la classent et

Mais qui peut

faire la part,

concr^tement apergue, de ce qui

est sensation et

de ce qui est idee? L'externe et

Tinterne, Tetendu et Tinetendu, se fusionnent


16

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
et font

ces

un mariage

indissoluble. Cela rappelle

panoramas circulates, ou des objets

reels,

rochers, herbe, chariots brises, etc., qui occu-

pent Favant-plan, sont


lies

si

ingenieusement re-

la toile qui fait le fond, et qui repre-

un vaste paysage, que

sente une bataille ou

Ton ne

sait plus distinguer ce qui est objet

de

ce qui est peinture. Les coutures et les joints

sont imperceptibles.

Cela pourrait-il advenir

si

Pobjet et 1'idee

etaient absolument dissemblables de nature?

Je suis convaincu que des considerations


pareilles

celles

je viens d'exprimer au-

que

ront deja suscite, chez vous aussi, des doutes

au sujet du dualisme pretendu.

Et

d'autres raisons de douter surgissent

encore. II

y a toute une sphere

d'adjectifs et

d'attributs qui ne sont ni objectifs, ni subjectifs

d'une maniere exclusive, mais que nous

employons tantot d'une maniere et tantot


d'une autre,

comme

si

dans leur ambigui'te.

nous nous complaisions


Je parle des qualites

que nous apprecions, pour


217

ainsi dire,

dans

les

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


choses, leur cote esthetique, moral, leur valeur

pour nous. La beaute, par exemple, ou residet-elle? Est-elle dans la statue, dans la sonate,

Mon

ou dans notre esprit?

collegue a Har-

vard, George Santayana, a ecrit


1

thetique,

ou

un

livre d'es-

appelle la beaute "le plaisir

il

objectifie"; et en verite, c'est bien

ici

qu'on

pourrait parler de projection au dehors.


dit indifferemment

une chaleur agreable, ou

une sensation agreable de chaleur. La


le

On

rarete,

du diamant nous en paraissent des


essentielles. Nous parlons d'un orage

precieux

qualites

affreux, d'un

homme

halssable, d'une action

indigne, et nous croyons parler objectivement,

bien que

ces

termes n'expriment que des

rapports a

notre sensibilite emotive propre.

Nous

mme un chemin penible, un ciel

triste,

disons

un coucher de

soleil

superbe.

Toute

cette maniere animiste de regarder les choses

qui paralt avoir ete la fagon primitive de penser des homines,

peut tres bien s'expliquer

(et

M. Santayana, dans un autre livre tout recent, 2


1

The Sense of Beauty, pp. 44 ff


The Life of Reason [vol. i, "Reason in
.

Common Sense/' p. 1412].

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
1'a

bien expliquee ainsi) par Phabitude d'attri-

buer a Pobjet tout ce que nous ressentons en sa

Le partage du

presence.

jectif est le fait

subjectif et de Tob-

d'une reflexion tres avancee,

que nous aimons encore ajourner dans beaucoup d'endroits. Quand

les

besoins pratiques

semble que

ne nous en tirent pas forcement,

il

nous aimons a nous bercer dans

vague.

le

Les qualites secondes elles-memes, chaleur,


son, luiniere, n'ont encore aujourd'hui qu'une

Pour

attribution vague.

la vie pratique, elles

tives, physiques.

subjectives.
la

masse,

le

exterieure.

sens

commun, pour

sont absolument objec-

Pour

Pour

le

lui,

le
il

physicien, elles sont

n'y a que la forme,

rnouvement, qui aient une

Pour

le

realite

philosophe idealiste, au

contraire,

forme et mouvement sont tout aussi

subjectifs

que lumiere et chaleur,

que

la chose-en-soi

inconnue,

le

et

il

n'y a

"noumene,"

qui jouisse d'une realite extramentale com-

Nos

sensations intimes conservent encore de

cette ambiguite. II

y a des

illusions

de mouve-

ment qui prouvent que nos premieres


219

sen-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


sations de

C'est

le

mouvement

monde

entier,

etaient generalises.

avec nous, qui se mou-

Maintenant nous distinguons notre propre mouvement de celui des objets qui nous
entourent, et parmi les objets nous en disvait.

tinguons qui deineurent en repos. Mais

il

est

des etats de vertige ou nous retombons encore

aujourd'hui dans 1'indifferenciation premiere.

Vous connaissez tous sans doute


orie qui a

cette the-

voulu f aire des emotions des sommes

de sensations viscerales et musculaires. Elle a

donne

lieu

a bien des controverses, et aucune

opinion n'a encore conquis Tunanimite des


suffrages.

Vous connaissez

aussi les contro-

verses sur la nature de 1'activite

men tale. Les

uns soutiennent qu'elle est une force purement


spirituelle

voir

que nous sommes en etat d'aperce-

immediatement comme

pretendent que ce que nous

mentale

que

(effort, attention,

le reflet senti

organisme est

le

telle.

Les autres

nommons

activite

par exemple) n'est

de certains

effets

dont notre

sige, tensions musculaires au

cr&ne et au gosier, arr^t ou passage de la


respiration, afflux

de sang,
220

etc.

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
De quelque maniere que se resolvent ces controverses, leur existence prouve bien clairement

une chose,

c'est qu'il est tres difficile,

absolument impossible de savoir, par

ou

meme

la seule

inspection intime de certains phenomenes,

s'ils

sont de nature physique, occupant de 1'etendue,


etc.,

ou s'ils sont de nature purement psychique

et interieure.

II

nous faut toujours trouver des

raisons pour appuyer notre avis;

il

nous faut

chercher la classification la plus probable du

phenomene;

et en fin

decompte il pourrait bien

que toutesnos classifications usuelles


eussent eu leurs motifs plut6t dans les besoins
se trouver

de

la

pratique que dans quelque faculte que

nous aurions d'apercevoir deux essences

ul-

times et diverses qui composeraient ensemble la

trame des choses. Le corps de chacun de nous

un contraste pratique presque violent a


tout le reste du milieu ambiant. Tout ce qui
offre

arrive

au dedans de ce corps nous

time et important que ce qui arrive


s'identifie

Ame,

avec notre moi,

il

ailleurs.

II

se classe avec lui.

vie, souffle, qui saurait

tinguer exactement?

est plus in-

bien les dis-

Mme nos images et nos


221

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


souvenirs, qui n'agissent sur le

monde physique

moyen de

notre corps, semblent ap-

partenir 4 ce dernier.

Nous les traitons comme

que par

le

internes,

nous

affectifs.

II

les classons

avec nos sentiments

faut bien avouer, en

du dualisme de

la question

la

somme, que

pensee et de la

matiere est bien loin d'etre finalement resolue.

Et

voila terminee la premiere partie de

Mesdames

discours. J'ai voulu vous penetrer,

et Messieurs, de
aussi bien

mes doutes

et

mon

de

la realite,

que de Pimportance, du probleme.

Quant a moi, apres de longues annees

mon

tation, j'ai fini par prendre

ment. Je crois que


la represente

parti carre-

la conscience, telle

communement,

soit

d'hesi-

qu'on se

comme

comme activite pure, mais en


comme fluide, inetendue, diaphane,

en-

tite, soit

tout

cas

vide

de tout contenu propre, mais se connaissant


directement elle-meme, spirituelle enfin, je
crois, dis-je,

que cette conscience

chimere, et que la

que

le

mot

somme de

est

une pure

realites concretes

conscience devrait couvrir, merite

une toute autre description, description, du


reste,

qu'une philosophic attentive aux

faits et

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
sachant faire un peu d'analyse, serait desor-

mais en etat de f ournir ou plutot de commencer


a fournir. Et ces mots m'amenent a
partie de

mon

discours.

la

seconde

Elle sera beaucoup

plus courte que la premiere, parce que

developpais sur la

m&me

beaucoup trop longue.

que

je

me

restreigne

si

je la

echelle, elle serait

II f aut,

par consequent,

aux seules indications

indispensables.

Admettons que
con^ue

comme

irreductible de

primee, que

le

la conscience, la Bewussiheit,

essence, entite, activite, moitie

chaque experience,

dualisme fondamental et pour

ainsi dire ontologique soit aboli et

nous supposions exister


a appele jusqu'ici
conscience;

soit sup-

le

soit

que ce que

seulement ce qu'on

contenu, le Inhalt, de la

comment la philosophic va-t-elle se

tirer d'affaire

avec Tespece de monisme vague

qui en resultera ? Je vais tacher de vous insinuer

quelques suggestions positives l&-dessus, bien

que

je craigne que, faute

necessaire,

mes

du developpement

idees ne repandront pas

clarte tres grande.

une

Pourvu que j'indique un


223

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


commencement de

sentier, ce sera peut-etre

assez.

Au

fond, pourquoi nous accrochons-nous

d'une maniere

si

tenace & cette idee d'une con-

science surajoutee a Fexistence

du contenu des

choses? Pourquoi la reclamons-nous

ment, que
plutot

celui qui la nierait

un mauvais

si

forte-

nous semblerait

plaisant qu'un penseur?

N'est-ce pas pour sauver ce fait indeniable que


le

contenu de Texperience n'a pas seulement

une existence propre et comme immanente et


intrinseque, mais que chaque partie de ce contenu deteint pour ainsi dire sur ses voisines,
rend compte d'elle-meme a d'autres, sort en
quelque sorte de
tout

le

soi

pour etre sue et qu'ainsi

champ de Texperience

se trouve etre

transparent de part en part, ou constitue

comme un

espace qui serait rempli de miroirs?

Cette bilateralite des parties de Texperience,

& savoir d'une part, qu'elles sont avec des


qualites propres; d'autre part, qu'elles sont

rapportees a d'autres parties et sues

Topin-

ion regnante la constate et Texplique par

un

dualisme fondamental de constitution apparte224

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
nant & chaque morceau d'experience en propre.

Dans

cette feuille de papier

ment, dit-on,
etc.,

mais

il

il

n'y a pas seule-

le

contenu, blancheur, minceur,

ya

ce second fait de la conscience

de cette blancheur et de cette minceur. Cette


fonction d'etre "rapporte," de faire partie de la

trame entiere d'une experience plus comprehensive, on Terige en fait ontologique, et on


loge ce fait dans Pinterieur

mme du papier, en

Paccouplant a sa blancheur et a sa minceur.

Ce

un rapport extrinseque qu'on


suppose, c'est une moitie du phenomene mme.
Je crois qu'en somme on se represente la
n'est pas

realite

comme constitute de la fagon dont sont

faites les

"couleurs" qui nous servent & la

y a d'abord des matieres colorantes qui repondent au contenu, et il y a un vehicule, huile ou colle, qui les tient en suspen-

peinture.

II

sion et qui repond a la conscience.

dualisme complet,

oii,

C'est

un

en employant certains

procedes, on peut separer chaque element de

Tautre par voie de soustraction.

C'est ainsi

qu'on nous assure qu'en faisant un grand

effort

d'abstraction introspective, nous pouvons sai-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


sir

notre conscience sur

le

vif,

comme une

activite spirituelle pure, en negligeant

completement les matieres


moment donne elle eclaire,
pres

Maintenant
rait

je

vous demande

pas tout aussi

la realite

un

si

Supposons, en

effet,

premiere soit de nature neutre,

et appelons-la par quelque

comme

qu'&

on ne pourbien renverser absolument

cette maniere de voir.

que

& peu

nom encore ambigu,


Moi-

phenomene, donne, Vorfindung.

meme fen parle volontiers au pluriel, et je lui


donne le nom ft experiences pures. Ce sera un
monisme,
&

fait

si

vous voulez, mais un monisme tout

rudimentaire et absolument oppose au

soi-disant

monisme

scientifique

ou

bilateral

du positivisme

spinoziste.

Ces experiences pures existent et se succdent, entrent dans des rapports infiniment
varies les unes avec les autres, rapports qui

eux-mmes

des parties essentielles de la


"
trame des experiences. II y a Conscience "de
sont

ces rapports

science

"

au

mme

titre qu'il

de leurs termes.

II

y a

"

Con-

en resulte que des

groupes d'experiences se font remarquer et


226

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
distinguer, et qu'une seule et

vu

la

m6me experience,

grande variete de ses rapports, pent

jouer un role dans plusieurs groupes & la

un

C*est ainsi que dans


voisins,

nomene physique,
entourage

elle

conscience, &

certain contexte de

classee

serait

elle

fois.

comme un

tandis que dans

phe-

un autre

comme un fait de
comme une mme par-

figurerait

peu pres

ticule d'encre

peut appartenir simultanement

a deux

Tune

tale,

lignes,

pourvu

verticale, Tautre horizon-

qu'elle soit situee

a leur

inter-

section.

Prenons, pour fixer nos idees, Fexperience

que nous avons ce moment du local oft nous


sommes, de ces murailles, de cette table, de ces
chaises,

de cet espace. Dans cette experience

pleine, concrete et indivise, telle qu'elle est

donnee,

le

1,

monde physique objectif et le monde

interieur et personnel de

chacun de nous se

rencontrent et se fusionnent
se fusionnent

comme

a leur intersection.

des lignes

Comme chose

physique, cette salle a des rapports avec tout


le reste

du btiment, b^timent que nous autres

nous ne connaissons et ne connaltrons pas.


227

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


Elle doit son existence & toute une histoire de
financiers, d'architectes, d'ouvriers.

Elle pese

sur le sol; elle durera indefiniment dans le


si

temps;

le

feu

eclatait, les chaises et la

table qu'elle contient seraient vite reduites

en cendres.

Comme experience personnelle, au contraire,


comme chose "rapportee," connue, consciente,
cette salle a de tout autres tenants et aboutissants.

Ses antecedents ne sont pas des ouvri-

ers, ce

sont nos pensees respectives de tout a

1'heure.

un

Bientot

fait fugitif

elle

ne figurera que

comme

dans nos biographies, associ6 a

d'agreables souvenirs.

Comme experience psy-

chique, elle n'a aucun poids, son ameublement


n'est pas combustible.

Elle n'exerce de force

physique que sur nos seuls cerveaux, et beau-

coup d'entre nous nient encore cette influence;


tandis que la salle physique est en rapport
d'influence physique avec tout le reste

du

monde.

Et pourtant c'est de la mme salle absolument qu'il s'agit dans les deux cas, Tant que
nous ne faisons pas de physique speculative,

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
tant que nous nous plagons dans

mun,
salle

c'est la salle

physique.

vue et sentie qui

De

sens

le

com-

est bien la

quoi parlons-nous done

meme

ce n'est de ccla, de cette

si

partie de la

nature materielle que tous nos esprits, & ce

mme

moment, embrassent, qui entre

telle

quelle dans Fexperience actuelle et intime de

chacun de nous, et que notre souvenir


gardera toujours

de notre

texte que

partie integrante

C'est absolument une

histoire.

etoffe qui figure

et

comme une

simultanement, selon

Ton considere, comme

physique, ou

comme

re-

mme

le

con-

fait materiel

de conscience

fait

intime.

Je crois done qu'on ne saurait traiter conscience et matiere

parate.

On

comme etant

n'obtient

ni

Tune

soustraction, en negligeant

d'essence disni Tautre

chaque

fois

par

Tautre

moitied'une experience de composition double.

Les experiences sont au contraire primitive-

ment de nature plutot simple.

Elles deviennent

conscientes dans leur entier, elles deviennent

physiques dans leur entier; et c'est par voie


d? addition

que ce resultat se
229

realise.

Pour au-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


tant que des experiences se prolongent dans

le

temps, entrent dans des rapports d'influence


physique, se brisant, se chauffant, s'eclairant,
etc.,

mutuellement, nous en faisons un groupe

a part que nous appelons

Pour autant, au
tives, inertes

le

monde physique.

contraire, qu'elles sont fugi-

physiquement, que leur succes-

sion ne suit pas d'ordre determine, mais semble

plutot obeir a des caprices emotifs, nous en


faisons

un autre groupe que nous appelons

monde

psychique. C'est en entrant a present

le

dans un grand nombre de ces groupes psychiques que cette salle devient maintenant

chose consciente, chose rapportee, chose sue.

En faisant desormais partie de nos biographies


respectives, elle ne sera pas suivie de cette sotte
et

monotone

repetition d'elle-m&ne dans le

temps qui caracterise son existence physique.


Elle sera suivie, au contraire, par d'autres
experiences qui seront discontinues avec

elle,

ou qui auront ce genre tout particulier de continuite


elle

que nous appelons souvenir. Demain,

aura eu sa place dans chacun de nos

passes; mais les presents divers auxquels tous


230

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
ces passes seront lies

ents

demain seront bien

du present dont

comme

cette salle jouira

differ-

demain

entile physique.

Les deux genres de groupes sont formes


d'experiences, mais les rapports des experiences

entre elles different d'un groupe a 1'autre.


C'est done par addition d'autres

phenomenes

qu'un phenomene donne devient conscient ou


connu, ce n'est pas par un dedoublement
d'essence

interieure.

choses leur survient,

manente.

Ce

La
elle

connaissance

des

ne leur est pas im-

n'est le fait ni d'un

moi tran-

scendental, ni d'une Bewusstheit ou acte de

conscience qui les animerait chacune. Elles se


connaissent Vune Vautre, ou plutot

connaissent

nommons

les autres; et le

il

y en a qui

rapport que nous

connaissance n'est lui-meme, dans

beaucoup de

cas,

qu'une suite d'experiences

intermediaires parf aitement susceptibles d'etre


decrites en termes concrets. II n'est nullement
le

mystere transcendant

oii se

sont complus

tant de philosophes.

Mais

ceci

nous menerait beaucoup trop

Je ne puis entrer

ici

dans tous
231

les replis

loin.

de

la

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ou de ce que, vous

theorie de la connaissance,

autres Italians, vous appelez la gnoseologie. Je


dois

me

contenter de ces remarques ecourtees,

ou simples suggestions, qui sont,

je le crains,

encore bien obscures f aute des developpements


necessaires.

Permettez done que

je

me

resume

trop

sommairement, et en style dogmatique


dans

les six theses

La

suivantes:

Conscience,

telle

qu'on Ventend ordi-

nairement, n'existe pas, pas plus que la Matiere,

a laquelle Berkeley a donne

Ce qui

le

coup de grace;

existe et forme la part de verite

mot de "Conscience" recouvre,


tibilite

que possedent

d'etre rapportees

c'est la

les parties

que

le

suscep-

de Inexperience

ou connues;

Cette susceptibilite s'explique

par

que certaines experiences peuvent mener

le

les

fait

unes

aux autres par des experiences intermediaires


nettement caracterisees, de

telle sorte

que

les

unes

se trouvent jouer le role de choses connues, les

autres celui de sujets connaissants

On

pent parfaitement definir ces deux roles


232

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE
sans sortir de la trame de V experience meme,

et

sans invoquer rien de transcendant ;


5

Les attributions sujet

et objet,

represents et

representatif, chose et pensee, signifient

done une

distinction pratique qui est de la derniere impor-

mais qui

tance,

ment,

et

est d'ordre

FONCTIONNEL

nullement ontologique

seule-

comme le dualisme

classique se la represente;

En fin de compte, les choses et les pensees ne

sont point foncierement heterogenes 9

sontfaites d'une
definir

comme

meme

telle,

etoffe, etqffe

mais

elles

qu'on ne pent

mais seulement eprouver

que Von pent nommer,

V experience en general.

si

on

veut,

et

Vetoffe de

IX
IS

RADICAL EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC?

IF

the criticisms which the humanistic

all

Weltanschauung is receiving were as sachgemass


as Mr. Bode's, 2 the truth of the matter would

more rapidly

lently well written,


of

view out

Not only

clear up.

clearly,

but

it

brings

and admits

its

is it

own

excel-

point

of a perfectly

straight reply.

The argument

(unless I fail to catch

be expressed as follows

it)

can

be supposed, no one
endowed immediately with the self-

If a series of experiences

of

which

is

transcendent function of reference to a reality

beyond
series

itself,

for

no motive

will

occur within the

supposing anything beyond

it

to

remain subjective, and contentedly subjective, both as a whole and in its


exist.

It will

several parts.
1

[Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and


Methods, vol. n, No. 9, April 27, 1905.]
[B. H. Bode: "'Pure Experience* and the External World,"

Scientific
2

Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, vol. n,


1905, p. 128.]

834

EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC?

IS

Radical empiricism, trying, as

does, to

it

account for objective knowledge by means of

such a

series, egregiously fails.

explain

how

can not

It

the notion of a physical order, as

distinguished from a subjectively biographical


order, of experiences, ever arose.
It pretends to explain the notion of a physical order,

but does so by playing fast and loose

On

with the concept of objective reference.


the one hand,

it

denies that such reference

implies self-transcendency on the part of any

one experience; on the other hand,

claims

But, critically con-

that experiences point.


sidered, there can

it

be no pointing unless

self-

transcendency be also allowed. The conjunctive function of pointing, as I


is,

according to

my

have assumed

critic, vitiated

by the

it,

fal-

lacy of attaching a bilateral relation to a term

a quo, as

maintain

if it

could stick out substantively and

itself in

existence in advance of the

term ad quern which

is

equally required for

to be a concretely experienced fact.


relation be

made

If

the

concrete, the term ad quern

involved, which would

mean

235

(if

it

is

I succeed in

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


apprehending Mr. Bode rightly) that this
latter term, although not empirically there, is

yet noetically there, in advance

words

it

points'

other

in

would mean that any experience that

must already have transcended

itself ,

in the ordinary 'epistemological' sense of the

word transcend.

Bode's text,
It

is

it is

this, if I

like

Something
is

understand Mr.

the upshot of his state of mind.

a reasonable sounding state of mind, but


exactly the state of

empiricism,

by

its

mind which

doctrine of the reality of

conjunctive relations, seeks to dispel.

much

radical

I very

so difficult does mutual under-

fear

standing seem in these exalted regions

that

able critic has failed to understand that

my

doctrine as

it is

meant to be understood. I

suspect that he performs on


tive relations (of

all

these conjunc-

which the aforesaid 'point-

only one) the usual rationalistic act of


he takes them not as they are
substitution
ing

is

given in their

first

intention, as parts consti-

tutive of experience's living flow, but only as

they appear in retrospect, each fixed as a


236

IS

EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC?

determinate object of conception,


fore,

and contained within

static, there-

itself.

Against this rationalistic tendency to treat


experience as chopped up into discontinuous
static objects, radical

empiricism protests. It

on taking conjunctions at

insists

value/ just as they come.

their 'face-

Consider, for ex-

ample, such conjunctions as 'and,' 'with,


'near,' 'plus,* 'towards.'

While we

is

the most

We

'

such

one of transition in

conjunctions our state


literal sense.

live in

are expectant of a

'

more to come, and before the more has come,

the transition, nevertheless,


I fail otherwise to see

it.

is

how,

more comes, there should be


feeling of fulfilment

directed towards
if

one kind of

satisfaction

but disappointment

the more comes in another shape.


will

and

continue, another

more

will

if

One more
arrest or

which our experience


moving even now. We can not, it is true,

deflect the direction, in


is

name our

different living 'ands' or 'withs*

except by naming the different terms towards

which they are moving


specifications

and

us,

but we

differences

237

live their

before

those

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


terms explicitly arrive.
various 'ands* are

Thus, though the


each

all bilateral relations,

requiring a term ad quern to define

it

when

viewed in retrospect and articulately conceived, yet in its living

them may be
its

moment any one


'

treated as

if it

stuck out' from

term a quo and pointed in a special

tion,

much

B ode's

of

direc-

as a compass-needle (to use

Mr.

excellent simile) points at the pole,

even though it stirs not from its box.


In Professor Hoffding's massive little article in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology

and

1
Methods, he quotes" a saying of

Scientific

Kierkegaard's to the effect that

wards, but

we

live for-

we understand backwards. Under-

standing backwards

is, it

must be

confessed, a

very frequent weakness of philosophers, both


of the rationalistic
cist type.

and

of the ordinary empiri-

Radical empiricism alone insists on

understanding forwards also, and refuses to


substitute static concepts of the understand-

ing for transitions in our moving


similar to that
*

which my
Vol.

II,

critic

A logic

seems to employ

[1905], pp. 85-92.

238

life.

IS

EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC?

here should,

it

seems to me, forbid him to say

that our present

is,

while present, directed

towards our future, or that any physical

movement can have

direction until

its

goal

is

actually reached.

At

this point does it

not seem as

the

if

quarrel about self -transcendency in knowledge

might drop?
Call

it

Is

it

not a purely verbal dispute?

self-transcendency or call

whichever you

like

it

it

makes no

pointing,
difference

so long as real transitions towards real goals

are admitted as things given in experience,

among

experience's

most indefeasible

Radical empiricism, unable to close

its

and

parts.

eyes to

the transitions caught in actu, accounts for the


self -transcendency

you may call

it)

or the pointing (whichever

as a process that occurs within

an empirically mediated thing


which a perfectly definite description can

experience, as
of

be given. 'Epistemology,' on the other hand,


denies this; and pretends that the self -tran-

scendency

is

unmediated

or, if

mediated, then

mediated in a super-empirical world.


tify this pretension,

epistemology has
239

To

jus-

first

to

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


transform
objects,

our conjunctions into static

all

and

arbitrary act.

this, I

But

an absolutely
of Mr* Bode's mal-

submit,

in spite

is

treatment of conjunctions, as I understand

them

and as

that at bottom
ferent,

I understand

we

him

I believe

are fighting for nothing dif-

but are both defending the same con-

tinuities of experience in different

forms of

words.

There are other criticisms in the

article in

most

vital one,

question, but, as this seems the


I will for the present, at

untouched.

any

rate, leave

them

X
REPUTATION OF

MB. PITKIN'S

'RADICAL EMPIRICISM'*
ALTHOUGH Mr.

Pitkin does not

name me

in

on radical empiricism, [. .
]
I fear that some readers, knowing me to have

his acute article

applied that

name

to

my own

doctrine,

may

possibly consider themselves to have been in at

my

death.

In point of fact

un wrung.
radical,

my

withers are entirely

I have, indeed, said

that 'to be

an empiricism must not admit into

its

any element that is not directly


experienced/ But in my own radical empiriconstructions

cism this

is

only a methodological postulate, not

a conclusion supposed to flow from the intrinabsurdity of transempirical objects. I have


never felt the slightest respect for the idealistic
sic

[Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and


Methods, vol. Hi, No. 26, December 20. 1906; and ibid., vol.
rv, No. 4, February 14, 1907, where the original is entitled "A Reply
to Mr. Pitkin." ED.]
1
[W. B. Pitkin: "A Problem of Evidence in Radical Empiricism,"
1

Scientific

ibid., vol.
1

m, No.

24,

[Above, p. 42.

November

22, 1906.

ED.]

241

ED.]

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


arguments which Mr. Pitkin attacks and of
which Ferrier made^such striking use; and I

am

perfectly willing to admit

any number

noumenal beings or events into philosophy

of
if

only their pragmatic value can be shown.

Radical empiricism and pragmatism have so

many
it

misunderstandings to suffer from, that

seems

my

duty not to

let this

one go any

farther, unconnected*

Mr. Pitkin's

'reply' to

me,

[.

perplexes

me by

the obscurity of style which I find in

almost

all

our younger philosophers.

He

asks

me, however, two direct questions which I


understand, so I take the liberty of answering.

he asks:

First

Do not experience and science

show 'that countless things are

experienced

as that which they are not or are only partially?' I reply :


5

things

distorted

cules,' or
1

Yes, assuredly, as, for example,

by

whatever

refractive media, 'mole-

else is

taken to be more

["In Reply to Professor James," Journal of Philosophy, Psycho-

logy and Scientific Methods, vol. iv. No. 2, January 17, 1907. ED.]
2
Mr. Pitkin inserts the clause: 'by reason of the very nature of

experience itself.' Not understanding just what reason


not include this clause in my answer.

242

is

meant,

do

PITKIN ON 'RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ultimately real than the immediate content of

the perceptive moment.

Secondly: "If experience

any

(in

intelligible sense)

is

self-supporting

does this fact pre-

clude the possibility of (a) something not

experienced and (b) action of experience upon

noumenon

My
we

is:

reply

of either

"
?

how

Assuredly not the possibility


could

it?

Yet

in

my

should be wise not to consider

or action of that nature,

and to

opinion

any thing

restrict

universe of philosophic discourse to

what

experienced or, at least, experienceable.


1

[See above, p. 193.

our
is

ED.]

[Elsewhere, in speaking of 'reality* as "conceptual or perceptual


experiences," the author says: "This is meant merely to exclude real*

sort, of which no account in either perceptual


or conceptual terms can be given. It includes, of course, any amount

ity of

an unknowable*

of empirical reality independent of the knower."


p. 100, note.

ED.]

Meaning of Truth,

XI

HUMANISM AND TRUTH ONCE


MORE.
R.

JOSEPH'S criticism of

manism and Truth

'

is

the general clearing up.

my

article

'Hu-

a useful contribution to

He has

seriously tried

what the pragmatic movement


may intelligibly mean; and if he has failed, it
to comprehend

the fault neither of his patience nor of his

is

sincerity,

but rather of stubborn tricks of

thought which he could not easily get rid of.


Minute polemics, in which the parties try
to rebut every detail of each of the other's
charges, are a useful exercise only to the dis-

putants.
reader.

They can but breed

confusion in a

I will therefore ignore as

much

possible the text of both our articles (mine

as

was

inadequate enough) and treat once more the


general objective situation.
1

[Reprinted without change from Mind, N.

S.,

vol. xiv.

No.

54,

April, 1905, pp. 190-198. Pages 245-247, and pp. 261-265, have also
been reprinted in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 54-57, and pp. 97-100.

The present essay is referred to above, p. 203. ED.]


2
Humanism and Truth 'first appeared in. Mind, N. S., vol. XIII,
No. 52, October, 1904. It is reprinted in The Meaning of Truth, pp.
['

244

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


As

apprehend the movement towards

humanism,

based on no particular dis-

it is

covery or principle that can be driven into one


precise formula

which thereupon can be im-

paled upon a logical skewer. It


like

is

much more

one of those secular changes that come

upon public opinion over-night, as it were,


borne upon tides 'too full for sound or foam,'
that survive

all

the crudities and extrava-

gances of their advocates, that you can pin to

no one absolutely

essential statement, nor kill

by any one decisive stab.


Such have been the changes from

aristo-

cracy to democracy, from classic to romantic


taste,

from

theistic to pantheistic feeling,

from

static to evolutionary
life

changes of

spectators.

ways of understanding
which we all have been

Scholasticism

opposes to such

still

changes the method of confutation by single


decisive reasons, showing that the

new view

involves self-contradiction, or traverses

fundamental principle. This


Cf. this article passim. Mr. H.
'
"
entitled Professor James on Humanism

51-101.

Mind, N.

S., vol.

is like

W.

stopping

B. Joseph's criticism,
'
and Truth, " appeared in

xiv, No. 53, January, 1905.

45

some

ED.]

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


a river by planting a stick in the middle of
its

bed.

and

Round your

obstacle flows the water

"gets there all the

am

Joseph, I

not a

same/ In reading Mr.

little

who

reminded of those

Darwinism by
telling us that higher species can not come from
Catholic writers

refute

lower because minus nequit gignere plus, or


that the notion of transformation
it

is

absurd, for

implies that species tend to their

own

and that would violate the principle

struction,

that every reality tends to persevere in

The

shape.
tight

and

point of view

is

You can

formal

logic.

pounced on

own

too myopic, too

not settle questions of fact by

I feel as

my

words

if

Mr. Joseph almost

singly,

the sentences time to get out of

The one

self,

its

close to take in the inductive argu-

ment.

manism

de-

is

without giving

my mouth.

condition of understanding huto

become inductive-minded one-

to drop rigorous definitions,

lines of least resistance "on the


5

other words/ Mr. Joseph

may

and follow

whole/

"In

probably say,

"resolve your intellect into a kind of slush/'

"Even

so/' I

make

reply,

246

"if

you

will

con-

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


sett to use no politer word/' For

humanism,
'

conceiving the more 'true' as the more satisfactory* (Dewey's term) has to renounce sincerely rectilinear arguments
of rigor

and

It

finality.

is

and ancient

ideals

in just this

tem-

per of renunciation, so different from that


of pyrrhonistic scepticism, that the spirit of

humanism

essentially consists.

Satisfactori-

ness has to be measured

by a multitude of
standards, of which some, for aught we know,
may fail in any given case; and what is 'more'
satisfactory than

any alternative

in sight,

to the end be a

sum

and minuses,

concerning which

of pluses

we can only

may

trust that

by

and improvements a maxithe one and a minimum of the other

ulterior corrections

mum

of

may some day

be approached. It means a real

change of heart, a break with absolutistic


hopes,

when one takes up

this

view of the

conditions of belief.

That humanism's

critics

have never im-

agined this attitude inwardly,


their invariable tactics.
it

far

is

shown by

They do not

get into

enough to see objectively and from with247

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


out what their

own

Mr. Joseph

possessed by some such notion;

is

opposite notion of truth

he thinks his readers to be


it,

works from

us what
so

is

it is.

where

full of it,

he obeys

but never even essays to

it,

The

tell

nearest he comes to doing

he says

to think," whether

is.

it is

the

way "we ought

we be psychologically com-

pelled to or not.

Of course humanism agrees to this: it is only


a manner of calling truth an ideal. But

humanism

explicates the summarizing

word

'

'ought into a mass of pragmatic motives from


the midst of which our critics think that truth
itself

takes

flight.

Truth

meaning. It stands

now

is

for

name

of double

an abstract some-

thing defined only as that to which our thought

ought to conform; and again

it

stands for the

concrete propositions within which

that conformity already reigns


so

believe

they being

Humanism sees that the


conformity we ever have to deal with

many

only

we

'truths.'

concretely

is

that between our subjects and

our predicates, using these words in a very


1

Op.

cfl.,

248

p. 37.

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


broad sense. It sees moreover that
*

formity

is

this con-

validated" (to use Mr. Schiller's

term) by an indefinite number of pragmatic


tests that

vary as the predicates and subjects

vary. If an S gets superseded

by an SP that

mind a completer sum


we always say, humanism

gives our

of satisfac-

tions,

points out,

that

we have advanced

to a better position in

regard to truth.

Now many

of our

judgments thus attained

are retrospective.

The

manly recorded.

Common

S'es, so the

judgment
runs, were SP's already ere the fact was hu-

this state of things,


field;

and

example.
cates

now

sense, struck

by

rearranges the whole

traditional philosophy follows her

The

general requirement that predi-

must conform to

translate into

an ontological theory.

previous Subject of
lesser subjects

their subject, they

all is

most

substituted for the

and conceived

of as

an arche-

typal Reality; and the conformity required of


predicates in detail

is

reinterpreted as a rela-

tion which our whole mind, with all its subjects

and predicates together, must get into


249

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


with respect to this Reality.

It,

meanwhile,

is

conceived as eternal, static, and unaffected

by our thinking. Conformity to a non-human


Archetype

like this is

truth which

probably the notion of

my opponent shares with common

sense and philosophic rationalism.

When now Humanism,

fully admitting

both

the naturalness and the grandeur of this hypothesis, nevertheless points to its sterility,

declines to

chime

and

in with the substitution,

keeping to the concrete and

still

lodging truth

between the subjects and the predicates in


detail, it provokes the outcry which we hear

and which

my

critic echoes.

One of the commonest


that
it

is

humanism

is

parts of the outcry

subjectivistic altogether

supposed to labor under a necessity of

'denying trans-perceptual reality/

hard to see

ism

is

how

It

this misconception of

may have arisen; and

humanistic

is

not

human-

w riters,
r

partly from not having sufficiently guarded


their expressions,

and partly from not having

yet?* got round" (in the poverty of their


[Cf.

above, pp, 241-243.]

250

liter-

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


ature) to a full discussion of the subject, are

doubtless in

some degree to blame. But

to understand

how any one with

a working

grasp of their principles can charge


wholesale with subjectivism.

,1

I fail

them

myself have

never thought of humanism as being subjectivistic farther

much

as

it

treats the thinker as being himself

one portion of

some of the
are created

than to this extent, that, inas-

reality, it

realities

by

must

also allow that

that he declares for true

his being there.

Such

realities

of course are either acts of his, or relations

between other things and him, or relations


between things, which, but for him, would
never have been traced. Humanists are subjectivistic, also in this, that, unlike rationalists

(who think they carry a warrant for the absolute truth of what they now believe in in their
present pocket), they hold

all

present beliefs

as subject to revision in the light of future

experience.

The

future experience, however,

may be of things outside the thinker; and that


this is so the humanist may believe as freely
as

any other kind of empiricist philosopher.


251

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


The

of

critics

humanism (though here

them but darkly) appear

follow

to object to

any infusion whatever of subjectivism into


truth. All must be archetypal; every truth

must

pre-exist to its perception.

sees that

Humanism

an enormous quantity of truth must

be written down as having pre-existed to

its

perception by us humans.

in-

stances
that,
fact,

we

find it

most

In countless

satisfactory to believe

though we were always ignorant of the


it always was a fact that S was SP. But

humanism

separates this class of cases from

those in which

the opposite,

it is

e.g.,

passing event, or
ing act.

Our

more satisfactory to believe


that S

SP

critics

is

ephemeral, or

created

by the perceiv-

seem on the other hand,

to wish to universalize the retrospective type


of instance.

Reality must pre-exist to every

assertion for which truth

is

claimed. And, not

content with this overuse of one particular

type of judgment, our

critics

claim

its

mono-

They appear to wish to cut off Humanism from its rights to any retrospection
poly.

at

all.

252

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


Humanism says that satisfactoriness
from the

distinguishes the true

false.

is

what

But

sat-

both a subjective quality, and

isfactoriness is

a present one.

appear to

critics

Ergo (the

must always for


humanism be both present and subjective, and

reason) an object, qud true,

a humanist's

can never be in anything

belief

that lives outside of the belief


dates

it.

it

hard to say. Nothing

more obvious than the

objective

or ante-

Why so preposterous a charge should

be so current, I find
is

itself

fact that both the

and the past existence

may

be the very things about

seem

satisfactory,

believe them.

of the object
it

and that most

The past

that most

invite us to

tense can figure in the

humanist's world, as well of belief as of representation, quite as harmoniously as in the

world of any one

Mr. Joseph
accusation.

gives a special turn to this

He

contradictory

else.

charges

when

me

with being

I say that the

main

self-

cate-

gories of thought were evolved in the course of

experience

itself.

For I use these very

Op.

cit.,

853

p. 82.

cate-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


gories to define the course of experience by.

Experience, as I talk about

it, is

a product of

their use;

and yet

to them.

This seems to Mr. Joseph to be an

absurdity. I hope

I take

it

as true anteriorly

it

does not seem such to his

experiences can suggest hypo-

readers; for

if

theses at

(and they notoriously do so) I can

see

all

no absurdity whatever

in the notion of a

retrospective hypothesis having for

its

the very train of experiences by which

object

its

own

being, along with that of other things, has

been brought about.


'

If

we must,

satisfactory'

the

hypothesis

of course, believe

to have been true anteriorly to


tion

ourselves.

by

Every

its

is

it

formula-

explanation

of

a present by a past seems to involve this

kind of

circle,

The past

is

is

not a vicious

circle.

causa existendi of the present,

which in turn
past.

which

is

causa cognoscendi of the

If the present

were treated as causa ex-

istendi of the past, the circle

might indeed be

vicious.

Closely connected with this pseudo-difficulty

is

another one of wider scope and greater


254

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


more

complication

therefore. 1

excusable

Humanism, namely, asking how truth


of fact

is

reached, and seeing that

substituting

more

factory opinions,

by ever

it is

satisfactory for less satis-

is

thereby led into a vague

historic sketch of truth's

development.

'

earliest

in point

opinions/

it

The

must have been

thinks,

dim, unconnected feelings/ and only


little

little

by

did more and more orderly views of

things replace them.

Our own

view of this whole evolution

is

retrospective

now,

let

us say,

the latest candidate for 'truth' as yet reached


in the process.

To be

a satisfactory candidate,

must give some definite sort of a picture of


what forces keep the process going. On the
it

subjective side

we have a fairly definite picture

sensation, association, interest, hypothesis,

these account in a general

way

for the

growth

into a cosmos of the relative chaos with which

mind began.
But on the side

the

roughly, our view

of the object, so to call


is

much

it

less satisfactory.

1
[This] Mr. Joseph deals with (though in much too pettifogging
and logic-chopping a way) on pp. 38-34 of his article.

255

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


Of which
that

the

it

of our

truly

many objects are we to believe

was there and at work before

human mind began? Time,

number,

serial

cause,

order,

consciousness,

are hard things not to objectify

scendental idealism leaves

space, kind,

even tran-

them standing

as

empirically real.'
fall

down more

Substance, matter, force,

easily before criticism,

and

secondary qualities make almost no resistance


at

all.

when we survey the

Nevertheless,

field

from Scholasticism through


Kantism to Spencerism, we find an ever-recur-

of speculation,

pre-human into a
an unknowable ding-an-

ring tendency to convert the

merely logical object,


sichy

that but starts the process, or a vague

materia prima that but receives our forms. 1

The

reasons for this are not so

as they are material.

We

much

logical

can postulate an

extra-mental that freely enough (though some


idealists

have denied us the

when we have done


1

Compare some

so,

privilege),

the what of

elaborate articles

it is

256

hard

by M. Le Roy and M. Wilbois


and x, [1900,

in the Revue de Mttaphysique et de Morale, vote. VHI, ix,

1901, and 1902.]

but

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


to determine satisfactorily, because of the op-

and entanglements of the variously


proposed whats with one another and with the
positions

history of the

human mind. The

literature of

speculative cosmology bears witness to this

Humanism

difficulty.

suffers

than any other philosophy

makes

all

no more

it

suffers,

but

it

our cosmogonic theories so unsatis-

factory that
denial

from

of

some thinkers seek

any

primal

relief in

dualism.

the

Absolute

Thought or "pure experience is postulated,


and endowed with attributes calculated to
justify the belief that

these

it

'run

itself.'

Both

are

non-

hypotheses

truth-claiming

dualistic in the old

may

mind-and-matter sense;

but the one is monistic and the other pluralistic


as to the world process

itself.

are non-dualists of this sort

one und zwar of the

Some humanists
I myself

pluralistic brand.

am
But

doubtless dualistic humanists also exist, as


well as non-dualistic ones of the monistic wing.

Mr. Joseph pins these general philosophic


difficulties on humanism alone, or possibly on

me

alone.

My

article

267

spoke vaguely of a

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


'most chaotic pure experience* coming

and building up the mind.

first,

But how can two

structureless things interact so as to produce

my

a structure?

triumphantly asks. Of

critic

course they can't, as purely so-named entities.

must make additional hypotheses. We


must beg a minimum of structure; for them.

We

The kin d

of

minimum

to increase towards
is

developed
here.

The

that might have tended

what we now

find actually

the philosophical desideratum

question

is

that of the most ma-

logic

Mr. Joseph
purely, as if he had

no acquaintance with the

logic of hypothesis

terially satisfactory hypothesis.

handles

at

it

by formal

all.

Mr. Joseph again is much bewildered as to


what a humanist can mean when he uses the
word knowledge. He
vaguely identifying

tries to

convict

me

of

with any kind of good.

it

Knowledge is a difficult thing to define briefly,


and Mr. Joseph shows his own constructive
hand here even
1
2

[Cf.

less

than in the rest of his

The Meaning of Truth, p.

[Joseph: op.

cit.,

p. 36.]

258

64.J

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


I have myself put forth on several

article.

occasions a radically pragmatist account of


1
knowledge, the existence of which account

critic

probably does not know of

my

so perhaps

had better not say anything about knowledge

until

he reads and attacks that.

I will say,

however, that whatever the relation called

knowing may itself prove to consist in, I can


think of no conceivable kind of object which

may

not become an object of knowledge on

humanistic principles as well as on the principles of

2
any other philosophy.

I confess that I

by the
ics,

of

habit,

am pretty steadily hampered

on the part

of

humanism's

crit-

assuming that they have truer ideas

than mine of truth and knowledge, the nature


of

which I must know^of and can not need to

have re-defined. I have consequently to reconstruct these ideas in order to carry on the discussion (I have e.g.

had to do so

in

some parts

1
Most recently in two articles, "Does 'Consciousness* Exist?"
and "A World of Pure Experience." [See above, pp. 1-91.]
8
For a recent attempt, effective on the whole, at squaring hu-

manism with knowing,

may

refer to Prof.

address at the Saint Louis Congress,


in Science, N. Y., November 4, 1904.

259

"The

Woodbridge's very able


Field of Logic," printed

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


and I thereby expose myself
caricature. In one part of Mr.

of this article)

to charges of

we are

Joseph's attack, however, I rejoice that


free

from

this

embarrassment.

It

an im-

is

portant point and covers probably a genuine


difficulty, so I

last.

and Dewey, I dethe true as that which gives the maximal

When,
fine

take it up

following Schiller

combination of satisfactions, and say that


satisfaction is a

many-dimensional term that

can be realized in various ways, Mr. Joseph


replies, rightly

enough, that the chief

faction of a rational creature


his

satis-

must always be

thought that what he believes

is

true,

whether the truth brings him the satisfaction


of collateral profits or not.

however, to

make

and to relegate

This would seem,

of truth the prior concept,

satisfaction to a secondary

place.

Again,

if

to be satisfactory

by being true, whose

is

what

satisfactions,

his satisfactions, are to count?

tions notoriously

upshot

is

is

meant

and which

of

Discrimina-

have to be made; and the

that only rational candidates and


260

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


We

intellectual satisfactions stand the test.

are then driven to a purely theoretic notion of

and get out of the pragmatic atmosphere altogether. And with this Mr. Joseph
truth is truth, and there is an end
leaves us
truth,

of the matter.

show

But he makes a very pretty

of convicting

me

of self-stultification in

according to our purely theoretic satisfactions

any place
crowd the

in the humanistic scheme.


collateral satisfactions

They

out of house

and home, he thinks, and pragmatism has to go


into bankruptcy if she recognizes them at all.
There

is

no room

for disagreement

about

the facts here; but the destructive force of the

reasoning disappears as soon as


cretely instead of abstractly,

we

and

quality of good pragmatists, just

talk con-

ask, in our

what the

famous theoretic needs are known as and in

what the

intellectual

satisfactions

consist.

Mr. Joseph, faithful to the habits of his party,


makes no attempt at characterizing them, but
assumes that their nature

is

self-evident to

all.

Are they not all mere matters of consistency


and emphatically not of consistency be261

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


tween an Absolute Reality and the mind's
copies of it, but of actually felt consistency
among judgments, objects, and manners of
reacting, in the

mind

And

are not both our

need of such consistency and our pleasure in

it

conceivable as outcomes of the natural fact

that

we

habit

are beings that develop mental habits


itself

proving adaptively beneficial in

an environment where the same objects, or the

same kinds
If this

of objects, recur

were

so,

what would have come

would have been the

and the theoretic


aid of these.

and follow 'law'?

collateral profits of habit,

life

would have grown up

in

In point of fact this seems to

have been the probable

case.

At

life's origin,

any present perception may have been


if

first

'true'

such a word could then be applicable.

Later,

when

was

by them. Otherwise they were


or 'mistaken' reactions. But the same

became organized, the


reactions became 'true' whenever expectation
reactions

fulfilled

'false'

class of objects needs the

same kind

of reac-

tion, so the impulse to react consistently

must

gradually have been established, with a disap262

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


pointment

felt

expectation.

whenever the

results frustrated

Here is a perfectly plausible germ

for all our higher consistencies.

Nowadays,

if

an object claims from us a reaction of the kind


habitually accorded only to the opposite class

mental machinery refuses to

of objects, our

run smoothly. The situation


unsatisfactory.

To

gain

to preserve the reaction

relief

by

is

we seek

way

contrary to the

Neither solution

is

it is,

it

of us-

him

me claiming
He can not

to gratify

my

appeal in the claim

enough
to induce him to write a whole
is

fication of his refusal.

react

Such a situation

easy.

so as to permit

claim; but there

we

way claimed

might be that of Mr. Joseph, with


assent to humanism from him.
apperceive

either

re-interpreting the

object, or, leaving the object as


in a

intellectually

If

article in justi-

he should assent to

humanism, on the other hand, that would drag


alter it an unwelcome, yea incredible, alteration of his previous mental beliefs.

Whichever

alternative he might adopt, however, a

new

equilibrium of intellectual consistency would


in the

end be reached.

He would

feel,

which-

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ever

decided, that he was

way he

truly.

But

if,

now thinking

with his old habits unaltered,

he should simply add to them the new one

of

advocating humanism quietly or noisily, his

mind would be rent

into

two systems, each

of

which would accuse the other of falsehood.

The

resultant situation, being profoundly un-

satisfactory,

would

Theoretic truth

also
is

be instable.

thus no relation between

our mind and archetypal

reality.

within the mind, being the accord of


its

It

falls

some

of

processes and objects with other processes

and objects

'accord'

well-definable relations.

faction of feeling such

whatever

consisting

here

So long as the

an accord

collateral profits

is

in

satis-

denied us,

may seem

to inure

from what we believe in are but as dust

in the

provided always that we are highly

balance

organized intellectually, which the majority


of us are not.
satisfies

The amount

of accord

most men and women

is

which

merely the

absence of violent clash between their usual

thoughts

and statements and the limited

sphere of sense-perceptions in which their lives


264

HUMANISM AND TRUTH


The

are cast.

theoretic truth that

'

we ought

think

to attain to

is

thus the pos-

session of a set of predicates that

tradict their subjects.

as not

most of us

do not con-

We preserve it as often

by leaving other predicates and

subjects

out.

In some

music
ency

is

is

men

theory

a passion, just as

The form

in others.

of inner consist-

pursued far beyond the

collateral profits stop.

and

is

classify

cal tables

line at

which

Such men systematize

and schematize and make synopti-

and invent

ideal objects for the

pure

Too often the results, glowing

love of unifying.

with 'truth' for the inventors, seem pathetically personal

Which

is

as

and

much

to bystanders.

artificial

as to say that the purely

theoretic criterion of truth can leave us in the

lurch as easily as any other criterion.

Mr. Joseph will but consider


all these things a little more concretely, he
may find that the humanistic scheme and the
I think that

if

notion of theoretic truth


sistently

fall

enough to yield him

satisfaction.

into line con-

also intellectual

XII

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM

No

seeker of truth can

fail

to rejoice at the

terre-a-terre sort of discussion of the issues

between Empiricism and Transcendentalism


(or, as the champions of the latter would probably prefer to say, between Irrationalism and
Rationalism) that seems to have begun in

Mind. 2

It

examples

would seem as

like

Mr.

J. S.

if,

over concrete

Haldane's, both parties

ought inevitably to come to a better understanding. As a reader with a strong bias


towards Irrationalism, I have studied his
article

with the

temper and

But the

its

liveliest

admiration of

its

painstaking effort to be clear.

cases discussed failed to satisfy me,

and I was at

first

tempted to write a Note

animadverting upon them in detail. The


growth of the limb, the sea's contour, the
vicarious functioning of the nerve-centre, the
digitalis
1

2
8

curing the heart, are unfortunately

[Reprinted from Mind, vol. ix. No. 34, April, 1884.]


[In 1884.1

["Life and

Mechanism," Mind,

vol. rx, 1884.]

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


not cases where

we can

see

any through-and-

through conditioning of the parts by the whole.

They
jects,

are

cases of reciprocity where sub-

all

supposed independently to

exist,

acquire

certain attributes through their relations to

That they also exist through


relations is only an ideal supposition,

other subjects.
similar

not verified to our understanding in these or

any other concrete cases whatsoever.


If,

however, one were to urge this solemnly,

Mr. Haldane's

friends could easily reply that

he only gave us such examples on account of

He knew

the hardness of our hearts.


their imperfection,

full well

but he hoped that to those

who would not spontaneously ascend

to the

Notion of the Totality, these cases might


prove a spur and suggest and symbolize something better than themselves.

No

particu-

that can be brought forward

lar case

real concrete.

They

are

all

is

abstractions from

the Whole, and of course the "through-and-

through" character can not be found in them.

Each

of

them

what we

still

call

contains

things,

among its elements

grammatical subjects,

267

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


forming a sort of residual caput mortuum of
Existence after

all

the relations that figure in

the examples have


55

"existence,

may
fat,

been told

off.

On

this

thinks popular philosophy, things

live on, like the

winter bears on their

never entering relations at

all, or, if

own

enter-

ing them, entering an entirely different set


of

them from those treated

Thus

dane's examples.

weaken instead

if

of in

Mr. Hal-

the digitalis were to

of strengthening the heart,

and

to produce death (as sometimes happens),

would determine

itself,

it

through determining

the organism, to the function of "kill" instead


of that of "cure."

The

function and relation

seem adventitious, depending on what kind


a heart the

digitalis gets

and the heart being

hold

of,

is

an

Mr. Haldane's

illusion.

ence" of

But this popu-

friends will continue,

What seems

digitalis

the digitalis

facts external and, so to

speak, accidental to each other.


lar view,

of

to us the "exist-

and heart outside

tions of killing or curing,

is

of the rela-

but a function in a

wider system of relations, of which, pro hac


vice,

we take no account. The


268

larger system

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


determines the existence just as absolutely as

system "cure," de-

the~ system "kill," or the

termined the function of the

digitalis.

As-

cend to the absolute system, instead of biding


with these relative and partial ones, and you
shall see that the

ness

must and does obtain.

Of
able,
logic

law of through-and-through-

course, this

argument

is

entirely reason-

and debars us completely from chopping


about the concrete examples Mr. Ilal-

dane has chosen.

It is not his fault

if

his cate-

an instrument that nothing


but the sum total of things can be taken to
gories are so fine

show us the manner

of their use. It

our misfortune that he has not the


things to

show

it

by. Let us

concrete attempts and see

fall

is

simply

sum total of

back from

what we can do with

his notion of through-and-throughness,

edly taken in abstracto.

all

avow-

In abstract systems

the "through-and-through" Ideal

is

realized

on every hand. In any system, as such, the


members are only members in the system.
Abolish the system and you abolish
bers, for

its

mem-

you have conceived them through no

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


mem-

other property than the abstract one of

bership. Neither Tightness nor leftness, except

through

bi-laterality.

Neither mortgager nor

The

mortgagee, except through mortgage.


logic of these cases is this:

B, then A: wherefore

i/

//A, then B; but

if either,

Both; and

if

not Both, Nothing.


It costs nothing, not

even a mental

effort, to

admit that the absolute totality of things may


be organized exactly after the pattern of one
of these

In
tal

"through-and-through" abstractions.

fact, it is

the pleasantest and freest of men-

movements. Husband makes, and

is

made

by, wife, through marriage; one makes other,

by being
through

itself

its

other; everything self-created

you go round
But if you stop and

like

opposite

squirrel in a cage.

reflect

upon what you are about, you lay bare the


exact point at issue between

common

sense

and the "through-and-through" school.

What,

in fact,

systems? It

is,

is

as

the logic of these abstract

we said above

If

any

Mem-

Whole System; if not the Whole


System, then Nothing, But how can Logic
ber, then the

270

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


possibly do anything

more with these two

hypotheses than combine them into the single

"Either this Whole

disjunctive proposition

System, just as

it

stands, or Nothing at all."

Is not that disjunction the ultimate

word

of

Logic in the matter, and can any disjunction,


as such, resolve itself?

Haldane

sees

It

how one horn,

may

be that Mr.

the concept of the

Whole System, carries real existence with it.


But if he has been as unsuccessful as I in assimHegelian re-editings of the Anselm-

ilating the

ian proof, 1 he will have to say that though

may

Logic

be, if it

us that

is,

determine what the system must

something

else

than Logic must

Mr. Haldane

it is.

in this case

probably consciously, or unconsciously,

tell

would

make

an appeal to Fact: the disjunction is decided,


since nobody can dispute that now, as a mat-

and not nothing, is. We


he would probably say, go on

ter of fact, something,

must

therefore,

to admit the
sense.
1

[Cj. P.

trans,

Whole System

in the desiderated

Is not then the validity of the

Anselm-

JarietG,ndG.S^illea: History of the Problems of Philosophy,


vol. n, pp. 275-278; 305-307. ED.]

by Monahan,

271

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


ian proof the nucleus of the whole question be-

tween Logic and Fact? Ought not the


of

Mr. Haldane and

his friends to

pally devoted to its elucidation? Is


real

efforts

be princiit

not the

door of separation between Empiricism

and Rationalism? And


leave that door for a

if

moment off its hinges, can

any power keep that

abstract, opaque,

diated, external, irrational,

monster,

known

from getting

in

the Rationalists

unme-

and irresponsible

to the vulgar as bare Fact,

and contaminating the whole

sanctuary with his presence?

Can anything

prevent Faust from changing

"Am

war das Wort" into

"Am

Anfang
Anfang war die

That?"
Nothing

in earth or heaven.

Only the An-

selmian proof can keep Fact out of philo-

sophy.

The

question, "Shall Fact be recog-

nized as an ultimate principle?"


issue

is

the whole

between the Rationalists and the Empiri-

cism of vulgar thought.

Of course,

if

so recognized, Fact sets a limit

to the "through-and-through" character of

the world's rationality. That rationality might


272

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


then mediate between

the

all

members

of our

conception of the world, but not between the

conception

and

itself

reality.

Reality would

have to be given, not by Reason, but by Fact.


Fact holds out blankly, brutally and blindly,
against that universal deliquescence of every-

thing into logical relations which the Absolutist

Logic demands, and

it

is

that does hold out. Hence the


solutist
*

hence

Logic

its

the only thing


the Ab-

ire of

non-recognition, its

cutting' of Fact.

The

reasons

that Fact

it

gives for the 'cutting' are

speechless, a

is

mere word

for the

negation of thought, a vacuous unknowability,

a dog-in-the-manger, in truth, which having no


rights of its

own, can find nothing

than to keep

its

else to

do

betters out of theirs.

There are two points involved here

first

the

claim that certain things have rights that are


absolute, ubiquitous

and

all

pervasive, and in

regard to which nothing else can possibly exist


in its

own right; and second that anything that

denies this assertion

is

pure negativity with no

positive context whatsoever.


273

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


Take the
what

latter point first.

negative in one

is

way

Is it true that
is

thereby con-

victed of incapacity to be positive in any other


"
"
way ? The word Fact is like the word "Acci-

dent," like the word "Absolute"


all

have

whole connotation

tive.

All

it

says

be that

is

is

is,

negative and rela-

that, whatever the thing

denoted by the words, other

things do not control

accident

is

They

In truth,

their negative connotation.

their

may

itself.

Where

it.

they must be

fact,

silent, it

where

alone can

But that does not prevent its speaking


loudly as you please, in its own tongue. It

speak.
as

may have an
active in the

inward

life,

maximum

self-transparent

degree.

An

and

indeter-

minate future volition on my part, for example,

would be a
self is
it,

strict accident as far as

concerned.

my present

But that could not prevent

in the moment in which it occurred, from being

possibly the most intensely living

and lumin-

ous experience I ever had. Its quality of being


a brute fact ab extra says nothing whatever as
to

its

inwardness. It simply says to outsiders :

'Hands

off!'

274

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


And

back to the

this brings us

first

point of

the Absolutist indictment of Fact.

Is that

point really anything more than a fantastic


dislike to letting anything say

Hands

off'?

What

else explains

lutist

authors exhibit for a freedom defined

simply on

"from,"

its

etc.?

the contempt the Abso-

"negative"

What

side,

as freedom

prompts them to

else

deride such freedom? But, dislike for dislike,

who

Why

shall decide?

having

me "from"

is

not their dislike at

them, entirely on a par

me?

with mine at having them "through"

know very well that in talking of dislikes


those who never mention them, I am doing

to

a very coarse thing, and making a sort of intellectual

Orson of myself. But, for the

me, I can not help


likes

and

dislikes

it,

because I

life

feel sure

of

that

must be among the ultimate

factors of their philosophy as well as of mine.

Would they but admit

it!

How

sweetly

then could hold converse together! There

something
stand.
yet.

finite

We

we
is

about us both, as we now

Part of

do not know the Absolute Whole


it is still

negative to us.
275

Among

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


the whats of

it still

without which

thats,

stalks a

we cannot

admit that this

just as I

mob

is all

of

opaque

But

think.

possibly pro-

visional, that even the Anselmian proof

come out
rational

all

right,

may

and creation may be a

why

system through-and-through,

might they not also admit that

it

may

all

be

and that the shadow, the opacity,


the negativity, the "from "-ness, the plurality
otherwise,

that

is

ultimate,

from the scene.

may never be wholly

driven

We should both then be avow-

edly making hypotheses, playing with Ideals.

Ah!

Why is the notion of hypothesis so abhor-

rent to the Hegelian

And

mind ?

once down on our

common

level of

we might then admit scepticism,


the Whole is not yet revealed, to be the

hypothesis,
since

soundest logical position. But since


the main not sceptics,

we

are in

we might go on and

frankly confess to each other the motives for

our several faiths. I frankly confess mine

can not but think that at bottom they are of

an

aesthetic

and not

of a logical sort.

"through-and-through"
276

universe

seems

The
to

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


suffocate

me

with

its infallible

impeccable

all-

pervasiveness. Its necessity, with no possibilities; its relations,

with no subjects, make

me

feel as if I

had entered into a contract with

no reserved

rights, or rather as

if

had to

live

no

pri-

in a large seaside boarding-house with

vate bed-room in which I might take refuge

am

from the society of the place. I

distinctly

aware, moreover, that the old quarrel of sinner

and pharisee has something to do with the


matter. Certainly, to

my personal knowledge,

all

Hegelians are not prigs, but I

as

if all

prigs ought to end,

becoming Hegelians. There

if

is

somehow

feel

developed, by

a story of two

clergymen asked by mistake to conduct the

same

funeral.

farther than
Life,'*

One came

"I

am

and had got no


the Resurrection and the

when the other

first

entered.

"I am the

Resurrection and the Life," cried the latter.

The "through-and-through" philosophy,


actually exists, reminds

clergyman.

It

many

as

it

of us of that

seems too buttoned-up and

white-chokered and clean-shaven a thing to

speak for the vast slow-breathing unconscious


277

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM


Kosmos with

known
there

dread abysses and

its

The "freedom" we want

tides.

and warranted not to

What

it fly

know

grossness.

But

show

feelings;

about

the
is

away,'

am

away, of that

we

say,

why

kann
will

"from

nicht anders. I

they not show

universe,

through-and-through

which I should very


if

mental

have a personal feeling

entirely different

for gaining

my

exhibiting

again, Ich

know they

theirs?

which

to see

then ?"

Again, I

my

fly
5

philosophy. "Let

us!

un-

not the freedom, with a string tied to

is

its leg

its

likely

from mine, and

be much the better

they would only show

Their persistence in telling

me

me that feeling has

nothing to do with the question, that

pure matter of absolute reason, keeps


ever out of the pale.

how.

Still

it is

me

for

seeing a that in

things which Logic does not expel, the most I

can do
I

is

to aspire to the expulsion.

do not even

aspire.

Aspiration

At present
is

feeling.

What can kindle feeling but the example of


feeling? And if the Hegelians will refuse to set
an example, what can they expect the
278

rest of

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM


To

us to do?

speak more seriously, the one

fundamental quarrel Empiricism has with Absolutism

is

over this repudiation by Abso-

lutism of the personal and eesthetic factor in

we

the construction of philosophy. That

all

of

us have feelings, Empiricism feels quite sure.

That they may be

as prophetic

tory of truth as anything else

some

of

them more

possibly be denied.

and

anticipa-

we have, and

so than others, can not

But what hope

is

there of

squaring and settling opinions unless Absolut-

ism

will

hold parley on this

and

will

admit that

theses, to

which

all

all

common

ground;

philosophies are hypo-

our faculties, emotional

as well as logical, help us,

which

will at

found

in possession of the

and the truest

of

the final integration of things be

men whose

faculties

on the whole had the best divining power?

INDEX
ABSOLUTE IDEALISM:

46. 60, 99,

102, 134, 195. 256

Essay XII.

ff .,

ACTIVITY: x. Essay VI.


AFFECTION AL FACTS: 34

ff..

EMPIRICISM: iv-v, vii-xiii, 41, 4647, Essay XII. See also under
RADICAL EMPIRICISM.

Essay EPIBTEMOLOGY: 289. See


der

V, 217 ff.
AGNOSTICISM: 195.

KNOWLEDGE.

also un-

ETHICS: 194.
APPRECIATIONS. See AFFECTION AL EXPERIENCE: vii, xii, 8 ff., 63, 62,
FACTS.
ff., 71, 80, 87, 92, 216, 224, 233,
242, 243. See also under PURE

EXPERIENCE.
BEBGSON, H.: 156, 188.
BERKELEY: 10-11, 43, 76, 77, 212, EXTERNAL RELATIONS 1 10 ff See
also under RELATIONS, and
232.
:

BODE, B. H.: 234 ff.


BODY: 78, 84 ff., 153, 221.
BRADLEY, F. H.: 60, 98, 99,
107

ff.,

DISJUNCTIVE.
100.

157, 162.

FEELING. See under AFFECTION AL


FACTS.

FREE WILL:
CAUSE: 163, 174, 181

185.

ff.

CHANGE: 161.
HALDANE, J. S.:266ff.
COGNITIVE RELATION: 52 ff/ See HEGEL: 106, 276, 277.
HERB ART: 106.
also under KNOWLEDGE.
CONCEPTS: 15 ff., 22, 33, 54 ff., HOBHOUSE, L. T. 109.
:

65

ff.

CONJUNCTIVE RELATIONS: x, 44 ff .,
59, 70, 94, 104, 107

ff..

117

ff.,

HOFFDING, H.: 238.

HUMANISM:

163, 240.

CONSCIOUSNESS:
80. 127

HODDER, A. L.: 22, 109.


HODGSON, S. ix, 48.

ff.,

139

Essay

ff.,

154, 184, Es-

I,

90, 156,

Essay VII,

Essay XI.

75,

xi,

HUME:

x, 42, 43, 103, 174.

say VIII.

CONTINUITY: 48

ff.,

IDEALISM: 39, 40, 134, 219, 241,

59, 70, 94.

256.

DEMOCRITUS: 11.
DESCARTES: SO.

DEWEY,

IDEAS: 55

ff.,

73, 177, 209.

IDENTITY, Philosophy

J.: 53, 156, 191,

of:

134,

197, 202.

204, 247.

INDETERMINISM: 90, 274.


260.
DISJUNCTIVE RELATIONS: x, 42 ff., INTELLECT: 97 ff.
105, 107

DUALISM:

ff.

10,

207

ff.,

225, 257.

JOSEPH, H.

281

W.

B.: 203, 244

ff.

INDEX
KANT: 1, #7, 162, 206.
KIERKEGAARD: 238.

KNOWLEDGE:
87-88, 196

4, 25,
ff. f

56

PRINCE,
ff.,

68

ff.

231. See also un-

M.

88.

PRINGLE-PATTISON, A.
PSYCHOLOGY: 206, 209

PURE EXPERIENCE:

der COGNITIVE RELATION, OBJECTIVE REFERENCE.

S.

109.

ff.

26-27,

4, 23,

35, Essay II, 74, 90, 93

96,

ff.,

121, 123, 134, 135, 138, 139, 160,


193, 200, 226

ff.,

257.

LIFE: 87, 161.

LOCKE:
LOTZE:

RADICAL EMPIRICISM:

10.

LOGIC: 2C9

ff.

ix-xiii,

59, 75, 167.

41

iv-v,

vii,

47, 48, 69, 76, 89,

ff.,

91, 107, 109, 121, 148, 156, 159,

182, 235, 237, 238, 239, 241, 242.

MATERIALISM:

RATIONALISM: 41, 96 ff., 237, 266.


REALISM: 16, 40, 76, 82 ff.

179, 232.

MILL, J. S.:x, 43,


MILL, JAMES: 43.

76.

REHMKE,

J.: 1.

RELATIONS: x, 16, 25, 42 ff ., 71, 81,


MILLER, D.: 54.
MINDS, their Contenninousness:
Essay III, 148, 268. See also un76 ff., Essay IV.
der CONJUNCTIVE and DISJUNC-

MONISM: vii, 208, 267


MOORE, G. E.:6-7.
MUNSTERBERG, H.: 1,

TIVE.

ff.

RELIGION:
18-20, 158.

NATORP, P.: 1, 7-8.


NATURALISM: 96.
NEO-KANTIBM: 5-6.

ff.

194.

ff.,

212

See also under SUBSTITU-

TION.

ROYCE,

OBJECTIVE REFERENCE: 67
OBJECTIVITY: 23

xiii,

RENOUVIER: 184-185.
REPRESENTATION: 61, 196

ff.

79.

ff.,

J.: 21, 158,

186-187, 195.

SANTAYANA, G.:

143, 218.

SCHILLER, F. C.

S.: 109, 191, 204,

249, 260.

PANPBYCHISM: 89, 188.


PARALLELISM: 210.
PERCEPTION: 11 ff., 17, S3, 65, 78,
82 ff., 197, 200, 211 ff.
PERRY, R. B.: 24.
PHYSICAL REALITY: 14, 22, 32, 124
ff.,

139

ff.,

149

ff.,

154, 211

ff.,

W.

B.: 241

ff.

PLURALISM: 89, 90, 110.


PRAGMATISM: iv, x, xi-xii,
97

ff.,

11. 72,

156, 159, 176, 242, 261.

PRIMARY QUALITIES:

147.

V.

SECONDARY QUALITIES:

146, 219.

SELF: 45, 46, 94, 128


SENSATION: 80, 201.

2.

ff.

SIDIS, B.: 144.

SOLIPSISM: Essay IX.

SPACE: 30-31, 84,


SPENCEB, H.: 144.
SPINOZA: 208.

229, 235.

PITKIN,

SCHUBERT-SOLDERN, R.
SCHUPPE, W.: 1.

94, 110, 114.

SPIR, A.: 106.

STOUT, G. F.: 109, 158.

STBONG, C. A.: 54, 88, 89, 188.

282

INDEX
SUBJECTIVITY:

23ff., 234ff., 251ff.

SUBSTITUTION: 62

ff.,

104, 801.

TIME: 27, 94.


TRANSCENDENTALISM:

39, 52, 67,

71, 75, 239.

TAINE:

TBUTH:

20, 62.

TAYLOR, A. E.: 111.


TELEOLOGY: 179.
THINGS: 1,^ ff., 28 ff.,

WARD,
87.

J.: 157. 162.

WOODBRIDGE,
1,

22,

See also under

28

ff.,

202 ff., 247

Essay WILL: 165, 184.

III, 209.

THOUGHT:

24, 98, 192,

37, 218.

KNOWLEDGE.

F. J. E.: 196.

WOBTH: 186-187.
WuNDT,W.:152.

ff.

PRINTED BY

H. O.

HOUGHTON

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
U.S.A.

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